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.


AT Headquarters said...

This was just as promised... Reasonably intelligent!

All joking aside, you make some good points. I made a similar post, that there is still good stuff out there if you want it. The spirit of Joe is all in our hearts.

But that said, I think a few new products would be great. I love creative new stuff. I think Hasbro could have done some fun "repro" stuff that wasn't just straight up repro. The market is there, you just have to create a need for it.

Sadly the house of 'Bro isn't as creative anymore. No ambition. No drive. I'm sure it'll come around eventually.

Brandon Haponuk said...

I love ur collection how u made so many different figures that Hasbro forgot about for ur 12in Joes. Il do what I can to buy ur bigger guys when I get money.