Thursday, March 6, 2014

2005 Gung Ho - Convention Exclusive

The Mega Marines subset has long been held as an example by collectors of molds that, had they been properly painted, would make for tremendous figures. In the early days of Joe collecting, it was common to see repainted Mega Marines figures since the subset featured some classic characters, great molds, but terrible colors. When the repaint era began, many fans called for Mega Marines repaints and wanted them to be among the figures Hasbro offered. Fortunately, Hasbro an extent. In 2002, the first Mirage repaint appeared. It was a fantastic update to the vintage figure. But, it was quickly repainted two more times. And, the fact that it was packed with army builders quickly soured collectors on the mold. Still, though, collectors wanted to see more from the Mega Marines molds. In 2005, Master Collector came through and delivered on the desires and produced a set of figures that utilized some of the Mega Marines molds. The results are not bad: as evidenced by this Gung Ho figure.

There is such a thing as overcompensation. The original Mega Marines Gung Ho figure was painted in an eye-burning yellow with orange highlights color scheme. It was as bright as any figure from the 1990's. This 2005 figure, though, goes too far in the opposite direction. The figure is so dark that many of the subtle color splotches and details are consumed by the overall opaque hue. Lost in the unnecessary cammo pattern is the more lightly colored grey that forms the base of the chest and legs. Were this color not covered by the rain and cloud cammo pattern, the dark green and black details on the mold would pop much more. You would be able to see that there are multiple shades of grey used on the figure and the general metallic black and gun metal greys would have more visual contrast. The figure is still quite good. The colors really can't be beat, especially for an urban assault themed figure. But, in an effort to make something drastic, Master Collector went too far. The cammo is an interesting conversation piece. But, it probably takes away from the figure as a whole.

This figure was a very late addition to my collection. As such, he really has no definitive role. The Mega Marine Gung Ho never had a real place in my collection and this figure doesn't either. He would work on the Monster Blaster APC. But, the brighter colors of that vehicle really require the 1990's era neon figures to give it the full effect. So, this Gung Ho remains unused and really unwanted. He's interesting and shows what could have been done with the Mega Marines molds. But, with so many other high quality figures from around the world already available, this figure fades away. It's not a definitive look for Gung Ho and the 1992 and 1993 updates of the character are more true to the marine's roots. It's nice to have something different for him when the need arises. But, for the price and hassle it takes to acquire this figure now, that's too small a role to justify his inclusion in my collection.

The figure's accessories are rather boring. Gung Ho was given a grey version of the Range Viper rifle. I don't often like Cobra rifles included with Joe figures. The other way around tends to work as you could see terrorist organizations using weapons from all over the world. But, seeing a Joe with a weapon I associate with Cobra really doesn't work for me. He also included a grey version of the MP-5 inspired rifle from 1993. It's nice to see this weapon as it's one that I enjoy and would have liked to have seen included with more figures in the repaint era. But, it's a weapon that doesn't really fit the Gung Ho character. His backpack is the common Big Bear pack that was also ubiquitous throughout the '00's. The only accessory unique to the figure is the helmet. This time, though, the helmet is decked out with multiple paint applications and features metallic blue, green and a purple tinted brown that bring a level of depth to the helmet rarely seen on Joe headgear.

To me, the most underutilized portion of the Gung Ho mold is the helmet. Take away the mouthpiece and this helmet is a dead ringer for a firefighter's helmet. As such, I always felt it should have been used on a new update for the Barbeque character. It would have been great to see the helmet on a more modern, updated firefighter. Even with the mouthpiece, you had the basis for a fire crew that was able to communicate effectively while dealing with burning choppers, tanks or bases. Knowing the mold was available shows the unfulfilled potential of the vintage Joe molds. There was so much that could have been done with them. But, lack of innovation kept the actual product bland and predictable most of the time.

This Gung Ho was sold as part of a 3 figure attendee exclusive set at the 2005 G.I. Joe Convention. Included with him were the excellent Dragonsky figure as well as a Steel Brigade Commander. Limited to a reported 500 sets (there were many more figures, including some with subtle paint differences available from Asia), the figure is rather hard to find. The upside to this Gung Ho, though, is that he was released two years before the attendee exclusive sets took off in aftermarket pricing. So, while you don't see him all that often, you can still get the figure for around $25 when they do appear. For a high quality repaint that was produced in such limited quantities and is of a major character, that's probably a fair price. I was fortunate to acquire this figure before such aftermarket pricing became common for convention figures. Had I not struck then, it's unlikely this Gung Ho would call my collection home. But, I have found the figure is better as an idea than an actual display.

2005 Convention Exclusive Gung Ho, Mega Marines, Steel Brigade, 2005 Winter Operations Snake Eyes

2005 Convention Exclusive Gung Ho, Mega Marines, Steel Brigade, 2006 Mercer, Slaughters Renegades

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