Thursday, March 21, 2019

1988 Muskrat - Around The Web

Muskrat is an excellent figure.  But, he was also released a year too late for me.  So, Muskrat was a figure who got away.  I wanted one, but never got one.  When I returned to collecting, Muskrat was one of the first figures I wanted to track down.  And, he did not disappoint once in hand.  The solid design, excellent colors and spectacular shotgun all added up to one of Hasbro's better efforts.  Sadly, Hasbro wasted this figure's return to their possession in the 2000's by never repainting him.  But, the first version and the Night Force release stand on their own.  Here's the best of the figure from around the web.

1988 Muskrat Profile

Muskrat by BackyardJoes

Muskrat Review at JoeBattleLines.com

1988 Muskrat Pre Production at YoJoe.com

Muskrat at 3DJoes.com

Night Force Muskrat Profile

1988 Muskrat Video Review

1988 Muskrat, Night Force, Crazylegs, Hit and Run, 1982 VAMP, Tiger Force, Bazooka

1988 Muskrat, Night Force, Crazylegs, Hit and Run, 1982 VAMP, Tiger Force, Bazooka

1988 Muskrat, Night Force, Crazylegs, Hit and Run

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

1998 Wet Suit

There are over 1000 posts on this site.  The truth of that number is that I'm also running out of figures to showcase.  I only collect vintage style Joes.  And, while there are far in excess of 1000 different figures in this style from all over the world, the reality is that many of them are insanely similar in coloring.  Those that aren't tend to be rare and have gotten pricey.  And, while the repaint era of 1997 through 2006 brought us hundreds of new figures, most of them were repaints of existing figures.  And, in many cases, those repaints were repainted again and again.  This forces me to mine the depths of the line for obscure releases that I haven't looked at, specifically.  But, in most cases, I have profiled more popular colorings of the figure.  Such is the case in today's profile of the 1998 Wet Suit.  I've looked at this mold three other times.  (Though, it's been over a decade and a half since the last!)  I would suggest that all three are better figures than this version.  But, the 1998 is still interesting as its colors remain unique and the circumstances of his release are fond memories for me.

In the fall of 1997, I was mostly interested in Star Wars figures.  I had my first full time job with plenty of both time and disposable income to track down the steady stream of new Star Wars releases that year.  My online presence was mostly found in Star Wars groups where I kept up with the store reports and wave releases in the pre social media days.  One one of my trips to Toys R Us, though, I was shocked to find the 1997 Stars and Stripes set sitting on the shelves near the Star Wars figures.  The last remnants of the vintage Joe line had just disappeared in the last year.  But, here were new Joes.  I quickly snatched up the set since Joe had been real childhood love.  But, these figures didn't click with me.  A few were cool.  But, I was not compelled to pick up any of the remaining figure packs.  The beginning of 1998 brought an onslaught of new Star Wars releases.  So, I focused my attention strictly to those and ignored the Joes.  Though, I had now joined online Joe groups, too, to keep up on the news of future releases.

In December of 1998, the new series of Joes were released.  While I joined everyone else in anticipation of the Oktober Guard and Cobra army builder sets, I was also over-joyed at new divers.  One of the last great adventures of my childhood involved divers and underwater adventures.  The divers would be tasked to rescue a pilot trapped in his cockpit of a downed aircraft: his oxygen running out.  They would take Cobra prisoners to a secret underwater prison where they condemned were left to wait out their life in a cold, dark shell deep underwater where no one knew they even existed.  Or, they would sabotage Cobra ships, either setting explosives on the hull to scuttle them or boarding the ships and taking out the sparse crews of Cobra cargo transports.  These were quick stories where I could play in the few minutes before bed or after school.  Finding the 1994 Shipwreck when I returned to buying retail Joes just hammered home those old stories as I found him the perfect figure for all these scenarios.

So, I viewed the Navy Seal pack as an essential release.  In fact, I bought more of them than I did Cobra Polar Assault sets at first.  (The snow themed Cobras would surpass them by the summer of 1999, though.)  The figures didn't disappoint me.  While some collectors of the day weren't thrilled with the color scheme, I found the aqua blue trimmed black uniforms to be quite compelling.  The black was a darker base color than I had for Shipwreck or Wet Suit.  And, the Torpedo figure using the 1992 Wet Suit mold was actually a new figure to me since I had neither the 1992 or 1993 Wet Suit figures at the time.  Shortly after this figure's release, I purchased my first house.  Scattered around the site are old photos that I took there.  They are few and far between.  But, the 1998 divers appear in many of them since I took my newer figures into the pool for some photos with an underwater camera.

But, this hits on the real reason why I like this figure so much.  This figure's release coincides with many personal life milestones outside of collecting.  The day I bought these figures, I took them home to a new apartment.  (We took a break from moving due to a thunderstorm that prevented us from carrying anything from one place to the other and went to Toys R Us.)  Within a year and half of this guys' release, I had joined a startup, bought a house and moved in with the future mother of my children.  So, this guy kind of coincides with all that and therefore gets a childlike pass in the actual figure design department because he has associated memories with him that are far greater than just pressing a button and buying a figure online.

While this figure is a 1998 release, it should be noted that Hasbro actually shipped them more frequently in 1999 than they did 1998.  The 1998 series first showed up in early December of that year.  The figures shipped for a couple of weeks and sold well enough through the holidays.  But, after that, the pegs went bare aside from a few straggling Oktober Guard and Navy Seal three packs.  (The 1998's shipped in cases of 6 sets: 2 Navy Assault sets, 2 Oktober Guard sets and 1 each of the Cobra Infantry and Polar Assault sets.)  In early 1999, the Star Wars juggernaut was in full swing.  Hasbro rebooted the line ahead of Episode I to get classic characters onto the shelves and to help the saturation of obscure aliens and humans that had clogged the pegs since the summer of the prior year.  Then, the onslaught of Episode I figures hit.  You really can't look at the toy events of the Disney era Star Wars films and compare them to the insanity that was 1999.  The figures were everywhere.  By the summer, though, the frenzy was abating.  And, around July, Hasbro shipped new cases of the 1998 Joes to Toys R Us stores around the country.  Collectors rejoiced at building more armies and being able to find other figures that had mostly dried up.  Again, Oktober Guard and Navy Seal packs lingered, but not in alarming numbers.  Then, just ahead of Christmas in 1999, Hasbro shipped more cases and Toys R Us stores around the U.S. restocked 1998 Joes once again.  For army builders, this was the final boon to acquire as many Cobra Troopers as they wanted.  But, it was also enough overstock to back up Toys R Us and leave Navy Seal sets available at Toys R Us stores well into 2001.

This figure's gear is the same as the vintage figures' with the lone exception of the flippers.  Yes, this Wet Suit does not include flippers.  He has a black light, black pack, black sled and hose that define the Wet Suit character.  But, without the flippers, he feels incomplete.  The upside is that vintage Wet Suit flippers are common to find and are colored black.  So, they work perfectly with this Wet Suit repaint.  But, it seemed a simple mistake for Hasbro to skip such an important piece of gear.  At the time, the Navy Seal set was maligned for this omission and collectors found the lack of weapons and brighter coloring to be a major turn off to this group of three figures.

In 1998, the paint masks on the figure releases was just normal.  Within a few years, though, we would come to call it convention quality since retail releases were often lacking paint applications and convention figures often overdid them.  But, the 1998's feature tremendous paint detail.  This Wet Suit includes two shades of grey, aqua blue, black, red, yellow and silver paint.  He is easily on par with the vintage Wet Suit releases and shows that Hasbro could still make quality figures.  And, at three figures for $10 in 1998, the figure was a bargain.

This Wet Suit mold was used five times.  And, really, there are no badly colored versions of it.  The 1986 is classic and the Mission to Brazil has become the most expensive version of the mold.  The 2002 Gift set release is, basically, this 1998 in slightly darker colors.  And, the 2001 ARAHC version is heavy on greys and blacks.  You have a Wet Suit for every occasion and every budget.  That's nice since it gives fans of the character something to track down while also giving every collector a shot at a good Wet Suit repaint.  While you can make a case for other Wet Suit repaints, I'm content with what we got.

Today, dealers will get around $20 for a loose, mint and complete with filecard version of this figure.  Sans filecard, though, you can get them for $10.  Here's the thing, though.  If you have enough patience, you can still get carded sets for around $25.  That way, you get all three figures and the filecards.  You have to beware of carded 1998 figures, though, as the glue Hasbro used to seal the cards is not holding up well.  I have several carded sets where the glue simply gave way and I now have untouched figures in a bubble, separated from the cardback.  Many other collectors report the same.  But, seeing the disparity in price between a carded set and a loose, complete with filecard figure, it's still the way to go.  I find this diver set one of the last "fun" sets that Hasbro released during the collector era.  And, as the quality is top notch, this Wet Suit is a no-brainer acquisition for me.

1998 Wet Suit, Toys R Us Exclusive, 1992 Cobra Eel

1998 Wet Suit, Toys R Us Exclusive, 2018 Manleh, Red Laser Army, Plastirama, Argentina

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Risco - Plastirama Exclusive Alpine - Around the Web

Risco is an exclusive figure to Argentina.  He's barely a repaint of Alpine.  But, is still a cool difference from the classic, American figure.  Risco was a favorite of the late Outrider of JoeDios.com fame and you will see some of his work in the links below.  Sadly, there's not a lot of content on the figure out there.  But, even I don't use the figure as often as I should.  Here's the best of Risco from around the web.

Risco Profile

Risco Dio 1

Risco at YoJoe.com

Risco Dio 2

Risco, Alpine, 1985, Plastirama, Argentina, Funskool, Flint

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2005 Comic Pack Firefly - Around the Web

In 2005, we didn't need another Firefly.  He had been released far too many times.  But, the comic pack version came out and there was Hasbro's best version of the character.  This Firefly is better colored than the original and has more painted details.  The newly sculpted head shows a more mature Firefly.  You see green V2 Snake Eyes accessories from a Black Major release in the photo below and those brought even more life to the figure for me.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

Comic Pack Firefly Profile

Comic Pack #49 at 16Bit.com

Comic Pack Firefly at JoeADay.com

Comic Pack #49 at GeneralsJoes.com

Firefly at JMM's Comic Home Page

2005 Comic Pack Firefly, Zartan, Black Major

2005 Comic Pack Firefly, Zartan, Black Major, 1997 Trouble Bubble, Flight Pod, Red Laser Army, 2018, Crimson Guard, Cobra Mortal, Stormshadow, Cobra Trooper

Thursday, March 7, 2019

1988 Hit and Run Around The Web

I was pretty much done with G.I. Joe in 1988.  I bought a few figures at the beginning of the year before walking away from toys until I graduated from high school.  But, one 1988 figure grabbed my attention and was so cool that I had to buy him: Hit and Run.  The figure was all green camo and included an amazing new rifle.  On top of that, he also had a duffel bag with a grappling hook and rope.  In short, he was about everything I ever wanted in a Joe figure.  I bought him and was not disappointed.  The figure was so well designed that I hung him on a wall of ivy at my grandparents' house and lost him there for several months.  I've looked at the figure twice and will probably come back to him again.  Here's the best of Hit and Run from around the web.

Hit and Run Profile - 2000

Hit and Run Profile - 2012

Hit and Run Parachute Pack - Target Exclusive

Hit and Run by Edwin80s

Hit and Run Video Review by HCC788

Hit and Run at Joe Battle Lines

Unproduced Hit and Run at A Real American Hero Book

1988 Hit and Run, Parachute Pack, Target Exclusive, AVAC


1988 Hit and Run, Parachute Pack, Target Exclusive, AVAC, 2003, Night Rhino