Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Rarities - 1995 Ninja Commando Road Pig Production Sample

Yes, had the 1995 line seen production, Road Pig would have become a Ninja.  We don't know how this happened.  But, it would have occurred.  (It's likely that Road Pig's comic popularity lead to a new version of the character, even if his inclusion in a ninja subset made no sense.)  His card art would have featured him wielding a huge sword.  If you let the ninja angle go, though, you see that this Road Pig would not have been a terrible figure and fits with the previous look for the character.

Really, the only thing not to like about this figure would have been his weapons.  But, the rest of the figure would fit perfectly with any Dreadnoks just like the 1988 and 1991 versions.  He would have had Ninja Force type construction, though, with an action feature and a sealed back.  So, that would have limited his use.  If you're a customizer, though, you could make a good approximation of this figure.  The chest and arms were used on the Mortal Combat Movie Edition Liu Kang figure.  So, you could take an existing Road Pig head and use it with those parts to get a good enough version of this unproduced oddity.

There's actually lots of these figures out there.  And, after November of 2021, there were even more.  (You'll read about that on Thursday, June 30th, though!)  So, this figure is attainable and doesn't tend to sell at the $2000 or so that dealers price him at.  Sadly, though, most of the samples are in the hands of people who get more mileage out of the ownership than actually selling the figure.  So, it may take a bit to find a price that's right for you.

Unproduced 1995 Ninja Commando Road Pig



Monday, June 27, 2022

Rarities - Estrela Homem Bala (Bazooka) - Brazil

Brazil released nearly 140 figures in their line.  While the Brazilian exclusive figures get most of the attention from collectors, the vast majority of the Estrela line is actually figures that are based on the Hasbro paint jobs.  But, each of them has slight variances.  The plastic tends to be far harder and more brittle.  (Broken thumbs and crotches are hallmarks of Brazilian figures.)  But, the colors also tend to be different from the Hasbro releases.  Below is the Brazilian release of Bazooka where you can see some of these subtle differences.

This figure is not named Bazooka.  Instead, he is the Homem Bala.  This loosely translates as "Bullet Man".  But, in the end, he's the same guy wearing a red shirt with a number on it.  He has the same gear as the Hasbro figure.  But, if you like the Bazooka character, there's just enough difference on this version to be worthwhile.  And, the green is a great blend with other Brazilian figures so he really fits in with his cohorts.

The biggest difference between this figure and the Hasbro Bazooka is the green color of the pants and accessories.  Estrela used a deeper, richer green for their figures.  And, Homem Bala features this color on his pants and also his helmet and backpack.  The figure has also had all the COO information removed from it.  Like many other figures, the differences between this Brazilian release and the Hasbro release are small.  And, if you have one version of the character, the other doesn't bring anything other than subtle diversity to your collection.  But, I find those little things to be quite a bit of fun



Estrela, Brazil, Bazooka, 1985, Homem Bala

Estrela, Brazil, Bazooka, 1985, Homem Bala

Estrela, Brazil, Bazooka, 1985, Homem Bala

Estrela, Brazil, Bazooka, 1985, Homem Bala



















Estrela, Brazil, Bazooka, 1985, Homem Bala

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Rarities - Plastirama Satan Accessory Variants

Plastirama is well known for their weapon variants.  While some figures are pretty tight and always include the same gear, others see quite a bit of fluctuation in terms of what may be packaged with the figure.  When the Plastirama overstock was common in the early 2000's, collectors had their pick of figures with the various weapons.  I didn't pay too much attention to the variants.  And, I got a Sparta with Footloose's rifle instead of the M-32 from her card art.  As they were $10 figures at the time, it wasn't a huge deal since I could get another at any time.  The more problematic releases, though, were the ninjas.  These were tough as there were several variants among them, they were $20-$30 figures at the time, and it was tough to determine which gear would look best with each figure.  Black 1984 Stormshadow gear was not uncommon in the early 2000's.  So, figures with black gear seemed blase.  The silver and golden Stormshadow gear that was available was far more appealing to me.

Satan's main difference is that figures either include golden weapons or black weapons.  Most figures include both the bow and the pack.  But, you can find figures with just the bow.  At the time, neither variant seemed overly desirable.  And, both were very available.  Now, though, the golden weapons seem to be more common.  But, due to the limited supply in the market, this could be just a function of what's available right now and could change in a year or two.  

There is also a 3rd variant where Satan includes silver weapons.  These silver versions were included with Cobra De Hielo.  It's possible that the silver inclusion with Satan was just a quality control error that occurred from time to time.  Plastirama was not too high on being consistent with their accessory complements as the line ran out of steam.  Both the black and gold bow, though, appear to be unique to Satan.  I haven't seen any Ninja Ku figures that didn't include golden accessories (and, he did not include a bow) and Cobra De Hielo appears to have only been available with silver gear.  But, with Plastirama's notoriously bad quality control, it's possible that there are some samples out there with different colors and the Cops or Jhony Quest figures may also have had oddball combos.  (Cops, in particular can have haphazard weapons.  There were stories of people finding 20+ of the same weapon in some boxes.)  So, be on the lookout if you're a loose collector and determine which gear you require to consider the figure complete.

Black Accessories:

Oddly, the black accessories are probably the most rare configuration for Satan.  Black Stormshadow gear was not available with any other figure released by Plastirama.  So, its inclusion with some Satan figures is unique.  You'll note the different positions for the backpacks in the bubbles below, too.  Sometimes, you get the pack in the traditional accessory bubble above the figure.  Other times, you see the back packaged in the figure bubble.  

Satan, Cobra Red Ninja, Argentina, Plastirama, MOC, Carded, Black Accessories, Gold Accessories, Silver Accessories, Variants

Satan, Cobra Red Ninja, Argentina, Plastirama, MOC, Carded, Black Accessories, Gold Accessories, Silver Accessories, Variants

Golden Accessories:

These appear to be the most common color for Satan figures.  As the golden color is unique to Argentina and the bow only appears with Satan, it's the generally accepted default for loose Satan figures you might find in Argentina.  

Satan, Cobra Red Ninja, Argentina, Plastirama, MOC, Carded, Black Accessories, Gold Accessories, Silver Accessories, Variants

Satan, Cobra Red Ninja, Argentina, Plastirama, MOC, Carded, Black Accessories, Gold Accessories, Silver Accessories, Variants

Silver Accessories:

Silver gear appears to be the least common color to be included with Satan.  However, you can get silver packs and bows with the less desirable Cobra de Hielo.  So, the overall availability of silver gear is much higher than its appearance with Satan would suggest.  With silver so tied to the De Hielo figure, it's my least favorite combo with Satan.

Satan, Cobra Red Ninja, Argentina, Plastirama, MOC, Carded, Black Accessories, Gold Accessories, Silver Accessories, Variants


Plastirama Satan, Argentina, Storm Shadow, Red Ninja, Silver Weapon Variant, MOC

There are also Satan variants where the figure does not have the backpack.  It seems the backpack was often omitted from all three of the ninja figures released in Argentina.  So, you could claim the figure was complete with just the bow.  

Both the black and golden bows appear to be mostly unique to Satan.  Ninja Ku did not include a bow.  And, I've not seen any Cobra de Hielos with non-silver accessories.  (Though, that doesn't mean they don't exist.)  So, both bows should be considered unique.  In the days when these were $30 figures, it made sense to look to own both.  At $1000+ today, that's less likely to be something that is worthwhile.  

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Rarities - European Action Force Wolverine

Everyone knows that the Wolverine was released in the Action Force line.  This black SAS repaint included the exclusive Hunter figure and has long been a desired piece among G.I. Joe collectors.  However, as the Action Force line transitioned into all G.I. Joe re-releases, there was another European exclusive Wolverine released.  This version was released in an Action Force box and included a version of the 1983 Rock and Roll who was named Ton Up.  I'll probably look at Ton Up in 2023 for Rarities month.  But, for this year, I'll focus on the exclusive Wolverine.

This Wolverine features a much darker and grayer green color.  It is substantially different from the Hasbro Wolverine.  Many European releases of standard vehicles would actually have unique plastic colors.  So, this Wolverine began a long tradition of alternate vehicles.  You will also note that the engine cover is not the same color as the vehicle's body.  This is an interesting design as it's not consistent with the box nor the Hasbro Wolverine.  It is, though, consistent with the design of the SAS Wolverine that featured a black body and grey engine cover.  

This Wolverine also features Action Force exclusive stickers.  This means it was a transition piece between the original Action Force and the version that was turned into G.I. Joe's European equivalent.  This likely means the release window for this toy wasn't large.  But, it was during the height of continental production runs.  So, it's not as rare as some of the more desirable Palitoy vehicles.  

The dark green on this version, though, is something that would likely be more popular were it better known.  The variant color helps the Wolverine stand out.  Though, then this version would not mesh as well as the Hasbro Wolverine does with other Hasbro released vehicles from 1982 and 1983.  But, that's kind of the point.  This version gives you more options to integrate a Wolverine into a color theme.  

European Exclusive 1983 Wolverine, Ton-Up, Palitoy, Action Force

European Exclusive 1983 Wolverine, Ton-Up, Palitoy, Action Force

European Exclusive 1983 Wolverine, Ton-Up, Palitoy, Action Force

European Exclusive 1983 Wolverine, Ton-Up, Palitoy, Action Force

European Exclusive 1983 Wolverine, Ton-Up, Palitoy, Action Force

European Exclusive 1983 Wolverine, Ton-Up, Palitoy, Action Force


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Rarities - 2009 Funskool Carded Figures

Funskool stopped producing Joe figures in 2004.  Sales had been slipping for a while.  So, the line was cancelled even though Funskool had some additional new figures slated to appear later that year.  However, in 2009, Funskool fired up the molds again in an attempt to cash in on the G.I. Joe movie.  They re-introduced several figures from molds they still had in their possession.  While there were no "new" figures produced, they did create several more minor variants of their existing paint schemes.  On top of the oddball figure and accessory changes, each figure featured a new cardback with an explosion more akin to the pre-1986 version on Hasbro cards.

These figures were not heavily imported to the US.  Dealers didn't really bother with them as, at the time, most of the figures in the assortments were still pretty common.  And, many US dealers were still dealing with overstock from their Funskool buys more than 5 years earlier.  As there were no "new" figures in the assortment, there wasn't much incentive for anyone to really track them down.  A few people did import some cases.  And, those are the source of most of these figures today.  In 2009, no on really thought that Trip Wire would become a $200 figure.  But, the Funskool market of the 2020's has proven to have a short memory of what were once common and pegwarming figures. 

The assortment that was released doesn't really have a theme beyond the molds that Funskool still had.  We had a pretty good idea of which molds Funskool returned to Hasbro in 2003 just due to the last production run of bagged figures that Funskool ran.  But, seeing Scrap Iron in here was a surprise.  But, we've long known that the 2004 Hasbro Scrap Iron was a brand new sculpt.  So, maybe his retention by Funskool shouldn't have been so unexpected.

The cardbacks were updated to show the new figures that were put into production.  Some feature just 11 figures.  While others feature 17.  There are 18 total figures in the series.  The one figure difference is because Funskool did not put the actual character who you were buying onto the cardback.  So, Scrap Iron doesn't appear on the Scrap Iron cardback while Blaster does.  But, on the Blaster cardback, Scrap Iron does appear but Blaster does not.

Desert Scorpion

Back in February of 2001, the Funskool Desert Scorpion was among the first cheap Funskool figures I ever bought.  The Desert Scorpion is another figure that doesn't have many variants.  It's also a figure that's gotten somewhat expensive in recent years.  This later release doesn't appear to be materially different from the earlier figures, though.  This figure features the 11 back card.

Funskool Desert Scorpion MOC 2009, 2010


Funskool Desert Scorpion MOC 2009, 2010


Budo:

Budo has a variety of subtle coloring variants.  He also has an upper arm variant.  You'll note the very dark hair on this version and that his upper arms do not have the red pockets.

2009, 2010 Funskool Budo

2009, 2010 Funskool Budo

Scrap Iron:

In 2004, it was somewhat assumed that Scrap Iron was returned to Funskool.  However, when the 2004 Scrap Iron figure was released by Hasbro, it was obvious that they had made an all new mold for the character.  Funskool kept the figure.  Scrap Iron was among the first Funskool figures to appear in the 1990's.  After he was taken out of production, he appeared again in 2002.  Now, he's also appeared in the 2009/2010 timeline.  

2009, 2010 Funskool Scrap Iron MOC

2009, 2010 Funskool Scrap Iron MOC

Blaster:

Blaster is one of the biggest and easiest variants to notice.  The Roadblock machine gun has been removed and replaced with a black version of Mercer's rifle.  It makes you wonder if Funskool returned the 1992 Roadblock gun mold to Hasbro when they returned the figure mold.  And, if that's the case, it really makes you wonder why Hasbro didn't release it with either of the 1992 Roadblock repaints they released in 2004 and 2005.

2009 Funskool Blaster, Battleforce 2000

2009 Funskool Blaster, Battleforce 2000

Deep Six:

There's no obvious differences between this Deep Six and those made earlier.  Surely, though, there are slight shading differences.

2009 Funskool Deep Six

Dialtone: 

The original Funskool Dialtone has an upper arm variant.  There are color shading differences on his chest, too.  As the Tunnel Rat mold was returned to Hasbro, this 2009 version features different upper arms than the most common early 2000's era figures.

2009, 2010 Funskool Dialtone, MOC

2009, 2010 Funskool Dialtone, MOC

Tripwire:

Tripwire is probably the most desirable figure from the 2009/2010 releases.  While he was always interesting, the figure has taken on a spectacular aftermarket appreciation in recent years.  This late version features the new explosion back but also has a variant filecard.  The 2003 era figures have a more closely cropped picture of Tripwire on the filecard.  The figure itself does have variations on the "Bomb Squad" text on his chest.

2009, 2010 Funskool Tripwire MOC

2009, 2010 Funskool Tripwire MOC


General Hawk:

There are many variants on General Hawk's red/orange highlights.  So, it's likely these are different than the earlier releases.  As General Hawk debuted in 2001, most of his figures tend to be of very poor quality and feature bad paint masks and construction issues.  I do need to pick up one of these General Hawks and see if the quality is improved.

2009 Funskool General Hawk

Mainframe:

Continuing the theme, Mainframe is pretty similar to his earlier releases.  Funskool Mainframe's are one of the few figures that's not known for its variants.  But, with just grey, black and silver, there's not a lot of color matching to create noticeable differences.

2009 Funskool Mainframe

Wild Bill:

Wild Bill also debuted in 2001.  And, there are two main variants as the figure can have either black or silver sunglasses.  For the 2009 releases, all of them I've seen have featured the black glasses.  This is another figure, though, I'd like to compare to my earlier samples to find any other changes.

2009, 2010 Funskool Wild Bill

Croc Master:

Croc Master features quite a few shading differences among his figures.  It appears that the wrist guard on his right arm is a darker grey than earlier figures.  And, his upper arms appear to be changed, too.

2009, 2010 Funskool Croc Master MOC

Cobra Commander:

The Funskool Cobra Commander figure never really got popular.  That's likely due to the fact that the collectors who knew this mold as the character didn't really come of age until after the era of cheap Funskool was long over.  The original Funskool figure isn't know for variants.  And, this figure appears very similar to the original.

2009, 2010 Funskool Croc Master

Sci Fi:

Sci Fi is known for his belt color variations.  This version would have to be checked against the earlier figures.  But, it's likely there's another variant in the later production run.

2009, 2010 Funskool Sci Fi, MOC, Star Brigade


Lifeline:

Lifeline is another once common Funskool figure that has seen a sharp upturn in popularity and pricing in recent years.  I'm not sure why.  This version features yellow arms with a green chest.  I got this same combo back in 2001.  But, this 2009 version likely has color shading differences on his green plastic parts as well as the painted highlights.

2009, 2010 Funskool Lifeline MOC

Psyche Out:

The Funskool Psyche Out is great because it's an easy and still somewhat cheap way to get a complete version of this figure mold.  The Hasbro version has gotten expensive.  But, the Funskool has stayed affordable.  Sadly, though, the figures made in the early 2000's are starting to badly discolor, even if they've been taken care of.  Hopefully, the 2009 plastic is different.

2009, 2010 Funskool Psyche Out MOC

Dodger:

The Funskool Dodger is fairly obscure.  Even during the Funskool heyday, you didn't see him often.  His face paint looks a bit different than the earlier figures.


2009, 2010 Funskool Dodger MOC


Blocker:

Blocker doesn't appear all that different from his original release.  His card art features a weird dart coming out of his gun with some bubbles around it.  There are likely color shading differences between this figure and the earlier releases, though.

Funskool Blocker, 2009

Quick Kick:

The Quick Kick mold has been around forever.  And, the Funskool variants have a ton of sash and belt color variants.  

2009 Funskool Quick Kick

2009 Funskool Quick Kick

There's the 18 figures that comprise the later run of Funskool figures.  At this point, Funskool could still have these molds and make more figures in the future.  Or, the molds could be gone.  We're not sure.  The fact that classic Joes didn't appear to coincide with the Snake Eyes movie in India, though, implies that there probably isn't a domestic market for these figures any longer.  Though, I wouldn't mind if Hasbro got a couple of these molds back and put them into production.  But, that will never, ever happen.