Monday, November 21, 2016

Sinister Allies/Zombie Patrol Review

Time for a look at the two troop builder two packs from Hasbro. Just a reminder, I've passed on the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow two pack. Great figures, but I really don't need them. If I happen to be out at a Toys R Us and spot the set, I'll probably grab it, but it isn't a high priority.
First up is the Zombie Viper two pack. These guys are basically just the same figure from a few years ago with just some minor paint app differences. The picture above is an original zombie on the left and the new zombie on the right. The easiest difference to spot is the right knee; the new version has a paint app that makes the zombie look like his knee is exposed.
This is a great two pack; great for the guys who missed out on the zombies when they were first released. I was lucky and was able to score quite a few before the prices jumped on the secondary market. I've got six of the originals and have now added four of the new zombies. Still awesome.
Next up is the Sinister Allies two pack with the Iron Grenadier and the Cobra Viper. Personally, I would have liked a two pack of the Viper.
The Iron Grenadier was a great figure when they first appeared as Destro's soldiers. I remember buying quite a few, but they're all gone now. I was initially excited by the prospect of a new modern version of the Iron Grenadiers but I' a little disappointed by the result. The body just doesn't work well enough for me to do some serious troop building. 
The Cobra Viper? Hasbro did a hell of a job. The initial 25th anniversary figure was pretty crappy, but the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary figure turned out great. I kinda went a little nuts about them and wound up with about sixteen of them. I got lucky and even snagged two of the blue gauntlet versions.
There's really no difference between the 30th and this year's version. Just one significant difference. Instead of a chrome faceplate, Hasbro chose to go with a clean silver paint job. This new paint job actually works quite well. I think I'll wind up switching out the lower arms with these two new Vipers with the blue gauntlet Vipers. I suppose that when I make that switch, they'll be my Viper officers.

Well, that's about it for Hasbro's GI Joe offerings for me for this year. I'm glad that GI Joe is still alive. Somewhat... 

Hopefully, Hasbro has some decent plans for the future of GI Joe. I don't know if it will involve their huge crossover event with Rom, MASK, the Micronauts, and the Visionaries, but it should be interesting. I hope it resonates with kids.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mission Accepted/Heavy Conflict Review

Let's take a look at a couple of the new GI Joe two-packs. There's a total of five two-packs in this year's GI Joe release.
First up is the Mission Accepted two pack with Duke and Tombstone. A new character from Hasbro! Awesome! Black characters on the side of Cobra have been few and far between over the history of the Real American Heroes cast of characters. I'm pleased that Hasbro went this direction; it's been long overdue.
Duke turned out... okay... I'm not totally impressed. I've already modified him just a bit. I added a pistol belt and switched out the vest with the more muted colors of the Steel Brigade vest. Plus the SB vest has a few more features detailed with paint. I was really hoping that the Renegades Duke head sculpt would fit on this new figure, but it just drops down too much on the neck post. He turns looking like he has no neck. Decent enough figure, but he won't become my default Duke.
Next up is Tombstone, the new Cobra field commander. I think the idea of this guy is that he is basically Duke's counterpart on the side of Cobra. Decent build by Hasbro. The head sculpt turned out nicely, but a few paint apps around his damaged eye would have been a nice touch. I believe this is a straight reuse of the PoC Firefly figure. I wasn't too crazy about that body back when it first showed up and I'm not too crazy about it now. 
Next up is the Heavy Conflict two pack with Heavy Duty and Stiletto. Stiletto is a new character based on a character from one of the Kindle Worlds fan fiction stories. I need to dig into the Kindle Worlds stories and find out the back story on Stiletto.
Heavy Duty turned out great. Hasbro used the Retaliation Roadblock/Rock body with great results. Heavy Duty becomes the big dude that he seemed to have been implied. The original Heavy Duty just seemed like muscular average sized dude, but he seemed to grow in size and stature as the line progressed. I think he was part of the Sigma Six line and became a pretty big dude. His character in Rise of Cobra was a big dude as well. 
Personally, this Heavy Duty is the best of this year's collection of GI Joe figures.
Next up is Stiletto, a brand new character to the GI Joe universe. Apparently a Cobra defector who now works as Mercer's bodyguard. Why does Mercer need a bodyguard, especially since he was a lowly Cobra Viper. Perhaps Mercer gathered quite a bit more information about Cobra during his career and now they have a serious need to eliminate him. I guess he might need a bodyguard then.
Hasbro did a decent job with Stiletto. They used the Helix torso and legs along with arms from an older Lady Jaye figure? Maybe, I don't know. The head sculpt turned out... okay... There's a few issues. The head seems to be a bit squished and she could have used some paint apps on her scar.

Not a bad few figures, but not a whole lot of excitement. Next up, I'll look at the troop builder two packs.

GI Joe Special Forces/Cobra Legion Review

It's time to try to get this silly ass blog rolling again. Life's been a bit crazy, you know. All the open heart surgery and moving across town. Settling into a new job and new house. I've been a little busy.

Let's get rolling with quick reviews of the new GI Joe figures from Hasbro. First off will be the three packs, GI Joe Special Forces and Cobra Legions.
Let's start with the GI Joe team. The set includes Outback, Falcon, and Shooter. Shooter? Who's that? C'mon, you already know by now, but i'll explain a little bit in a few minutes. 
All of the GI Joe troops in this set are outfitted in black gear. Night ops, I suppose. Outback turned out pretty good, but he seems to have gotten taller and gained some weight. I'm not sure of the parts used for Outback; it looks like RET Roadblock's torso and upper arms with Gung Ho lower arms. I'm not sure of the legs. I always imagined that Outback was of smaller stature; average height, wiry and strong. I think he'll work out fine as my new default Outback. 
Falcon has always been one of my favorite characters, but this version just doesn't quite work for me. Hasbro is using the same body and head from the BBTS Slaughter's Marauders set and the Club's recent version from FSS 3.0 or 4.0. I don't recall which right now. The totally black uniform is just a little too bland. There needed to be some bits of paint apps to break it up.
Jodie "Shooter" Craig was supposed to be the 14th original GI Joe team member. The name appeared way back in the first issue of the Marvel comics run of GI Joe with the face obscured. Larry Hama rebooted the character in an issue of GI Joe: Declassified which covered the building of that first team of GI Joe. She was apparently killed at the end of that first mission from GI Joe #1 and seems to have reappeared in recent comics. I've been out of the new comics for quite a few years.

So what about the figure? I'm glad Hasbro made the character, but I'm not thrilled with the final result. She's okay, but just doesn't "pop". The uniform is bland and the body is just too dated. Maybe the RET Lady Jaye with blacks and dark gray highlights would have worked out better.

The winner for this set is Outback.
Next up, I'll take a look at the Cobra Legion set. Nothing but troop builders! Time to load up, right? Maybe, maybe not.
First up is the SAW Viper. I don't know where the body parts come from, but Hasbro did a decent job. The arms are a bit bulky and it's difficult for him to get a solid two-handed grip on a weapon. This is a decent enough build and I wouldn't mind another one or two.
Next up is the Cobra BAT. There's been no change to this figure from its first release during the 25th Anniversary line up. Of all of the modern figures since the 25th Anniversary line, this is one of the most solid. While most of the 25th Anniversary figures don't hold up to modern figures, the BAT works just fine. I've got loads of them. Probably two dozen of the 25th version, a couple Resolute BATs, three Jungle BATs, and two Arctic BATs. Would I like a few more of these guys? Sure. Will I get some more? I don't know.
Finally, there's the new female Cobra Officer. Very cool concept, but a little weak on the execution. The baggy pants legs work out alright, but the upper torso is the same as Shooter's and it's just too dated. The head sculpt is decent, but the helmet doesn't fit too well on the head. I suppose I'd like a couple more to try out some different female head sculpts.

The winner for this set is the BAT. The other two just don't quite come together enough to have that "wow" factor. Would I like a couple more of these sets? Yeah, but I'm not going to push too hard to get more. There's no Toys R Us around for 20+ miles and I'm not interested enough to hit them up online on BBTS or TRU.

Next up will be reviews of some of the two packs. I initially picked up the Duke/Tombstone, Heavy Duty/Stiletto, and Zombie Viper two packs. I'm passing on the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow set. Very cool, but I don't really need them. I did succumb to online temptation and ordered two of the Iron Grenadier/Viper two packs.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Recap: FSS 4.0

Just some quick random thoughts about FSS 4.0 now that it's done and all of the figures have been released. Of the three FSS series that I have been a part of, I can't say that this group has been my favorite bunch. Quick thoughts of each figure to follow.
  1. Interrogator - great figure, weak choice of head under the helmet.
  2. Night Creeper/Ice Ninja - sold
  3. Nunchuk - great figure, I changed out his web gear 
  4. Inferno BAT - pass - sold
  5. Tiger Force Outback - great head sculpt, body is a bit too small compared to head sculpt?
  6. Barricade - those arms... I really liked original figure. This guy? Not so much
  7. Tiger Force Sneak Peek - very nicely done! Great figure
  8. Billy, CoCo's son - great head sculpt, a bit too large on body choice. I added new web gear
  9. Law & Order - traditional colors, I like Renegades version better. Sold
  10. Jammer - large head syndrome, decent figure
  11. Pathfinder - a bit odd parts selection, bits don't quite mesh together
  12. Bullhorn - great figure but that 90's headband had to go!
  13. Carla "Doc" Greer - great mystery figure
Of the three FSS series that I've been involved with, I'm going to have to go with FSS 3.0 as my favorite group. Time will tell for FSS 5.0.

How about you? Which group has been your favorite?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GI Joe Club FSS 5.0 Reveals

All the shenanigans seem to have settled down about the reveals for the Club's FSS 5.0 set of figures. I've been it a bit of a funk lately, at least in relation to toys and stuff. Surgery, new job, moving... it's all piled up to make for an interesting summer. The toys and this silly blog got put to the side for a while.

I've signed up for FSS 5.0 and have previously been a part of FSS 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. I figured that I might as well throw out my two cents about the troops for FSS 5.0. Nothing better than sharing your opinion on the internet, right?

I loaded the pictures as to how I had saved them, not in the sequence that they were released. So, what the hell? Let's get going.
First up is Ambush. I wasn't really a huge fan of the original figure and I think that the Club did a decent enough job in capturing the essence of the character. As has been pointed out elsewhere, his neck seems extra long with that head propped up on that collar. Maybe it's just a pre-production issue and hopefully it will be resolved. In general, I'm in favor of this figure.
Next up is the Viper based on version 4 from 1994. I really didn't like the original figure much. I'm sure I bought a few, but nowhere near the amount of regular Vipers that I would have bought back in '86. Now we have another troop builder from the Club. I can't really fault the Club, primarily because the Cobra figures were largely the troops, with the individual personalities being a smaller amount. I think the figure looks well made, but I just don't know yet if I'm going to keep him. The design doesn't really fit into the design of the current modern Vipers or Cobra soldiers. Right now, I'm thinking he's going to head to the secondary market. I'm thinking I should be able to turn him for a decent profit.
Next up is Charbroil, another figure that wasn't terribly exciting in his original form. I think the Club did a decent job with him. I like this design over the Hasbro Blowtorch design. Charbroil is a keeper.
Next up is Darklon. The Club used the character in one of the recent Convention sets and he looked pretty good. I don't recall the build and I'm too lazy to go look it up right now. I think the Club did a great job; I think the parts choices work. I've always liked the character and will be pleased to add him to my collection.
No, this isn't Gung Ho. This is his Action Force counterpart, Gaucho. The original Gaucho was just a repaint of the original Gung Ho, so... yeah... Easy figure for the Club. He's way too much like Gung Ho for him to fit into my GI Joe world. I don't know what I'm going to do with this figure. Keep or sell? Time will tell. 
Next up is General Flagg. I like the design from the Club. Not sure how well that hat is fitting on his head, but the build looks pretty decent. I'm looking forward to adding him to my team.
Raptor? The Club decided to tackle Raptor? They certainly did and they did a damn fine job. I've seen customs in which the jungle viper "wings" were used for Raptor customs and I'm pleased that the Club went the same direction. The "wings" work great for Raptor and I'm excited about adding this goofball to my Cobra lineup.
I have always liked the character of Scoop. A combat journalist always sounded like a cool part of the team. Those odd combat jobs, like the journalist or the combat engineer (Tollbooth) always appealed to me. I think the Club captured his look well enough, but I'm disappointed that the head sculpt has a non removeable helmet.
Sneak Peek in his more accurate colors is up next. I liked the FSS 4.0 Tiger Force version and this guy looks just fine as well. Lazy on the part of the Club? Yeah, maybe, but it makes sense. I'm not sure why Tiger Force came out before this regular version, but either way, this figure works. I'm pleased to add him to my team.
Next up is Steel Raven, from the Club's comic story. Loosely based on a SKAR character from GI Joe: Extreme. Wow! The Club dipped into the mutant cousin/line of GI Joe? Not bad! There's been some criticism about Steel Raven looking like a female Major Bludd. Yeah, maybe. Whatever. I think she looks pretty good and well designed. 
Next up is Xamot, from the "Shattered Glass" storyline from the Club's Adventure Team comic. Whatever the backstory, we have one of the twins in a business suit. I'm quite pleased with this choice. Does the Club have plans for Tomax? Maybe in the future? 
Next up is the biggest source of nerd rage of FSS 5.0 - Salvo. This is the first concept from the Club and the Joe fan community exploded in a fury of outrage! Personally, I didn't care too much at the time. I've always imagined that the Club has to use what Hasbro allows them to use. Apparently the fan base interpreted the somewhat bulky original figure with the idea that Salvo had to be a big dude. Nerd outrage ensued... But the fan base did a good thing. They politely went to the Club's forums and reacted in a positive fashion, which resulted in...
This new version of Salvo. The Club offered up a design using the Retaliation Roadblock torso which gives Salvo much more bulk to him, much more in line with the muscular original figure. I've got to admit, the fan base did a good thing and I'm really hoping that the Club can create this version of Salvo.

Finally, there will be the mystery 13th figure. The Club has revealed that the figure will be a female figure and a "highly requested GI Joe team member." So what does that mean? Sounds interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing who it will be.

I was pretty much sold on FSS 5.0 from just the original line up and the release of the preproduction designs further completed my buy in of the line up. Right now (only considering the 12 named figures), it looks like there are ten solid keepers, with the Viper being a probable sale and Gaucho being on the fence as to what his final fate will be in the end.

My only real complaint with the Club and the FSS figures is the lack of communication. I don't want to know all of their business, but keep the fans updated on production and expected shipping delivery times. Just give us something once in awhile. Please.

One last question - Will the last figures from FSS 5.0 be released before the 2017 Convention? I certainly hope so.