Monday, December 16, 2013

1997 Lady Jaye

In the early days of Joe collecting, female figures were held in high regard.  There was a misconception in the collecting world that female figures were produced in smaller numbers than other figures.  So, collectors were willing to pay a lot more for figures like Lady Jaye than they were for many of her contemporaries.  As such, when Hasbro looked to bring back Joe for the 15th Anniversary in 1997, they included the Baroness, Scarlett and Lady Jaye molds in their offerings: hoping that they would appeal to collectors.  The tactic was likely no more or less successful than had they included other, high quality figures.  (All of the packs were pretty much pegwarmers.)But, it did offer collectors different takes on all of these iconic characters.

This figure's coloring is pretty good. The black motif with the splotches of grey and white create the aura of a Night Force Lady Jaye figure. Hasbro really experimented with the paint application blending in 1997. They seemed to learn from it as the 1998's and later featured even better blends than the guinea pigs. (Note the Vypra from 1998 uses about the same colors as Lady Jaye, but the blends are more subtle and create a more aesthetically pleasing figure.) Overall, this is probably my favorite Lady Jaye color scheme. But, it is not my favorite Lady Jaye figure.

There's something off with the construction of this figure.  The torso no longer fits perfectly to the waist piece.  The result is that the figures often appear lopsided due to the tilt from the imperfect fit.  This is likely a combination of the mold being returned from Funskool along with the fact that the 1997 materials were of very poor quality. However, it does impact the ability to display the figure and definitely lowers the value of the figure in relation to the color scheme. The poor plastic of the 1997 figures is also an issue. The figure feels weak. It seems like the joints could easily snap and the figure broken with just the slightest movement. The plastic also did not take paint very well and many Lady Jaye figure faces look more like a Funskool paint job than a full fledged Hasbro application.

As a character, though, Lady Jaye is someone whom most collectors consider to be extremely important. As such, it is nice to have an alternative look for her, especially when her original green is rather bright. The black motif lends itself to Night Force comparisons and blends well with many of the darker colored figures from the line's history. This version also complements Flint very well and gives the pair more of a matched look. It's a shame that such a quality color scheme was used on a figure of such poor material quality. Were this not the case, it's likely that this figure would be more popular.

The 1997 Lady Jaye included black versions of her original accessories. The javelin gun, pack and video camera were all part of her weapons complement. One thing the 1997 series got right was the inclusion of most of the original figure's accessories. Through 1992, really, accessories were a key component of any figure's characterization. Having Zap without his bazooka wasn't worth having at all. So, seeing the original gear with the classic figure molds was something that helped these figures age better than most collectors who were around when the figures were released in 1997 would have guessed. Hasbro moved away from the unique accessories as the 2000's wore on. And, many otherwise excellent figures suffered for it as their generic gear made them too mundane to stand on the merits of their mold alone.

The Lady Jaye mold enjoyed a solid life. After her American release, the mold was sent to India. There, Funskool released a Lady Jaye figure for a few years. (They also used the mold for the Canary Ann figure in a knock off line, too.) Hasbro got the mold back in 1997 and used the body again in 1998 for the Volga figure. In 2003, the mold made its final appearance in the convention set. After that, Hasbro resculpted the Lady Jaye mold and all Lady Jaye and her derivatives since then have used that newly sculpted, smaller mold rather than this original version.

For a time in the early 2000's, this version of Lady Jaye was difficult to find and substantially more expensive than her original version.  Slowly, though, interest in the figure waned.  First, Hasbro produced more Lady Jaye figures.  But, collectors also realized the 1997 series was likely not as rare as they had anticipated.  So, prices on this figure have dropped steadily since then.  Since the set includes a nice Stormshadow with his original accessories and a decent Snake Eyes in the pack, too, that's probably the better way to go if you want the figure. For my money, this is an interesting take on Lady Jaye. But, the figure's construction problems really offset the solid colors. As a display piece, this figure is decent. But, beyond that, I find its use limited.

1997 Lady Jaye, TRU Exclusive, Vypra, 1998, Funskool Flint

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