Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FSS 4.0

The 2015 GI Joe Convention wrapped up this past weekend with some interesting news from Hasbro regarding the immediate future of GI Joe. There will be new product coming out this year, but beyond that, plans are kept quiet for now. With the hope of a third film, perhaps GI Joe will one day have a stronger presence in the retail environment.

The GI Joe Collector's Club also has convention exclusive items as well promoting the upcoming FSS offerings. I'll give my brief thoughts on the different characters. (all the links are to prior versions of the characters) The lineup for FSS 4.0 as follows:
  1. Barricade - Loved this character when he first appeared in 1992! I always liked the armored look of this guy. Definite keeper!
  2. Billy (Cobra Commander’s son) - I've also seen him listed as "mercenary." I've also heard that he'll be an adult. Sounds interesting, definitely a keeper. This will be the first time that Billy will be in figure form.
  3. Bullhorn - Another great GI Joe character from 1990. 
  4. Interrogator - An odd Cobra character from 1991 who came with the Cobra Battle Copter.
  5. Law & Order - He's supposed to be the modern era Law & Order, but with the original 1987 colors.
  6. Cobra Inferno B.A.T. - An internet exclusive from 2003
  7. Nunchuk -  An original part of the Ninja Force from 1992 or the 12" version from 2002.
  8. Night Creeper (Ice Ninja) - from 1998 - mixed feelings. Not really impressed by initial Night Creeper figure, not so much now.
  9. Pathfinder - 1990 - cool figure, interesting gear. I'm looking forward to seeing the update.
  10. Jammer (Z-Force Communications) - Nice to add an international character. I'm looking forward to him.
  11. Tiger Force Sneak Peek (UK Repaint) - I don't have a modern Sneak Peek, this guy will do.
  12. Tiger Force Outback (UK Repaint) - Updated Outback? Sounds good to me! 
No pictures have been released by the Club yet. I'm looking forward to see these various figures in the stages of development. Looks like a pretty good crew.

Monday, April 13, 2015

FSS 3.0: Alpine & Hit n Run

Unbelievable! I'm getting my reviews caught up before the next set of figures show up!

Next up for review are Hit & Run and Alpine. Both of these figures turned out decent, but they both still have some odd issues in my opinion.
Let's start off with Hit & Run. He looks amazing, great paint apps on the uniform and the green paint on his face and arms is not solid green like his previous incarnations.
I do wish that H&R wasn't quite this green though. I like to be able to display figures in various types of situations and H&R will always seem like he needs to be in the brush somewhere or immediately headed into combat. I don't see how he can be displayed as a part of a mission prep type display.

Some other Joe - "Geeze, dude, do you always have to wear that green sh!t on your face?"
"Yup, just like Duke always wears a khaki shirt and green pants."
Oh my, look at that stubble. I never really noticed it at first because my near vision is much more blurry as I get older. So it just looked fuzzy to me. Noted toy photographer, Monte Williams, pointed out this weird pixelated stubble on Facebook and that was the first time I noticed it. Reading glasses confirmed this odd pixel pattern for his stubble. 
Maybe H&R is just very organized in the way he grows his beard. That's really the only negative for me for H&R. Overall, he looks great and has some decent gear as well.
Alpine in shorts? Or are they lederhosen? This version of Alpine is based on a new sculpt era version. These are combat shorts!
Alpine is definitely not in the top five of the FSS 3.0. There's just bits of oddness about him. The skin color is really weird. I'm not really sure what color it's supposed to be. His face is a bit odd too. Very similar to the RoC Ripcord head sculpts.
The gear is not that great either. The rope coil is too large and easily slips off his shoulder. Not a bad figure, but not one of the best of this series.
Here's a shot of all of the Joes that have been currently released from FSS 3.0. I think I would rate them in the following order:

  1. Repeater
  2. Muskrat
  3. Psyche-Out
  4. Hit&Run
  5. Spearhead
  6. Alpine
Only four more plus the bonus figure left to go!

**Note: JoeCon 2015 was last weekend. The list for FSS 4.0 is out. Thoughts on that coming soon.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Contest Winner!

Back in January, I posted an entry about a "thing" that I put together out of parts from an old Robotix construction set. I decided to have a contest and have someone help me figure out a purpose behind the nefarious device.
I promoted it on various Facebook GI Joe related pages and even Tweeted about the contest. Finally, after many delays (and much laziness on my part), I have a winner!
James Verigin of Penticton, BC is the winner!
Here's his entry:
"Destro and CC needed to find a way to transport troops faster and more stealthier so He tracked down left over components from the Philadelphia experiment and had Mindbender reverse engineer it. After its completion and seeing it tested, Chuckles and Agent Faces posed as cobra Troops, alerted joeHQ, only to be captured. Now it's a race against time to save the 2 Joes and stop Cobra from this Teleportation type device."
I like the idea of the Philadelphia Experiment as being part of the back story of the device. Loved that movie. Such a weird movie and kinda' maybe sorta' based on a real life experiment. James and I are still working out the story to fill it out some more. His idea will be central to the tech behind the "thing" that I made.
James won and he chose one Cobra Blueshirt and Storm Shadow from the "Dollar General" sets of figures.
They safely arrived and Storm Shadow proceeded to beat up the Cobra soldier!
Thanks, James, for your winning entry!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Command Team

Toward the tail-end of the Pursuit of Cobra series of figures, Hasbro released a version of General Hawk that was just pretty damn cool. Oddly enough, the figure was basically a combination of parts, much like what the Club is doing for GI Joe collectors. 

I don't know the recipe of parts used,but they all worked well together. The beauty of the figure was the custom potential. Simple gear swaps and head swaps turned Hawk into an assortment of other characters.

The figure was again reused for the pathetic 50th Anniversary line in a three pack with Destro and Leatherneck. My collection of this figure initially started with three Hawk's and the 50th version bumped my team up to four.

Toys R Us must have found a pallet or two of PoC figures in their warehouses, because various stores around the country started stocking a case or two. I stopped by my local store, which usually sucks for GI Joe product, and found a couple more of these guys - $7.99 each too!

Now I have a six man team, perhaps my command team? But which one is Hawk? 

For this row, I've got General Hawk and the Flint head from the 50th Danger at the Docks set. But this isn't General Hawk for me. I've always thought that this head sculpt just looks too young. Therefore, this General Hawk becomes Sparks. At least my version of Sparks.

Snowjob and RoC Hawk? Sure, why not? I really don't have much use for arctic troops down here in the south, with little or no snow during winters. I had an extra 25th Snowjob and just glued the helmet to the head. Works for me.

As far as the Quaid/Hawk head from Rise of Cobra, I really like the head sculpt and the fact that there is some age to the face. I'm not 100% sure yet, but I think this is my default Hawk.

Duke and Footloose. Footloose? But the Club did such a good job on that figure? Yeah, they did, but I just wasn't completely satisfied. The head sculpt kicks ass and I just think that it works better on the body. Still Footloose? Yeah, I think so. But not the laid back persona of the original figure. He's tougher now, he's seen too much. 

Overall, I've got a nice command team.

Ultimate Storm Shadow

I think I have previously expressed a feeling of weariness of both Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes. There have been so many different versions of these two characters. I'm just kind of tired of all the different versions. SS & SE overdose, I suppose.

The PoC Snake Eyes (version 54) figure pretty much ended my need for any more Snake Eyes figures. Practically flawless. Just an amazing figure. I've still got one MOC because the packaging as well as the figure is just amazing. Now the Retaliation Snake Eyes figure was pretty damn cool as well. This version kicked a whole lot of other Snake Eyes version ass. Still not as good as version 54 though.

I was able to pick up the Renegades version of Storm Shadow, originally tough to find at retail. I was pretty much set and content with this version as my default version of Snake Eyes.

This particular version of Storm Shadow is the most recent version to be released. At the tale end of the Retaliation line, several exceptional "Ultimate" figures came out - barely at regular retail. I only saw some of this particular wave at either Rite-Aid or Walgreens. Seriously...

I never really had a strong interest in picking up this version because I was just kind of over Storm Shadow. But a simple trade recently changed my mind. I had randomly stopped by 5 Below one day, well after the infamous release of the $5.00 figures, including the Night Viper, and was able to pick up one last Night Viper. Didn't really want him, but I knew I had a nice trade item in hand.

I posted the Night Viper on a GI Joe Facebook page, just commenting on my good fortune, and someone wondered if I was interested in a trade for the Ninja Viper with this Storm Shadow.
Thankfully, I did the trade and I'm glad I did. This version of Storm Shadow is excellent and is now my default Stormy. Very reminiscent of the original Storm Shadow figure from way back in 1984 and that amazing appearance in GI Joe #21. The Renegades version can still work at times. Sometimes it's cold out and a ninja might need some long sleeves once in a while.

And that weird-ass jet-pack thing that he came with? I think it's in the trash now, not even the spare parts box. One of the dumbest, weirdest backpack things ever.

Bottom line - this is a damn fine Storm Shadow figure. 

FSS 3.0 - Vypra & Spearhead

Next up for review on this sad little blog is Vypra and Spearhead.

Vypra is a newer character that appeared during the resurrection of GI Joe after the line shut down in 1994. Her first version came with the Cobra Rattler 4WD. Nothing to do with the Cobra Rattler fighter jet. I never had that figure; I wasn't really interested again in GI Joe back in the late 90's. There were a few figures I may have picked up around then, but I just wasn't very impressed.

The first version of Vypra was just a simple repaint of the original Jinx figure from 1987. The Club does pretty much the same thing with this new version, using the body from the SDCC exclusive figure.

The primary difference is the use of the lower legs from the Lady Jaye figure from Retaliation. I like the idea of the boots better than the ninja slippers that Jinx wears.
Vypra is supposed to be some sort of courier for Cobra despite her obvious ninja appearance. Doesn't matter to me. She's just another Cobra ninja to me. But I'm just not very thrilled with the rather boring "Jinx" head. So I changed her.
I found a Sif figure from the Thor line at a local discount store called Maxway for only $3.00. While the Sif figure was pretty well done, I was more interested in the head sculpt. A simple swap and I've got an unmasked Vypra. Looks good to me.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with Vypra, not a very impressive figure, but done well enough. 

Next up is Spearhead and his pet Cheeto bobcat, Max. The original figure from 1988 was one of my least favorite figures of the original line. Just too much bright orange in the color palette. 

This new version was originally from the Club's Convention set, Nocturnal Fire. He was, like his other GI Joe team members, colored in his Night Force colors. I think... there were some initial color designs from the Club with Spearhead in similar, but more muted orange tones in his uniform.

My limited understanding is that the Club bowed to pressure or overwhelming fan opinion to make his colors match more to the original version. 
I don't know how much of this figure is new material, besides his Cheeto-orange bobcat, Chester... I mean Max. 
I think the head sculpt may be from the PoC Dusty figure. It works well enough. The arms and legs come from the Cobra Shocktrooper body, while the torso is from an earlier 25th anniversary version of a Cobra soldier. 
The torso was probably chosen to allow the use of the older style vest from an early Firefly figure. I think the look is pretty decent and matches the look of the original figure well enough. I'm not real thrilled with the vest, primarily because it is short and the included belt just hangs so loosely. I may try a different vest just for kicks. 
Chester the Cheeto Cheetah or Max the bright orange bobcat. 

ITwo more decent figures from the Club. Not top of the line, mostly just a reuse of parts, but I'm pleased with what the Club is trying to do. My childhood (or 20's actually) is safe and not violated.

I still can't help but get a little irritated at the people who bitch and moan about the figures that the Club puts out. Are they top notch? No. Are they doing the best they can with the resources that are available to them? I hope and believe so.