Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Reboot Arises

When we last were together, I discussed an insidious Cobra organization infiltrating into the very fabric of society, with the goal of tearing apart a once great nation from within.

After the events of 9/11, the nation was at the height of its manufactured nationalistic fervor. We knew who our enemies were who had caused this outrage and they had to pay. I'm going to run a bit fast and loose with history right now. Just kind of surface level stuff. Through the Bush years, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan served as the proving grounds for those men and women would become the new GI Joe team. 

While there were successes in those wars, there was and still is great tragedy in those events. A quick commentary - is the Middle East really in better shape without Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi? I'm just a simple soul, beyond my pay grade to evaluate. But an unstable Middle East works quite well for the shadowy Cobra organization.

My thoughts of this alt history is that things were much worse for the US military, primarily because the "enemy" were better armed. Much like the private military contractors of our reality, the armed security side of Cobra Industries served, at times, alongside US troops, often coming to their aid, often being seen as rescuers and heroes. Building up a positive reputation of an insidious cancer growing from within. 

As the Bush presidency winds down, the nation is in turmoil, much like it was, but even worse. The population is disheartened and beaten down by economic disaster, caused, no doubt, by the machinations of infiltrated Cobra personnel.

This is really getting into some crazy New World Order stuff, isn't it? Fun stuff!

The nation is ripe for leader, a voice that will promise to restore Hope and Change. To fundamentally change the United States.To further weaken a nation.
One young Senator fro Illinois, educated at the hands of radicals, socialists, communists, and infiltrated Cobra agents.

So where does GI Joe rise in all this madness? During the Bush presidency, Cobra is widely public knowledge in all of its various public forms, but is usually portrayed positively by their media lapdogs. Only in the conspiracy websites and scattered militia groups, is there talk of the possible evil nature of the organization. Enough patriots still exist within Bush's government to revive the GI Joe team, which last existed in the Reagan years as a response team to that minor terrorist activity back in the 80's.

GI Joe serves admirably during the ending of the Bush presidency and does successfully transition into the Obama presidency. Obama genuinely supports, the GI Joe team, but has goals to "transform" the team to serve his needs.

Nearly the last bastion of honor and courage for the American people, the GI Joe team attempts to maintain their honor and integrity and inspire their nation. 

The events of IDW's Cobra series, GI Joe: Renegades, and GI Joe: Retaliation serve as a stew of ideas of what Cobra looks like in this modern era. Cobra, in its business ventures, is a force to be reckoned with across the world. Cobra International serves as the primary peacekeeping force within the Middle East, keeping ISIS at bay as Terror Dromes are built across the region. The Cobra Hierarchy understands the inherent instability that will be caused by allowing radicalized immigrants into once strong nations, but does have plans when those peoples become too much of a threat.

That's pretty much it for my alt-history world view of the GI Joe/Cobra conflict. A world much like ours, but quite a bit uglier. While there is violence in our cities, it is generally worse. But Cobra is there to the rescue, with the support of our government.

And, if that's not enough, let's stir up some more stuff! The Cobra science division has been working on all sorts of crazy stuff. Supposedly zombies have been used as weapons. There have even been reports of odd aliens or supernatural events occurring.

That's only so I can get away with incorporating Hellboy, Bossk, and some other odd 3 3/4"-4" figures into my GI Joe/Cobra pictures.

These are the events that will drive much of my action figure photography efforts in the coming months.

There is so much more that I could write about, but I think that's about it for now. Maybe I'll through in some other alt-history bits here and there as I get back into taking pictures again with this alt world in mind.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Reboot Awakens

From time to time, I have referred to my intention to reboot the GI Joe mythos. My intention in this nonsense is to bring the GI Joe mythos forward into time and have some fun with it. Maybe even punch it in the nose every once in awhile. You might recognize some of the elements of my reboot; I've drawn inspiration from various familiar sources.

I'm going to drag in real world events, then twist and shape them to my liking. That's what is fun about alt-history projects. Maybe I've said this before, but I'm generally conservative in my political views. Not that I'm really thrilled with the current batch of dumbasses representing the current conservative movement. Once a politician goes to Washington DC, they are pretty much done as a decent human being. They become bought and sold puppets of grander entities. 

I'm going to pretty much tear into Comrade Obama pretty savagely. And it ain't because he's black (half black, actually); race doesn't have anything to do with his politics. I believe that he is quite adept at using race as a political tool.

Fear not, George W. Bush is going to get roasted as well. Well, maybe not him so much as Rumsfeld and Cheney, the puppet masters behind Bush. Billy-Bob Clinton is going to get his share of crap as well. George HW Bush and Reagan may get a little hit as well.

So let's get this crazy ride going.

First off, the 80's line and nearly all of the characters have to be nearly disavowed. I need most of these people in the here and now and they don't need 30+ years added to their lives. I've discussed this before - most of the original 13 GI Joe's were 'Nam vets. Sorry guys, but you're too old in 2016.

But what about Cobra? What was the deal back in the 80's? Here are my thoughts. Yes, there was a terrorist organization back in the 80's, but the U.S. was at its military might back then. President Reagan was outspending the Soviets and economically crushed communism. The military was huge and powerful! Some petty-ass two-bit terrorist group didn't stand a chance and the masterminds behind that group knew it. There was no way that they stood a chance. There was one weapon that could be used and would ultimately prove to be quite deadly and very successful. Time.

Reagan's America crushes this nascent terrorist organization and the leadership goes underground and, at the same time, public. The economic boom of the late 80's and 90's allowed for a new battlefield; one of economics and industry. Cobra Industries, Broca Brothers, ARBCO, Extensive Enterprises, and several other companies arise, becoming global economic powerhouses. Secretly, in the shadows, they begin to build their armies. There is no single "Cobra Commander," there are councils of leaders.

The next step is to infiltrate society at its core, and begin to tear it apart from within. What does this shadowy organization want? World domination? Maybe, but that's a helluva' lot of paperwork. As Shield/Hydra Leader Alexander Pierce says in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, "To build a better world, sometimes means tearing the old one down..."  Chaos, war, violence - and out of the ashes, Cobra will arise and serve as the leadership for a new era.

I've had these ideas about an insidious Cobra organization for quite a while and my thoughts were only enhanced by the direction that IDW took Cobra. Recently, on a Facebook group, the question was asked about people's views of Cobra. I posted something a bit lengthy, similar to this current writing, but someone else posted quite eloquently their view of Cobra that just nailed it.

From Christopher Galletta Stevens:
"Financiers and bank/currency -manipulating billionaires who use their wealth to manipulate the politicians, media and schools to brainwash the masses and government programs as vote-enticing handouts into giving them total control, while portraying the good guys as the villains in the news media, schools, movies and television. One may say ISIS, but in reality, Cobra would either buy off ISIS leaders to help promote fear and division, or blame their opposition for their existence, not actually be terrorists themselves. The Joes would be portrayed as evil pro-war military and Cobra would do everything in their power to get them legally defunded and turn the public against it, effectively eliminating all resistance to their rule. They would infiltrate everything and become politicians, teachers, news media sources, screenwriters, song writers... Controlling the many via the influential few."

That's beautiful right there and it aligns with my thoughts so well.

Let's move the narrative along. The infiltration into society has begun. The next key event that has to be discussed are the events of September 11th, 2001. That event, for a while, pushed me into conspiracy theory craziness. Not that I'm entirely over it, but I think the official story is full of shit. The key element that seems to draw the ire of some people is the disbelief that their government would do that sort of thing to the citizens of their country. 

Do I think the US government is willing and capable of undertaking such a horrific event and murder thousands of people for political and economic reasons? Hell yes. So, in my alt world, is the US government responsible for the events of 9/11? Yes... and No. Not the larger public face of the government, but the infiltrated elements of Cobra within the US government. George W. Bush? No. Rumsfeld and Cheney? Yes. Bought and sold Cobra agents. 

Cobra began infiltrating society as soon as their terrorist army experiment failed. Late Reagan years, onward through the Bush and Clinton years.

This post is getting a bit long right now and I'm going to wrap up for now. Here's the current status: Cobra infiltrating society on a global level, with an emphasis on the U.S. The events of 9/11 have occurred and the population is in full-on patriotic fervor.

Next time, let's roll into the wars in the Middle East and onward into the Obama dictatorship presidency.

TL;DR - Reboot GI Joe into the modern era and make it hurt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Random Stuff via Periscope

I loaded a clever new app on my phone - Periscope. It allows someone to shoot a quick video with immediate interaction with viewers.

In our needy world of constant approval, this fits right in. Don't you get those emails asking you to take a survey about whatever service you've had done? Go to the doctor, auto service, restaurant, whatever - how did we do? Love me, please!

Despite all that needy crap, I think it's a cool little app (monetize it! make monies! I make 6 figures a day with Periscope and Twitter! How am I doing?). Sorry... random nonsense.

Still fun to be able to interact with like-minded people.

So here's my latest Periscope episode. The files actually delete themselves after a while on the 'Scope website. I'm sure Comrade Hillary Clinton is interested in anything that deletes her communications. Don't have to wipe a server now!

But you can link your Periscope site to https://katch.me/ ad it will save your files. From there, you can download the file or share them out into the series of tubes that make up the interwebs. 

So here it is...

Friday, November 27, 2015

Vibrance!

I've been reduced to taking pictures with my iPhone. Spotty results at best. Sometimes I get a good shot, sometimes I don't. My crappy 53 year old near vision doesn't help much either.

I've got a decent DSLR, but my daughter has been using it at college for a digital photography course. Did she bring it home during Thanksgiving? Nope! Well, she'll be home in another week, so I'll get it then.

I also got a new version of Photoshop which I've used in the past to clean up and sharpen my image quality. I think I first used PhotoShop Elements 3 many years ago and have been sticking with that well beyond subsequent releases.

There are quite a few new tools in this new Photoshop that are turning out to pretty fun enhancement tools! Let's take a look at some results.
Straight out of the iPhone. Not so much. 
Kind of blurry and the colors are washed out.
Using the Vibrance tool, the colors really "pop" now. 
Maybe a bit too much, but I like the results.
Budo vs. Zombie Viper
Dark Ninjas (Retaliation) - 
they really need a cool clan name
Red Ninjas (Retaliation)
same here, they need a cool clan name
Tunnel Rat crawling in a Lego structure.
Cobra Vipers rescuing an injured soldier. 
Rescuing? I'll explain later.
Helix!
Bulma! Or is it Spiral?
Deadly "sisters".

Black Friday Deals!!

OH MY GOD I HAVE TO HAVE THIS!!!
I think I first became aware of this yesterday through a Facebook post. A check of my email confirmed it. The Zombie Initiative set was going on sale as one of the Club's Black Friday deals.

I've got to admit, that's a damn good deal! Yes, the Club is expensive. I know that. Everyone knows that. But this deal brought the price per figure down to basically regular retail prices.

Fifteen figures for $150 plus shipping! Sweet! 
Dang, I'll take this as my whole Christmas!

This would be a great set to display and I've got a bunch of Zombie Vipers already and I've got Cesspool and he needs Toxo-Vipers and the Eco-Force guys are cool and Tj'Bang looks great! And I NEED THIS IN MY HANDS!

But then I started thinking. I needed to read through some reviews , get some other opinions. In my opinion, Justin Bell does some of the best reviews of GI Joe figures out there in the interwebs. Sure, there are others. Fred Meyer does some good work as well.

I decided to plow through Justin's review of the whole set again. Justin is pretty honest with his opinions and I appreciate his views on these silly ass toys.

A quick read though of all of the figures began to question my enthusiasm. The Eco-Force crew was pretty well done by the Club. Tj'Bang looked really well done; he would be a great addition to my martial art crew. Outback and the Steel Brigade Commander were less than desireable. I had done a very similar custom with the same parts that the Club used to make Outback, so I really didn't care too much about the new one.

The bad guys all looked pretty good. The Toxo Vipers and Zombies looked really great. Even Repulsor looked well done. Lab Rats? Not so much, but they would work as background scenery.

Justin's review didn't really tilt my opinion as whether to buy or not. At around 11:00 pm last night, while watching my kids play video games, I just really had to consider the value that this set would bring to my collection. Yes, I know it would be really fun to get ahold of and play with and make dios and photograph, but did I really need it?

Want and need have become important as I have gotten older. For so many years, I bought figures and toys mainly out of "want," I don't need any of them.

I decided that I don't WANT them enough. There are other GI Joe items that I WANT and needed to make a choice. None of us NEED any of this stuff. All of it is just pure WANT.

I guess it's probably pretty obvious by now that I'm not buying this set or any of the other Club Black Friday items. There are figures that I want in the future and who knows what Hasbro's plans for GI Joe are.

Hell, maybe I'm just getting older and becoming more reflective of this stuff. Contentment is a big issue. And STUFF... how much STUFF does one person need? Check online or the news for all the insanity regarding Black Friday for just a bunch of STUFF.

I am content with my collection, I have enough stuff right now, and that's good enough with me.