Friday, June 16, 2017

Rarities - 1992 Recalled Roadblock

In 1992, Hasbro released a new version of Roadblock.  The figure was true to the character and a nice update of a favorite Joe that had not appeared at retail in a few years.  The first issue of the figure featured some unique accessories.  The first was an updated heavy machine gun.  This massive weapon was ideal for Roadblock and matched his prior appearances.  The second accessory was a two part spinning launcher that shot a helicopter disk into the air.  It sounds innocuous enough.  But, the launcher would break if it was wound too tightly.  Hasbro quickly "recalled" the figures.  Though, it's doubtful they actually went out to shelves and pulled them down.  More likely, they simply didn't make any more and he was pulled from the remainder of the 1992 case assortments.  They replaced the figure in 1993 assortments with the same figure: only now packaged with a weapon tree and a new spring loaded accessory that wasn't as powerful.

If you have a loose version of the 1992 Roadblock, there is nothing about the figure that denotes he was the recalled version or not.  The figure itself remained unchanged.  It was only an accessory and packaging change.  First hand accounts from collectors who owned or own the figure are that the launcher is EXTREMELY powerful if wound tight enough.  For years, it was believed that the strength of the launcher was the reason for the recall rather than the susceptibility of breakage.  However, you will find that many loose launchers are broken from kids trying to maximize the height they could attain from the device.

In an interview in a toy magazine in 1993, Kirk Bozigian made a statement that 80,000 Roadblocks were produced.  Based on the fact that the figure is pretty hard to find and you rarely see loose versions show up in original collections, the 80,000 number seems high.  In the early 2000's, you'd occasionally see a loose version of the figure show up in a random lot.  But, they were much less common than the Eco Warriors variants of Snow Storm and Outback.  It's possible that a lot of unaccessorized Roadblocks were recalled versions and the gear was lost.  But, due the size of the gun and the launcher, this is also an unlikely scenario since those were not accessories that were likely to be lost.

It is likely that Hasbro produced the full batch of 1992 Roadblock figures in late 1991 and, possibly, into 1992.  When they stopped shipping the figure in the 1992 cases, they kept the overstock that had yet to be packaged with the recalled accessories.  When it came time to release the 1993 Roadblock figure, they first used up all the 1992 overstock.  Once that ran out, they then started packaging the 1993 repainted Roadblock figure onto the 1993 card.  You will notice that 1992 Roadblocks on 1993 cards have card art that matches the 1993 repainted figure.  So, the intention was likely to only release a repainted Roadblock in 1993.  But, since they had the 1992 overstock already made up, they used them first before moving to the new 1993 deco.

While the launcher is the dangerous part of the figure's equipment, the gun is more interesting.  The rifle was large and fit with the figure nicely.  Why Hasbro chose to remove this from the "fixed" Roadblock's is a mystery.  That weapon was actually the more desirable part of the recalled pieces...until 2001.  In 2001, Funskool figures became rather ubiquitous among American based Joe dealers.  Among the figures they sold was an Indian repaint of the 1992 Roadblock.  Included with this figure was the recalled Roadblock machine gun.  This gave collectors easy access to cheap versions of the weapon and helped to reduce it's desirability.  (The weapon was also available with a couple of other Funskool figures of the time, making it even more common.)  Now, the figure remains popular for both the gun and spinner, but it's the spinner that draws attention.

Time was, this was a $100 figure.  Since you don't see them that often, it's tough to nail down specific pricing, though $200 seems too high.  The carded figures, though, have skyrocketed from their ~$100 price from two decades ago and will often fetch nearly $700 if they are nicely conditioned.  That's a lot for a spring loaded spinner, gun and knife.  Personally, I think the story is worth more than the figure and this isn't a variant I have any desire to track down.  Getting Funskool versions of the gun were enough to sate my desire for anything related to this figure.  But, the catchy name of "Recalled Roadblock" connotates 1990's toy hysteria better than anything else and has given this figure a lot of life in the collecting world.

1992 Recalled Roadblock, MOC, Carded
1992 Recalled Roadblock MOC

1 comment:

  1. I saw this back in late 1991 when the new wave of 1992 figures showed up but not having enough money to buy the whole wave, I just got the new characters, Big Bear and Flak-Viper...because who knew? So, missed out on this. I would've opened him anyway.