Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rarities - 1995 Battle Rangers Dr. Mindbender - Hand Painted Sample

I end this month of Rarities with my favorite of all: a hand painted 1995 Dr. Mindbender figure.  This Dr. Mindbender figure has long been a favorite of mine.  The facial scars, deformed hand and sinister cloud of mystery that hung over him all added up to a figure that I had to own.  It took me just two years to finally track one down and add it to my collection.  The white, resin prototype was the crown jewel of my collection for many years.  From this unpainted piece, my mind created an abstract vision of what the figure would have looked like at retail.  I imagined something spectacular, befitting the mold and character.  About 5 years after my acquisition of the figure, a colored version finally appeared on the open market.

When the first painted sample of this figure appeared, I was disappointed.  In looking at the figure, I don't really have reason to be disappointed.  But, I am.  The purple and black are an excellent base color scheme.  They are true not only to Cobra, but the character in specific.  Why, then, did I find the figure underwhelming?  The reason was that having owned an unpainted version for so long, I had grandiose ideas of the figure's possible appearance in my head.  The primer colored head of my prototype always lead to believe the Dr. was very pale and ghoulish in color.  Seeing a flesh colored face, with the prominent scars only subtly filled in was a dose of reality so different from my expectation that I couldn't reconcile it.

My biggest complaint was the Dr.'s deformed left hand.  I always imagined this as ghostly flesh with rotted fingernails and exposed bone.  Instead, he's wearing a purple glove.  The hand is the coolest part of the mold and it's buried in the same base color as the figure.  I also always saw the head scars as more pronounced.  On the resin prototype, they are very distinctive.  But, the flesh colored paint hides these traits and makes the figure appear less macabre than the prototype.  If the head was ultimately to be cast in flesh colored plastic, maybe the scars would have been more noticeable.

The reality of the 1994 G.I. Joe line, though, was that paint applications were being skipped in an effort to save money.  As such, that is the likely reason for the two tone body on the figure with unpainted details.  Mindbender's mustache and monocle would have been paint applications and, if the scars were painted, they would have been another.  So, the figure's head was rather expensive and Hasbro had to save money on the rest of the body.  So, the figure's appearance fits with the times, even if it is a bit underwhelming to me.

I have always said, and continue to maintain, that had this Dr. Mindbender been released, he would be a collector favorite.  The design approaches the best appearance of the character and the included helmet would have been an awesome additional accessory that would have given the figure much more breadth.  The figure made it to the resin prototype stage and was very close to production level.  Was the tooling destroyed in the '90's?  Was it too far away from production stage for Hasbro to have used in the 2000's?  Or, did they care or even bother to look?  Those are the questions I have.  The 1995 unproduced figures should have been among the first candidates to see release in the 2000's.  A two pack of this figure and Battle Corps Rangers Footloose would have rivaled army builders in terms of collector acquisitions.  But, that never happened.

Again, this is a case where collectors missed out.  This figure would have been a spectacular release.  But, pretty much every Battle Corps Rangers figure would have been, as well.  I'd trade most of the Battle Corps figures from 1993 for a full production 1995 release.  They planned figures would have been that much better.  At this point, though, ever seeing the 1995 molds at production levels is likely a pipe dream.  Even if the tooling is still out there, there is no mechanism that could drive Hasbro to possibly put them into production for collectors.  That's too bad.  We missed some great stuff in 1995.  At least items like this leave us a bit of a legacy of that lost year.


1995 Dr. Mindbender, Battle Corps Rangers, Unproduced, Unreleased, Prototype

1995 Dr. Mindbender, Battle Corps Rangers, Unproduced, Unreleased, Prototype

1995 Dr. Mindbender, Battle Corps Rangers, Unproduced, Unreleased, Prototype

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rarities - 1997 Pimp Daddy Destro

There is a psychological phenomena called "False Memory".  The basic premise is that an idea is planted in someone's head and they, through time, fully believe that something that never actually happened, did happen.  This isn't someone outright lying.  In the case of False Memory, the person actually believes their memory.  Even if it is faulty.  This has been documented from everything from someone attending a major event to the flag raising at Iwo Jima.  In the toy world, though, it is most often attributed to the tons of kids form all over the U.S. who swear, up and down, that they got a Rocket Firing Boba Fett figure from the Kenner mail away in the late 1970's.  This memory is traced to the fact that early cardbacks trumpeted the feature, they were just covered with a black sticker.  So, kids had a way to know about the intended toy and their False Memories took over from there.

In the G.I. Joe world, though, the most persistent case of False Memory occurred more recently, in 1997.  Hasbro returned G.I. Joe to retail shelves in 1997.  Among the figures released was a repainted 1992 Destro figure.  A few years later, though, an odd, leopard spotted Destro variant came to be.  Hasbro admitted the figure had been created as a joke.  And, with that, the myth of the "Pimp Daddy Destro" took flight.

In the years that followed, many collectors swore up and down that they had seen the figure at retail.  Yet, despite all these claims, no one managed to buy one.  In 1997, the African American Rock and Roll variant figure was quickly discovered by collectors.  While it's likely that only around 1,000 of these figures exist, collectors quickly learned of the variant and began to comment on it.  You see, in 1997, the people buying Joes were collectors.  While I'm sure some kids did buy a few TRU Joes, it was collectors who drove sales.  So, they were aware of the figures from the get go.  Had the PDD actually been released in the U.S., there is no way it would have escaped collector attention and remained unknown until several years later.

There is the question, too, of whether the PDD was actually available on cards in the US.  Those who claim to have seen it at retail back in 1997 point to photos below of the carded PDD figure.  These are legit.  However, every single PDD that's been confirmed has come from Asian sources.  There are no confirmed figures that have ever been found in the U.S. that could not be traced back to Asia.  Hasbro added speculation to the fire when they said it "was possible" that a carded sample made its way to retail.  Some collectors immediately took this as evidentiary proof of their false memory.  But, again, there remain no confirmed sightings of a PDD figure and every figure that was found was traced back to Asia.

Hasbro admitted the figure was a joke.  And, as a joke, it greatly succeeds.  Destro in leopard print fits with the late 1990's perception of the character.  (Lando Calrissian saw similar memes in the same time period.)  And, due to the absolute visually stunning difference as well as the fact that anyone who saw this figure would have been in the joke, it makes it all the more unlikely than anyone ever found this figure in the United States.  As a novelty, the figure is cool.  Had he been released, I'd own one and would likely use it in many photos.  But, as a $1,000+ novelty, my desire for the figure cools considerably.  The joke's not that funny.

It is not known how many Pimp Daddy Destro figures are out there.  However, the figure is more common than many dealers who have one want you to believe.  At one time, around 2004, a collector kept a list of verified PDD figures and their owners.  His list was at 36 before a fellow collector acquired 4 at once.  Since then, there were another 30 or so that were confirmed to come into collector hands.  So, the number of PDD's is likely between 70 and 100, and maybe even higher.  Before some prominent members of a Joe collector group had a PDD, they claimed that hundreds of their fellow group members had the figure.  After they acquired one, though, those claims terminated and they officially tried to say there were only a few of the figure out there.  So, there's lots of misinformation.

The reality is that the figure is rare, but not nearly as rare as the 1998 Chocolate Chip figures.  But, the fame and notoriety of the Pimp Daddy Destro outpace that of any other unproduced item.  (The fact that Hasbro "sanctioned" the character with a San Diego Comic Convention exclusive figure in the anniversary figure design only added to the legend.)  So, when you are in the market for the figure, you are paying more for these attributes than you are for rarity.  But, the sheer outlandishness of the figure's design and the myths around it have created a monster far bigger than the reality justifies.

1997 Pimp Daddy Destro, Leopard Spots, unproduced, Unreleased, Cobra Command Team, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Toys R Us Exclusive, TRU, MOC, Carded

1997 Pimp Daddy Destro, Leopard Spots, unproduced, Unreleased, Cobra Command Team, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Toys R Us Exclusive, TRU, MOC, Carded

1997 Pimp Daddy Destro, Leopard Spots, unproduced, Unreleased, Cobra Command Team, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Toys R Us Exclusive, TRU, MOC, Carded

1997 Pimp Daddy Destro, Leopard Spots, unproduced, Unreleased, Cobra Command Team, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Toys R Us Exclusive, TRU, MOC, Carded

1997 Pimp Daddy Destro, Leopard Spots, unproduced, Unreleased, Cobra Command Team, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Toys R Us Exclusive, TRU, MOC, Carded

1997 Pimp Daddy Destro, Leopard Spots, unproduced, Unreleased, Cobra Command Team, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Toys R Us Exclusive, TRU



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rarities - European Force Knock Offs

For the most part, G.I. Joe figures come in two flavors if they are not Hasbro produced items: fully licensed figures produced by another company or dreadful, inarticulate knock offs that would be overpriced in a .99 store.  There, are, though, a few exceptions.  The most interesting use of Joe based molds in an unlicensed capacity occurred in Europe where an exclusive line of figures named European Force were released.

A cursory look at any European Force figure quickly identifies it as using Joe molds.  A wide array of figures from 1984 through 1987 comprise the series of figures.  The question, or course, is did they use the actual Hasbro molds?  Or, did they create their own, knockoff molds and use them?  I've never actually owned a figure.  And, the information out there is pretty sparse.  From the best I can tell, the figures do not look like they were recast molds.  The technology of their release period would have produced parts with detailing as crisp as you see below were the molds recast.  So, how did the company get access to the parts?

You will see that the figures were made in China.  So, it's possible that a dishonest Chinese factory simply rented out the molds to the French company who made the figures.  Or, maybe, Hasbro was paid a small sum so their molds could be used.  It would be very interesting to know how these figures came to be and if Hasbro was even aware of their existence.

The figures mostly have French based names as they were, most likely, made by a French company with mostly French distribution.  But, no one can ever, ever discount the genius of naming a figure Eclair.  That alone makes this line worth owning.  But, the entire line features some interesting repaints and reuse of parts.  The premise appears to be a group of good guys, the "European Force" against a group of bad guys named MyGal.  Mygal loosely translates as Spider or Tarantula.  (Which explains the spider on the MyGal figure's leg.)  And, is a pretty blatant rip off of Cobra.  But, most bootlegs are only as good as what they rip off.

There were, according to the cardbacks, 12 figures in the series.  8 good guys and 4 bad guys.  From the few carded samples I could see, the accessories on the cardbacks are probably fairly accurate, but also incomplete.  The carded figures and even some high quality loose samples include more than what is shown on the cardbacks.

European Force figures are not easy to find.  Even finding photos of them can be daunting.  But, their sheer terribleness makes them worth seeking out.  A quick look at the card art (at least the little I could find) seems to show that the good guys got one design (with a character that looks like Duke) while the bad guys got another design.

First up are some carded samples of the figures.

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

Here you can see the infamous Eclair figure as well as the Thomis.  It's a good representation of both the European Force and MyGal cardback differences.  It's likely there were just the two cardfronts.  The MyGal artwork is based on the 1983 Destro.  You see the metal face, but with a mustache and mohawk.  The actual MyGal figure uses a Buzzer head with these details painted on.  The artwork outdoes even the worst of Funskool and makes these worth owning.

Here are some loose samples.  As you can see, the quality isn't perfect.  But, finding mint condition figures is tough.

The most interesting part of these figures is that they all seem to use the same arms and legs.  It's oddly unsettling, especially the lower arm part.  But, it was a likely cost cutting move for the molds in general.  The figures also use just two waist pieces among them.  (I'm not good at identifying the exact waists, so if anyone can, please comment below.)

If you look through the figures, you see lots of parts reused.  Flint, Falcon, Dial Tone, Mercer, Iceberg and General Hawk appear multiple times across the figures.  Even heads are reused.

This first photo shows in the top row from left to right: Thomis and Scorpion.  Thomis uses the 1985 Snow Serpent head with a Falcon chest.  Scorpion features a Caucasian 1987 Red Dog head and 1985 Flint chest.  The second row is Le Colonel and Longue Vue.  Le Coloned features Mercer's head and Flint's chest while Longue Vue is Falcon's head and Flint's chest.

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off



European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off
Next up is Commando.  He uses Flint's head and the 1986 Iceberg's chest.






















Then we have MyGal.  He is the enemy leader.  It is a 1985 Buzzer chest and head, but with a painted mustache. The figure's hair is painted to resemble a mohawk.  (I don't know if it extends to the pony tail on the mold, though.)  Note the spider on his leg denoting him the leader of the MyGal gang.

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

Next is Mains Dacier.  He features an 1986 Mainframe head: also with a painted mustache.  This is combined with the 1986 General Hawk chest.  Mains Dacier is shown with a different pistol on the cardback.  But appears to have included the 1986 Low Light uzi and a 1987 Falcon backpack.

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

The accessories seem to be an odd blend of yellow, green and brown colors.  They definitely look lower quality than American accessories...at least on the packs.  Note that Buzzer's gas can was modified to work as a pack rather than to fit on the frame.

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off


Here is a better photo of Le Colonel.
European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off

Here is an Acarie figure using a Caucasian head of the 1986 Iceberg.

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off


Here is another Thomis figure along with Randon.  Randon uses the 1986 Dial Tone head and chest.


European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off















































You can see above that there might even be variants in the figures.  The Thomis figures (using the Snow Serpent head and Falcon chest) appears in dark, almost Cobra, blue in the final photo as well as his carded appearance.  In the first loose photo, though, Thomis appears to be a much lighter blue.  It's possible this is a bad photo or discoloration.  But, there is so little info about these figures out there that it's difficult to determine if it's a variant or just poorly conditioned figure.  (You can see more examples of Thomis in the group shot below, too.)

Here's some low quality group shots of the two factions:

European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off







European Force, MyGal, Bootleg, European Exclusive, France, Eclair, Tonnerre, Acarie, MyGal, Scorpion, Thomis, Randon, Le Colonel, Longe Vue, Commando, Mains Dacier, MOC, Rare, G.I. Joe Bootleg, Knock Off
In the above photo, you have Tonnerre who uses the Dial Tone chest and Mercer head.  (Check out that peach shirt.  Awesome!)  Mirage is next, using the 1984 Duke chest and head.  Then Eclair using a General Hawk head and Dial Tone body.  Randon, Longue  Vue and Le Colonel round out the photo.


















This final photo shows the bad guy members of MyGal.  You have the Scorpion figure followed by Thomis.  (The blues here look like discoloration.)  Next is Acarie.  Acarie uses a Caucasian 1986 Iceberg head with a Falcon chest.  He appears more green than the cardback suggest.  Last is another MyGal figure.

The value of these figures is tough to measure.  High quality samples are few and far between.  Many collectors don't know about them and they are not G.I. Joe figures.  But, using the vintage molds does drive interest.  Individual figures sell anywhere between $40 and $150 depending upon condition, completeness and desirability.  Thomis seems to be the most common as I found the most examples of him.  Scorpion, Le Colonel, and Longue Vue also seem easier to find.  Despite his infamy, Eclair is tough to find with Tonnerre, Randon and Acarie.  The rest are somewhat in between.  Considering the figures' rarity, I would expect to pay a bit for them.  Especially if you can find the harder to track down figures in top quality condition.

Overall, there is a lot to like about these figures.  The race changing Iceberg and Red Dog heads predated their Funskool representations.  The orange haired Mercer is rather striking.  And, the painted facial hair on MyGal and Mains Dacier are wonderfully cheesy.  The colors on Tonnerre make him a figure I actually want to seek out.  These are just an oddity that rivals the best in the world: and one that few collectors really know about.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Rarities - Unproduced "Tiger Force" Steel Brigade

Of all the figures that showed up in the mid 2000's from Asian sellers, the one below is most flummoxing.  Pretty much all of the other figures were variants of figures that actually saw release.  A few were legit unproduced figures, but they were backed up by having appeared at conventions or in Hasbro documentation.  This Steel Brigade figure, though, did not.  His origins are completely unknown.

There was a ton of speculation on this figure.  Perhaps he was planned as a mail away that never came to be.  He might have been spec-ed out for inclusion in the Anti Venom or Greenshirts Toys R Us sets, but was cancelled.  He might have been a run to see get the head that was then used to create the Anti Venom helmets.  (Though this is unlikely.)  He might have been a figure that was blocked by a cabal of secret collectors who were out to destroy the collecting community.  Or, he might have been part of a planned product that never got far enough along for Hasbro to actually announce it.  Whatever his origin, though, the figure sparked immense interest among collectors.

The figure is often denoted as a Tiger Force Steel Brigade figure.  However, there is no reason for this name other than collectors were looking for a way to distinguish him from existing Steel Brigade figures at the time.  His cammo does not resemble Tiger Force in any way.  And, there's no indication he would have been released in a Tiger Force bannered set.  But, the name persists and is a decent way to differentiate the figure from the release Steel Brigade figures that are out there.

This figure was actually sold frequently for a short time.  He often appeared in the standard weekly lots that Asian sellers would post.  But, he always sold high.  Even in 2004 and 2005, this was a $100 figure.  Aside from the public auctions, many collectors worked directly with Asian sellers to acquire this figure privately.  They usually paid the public prices.  But, these quiet sales helped to keep the speculated number of these figures in circulation down below the actual levels at which the figure exists.  But, this isn't to say the Steel Brigade is a common figure.  Even the Asian sellers of the time admitted that this guy's supply was extremely sparse.  So, he is, likely, one of the rarest alternate Asian figures to exist.

As a figure, this guy isn't all that great.  Yes, it would have been great to have access to a modern Steel Brigade figure during that time.  But, seeing the Firefly chest and arms again in 2004 was just exhausting.  So much so that the figure would have likely been ill received had it gone to production.  But, that wouldn't have stopped me and many others from acquiring them en masse had it seen a retail release.

The figure's coloring is decent enough.  It would have blended with existing Steel Brigade figures.  But, still been different enough to stand on its own.  Seeing this figure makes the terrible Greenshirts set just that much worse.  Had even one figure in that set been replaced with a Steel Brigade figure, that set would have been redeemed and useful.  Knowing that Hasbro had the mold available is just another frustrating part of that era in G.I. Joe's history.  They could have released this figure, or even just this head, and created something so much better than what they actually released.

These days, this is a pricey figure.  There's not a lot of them and it's probably the most famous and desirable figure from the entire pantheon of unreleased/alternate figure concepts.  As a rarity, I'd love to get one.  As a collector, I lament that we didn't get this figure at retail.  He would have been a cool addition to the line.

Unproduced Tiger Force Steel Brigade, Midnight Chinese, Mail Away

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rarities - Alternate Comic Pack Figures

The Comic Packs were a collector hit in 2004.  Unfortunately, the rest of the market didn't agree and they were clearance fodder within a year.  But, the packs endured for a while and gave collectors some really nice figures.  Like most products from that era, though, there were alternate and unproduced variants of many of the figures that were available from Asia.  Most were relatively small changes like missing production dates, or slight color differences.  Some of them, though, are awesome.  Others are mundane.  And a select few are...just...weird.

First up are some basic figures that don't have much in the way of differences.  Destro and Duke are baically the same as their production releases.


2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype


The following figures all have smaller, but still full production heads.  It seems that Hasbro had two different sized heads for their new, comic pack head sculpts.  Clutch is the most obvious as the smaller head is drastically smaller.  (There are actually three Clutch head sizes.  Here you see the smallest and the largest.  There is a third size in between these two.)  But, both the Baroness and Cobra Commander also feature different sized domes.  You will also note the different head insignia on Cobra Commander.

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

We now come to the very odd.  When the comic packs debuted in the summer of 2004, pack #3 was delayed.  While it ultimately pegwarmed around the country and found it's way to clearance and discount stores, this delay lead to rampant speculation on the pack when it first appeared.  A few weeks later, though, an alternate pack showed up in Asia.  Along with the small head Clutch figure, this new pack featured heads with reversed races for Stalker and General Hawk.  Unfortunately, the bodies still retained the correct skin color.  So, the figures had a mismatch.  But, the Caucasian Stalker head and African American Hawk head were an interesting release.  (I've long used the Hawk head for my Skeres figure.)

You will also see two Destro figures below.  One with a chromed head and another with a charcoal colored head.  It's possible that Hasbro planned for this Destro release to have an actual chromed head.  The figure is greatly improved with it.  The charcoal head is different and gives the figure an alternate look.  I'd have preffered either of these variants to the actual figure we saw at retail.


2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype





Finally, we see a comic pack Hawk with a green chest.  If he had green arms, too, the figure would somewhat useful, especially with a simple leg swap.  But, the production release with a brown chest was far superior.

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype




















This brings us to the final figure: a green haired Serpentor figure.  Frankly, this green hair makes no sense.  Green eyebrows and eyes are very Joker.  But, when you consider the overall oddness of the Serpentor character, the green hair actually kind of works.  I greatly wanted this figure.  But, put him off to acquire other, more desirable variants.  By the time this guy's number came up, though, the figure was sold out and I never got around to picking him up.  It's just another odd example of what collectors could find in 2003 - 2005.  But, stuff like this Serpentor was more fun than anything Hasbro was doing at the time.

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype

2005, 2004, Comic Pack, Destro, Duke, Stalker, General Hawk, Baroness, Cobra Commander, Serpentor, Midnight Chinese, Alternate, Unproduced, Prototype






Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rarities - Ninja Commando Knock Out

Knock Out is the third out of five Ninja Commando figures I've looked at during this month of rarities.  What makes him significant, though, is that he was the lone new character included in the set.  He bears no real resemblance to any, existing figure or character and was, likely, designed as someone who was all new.  And, while it's possible that his filecard exists out there, somewhere, we really don't  have much knowledge about the figure or character behind it.

Who was Knock Out? We don't know much about him.  Good guy or bad guy?  It's hard to say.  If the Ninja Commando Stormshadow was a Cobra, then Knock Out was likely a Joe.  If Stormshadow was a Joe, though, then Knock Out was likely a Cobra.  Stormshadow's pre production card artwork is inconclusive as to whether he's Joe or Cobra.  And, the figure does not feature any Cobra sigils.  But, then again, neither does Road Pig.  So, that alone does not indicate allegiance.  However, Stormshadow's 1994 and 1992 figures were both Joes.  So, his most recent figures had all been good guys.  But, the last issues of the comic had Stormshadow returning to Cobra.  So, it's all very confusing.  But, based on the figure's overall look, colors and the fact that Stormshadow was most likely a Joe, I conclude that Knock Out would have been a Cobra.

Going with the assumption that he is a Cobra, this figure is pretty good.  The dark blue offset by the silver is a striking contrast.  While the open chest does diminish the overall appearance, it's not too much when you consider the figure's release year.  It is the head, though, that is the most interesting part of the mold.  I see a lot of Darth Vader in the general design.  But, the silver eye slits definitely give Knock Out a villain vibe.  I could see this figure have generated some collector attention had it made it to production.

For me, the non standard construction of the Ninja type figures is a real interest killer.  It makes a figure like this appear to not be a G.I. Joe figure since I associate them with the classic o-ring construction.  But, in looking more in depth at the Ninja Commandos, I'm more and more impressed with them.  The figure design was certainly top top notch.  And, the chosen colors were more in line with Joe's traditional approach to figure appearance instead of going with '90's neon.  While I probably would have passed this figure by in 1995, Knock Out would have found an aftermarket home in my collection.  His look is solid and he's distinctive.

1995 Ninja Commandos Knock Out, Unproduced, Prototype, G.I. Joe

1995 Ninja Commandos Knock Out, Unproduced, Prototype, G.I. Joe

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rarities - Unproduced 2002 - 2005 New Sculpt Figures

During the Joe Vs. Cobra era from 2002 through 2005, Hasbro tried a lot of things.  The produced hundreds of figures in just a few years.  In the deluge of product they attempted, many concepts failed and were abandoned.  In doing so, several figures were left behind and never got released.

The most prominent example of this was the failed Mission Disk series of figures.  They were single carded products packaged with a computer disk.  They were sold at smaller retailers.  The first wave just used already released figures.  As such, the concept utterly failed at retail.  The second series would have included some new figures, though.  Below is the cancelled Mission Disk Destro, Flint and Double Clutch.
Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper


Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper

Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper


Along with specifically cancelled figures were simply alternate color schemes or unfinished figures that appeared to be first attempts at a design before it went to production.  Below are a Duke, BAT, Shipwreck and Salvo figure that range from completely different from the production figure to simply slightly different.  

Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper





Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Salvo, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper



Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Salvo, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper



There are some figures that are just...weird.  Below are a Flint and Frostbite figure that simply defy explanation.  The colors are terrible and Frostbite's skin is unearthly.  These figures were unlikely candidates for release.  But, they may have been color or mold tests for other uses of the parts.  Their atrocity, though, is interesting in it's own right.

Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Salvo, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper

Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Salvo, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper
Also among the oddities of the day were a few figures that were without explanation.  Below you see the famous open torso Scarlett figure.  There is no way this figure was ever considered for release by Hasbro.  But, large quantities of them were made and available from Asia.  After initial figures sold for high amounts, the supply increased and the figure is relatively common today.  How this figure came to be is a mystery.  But, it's something collectors have tracked down.  The second figure is the "She Hulk" Bombstrike figure.  While it's not rare to find unpainted prototypes in odd colors, it is rare to find those alternate plastic pieces fully painted like the Bombstrike is below.  Again, this is more a result of production process than a figure that was ever intended for release.  But, they are more oddities that define some of the weirdness that could be Asian figures.

Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Salvo, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper

Unproduced Mission Disk, Destro, Flint, Clutch, Midnight Chinese, Scarlett, Bombstrike, She Hulk, Shipwreck, Salvo, Frostbite, Clown Flint, Duke, BAT, Battle Android Trooper