Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rarities - 1997 Stars and Stripes Rock and Roll Skin Color Variant

Originally, the 1997 series of figures was planned to include a repainted Breaker and a repainted 1983 Rock and Roll figure.  Handpainted samples were shown on the back of the Star and Stripes set.  But, the molds for those figures were "lost".  Hasbro resorted to some quick replacements and both characters were released in 1997 as repaints of the 1986 Roadblock body with different heads.  Somewhere along the way, though, there was a miscommunication.  Somehow, Rock and Roll was given black skin.  This may have been a holdover from the Roadblock color templates that were used.  But, a good amount of the mis-painted figures were packaged into Stars and Stripes sets and sold in Toys R Us stores across the country.

Today, this variant is rather tough to find and is worth a couple of hundred dollars.  But, in 1997, the figure was findable.  Anecdotally, collectors of the era estimated that about 1 in 30 Stars and Stripes sets had the variant.  As the production run for the set was believed to be around 30,000 sets, that would place 1,000 Rock and Roll variants into the collecting community.  Of course, that "back of the napkin" estimate could be wildly off.  But, the variant was quickly discovered by collectors of the time.  However, the figures weren't overly desirable and you could easily trade a spare 1997 Alley Viper straight up for one. 

The variant set that includes this Rock and Roll also contains a significant Breaker variant.  But, since it's just a color hue change, no one cares about it and it lacks the cachet and value of the Rock and Roll.  It was extremely rare for Hasbro to race change a figure mold in the US.  So, in the cases where it did occur (either intentionally or by accident) the resulting figures have found great collector interest.  You used to be able to find sealed Stars and Stripes sets with the variant figures in mislabeled online sales and could get deals.  But, it's been more than a decade since those dried up and this figure is now well known and accordingly priced in the community.  It's safe to say that almost all of the variants ended in collector hands due to the rapid identity and communication of the variant.  But, it's still one of the rarest and most significant retail variants in the history of the G.I. Joe line.

1997 Rock and Roll, Variant, Race Changing Figures

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Rarities - Unproduced 2002 Shock Viper

In 2002, collectors were army builder crazy.  They were desperate for any new figure that could be army built in any capacity.  Early in that year, Hasbro repainted a 1994 Ice Cream Soldier and released him as a new Cobra named the Shock Viper.  But, that figure saw a truncated release and was only available online.  Collectors were only able to get three to six of that version.  Hasbro attempted to rectify this situation by releasing a different version of the Shock Viper to retail at the end of 2002.

At the 2002 convention, Hasbro showcased their planned Shock Viper that would debut at the end of 2002.  This version lacked the purple and red of the original and replaced it with a nice grey color.  Grey Cobras are pretty rare in the line.  So, seeing the figure was a visual treat.  You will note the copper highlights on the hand painted sample that carried over to to the production figure.

For some reason, though, this grey color scheme was abandoned.  It was replaced with a burnt orange Shock Viper that's odd and not all that useful.  He was only packed one per case upon his release, which helped to offset the poor design of the retail figure.  This grey sample would have been a far superior color scheme and one that collectors would hold in higher esteem today.  Hasbro never commented as to why the change occurred and the Shock Viper mold would not appear again until 2007 when it was used on the Lt. Clay Moore figure.  This grey Shock Viper would have been a cool addition to a later retail release.  But, it remains an interesting insight into some of the concepts that were planned but didn't make it to retail in the early 2000's.

2002 Shock Viper, Unproduced G.I. Joe

2002 Shock Viper, Unproduced G.I. Joe

2002 Shock Viper, Unproduced G.I. Joe

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Rarities - Unproduced 2005 Destro

In 2005, the Iron Grenadiers concept was chosen as the theme for the convention exclusive figure set.  It turned into one of the most popular sets in convention history and remains one of the most popular releases nearly 15 years later.  One oddball in the set, though, was the Destro figure.  Instead of a classic Destro mold, the Destro figure used the 1992 figure's head and a 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal figure.  All of the figures in the set seemed to fit together except for this Destro.  But, in the zeal of the set's quality, the Destro was largely forgiven and collectors moved on.

However, as 2005 progressed, an unproduced prototype of a 1988 Destro figure started to appear in Asia. The first speculation, of course, was that collectors were finally going to see a good Destro in a Toys R Us 6 pack.  But, as those sets' days at retail were done, that was not the case.  The mystery figure was actually something different.

It seems, in their infinite wisdom, that the club stumbled across this Destro mold when looking for figures to release in the 2005 convention set.  Since they were so plugged into the 3 3/4" collector community, they decided that collectors hated this version of Destro and discarded it.  When the 2005 Destro figure was revealed, most collectors wondered why it wasn't the 1988 figure mold in the set.  Caught with their pants down in embarrassment at their lack of understanding the 3 3/4" collecting world, the club released the mold in 2006: but as Overlord.  Collectors never got a 1988 Destro repaint and the club was embroiled in another snafu that even a novice 3 3/4" collector could have avoided.

In retrospect, it's very unfortunate that this Destro never got reuse.  In 2005, Hasbro released a terrible repaint of the 1992 Destro in a comic pack.  It is a completely wasted release and is ignored by collectors today.  Had it been a 1988 mold repainted in 1983 style, though, it would be among the more favored repaints of that era.  Seeing this figure is reminder of how badly both Hasbro and club bungled the few vintage Joe repaints in the 2000's.  They got some right.  But, they missed on so many more.  This Destro is a perfect example of what might have been.  This mold in Iron Grenadier colors and with convention level paint masks would have made the 2005 convention set perfect.  A feat that was never accomplished.  But, it was not to be.

1988 Destro, 2005 Convention, Iron Grenadier

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rarities Month - 2019

2019's Rarities Month is going to be subdued.  I don't have as much to showcase since I've depleted my archives.  I've got a couple of fun items, though, and should have about 2 posts per week. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

2003 Inferno BAT - Around the Web

The 2003 BAT Pack was released with great fanfare.  But, the set landed with a thud at retail, though.  Collectors bought a lot.  But, there weren't enough collectors to absorb the stock.  There were some massive armies out there for a while, though.  The Inferno BAT was an afterthought to the standard BATs in the set.  But, years later, the figure has some cachet and can be fun to own.  I don't need too many of them.  Having a handful makes for a useful army.  Here's the best of the Inferno BAT from around the web.

Inferno BAT Profile

Inferno Bat by Ironman3719

Inferno BAT at

Inferno BAT at

Inferno BAT at Half the Battle

Inferno BAT makes the Halloween List at Castle Geek Skull

Inferno BAT at

2003 Inferno BAT, BAT Pack, Army Builder, Mail Away, Red Laser Army, Cobra Trooper, 2018, JUMP, Jet Pack