Monday, August 18, 2014

50th Anniversary Leatherneck

I got lucky...

I've seen some absolute horror stories regarding the paint apps for Leatherneck. I've seen some pictures where half of his hair on the back of his head is missing paint. Ugh!

No horror stories here, though. My Leatherneck came in pretty decent condition. A bonus since I bought him from BBTS and, of course, didn't have a chance to look at the package. It's too bad that this has become an issue with this line. Usually, paint app screw-ups are a little more rare than this. I guess the Quality Control department at Hasbro doesn't much give a crap right now. 

Enough about Hasbro and their shitty attitude towards GI Joe. Let's talk about Leatherneck.
The design team that developed Leatherneck a few years ago did a helluva' job. The figure just looks amazing. The only real drawback that I've heard about from collectors (besides crappy paint) has been his size - he's a beast!
There's some great detailing on the vest and the paint apps look pretty decent to me. I suppose it helps that my near vision gets a little more blurry every year.
Here's my only paint app issue with my Leatherneck - right around the back of the head. There are bits of missing paint here and there around the back of the head. I'm sure that a black paint marker could take care of those spots quite easily.
The design team used the body from Roadblock (v2) from Retaliation. The only really new items are the head sculpt and the vest. He towers over the standard GI Joe figure.
And then there's Tollbooth - using the 25th style body with much shorter legs, he's really quite short compared to Leatherneck. Still okay, though, since real humans are extremely varied in height differences.
I'm not really thrilled with the weapons that came with Leatherneck. He comes with an M-16 with a grenade launcher as well as the big 50 cal machine gun that came with a RET Roadblock figure. The big gun is pretty cool, but it's a bit fragile. I've got to find my other 50 cal from Roadblock and probably super-glue them together and then mount them on my new Tomahawk. 

I think Leatherneck needs a decent sized gun like the M-249. I've got a couple different versions from various vendors, so my bigger Joes can carry some serious firepower.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the end result of Leatherneck. Sure, he's very tall and I'm okay with that. In my opinion, he's one of the few shining stars in this overall dismal 50th Anniversary of GI Joe, the best damn action figure line ever. Yeah, I'm biased.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

THANOS!!!

We interrupt this largely GI Joe-centric blog to briefly discuss the Guardians of the Galaxy.


Well, more importantly, one of my favorite characters from the Marvel Universe - THANOS!


When I first saw Thanos at the very end of The Avengers, I was definitely in nerd-heaven. I used to be a pretty big comic junkie back in the 80's. At some point, probably around 25+ years ago, I dramatically eased up on the buying of comics. For several years afterwards, I collected GI Joe comics, but my interest in the main super-hero genre comics faded. Currently, I must confess to having not bought a comic book, regardless of title, for around six years. I think the main reason was that we went through some tough financial times and my comic collecting got the ax. Honestly, I really didn't mind that much.

But after seeing Guardians just yesterday and getting thrilled by Thanos' brief appearance, I had to go dig out some old Marvel comics that related to Thanos. Who else better to write about Thanos than Jim Starlin? I don't know much about anything regarding the business of producing comics. I had favorite writers and artists, but only really followed just a few in particular throughout my comic-buying years. John Byrne, Mike Grell, Howard Chaykin, Larry Hama, Doug Moench, Mike Ploog, Micheal Golden, George Perez, Ross Andru, just so many come to mind. And of course, Jim Starlin. I don't know if he created Thanos, but he sure had the most influence in the character. The two primary characters that I can recall that seemed to be "children" of Jim Starlin are Thanos and Adam Warlock.
I had to dig out my limited collection of Jim Starlin's work. I am especially proud that I own a copy of "The death of Captain Marvel." This is one of the iconic pieces of comic history. The Avengers and Marvel Two-In-One issues are originals from way back in 1977. I had the Avengers issue first and only later found the conclusion of the story in Marvel Two-In-One.
I haven't read these comics in quite some time. These are Special Editions collecting Starlin's Adam Warlock stories. Very cool stuff. Adam Warlock was definitely not your average superhero.
Ah yes, Thanos! Such an amazing character! Dreams of galactic conquest always spoiled by his own personal demons.
Of these three "Infinity" series, "The Infinity Gauntlet" is by far the best. This event, or something like it, is brewing in the cinematic Marvel Universe and I'm excited to see how it's going to be pulled off!
It's been a while since I've read either "The Infinity Crusade" or "The Infinity Crusade." I'll dig back into them at some point; I'm just glad that I've got all of them together again.
I know that there has been much more in recent years involving Starlin's work with Thanos and Adam Warlock. I may have to fill in some missing elements of Thanos' history. Isn't there a Galactus vs. Thanos mini-series. Holy crap, I need to find it!

One can't talk about Jim Starlin and leave out an amazing series that was just phenomenal - "Metamorphosis Odyssey." A friend from high school was very much into that series and kept me up to date on it. My only piece of that story is the graphic novel "The Price" featuring Syzygy Darklock. This led to the Dreadstar comic series from Marvel's Epic line. Awesome, awesome stuff. I still proudly own that entire series - right up to Starlin's last issue. I couldn't stick with it after he left.

Thanks, Jim Starlin, for creating an amazing character with Thanos and I hope you get a thrill at seeing him on the big screen!  

Monday, August 11, 2014

50th Anniversary Destro

Now this is a bad-ass figure!

This is perhaps one of the best Destro figures of the entire modern line. The original Destro was awesome just because of the uniqueness of the figure, but I'm only considering the modern versions right now.

Destro has always been implied as being a tall character, but only know does he get the height that is needed to be a truly intimidating character. 
One of my issues, especially with the modern figures starting with the 25th figures, has been Destro's head/helmet. For the most part, the head sculpt has always seemed like there was no helmet, unless it was nearly skintight and flexible with facial movements. This new head sculpt gives some bulk to his head and you can imagine that it is a bulky mask/helmet over his head. The sculpt also highlights the sharp edges that were common in many early Destro head sculpts. Plus, he is still rocking his big red family jewel!

I've seen other reviews and pictures on the web about some really bad paint jobs with these modern figures. With buying this set from BBTS, I had to take a chance that I would get a decent figure. I got lucky. My Destro is in great shape. all of the paint edges look really crisp and there doesn't seem to be much paint spill-over in different areas. At least, I can't see any with my blurry old dude near vision.
Does he only come with just this rifle case? I think so, I don't remember. Either way, this is an exceptional accessory. The rifle breaks down into the case and...
...assembles into a decent sniper rifle. My role for Destro is not one of someone who would be a sniper, but one who would sell something like this. Besides, a seven foot tall dude with a steel helmet is a bit hard to be sneaky.
My only complaint about this figure is the knees. They are really pretty weak and wobbly. They bend well enough, but they're just a little weak. Destro skipped "leg day" a little too often. I'm not really thrilled with these new ankles that Hasbro has been doing on some of their figures, but I guess that isn't really an issue since GI Joe seems to be dead to Hasbro right now.
Destro and his babe, the Baroness. This is the same version that will be released in the two-pack with Lady Jaye a little later in the year. Wow, a several year old figure gets released as a 50th Anniversary figure. Woo-hoo!
Destro and the most recent Cobra Commander. This new CC is a pretty tall figure. Is there some size-creep going on with the line? Who knows since Hasbro doesn't give a crap right now. But they look good together!
My previous "default" Destro next to the new upgrade. The Resolute Destro was, and still is, an excellent figure. He does have a little bit of height when compared to many other figures of the Resolute era. He's suffering from the skin-tight metal mask syndrome. Now it's either time for Reso Destro to retire or it's reuse time for the body. I'm thinking a new character - I just need to find the right head for it!
Just a bad-ass!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

GI Joe: 50th Anniversary Review

Just a couple weeks ago, I finally got my first and probably only GI Joe 50th Anniversary item - Leatherneck, Destro, and General Hawk. Rather than worrying about going to Toys R Us, I just decided to order from Big Bad Toy Store. Is there much else that I want? Not really, I'm just not impressed.
Okay, yeah the figures are out of the package, but by this time, you've probably seen plenty of pictures of the full packages. The only reason that I'm posting this picture is that Hasbro did a decent job on the graphic impact of the package. It looks pretty nice. Crisp, bright colors. Bold graphics. 
I really like these etched in elements. The Sky Hawk and a couple HISS tanks add to the decor.
Mr. GI Joe himself - Snake Eyes. Sigh... Whatever sells product, I suppose.
The file cards are back. Whoopee!! So what, lackluster copies of the original cards. No big deal.
The implication here is that GI Joe has been fighting Cobra for the past 50 years. Not quite, Hasbro. did you forget something, Hasbro? I imagine that going back and revisiting the original GI Joe wasn't in the plans, but at least a little better acknowledgement would have been nice.
So Destro is a "troublemaker"? Really? Another "sigh..."

Of this set of figures, I'm only going to review Destro and Leatherneck, mainly because they are both new figures. Hawk has been released before and is still a damn fine figure. I already had three of that figure, so this one will wind up as a custom of some sort. 

Stay tuned for my reviews of Destro and Leatherneck. Yes, I'm on top of quick reviews as usual!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

GI Joe: A Real American History - Part 4

GI Joe History - The Bush/Clinton Years.

President George H.W. Bush enters office in 1989 and only lasts for one term, leaving in 1993. That "Read My Lips" comment hurts him in any reality. President Clinton is elected and serves for two terms, from 1993 until 2001. The important element to remember from the toy line is that GI Joe ended in 1994 and ended with a large chunk of the line focused on Star Brigade.

During the Reagan years, GI Joe was a dominant force in the battle against Cobra. Sure, Cobra won a few rounds, but GI Joe dominated in the overall war, slowly but surely, crushing Cobra's forces. GI Joe had a huge budget involving personnel and hi-tech weapons systems.
Cobra gets effectively beaten throughout Bush's term, with a final, critical defeat during Clinton's first year. Cobra is basically over - finished. While there are still military issues that need addressing throughout the world, Cobra is defeated and President Clinton makes the decision to shut down the GI Joe team basically due to the end of the threat of Cobra and being a huge budget item. Or is there more to that?
Since the cartoons are basically over and the toy line is basically dead, now I get to just use my imagination and turn the world on edge, really digging into my weird alt-history.

In the early 90's, Cobra Commander and his top financial advisers see that failure is on the horizon. Cobra will fall. The most dramatic event that occurred that set the full might of the GI Joe team upon Cobra's ass was the use of the Cobra orbiting space station to use it's space based weapons to attack American soil. No, I don't have the details on this, I'm making it up almost as I go along. I remember considering this, but don't recall the details. 

GI Joe gears up for a final assault on the Cobra space station using the Defiant and Crusader combat shuttles. Yes, that would mean two shuttle complex systems. Meanwhile, Cobra bases are falling across the world. In the early 90's, Cobra Commander takes his most trusted officer, Overlord, and directs him to start pulling in resources and key personnel and consolidating assets within countries that would act as safe havens.

Destro and the Baroness are gone, back to Scotland. Major Bludd, Firefly, Scrap Iron, Zartan and the Drednoks have all abandoned Cobra Commander. Even Tomax and Xamot are withdrawing their financial support from the "legitimate" side of Cobra.

A final, epic battle occurs, both in the American desert and in orbit around the Earth. The shuttle complexes are attacked, with the Crusader complex being destroyed just after launch. Cobra forces are ultimately crushed in the American desert. The two shuttles take the fight to the Cobra station, with the station being overrun and destroyed; the remains tumbling into the Gulf of Mexico over the skies of the nearly abandoned Cobra Island.

And an escape pod tumbles to Earth, parachutes deploying nearly too late, and plunges into the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Costa Rica. As the escape pod begins to sink, a man crawls out and starts swimming toward shore. <cut to an underwater scene> The escape pod sinks and a tattered blue mask drifts out of the opened hatch and drifts away in the currents.

Cobra is finished, GI Joe has been a great success in the 12 year war against Cobra and humanity goes along it's way, still fighting and killing each other over land, resources, or beliefs.

The next incarnations of GI Joe fall into this time period during the hiatus of the Real American Hero line. Sgt. Savage and GI Joe: Extreme are the two standouts of the line. What do I do about them? Well, Sgt. Savage works for me, but only in his 12" format.
He's right there in the middle, between Falcon and Dial Tone. I don't see Savage as a Captain America knock-off; he's just an extraordinary soldier who was a part of the GI Joe team.

GI Joe: Extreme? Nope, not going there. I'm dropping them from my alt-history. The only way that they would exist is as an actual toy line loosely based on the actual declassified GI Joe team. Extreme just sucks.

The next incarnation of GI Joe are the TRU commemorative series in the late 90's and early 00's and they just sucked in regards to quality. Again, maybe just a toy line based on the real GI Joe team.

The next incarnation of GI Joe are the GI Joe vs Cobra lines from 2002 to 2006. Cobra is back, but how? Where did they come from? Wasn't Cobra dead?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Stay tuned for GI Joe: A Real American History - Part 5.

The Death and Rebirth of Cobra.