Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Time to move along?

To be honest, I am so tired of the 80's mythos of G.I. Joe. Yes, it was awesome, but it's 30+ years old. Yes, it was campy goofiness, but it's 30+ years old. 
In my opinion, the cartoon gave the characters voices while the comic book gave the characters... character. Again... 30+ years old. 

Personally, I'm done with both mythos of G.I. Joe. I have no "canon" for G.I. Joe. The characters are essentially the same but, for me, they now exist in the 21st century. My mental Joe world exists in the modern world. 

I've retconned the past to be a rather insignificant part of my G.I. Joe world. 
Nostalgia is fine, but I'm over it. And I just grow weary of the praises of the past storylines. Yeah, don't get me wrong, that was some awesome stuff. Larry Hama defined G.I. Joe for me. 

Disclaimer: I don't read the current comics and haven't read a G.I. Joe comic in several years. I know the characters have been updated.
Hell, I've had a bit too much wine tonight and I'm rambling. 

Hopefully my rambling is reasonably intelligent. (See what I did there?)

This is my silly ass blog. So I get to rant or ramble however I like. Feel free to rant or ramble along with me or against me. Just be decent. That's all, just be decent.

So what are your thoughts? Are you still stuck in the 80's or can you (cue the song) "Let it go"?
Ramble away. Be reasonable. Be somewhat intelligent.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

FSS 5.0: Sneak Peek & General Flagg

Sigh... Can I get through one review of FSS figures without finding issues?

The official second shipment from the Club has been delayed again, so they sent out the 4th set of figures - Sneak Peek and General Flagg. When I first saw the reveals online, all I saw were just quick pictures of the carded figures. Initially, they looked great and this appeared to be a great set of figures.

I get home that afternoon and there in the mailbox is my shipment. Woo Hoo! Right? 


They're awesome, right?

One minor problem... The Club chose the same head sculpt for each character and they both shipped together. Sigh...
Individually, each figure turned out great. Both are great builds and deserve a closer look.
Let's take a look at General Flagg first.

The General Flagg build is simple and effective. I know others out there on the interwebs dig down deep into the builds that the Club does, but I'm not 100% sure of the parts choices. I know that the torso is from a Firefly figure from Retaliation and it works great for Flagg. I'm guessing that the legs come from the Shock Trooper figure (another Club source figure).

Accessories are light with Flagg. Machine gun (MP something...), pistol, briefcase, and that hat.

The briefcase originates from the "money-bags Destro" figure. It's a great case and a great choice for Flagg. He certainly can't be carrying around a case full of money. The insert in the case is simply the static stacks of money with new paint apps/detailing but the oddness of the sculpt of the money just doesn't work with the new deco. The hat is a bit over sized, especially on the Airborne head sculpt. Overall, General Flagg turned out great, but...

Let's take a look at Sneak Peek. Is this the third version of Sneak Peek from the Club? Maybe just the second. Last year, for FSS 4.0, the Club released a Tiger Force version

This version aligns more closely with the original o-ring version of Sneak Peek. It's a good build and captures the general look of the original figure. Accessories in line with the Tiger Force version, but the periscope is just a bit too bright green. Many have observed that the 'scope is a bit out of date with modern technology, but it had to be included for that nod back to the original figure.

Sneak Peek was always bit of a boring figure to me, but I think I'm digging him a bit more. Someone online mentioned that perhaps he should be a drone operator. Sounds good to me! Another win by the Club, with just the nagging issue of these two being twins. Ugh...

I figure that the easiest solution to the Wonder Twins aspect of Flagg and Sneak Peek would be to swap out Flagg's head. The Airborne head sculpt is just a bit too young looking for a General. Sure, Flagg is supposed to be a young General, but... c'mon. For now, I'm trying out this Marauder head sculpt for General Flagg. The first criteria for the head swap is "how well does the hat fit" and the second would be "how well does the head rest on the neck post."

There may be a post in the future about who finally becomes General Flagg. I've got a few more ideas for head sculpts.

The Club did a great job on these two figures, but it seems a bit unfortunate that they chose the same head sculpts and both figures wound up in the same shipment. FSS 5.0 is still a strong set of figures. I'm looking forward to who comes next!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

FSS 5.0 Viper

I really wasn't planning on opening this figure. My plan was to bring the carded figure to Joelanta in March and make a few bucks. 
Fred and Chris over at joebattlelines.com did their reviews of the first two figures from the FSS 5.0 and I went ahead and read their review of the Viper. 
Dang it... I decided to open him up. 

He's kind of a decent figure. Viper? No way. The butt of a hoard of jokes from his fellow Cobra troopers? Absolutely! 

"No... just no..."

"Guys.... seriously... this is the new Viper uniform."
"Not on my watch."
"You look like a damn Sea Slug."
"This must be Mindbender's design. He's got that weird purple fetish."

"Put the tools down and go away!"
"Aw, c'mon guys!"

Ridicule awaits for the Battlecorp Viper...

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Grand Canyon

My wife and I took a short vacation out west at the beginning of December. We went to Las Vegas and managed to take a day trip over to the Grand Canyon. This is just a weak attempt to share the vastness of the canyon. Just amazing.

Yeah, okay, I had to take a Pokemon Go picture at the canyon rim.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

FSS 5.0 - Salvo & Darklon

Wave 3 of FSS 5.0 is here! Wait, what happened to wave 2? Factory shipping error, so we got wave 3 early. Wave 2 will be in March.
This shipment turned out to be two great figures, Salvo and Darklon. By all appearances of the figures still packaged, they look great. Let's take a closer look at each figure to see how they stack up.
Salvo turned out to be the result of a unique situation with the Club and the fans. Initially, the Club was planning on using a smaller torso and collectors were a bit upset because of their preconceived notion that Salvo should be a must bigger guy. This idea came about because the original Salvo was a bit more broad chested and a little bulkier in the arms. Nearly all of the original o-ring Joes were the same height due to the basic design of the figures back in the 80's and 90'. The fandom did a good thing and suggested that the Club should try to use the Rock/Roadblock torso that allowed larger bulkier troops to join the team. Well done to all the collectors who politely took the issue to the Club and a great figure was the result.
Almost... There's something about those lower legs. 
I think the lower legs came from the GI Joe trooper from Retaliation. Maybe, I'm not sure. The Club, for whatever reason, didn't use the original lower legs that are a part of those upper legs. The end result is not good.
The legs are now a bit wonky and Salvo doesn't stand up too well. Some have suggested soaking the lower legs in hot water to straighten them out some. I tried that trick but it didn't work out too well. There's also something slightly visual off with the leg parts. The lower legs just seem proportionally shorter than how they should look when compared to the thighs.
I decided to try a possible solution. I had bought a couple of the Battle Kata Roadblock figures from the Retaliation waves and thought that I could see how bad off the color differences would be when I switched them out.
It's not a great situation, but at least Salvo can now stand. Perhaps one day, I'll dig out my paints and make his pants all one color. We'll see. As far as the accessories go, I'm pleased with what the Club provided. I would guess that the molds for the original Salvo's weapons are long gone and they would have been quite expensive to retool.
I had originally assumed that the Club would use Serpentor's bald head for Salvo. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. So who's head is it? The head sculpt comes from the Hit & Run figure. I don't know that I realized that H&R's head was actually bald with just painted on hair. With H&R's face being green with the unusual beard paint pattern, there's enough cosmetic differences that allows this head sculpt to work nicely for Salvo.
The Club did a great job on Salvo, at least from the knees up. I was hoping for a no issue figure from the Club with Salvo, but it doesn't seem to be that way. So damn close. So how did the Club do with Darklon?
Darklon is a crazy ass figure, either looking at the original o-ring figure, or the Club updates.
"Let's see... I'll start with a green shirt... red pants... and these orange boots as the final touch. Oh yeah, and my mother's gloves." Good lord, what a fashion nightmare. 
The craziness of the design, whether original or modern update, is what sells the character.
Visually, the Club hit a frikkin' home run with Darklon. He looks great! There are some issues with the build. The knees are single jointed and the gloves/hands are one piece without the additional wrist swivel. Ultimately, who cares? He's still a damn fine figure. I'm not crazy about the accessories, but that's not that big of a deal. I've got plenty of extra weapons for him to use.

Only after taking several pictures of Darklon did I realize that his sword belt had ridden up on his waist. Ugh. Whatever, just move on. The sword belt and should harness work quite well with Darklon where they didn't work so well well with the modern Iron Grenadiers.
I'm just thrilled with how Darklon turned out. I don't recall where those legs come from, but they work quite well for him.
The Club also perfectly captured Darklon's iconic mask based on the original figure.

So for this shipment of figures from the Club, I've got to say "Well done!" Despite Salvo's lower leg issues, I've got to say that the Club improved him so much from their original concept. Darklon turned out great, so I'm quite pleased with this wave. I'm looking forward to who's next to be shipped!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

GI Joe Memories, Part 2

Time to carry on with the GI Joe memories from this post.
  1. Keel Haul - When the Flagg came out, I knew there was no way that I was going to get it. It was just too dang big. The Defiant Complex was a little bit of a different situation. The Complex was a beast, but it wasn't quite the huge beast that the Flagg was. I figured that getting Admiral Keel Haul was going to be near impossible. Oddly enough, the kid's pizza restaurant, Chuck E. Cheese, came to my rescue. I don't recall when I actually got the Keel Haul figure, but I think it may have been in the early 90's. Somehow I found out about a promotion at Chuck E. Cheese in which the Keel Haul figure was being given away as prize for some of their games. Well, the next chance I got, I headed to the nearest Chuck E. Cheese and I was able to pick up one for just a few dollars. Score! I added Keel Haul to my ranks without the investment of the Flagg. Over the past few years, I have drastically reduced the size of my old ARAH collection. I think Keel Haul will be one of the ones that stays with me.
  2. 12" Modern Figures - As someone who grew up with the original GI Joe figures, when Hasbro reintroduced the 12" soldier into the stores, I was all over them. Target started the rebirth of the 12" line with their exclusive Duke figure. Hasbro moved forward with a 30th Anniversary line, which were cool, but lacking drastically in the articulation of the figures. Eventually, Hasbro released a 40th Anniversary serieswhich replicated the original GI Joe and many of the original style sets. This progressed to further development into more a modern style of 12"articulated figure, especially the super articulated body. For a few years, I was pretty intensly focused on the 12" lines. Many of the new troops were modern military soldiers. Hasbro also started putting out 12" versions of the ARAH characters. They also had a huge assortment of varied head sculpts. This lead to a bit of an obsession with creating as many ARAH characters in 12" size as I possibly could. I even have another blog, somewhat abandoned, primarily devoted to the big guys. One day, I'll get back to it. One day.
  3. 25th Anniversary boxed set - When I first saw the pictures online of the new rebirth of GI Joe with the boxed sets for the 25th Anniversary, I wasn't really that impressed. Everything I saw about them highlighted the flaws in those initial designs. I was willing to just let them pass by. I happened to stumble upon a battered clearanced boxed set of those first five GI Joe figures and bought it. Sure, they had issues, but dammit, they were pretty cool! It didn't take too long until I was addicted to these new figures and have been hooked ever since!
  4. Zombie Viper Wave - The Rise of Cobra had come and gone and the GI Joe line transitioned into the Pursuit of Cobra with Renegades figures and 30th Anniversary figures soon to follow. One day, I happened to swing by a local Walmart after work and there was one peg hook that looked to be freshly stocked with new figures. I'm pretty sure I bought ten figures that day. I think I paid a few bucks over $80.00. Let's se if I can remember all of them... Renegades Duke, Scarlett, Tunnel Rat, Ripcord, and Airtight. Lifeline, Sci-Fi, Law & Order, and two Zombie Vipers. Hell yeah!
  5. Dollar General figures- The late Gary Head was the original source of information about these figures. I saw his pictures of the figures that he acquired prior to the figures making it to Dollar General stores. Once they showed up... Holy crap, I was all over them! Especially the Cobra soldiers both in the black uniforms and the later lighter blue uniforms. Of the six figures, from both redeco'd waves, the Cobra soldiers were my favorite and I never passed on them when I saw them. Never. My next favorite was the Storm Shadow figures, both of which I use as members of different ninja clans. Shipwreck was next; such an awesome base for customs. Next up was the "Duke" figure. Not so much, I never bought too many. Finally, tied for last place were the Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander figures. Both sucked, but not bad enough for me not to buy at least a couple of each color versions. I really wish Hasbro would revisit this concept again. Those figures were a great way to keep GI Joe out in the retail environment.
I've decided to cut down the list of memories from my previous post. Perhaps I'll revisit this idea again. How about you? What sort of GI Joe memories do you have? Share one or two in the comments!

Monday, February 13, 2017

GI Joe Con 2017, Here I Come!

The last official GI Joe Convention that I went to was back in 2006 when the GI Joe Collectors Club brought the convention to Atlanta. I went for the day and maybe only picked up a few things from the dealer's room. We were in the process of getting ourselves out of some serious financial crap, so there wasn't a whole lot of extra disposable income.

Eleven years later, life has changed quite a bit. My wife and I are much wiser financially than we were in the past. Plus we're a few years older, so it's time to live a little and enjoy life. Plus that whole heart surgery thing from last summer kind of puts things in perspective. (yeah, I brought it up... again... suck it up, that story ain't going anywhere)

The fact that this year's convention is in Orlando helps a great deal. It's just one state away! An added bonus will be the use of a relative's condo in Ormond Beach, just north of Daytona. Okay, sure, I'm going to have to drive quite a bit, but at least I'm not paying Disney hotel prices.

This year's convention set is not without controversy. The Club chose to go with Battle Force 2000 vs Cobra BATs. To me, BF2000 was always going to be a tough set to somewhat duplicate in the modern form. The original BF2000 figures from 1987 were all unique figures that used all brand new construction. This was going to be a tough challenge.

Personally, I've always thought that the whole BF2000 concept, figures and vehicles, was a great idea, but it just seemed like it was rushed by Hasbro. Stuff just didn't quite fit together. Even the figures were just... odd. But they were still so cool to me. 

Larry Hama did a great job introducing them in the comic. He used the team several times before their untimely death. What was the reason behind wiping out nearly the whole team? Perhaps I'll ask him at the Convention.

The figures from the Convention set have all been revealed,much to the ire of many GI Joe fans. Personally, I think the set looks great. I'm sort of a Club apologist, so I like the work they've done. The key, when looking at these figures, is to understand that you probably have no idea about how the Club goes about deciding on figure construction. The essential element is that they have to work with what Hasbro has available. I'm hoping that Hasbro is putting forth at least some effort to help out the Club with tooling resources, but it's hard to say, especially with GI Joe's current sad status in the toy aisles of the retail world.

As far as the six core members of BF2000, I think the Club did a decent job of replicating the overall look of the original figures. Sure, there are issues, but what exactly did the Club have to work with? Seriously, how much extra money would have been needed to tool up Blaster's face mask and Blocker's visor? And who really cares? Not me. Later releases of Blocker didn't even include the visor. 

As far as the Cobra side of the set, "fans" have been in a frenzy. There's basically two figures for the Cobra side, one BAT leader and eight BAT soldiers. Eight of the same exact figure. Maybe not a good choice, but then again, I don't know the reason why this choice was made. Perhaps, just perhaps, since the 2017 Convention wasn't supposed to happen after the 2016 Convention until Hasbro made a change, maybe the concepts weren't worked out fully for the set? Maybe BF2000 was in the design stage and the original Cobra opponents weren't? Maybe since the BAT mold was recently used by Hasbro, maybe they were available and could be cranked out quickly enough to get the sets ready? I don't know, I'm just speculating.

So here's the figures from the 2017 Convention set. I'm excited that I'm going to be there and am looking forward to this set and whatever exclusives are available at the show.

Avalanche & the BAT leader

Blaster & Blocker

Dodger & Knockdown

Maverick & BAT soldier 

Share your thoughts in the comments! Are you going? If so, see you there!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

GI Joe Memories, Part 1

GI Joe has been a part of my life for almost my entire life. I played with the 11.5" GI Joe in the late 60's, early 70's. The 3 3/4" troops arrived in 1982 and I've been a fan of the small scale figures pretty much ever since. There have been a few years periodically that I drifted away, but I've always found my way back.

I thought that I would write out a few of my various GI Joe memories from across my 54 years. 

  1. Thoughts as a Kid - I had some amazing adventures with the big GI Joes when I was a kid. I've got a cousin, Randy, who lives in Massachusetts and we played everyday when I would visit from South Florida. His mom used to go to the Hasbro employee store and buy him some awesome equipment for his GI Joes. He had these huge dirt hills in his backyard and they were constantly under assault from our troops. I also have vague memories of the Sears toy department and the famous "valley of green," full of a huge assortment of GI Joe troops and equipment. I remember having the Five Star Jeep with the trailer, the Mercury Space Capsule, and that glorious yellow Adventure Team Helicopter. I think I'm going to need to write another post detailing these memories.
  2. 1982 - K-Mart - I'm pretty sure the GI Joe comic came out first, with the new line of action figures following soon afterward. Now I was 19 at the time and still interested in action figures. I had been collecting the Star Wars and a few others, so it was very easy for me to transition into this new size for GI Joe. K Mart and Lionel Playworld were the only toy options in the area. Walmart and Toys R Us had not yet arrived in the area. Lionel was an awesome store, but K Mart was the first place that I found the new GI Joe figures. I remember seeing the figures in the store and I think that I bought Rock n Roll, Stalker, Flash, and the RAM first. I promptly went out my car and opened them up, fiddling about with these new GI Joes and this new vehicle. So cool! I'm not sure which figures were still in the store, but I went back in and bought one of each of the rest of them. Hooked on the small scale GI Joe ever since.
  3. 1983 - Lionel - Lionel Playworld/Lionel Leisure City was an amazing place. When my family moved to Georgia from Florida around 1972-73, Lionel was the place for toys and hobbies.They had a huge model department that was just phenomenal. As I got older and got my drivers license, Lionel was a frequent place for me to visit, especially when GI Joe showed up. I made the note of 1983 as a key moment for Lionel because I remember the huge endcap of the new (2nd wave) of GI Joe figures. I think nearly all of the Joes were out in that first wave. Destro was not out yet, but he would be soon! To this day, at least when GI Joe had a retail presence, there was something magical about thumbing through the carded figures, making sure you saw each character that was available.
  4. 1984 - Tollbooth - Some of my readers may be familiar with my story about Tollbooth. Here's the thing, I was 19 and unattached when the ARAH line appeared. Despite being a toy nerd, I actually did find a girlfriend who would become my fiance. I think we got engaged in 1984, she would remember, I don't remember exactly. I do know our anniversary date, so my memory isn't totally shot. We got married in September of 1985, and my girlfriend/fiance bought me an awesome gift for the Christmas of 1984. This was way before the internet and finding out what new figures were coming out for the new year. Much to my surprise, Lisa had bought me the Toss n' Cross Bridgelayer with Tollbooth. I had to marry her, right? She's been stuck with me and has stuck by me ever since!
    1. 1985 - First Wave with Swivel Necks - My girlfriend worked in the evenings at one of the department stores at the local mall, so I would often visit her at work. Back then, Kay-Bee Toys was a pretty cool toy store. Still over priced compared to Toys R Us or Lionel, but still a toy store! I first spotted the new figures for 1985 at Kay-Bee. I'm pretty sure that Flint, Shipwreck, Airtight, and the Crimson Guard may have been some of the first figures that I bought that year. When I opened them up, I was quite surprised by the new neck articulation. The swivel arm grip had been out for e couple years and this new innovation was such an improvement on the figures.
    2. Terror Drome - Fast forward a little to 1987, my now wife and I were living in Jacksonville, FL after transferring with an airline job. The Terror Drome came out in 1986 and was slowly making its way out of stores for the next couple of years. I happened to pick one up at the Lionel Playworld in Jacksonville on clearance. I don't recall the price, but it was marked down enough that my new bride was okay with the purchase. Such an awesome piece of GI Joe history! Sadly, I no longer have it. I sold it in one of those years where my interest in GI Joe had faded a little. I wish I still had it...
    3. Defiant - The Defiant Complex has a little bit of personal tragedy behind it. When I first saw it in the catalogs in the new vehicles for 1987, I knew that I wanted it, but it was unlikely that I would ever get one. It was pretty expensive back in 1987. Then the giant boxes started showing up at Toys R Us! Holy crap, that box was huge! But it was still out of my price range. Fast forward to late 1989 and the tragic death of my mother in September of that year. We had an infant son added to our family in 1988 and had moved back to Georgia in early 1989. Horrible event surrounding my mother's death. Maybe I've written about it before in the early days of this blog. Maybe I'll write about it again one day. Eventually her estate was settled and my siblings and I got a small modest sum of money. I used a portion of that money, probably in early 1990, to buy a clearanced Defiant Complex at the local TRU. I had a Toyota pick up truck at the time and that beast of a box nearly filled the entire bed of the truck! It took me a few days to build it. Family stuff, infant son, a job, those sorts of things. It was amazing! But it was so dang big. I never really had a place to properly display it. Eventually, as we moved, the Defiant took a few hits here and there and began to suffer with age and neglect. The fate of the Defiant wound up that it was taken apart and sold piece by piece. The whole Complex had suffered enough that it wouldn't bring the kind of money that I was hoping to get. Parted out, as well as selling the two drivers, gained me a whole lot more money. By selling off chunks of the Defiant Complex, I was able to finance one year of the FSS and buy some of the late wave Retaliation figures. Not a bad legacy for the Defiant Complex, I suppose.
    4. Keel Haul
    5. 12" Modern Figures
    6. New Sculpt Era
    7. 25th Anniversary boxed set
    8. Zombie Viper Wave
    9. BATs at Family Dollar
    10. Dollar General figures
    11. 50th Anniversary
    This post is getting a bit bloated. I'm going to wrap up this post and continue on with the rest of the list in a later post.

    Share your GI Joe memories in a comment!

    Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    Snow Day!

    Back when we lived on the south side of Atlanta, snow was a rare occurrence. Now that we're on the north side, it seems like snow will be more of an issue to deal with. A couple weeks ago, as you may know, a big storm swept across the country, swinging down into the southern states. It swept across the northern portion of Georgia, barely brushing Atlanta and the southern suburbs.

    But we got some snow in Cherokee County! It was enough snow and ice to shut down schools for a couple days. Yeah, don't laugh, northern readers, we don't get snow very often!

    When it snows, it's time to bring out the arctic related toys and get some pictures! One drawback... I'm older and don't feel like putting up with the cold weather for too long, so there's just a few pictures.