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.


Monte said...

This is an excellent tribute. Never had it myself, but man, what a toy!

Brandon Haponuk said...

cool set up

Ricson said...

I still feel you can ask someone to help you restore. The Original Defiant no matter how you take care, will deteriorate. What makes it live longer is to learn fabrication or restoration. I need to apply other materials into the defiant to prevent future damage and extend its life for another 30 years....