Saturday, February 4, 2023

1994 Techno Viper - Around The Web

Techno Vipers are one of the few supporting Cobra army builders.  They are perfect as augments to any display.  But, they are non combatants.  But, it's still nice to have a few of them.  And, with the addition of a 1994 version, you can also have a leader for your Techno Viper legions.  Sadly, the 1994 figures are both hard to find and expensive these days.  If you can find one, though, they are a great addition to a collection.  And, they look good with 1987 gear, too.  

The figure appears just enough out there for its rarity.  Usually, you can find content on really rare figures and really popular figures.  But, an obscure release like this Techno Viper usually falls between the cracks.  But, this time, there's plenty to check out in the links below.

1994 Techno Viper Profile

1994 Techno Viper by gen_liederkranz

1994 Techno Viper at Nekoman's Viper Pit

1994 Techno Viper by joerizzo2025

1994 Techno Viper by dreadnokdread

1994 Techno Viper by kushviper

1994 Techno Viper by coldfront78

1994 Techno Viper by dreadnokdread

1994 Techno Viper by blackmajor

1994 Power Fighters at JoeADay.com

1994 Techno Viper by dreadnokdread

1994 Techno Viper by 1990s_gi_joes

1994 Techno Viper by gen_liederkranz

1994 Techno Viper, 1987


1994 Techno Viper, Star Brigade, 1991 Interrogator


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

1993 Eel

I have written many times of my experiences relating to 1993 and 1994 Joes at retail.  My late arrival to the hunt coupled with the dawn of adult collectors left me interesting finds at retail.  While Joe characters were relatively easy to find, Cobra characters were a rarer find.  The rarest find of all, though, was an army builder.  In the standard carded series of Joes. I only found the 1993 Crimson Guard Commander and 1994 Viper at retail.  (I didn't look for Armor Tech figures.  And, you could get various Ninja Force Night Creepers, too.)  The remainder of the Cobra army builders were long gone by the time I realized that I needed to buy every Joe at retail that I could find.  

The 1992 basic carded line of Joes was only 12 figures.  That's incredibly small.  But, a lot of the volume was made up for by the 19 figures released in the DEF, Eco Warriors, Ninja Force and Talking Battle Commanders series of figures.  Of those 12 standard carded figures, though, 8 of them were remakes of classic characters.  General Flagg was the first figure using a popular name from the comics.  So, there were just three new character released that year.  This rehash was, likely, a response to various market forces as well as a way to keep familiar character names on shelves as the line sputtered a bit towards its ultimate demise.  Among the re-imagined characters is the classic Cobra Eel.  This character, who debuted in 1985, was the de facto Cobra Frogman and remained popular in the comics.  It was also one of the best figures Hasbro ever created.  So, any new design had a high bar to clear.

The 1992 mold, though, didn't quite deliver.  Bright colors aside, the general design simply wasn't up to par with the 1985.  The figure had a lot of potential.  But, many of the design points didn't translate into the actual toy.  In 1993, the Eel was among 9 of the 12 1992 figures who got an repaint in the initial Battle Corps line.  (Big Bear, the 10th 1992 to repainted, was only available as a mail away.  Destro and Duke didn't get the repaint treatment (likely because they both had new figure molds for 1993) but would both make up for it in the repaint era (1997-2006) as each mold was used multiple times.)  The 1993 Eel is neither better nor worse than the 1992.  In fact, they are incredibly similar in appearance with the main difference being a purple body suit instead of a blue from 1992.  Both figures, though, suffer from differences between design and production that make a big difference.

In looking at the Eel card art, you can see that the figure was originally intended to be wearing a yellow vest with exposed wet suit appearing under it on the figure's stomach.  The production figure is a wall of yellow from the neck to below the belt.  Had the stomach been painted to match the wetsuit colors, the Eel would have a visual break on his torso that would have given him more depth.  The omission of this paint application makes the figure seem two tone and more fits with cheaper brands than the paint depth that was the hallmark of Hasbro's G.I. Joe line.  The artwork also features bare hands.  In this case, I'm glad the designers went with gloved hands.  I was never a fan of characters who are completely covered save their hands.  It's odd that you'd go to the lengths to protect your eyes and face, but not your hands.  So, in this case, the figure is better for the change.  

The final two details are different.  In looking at the figure's head in the card art, you see that he was planned to have black fangs descending from the figure's visor.  This would have been a great way to bring some additional color to the figure and break up the sea of yellow.  These were dropped, though, and the figure seems a bit unfinished without them.  The final aesthetic are the protruding fins on the figure's arms and legs.  These rigid plastic details were meant to both be pliable wet suit fins, but also "hull slashing" weapons that were capable of ripping steel.  On the figure, the hard plastic works for the latter purpose.  But, it also gives the figure a bit of bulk that can be limiting when using him in Cobra aquatic vehicles.

I use 1992 and 1993 Eels interchangeably  They are a bright and fun way to give Cobra's underwater force a bit of super villain menace.  The 1985 Eel is the militaristic appearance for the specialty.  The 1992/1993 figure is just another way for Cobra to instill fear in their enemies.  My main usage for them is as a crew for the 1988 Cobra Bugg.  The yellows, blues and purple fit with the colors on the Bugg.  And, that vehicle's oddball appearance is a great match for the futuristic, sleek look of this Eel mold.

There are also notable differences in the 1992 and 1993 Eel filecards.  The 1992 Eel calls back to the 1985 figure and the training described on the original filecard.  For 1993, though, that bit of history is gone.  It's replaced with a line about the newly released DEF Shark DF-1.  (Which would be renamed to the Shark 9000 for retail release, an odd continuity gaffe.)  The 1992 Eel filecard also refers to the mechanical shark that was included with that release.  As that accessory was omitted from the 1993 figure, all references to it have also been wiped away.

The 1992 Eel included an array of accessories that both made sense and were totally ridiculous in a 1990's G.I. Joe way.  He included flippers and a spear gun.  The calling card, though, was a silver "robotic" shark that shot missiles.  This was a clever way to include an odd spring loaded launcher.  The 1993 figure, though, was stripped down and includes a common array of generic weapons on a red tree.  The 1993 figure does include flippers...which were kind of necessary.  But, after that, the weapon tree includes a red version of Rock Viper's rifle, Voltar's gun, the Toxo Viper "sniffer" and the Incinerator flame thrower.  None of these really make sense for an underwater trooper.  And, aside from the flamethrower (which can kind of function as a super villainesque rifle) don't have much usefulness.  The 1993 Eel also included a yellow spring loaded launcher that was also included with the Crimson Guard Commander and Cyber Viper.  While the launcher was common among a few figures, the red version of this weapon tree was unique to the 1993 Eel.  

The 1992 Eel mold got three uses.  Hasbro released the 1992 and 1993 figures.  The mold then showed up in India.  Funskool produced an Eel that was based on the 1992 coloring for many years.  He is one of the few Funskool army builders who remains relatively cheap and available today.  But, that figure badly discolors and it's getting harder and harder to find Funskool figures that remain mint.  Hasbro did not get the Eel back in 2003.  This is too bad as a repainted 1992 Eel mold in 1985 colors would have been a solid entry in a Toys R Us set.  That didn't happen, though, as Hasbro was still afraid of '90's molds at the time.  There are lots of customs of this Eel out there in various color schemes (Copperhead, Secto Viper, '85 Eel, etc.) that show the mold still had some potential.  But, it was never fulfilled.

1993 Eels are kind of hard to find.  All of the 1992 repaints that appeared in 1993 seem to exist in lower quantities than the rest of the figures from that year.  And, even back in the days when collectors disdained neon figures, it was hard to come by a 1993 Eel in a lot or collection.  These days, mint and complete 1993 Eels will run you between $17 and $20.  You'll see a couple of them shoot up in price when sold by "elite" dealers.  But, there's enough available at the market rate to fill out a nice squad at any given time.  With carded figures running in the $30 range, it doesn't make sense to overpay due to impatience.  Just the figures, though, will run you under $10.  And, in the right lots, can still be had cheaply.  As the figure doesn't include any real gear that's essential, building armies of incomplete figures is a viable way to get a fun group of figures.  

1993 Eel, Interrogator, Muskrat


1993 Battle Corps Eel, 1994 Action Sailor


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Funskool Streethawk

The G.I. Joe collecting world of 2023 is vastly different from that of 2003.  You'd expect 20 years to make a difference.  And, many of the changes we've seen are things that were unforeseen back in the early years of this century.  The one change that's the most baffling to me, though, has been the meteoric rise of the 2000's era Funskool figures.  These were sold by every dealer under the sun in 2001 through 2005.  Untold thousands of them flooded the market.  Collectors who wanted them were able to buy all that they could ever desire.  Those who didn't want them still usually ended up with some as they were so ubiquitous in lots and trade fodder.  Despite this, Funskool figures from that era are now overly expensive for their availability.  In general, though, the more popular Funskool figures from the early 2000's remain the cheapest.  While, the most garish figures that were unliked at the time of their release have gotten substantially more expensive.  There is one exception, though.  And, that is the Funskool Streethawk figure.  He's become the most expensive figure from that era, even though he was among the most popular figures of the time.

Streethawk has a few reasons for his exceptionalism.  The first is that he was only sold with the Streethawk motorcycle.  He was still a carded figure.  But, the inclusion of the cycle meant that new Streethawks would cost you $7 or $8 each as opposed to the standard $4 per standard carded Funskool figure.  Streethawk was also a character.  While this particular version shares a lot in common with the TARGAT mold and can be used as such, most people still saw him as a unique character.  So, even though he was about the same cost as a Hasbro retail army builder at the time, not as many people army built the figure since they were good with a single version of the character.  These two aspects combined to reduce sales on the figure as opposed to, say, the Night Viper.  But, Streethawk was still a common site in the collections of the early 2000's.  And, dealers would even sell out of Streethawk figures from time to time.  Everyone may have only had one or two of them.  But, everyone had at least one.

If you had told 2003 me that a handful of the common Funskool figures available at the time would be worth more than $100 each just 20 years later, my first guess for the figure would have been Super Cop.  But, Super Cop was also only available for a few months, cost $13 or more to buy at retail and was more of a one off warehouse find than a figure Funskool had in production.  So, if I'd thought about it, the only other real options would have been a couple of the very late, 2004, releases that collectors ignored.  Or, this Streethawk.  He was popular during his time.  And, he has a bit of crossover appeal to Streethawk fans.  (Yes, they exist.)  He was more expensive to acquire than other figures.  So, army building wasn't as common as it was with other figures.  All of these factors would have made him a good candidate.  But, at the same time, I doubt that I'd have believed any of the figures from that era would reach the prices we see on them today.  And, I'd have probably gone with someone like Stormshadow who also tended to sell out from time to time and wasn't a figure people army built.  But, his later inclusion in the common Russian series helped to curb his appeal.

In the end, the TARGAT body versions of the Streethawk figure are not rare.  There are tons of them in the collecting community.  But, like the Satan figure from Argentina, the figure's popularity drives the price moreso than the rarity.  Everyone wants a Streethawk.  And, that drives the $100 price tag.  You're not buying a rare figure.  You're buying a popular figure.  But, that's why there's both supply and demand elements to pricing.  The figure's popularity drives the price.  And, that popularity has held steady for more than 20 years, now.  So, this figure isn't a fad that will be subject to collector whims like some other joke or meme figures that have risen in price in recent years.

Black and silver are a rare combination in the vintage Joe line.  The only figure who uses only those two colors is the 1989 Snake Eyes.  (The 1993 Cobra Commander and 1994 Action Sailor are close, though.)  Because of that, figures like Streethawk stand out.  It's not an overdone combination of hues.  So, the figure works as part of Cobra and as a stand alone figure who is affiliated with the enemy faction.  The black complements many other figures.  So, you can use Streethawk with everything from classic blue Cobras to the more brightly colored enemies from the 1990's.

Streethawk includes just the black visor.  This part was omitted on the bagged vehicle driver figures, though.  The visor adds a lot to the look of the figure and is somewhat essential to the figure's overall appearance.  As he was never really available without the motorcycle, though, you could consider a complete figure to also include the black and silver RAM.  I find the motorcycle is my more used part of this toy as I use it all the time with a variety of figures.  But, most people consider the figure complete with just the visor and the motorcycle a separate part.

The upside to Streethawk is that he's a blank slate that anyone can use as they please.  He can be a recolored TARGAT, an astronaut, a motorcycle driver or anything else your mind can conjure up.  I've always seen him as a villain since he uses a Cobra mold for the majority of the figure.  I created a character for the Spearhead chest variation of this figure.  But, I see this TARGAT version as something different.  Really, I don't have a defined role for the figure.  I don't use him all that often in photos.  So, those don't even provide much of a clue as to his true purpose in my collection.  Most people seemed to view Streethawk as a Cobra or other villain.  But, the figure is an empty canvas that everyone can use differently.

There are several variants to the Streethawk figure.  The first figure released was a swivel arm 1983 Snake Eyes repaint with a black helmet.  This is not an easy figure to find and remains very pricey.  The second version introduced the TARGAT head.  But, it was on top of a Spearhead body.  The Spearhead chest version is also pretty hard to find and commands a hefty premium these days.  This version features TARGAT's head, arms and chest.  It's the third variant and probably exists in lower quantities than the fourth variant which just added in TARGAT's waist.  That waist change was made in late 2001/2002 so most Streethawks that were sold by dealers featured it.  But, it's so subtle that many people pass over it in their quest to just get 1 version of the character.  There are also some upper arm variants that may have originated from Funskool vehicle drivers.  And, I'm sure that if anyone could get a group of 100 Streethawk figures, they'd find some additional variants.  That's just how Funskool worked, especially on figures that were in production for a decade or more.

Here's the bad news.  Funskool Streethawks are now hard to find.  Carded versions of the TARGAT chest figures fetch over $200.  But, due to low availability, loose mint and complete figures with their motorcycle will run in the $150-$200 range, too.  Dealers will get up to $300 for the same set.  If you can find just a figure with the visor, you'll pay in the $100-$120 range.  That's a lot for this figure.  But, surprisingly, all black figures outside of Snake Eyes were uncommon in the vintage Joe line.  So, the coloring is distinct and really meshes well with a variety of Cobra scenarios.  Personally, though, I've had the figure for 20+ years and I don't use him all that often.  So, there's no way I'd pay $100 or more for one.  Heck, back in the Funskool heyday, I wouldn't pay $7 for a second one.  But, that's part of the reason why this figure is expensive today.  He's a cool design.  But, an easy pass for me at his current pricing.

Funskool Streethawk, 2005 Crimson Shadow Guard






Saturday, January 21, 2023

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor - Around The Web

Every now and then, I come across an incredibly popular figure.  You may not know it from the price or availability.  But, you find that figure shows up in tons of online content.  Such is the case with the 2005 Serpentor.  There is a ton of content using the figure out there.  But, this makes some sense.  The original Serpentor uses gold plastic and is now at a point where posing him takes on tons of risk of breakage.  The 2002 repaint has all but disappeared from the online community.  So, this 2005 version remains the most viable figure to use for the ever popular Serpentor character.  

I found tons of great content on this figure out there.  So, take some time and review them through to the end.  Each click will open the link in a new window to make it easy for you.

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor Profile

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by fun_time_at_serpentorslair

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Nekoman

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Outrider

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by slipstream80

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Leonardo T Dragon

2005 Serpentor by tycondrium23

2005 Serpentor by thedustinmccoy

2005 Serpentor by SilentDusty

2005 Serpentor by ToneGunsRevisited

2005 Serpentor by flatline

2005 Serpentor by Outrider

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by thedustinmccoy

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by manetoys83

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by mondotoybox

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by slipstream80

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Outrider

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by octaviopessoa

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by ToneGunsRevisited

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Swindle

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by dashiellerfairborne

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Dragonrider1227

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by sithviper

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Flint

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Slipstream80

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Leonardo T Dragon

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by silentdusty

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Lava Boss

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Outrider

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by Flint

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by corpscommandercody

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor by thedustinmccoy

2005 Comic Pack Serpentor, #49, 1984 Zartan


2005 Comic Pack #49 Serpentor, Cobra Processional Baroness, Crimson Shadow Guard, Fred, Toys R Us Exclusive


Monday, January 16, 2023

Flak Viper - Where in the World

There are figures of which I am an irrational fan.  The Flak Viper is one such figure.  In the early and mid 1990's, the Flak Viper mocked me from the cardback of every figure I was able to find at retail.  I could not find him anywhere.  As Joe disappeared, I figured my chances of ever owning the figure were gone.  Fortunately, that was not the case and I was able to build a nice army of Flak Vipers as a collector.  But, the figure still fascinates me.  I can't get enough of the mold and love all his color combinations.  The two vintage releases and the two repaint era releases offer two very different takes on the mold.

The Flak Viper mold debuted in 1992.  It and the 1993 repaint are well done.  But, they are also identifiable as originating in the 1990's.  The two 2000's repaints, though, avoided many of the trappings of army builder repaints from that time.  Usually, Hasbro overdid it and the repaints were good, but had some minor issues that prevented them from becoming iconic.  But, with the Flak Viper repaints, Hasbro kept it simple and there's a Cobra blue and black repaint along with a desert themed figure.  They are well done.  

The first release of the Flak Viper is the 1992.  The debut of the sculpt showcased solid design and decent gear.  The primary colors are a bright blue and green.  They are offset with a grey sash and pants.  

1992 Flak Viper

The following year, Hasbro repainted the figure.  The base of the figure is the same.  However, the blue highlights have been replaced with orange. While the figure is bright, the orange is kind of fun.  This is my favorite version of the figure just because it's odd, bright and unique.  

1993 Flak Viper, Detonator

The Flak Viper had another use in 1993.  Toys R Us got an exclusive set of Dino Hunters figures.  It was an absurd idea but capitalized on Jurassic Park. The Flak Viper's contribution is that his backpack was modified with holes that allowed it to be held by a mount.  The pack was colored in light grey.  You can still find the packs matched up with Flak Vipers from time to time.  Though, it was much more common a few years ago.  

1992, 1993, 2006, 2004, Flak Viper, Nullifier, Operation Flaming Moth, Street Fighter Movie M Bison, Dino Hunters,

In late 1994 or early 1995, Hasbro used parts of the Flak Viper again.  This time, the Street Fighter Movie Edition M. Bison figure included a silver version of the Flak Viper's rifle.  The silver was a cool look and a great color for the weapon.  It wasn't really a nice match for the 1992 or 1993 figures.  But, it turned out to be a great match for the later uses of the mold.

2004 Nullifier, Urban Assault, Flak Viper, M Bison, Street Fighter Movie

The Flak Viper mold then disappeared for a decade.  In 2004, the entire Flak Viper mold appeared in the Cobra Urban Strike set: this time under the name of Nullifier.  This figure is colored in Cobra blue with black and brown leather highlights.  It's the best paint job on this mold.  It's only drawback was the lame accessories.  The figure didn't include any of his original gear and only came with generic weapons from the 2000's.

2004 Nullifier, Flak Viper, Cobra Urban Assault

In 2006, the final version of the Flak Viper appeared in an Operation Flaming Moth set.  This desert version was a nicely done update to the Flak Viper and was the type of repaint that made sense for Hasbro to do.  While not as nice as the 2004 release, the desert version is useful in it's own right.  The best thing about this version was the return of the full complement of Flak Viper accessories.  The black rifle and pack are also great since they work with the 2004 version, too.

2006 Flak Viper, Range Viper, Operation Flaming Moth


The Flak Viper never got exclusive use anywhere else in the world.  The 1992 Flak Viper was released in Europe on exclusive cardbacks.  The figure is the same, though.  The Flak Viper mold is relatively unique in that it's a mold whose potential was fulfilled.  

1992, 1993, 2006, 2004, Flak Viper, Nullifier, Operation Flaming Moth, Street Fighter Movie M Bison, Dino Hunters,