Monday, January 26, 2015

Aging Plastic Soldiers

Just how old is a Snake Eyes anyway? 

According to the original mythos, many of the original GI Joe figures from the 80's series were Viet Nam war veterans. The average age of a Vietnam vet is 64.

I don't mean to disrespect men in their 60's but I'm sure Snake Eyes and his fellow GI Joe team members are not quite as active as they used to be. Hell, I'm 52 and I ain't even close to being as physically fit as I once was. 

Sure, they're toys. I get it. It's still interesting to consider the characters and their "ages". Is the Snake Eyes from "Retaliation" the same Snake Eyes from "The Mass Device"? Of course not. No way.

The key to bringing GI Joe into the 21st century is to basically lift the mythos of the 80's and drop it into the modern era. But what does that do to the original story? Could there be different Dukes? Could Duke be more of a code name than a specific person? Maybe, but I would imagine that there would only be one Snake Eyes. 

The ultimate success of GI Joe is to know when to let go of the past. This applies to all of the various incarnations of GI Joe. Including the original 12" GI Joe. 

I'll say it again. 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the Brand, not just one aspect of its history. Of course, Hasbro screwed it up. GI Joe deserved more.

My intention here on this ridiculous blog is to do my own personal reboot of the GI Joe versus Cobra conflict into the 21st century to take advantage of the kick-ass modern era figures. So does that mean my favorite vehicle from the 80's, the Defiant Complex, is wiped from history? Uhh... maybe? We'll see.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

GI Joe: A Real American History - Part 5

GI Joe History - The Death and Rebirth of Cobra 

The Death of a Nation
This is the part where things get really ugly. When I last wrote about my weird twisted alt universe, Cobra was all but defeated. The upper echelon had been scattered or captured. Cobra bases across the world were attacked and destroyed, often with minimal resistance.

Cobra Commander was missing, presumed dead after the destruction of the orbiting Cobra space station. In victory, the GI Joe team became overconfident, assuming their superior forces was the primary reason for the collapse of Cobra. Unless it was planned by Cobra Commander and his most loyal officers. 
(blah, blah, blah)

I started writing this series last summer right before going back to work. It's taken quite a while for me to get back to it and I really don't feel the excitement that I did when I first started. So this idea has just stalled. My original idea was that Cobra basically went underground and started infiltrating American society, digging into areas of politics, law enforcement, the judicial system, and the entertainment. Cobra eventually became somewhat legitimate, disrupting American society from within while actively pursuing military conquests from a huge base established in Venezuela, which had become basically a puppet country run by Cobra forces.

Things have changed in my weird GI Joe world over the past several months, somewhat influenced by politics and world events. Plus there's the whole idea that the stories of the original ARAH GI Joe line are pretty much rooted in the 1980's. The original characters were also portrayed as Vietnam era veterans as well. That just doesn't work in terms of the modern versions of the characters.

So why not just pick up the whole concept of "GI Joe versus Cobra" and dump into the 21st century? My goal now stands to rewrite the past 15 to 20 years and work in the "rise" of Cobra in the 21st century. Much has been influenced by GI Joe Renegades and Retaliation, perhaps even a dash of Resolute as well.

Stay tuned, my loyal reader(s), hopefully this should be interesting. And hopefully not so drawn out like my past writing efforts.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What is this Thing?

It's Contest Time here at Reasonably Intelligent Rambling!

I have been in the possession of an old set of Robotix building toys. Apparently, these toys were the basis for an animated series back in 1985. I don't remember that series at all. I know that this kit is well over ten years old.
There is a very strong tech vibe to these pieces; lots of added tech tidbits on the structure of the parts. The colors are a bit loud though!
Just a nice industrial feel to these parts.
 Odd bits of connectors and other weird items.
These pieces came together pretty quickly I knew that the purple "cylinders" had to become some sort of processing tanks or something like that...
Destro was on-hand for the initial phase of construction, but due to the colors, I felt that someone else needed to step in to oversee construction.
Cesspool was the obvious choice to supervise the construction process since he just digs loud colors. 
At this point, I was pretty much done with construction and kinda' liked the colors, but they were really just too varied and loud.
Cesspool really liked the colors, but the Cobra Board of Directors over-ruled him. Time for some serious repainting!
The first step was to disassemble the thing and take plenty of pictures so I would know how to reassemble it. I took my time on the painting, primarily using flat gray and gloss black as my two colors.
Once the big chunks were painted to my satisfaction, it was time to put the thing back together.
I did add bits of detailing here and there, just to enhance some of the details in the structure. It has been a long time since I've done any painting on something like this, so it ain't all pretty. Good enough for me.
The tanks are completed with little bits of highlights here and there.
Cesspool and two nervous Techno-Vipers stand at the completed project. 
What does this thing do?
 Well, that's the problem. I built the damn thing without any idea of what it is. I know it's some sort of nefarious device that Cobra has built and the GI Joe team is going to have to break in and destroy the damn thing, but they need to know what they are after.
Hell, it could just be an industrial sized cappuccino machine! There's a huge Cobra army that needs their caffeine!
No, it's got to be some sort of dastardly something that needs to be destroyed or at least shut down.
That's where you, my loyal reader(s) and new guests come into play. I need some help in figuring this thing out.

So here's the deal. Develop some sort of back story as to what the hell this thing is and what its purpose is and I'll choose the best idea and you'll win...  

 Either Prize A (Two Cobra Blueshirts) or Prize B (One Blueshirt & Storm Shadow). Your choice!

It's just about January 3rd as I finish up this post and I'm going to start promoting it on Facebook & Twitter. How about I set a tentative ending date of January 16th? Email your entry to tbrooks1025 (at) Leave me a quick comment to let me know to keep an eye out for your entry. I'll review the entries and make my choice over the following weekend. I'll post the winner here and devote a new post to the official description of this thing, giving the winner full credit.

Plus, I'm planning on submitting it to JoeCustoms and I'll give you credit there! And if I take it to Joelanta this year, I'll give you a shout-out there as well!

Fame and fortune await!
Yo Joe!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Dilemma of Discounted GI Joe

Discounted toy lines are a fact, I understand that. It happens all the time. Toy sales slow down and it's time to make room for the new stuff. No problem, I get it. Kay-Bee Toys and/or Toy Liquidators were some of the earlier stores that I remember throughout much of my adult collecting years. Although Kay-Bee had some "questionable" markdowns at times.

I know the GI Joe line has gone through those pains as well and I get it, I really do. One of the biggest events in recent memories was the Rise of Cobra disaster. Stores were flooded with merchandise, mostly the first wave of somewhat mediocre figures. Later waves showed much more promise, but it really couldn't save the faltering sales. 

Even before RoC, the line suffered due to lack of sales. The later waves of the 25th Anniversary figures, including the few Resolute single figures, made their way to stores like Family Dollar and an odd little regional chain called Ollie's. Oh, I loaded up on those cheap BATs found at Family Dollar. Ollie's was a mythical place to me, many states away, never to be visited.

(Just a reminder, I'm a hack. This crap is based mostly on stuff I've read over the years and my own opinion. For what it's worth.)

Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshall's turned into treasure troves as extra and unreleased RoC merchandise flooded those discounted chains. It was a wonderful time to be a GI Joe collector despite cries of "Deth of teh line" from across the fandom.

GI Joe recovered somewhat with the release of the Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary waves of figures. The vehicles didn't fare too well and the few that were released were often found at the discount chains not too long after the release in the big box stores.

Sometime during the course of this retail nonsense, a new store appeared - Five Below. Nothing in the store was sold at a cost over $5.00. Nothing. 

I checked it out, thought that they had some pretty cool stuff, but nothing of real interest. I thought to myself, "If they ever get GI Joe figures, I'm screwed."

And eventually, they did...

I actually found out about GI Joe showing up at Five Below from the "What's on Joe Mind" podcast. The crew reported that there had been some sightings of Joe figures at Five Below sporadically across the country. As soon as I could, I hit my local store, and there at the front of the store was a wheel-barrow loaded down with brand new Wave 4 GI Joe Retaliation figures. You know, the Night Viper wave? I should have whipped out the credit card and bought every damn one of those figures - for two reasons - to help out a few Joe buds online and make some serious profit on the 'Bay.

But I didn't. I bought just a few, meaning to come back later. Once I did, the Night Vipers were cleaned out.

Sometime during the past year, Ollie's makes its way into my area. Once I saw this "new" store, I remembered those tales from before.

I stopped by a while back and noted that the store was getting in the smaller vehicles and those lame-ass 12" figures. Were the 4" figures on the horizon?

Sure enough, the ad came out for this year's Black Friday sales and there they were - the action figures on sale for $3.99 each! Damn!! As I read the ad, I began to consider if I really needed more figures. This was an awesome wave with some really amazing figures.

I really only would have bought some of the Cobra Combat Ninja Troopers and maybe a few of the "Ultimate" Duke figures - both of which were great as troop builders. The more I thought about them, the less I discovered that I cared.

The Cobra Trooper was nothing really impressive. The figure was actually kind of lackluster to me. I just wasn't impressed. Same goes for the Duke figure. Awesome load-out of gear and the figure looks great, but it really suffered due to the bulky vest and the bulky arms inhibiting arm movement.

Would it really be worth it to get up and on the road at around 4:30 this morning? Brave the cold and the idiot crowds out there? Hadn't I learned anything from my nine plus years at Walmart? Ultimately, I decided that I really didn't need more figures and I slept in and I'm okay with that. 

Tomorrow, I've got to take the dog to Pet Smart to get her nails trimmed. Maybe I'll swing by and see if there's anything left. Or maybe not.

I want to go back to my original point about discounted toy lines. I get it, I really do. I'm sure collectors were jumping all over these figures and I don't blame them at all.

This discounted line is different, this one hurts a little bit more. These amazing figures barely had a chance at stores like Walmart and Target. Both of those stores dropped the line before these waves had a chance to show up. Toys R Us was the only "loyal" retailer - sort of. They usually had a shitty location on the side counter for GI Joe, even the 50th Anniversary exclusive line. Hell, I was buying some of this wave of figures from Walgreen's and Rite-Aid.

Somewhere, someone really screwed up GI Joe. Was it the big box stores? Were they burned by the overstock from Rise of Cobra and the scheduling screw up of Retaliation? Had Hasbro lost confidence in their flagship line that saved their corporate asses at least twice in the past 50 years? How does a line go almost from the warehouse to the discounter?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but these discounted GI Joe figures seems to be a pretty crappy end to the 50th Birthday of GI Joe.

Happy freakin' birthday, GI Joe. Dammit.