Friday, November 27, 2015


I've been reduced to taking pictures with my iPhone. Spotty results at best. Sometimes I get a good shot, sometimes I don't. My crappy 53 year old near vision doesn't help much either.

I've got a decent DSLR, but my daughter has been using it at college for a digital photography course. Did she bring it home during Thanksgiving? Nope! Well, she'll be home in another week, so I'll get it then.

I also got a new version of Photoshop which I've used in the past to clean up and sharpen my image quality. I think I first used PhotoShop Elements 3 many years ago and have been sticking with that well beyond subsequent releases.

There are quite a few new tools in this new Photoshop that are turning out to pretty fun enhancement tools! Let's take a look at some results.
Straight out of the iPhone. Not so much. 
Kind of blurry and the colors are washed out.
Using the Vibrance tool, the colors really "pop" now. 
Maybe a bit too much, but I like the results.
Budo vs. Zombie Viper
Dark Ninjas (Retaliation) - 
they really need a cool clan name
Red Ninjas (Retaliation)
same here, they need a cool clan name
Tunnel Rat crawling in a Lego structure.
Cobra Vipers rescuing an injured soldier. 
Rescuing? I'll explain later.
Bulma! Or is it Spiral?
Deadly "sisters".

Black Friday Deals!!

I think I first became aware of this yesterday through a Facebook post. A check of my email confirmed it. The Zombie Initiative set was going on sale as one of the Club's Black Friday deals.

I've got to admit, that's a damn good deal! Yes, the Club is expensive. I know that. Everyone knows that. But this deal brought the price per figure down to basically regular retail prices.

Fifteen figures for $150 plus shipping! Sweet! 
Dang, I'll take this as my whole Christmas!

This would be a great set to display and I've got a bunch of Zombie Vipers already and I've got Cesspool and he needs Toxo-Vipers and the Eco-Force guys are cool and Tj'Bang looks great! And I NEED THIS IN MY HANDS!

But then I started thinking. I needed to read through some reviews , get some other opinions. In my opinion, Justin Bell does some of the best reviews of GI Joe figures out there in the interwebs. Sure, there are others. Fred Meyer does some good work as well.

I decided to plow through Justin's review of the whole set again. Justin is pretty honest with his opinions and I appreciate his views on these silly ass toys.

A quick read though of all of the figures began to question my enthusiasm. The Eco-Force crew was pretty well done by the Club. Tj'Bang looked really well done; he would be a great addition to my martial art crew. Outback and the Steel Brigade Commander were less than desireable. I had done a very similar custom with the same parts that the Club used to make Outback, so I really didn't care too much about the new one.

The bad guys all looked pretty good. The Toxo Vipers and Zombies looked really great. Even Repulsor looked well done. Lab Rats? Not so much, but they would work as background scenery.

Justin's review didn't really tilt my opinion as whether to buy or not. At around 11:00 pm last night, while watching my kids play video games, I just really had to consider the value that this set would bring to my collection. Yes, I know it would be really fun to get ahold of and play with and make dios and photograph, but did I really need it?

Want and need have become important as I have gotten older. For so many years, I bought figures and toys mainly out of "want," I don't need any of them.

I decided that I don't WANT them enough. There are other GI Joe items that I WANT and needed to make a choice. None of us NEED any of this stuff. All of it is just pure WANT.

I guess it's probably pretty obvious by now that I'm not buying this set or any of the other Club Black Friday items. There are figures that I want in the future and who knows what Hasbro's plans for GI Joe are.

Hell, maybe I'm just getting older and becoming more reflective of this stuff. Contentment is a big issue. And STUFF... how much STUFF does one person need? Check online or the news for all the insanity regarding Black Friday for just a bunch of STUFF.

I am content with my collection, I have enough stuff right now, and that's good enough with me.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bring on the Bad Guys

If I looked back through all of my posts, I wonder how many of them would be focused on Cobra, rather than GI Joe. There's just something about Cobra that fascinates me. Yeah, I know that they are the bad guys and the leadership is a bunch of nutcases, but what about the troops?

Too often in the cartoons, Cobra soldiers of whatever type were usually shown as bumbling inept soldiers. That concept just doesn't work for me. I imagine that to troops are hardcore tough soldiers.

My plan of rebooting the GI Joe/Cobra conflict requires a tough Cobra army, lead by competent individuals, not a clown who's going to constantly scream, "Cobra, retreat!"

I think I've done this before, but I thought I would revisit the leadership of my Cobra forces. There's a bunch of characters to go through. so click on the image of this odd Cobra Commander to see a Who's Who of villainy.

I could use some help with some of the characters.

Influences and Source Material

As I begin this process of rebooting my world of GI Joe vs. Cobra, I have to acknowledge the influences that have shaped my thinking. If these writings become more popular beyond the relatively limited scope of my regular readers, I don't want a bunch of rabid, sweaty, stank-breath pseudo-fan boys whining about how my material sounds like stuff that's been done before.

No kidding. I get it, even before I begin this project. I'm going to be using bits and pieces of various events of GI Joe's long history. Some of it will be very familiar, some will hopefully be from a new, weird viewpoint. Mine.

And there will be some cases of "why are you using that character that way?" Like I've said before, once the toys, of any line, enter my home, they also enter my weird world. So don't be too surprised if I figure out a way to integrate Bossk and Hellboy into my GI Joe vs. Cobra conflict.

So here's probably a partial list of the GI Joe influences in my life:
  1. Larry Hama & the Marvel comic series - Of course. The godfather of the Real American Heroes line has had the biggest impact on my love of these toys. He took a toy property and helped to shape it into a world filled with fascinating characters. Plus he wrote most of the original file cards. Larry is still hard at work writing GI Joe comics, while I have let that side of the hobby slip away. 
  2. The Sunbow cartoons (including the mini-series and the movie) The cartoons brought the characters to life, giving them voice and movement. I'm sure there are plenty of GI Joe fans out there who read the comics with the voices of the cartoon characters in their heads. Sure, some of plots were goofy and bizarre, but they brought the characters to life.
  3. Devil's Due Publishing - Their comic run with GI Joe picked up post-Marvel years and soon became an intriguing, tougher, brutal world for the characters. Sure, there were some crazy stories, but that's what is cool about GI Joe vs. Cobra. Crazy works!
  4. GI Joe: Resolute - a harder edged GI Joe that became a fan favorite, but was a bit too harsh for Hasbro folks. Can't blame them, they've got toys to sell.
  5. GI Joe:Renegades - GI Joe meets the A-Team. A fun show, canceled way too soon. I really like the world of Renegades, with Cobra being a national "legitimate" corporation. That concept is going to be a huge driving factor n my world.
  6. GI Joe: Rise of Cobra - Really? Yeah, I guess so. I'm not sure how the events of the movie will fit in, but there were some exceptional action figures came out of that line. We wouldn't have Helix without RoC and Helix is a very important character to me.
  7. GI Joe:Retaliation - A better cinematic look at GI Joe with a bit of Renegades type plotlines.
  8. Justin Bell, Monte Williams, Andrew Peletier, Andre Bynoe, many others - I really don't remember when I first discovered his website. Justin was well into his huge series of dio-stories and I truly enjoyed the work he put into his GI Joe universe. I don't really know him, but he's a huge GI Joe fan and his storytelling skills are top notch. Monte does some exceptional toy photography work and usually adds an element of weirdness. Andrew has an amazing imagination with his assorted dio stories. Andre has a unique creative eye and has some impressive photographic skills. There are many other individuals out there in the GI Joe fandom that have and will serve as an influence in my world.
  9. IDW comics - I've been out of the comics for several years now and I don't regret that decision at all. Something had to give in my collection and I chose to keep the figures rather than keep up with the comics as well. I suppose that it was probably a year or two after Rise of Cobra that I stopped collecting the comics. I do have a couple years worth of IDW's run, including the amazing Cobra series. I really liked the "alt" history of IDW. This was what was needed for GI Joe - a modern reboot of GI Joe.
  10. Modern politics - I'm generally a pretty conservative dude and and am pretty disgusted at the general decline in culture in the United States. Rinos and liberals and socialists and communists won't really like what I am going to write about. I'm going to bash on some Republicans as well.
  11. Conspiracy Theories - I'm just going to let this hang out there and flap in the wind - the government story behind the events of 9/11 is full of shit.  I used to be a little hardcore in my digging into the events of 9/11, but I've pretty much let it go. I just think that there is a whole lot more to the "official" story that us sheeple don't need to know about. Doesn't mean I can't revisit it and spin it around with some Cobra influences.
  12. My bizarre imagination - Stuff has been stewing in my head for years. All of the above influences and other crazy stuff swirl around and congeal into a weird glob.
That's probably just some of my influences. I just wanted to clear the air and acknowledge to the world that I'm not claiming 100% originality in my work. It's all about the fun for me. Don't be a whiny b!tch and get offended.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tragedy Averted

What normal GI Joe collector doesn't carry around at least a couple figures with him at all times? Seriously, if you don't, then I question your loyalty!

I'm a huge fan of the modern update of the Cobra Viper and have amassed a pretty decent collection. I think I'm at around 14. Well, I've had one on display in my office at work and recently brought him back home.

Just a gentle twist of the head, and SNAP! Off came the head!

Modern GI Joe figures have a simple ball and socket construction for the neck and head. A post with a ball rises out of the shoulders and the ball snuggly fits into the socket in the head. This also allows for some easy customization.

With this particular Viper, the ball snapped off and remained secure in the head socket. My initial thoughts were that this guy was going to get his head permanently super glued back onto the neck, with no chance of ever looking to the right or the left.

I gave it a shot. A very slight dab of superglue onto the exposed neck post, let it dry, and hope for the best.

After letting it dry overnight, I checked the head and it was secure. Just a very gentle twist and the head actually moved a little from left to right! What?! Bonus!

At this point, I'm very pleased. I've got some minor side to side movement and I'm happy. Off I go, about my day and the Viper resumes some semblance of active duty as a guest in my coat pocket.

Another day goes by and I figure I'll give the neck another try. Surprisingly and quite pleasantly, the head now freely turns completely around on the repaired neck post.

Yeah, I'm really pleased with myself right now. he next step on checking the repair would be to pull the head off and see if the post survives. Yeah... No... I'm okay with the current status of this troop. No more tests needed. I should probably mark this guy somehow in case I want to try some custom work with a Viper or two.

Who am I kidding? I've sacrificed one Viper for a custom Zombie Viper custom (still in progress, because I am lazy). No more Vipers will be sacrificed to custom ideas.

I suppose I should tag him in some way. If finances ever become desperate and I need some cash, these Vipers could earn me a pretty penny. 
Nah, screw that. I sold my vintage Vipers years ago. I'm not doing that again.