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!