Friday, June 13, 2014

The Anticipation of New GI Joe Figures

I know I was much older than the kids who were collecting GI Joe figures throughout the 1980's and on into the early 90's. But I think that there was something that I still had in common with the kids, even though I was driving myself to Lionel Playworld or Toys R Us and you kids had to beg mom and dad to go.

When those first new figures of that year's assortment showed up, the card back showed the promise of the weeks and months to come. I remember only getting a few of the figures at a time. It seemed rare back then to get the full set of the figures when they first started showing up during the year.

You could only get maybe 4 or 5 figures and just marvel at the figures that were going to eventually be at the store. There was a bit of magic and wonder, even to this goofy collector going from 19 and single in 1982 to 31, married with a young son and a daughter on the way in 1994.

It was just a great time to be a GI Joe fan. The crew at Hasbro had the marketing of the brand during the 1980's down to near textbook perfection.

And remember the thrill of just fanning through the multiple peg-hooks just loaded with GI Joe figures? Damn, that was fun! I still get a little of that thrill when I thumb through the modern figures - when they were sold in stores, that is...

Let's see if I can properly list the years for each card back.


Did I get them all right? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GI Joe Collector's Club: FSS 3.0

Well, here we go again. The GI Joe Collector's Club is at it again with FSS 3.0. The offerings this time are pretty exciting and examples of many of the figures to be offered are already out there in the collector environment.

The Club's 2013 Convention set was called Nocturnal Fire and featured many of the Joe characters in their Night Force colors. I've never picked up any of the Convention sets so I'll leave it up to Justin over at Generals Joes for an in-depth review of the set. The Club's versions for FSS 3.0 will be closer to the colors of the original figures.

FSS 3.0 is really, really tempting. I'll probably be right down to the wire in my commitment to the set. I'm going to run down my quick opinions about these figures. Only a few have had their "official" pictures released right now. I'll update the list as the pictures show up on the interwebs.

I believe Boss Fight Studio is responsible for the original head-sculpts for most of what the Club is doing right now. Awesome work!

First up is Spearhead and his pet bobcat, Max. Spearhead first made his appearance in this new form in the 2013 Con set. Thankfully, the Club toned down his original color palette. I was never a huge fan of Spearhead, but I like this guy. Definitely in the keeper column.
Next is Alpine... in shorts? Based on his Valor vs Venom appearance, the Club makes good use of Kwinn's shorts. Alpine's first modern appearance was extremely tough to find. He came with one of the DVD packs in 2008 that barely made it to retail. I'k okay with this version, I think he'll stay in the keeper column.
Next up is the Night Creeper Leader based on version 2 from 1994. He looks pretty good, but I'm not too thrilled about the figure. Nothing about the Club's efforts, I'm just not really thrilled by the character. My Dark and Red Ninjas from the Retaliation line and the 2 versions of Storm Shadow from the basic assortment (Dollar General) take care of my ninja needs. He'll probably be in the to-go column.
Psyche-Out is next. I really liked this guy when he first appeared way back in 1987. I liked the concept of the character and he was showcased a few times in the comic with some cool character development. This sculpt of Psyche-Out first appeared in the 2013 Con set. I like him, I'll keep him.
Now we have Muskrat, also from the 2013 Con set. His first version back in 1988 was pretty well done, a favorite to me back then. The Club has scored again with this guy. I like him and I'm keeping him.
Vypra just showed up over on Generals Joes as I was going back to look over the list. She is based on a new character in 1998. I wasn't really collecting many Joe figures at the time and wasn't really impressed by her. The original is a straight repaint of Jinx and this new figure from the Club is a repaint of a modern version of Jinx as well. Makes sense to me. I'm kind of on the fence on Vypra. While it's another ninja; she's a female Cobra ninja, so that's cool. Balancing on the fence for right now with Vypra.
Hit&Run is another one of the 2013 Club set that will be in FSS 3.0. Apparently there has been a bit of controversy regarding the green camo face paint that should or should not cover Hit & Run's face. Personally, I don't really care. The green face of the original and the 25th version were good enough, but I want a Hit&Run that isn't defined by a look from the past. If there's a hint of green smeared on his face, that's fine. As long as the Club doesn't do a solid green face like the original or the 25th version, I'll be pleased.
Looks like the Club went with popular opinion and Hit&Run is getting a green face. Sigh... That's still okay by me, he's another keeper.
Repeater is up, fresh from his appearance in the 2013 Con set. I liked his original version back in 1988. The Con set version uses the Retaliation Roadblock body as the base, which is great because this adds another big dude to the line-up. He comes with an M-249 SAW and not the stedi-cam machine gun like the Con set Night Force version and that's fine with me. There are plenty of BFG's in the GI Joe line that would work just fine for Repeater. Everything doesn't have to be a retread of the vintage line. I'm impressed, he stays.
 Slice is another ninja - sigh. His partner Dice came out in FSS 1.0 and I wasn't on board back then. The original version was pretty decent, but I'm not so impressed by the concept of the character. Since I don't have Dice, I'll probably let Slice go.
Big Ben is a cool addition to FSS 3.0. The original was a great figure and the Club did a great job with Big Ben. Looks like he's been officially recognized as a member of Action Force as well. He's a keeper.
The Crimson Guard Immortal is another addition to FSS 3.0. I wasn't very impressed by the original and was never really impressed with much of the Crimson Guard offerings anyway. I think the figure looks pretty well done, but it's another troop builder in an expensive series of figures. He'll be on the to-go list and I think I've already got someone lined up for him.
Bombstrike is the last of the Stall siblings to be released. Based on the concept design, she seems a bit angry to me. Her brothers, Black Out and Barrel Roll, were released in FSS 1.0. Missed both of them, but Bombsrike will be a keeper. I liked her original version and am looking forward to adding her to my team. I created a custom of Black Out prior to the Club's offering. They stole my idea, they stole my idea!! No they didn't, how easy was it to make a Black Out custom anyway?

Number 13? Who knows? I've heard rumors that there will be much more effort put into number 13 than Grand Slam from FSS 2.0.

The question remains - Yes? or No?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Fond Farewell of Sorts

Once upon a time...

When I first saw the Defiant Shuttle Complex in the 1987 catalog, I was just blown away. I had started collecting the Real American Hero line at the "mature" age of 19, so I was around 24 when the Defiant first appeared. And married. Fortunately, my wife was very tolerant of my hobby, but it really wasn't going to happen that I would ever own the Defiant Complex.

So I watched the massive boxes show up at the local Toys-R-Us and sit and sit and sit. I suppose a few sold, but there always seemed to be one or two that just sat around and never left.

It was either late 1989 or early 1990 that I came into a little bit of money and I knew that there was one thing I needed to do with just a small amount of new funds - the Defiant Complex.

By this time, TRU had already begun the mark-down process on the Defiant. I think that it had originally retailed at around $129.00. Maybe more? I don't remember. All I remember was that it had been marked down to $99.00 by the time I was able to get mine. Fortunately I drove a small pick-up truck at the time, so transporting the beast wasn't an issue.

I know it took me a couple of days to finally put the whole thing together, because unlike the kids who had this set, I had a job, a wife, and a young son.

I was always so impressed by just the massive size of the complex. Such an amazing feat of toy engineering. Sadly, my complex never really had a place of prominence in my collection, mainly because it was just so damn big. The perils of being a home-owner.

For a while it was stored in an attic subject to the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. It was eventually moved to a non climate controlled detached garage/shop. Wonderful, right?

Heat and just life took its toll. Something in the shop fell over and smashed the crawler's cockpit. Not too badly, but bad enough to need some obvious repairs. Plus the fact that it was stored near a window with direct sunlight during a good chunk of the day so the front half of the booster faded into a lovely shade of ugly yellow.

So what else happened to my Defiant?

  • The springs broke free from the raising mechanism - probably an age/plastic fatigue issue.
  • I tried to repaint the booster and damaged the cockpit windows. Ugh. I learned about the use of peroxide treatments for yellowed plastic from Dave at Flag Points, but only after I repainted the thing.
  • The forward gun emplacement was broken off at some point. Repaired, but still damaged.
Flash forward to a new home with a man-cave of sorts. Not much of one, but still some space just for me. 

And there sits the Defiant Complex, up on a shelf and basically out of reach. For the past couple years, I've considered selling the whole complex at Joelanta. After talking to a couple dealers and describing its condition, I knew I wasn't going to get much for it, at least not as much as I had seen some go for on eBay.

Recently, I decided to begin taking it apart and selling it for scrap basically. The good news was that I was helping fellow collectors restore their own Defiant Complex sets and the even better news was that I was making some decent money off of the parts.

I sold Payload and Hardtop during the summer of 2013; their sacrifice allowed me to buy the wave 3.5 and 4 figures from Retaliation without an impact to the family budget - always a good thing!

So my Defiant Complex is a collection of loose parts right now. The gantry doors are gone - thankfully they had survived the years in excellent condition. Other bits and pieces from the crawler and the booster are gone.

I'm keeping the Defiant itself intact right now. It's really not that big and I just want to hang on to that last chunk of the whole Complex. It's in pretty decent shape, just yellowed with age. I'll be talking to Dave at Flag Points for details about the 2(HO) treatment.

As I've gone through the process of taking apart the Complex, I've been amazed at the amount of engineering that went into this thing. I've heard Kirk Bozigian discuss the Defiant Complex on several different GI Joe related pod-casts. Kirk is the former project manager at Hasbro during the Real American Heroes era and offered some amazing insight into the whole marketing phenomenon that was the GI Joe line in the 1980's. Hasbro put a million dollars into the tooling of the Defiant? Holy crap!! It definitely shows!

I've created a page on this silly little blog of mine with a bunch of pictures of various bits and pieces of the Defiant Complex. Some of it may go up for sale, some may just hang around and become set dressing for a future diorama idea stored up in the back of my brain. Check it out here.

At some point, the empty shell of the booster, the broken crawler cockpit, and maybe even the base of the crawler may just find themselves in the trashcan, waiting for that final journey. I'm keeping the main gantry wall because that is still such an amazing piece and great as a background for taking pics of figures.

I suppose I'm a bit melancholy about the state of my Defiant Complex, but life goes on. 

In the end, it's all just stuff. 
Feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts.