Thursday, November 14, 2019

1994 Star Brigade Gears - Around The Web

At his core, Gears is just a poor repaint of the 1992 Barricade figure.  But, the green helmet and all blue body make for an effective blend with the rest of the 1994 Star Brigade figures.  The Gears figure is somewhat obscure and rather hard to find these days.  He's not a figure that's really necessary.  He's also not a figure that has a lot of content available.  Here's the best I could find of Gears from around the web.

Gears Profile

Gears by Slipstream80

Gears Pre-Production at YoJoe.com

Gears at Half The Battle

Gears by ToneGunsRevisited

Gears at 3DJoes.com

1994 Gears, Star Brigade, 1989 Payload, 1991 Retaliator

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

1983 Cover Girl Around The Web

I first got Cover Girl for Christmas in 1983.  But, shortly after that, she completely disappeared from my collection.  I don't know where she went.  Cover Girl was then absent through my childhood Joe adventures and only reappeared when I started collecting and filling in the gaps in the early Joe years.  As a figure, she's probably not as well done as Scarlett.  But, Cover Girl is both an important character and a fan favorite.  Here's the best of her from around the web.

1983 Cover Girl Profile

1983 Wolverine Profile

Sparta (Argentina Cover Girl) Profile

Cover Girl by steelbrigade

Cover Girl by Trina Colada

Cover Girl by Slipstream80

1983 Cover Girl, Wolverine, Funskool, Flint, Plastirama, Argentina, TNT, SOS, Doc, Blowtorch, Locust, 2000, Dragonfly, 1984 Clutch, VAMP, Scarlett, Stalker

1983 Cover Girl, Wolverine, Funskool, Flint, Plastirama, Argentina, TNT, SOS, Doc, Blowtorch, Locust, 2000, Dragonfly

Sunday, November 10, 2019

20th Anniversary

On November 10th, 1999, I posted two write ups of G.I. Joe figures on some obscure web space that was given to me by a friend.  These two little blurbs were created as a response to the prevailing attitude among collectors of the day that anything made after 1987 was terrible and anything made after 1989 was even worse.  I felt that there were many gems from all years of vintage Joe releases.  And, categorically dismissing something due to the release year was shortsighted by fans of the time.  So, I came up with a way to spotlight some of the more obscure, but still insanely cool figures from all Joe years.

The site's history has taken many turns.  From that early webspace, I moved to a new domain of my own.  This held up through 2004.  At that point, my old web host went out of business and the site disappeared.  In the summer of 2005, though, Beav at JoeCustoms.com offered me some blogging space on the JoeCustoms.com domain.  Here, new profiles were resurrected and I happily blogged away until 2007.  At that point, I moved to another web hosted domain and reposted all of the site's archives.  All was fine here until 2009 when the site went dark.  At the time, I was pretty down on Joe and mostly removed myself from the community.  I didn't think I'd come back.

In 2012, though, that changed.  I had some time in the beginning of the year and was also able to buy several of the figures that I had always wanted but never tracked down.  I discovered several new Joe sites that were producing amazing content and that a few of my old favorites were still around.  I started writing about Joes again in April of 2012.  Shortly thereafter, I put my old archives back online and even published many of my unfinished drafts and incomplete ideas.  The two blogs hit a technical snafu in 2014 and I lost most of the work.  But, a discovery of an old back up in 2015 brought me back online with this current iteration of the site.

I lament missing a couple of years.  But, that's mostly because the year by year chronology at the right of the screen has gaps in it.  (I did attempt a slight comeback in 2010.  I posted up two or three profiles on a new site.  But, I had 10 MB of image storage.  So, that didn't last long.  But, it is also home to my lost Grand Slam profile along with a slew of photos that were unique and excellent and can never be recreated.)  But, everyone needs some breaks from the hobby.  And, with over 1000 posts over the past 20 years, I've still averaged about one item per week for two decades.

In looking back at the two decades I've spent doing this, I can see my progression as a collector.  In 1999 and 2000, I was a wide eyed optimist who found the great in all the Joe world had to offer.  From 2001 through 2003, I was getting a bit jaded.  But, still toed the "Hasbro" line.  In 2004, though, I started to get fed up with Hasbro's choices.  At that time, I stopped buying the JvC sculpts and focused, instead, on solely vintage style releases.  From 2005 through 2009, I was bitter at Hasbro and generally unhappy with the way the community had gone.  In 2012, I refreshed my thinking and that helped me appreciate the hobby one again.

But, since then, I've slowly become the grumpy old man of Joe collecting who hates the club, despises Hasbro's treatment of the line and its collectors and doesn't see anything wrong with factory custom producers recreating anything and everything to help keep the hobby alive.  I'm not a fan of the new breed of super collector who wants every Joe figure to be a $100 collectible that's kept locked in a case, away from hands and eyes.  I think the toys are now very over-priced and don't like that many items I have owned since I got them for less than $1 each are now worth 50 to 70 times that.  Dropping a box of Joes used to mean $50 and a week's worth of time to replace them.  Now, it's two months of my mortgage if my 1993 army builders get broken.

1990's G.I. Joe collectors were early 20-somethings trying to find ourselves and feel out what being a collector meant.  The early 2000's brought the greatest resurgence of Joe collecting we'll ever see.  Massive retail releases and late 20's careers meant that collectors established themselves as a force.  The 25th Anniversary brought in hordes of toy collectors who didn't really care about Joe.  They nearly ruined the hobby.  The movies made it worse and poisoned the Joe brand for a decade.  The post 2018 price surge has been brought by trash pickers trying to make a buck off a community that isn't as mature as it's age would dictate.  We stand on the precipice of a new movie attempting to (once again!) resurrect the G.I. Joe brand.  It's doubtful that Joe toys will become a retail force again.  But, it's also unlikely that a movie will pass without at least some attempt by Hasbro to sell toys.

By then, I'll have started my third decade of writing about the line, what it means to me and how the community stands at any given time.  For sure, the tools that I use and the avenue to reach collectors will change again.  I'll follow the technology as it matures and will hang around, doing this, for as long as I can.  I'm at a point now where the reminiscing about the line and days gone by are my primary joys of collecting.  Having tons of toys in boxes and tubs is a pain.  Moving them is worse.  But, I still enjoy taking the figures outside and photographing them.  The blog gives me an avenue to post the pictures with some thoughts about the figures within them.  The photos have an organization that prevents them from falling into the black hole of social media noise.  I get a bit of satisfaction from that.

I end this anniversary post with a thank you to all the collectors who stop by every day.  Since coming back in 2015, pages on this site have been viewed nearly half a million times.  Thousands of collectors have stopped by through the various iterations.  Each visit is something very important to me as they let me know there are others out there to whom Joe means a great deal.  That is something we all share.  I let my grumpiness get in the way of that, sometimes.  But, it's the bond that keeps this community alive through the thick and thin.  I've seen my share of each but intend to stick around to see even more.

Thanks for all of your support through 20 years!

1990 Decimator, 1995 Battle Corps Rangers Flint

1990 Decimator, 1995 Battle Corps Rangers Flint

Thursday, November 7, 2019

1987 Sneak Peek - Around The Web

The 1987 Sneak Peek figure is not popular.  Were it not for his oft-lost microphone, no one would care about him at all.  The figure is named after the son of Stephen King.  But, again, no one cares.  But, I've long found this figure to be extremely useful and fun to have around.  I've used him both as an army builder and an individual character.  There's a decent amount of content out there on him, though.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1987 Sneak Peek Profile

1987 Sneak Peek by thedustinmccoy

Sneak Peek by Hit and Run

Sneak Peek by Flint

1987 Sneak Peek Packaging at JoeADay.com

Sneak Peek by Jogun Warrior

Sneak Peek Video Review by FormBX257

1987 Sneak Peek


1987 Sneak Peek, Crazylegs

1987 Sneak Peek, Crazylegs, 1989 Backblast

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

1991 Heavy Duty

Generally, there is a divide in collector opinions about the vintage Joe line.  There persists the belief that the '80's Joes were realistic military while the '90's Joes are brightly colored sci fi.  The truth is that the '80's Joes feature large amounts of science fiction as well as bright colors.  While, the 1990's releases have a large number of figures that are true to Joe's military roots.  However, the 1990 and 1991 series of figures are, to my eye, identical to the Joes released in the '80's.  Hasbro was not yet cutting corners to save a few pennies on each figure.  And, the spring loaded gimmicks were just rearing their head as figure accessories.  The early spring loaded weapons, though, were ingeniously designed toys that disguised the action features as part of the figure's general accessory complement.  This is showcased no where better than with the 1991 Heavy Duty figure.

At first glance, Heavy Duty follows the design of many '80's Joes.  He uses military colors and has a uniform that appears to be militaristic.  Of course, for characterization, Heavy Duty has the added flair of torn sleeves and a backwards cap.  It's just enough to keep Heavy Duty as an incredibly useful figure to have around.  He's fun and not too caught up in regulations while still retaining an air of realism.  But, beyond that, the overall sculpting of the figure is well done, too.  Heavy Duty features many small details (from grenades to a wrinkled shirt to his tattoos and the magnificent "JOE" on the front of his hat) that show the care the designers took when creating this figure.

The main calling card of Heavy Duty, though, is his gear.  1991 was all about the accessories as most figures included large amounts of weapons, packs, hoses, sleds and other accouterments that gave the figures some panache.  Heavy Duty is no different.  While he lacks a traditional pistol or rifle, Heavy Duty is outfitted with a massive cannon that affixed to his backpack and is worn around his waist.  The main structure is made of many parts including a cannon, ammo canisters and harness with handles to operate the guns and two removable spring loaded missile launchers.  (The launchers from this era were more discreet than those that came later and better blend into the overall design of the figure's other gear than the stand alone pieces that would dominate 1993 and 1994.)   All of this connects to Heavy Duty's backpack on a large swivel post.  The top of his pack features a plug in for a red, semi-translucent sight.  It's all one interconnected contraption that is unwieldy, odd, unrealistic and also very, very fun and cool.

Heavy Duty's filename is Lamont Morris.  Lamont Morris is the name of a Hasbro employee and Heavy Duty was sculpted in his likeness.  In the mid 2000's, Hasbro also designed an Endor Rebel Trooper in Lamont's likeness.  This makes him a very rare visage that has appeared in both the G.I. Joe and Star Wars lines.  You can see the 15 years of age difference (as well as improvements in action figure head design) when comparing the releases. Hasbro liked to honor their employees with appearances in their toy lines.  And, Heavy Duty is one of many vintage Joes who is named after a real Hasbro employee.

For me, Heavy Duty is a perfect background figure.  I had his weapon rig for years.  But, I never used it.  Instead, Heavy Duty was equipped with M-203's, M-60's and even bazookas and rocket launchers.  His look gave him the diversity necessary for such varied roles.  The gun emplacement is fun to use in certain situations.  But, it's impractical at best and hides many of Heavy Duty's best features.  As such, I rarely use it with the figure.  Heavy Duty, though, gets used a lot.  I found him in the background of many figures' pictures going back to 2001.  He's generic enough to complement many other Joes and not look out of place in photos.  His rough and tumble appearance allows for use in vehicles, infantry divisions or even as an artilleryman.  Heavy Duty carries on the tradition of Alpine, Dial Tone, Repeater and Recoil as a second tier character that has a ton of play value without being a major character. 

The Heavy Duty mold didn't get a ton of use.  After this original release, it disappeared until 1998.  Then, Hasbro repainted the mold in muted earth tones and released Heavy Duty as a member of the MOBAT crew with Thunderwing.  The exact same figure/vehicle combo was re-released in ARAHC packaging in 2000.  The character of Heavy Duty became a staple of the JvC line starting in 2002.  But, the character did not see another release in vintage Joe form.  All of the mold except for the head was redone for the Operation Flaming Moth Chuckles figure in the mid 2000's.  It's a harsh repaint that doesn't work for Chuckles at all.  But, the drastic color differences help to hide the fact that the body is from the original Heavy Duty.  Due to the character's ubiquity in the JvC line, collectors didn't really clamor for more Heavy Duty repaints in the vintage homage lines.  But, there is still unused potential with the design and at least one more repaint would have been welcomed.

Finding mint and complete Heavy Duty figures can be problematic.  The figure itself and all of the gear except for one piece is actually fairly common.  But, the red sight that attaches to the gun station is the part that creates issues.  Often, this piece is just missing.  However, even when it is there, the small peg that actually attaches the sight to the pack is almost always broken.  If you find a dozen complete Heavy Duty figures, the attachment peg will probably be broken on at least 10 of them.  For savvy dealers, this is an exploitation point and you'll see them offer and sell a few figures in the $30+ range.  At open market, though, unbroken figures are $16-$18 purchases.  It might take a few weeks to find one.  But, collector disinterest in the figure and general malaise towards the character keep prices lower than such an oft broken part would otherwise suggest.

1991 Heavy Duty

1991 Heavy Duty

1991 Heavy Duty


1991 Heavy Duty, Toxo Viper, Eco Warriors, 1993 Eel, Battle Corps, 2000 General Tomahawk

1991 Heavy Duty

1991 Heavy Duty, 1990 Pathfinder