There are bad convention figures. There are good convention figures. And, every now and then, there are great convention figures. Lt. Clay Moore definitely falls into the last category. He is a unique character made of parts that fit well together and are perfectly painted. He is something completely different from most of the other Cobras we've seen over the years and stands as one of the most visually distinctive Cobra villains.
Back in 2004, I discovered the Street Fighter Movie Edition Balrog figure. For those unfamiliar with this guy, he uses the head seen on this Lt. Clay Moore and Salvo's body. His shirt is white and he has blue pants. The result is a figure that looks like a new Cobra villain. Unfortunately, these Movie Balrogs are rather hard to find. Shortly after I acquired one, the price skyrocketed to upwards of $50 for a MOC sample. If you could find a loose version, he was still going to run you close to $30. When I had the figure in hand, though, I realized that his coloring wasn't perfect and the overall presentation wasn't as great as I had anticipated. So, while the character became a player in my collection, the figure ended up on a bunk inside the prison of my Joe HQ out in the garage. He still lies there today.
The minute I saw this figure, I knew that I had found a worthy replacement for that Movie Balrog. Lt. Clay Moore uses Balrog's head and the coloring and uniform make him a perfect fit for the role I had always envisioned Balrog holding. So, this figure became Balrog in my collection. (I'm not a fan of Lt. Clay Moore. I guess it's some homage to an insignificant cartoon character. But, I have a Claymore figure already and naming this one something so similar is redundant. So, the Balrog name has stuck and I only refer to this figure as Balrog.)
Lt. Clay Moore uses the head first seen on the 1993 Balrog figure. That head was used again in 1995 for the Street Fighter Movie Balrog. This use of the head is notable, though, for the fact that it is not molded in black plastic. The skin coloring is painted on. To cut costs, Master Collector casts all their heads in one color and then paints them. It is cheaper than using multiple plastic colors. This practice failed miserably with Red Dog in 2006. But, it works much better on Clay Moore and the Doc figure. The body was originally used in 1994 as Ice Cream Soldier. But, it is more famously known for its use as the Shock Viper versions that were released in 2002. But, since it had been 5 years since this body mold had appeared, its use was welcomed. Personally, I would still like to see a new Shock viper version released that had the grey body base as was shown at the 2002 Joe Convention. I think that figure, properly painted with enough details, would make a great corps of troopers for Clay Moore to command. Beyond that, though, the mold is probably done. Clay Moore is strong enough that he finally realized this mold's full potential.
Clay Moore's accessories aren't great. He features a blue helmet originally used for some of the new sculpt figures. It works well and adds a nice dimension to Clay Moore's look. He is equally useful without it, though. His weapons are the real failure. He includes a large machine gun that was originally designed for the Sgt. Savage line. It is cool enough. But, as Sgt. Savage was a larger scale than Joe figures, the weapon is a bit oversized. Clay Moore also includes a spring loaded missile launcher. I don't know what possessed Master Collector to use spring loaded accessories in their convention sets. Collectors have never liked these and they probably helped knock down this sets' popularity a notch. As such, the best option to accessorize Clay Moore is a visit to Marauder Inc. Most of the photos below feature the figure with a Marauder weapon as his true accessories are so lame.
The 2007 Convention set should have been a winner. In included a few army builders that were a mold that had never been previously released as well as a great mix of high profile, named characters that were all done in awesome new mold mold combinations and given near perfect colors. Yet, the set was largely stagnated on the aftermarket. In the months after the convention, you could buy just about every figure from the set, mint and complete, for under $11. While collectors went nuts for the Grand Slam/Starduster and Steeler/Rip It figures: they largely ignored the incredible figures that comprised the main set. Since then, things have changed a bit and Clay Moores can now be had in the $15 range. Really, for a figure of this quality that was produced in these quantities, that's abnormally low. Much of the price atrophy can be attributed to the large number of collectors who went to the 25th Anniversary convention and hoped to recoup their costs by selling their sets on the aftermarket. The glut over saturated the market right as the demand for ARAH style figures dropped precipitously. The result is that anyone who missed this figure can still get one for a fair price. At the current cost, there is no reason for any collector to not have this figure in their collection. It is one of the highlights of the modern era ARAH style figure releases and brings some much needed diversity to the Cobra ranks.