Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Funskool Scrap Iron

Scrap Iron was one of my favorite figures in 1984.  It was an odd combination of factors that lead to his popularity.  Sure, his missile table and pistol were just spectacular accessories.  His colors matched many of the Cobras who called my collection home.  But, the real appeal of the figure was that he hadn't appeared in the comic.  So, while my friends focused on the characters from the published medium and re-enacted adventures started by Larry Hama, I found Scrap Iron to be useful since he had no constraints.  I could make him anyone I wanted him to be.

In short order, Scrap Iron became my default bad guy.  He battled Joes with his pistol, destroyed their vehicles with his missiles and whipped them into submission in hand to hand combat when he used the wired controller from his table as an electrified whip.  He became much closer to the Major Bludd character since my Major Bludd figure from 1983 had died a quick death and I wouldn't get another one until just before Christmas in '84.  Slowly, though, this characterization died off.  It was partially because the 1985 figures started showing up.  But, mostly it was due to my losing his pistol and having his missile table stolen by one of my "friends".  Sans gear, Scrap Iron lost a lot of his appeal.  His introduction in the comic brought him back to the forefront for a short while.  But, again, without his gear, the figure simply couldn't hold up.  So, Scrap Iron became a forgotten part of my collection until I returned to Joe as an adult.  I quickly picked up a few Scrap Iron figures to bring the character back, though none were really mint.

By the time I really cared to have a mint Scrap Iron in my collection, prices on vintage versions had risen and I was at a place where I couldn't really spend any money on Joes.  So, I was left with versions of the figure that weren't perfect.  I still kept him around and you'd see him in various photos from the site's earliest days.  In 2002, though, that changed.  At the time, the Funskool toy company was still producing vintage mold G.I. Joe figures in India.  There were around 40 figures available, but many of their classics had gone out of production prior to their mass U.S. retail appearance in early 2001.  Funskool was producing about 5 new figures per year.  To supplement this, they started to rotate in many of their earlier figures.  Among them was Funksool's take on Scrap Iron.

This Funskool version has two main differences from the American figure.  The quickest one to spot is Scrap Iron's lack of undershirt.  The bare-chested look is tough to pull off.  And, with Destro holding down the spot of '70's Disco icon in the Cobra ranks, the exposed flesh doesn't really work.  The other difference is that this Scrap Iron is much brighter than the American version.  The blue is lighter and the red is brighter.  So, it's pretty tough to make a case that this figure works better than the American version in any scenario.  Aside from those major changes, you see a few different paint applications.  The pitons (a leftover from when this mold was meant to be Alpine) are red instead of black.  And, Funskool Scrap Iron has different upper arms.  The smooth versions from the American figure have been replaced.  But, I'm not sure whose arms are being used here.  (I'm looking for Mr. Acer to help out in the comments.  He's really good at these.)  The overall glossy paint just adds to the general perception that this figure is bright.

The result is that this is a slightly different look for Scrap Iron, but not too far from his classic appearance.  The problem is that it's a regression from the American version.  It's not different enough to be really interesting and is different in ways that make him less useful without being wacky.  So, you're left with a figure that you don't really need.  In the early 2000's, when this guy was first re-released, mint and complete Scrap Iron figures ran in the $12 - $15 range.  Getting the Funskool version for 1/2 that after shipping made this a decent alternative until you tracked down an American figure.  But, beyond the cheap placeholder, the value of this foreign Scrap Iron figure is limited.

Scrap Iron was released by Funskool many different times in many different forms over the years. (There's even a version with green highlights instead of red.)  The version that is most common and most known to collectors, though, was the 2002 re-release.  (In looking at my figures for this profile, I found a variant even in this short window as the figure you see is very bright red while I have another that is a bit darker red in the vest.)  In early 2002, Funskool brought back several discontinued figures such as Flint, Beach Head, Airtight, Buzzer, Zarana, Ripper and Scrap Iron.  It was great for collectors to have access to these classics for around $4 each.  What was not great, though, was that 2002 was the lowest point of Funskool's quality for G.I. Joe figures.  As such, most of the Scrap Irons out there suffer from blotchy paint, frozen joints, broken parts and fragile accessories.  In short, the figure's reputation was ruined by the fact that the run that made him ubiquitous was terrible.  To this day, you find tons of complaints about this figure's quality.  In fact, many collectors who used this figure as a gateway into Funskool were so turned off by this version's issues that they abandoned the brand.

The days of $4 carded Funskool figures are long over.  Funskool has not produced this figure now in more than 14 years.But, enough were brought to the U.S. and concentrated in the collector market that you can still get MOC Funskool Scrap Iron's for around $12.  You can find loose figures cheaper.  But, they are far more scarce.  If you can find the Scrap Iron in a lot of other, more common Funskool figures, you can get him cheaper, too.  However, there are certain carded versions of Funskool Scrap Iron (made in the 1990's) that are much more desirable and will command premium prices.  Some are identifiable by sight due to major cardback variations.  Others, have much more subtle variants.  But, if you see one that sells for $100 or more, it's one of these variants and not the 2002/2003 production runs.

All that being said, it's tough to recommend this figure for anything other than completion's sake.  The odds of getting a high quality are definitely stacked against you.  And, you can always get high quality Hasbro Scrap Irons for around the same price as a MOC Funskool version.  And, the American release is in better colors.  But, if you want something a little different, the Funskool figure is worth getting.  When they were $4 each, lots of people bought them for the accessories alone.  So, having a fully armed Scrap Iron variant can be fun, especially if you already have a panoply of Cobra that were released in other parts of the world.  But, knowing what I do about this figure now, if I didn't have one, he'd be an easy skip for me.  It's fun to have the Funskool variants.  But, spending a lot on a figure that's known to have serious quality issues is a tough sell to me these days.

Funskool Scrap Iron, Bootleg Crimson Cobra Trooper
2002, Funskool, India, Street Hawk, Scrap Iron, Cutter, Law, G.I. Joe HQ, 1983, Crimson Guard Immortal
Funskool Scrap Iron, Street Hawk, Crimson Guard Immortal, Cutter and Law

Funskool Scrap Iron, 1998 Cobra Trooper


  1. It's Toxo-Viper's upper arms, I think.

    I own the figure. Got it MOC, but the pistol was absent. His upper arm split...a first for any GI JOE figure ever.

    IIRC, some Hasbro catalog or fan club newsletters show a Scrap-Iron without the undershirt. It's one of those things like the officer with the red insignia.

    1. Thanks for the arm info. I have one I opened off the card where the t-bar snapped. Not the O-Ring, but the metal bar. That sucked.

      I'll have to look up the catalog photos.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, but as the tree said to the lumberjack, 'I'm stumped'.