Saturday, October 21, 2017

1995 POTFII Boba Fett

While I quit buying Joe figures in 1988, I never really left the hobby.  Aside from a few month hiatus from the comic, I was still acquiring something related to G.I. Joe every month.  At the end of 1992, I bought a few figures at retail, again.  I'd check the toy aisle on various shopping trips.  As I was in college, though, those trips were infrequent at best as my primary focus was on college life.  In 1995, though, that changed.  The driving force behind my newfound interest in toys was the retail return of Star Wars figures.  Hasbro's newly acquired Kenner division returned the classic franchise to 3 3/4" figure form in the latter part of 1995.  At first, I was not a fan of the bulky, oddly posed designs.  Slowly, though, nostalgia took over and I wanted the figures.  I picked up a few odds and ends as I found them in the sparse retail environment of my college town.  My girlfriend of the time bought me all the ships for my birthday.  But, she had not been able to find any figures.  This would be the theme of Power of the Force II's retail beginnings.  Over Christmas of 1995, I went home where a friend of mine had found 4 figures that I didn't know existed: Princess Leia, Luke X-Wing Pilot, Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett.  He had found them for a huge mark up at the local FAO Schwartz store.  Otherwise, these figures simply did not exist at retail.

As the calendar turned to 1996, my frustration with retail Star Wars continued.  I managed to find a solitary Luke X-Wing at a K-Mart on my way out of Cincinnati in early 1996.  But, there was no sign of the figure I most wanted: Boba Fett.  After failing for months to find him, I decided I was going to buy one from a second hand dealer over spring break.  I had my dad stop at a local comic shop on the drive home from school.  There, the store had a carded Boba Fett for $6.95.  I had planned on paying up to $8 for the figure.  So, I didn't balk at the inflated price and purchased my first Boba Fett figure since my childhood.

I sent away for a Boba Fett mail away in 1979.  My parents actually went to buy a new figure to get enough proofs of purchase.  His arrival in the mail marked the first package of toys I had ever received.  I played with the figure constantly...even taking him on a family winter trip to Pokagon State Park in northern Indiana.  Here, I forgot my original Boba Fett figure.  The fact I remember where and when I lost figure (37 years later!) shows how important he was to me.  (On a side note, if you find a vintage Boba Fett in the Pokagon lodge lost and found, it's probably mine.)  In time, another Boba Fett showed up in our vintage collection.  I'm pretty sure both my brother and I had our own.  So, the adventures continued despite that early loss.

My acquisition of this figure in 1996 brought Fett back into the fold.  And, this figure was light years ahead of the other options from the time.  The added bulk of the POTFII figures made more sense within the context of Fett's armor.  Plus, Fett being a later release, he benefited from the lessons learned of the less than stellar Luke and Han that came before him.  Plus, I was willing to be forgiving for a character that I so wanted to be in my collection again.  The added details of the backpack, cape and Wookie scalps and his updated rifle were exactly what I wanted out of a modern Star Wars line.  The panoply of colors looked like they walked right out of the movie.  But, then again, in 1995, we only had VHS copies of the movies that played on old, pre-HD TV sets.  Even the internet was so nascent that there was little reference material for the character available and most of that was either a blurry screencap or low resolution scan of an old trading card or magazine.  So, the nitpicky details that doom this figure today were less obvious upon his release.

As 1996 progressed, I picked up a couple of extra Fett figures.  I also bought the Shadows of the Empire repaint in a two pack with IG-88 when I found it at the Oxford Wal Mart while I waited to get an oil change so I could drive half way across the state to attend my cousin's wedding.  I really couldn't get enough of the mold.  At the time, Star Wars was a novelty.  People my age grew up with it and were starting to carry that love into early adulthood.  The Special Editions were still months away.  And, the Prequels were just a pipe dream.  The all Star Wars/all the time world we live in now was simply unfathomable.  And, because of that, Star Wars was still something that was somewhat fringe.

At the height of my Star Wars collecting days in the late 1990's, I probably had half a dozen or more of these figures.  I had a couple loose.  I had an orange carded version, the green carded version, the freeze frame carded version and multiples of many of them.  I fancied myself a "serious" collector even though I really didn't buy everything and I collected some of these items just to brag I had them.  In 2007, it came time to move my Star Wars collection.  I was back buying figures at retail and was upgrading all of the old POTFII era figures.  In my zeal to remove the clutter, I got rid of everything: often for about 1/5 of what I had spent at retail for it: nostalgia be damned.  A decade later, I had pangs of regret.  This was driven by the fact that I now had young kids and those early POTFII figures would be great for them as they were indestructible, cool and worthless.  I managed to find a bag of high quality figures at a local thrift shop.  I only bought the bag as it also had a high quality, unbroken 1982 Straight Arm Snake Eyes figure in it.  But, Boba Fett returned to my home.  The fig below belongs to my boys who enjoy playing with him and I don't have to give Hasbro $8 for a crappy 5 POA figure they made in 2017.

There was a time when Boba Fett figures were rare, expensive and popular.  People would pay huge amounts for this figure if he had one of the glove paint variants or the right cardback.  The mid 1990's were a silly time when it came to collecting toys.  But, Boba Fett is probably the most popular character among collectors and Hasbro obliged not only by releasing this figure many, many times: but also constantly making new and better Boba Fett molds.  As such, calling this figure worthless is an understatement.  Mint on Card versions of this Boba Fett sell for under $5.  (Though lots of dealers will sell a few for $10.)  Loose versions aren't easy to find because who wants to handle a figure for a buck or two?  And, frankly, if you're going to buy a Boba Fett figure to show off, there are dozens of better figures made subsequently that are equally easy to find and cheap.  This figure was in production for years and was shipped in many case assortments.  Hasbro was actually really good at keeping high demand characters on the shelves in 1997 and 1998: before the bottom fell out of the market.  But, seeing this figure again reminds me of why I loved it so two decades ago and why I also got rid of it when better Fetts came along.  It was fun, though, to recollect those mid 1990's toy runs.  It was a great time in my life and this figure reminds me of that.

1995 POTFII Boba Fett, Darth Vader, AT-AT, Kenner

1995 POTFII Boba Fett, Finn, Millenium Falcon, Kenner, The Force Awakens

Thursday, October 19, 2017

1983 Major Bludd - Around the Web

The 1983 Major Bludd figure is one of the iconic Cobra characters from the earliest years of the line.  His unique look, cool name and fun accessories added up to a villain for the ages.  This original release of Major Bludd works perfectly well with the other contemporary Cobras of the time.  Though, he is a bit out of place when posed with later figures.  But, being a classic character means there's lots of content out there on him.  Here's the best of Major Bludd from around the web.

Major Bludd Profile

Major Bludd Review at

Major Bludd at

Major Bludd at ARAH Gallery

Major Bludd At

Major Bludd Video Review

Major Bludd Pre-Production at

Major Bludd at JoeDios 1

Major Bludd at JoeDios 2

1983 Major Bludd, 1984 Cobra Stinger, Bootleg Cobra Trooper, Black Major, Crimson Trooper, Snow Serpent Trooper, Desert Trooper

1983 Major Bludd, 1984 Cobra Stinger, Bootleg Cobra Trooper, Black Major, Crimson Trooper, Snow Serpent Trooper, Desert Trooper

1983 Major Bludd, 1984 Cobra Stinger, Bootleg Cobra Trooper, Black Major, Crimson Trooper, Snow Serpent Trooper, Desert Trooper

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

1991 Ozone - Eco Warriors

Time heals all wounds.  Or, so they say.  In 1991, Hasbro released the Eco Warriors figures.  As collectors came online a few years later in the late 1990's, they generally hated the concept of neon Joes and, in particular, hated the Eco Warriors for being the harbinger of the bright colors.  Well into the 2000's this opinion remained true.  But, as the calendar turned to the 2010's, the stance began to soften.  This was due to the fact that many hardliners (those who felt the Joe line ended after 1987, or even 1985) had either left the hobby or had decided the later vintage Joes weren't bad since they had nothing else new to collect.  But, it was also due to an influx of younger collectors for whom the neon years had defined their childhood Joe experience.  While I won't go so far as to say that Eco Warriors are now popular, they are accepted and collectors find some value in them.  In looking back at the molds used in the Eco Warriors subset, they still exhibit the same high quality sculpting and design that Hasbro retained through the vintage Joe line's entire run.  This brings us to Ozone: an excellent addition to the Eco Warriors ranks and the subject of today's profile.

Ozone is known to me as an Astronaut.  The first time I came across the figure was in the spring of 1995 when I found the 1993 Star Brigade version of Ozone, Countdown and Payload for $2 each at a KB Toy Liquidators on the West side of Indianapolis.  The mold looked like an astronaut and it seemed perfectly reasonable to me that the figure was new to the Star Brigade assortment.  As collecting resources came online, I found that Ozone actually debuted two years earlier as part of the Eco Warriors assortment.  As I liked my 1993 figure, I made it a point to find an original Ozone figure.

In the late 1990's, though, finding figures from the 1990's on the second hand market was actually kind of tough.  Not too many kids had gotten to the point of selling their figures.  So, it took a good amount of time before I found a lot that included a complete Ozone.  Once in hand, though, I found that I still got more use out of my later Ozone releases.  The blue and yellow color was visually appealing.  But, I was more interested in Clean Sweep as a new acquisition.  And, as I was familiar with Ozone from Star Brigade, I had difficulty in seeing the original release of him in the Eco Warriors light.  Plus, the figure I got was very stiff.  So, he was difficult to fit into the Razorblade (my aircraft of choice at the time) which limited his display use.

Ozone's design is very strong.  His distinctive visage is one of the highlight.  The figure itself is named after a Hasbro designer of the time named David Kunitz.  The helmet is tight fitting and well placed without being a true danger of rubbing off the head's paint.  The rest of the body is somewhat bulky: befitting for a figure who would be wearing lots of protective gear.  He has lots of armor bits around that add depth to the mold, but really can only be explained away as aesthetic choices.  Ozone features an array of 6 neon green grenades on his chest.  They provide a visual break to the blue and yellow background.  And, they are a nice complement to the neon green accessories.  The overall color scheme works well despite the non-traditional bright colors.  Sure, Ozone is blue.  But the hue would never be mistaken for Cobra.

Ozone's accessories are a mixed bag.  His helmet is awesome.  It fits well and is in scale with the rest of his body.  The water squirting backpack is, essentially, the same as the device included with the other Eco Warriors figures.  For the time, it's a solid toy.  But, the weapon and hose are large and can easily snap thumbs.  The sniffer is a cool device.  However, in my first Eco Warriors lot I acquired, the sniffer was placed into the bag with Clean Sweep.  I never bothered to look up each figure since all the figs in the lot had their correct accessories.  So, until 2016, I considered this piece of gear to belong to Clean Sweep.  I've always seen it as an extension of the nice pack and controls setup included with that character.  So, seeing this vacuum gun with Ozone still seems odd to me.  But, the quality and oddity of the weapon remains the same regardless of which figure you have use it.  The bright green is a nice offset from the subtle blue and yellow of the figure.  So, I find it very aesthetically pleasing: even if it is very bright.

The Ozone mold got a lot of life.  Hasbro created it for the Eco Warriors in 1991.  It was then released in two variants as part of Star Brigade in 1993: a tan and a brown version.  Hasbro recolored Ozone into a dark brown and included him as a shortpacked figure in the second series of 1994 Star Brigade figures.  The mold then appeared in India around 1999 or 2000.  There, Funskool released a Star Brigade Ozone based on the 1993 American release of the figure.  There are a few variants of the Funskool figure to track down as some have different arm construction or differing shades of grey coloring.  Funskool still had the mold in 2010.  As such, it's more possible that Ozone's mold still exists.  Though, it's doubtful that he'll ever appear again.

Mint and complete with filecard Ozone figures are cheap.  While dealers sell them for $10, you can get them with the filecard for around $6 without too much difficulty.  You can still get carded figures in the $25 range without too much searching, too.  So, while the figure isn't as hated as it once was, it's still not loved by collectors.  However, for the price, Ozone isn't a bad buy.  The colors are different and vibrant.  The mold is solid.  And, the character is a relative blank slate that can be incorporated into any collection with no media baggage.  You can use the figure in a variety of settings and the panoply of later colors allow for some diversity when using the character.  Personally, I don't mind either Eco Warriors or brightly colored Joes.  I've been this way for 20 years, now.  But, the nostalgia of the neon years is strong with me as it was when I actively became a collector.  So, the value you derive from an Ozone figure may differ quite a bit.  But, I'm glad to have this guy in my collection.

1991 Eco Warriors, Ozone, Countdown, Outback, 1993, Star Brigade

1991 Eco Warriors, Ozone, Countdown, Outback, 1993, Star Brigade, 1991 BAT, Battle Android Trooper, tracker, Clean Sweep, Mercer

1991 Eco Warriors, Ozone, Countdown, Outback, 1993, Star Brigade, 1991 BAT, Battle Android Trooper, tracker, Clean Sweep, Mercer

1991 Eco Warriors, Ozone, Countdown, Outback, 1993, Star Brigade, 1991 BAT, Battle Android Trooper, tracker, Clean Sweep, Mercer

Thursday, October 12, 2017

1994 Ice Cream Soldier - Around the Web

For a bright neon figure with a terrible code who was released in Joe's final year: there sure is a lot of content around the web for Ice Cream Soldier.  It seems he's kind of the poster child for all that went "wrong" with the last years of the line.  But, the mold is still decent and the bright colors are kind of fun.  Here's the best on the 1994 Ice Cream Soldier from around the web.

Ice Cream Soldier Profile

Ice Cream Soldier at

Ice Cream Soldier Video Review

Ice Cream Soldier at

Ice Cream Soldier Pre Production at

Ice Cream Soldier at Half the Battle

1994 Ice Cream Soldier, Flamethrower, 1993 Mirage, Mega Marines, Outback, Eco Warriors, Mud Buster

1994 Ice Cream Soldier, Flamethrower, 1993 Mirage, Mega Marines, Outback, Eco Warriors, Mud Buster

1994 Ice Cream Soldier, Flamethrower, 1993 Mirage, Mega Marines, Outback, Eco Warriors, Mud Buster

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sigilo - Plastirama Quick Kick (Argentina)

The character of Quick Kick never really appealed to me.  Despite first appearing in the classic 1985 series, I never found the figure all that interesting.  As such, through the years, I mostly ignored Quick Kick's existence.  I acquired a complete one in an early lot of figures I bought and never really thought much about him.  However, as I turned towards foreign Joes as the major growth area for my collection, I found that Quick Kick had a large contingent of international releases.  Again, though, I heavily avoided these: spending my time acquiring figures I liked more instead.  In time, though, I realized that I would "need" to get the Quick Kick variants at some point.  So, when I found a dealer selling several Plastirama figures I was missing from my collection: I went ahead and added the Argentine version of Quick Kick (named Sigilo) to my collection.

Quick Kick was never really important to my childhood collection.  There's a few reasons for that.  The first is that his look was just too far out there.  A guy with bare feet and bare chest was tough for me to really get behind.  The second was that he only included a sword and nunchuks as weapons.  Had he been released in 1984 as an enemy to Storm Shadow, I might have found Quick Kick more interesting.  But, with the 1985 Snake Eyes as Storm Shadow's foil available the same calendar year, Quick Kick never stood a chance.  The final reason is more trivial.  But, one of my friends simply loved Quick Kick.  He was annoyingly attached to the figure.  (I suspect it was because he could not find the 1985 Snake Eyes at retail.  So, he didn't have Storm Shadow's natural enemy.  I recall him ordering Snake Eyes from either Sears or JC Penny's: getting several figures he already had since he couldn't find the figure he wanted at retail.)  He had Quick Kick out duel Snake Eyes.  This, to me, was ludicrous.  And, it helped sully the Quick Kick figure for me.

Yet, I did find uses for Quick Kick.  One of my favorite Special Missions adventures centers around Quick Kick and Stalker being trapped by South American terrorists.  From stories like this, I found that Quick Kick could have some value.  Yet, I found the figure constraining.  So, in time, Quick Kick joined the legion of nameless, faceless minions who would represent enemies of both Joe and Cobra.  He might be a radicalized student, a dissident or just a general terrorist.  He was joined by my broken figures, Dreadnoks and other knock offs in this role.  He also served as a stand in for Viet Cong soldiers during the time I was obsessed with "The 'Nam" comic book.

Beyond that, though, the figure never found a place.  Even as an adult, Quick Kick hasn't grabbed my attention.  I have few photos of him on the site and he rarely even makes a background appearance.  If I'm rattling off the 1985 lineup, Quick Kick will be the one figure I forget: even over the obscure Listen & Fun Tripwire.  The bare chest and feet don't really lend themselves to much usage.  And, Quick Kick's lack or firearm further limits his value.

The main differences between this figure and the American release are subtle.  Sigilo's (the name means Stealth) skin tone is definitively pinker than Quick Kick's.  That's the most noticeable difference.  He has a red belt with silver pockets.  These work better than the American colors and are more unifying in appearance since they also tie with the silver wrist gauntlets.  If you come across a loose Sigilo in the wild, he's different enough that an experienced collector will instantly recognize him as being different from the American figure.  But, he's still similar enough that he doesn't really bring anything to the Quick Kick character that you don't get from the Hasbro version.

Sigilo's accessories are the same as Quick Kick's.  The Plastirama backpack is a shiny black color.  (It's the common color of many Argentine accessories.)  The sword and nunchuks are still silver and are functionally indistinguishable from the Hasbro versions of the same gear.  Quality Control for these Plastirama figures can be spotty, though, and it's not uncommon to see carded Sigilo figures missing the nunchuks. The black pack is something different for the figure, but isn't really enough to be interesting.  But, at least the figure contains the full complement of gear.

Quick Kick was quite the world traveler.  Despite that, though, he never really got an interesting variant.  After his release in the U.S., Quick Kick appeared in Argentina and Brazil.  The Estrela release from Brazil is notable because Hasbro actually had Estrela produce a large quantity of Quick Kick figures that were made available to North American collectors via Hasbro Direct.  So, anyone who had a later mail away Quick Kick figure actually has the Brazilian variant.  Despite this major difference, these mail aways remain remarkably cheap.  Though, massive amounts of overstock were put into the collecting community that helps sate demand.  From Brazil, Quick Kick migrated to India.  There, Funskool produced a Quick Kick figure for many years.  Like both the Brazilian and Argentine versions of the mold, the Funskool figure is a very similar to the American release.  There are a few very difficult to find variants of the Funskool Quick Kick, the most famous being a version with a light pink sash.  It does not appear that Hasbro got the Quick Kick mold back from Funskool in the 2000's and it could still be there.  Frankly, I'd go for at least one variant of Quick Kick that gave us a substantially different visual from the other figures that were released around the world.  But, that's never going to happen, now.

In the early and mid 2000's, mint on carded Sigilo figures were ubiquitous on online auction and dealer sites.  They would sit, unsold for $10.  If you were patient, you could get them for half of that.  Sgto. Slaughter, Alado, Fuego and Sigilo comprised a quartet of completely undesirable figures that collectors ignored.  Slowly, though, the supply of all the Plastirama overstock has dried up.  These days, MOC Sigilos are around $25 figures.  Loose, they will run around $15 or so.  That's still pretty cheap.  But, there are tons of Quick Kick figures out there and most of them are similar enough that once you have one, you have them all.  But, you simply don't see Sigilo (or any of the once easy to find Plastirama figures) with the frequency you did just a decade ago.

If you are a foreign figure junkie like I am, this is good since you can still get a foreign variant for really cheap.  If you don't really care, it's good, too, since this Sigilo doesn't really offer anything you don't get with the regular Quick Kick version.  Since I'm still not a Quick Kick fan, this Sigilo just sits in a box with some other Plastirama figures.  He's fun to display with Sgto. Slaughter and Alado from time to time.  But, I rarely have occasion to pull him out and use him on his own merits.  Quick Kick is a character that's never resonated with me and the figure has kept him buried in my collection.  Having a foreign version of him is kind of fun.  But, in the end, this Sigilo is still constrained by the same issues as the American figure.  For those who like Quick Kick (and, he has a lot of fans) that's a good thing since it allows them more ways to collect a figure they enjoy.  For me, though, this figure checked a box and that's about the extent of his value to me.

Sigilo, Quick Kick, Argentina, Plastirama, Cobra Mortal, Cobra De Hielo, Ice Cobra, Stormshadow, Black Major, Bootleg

Sigilo, Quick Kick, Argentina, Plastirama, Cobra Trooper, VAMP Mark II, 1985, 1983, Dusty, 1984

Sigilo, Quick Kick, Argentina, Plastirama, 1985, Worms, 1987, General Hawk, 1997, Lifeline 1986

Sigilo, Quick Kick, Argentina, Plastirama, 1985, Worms, 1987, General Hawk, 1997, Lifeline 1986

Thursday, October 5, 2017

1985 Eel - Around the Web

The 1985 Eel is about as classic a Cobra army builder as there is.  Hasbro never released a Cobra diver that came close to the immortal grey original.  The fact that he wasn't repainted ad naseum has helped keep the figure undiluted and left him as pertinent today as he was in 1985.  Through the years, I've had tons of content regarding the figure.  Here's all of that plus some other content from around the web.

1985 Eel Profile

Eel Diorama 1 - The Landing

Eel Diorama 2 - Eels in Training

Eel on Instagram

Hombre Rana - Plastirama Eel from Argentina

Eel Diorama 3 - Helping Hand

Eel Video Review

Eel Diorama 4 - Through the Looking Grass

Eel at

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2017 Red Lasers Army Sightline

I did not know Gary Head.  I was a member of a forum where he was active.  But, our peak collecting timelines did not really overlap.  I occasionally read about one of his finds: the most lasting for me was the alternate heads for the 1982 Joe team.  But, right as he came into the collecting world, I was heavily on my way out.  In his time, though, he made quite a mark on the Joe world.  Between developing a strong bond with many Hasbro employees (not an easy task) and keeping abreast of the modern line, Gary was a huge presence in the Joe world.  His untimely death left a void for the community as a hole, but also his many friends in particular.

So, due to his unique stature in the community, Hasbro decided to release a tribute figure to Gary in 2015.  The figure, named Sightline, featured a unique grey and red color scheme that was fairly uncommon in the Joe world.  Collectors enjoyed the figure.  But, being only available as an anniversary sculpt figure, the official release also left many collectors without a tribute.  Enter Joe DeClassified.  This group managed to obtain Hasbro's permission to produce a Sightline figure in vintage Joe style for the 2017 G.I. Joe Convention.  Factory custom figure maker Red Laser was brought in to provide the actual figure based on a design from noted customizer Chad_Ghost.  The result is an excellent homage to the figure that was an homage to the man.

2017 Sightline, Gary Head, Gary Goggles, Red Laser's Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom, 1997 Zap, 1985 Mauler

Quality wise, this figure isn't bad.  But, it has one glaring problem.  The figure's backpack will not fit into his back.  It's not even close.  You will Sightline's pack affixed to a Hasbro Steel Brigade figure in the photos below.  So, the pack's peg is just about standard size to work with vintage figures.  (It's a bit loose, but not so much as to render the pack useless.)  The issue is the screw hole in Sightline's back.  It is simply way too large for any pack to fit.  You can get around this with fixes like electrical tape.  But, I'm not a big fan of having to "fix" figures out of the box.  New stuff should work with no issues.

The Sightline figure includes some solid accessories.  He starts with a charcoal colored version of Recoil's rifle.  This weapon was available with the most common Steel Brigade figure and has long been a collector favorite.  It works with this figure.  Though, it is becoming overused by the various custom figure makers due to that popularity.  He also comes with the aforementioned black version of Duke's backpack.  (I always differentiate Duke and Airborne's packs since Airborne's has the cross on the inside and Duke's does not.  They are different molds, though they appear the same from the front.)  Where the figure gets interesting is that he includes a 1982 style Joe helmet.  It was rare to see a V1 Snake Eyes figure with a helmet.  (He was only ever released with one when he appeared as the first version of the Funskool Street Hawk figure.)  But, his head was designed to wear one.  In addition to the helmet he has a red 1982 style visor.  It is a never before seen color and is a welcome addition into the accessory fold.  I need to try it on a Flash or Grand Slam figure to see how it works.  The figure also includes a filecard and a a trading type card with fan made artwork.

Sightline uses parts remade from the V1 Snake Eyes, Flash, Trip Wire and Airborne.  They are a solid group of parts that also lend themselves to the 20 or so additional figures that Red Laser debuted at Joecon in 2017.  There is a bit of a color mismatch between the legs and the chest caused by a factory mixup.  But, the general appearance of grey, black cammo and red is a stark difference from most offerings using 1982 through 1984 molds.  You can set Sightline on display with Snake Eyes and, if Sightline is wearing his helmet, you don't feel that the figures tread upon each other.  For that reason alone, the Sightline figure is an excellent companion to to the early Joe team since he brings a color palette not otherwise seen.

If you attended the 2017 G.I. Joe convention at Disney in Orlando, you could get a Sightline figure for free as a special attendee bonus from the Joe DeClassified team.  There were around 1,000 figures made.  Each person who got a figure registered so that no one got more than one.  There were some bonus figures hidden around the convention area, though, that enterprising collectors could find.  Poor convention attendance, though, left DeClassified with around 400 remaining figures.  As of now, they are still working on how to distribute those figures as their permission from Hasbro to use the Sightline name stipulated that the figures could not be sold.  Most collectors have, so far, honored the implied agreement that these figures not be sold.  But, some have been.  And, since there are so many collectors who have not yet had a chance to acquire the figure and who desperately want it, the few sales that have occurred have fetched prices in the $100 - $125 range.

It's likely that those prices are unsustainable.  For one, some of the 400 remaining figures will get into the collecting community through toy shows or other means.  This will reduce demand.  But, in time, this figure will fall into more obscurity.  There are simply so many factory custom figures being produced at this time (There's well over 50 that have debuted in the first 6 months of 2017 alone!) that fatigue will start to deter collectors.  Once the figure is replaced as the "it" item in the collecting community, interest in him will fade.  As the figure is distinctive, he will retain more popularity than many other figures.  But, there's also nothing stopping repaints of this figure in similar colors or other homages from additional sources.

If you collect vintage Joes, it's been a rough decade.  There has been, basically, nothing to buy outside of a handful of convention sets.  And, those are nearly a decade away now, too.  Fortunately, enterprising collectors like Red Laser and Black Major have filled the void.  While we only saw a few molds produced during the early years of the factor custom game, 2016 and 2017 have seen the ante upped with classic Joes, immortal Cobra army builders and a plethora of new figure designs that have allowed a vintage Joe collection to expand in ways Hasbro simply could not deliver.  I look at what the factory custom producers have done and they have made more "must-have" figures for me than Hasbro made from 2000 - 2007.  That's amazing and shows that had Hasbro listened to collectors during that time, they might have achieved much more success.

For now, though, it's a good time to be a vintage Joe collector again.  There's lots out there to buy: much of it geared squarely for collectors based on their long unfulfilled wish lists.  Sightline is one of those figures that I didn't realize I wanted until I got one.  I can't thank Wowboy enough for his generous gift of this figure to me.  Sightline brings something missing to my collection and helps add visual diversity among the figures who comprised the formative years of my childhood.  He helps breathe new life into toys that have been staples of my life for 35 years now.  It saddens me that Hasbro isn't able to tap into that passion.  But, guys like Red Laser and Black Major have.  And, all our collections are better for it.

2017 Sightline, Gary Head, Gary Goggles, Red Laser's Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom, 1997 Zap, 1985 Mauler, 1984 Roadblock, Viper, Stinger Viper, Eel Viper, Recondo

2017 Sightline, Gary Head, Gary Goggles, Red Laser's Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom, 1997 Zap, 1985 Mauler, 1984 Roadblock, Viper, Stinger Viper, Eel Viper, Recondo, Steel Brigade, Mail Away, VAMP, HAL

2017 Sightline, Gary Head, Gary Goggles, Red Laser's Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom, 1997 Zap, 1985 Mauler, 1984 Roadblock, Viper, Stinger Viper, Eel Viper, Recondo, Steel Brigade, Mail Away, VAMP, HAL

Steel Brigade, Mail Away, Sightline, Gary Goggles, Red Laser Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom

Steel Brigade, Mail Away, Sightline, Gary Goggles, Red Laser Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom, Crimson Guard, Black Major, Dragonfly, 1983

Steel Brigade, Mail Away, Sightline, Gary Goggles, Red Laser Army, Bootleg, Factory Custom, Crimson Guard, Black Major, Dragonfly, 1983, Rock and Roll

Thursday, September 28, 2017

1991 Tracker - Around the Web

Tracker is one of those figures who foretold the neon that was to come in 1992 through 1994.  The figure's mold is solid.  But, the coloring just makes no sense whatsoever.  I've always wanted to like the figure.  But, I've never been able to since his red and yellow combo is tough to use.  But, the figure has potential that Hasbro never realized.  Here's the best of Tracker from around the web.

Tracker Profile

Tracker at

Tracker at

Tracker Dio 1

Tracker at Half The Battle

Tracker Dio 2

Tracker Dio 3

1991 Tracker, Ozone, Eco Warriors, Low Light, Mercer

1991 Tracker, BAT, Battle Android Trooper, Funskool Red Dog, 2001

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2002 Alley Viper

If you were a G.I. Joe collector in 2002, you know how army building crazy the community was.  Starting in 2001, Joe collectors were simply starving for any retail army builders.  Figures that weren't great would get purchased in bulk just because collectors wanted to army build something.  It was an almost unhealthy obsession.  But, Hasbro of the time did us no favors.  The army builders of 2001 were not great and were often packed with lackluster Cobra character repaints.  No one wanted 20 Major Bludds, Destros or terrible Zartans.  They wanted Vipers, Bats and Troopers.  But, for some reason, Hasbro was loathe to release any of those collector demanded entities.

In late 2001, Hasbro released the prototypes of the New Sculpt Joes that would debut in 2002.  Collectors immediately hated them.  The odd proportions and lack of o-ring doomed them to obscurity.  Hasbro, somehow surprised by the backlash, quickly went back to the drawing board to retro fit later new sculpt molds to include the o-ring.  But, doing so delayed their release.  Hasbro needed something to fill the retail void since Joes were actually decent selling toys back then.  They also actually wanted to do something for collectors to appease them and give the new line a chance later.  So, Hasbro came up with Wave 1.5.  It was a set of 4 vintage Joe packs that were meant to bring some fan favorite molds to production.  The set included General Tomahawk/Headman, Sure Fire/Slice, Mirage/Cobra Viper and Big Ben/Alley Viper.  Sure Fire and General Tomahawk were meant to the be the 1988 Shockwave and 1986 Hawk as a favor to fans who cherished those molds.  But, the tooling was not found and later, less popular molds were used.  The Viper and Alley Viper, though, were Hasbro's way of giving collectors army builders to amass in unforetold numbers.  And, despite their insistence at packing the army builders with Joe characters, it worked.

Collectors immediately went bananas over the retail army builders: buying them in droves and clearing out any retailer who had ample stock.  (The first shipments appeared at Wal Mart and they stocked several cases at once.  My local store had so many that there were boxes stacked on the tops of the shelves and half opened boxes on the lower shelves in addition to the full pegs.)  Collectors quickly posted photos of 10, 20, 50, even 100 Alley Viper and Vipers to showcase their support for these figures.  One thing the army building craze did, though, was obscure the fact that not all the army building figures of the era were winners.  Starved collectors would buy multiples of any figure with "Viper" as part of the name.  So, it was difficult to tell the stinkers from the gems since everything disappeared quickly.  In the 15 years since this time, though, winners and losers have appeared.  The green Viper from this wave is relatively forgotten and unloved.  His Alley Viper companion release, though, has found greater popularity and remained a stalwart of many Cobra armies.

The reason for this is that the figure is well done.  While the parts aren't ideal and remain a source of ire to this day, the overall body design isn't terrible.  It's better than the kit bash Hasbro concocted for the Viper, though not by much.  The colors are subtle.  The base blue is a bit light for classic Cobra.  But, it's also OK.  It fits with many Cobras of the era and even earlier without being too derivative.  The grey, white, black and silver details are subdued and give the figure texture without taking away too much from the base color.  In short, this is a good, solid Cobra who works with established Cobra colors.  His gear is pretty much great since you get the face shield (which is less prone to breakage with the softer plastic of the 2000's), a good enough Big Bear backpack and the Cobra hand held shield.  The weapon choice is bad, though, since he includes a Tomax/Xamot pistol instead of the AK-47 that was so common at the time.  Fortunately, it was easy to get better accessories for these figures from the superfluous overstock of figures who were packed with army builders.

Wave 1.5 is one of the most overproduced waves in the post vintage history of the line.  When the wave first appeared, it showed up en masse at retailers around the U.S.  There was regional lag and any collector who was plugged into the community was quickly able to find the wave as it appeared.  But, then, it continued appearing.  As the summer moved on, retailers stocked more and more of the wave.  It sold well enough since collectors loved the Viper and Alley Viper.  But, it kept coming.  In the fall, bonus packs of the figures began to show up at K Mart.  They included one of the 2 packs from the wave along with a third, bonus figure: also from the wave.  Then, the wave began to show up at discount and other non-traditional retail outlets.  Into 2003, the Wave continued to appear at odd places.  A large volume of the cases were actually shipped to Israel for pennies on the dollar and Israeli toy dealers were able to sell some figures to Americans for cheaper than they could buy the figures at retail.  Into 2004, the wave continued to ship to places like Dollar General Stores: who had to discount the two packs to $1 each to move them.  There was just so much of the product that Hasbro struggled to get rid of it.  And, as the Joe line was dying out in that retail incarnation, the wave became a bit of a target for collector frustrations since it was so overproduced and collectors were drowning in oceans of Big Ben and Mirage figures.

This configuration of the Alley Viper first appeared in 1997.  In 2002, this blue version was released and, later in the year, a red repaint was packed one per case.  In 2003, the mold was colored in brighter blue and released with a repainted Viper in the infamous wave 7.75 "Army Builder Wave" that came and went from retail in the blur that was G.I. Joe sales in the 2nd half of 2003.  The figure was planned as part of a Wal Mart exclusive Sky Patrol themed set for late 2003 but the entire concept was cancelled.  The unproduced figures are relatively available, though, as tons of stock were sold by Asian Joe sellers.  The final appearance of the figure was the all black version in the 2004 Toys R Us exclusive Urban Strike set.  The mold never appeared again.  However, collectors had gotten a bit burned out by so many releases of the Alley Viper in short succession.  So, his absence after 2004 was never really an issue: especially since pretty much all 5 of the paint jobs for this parts combo are well done and generally liked by collectors.

This version of the Alley Viper, despite his availability, has actually maintained some value in the past 15 years.  Mint and complete figures generally sell in the $8 range.  You can get carded versions for $11 or so, showing how worthless the Big Ben figure in the 2-pack really is.  Dealers will sometimes price him in the $15 - $20 range and sell a couple, too.  But, $8 is more common and a little patience will yield you a figure at that price.  But, getting an army of these guys will take some time.  They are not nearly as available as you would think.  It seems that many collectors who built armies of this figure have kept them and are not into liquidating their excess versions.  But, when you look at the combination of mold quality, figure colors, included accessories and general availability, you can see why this figure has become one of the more sought after army builders of the era.

When I liquidated the majority of my collection, this version of the Alley Viper stayed.  I had a few of them.  But, I also had armies of several other versions of the character.  I consider the 1997 version the best and kept all of those.  But, I also held on to this version.  Part of that is because of the time in which I sold my collection.  Back then, this figure was still relatively worthless.  And, I didn't feel the paltry sum of money I'd get for them would be enough to offset their quality.  The other part, though, is that I just kind of like this figure.  He's a neat design and decently colored.  In 2002, I had more of him than any other Alley Viper so he was my default version.  That nostalgia helped him, too.  Now, I'm happy to have retained these figures. They are a nice way to use the Alley Viper character and give me another option from the 1997 releases.

2002 Alley Viper, Headman, 1990 Law, Dialtone, Super Sonic Fighters

2002 Alley Viper, Headman, 1990 Law, Dialtone, Super Sonic Fighters

Saturday, September 23, 2017

G.I. Joe #30 - Marvel Comics

I bought my first Joe comic at a drug store in June of 1984.  I immediately sent away for a yearly subscription to the book.  My first issue received through the mail, #29, arrived in August of 1984, a few days after it had shown up on the comic rack at said drug store.  As September arrived, school started again.  I hadn't seen much of my friends that summer as we lived fairly far from my school and pretty far away (in kid terms) from any of the kids in my class.  So, it was great to be back in class and have recess and down time to discuss the latest Joe comics with friends: both good and casual.  The first comic to arrive for that school year was #30: Darkness.

Darkness starts with the cover of the Dreadnok Buzzer slicing the tail off of a Skystriker while Ripper and Torch do additional damage on the ground.  It's a striking cover, full of action.  And, it shows the bad guys actually "winning" in that they are destroying the good guys' equipment with no Joes in sight.  The story inside actually pertained to the cover, too.  As a kid, it annoyed me when the cover was a tease and unrelated to the events of the comic behind it.  So, it was cool to see the Dreadnoks in action inside.  (The beat up version you see if my original copy I got in the mail back in 1984.  It hadd a good life.)

G.I. Joe #30, Dreadnoks, Marvel Comics, 1980s

The basic plot is that Zartan and the Dreadnoks convince Cobra Commander that the secret Joe base is on McGuire Air Force Base.  Learning his lesson from the failed frontal attack in G.I. Joe #19, the Commander opts for a small strike force to carry out a sneak attack.  The premise is rather weak, but it helps contain the action.  The memorable item from the early pages is Zartan turning himself into Hawk and interacting with the Joes.  The scene was somewhat recreated in a convention exclusive 3-pack of figures in 2004.  It was an imperfect homage.  But, those figures were meant to invoke this early use of Zartan's disguise capabilities.

G.I. Joe #30, Dreadnoks, Marvel Comics, 1980s

There's a couple of things of note in this issue.  First and foremost was the introduction of the Hiss Driver.  For some reason, the comic never showcased the unique driver of Cobra's iconic tank: despite the fact it had been in the comic for year at this point in 1984.  And, they weren't Hiss Drivers.  Instead, they piloted the SNAP helicopters.  The SNAP choppers are actually FANGs.  This, again, is odd since the FANG had appeared in lots of issues on the comic in the previous 18 months and there was really no reason for them to get the vernacular wrong.  But, here you have Hiss Drivers flying misnamed helicopters.  Nothing is more Cobra than that.

G.I. Joe #30, Dreadnoks, Marvel Comics, 1980s

Billy also makes an appearance in this issue.  He is caught by Major Bludd and the Baroness as he rifles through Cobra records.  This begins the Billy assassination attempt on Cobra Commander plotline that would culminate a couple of months later with the revelation that Cobra Commander is Billy's father.  As a kid, I didn't much care for the Billy storyline.  While I liked some of the intrigue within Cobra, I didn't care for the Billy character.  In G.I. Joe #10, he worked as a plot device.  But, I'd have much rather that Kwinn or Dr. Venom had survived into the later issues rather than Billy.

Of course, the Dreadnoks muck up the attack by alerting the authorities after they destroy a Skystriker.  This brings the Joes running and they quickly defeat the small Cobra force.  Cobra Commander returns to lick his wounds and the story deverts back to Snake Eyes for the next couple of issues.  One point that sticks with me, though, is how well the story between the early comics moved along.  There were elements of the issue that would come back later and loose threads from prior (and later) issues would come together as the year ended.  This was why I found G.I. Joe such compelling reading.  There was always an open plot to get you to come back.

No look at a comic from 1984 would be complete without the ads.  The most notable entry in this issue was a full two page spread from NBC showcasing their Saturday morning lineup that would have started airing the month this comic was released.  You see the classics such as Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Amazing Spider Man.  But, there are also completely forgotten shows like Kidd Video, Pink Panther and Sons and Going Bananas.  As a kid, I'd flip between the three channels on Saturday morning to find the shows I liked.  I watched some Mr. T, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Spider Man and His Amazing Friends.  The notion of a kid friendly cartoon lineup being a weekly event is so antiquated that my kids can't even understand the concept that we didn't really have a way to watch a show whenever we wanted.  It's completely foreign to them to not have whatever entertainment they want at their fingertips.

G.I. Joe #30, Dreadnoks, Marvel Comics, 1980s

Like pretty much all comics released by major publishers in the 1980's, G.I. Joe #30 is worthless.  You can get a mint copy for a couple of bucks.  The issue was reprinted through the years and you can find those with relative ease for even cheaper.  It's too bad that Hasbro never looked at this issue for a comic pack.  While it would have been a way to get the Dreadnoks out (they appeared with a later issue comic) it would have also been a good way to release an updated Hiss Driver (whose mold they had at the time) or another Joe character.  I'd have preferred either of these offerings to the Thrasher figure that was included in the later pack.

This issue really is the harbinger of the year to come for me.  As I was back in school, all the events of the comic were points of discussion and the basis for many Joe adventures.  The fall of 1984 was an awesome Joe time as some new kids had just moved in down the block and I had someone nearby to play with every day.  It was through them that I first saw the Dreadnoks in December of that year and was blown away by the amazing offerings coming in 1985.  The Joe mini series cartoon aired this month and introduced Shipwreck, Lady Jaye and Flint, too.  So, while I was enjoying Stormshadow, the Whale and even new Dreadnoks, I had great anticipation for what 1985 would bring.

I've completely lost that season wonder as an adult.  Now, I'm happy when school starts since it's a much easier routine with my boys.  But, the fall and holidays bring work and planning instead of overwhelming anticipation.  I don't see a unifying set of toys that resonate with kids today.  Even among my three boys, each has a specific toy interest that bears little in common with their brothers.  The idea of a one or two toy lines dominating a generation is pretty much gone.  In some ways, that's too bad since you could pretty much bond with any kid over Joe or Transformers in 1984.  But, my kids are also exposed to a much broader array of items and have a greater spectrum of toys than I ever did.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

1985 Tomax and Xamot - Around the Web

Tomax and Xamot have long been among the most popular Joe figures.  Usually, they are among my most popular posts and they remain a staple of most people's collections.  The figs are odd.  But, that weirdness makes them iconic.  There are no figures who could get away with their look and the circus-y outfits work with the twins' characters.  As they are popular, there's lots of content out there.  Here's the best of the 1985 Tomax and Xamot from around the web.

Tomax and Xamot Profile

Tomax and Xamot Pre-Production at

Tomax and Xamot at

Tomax and Xamot Video Review

Tomax and Xamot Dio

Tomax and Xamot at

Tomax and Xamot Video Review 2

Tomax and Xamot Dio

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

1984 Sky Hawk - Mail Away Version

As a kid, the Skyhawk didn't, initially, click with me.  My younger brother acquired one in the latter half of 1984 and the toy simply didn't seem all the interesting to me.  I had a Skystriker that was still in decent enough shape.  And, the Dragonfly was still going strong.  On the Cobra side, though, I had few, if any aircraft.  So, my play pretty much all centered around ground and naval adventures.  Aircraft simply didn't see a lot of time.  Slowly, my brother broke his Skyhawk apart and it was relegated to the junk box in our toy room.  In late 1986, though, this changed.  First, my youngest brother acquired the magnificent Cobra Night Raven.  While the plane was awesome, it was also overly large.  But, the drone that attached to the back was the perfect size for what I wanted from a Cobra aircraft.  This weapon gave Cobra air superiority.  Around the same time, though, my younger brother also acquired the Sears Dreadnok Air Assault set that included a repainted Skyhawk.

I was never big on Joe vehicles becoming Cobra.  I liked each group to have its own equipment.  So, the Dreadnok Skyhawk was quickly requisitioned to Joe and became my default Joe aircraft.  It was the perfect size to battle drones.  In early 1987, I was given a new, original, Skyhawk when I acquired a collection from the kids down the street.  This joined my Dreadnok version and the Skyhawks became more specialized: the Dreadnok version was the aquatic version while the original was the "land" version of the vehicle.

For the remainder of my childhood play, the Skyhawk's dominated my aerial combat missions.  Usually, they were piloted by my Silver Pads Grand Slam who wore a Lifeline Airmask.  The pilot and vehicle were army builders and would routinely be shot down by Cobra's top notch Strato Vipers behind the helm of a drone.  (In my final days of play in late 1987, the Mamba drones joined with the Night Raven drones against the Joes.  The Mamba drones had better weapons.  And, there were two of them!)  There were dogfights, undersea rescues of a downed pilot and horrible crashes that resulted in long term plot devices.  In short, the Skyhawks were integral to my final years' Joe experience.  Of course, this resulted in both version of the Skyhawk taking a beating.  I put them away with the rest of my Joe toys in early 1988.  But, as both aircraft had been integral to my adventures, I often found my youngest brother would take them from my storage place and play with them.  The result was two battered toys.

In the late 1990's, when I started to rebuild my Joe collection, I found the old Skyhawks.  But, the old designs didn't hold as much sway as they had used to.  By that time, I owned a Razorblade helicopter and it more adequately filled the role of small Joe attack aircraft that I wanted.  But, the dilapidated condition of the original Skyhawks was bothersome to me.  So, they were just left in boxes and didn't really matter much, anymore. The husks of the vehicles were moved around and, eventually, parted out to other collectors.

I paid the Skyhawk little attention until the spring of 1999 when it became known that Hasbro Canada still had a massive amount of overstock Joe mail away toys from the early 1990's.  Among the items you could purchase were both the Cobra Firebat and the Skyhawk.  For a couple of bucks each, I couldn't pass these items by.  I ordered only around 20 or so figures from the find.  But, I picked up two each of the Firebat and Skyhawk.  Upon receiving them, it was obvious that the Firebat was the brighter, mail away version.  When I looked at the Skyhawk, it appeared it was also the mail away version.  But, I paid this little mind.  I had a new Skyhawk and it took a place of prominence in my collection.

In the summer of 2000, I stumbled into one of those deals that every collector tells you about but never seems to happen to you.  A guy posted to the Joe Usenet newsgroup that he had a collection he wanted to get rid of.  I was the first to respond.  He said to send him my address and, once I got the toys, simply reimburse him for shipping.  I figured it was no risk and I'd get a few, beat up items.  About a week later, I came home to three huge boxes that were blocking my front door.  Upon opening them, I found nearly an entire collection of 1983 to 1985 figures and vehicles, mostly in mint condition.  I quickly wrote a check for $40 to cover the shipping, thanked the former owner and marveled in the fact that my collection had exploded.  I hadn't been too keen on vehicles since I had been living in apartments and moving frequently at the time.  But, this new collection coincided with the fact I had recently purchased my first home and had some room to store and display toys.  As I took all the goodies out, I found a mint and complete Skyhawk.  I set it up on a shelf next to the one from Hasbro Canada and, for the first time, noticed the stark differences between the retail and mail away versions of the vehicle.

The mail away Skyhawk is a much richer and deeper green color.  The retail version is more olive drab.  In terms of realism, the original is probably more in line with the traditional military colors of the early Joe vehicles.  But, the darker green of the mail away is much more visually pleasing to me.  I'm a sucker for the color I call "Brazilian Green".  It's a dark, vibrant green color that appears on the accessories included with many Joes from the Brazilian Comandos Em Acao line from Brazil.  Estrela used the color on pretty much every green accessory they released.  And, as this mail away Skyhawk was made in Brazil, too, it features the dark green color that I so enjoy.

Aside form the color, the black missiles, engines and skids are a slightly different shade of charcoal and appear slightly more glossy than the American, retail versions.  The other main difference is that the Hasbro copyright markings on the inside of the cockpit have been removed.  (See the photos below for details.)  Estrela did this on most of the early releases.  The first waves of figures made in Brazil had the production stamps altered to reflect the toys were made in Brazil.  As the line wore on, this was less common.  I'm not sure why they would do this.  But, Funskool in India altered molds similarly, all they way through their final figure releases.

As a toy, the Skyhawk isn't bad.  It's not very large and holds just one figure in the cockpit.  Even some 1984 figures are too large to fit in there, though.  You can place two figures on the skids.  It's a decent feature that was kind of fun as a kid.  But, the practicality of such a feature is rather ludicrous.  The aircraft features two missiles and a swiveling chin gun.  It's a nice amount of armament for a vehicle this size.  There are also two smaller cannons molded into the sides of the vehicle.  As a kid, these were incendiary rounds that would turn a Cobra drone into a fireball instead of a dying bird as it fell from the sky.  For Cobras who wore parachutes, the fireball was a psychological deterrent.  Outside of that, the removable wings give the toy some visual appeal.  But, they also cause a great many wings to be missing from wild Skyhawks.  In short, it's a great, low price point vehicle from a time when Hasbro really tried to have toys available for every budget.

Original Sky Hawks are easy to find and relatively cheap.  You can get mint and complete versions of them for around $11.00.  Dealers, though, will often ask for at least $25 and sometimes even more.  The mail away version, though, is much harder to find.  Properly labeled, the mail away versions will sell in the $40 range.  But, as many collectors won't recognize the color differences, you can find mislabeled mail away Sky Hawks with a little looking and get them for a bargain.  You see collector interest in mail away vehicles wax and wane over the years.  And, something that's really hard to find and expensive today may drop in price and be relatively easy to find tomorrow.  The huge amount of mail away Skyhawks released into the collecting community through the Hasbro Canada find helps to sate demand and has made this variant much easier to find that if they were only available through those who acquired one as kids.

For me, either version works just fine.  If I hadn't gotten the mail away version in the manner that I did, it's doubtful I'd have tracked one down.  But, as a visual distraction, the mail away version is nice.  I used it with my foreign figures quite often: just for something a little different than you average Joe diorama.  Individual collector value will vary in regards to these items.  If you just want a Skyhawk as a toy, buy the retail version and save money.  But, since you can still find the mail aways from time to time, they are just as good.  The quality is there and the colors are just different enough to be fun.  I've found that the Skyhawk mold is still an excellent complement to the figures from the line's early years.  Now, that's where they see the most use.  It's a far cry from their days as my de facto aircraft.  But, the fact that this mold remains relevant to me after more than 30 years is a testament to it's overall quality.

1984 Skyhawk, Mail Away, Starduster, 1987, Grand Slam, Silver Pads, TNT, Fuego, Argentina, Plastirama, Ripcord

1984 Skyhawk, Mail Away, Estrela, Brazil, Blades, Sokerk, Quarrel, Silver Pads Grand Slam, Palitoy, Action Force, Plastirama, Argentina

1984 Skyhawk, Mail Away, Estrela, Brazil, Blades, Sokerk, Quarrel, Silver Pads Grand Slam, Palitoy, Action Force, Plastirama, Argentina

1984 Skyhawk, Mail Away, Estrela, Brazil, Blades, Sokerk, Quarrel, Silver Pads Grand Slam, Palitoy, Action Force, Plastirama, Argentina

1984 Skyhawk, Mail Away, Estrela, Brazil, Blades, Sokerk, Quarrel, Silver Pads Grand Slam, Palitoy, Action Force, Plastirama, Argentina