Friday, March 21, 2014

The State of the Hobby

This post is going to be primarily a long drawn-out rambling mess of thought on the State of the Hobby - at least from my perspective.

For anyone that doesn't know by now, I'm a fan of GI Joe - in almost any form. Sorry, GI Joe Extreme - you suck. I played with the classic, original GI Joe when I was a child, got into the 3 3/4" GI Joe when I was 19 in 1982 and have been a fan of nearly everything since then. I've got a little bit of Sgt Savage, and yes, just a couple Extreme figures. I've got a couple Sigma 6 figures also. And tons of the Modern Figures from the 25th Anniversary onward.

There are certain divisions or sections of the GI Joe brand that are important to me. I don't know the exact dates, so I'm just estimating on some of this stuff. 
  • The original GI Joe ran from 1964 until 1976 in two primary forms - the military figures and the Adventure Team. I never had a Bullet Man or Mike Power. I'm over this era. Nostalgia, sure; collect, no.
  • The Real American Hero o-ring figures started in 1982 until 1994, another 12 years of GI Joe dominance of the action figure aisle. Slowly reducing my collection, selling off many of the figures.
  • Those characters took a break for a while, only to return in the new sculpt era, largely odd proportioned figures, moving into the 25th line, two movies and some other sub-sets. Weird stuff, eliminated most of them.
  • Along the way, in the late 90's and early 2000's, there was another run of 12" figures, beginning with the Target Duke figure and moving into the Hall of Fame figures to the 30th Anniversary of the big GI Joe and onward through the 40th Anniversary of GI Joe. For me, that was the most important time period of the 12" GI Joe - the modern era.
  • The modern era of GI Joe - from the 25th Anniversary through Retaliation - some of my absolute favorite toys, really cool stuff
The modern era of the 12" GI Joe is what confounds me. I don't have the timeline, but from 1994 to maybe around 2006, there was some serious growth in this market. The resurgence of the 12" action figure, beginning with that initial Target Duke created the market now occupied by the likes of Hot Toys and Sideshow Toys. The late company, 21st Century Toys, kicked serious amounts of ass with much of their 12" offerings. Hasbro did a damn fine job as well, moving from the awkward 30th Anniversary figures, progressing to the amazing 40th Anniversary reproduction figures, and on into the other various Classic Collection, Timeless Collection, and Adventure team re-releases. But most of it, besides the 40th and some Timeless, weren't those damn repros of the original nose-picker body. 

Even with the much superior super-articulated body, there seemed to be a lack of connection to those awesome new figures. Personally, I loved them and have a ton in my 12" collection. I've got maybe two or three of the repro original style Joe bodies; I made a few customs by remounting the 40th vintage style heads onto the modern super articulated bodies.

The biggest gripe that I have heard from 12" collectors is that there's nothing in it for them. Hell, there's barely anything in the 50th Anniversary line for anybody. Hasbro's offerings are almost an afterthought, a collection of previously shown, unproduced figures with a 50th Anniversary label stuck on them. Wow, thanks for the effort, Hasbro. Yeah, in my mind, this "anniversary" line is a just some table scraps tossed to the collectors by a company that no longer appreciates the brand that saved their corporate asses at least twice.

Rumors are out there that Hasbro has eliminated the GI Joe design team and GI Joe seems to be basically dead in the water. Shit.

and then again, so what...

I have enough.

I have over 100 12" GI Joe's and several hundred 3 3/4"-4" Joe figures, plus assorted oddball 4" figures from other lines. I have enough. I'll still pick up some of the 50th figures, but if there is no more GI Joe product to be had, then somehow I'll manage. If the Club is still able to access molds from Hasbro and they offer decent figures, I may stick with the FSS offerings. Time will tell.

Depending on the product for the future GI Joe 3 movie, I may be done with GI Joe. Some people have said, "Well, what would you buy if there isn't any Joe product on the shelves?" Nothing? Maybe actually save my money? 

The new Acid Rain product looks insanely bad-ass and is a little tempting, but they're just so expensive. I don't know that I can justify those kinds of costs for them. Yeah, they're probably worth it, I guess, but for me, I just don't want to spend that kind of money. Okay, I know, the Club's FSS figures are expensive as well, but I have limits.

Hell, I'm 51 years old. My near-vision gets blurrier and blurrier every year. Maybe it's time to just be satisfied with what I have and be done with it all.

The State of the Hobby? For me, it's just chugging along in my own little weird world and I'm just fine with that. I have enough.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Joelanta 2014 Recap

Well, Joelanta 2014 has come and gone. This was the first time that Joelanta was a two day event. Usually, there's a Commander's Package that involves an exclusive 12" figure and some activities on the night before. I've only pursued the Commander's Package once, primarily because I'm just really not that interested in the original vintage style of GI Joe.

Usually, the show runs on a Sunday with a dealer room, an exhibit hall with custom figures and dioramas, and a section of celebrities for autographs. The only celebrity of note for me during the past few years has been Larry Hama. Due to an injury, Larry wasn't able to make it this year.

The local GI Joe club also does a massive display as the centerpiece of the entire event. This year's display was based off the Walking Dead. Really cool stuff, too. I'll post some pictures soon.


This year's show began on a Saturday and included several different panels throughout each day. The dealer room was packed and very lively, very energetic. It was amazing to see all of the various old toys that were for sale.
I was surprised at how many 3 3/4" Joe vehicles were selling. Decent condition vehicles were just flying out of the show. One comment I heard is that they vehicles still basically work with the modern GI Joe figures. True enough; even if the figures don't quite fit into the vehicles, they still look good next to them. 
I went to a few of the panels on Saturday. One featured one of the set dressers from The Walking Dead and it was a decent panel. Interesting to hear the behind-the-scenes tidbits about the show. There were two more that I went to, one was about the "50th Anniversary of GI Joe" and another was the "State of the Hobby." Both of them were entertaining enough, but still a little frustrating.

I was frustrated primarily because I'm a weirdo - I like both 12" and 3 3/4" Joes. While I am nostalgic about the original vintage GI Joe, I'm basically over that portion of the line. 

The mood seemed to be that this was the 50th Anniversary of the original painted hair GI Joe 12" action figure. Uhh, no... that figure has not been produced for the entire 50 years.

It's the 50th anniversary of the BRAND, not just a portion of the life span of the brand. Hell, the Real American Heroes characters have been around for over 30 of those 50 years. Damn, son, get over it.
One of the biggest problems that I had with going to Joelanta again was just not really needing to buy anything. Years ago, I stupidly sold off a bunch of 3 3/4" vehicles at near yard sale prices. Oh well, I don't really want to replace them at the higher costs now. I don't need them anymore.

Prices have jumped as well on the secondary market. Last year, I was buying up all the Vipers that I could find for $10.00 each. This year, the one Viper that I saw was for sale for $20.00. No, thanks, I don't need another Viper that bad.
I did get to meet Carson, the creative genius behind 3DJoes.com. He's a great guy and we were able to just hang out and talk about GI Joe and assorted other silly stuff. 3DJoes.com is an amazing site. If you haven't been there, you really need to check it out. Plus, you need to grab some of his posters. One day, I'll get some frames for the two that I bought and post some pictures on this silly blog.

If you're a fan of the original GI Joe, you can also check out Vintage3DJoes.com, a companion site to 3DJoes.com. Both sites have some amazing 360 degree photography of all sorts of GI Joe figures and accessories.
So my purchase list was quite short. I picked up a carded Renegades Duke (for customs), a loose Renegades Duke (after buying the carded version, dang it), the two 3DJoes posters, a Steeler figure from that big Target set (mainly for the head - custom), and that odd Jurassic Park - GI Joe type figure. He's got the Resolute Duke head on the Night Adder/Roadblock body with a deep tan skin tone and some well done tattoo work on the left arm and left side of the face.
This guy.

I just didn't really need anything. There were quite a few dealers that had plenty of small Joe stock, even new stuff, but there just wasn't anything that I simply needed to have.
The customs and diorama displays were a bit lackluster at this show. Not to slight anyone who entered their work, but there just wasn't much to look at. Some seemed to be re-entries from last year.

I really shouldn't complain that much. I've done customs and I've got some half-assed dioramas started, so I just need to make more of an effort to enter or show off something.
I can imagine that next year will pretty much be the same, expect dealers will have 50th Anniversary items at ridiculous prices. Oh yeah, 3 3/4" 50th Anniversary stuff, not 12" stuff. 
Even if I had won the mega-millions lottery the night before, I don't know if I would have loaded up on some of these vintage toys. Well, maybe I would have picked up that vintage yellow AT helicopter.
It was nice to see the Tiger Force truck there again. There were some other "celebrity" vehicles there as well, but I really didn't give a rat's ass. Seen one Mystery Machine, you've seen them all.

See you next year, Joelanta.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Basic Assortment: Green Snake Eyes

I can't believe I bought this piece of crap. Of both sets of the "Dollar General" set of figures, either color Snake Eyes is nearly at the bottom. Those crappy Cobra Commanders are the real peg warmers of either variant. They suck bad.
But this piece of crap - just damn. Stumpy neck, stupid green colors, crappy weird body. And I bought the damn thing. Hell, I bought two of them. Is this what desperation is like? Needing a fix of plastic crack, I buy some of the last shitty figures that can be found anywhere around?

But maybe, there's a bit of promise to the figure. The vest has always been intriguing. It's a great piece and in a fairly decent color. And the head sculpt comes from the wicked cool truly Ultimate Snake Eyes. Maybe there's some hope, just a little. So just thinking of one figure... an excellent stand, decent web-gear and head, plus a pretty good sword. And a shitty body. Worth the $6.00? Maybe. I guess it depends on how I can use the good bits. We'll see what happens.

FSS 02: Final Thoughts

The second figure subscription service has come to a close. All the figures are out into the wild. Time for just some quick final thoughts about each figure.
I'm just going to give some quick thoughts about each figure top row to bottom, left to right. Here goes.
  1. Dragonsky - looks great, didn't really want him from the initial reveal, sold him
  2. Bombardier - a nice tribute figure to the odd Action Man prototype
  3. Falcon - one of my favorite Joe characters, despite being a straight repaint of the Slaughter's Marauders Falcon, still a damn fine figure
  4. Shipwreck - don't have much use for him, not really into the Tiger Force pattern, still on the card, anyone want him?
  5. Skullbuster - interesting character, long forearms make him ape-like, I may find some new forearms for him
  6. Airtight - always an awesome figure, but again, Tiger Force, still on the card, but I may open him because this figure just rocks
  7. Tollbooth - a sentimental favorite hindered a little by some odd leg parts, I can live with that, not everybody is 6' tall, but those hands had to go
  8. Cesspool - awesome figure, great update to the original, wicked head sculpt, well done
  9. Widescope - straight reuse of Cobra Shock trooper body and vest, but done well w/ new paint apps, nicely done
  10. Big Bear - another cool looking Oktober Guard, but I don't need him and he's already gone to a new home
  11. Desert Scorpion - I never really liked the original o-ring version and really wasn't overly impressed with this guy, sold him to a local collector
  12. Keel Haul - another sentimental favorite, well done by the Club, don't really like the hands though, I may try to find better gripping hands from the spare body bin
  13. Grand Slam - a little bit blah, I don't have a sentimental attachment to the original 13 characters, but he's a nice addition to the line-up
Since this is my first big purchase from the Club and I passed on FSS 01, I'm pretty pleased with my decision to jump on-board for FSS 02. While they weren't all home runs, there were some strong figures in this set. I guess that's the nature of these figures. Some may have little interest in Tollbooth, but since my future wife gave me the Bridgelayer as a Christmas present, he's a keeper for me.

I'm looking forward to see who the Club will come up with for FSS 03. Actually, I'm really hoping that there will be an FSS 03. With Hasbro pretty much getting out of the GI Joe business, will the Club still have access to the molds?

I hope so. I hope Hasbro doesn't kill the Club as well.

FSS 02: Big Bear, Dragonsky, and the bonus...

Down to the last round of the FSS 02 figures. I know, I haven't discussed Keel Haul and Bombardier yet; I'll get to them soon.

I guess I should discuss my thoughts on the Oktober Guard before I talk about the figures themselves. I do like the Oktober Guard concept and the characters are excellent, but I currently don't have any of the figures in my collection. There was one that came in a two-pack, but I missed it. (Or didn't care?)

For the 2012 GI Joe convention, the Club put out the Operation Bear Trap set, featuring the Oktober Guard vs. the Iron Grenadiers. I've never bought a convention set before, so getting these guys was pretty much out of the question. They look cool enough, but I just can't personally justify spending that much money on a set of figures.

Wait, didn't I sign up for FSS 2 with figures at around $25.50 each? Yeah, well, there's usually a lot more expense to getting a convention set. 

So with no OG's in my collection, what was I going to do with these guys? When I first saw them during the initial reveal, I knew that they would be going on the secondary market. And they did, sort of...

So how about some first impressions based on the carded figure.


Both of these guys look damn cool, exceptionally done. Big Bear looks great, a great connection back to the original o-ring figure. The head sculpt looks awesome; the gear looks great. He really looks like a well-done figure, but...


Dragonsky looks pretty cool as well. I really wish I could get a glimpse of the head sculpt. I'm sure his face will show up online somewhere soon. Another great figure, but, like Big Bear, he's on the way out.

If any of my loyal reader(s) might be interested in these two guys, too late. They're already gone. I sold them to a great GI Joe collector and I'm sure that they'll be well appreciated.

And now on to the mystery 13th figure.


Grand Slam? Many collectors who signed up for FSS 02 were a bit surprised by this somewhat lackluster figure from the Club. Sure, he fills in a spot as the red-pad version of Grand Slam, but isn't he just a repaint of Bombardier who is a repaint of the 25th Flash?

I think he's cool enough, don't know when I'll open him though. I'm really not in any rush. I do think that Flash, Bombardier, and Grand Slam would look cool together. We'll see.

I'm certainly not going to bash the Club for this figure. Right now, they are best source for new GI Joe product. Hasbro has the "kiss my ass" offerings for the 50th anniversary, but it would seem that GI Joe will be dead in the water after those figures are released. Well, maybe "kiss my ass" is a bit harsh, but it damn sure isn't the best that they could have done.

I've got a future post swirling in my head about the future of GI Joe, for whatever it's worth. My two cents are probably only worth those two cents, but this is my silly public space for my opinion.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary - My Thoughts

"Bittersweet (adj) - arousing pleasure tinged with sadness or pain."

My custom 12" Joes - loosely based on the ARAH characters.
Well, I'm not "aroused" but I do appreciate the term bittersweet in relation to the news of Hasbro's offerings for the 50th Anniversary of G.I. Joe. Word finally spread on Saturday, February 15th, as fans who were in attendance at the 2014 Toy Fair began to share the news from the Hasbro promotion during Toy Fair.
A group shot of my original 3 3/4" collection characters
There had been a few rumors circulating around the web that there would be no new product for G.I. Joe this year. Seriously? For the 50th Anniversary of such an iconic brand? Thankfully, new product was revealed and a great sigh of relief spread across the G.I. Joe community. But was it really relief? Maybe yes, maybe no.

I think I'll start by just sharing my thoughts in regards to the "new" product that will be Toys "R" Us exclusive product. Wait, no Walmart or Target support? What the hell? As I've grown older, I'm less inclined to pursue other action figures as something to collect and spend money on. Going through some serious debt issues a few years ago helps me to be a little less impulsive when it comes to spending money. So in the terms of any extra funds that would have been distributed between Toys"R"Us, Walmart, and Target in relation to G.I. Joe, Walmart and Target can just kiss my ass.

There seems to be three different types of items that will be available for G.I. Joe - 2-packs, 3-packs, and vehicle/figure sets. the following pictures are from the Hasbro press release and I'm just going to comment based on the way I uploaded them - nothing particular about the sequence of the pictures.
First up is an arctic based 2-pack featuring Snow-Job and an "arctic" BAT. Snow Job looks to be a straight re-release of the Pursuit of Cobra figure. Awesome figure, but I never bought him the first time and I don't really want him now. The BAT is a repaint of the original 25th (ARAH) anniversary BAT. Damn fine figure, holds up very well to the most recent G.I. Joe figures, but I have a couple dozen BATs that I picked up for cheap when they were on close-out at Family Dollar several years ago. No big loss if I don't pick up this set.
Next up is a COBRA Wolf w/ Ice Viper and an arctic Sky Hawk w/ Snake Eyes. Kind of on the fence with this one. I liked the Wolf originally, but it was never a huge favorite; good opponent for a Snow-Cat, though. The Sky Hawk is just a repaint and I think there's some new stuff about Snake Eyes. Oh swell, another Snake Eyes. This will probably be a pass.
This vehicle set looks pretty decent. It's a VAMP mk2 w/ Flint and the mythical Night Landing set w/ a COBRA Eel. Flint comes from Hasbro's concept case from a couple years ago and looks pretty decent. There's been a rumor going around that this may be a Comic Con exclusive. We'll see, maybe not though.
This is pretty much a repeat of the previous set with just new colors for everything. Sigh... Couldn't there have been just a little more variation to this? Depending on how Flint dresses determines which VAMP he'll be driving tonight?
Another 2-pack - Blowtorch and the HEAT Viper from the concept case. Sorry, but Blowtorch sucks. The HEAT Viper is from the previously mentioned Hasbro concept case. I've always liked the HEAT Viper and bought a bunch of the originals back in 1989. I don't see myself troop building the HEAT Viper because I sure as hell don't want to troop build Blowtorch.
Lowlight and a Night Viper - two snipers. Nice concept, but I don't care too much. I've got this version of Lowlight and I'm not overly impressed with the Night Viper, especially in these colors.
Lady Jaye and the Baroness - pretty cool match up. Lady Jaye is from the concept case and Baroness is from the 2nd COBRA 5-pack. She was a bit tougher to find for some collectors. This version of the Baroness is probably the best version to date. Lady Jaye looks a little more combat ready and has at least buttoned up her shirt a little more.
Three-pack! Leatherneck, Destro, and General Hawk. Leatherneck makes use of the Retaliation battle-kata Roadblock body with excellent results. Destro looks to be a brand new figure featuring an angular sculpted helmet/mask/whatever. Hawk is just a re-release of the PoC Hawk - a damn fine figure, but nothing really new. I'm excited by this set, primarily for Leatherneck. The Hawk figure is a great base figure for customs as well.
Almost a troop builder set, but not quite. This version of Beach Head is another offering from the concept case and he's a great update to the character in his traditional uniform colors. Not much new to him, though - maybe a new head? So there's also a COBRA trooper and a Viper. You know, I really dig that COBRA trooper, but I've got a bunch of them. I think I have 16 of this color, 12 of the black uniforms, and 8 of the lighter blue uniforms from the basic assortment "Dollar General" figures. I have enough. As for Vipers, I've got around 14 of them and I really don't need any more. What's up with the color choices for this Viper? Damn, he sucks.

And that's it... Just these few offerings to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of G.I. Joe. Well, there's some new Kre-O toys coming out, but Kre-O is a non-issue to me. Kre-O is Hasbro's answer to Lego and there's a line featuring G.I. Joe characters and vehicles. They look cool enough, but I'm just not going there; I'm just personally sticking with the action figures. But if G.I. Joe's success lies in the world of Kre-O - that would be excellent. As long as G.I. Joe is out there in some form, I'm happy.

Maybe there is more to come at Joecon this year. I'm hopeful, but doubtful.

So there are a few gems in this "exciting" line-up of product from Hasbro celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the G.I. Joe brand - the brand that may have saved their asses, not once, but twice. I get it, the original 12" G.I. Joe is probably gone and may never again be on toy shelves. That's fine (kind of), kids have changed, costs have risen, and boy's toys have changed drastically since the original G.I. Joe.

This 50th Anniversary series just seems to be an act of laziness on the part of Hasbro. All of this crap that I'm writing is largely my own opinion, maybe with a little bit of influence from other online sources. I've really tried to limit myself to other fan's thoughts until after I get my own thoughts down here in my blog of little consequence.

A couple months ago, I stumbled across Oreobuilder's Blog and was simply blown away. I don't know who the guy behind the name Oreobuilder is, I only know that he's a customizer from the Joecustoms website. I think... Anyway, he showcased his work for a salute to the 50th Anniversary of G.I. Joe that was just simply amazing. I actually had to go through every single post in his blog just to marvel at his quality work. I would encourage may faithful reader(s) to go through OB's blog and just enjoy. My point in discussing Oreobuilder's blog is that he did an extraordinary amount of work in creating a tribute to the original G.I. Joe that could have been duplicated by Hasbro had they really put some thought and planning into the anniversary of such an important piece of Hasbro's history.

Sure, Oreobuilder went huge and covered huge amounts of the history of the 12" G.I. Joe, but Hasbro could have easily done something much more simply by just recreating the original G.I. Joe head sculpt in the 4" figure scale. That's all that was needed. Based on Oreobuilder's work, there's enough body types and styles that could have easily been translated into maybe a modern update to the G.I. Joe 30th Anniversary sets from 1994. Just one five pack of figures that hearkened back to the original G.I. Joe. Was that too much to ask? Apparently so.

My limited understanding is that the G.I. Joe design team at Hasbro is practically wiped out. That's too bad and it's a damn shame. I know the world has changed since the huge green G.I. Joe valley in the Sears toy departments from the 1960's and the massive wall of G.I. Joe product at Toys"R"Us in the mid 1980's. Those days are gone and G.I. Joe may never again rise to such prominence, and that's okay, I guess. 

But G.I. Joe needs to somewhere. G.I. Joe represents so much that is good and noble about courage and honor and the service and sacrifice of those serving in the military. Maybe there's just a larger cultural issue at play here in which children are being dumbed down in regards to courage and honor. In an entitlement society, courage and honor have no place.

I really don't know where I'm going with this whole post. I guess I'm just rambling about - hence the blog's name? I'm just disappointed in Hasbro for this half-assed (in my opinion) attempt at G.I. Joe's 50th Anniversary. Sure, collectors are the key driving force behind G.I. Joe's success right now, but I just wonder how many more G.I. Joe fans could have been brought on board through a series of figures that connected back to the original G.I. Joe?

So what's your spin on this whole G.I. Joe 50th anniversary deal? Well thought out, pro or con comments are encouraged, bullshit nonsense comments will be ridiculed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Retaliation Review: Blind Master & Jinx

Let's take a quick look at the elusive Jinx and Blind Master figures from the Retaliation line. These figures are very difficult to find in the wild and generally sell out quickly with online retailers. I was able to secure both and am finally getting around to posting my thoughts. I don't feel like reordering my pictures into any logical sense, so I'll just comment on the pics based on the way I uploaded them.  
The Retaliation Jinx figure is a straight repaint of the Jinx figure from the SDCC exclusive from a couple years ago. It's not a bad figure and fairly predictable that Hasbro would just reuse the same mold. The black straps are just paint apps, nothing sculpted. 
What the hell is this supposed to be? Apparently, this is the Blind Master's hat? Or is it a shield? Either way, it's pretty bizarre. 
Really? Blades that spring out from the sides? This thing is just crazy - off to the storage bin.
Now the actual Blind Master figure is pretty damn cool There's some intricate paint detailing all over him. The body is a reuse of what has become the standard ninja body first used (I think) with the Renegades Storm Shadow figure. The skirt piece comes from a Rise of Cobra Stormy and fits nicely into the gap at the waist. While the figure looks great, the skirt does inhibit the figure from assuming any serious action ninja poses.
The head sculpt is extremely well done; great attention to detail and excellent paint apps.

This odd weapon case comes with Jinx. I really haven't messed around with it too much, but it follows the concept of the various other accessories involving the mountain rope-line battle. The case also acts as a great way to store some of the tinier ninja weapons.
What the hell? A huge funky Kung-Fu sword and some weird circle-blade on a rope thing. Yeah, whatever.
There's nothing for the empty holster on the skirt piece, so I obliged and gave the Blind Master a pistol. Why not?
Back to Snake Eyes. I don't think that I've ever discussed this version of Snake Eyes. Maybe I have and just don't remember. The fact is that this is a bad-ass figure of Snake Eyes. The sculpting of the entire figure is just amazing, very movie accurate. But I prefer this version of Snake Eyes as my default version, so the Retaliation Snake Eyes doesn't get out much.
Three Jinxes, all lined up for comparison. Same body, same head on two of them.
Movie Jinx body with SDCC Jinx head - not bad, it works.

I'll have to say that the Blind Master figure is a little better than the movie Jinx figure. Both are decent enough, but Blind Master just looks a little better with all of the detailed paint apps. If I had missed them and had never picked them up, I think I would have survived.