Tuesday, February 29, 2000

1993 Crimson Guard Commander

In 1995 and 1996, it was rare to find a G.I. Joe figure on the retail shelves. When you did, it was almost always the Battle Corps Joes that were still around. One of the few guys I managed to get lucky with, though, was the Crimson Guard Commander. I actually found two of these guys at retail in some drug store. Fortunately, I picked them up as this figure is actually pretty cool. He is certainly not the original Crimson Guard, nor the mighty Crimson Guard Immortal, but this figure is very worthy of wearing the Cobra logo. He has a decent color scheme, though some of the yellow is a bit much, good, black accessories, and a very nice mold. I do think the big Cobra symbol is kind of overkill. I mean, they didn't give the Flak Viper any Cobra markings but this guy gets a huge chest emblem?! It doesn't make much sense, but common sense was something that the 1992 through 1994 Joe lines were definitely lacking.

This guy's mold is good. I really like the head sculpt. It is much better than the Incinerators head they attempted a few years before. It just looks sleek and commanding. (This is the same reason I use the 91 Bat as a human. I think the head is too good for a robot.) I make this guy an intimidator on the battlefield. He just has that look about him. While the gun you see below is actually for this figure, it was originally brought out as a flamethrower with the previously mentioned Incinerators figure. Still, it looks very cool with this guy. I use it as a new machine gun that uses specially designed bullets that tears through even the toughest body armour. It makes this guy an all the more dangerous foe. This figure also does not suffer from the "Big shoulders syndrome" of many later figures. He is actually in line with all the previous years. I also like the dual pistols molded on his legs. It just makes him all the more dangerous. When you're forced to deal with things like the logo, though, you get creative. I used it as a block of body armour that helped protect these guys from all sorts of weapons. I helped keep them in line with my use of them as guards.

I use my CG Commanders as specialty troops who usually guard high ranking Cobras. They look cool with the pictured gun held across their body. I also use these guys as the commanders for my 1994 Viper armies. They look like good leaders. Plus, when I got these guys, I only had Vipers for them to lead since all my older figures were in storage. Since this guy was one of the few Cobras I had during the mid '90's, he holds a nice place in my collection. I have fond memories of finding him, and many other 1993 and 1994 figures at retail. It was the beginning of my rebirth in interest in G.I. Joe figures. (Of course, I wish I had started earlier and could have found many of the 1994 Star Brigade figures, but it's hard to look back with many regrets.) At least I started when I did. When I go back now, I count about 50 backer cards from figures I found at retail in 1995 and 1996. (Now, I find it hard to open carded figures. Since those days, I've only opened two figures that I haven't found at retail. What's very odd is that I paid less for some of the carded figures I've picked up in the last year than I did for these retail figures. I don't know the psychological block that keeps me from opening some of my figures, but I hope to overcome it.) Considering my financial state back then, I was impressed by the amount. (Though, it could have been all that frivolous spending that was the cause of my financial crisis back in college, but all that beer keeps some of those years pretty fuzzy.)

After the Crimson Guard Commander mold was released in the U.S., it made its way to Brazil. There, the mold was released as the Reptil Do Ar somewhere around 1995. This figure used the same paint masks as the American figure but used a much lighter base color. It is a very bright red that appears almost orange at times. (You can kind of see mine in the 1st photo behind the jail door.) That figure saw a short release window, though, and isn't a figure you see too often in the U.S. From there, the CG Commander mold seems to have disappeared. It is likely that the mold is still corroding away in a Brazilian warehouse. That is very unfortunate, though, as the Crimson Guard Commander mold is a perfect candidate for a repaint. The mold is high quality (even for a '93!) has become rather popular and does not have a non-bright version of it available anywhere in the world. As such, this would be a mold that Hasbro could get some mileage out of were they to reacquire it.

Crimson Guard Commanders aren't too tough to find. They can get a bit expensive, though, if they are loose and complete. Like most of the 1993 and 1994 figures, you can readily find these guys available on the card as well. Even those won't run you too much. Actually, you can probably get a mint on card CG Commander for about the same price as a mint, loose, complete with filecard specimen. These guys are starting to pop up. Many of the people who had the later year figures are starting to come of age where they discover Ebay. As they do, figures like this will become more and more common. I would recommend, though, building armies now as prices of Cobra figures tend to go steadily up over the years, especially as the other, more desirable Cobra figures from 1985, 1989, and 1991 continue to rise to insane prices.

I like the 1993 and 1994 figures. If you don't agree, email me.

1993 Crimson Guard Commander, Battle Corps, 2004 Comic Pack Cobra Commander, 2005 Crimson Guard, 1983 Hiss Tank

1993 Crimson Guard Commander, Battle Corps, 2004 Comic Pack Cobra Commander, 2005 Crimson Guard, 1983 Hiss Tank

1993 Crimson Guard Commander, Battle Corps, 2004 Comic Pack Cobra Commander, 2005 Crimson Guard, 1983 Hiss Tank, Tomax and Xamot, Reptil Do Ar, Estrela, Brazil, 1994 Action Soldier

1993 Crimson Guard Commander, Battle Corps, 2004 Comic Pack Cobra Commander, 2005 Crimson Guard, 1983 Hiss Tank, Tomax and Xamot

1993 Crimson Guard Commander, 1986 Dr. Mindbender

1986 Mission to Brazil Wet Suit

We've already discussed the infamous Mission to Brazil set when I profiled Claymore. While I wasn't too impressed with that figure, I thought it time to showcase the one figure that made me want the entire set, the Wetsuit. The original Wetsuit was awesome. This guy, though, was off the charts. They had finally cast a diver in colors that were perfect for military operations. I was always hesitant to use the original figure in combat situations was I thought his orange highlights could be a bit detrimental if he were trying to sneak up on someone. This figure kind of solved that. The only problem with him was that they included the original Wetsuit's accessories! You now had a dark silver diver with bright orange tanks. I managed to somewhat fix this by giving him a pack from a spare Eel. It worked, but wasn't the best solution. I had to wait until 1998 before Hasbro finally released these accessories in black. Since the Navy Seal Teams are still ubiquitous at all my area Toys R Us stores, you should be able to get some of them before they disappear as well.

This guy was one of my most used figures. For most of 1986 and early 1987, I had a running sea based story line going. This figure was the common diver troop who did most of the fighting against Eels. Since the color scheme matched, they worked perfectly together. The original Wetsuit was the sometimes leader, but this guy got most of the use. (You can still see his battle scars in the worn paint on the face of this specimen.) I used all of the Mission to Brazil set as specialty troopers. It made it fun to actually allow Cobra to kill off good guy cannon fodder. It kind of evened things out. The dark silver wetsuit with the black and olive drab highlights were very realistic. At least once, I swapped this guy's head and made a custom figure that was a diver after he boarded a ship, discarded his helmet, and was using his assault rifle. This guy, like the Eel, has such a good color combination that you just want to find excuses to use him.

When I first saw the Mission to Brazil set, I kind of wanted it. Claymore looked kind of cool. This guy was awesome. The Leatherneck had uses and I wanted another Mainframe for my headquarters. The Dialtone had a great upper body, but his red pants kind of killed him. As weeks wore on and I went to TRU more and more, the set began to wear on me. I always looked at it, but could never decide if I wanted it or not. Since I was very up on all the figures and had completed the 1986 series much, much earlier in the year, I didn't have much of anything to look forward to at Christmas. (My parents had already made it very clear that the Shuttle was out of reach. There were no other medium to large vehicles that came out that year.) I finally broke down and asked for this set. Of course, Hasbro released many of the 1987 figures in time for Christmas of 1986 and I would have gotten some figures anyways. At least this worked out, though, as I got the set I wanted. Once I had it, it was a decision I never regretted. I used the MTB figures more than I used their original counterparts. For whatever reason, I just wanted to have some common figures that weren't already characterized. The Wetsuit character already had a figure. With this guy, I got a free figure to use as I wanted. What resulted were some of the best memories I have of my entire Joe collection.

The Wet Suit mold is a Hasbro favorite. It was used twice in 1986, in 1998, 2001 and 2002. His arms were used in 2004 on the Anti-Venom Mutt The character has continued to appear in more modern Joe lines, too. Wet Suit does not have any foreign variants (which is probably why his mold was so commonly used by Hasbro in the first few years of the line) and was only released with Hasbro created figures. Of all the colorings of this mold, though, I still hold this version to be the best. He does look a lot better when you give him the black accessories from 1998 or 2001. But, the overall figure is probably the strongest of the Wet Suit versions. At this point, there isn't much need for additional renditions of this mold. It has been done well enough through the vintage and modern years to satisfy most collectors.

These guys, like all of the Mission to Brazil figures, are pretty tough to find. While this guy isn't nearly as expensive as Claymore, he is still pricey. (I really don't get the dramatic difference in prices of the MTB figures. They were only available as a set. While Claymore is the only original figure, I, and many other collectors, consider the Wetsuit to be the far and away best figure in the set. He is usually the second most expensive figure, but is still about three of four times less than Claymore.) This guy is worth the money. He is an awesome figure that makes an excellent army builder. Unfortunately, his price is a bit prohibitive of my doing so. Nonetheless, this is a figure of which I would like to have a couple more. The Navy Seal Team helped me a bit, but this guy has sentimentality attached to him and that keeps him as my all time favorite Joe diver.

If you have any questions, comments, or not so constructive criticism, email me.

1986 Mission to Brazil Wet Suit, Cross Country, Havoc, 1985 Heavy Metal

1986 Mission to Brazil Wet Suit, Hawk, Beach Head, Mainframe

1986 Mission to Brazil Wet Suit,

Thursday, February 24, 2000

1985 Eel

Of late, I have taken to checking out many of my older figures. I have been so concentrated on filling in the later years of my collection that I have sort of neglected many of the earlier years. I just recently received most of my childhood collection from my parents. In the batch of figures they sent was a complete Eel. I took one look at him and was instantly reminded why I liked him so much when I was a kid.

The Eel is awesome. His colors are first rate. The mold is amazing and his accessories are among the best ever produced. I remember as a kid that Eels weren't too common. People snatched them up with alarming regularity. I managed to get one in late 1986 after my first one bit the dust. You will notice that this guy is also missing his head antenna. I've managed to get another one, and will replace this guy's head so I have a nice specimen. When this guy came out, there was a guy in my class who also collected Joes. He had 4 Eels. I couldn't believe anyone would have that many. Now, I realize how smart he was. I only wish I had had that type of foresight. These guys are cool to have in multiples. They are such awesome figures that they work in all sorts of environments.

My Eels manned the Hydrofoil or attacked my Tactical Battle Platform. After seeing them in G.I. Joe Special Missions #1, I often gave them extra AK-47's and used them as special Cobra commandos. Whether I was on land or in the water, I always found a use for these guys. Now, still like them. I was really into Hydro Vipers until I got my old Eel back. They Hydro Vipers are cool, and will one day make an appearance here, but they don't live up to this guy. I have one Eel displayed, but would like to have many more. One of the things I'm after later this year will be a complete Hydrofoil. The interior will be exclusively manned with Lampreys, but the back area would look great with three or four Eels ready to go into the drink.

Everything about this guy is great. The color scheme worked on every diver they tried it on, but the Eel remains the epitome. His pack, with the removable jets, is just too cool. The hose that attaches to both his face and the pack are also great. (I can't think how much fun I had playing that a Joe diver would sneak up behind an Eel and cut his hose. That was always one the main ways of defeating them.) His dual spear gun is also fun. It was far superior to both the Torpedo and the Hydro Viper spear guns. Plus, it had the stunner on the end that led to the demise of many a sailor who was treading water after his ship had been sunk by a Moray. The flippers just add to the overall effect. I just can't adequately explain how much I like this figure. He was awesome when he came out and is still awesome now.

Aside from this version, Hasbro also produced a Version 2 Eel. This figure has a decent mold, but terrible colors. That mold then made its way to India. The V1 Eel went from the US to South America. He was first produced in Argentina and then in Brazil. These figures feature a few slight differences from the American Eel. First and foremost, the South American Eels have slightly different Cobra logos. They are also missing the copyright information that is molded onto the figure's behind. As many Argentine Eels made their way to the US, some have ended up in loose collections. Some collectors have been fooled into thinking that there is a variant American Eel. In reality, these figures are just the South American Eels that made their way into American collections.

Eels get expensive fast. They aren't tough to find, but they are so cool that they command a premium. Complete specimens can get very pricey as the hose is a brittle accessory that tends to break. This is one of the few figures, though, that I consider worth his high price tag. If you have an unlimited budget, you can build a nice army of these guys. I only have a couple and have decided that unless I can get them cheap, I'm not going after any more. If I'm going to spend big money on a figure, I want it to be one that I don't have, have been looking for a long time, and really, really like. Still, Eels are nice figures that are well worth what you have to spend to get them. I figure on getting one or two a year. By the time I have a pool in my backyard, I should have a nice cadre of them.

Do you dig the Eel? How much you would be willing to spend on a figure? Email me.

1985 Eel

1985 Eel

1985 Eel, 2001 Rock Viper

1985 Eel, 2004 night Force Beachhead

1985 Eel,

1985 Eel, 2004 Unproduced Night Force Tracker, Rare G.I. Joe Figures

1985 Eel,

1985 Eel, 1990 Rock Viper

1985 Eel

1985 Eel

1985 Eel, 1983 Dragonfly, Airborne, Ace, Wild Bill, 1984 Duke, Ripcord

1985 Eel, 1983 Torpedo, 1997 Night Landing

1986 Viper

Many collectors are nostalgic for the old blue Cobra troopers and officers. Those guys mean Cobra. While they are kind of cool to have around, they weren't much in the way of opposition to the newly equipped Joes. In fact, those '82 and '83 issue figures look rather paltry to the Joe fare that had been introduced by 1986. In 1985, the Cobra ranks swelled with specialty troopers. It was finally time for a new basic infantry trooper for Cobra. We were given the Viper. He had an ultra modern design with an awesome assault rifle and an infantry pack. At long last, Cobra troopers were fully equipped to handle the new generation of Joes.

The Viper was the beginning of a long line of cool Cobras. At the time he came out, I desperately wanted one. When I finally got one, I used him all the time. As the years went by, though, his red and blue color scheme didn't do it for me anymore. The Viper was relegated to backup roles as newer, better colored Cobras started taking his place in infantry battles. Of all his variations, the 1998 Cobra Infantry team (Sure the filecards have them lower than Vipers, but I use them as the basic Cobra infantry troops and they look much, much better in dioramas and such. I never put much stock in other people's characterizations anyways. That's why Joe was so enduring to me.) is the best. The Python Viper is a much better painted figure than this and has much more action time in my collection. I also use the Range Viper as the basic Cobra troop. For whatever reason, I just don't like the '86 Viper. The mold is awesome, but the colors just don't look good. (Of course, I'm known for liking many of the later neon figures. Why this guy seems so ugly to me is really a mystery.) I think after seeing what they could have done with him, I've become disillusioned about this figure. The other Viper incarnations are so good that this guy seems pale by comparison.

Still, this guy holds an important distinction in Joe history. He kept Cobra from becoming too specialized an enemy. While the good old blues faded away after his introduction, the Viper was a good solid soldier that was a formidable opponent to the new Joes. After disappointing years in both 1987 and 1988, Cobra was really in need of this guy. Of course, the awesome '89's ended the Viper's run. I think part of the collector sentiment about this guy is that he is really the only link between the immortal '85 line and the '89 Cobras. In between, there was this guy and maybe a case could be made for the Iron Grenadier, though he wasn't really Cobra. Since he came out in a time full of so few good Cobra figures, I think the sentimentality for the Viper is high. That would also explain his high degree of popularity.

The Viper accessories are decent enough. While he only features a rifle and pack, both of these items became iconic to the Viper figure. However, both were also largely lost after 1989. The backpack did make a return in 2002 with the convention Crimson Vipers. But, it has not appeared anywhere else since. The rifle was remolded in a larger size and with a sound attack tab in 2002. But, the properly sized weapon hasn't been used for a figure release since the '80's. However, there are some bootleggers out there who have tried to cash in and have offered reproduction Viper accessories. Be on the lookout for these as they can be misleading.

In my collection, the Viper mold remains the basic field trooper of the Cobra army. I see Vipers and the original Cobra Troopers as one and the same. The Trooper is simply wearing the "leisure" uniform that is donned for work around the base. It functions in combat, but is better suited for manning base positions. The Viper uniform is the field combat gear that is worn by the entry level Cobra troops. It isn't as comfortable as the Trooper uniform, but it is more useful in combat as it offers the wearer more protection and armour. However, when I need a version (or versions!) of the Viper, it is rarely the '86 figure that I select. The '98 is just so much better that I can't justify this version over that one. But, every now and again, these versions do come out. Usually, they are on vehicles or at a base. In those settings, I can justify these colors. But, once the troops leave those arenas, it is a later version of the Viper that I will seek.

The Viper mold has been well used by Hasbro. Aside from this 1986 figure and the 1989 repaint, the entire mold was used again in 1990 as part of the Super Sonic Fighters line. From there, the legs and waist appeared again in 1993 as part of the Dr. Mindbender figure. Those were then sent off to Brazil when the good Dr. was exported for foreign use. In 1997, the head, chest and arms reappeared with the Trouble Bubble. That mold configuration was then used again in 1998, 2002 and 2003. Finally, in 2006, the waist and feet were remolded and added to upper body and BAT thighs to create another version of the Viper that is colored very similarly to this one. But, while this mold has been done to death, there are still useful versions of the Viper that have yet to see production. I would definitely buy multiples of desert or arctic Vipers. But, if those don't happen, we do have enough of this mold to keep my attention for years.

Vipers are expensive. I don't think they are worth the price they fetch, but many people do like this figure and want to build massive armies. Personally, I think $15.00 is overkill, especially when you can get a 1998 Cobra Infantry team 3 pack for less than that. Like all Cobra soldiers, though, the Viper is destined to always have built in popularity. Unlike Joe figures that most people are content with one or two of, people always build Viper armies. Hell, I have five of these guys. I, though, don't use them. There are so many other Viper incarnations that work so much better for so many things that this figure sees very little time out of the '86 Cobra drawer. Still, many people really like this figure and will pay for the privilege of owning more than one. As such, be prepared for an easy search, but high price tag for this guy. Again, the Collector's Paradox comes into play. This guy is easy to find, but high in price. It makes no sense, especially with the sheer volume of Vipers that are always readily available.

I don't like this guy. He was fun, but nothing like the later vipers that were introduced into the Cobra ranks. If you don't agree, email me.

1986 Viper

1986 Viper, Funskool Flint, Leatherneck

1986 Viper, 2001 Major Bludd

1986 Viper,

1985 Airtight

When I was in grade school, I always got a reward if I had good grades. In Feb. of 1985, I continued my trend of solid grades and was allowed to get a toy or two. Rumour had it that the local KB toy store had the new 1985 Joes. I finally convinced my mother to take me. Sure enough, they had a section full of the new 1985's. After a second or two of digesting the 10 or 12 new figures they had, I finally grabbed an Airtight and a Footloose. (I would have gotten Flint, but all the heads in the Flint packages were drooping and I thought the figures were broken. Imagine my surprise when I got home and discovered the new head articulation Joe figures were given that year.) As I was surveying the figures, a clerk came over and promptly told us that they had sold out of all the Commando (Snake Eyes) figures in a matter of minutes. It mattered little to me, though, as I had two awesome new figures.

Airtight quickly became one of my favorite figures. I would use him as a diver off of the hovercraft or a pilot for the Skystriker. (I still think he looks an awful lot like the Rebel pilots from Star Wars.) I also used him as a flamethrower or had his gun shoot out toxic gas. I don't remember where I read it, but I am still sure that somewhere in all the Joe literature I had at the time it said that Airtight's gun was not only a sniffer, but also shot a 9mm bullet. With that info, I used him even more. I quickly wore out my original figure and had to replace him late in 1986. That is the figure that you see here. I took my original apart and used him for customs. After I got the Tomahawk, though, I put him back together and used both my Airtights as the Tomahawk crew. I also used him as a science officer. He, along with Mainframe, often manned the computer of the G.I. Joe headquarters. Airtight was a versatile figure that could do all sorts of things. As such, I always wanted a few more. Two was just not enough.

Now, I like to look at Airtight, but I don't use him all that often. He is one of those figures that I don't know what to do with. I still like to use him as a pilot, but all the Star Brigade figures I have work just as well, plus they have removable helmets. I still use him as a science officer or a firefighter, but he doesn't get nearly the use he once did. I slowed my quest and haven't picked up another Airtight until just a few days ago. I still think he is an awesome figure. I love to have one displayed. Like many of the early Joes, he was slightly eclipsed by the later figures whose way of removable helmets and more detailed molds were paved by the early figures like Airtight. Still, this guy is great because he is simple. He uniform isn't so busy, like many of the later figures, that it takes away from the aesthetic tranquility of the figure. The bold, contrasting colors create a figure that is just fun to look at and own. His play value can be found with a little imagination. With a lot of imagination, he can become an essential figure for any collection.

Airtight was the quintessential backup character that made the '85 line so memorable. Like Alpine, Airtight wasn't the focal point of the '85 line, but was an key backup figure that was fun to own and cool to look at. The 1985 series was probably the best year in the history of the G.I. Joe line. It was full of memorable main characters as well as awesome backup characters that kept the Joes on the cutting edge. Now that Cobra had all sorts of cool specialty troops, Joe needed them to. Airtight was part of the backup team that pushed Joe to the top of the toy world.

The Airtight mold was a world traveler. After Hasbro was done with it, Airtight was sent off to Brazil. There, he was released in an exclusive Tiger Force color scheme as Ar Puro. From there, the mold went on to India. Funskool released Airtight in colors similar to the American figure for many years before he was temporarily discontinued. In 2002, Funskool released Airtight again and the Funskool Airtight is rather easy to find today. It is likely that Hasbro got the Airtight mold back in 2003 when they acquired all the other Funskool molds. For whatever reason, though, Airtight has yet to appear in the re-release line. (He would have been an ideal candidate for the Anti-Venom set. I would very much like to see the Airtight mold reappear. It is very high quality and could lend itself to some very cool repaints. (Just see what some customizers have done with the mold.)

Airtights aren't too tough to find mint and complete. They are not nearly as popular as other '85's so they aren't too expensive either. He is just a cool figure, though, that didn't get much airtime and came out in a great year. (Though his appearance in G.I. Joe Special Missions was very memorable.) Even collectors that hate the later neon figures like Airtight. He is just one of those figures that many people have, but don't pay attention to. At least he can get some due. (Just a side note, check out Airtight's Hostile Environment. It's a great page full of awesome stuff, including a nice profile of the figure you see here.)

Got anything interesting to add? Email me.

1985 Airtight, Bazooka, Heavy Metal, Flint, 1993, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines

1985 Airtight, 1986 Sci Fi, 1983 G.I. Joe Headquarters, HQ

1985 Airtight, Filecard

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

1991 General Hawk

I dig this figure. If you haven't been able to guess, this is one of my all time favorite molds. Every single figure they did in it is awesome. I don't know what it is about the mold, but it really appeals to me, no matter the color scheme. The helmet is really cool and he comes with one of the best guns in the line. The jet pack is a little lame, but that is easily remedied with one of my extra JUMP packs. (It should be noted, though, that Hawk's accessories will fit perfectly on the JUMP launch pad. It is a cool little Easter Egg in the line and makes this figure more displayable.) The color scheme on this guy is good. You don't normally consider olive and gold to be very military colors, but they work perfectly on this figure. He actually could be used in combat situations.

This guy is perfect for any number of uses. While he is supposed to be a jetpack trooper, I use him as a diver, pilot, or astronaut. I usually find a way to include this figure in all sorts of different situations. I also have a couple of extras with no gear. Someday I'm going to use his head for some custom pilots. I think it would be a perfect head for just such a custom. That just shows the level of detail on this figure. I know you can't see the head in the scan, but I wanted to show him with his helmet on. I'm starting to realize, though, why all the Hasbro promotional material I saw back in 1993 only showed the mail in Hawk without his helmet. The figure looks good with or without it. (Of course, I decided to pass on that mail in because I wasn't sure if the figure came with a helmet or not. Had I been sure, I would have ordered one. Now I'm glad I didn't since I was able to get a couple of them for about half of what they would have cost me back seven years ago.)

Many collectors like this figure, but don't like the idea that this is Hawk. After the awesome '86 version that finally made him look like the leader and general he was, this mold didn't quite live up to the character. The fact that the mold was cool, though, has kept this figure popular. Many people list this guy as their second favorite version of Hawk. G.I. Joe never had a mainstream jetpack trooper. The Silver Pads Grand Slam and Starduster were never really introduced in either the comic or cartoon. It really doesn't make sense to have the commanding general flying around on an experimental jet pack. Alas, by 1991 though, realism was no longer a top priority of the Joe developmental team. They needed Hawk to be in the mix, but just didn't know how to properly fit him in. The result is a great figure whose character some people have a hard time accepting. If you don't stay within the predetermined confines, though, this figure is awesome to have multiples of and can be used for all sorts of things.

Hasbro really liked this mold. After they used it for Hawk in 1991 and 1993, the broke it out for the Star Brigade roadblock in both 1993 and 1994. From there, the mold was sent to India where, in 2001, Funskool released a new version of this Hawk mold. That figure is a very dark green with orange highlights. It is an interesting mix of colors for sure, but does some with some nicely colored accessories. At this point, it is likely that Hasbro has the mold back in their possession and could use it again for new figures. While I really like the mold, I don't see much of a need for its return at this point.

Hawk, like most of the '91's, is tough to find. I don't know the reason for it, but the 1991 figures just don't seem to exist in the same numbers as their surrounding years. As such, you can expect to pay a premium for figures like this. At least the Joe figures haven't started skyrocketing like the '91 Cobras have. Still, this guy is kind of tough to find loose and complete. The 1993 version, which I also like, isn't so hard and can be had MIB for about $5.00, but this original version doesn't appear all that often. Be prepared for a long search and higher price tag if you are after this figure. Like most '91's, though, he can be found in lots. If you have the wherewithal to buy up lots of 30-50 figures, you can sometimes get this guy cheap. (As a side bonus, you also usually get to pick up a couple of the expensive Cobras at the same time.) Still, this is a great figure that is very versatile. If you can find him, I highly recommend adding this guy to your collection.

Just for fun, here is link to the bagged 1993 Convention exclusive General Hawk. He is the same as the 1993 mail in, but came with a special sticker on the bag. Whoo-hoo. Still, it's a cool figure and since I talked so much about it, I thought I should at least offer a scan.

This guy is cool, but I have enough of him. If you like this figure and this mold, let me know.

1991 General Hawk, Jet Pack, JUMP, Super Sonic Fighters Psyche Out, Slaughters Marauders BBQ, Barbecue, 1989

1991 General Hawk, Jet Pack, 2005 Night Watch Trooper

1991 General Hawk, Jet Pack, Corrosoa, Estrela, Brazil, Eco Warriors Dee Jay

Monday, February 14, 2000

1983 Silver Pads Grand Slam

When the JUMP jet pack came out in 1982, it was pretty cool, but didn't come with a figure. Many people bought it, but many more, like me, passed on it for whatever reason. In 1983, they re-released the JUMP. This time it included a figure. This figure, known as Silver Pads Grand Slam, was a repaint of the Grand Slam figure that had come with the HAL laser cannon. I don't think this re-release saw a great distribution. I wanted one, but only found them at a Service Merchandise. In late 1984, I got this jet pack for my birthday. (My infamous 11th birthday where in a two week span I got this, Major Bludd, the Whale, Stormshadow, and all three Dreadnoks. I still remember the monumental battle my friends and I had at the party.) This figure immediately went into my heavy play rotation. I liked him because no one else had him. Whenever I would play with the neighbors, they would always have the same figures and we would argue over who would get to use whose figures. Since this was the only version of the Silver Pads Grand Slam, I didn't have to worry about unnecessary hassles with him.

This guy made the successful transition from Jet Pack trooper to pilot. I used him as the pilot of the Dreadnok version of the Sky Hawk. I gave him his visor, Lifeline's air mask, and Snow Job's gun. He was one of my favorite pilot figures and he occupied the cockpit of that Dreadnok Sky Hawk until it met it's untimely demise in the clutches of my youngest brother. You can see by the condition of this figure that he got extensive use for many years. He was one of only three or four of the original mold Joes who were able to survive in my play rotation for many years. Again, though, it was what I had done with the figure rather than the figure itself that kept it interesting. My pilot armada was shot down a thousand times by Cobra Hydrofoils, ASPs, Hisses, and troopers. I made him a faceless minion who sometimes saved the day, and other times was the innocent victim of a new Cobra weapon. It was that versatility that kept him in my collection and allowed him to survive until today.

The Silver Pads Grand Slam is an easy custom figure. He's really not all that exciting. I think that has helped keep his popularity down. All you need is an original Grand Slam and a bottle of silver paint and you've got one of these guys. Since he is so unglamourous, most people don't pay attention to him. He isn't the type of figure that makes you automatically want him, but he is one of those guys that helped keep a great line going. With some of the less popular figures, Hasbro was able to keep cool toys on the shelves. I was able to get this guy just before he disappeared because he wasn't all that cool of a figure. Had it not been for that, I would have missed out on the jet pack, which was one of the better accessories they release early on. Anyways, I've lost my train of thought and since no one is reading , I'm just going to bail out here.

This guy is kind of tough to find. When they do appear, they can get pricey. Many people consider him complete with only his helmet and visor. Since those accessories are rather interchangeable among many original joes, he isn't too tough to find complete. I've seen this guy go for a mint, and escape for a song. He is getting more popular though, as the dealers seem to be moving into Joe territory. At least they will all take a bath before they realize that joe collectors don't dig variations and none of the figures are truly rare. Save the .0000 vs. .0001 crap for the Star Wars fans. Anyways, this guy is pretty cool. If you get a chance to pick one up, you should take it. This is one of those guys that doesn't seem to turn up unless he is offered by himself. Not many people bought another JUMP just to get a repainted figure. As such, we are left with another of those little known figures that aren't all that popular but make excellent additions to any collection.
You can view this guy's filecard here.

I'm not after any more of this guy, at least not yet. If you have any figures of a great nostalgic value and you would never part with them, email me.

1984 Silver Pads Grand Slam, 1983, HAL, JUMP, Variant, Skyhawk, Quarrel, Action Force, European Exclusive, Parachute Pack Mail Away

1984 Silver Pads Grand Slam, JUMP Jet Pack, Funskool General Hawk
1984 Silver Pads Grand Slam, JUMP Jet Pack, Starduster, Mail Away

1984 Silver Pads Grand Slam, JUMP Jet Pack, Filecard

Friday, February 4, 2000

1993 Create a Cobra

The Steel Brigade was a very popular idea. Millions of kids sent their information into Hasbro who then created a personalized figure for them. It was the perfect way to make the fans part of the Joe universe. In 1993, Hasbro decided to take this idea a step further and allowed fans to create their own Cobra figure. Needless to say, this idea was not as popular as some might have thought. As such, the Create Your Own Cobra figure anguishes in obscurity. At least the Steel Brigade figs were kind of cool and came with good accessories. The Create a Cobras were in a horrible color scheme, lacked any real accessories, and were not heavily marketed. As such, collectors today are left with a relatively tough figure to find.

As far as anyone knows, there is only one version of the Create a Cobra. Unlike the frankenstiened Steel Brigade and Star Duster figures, this guy didn't see a long enough life span to ever have any changes. (Not that it isn't possible, mind you, it's just that no variations have surfaced as of yet.) 1993 was near the end of the line for Joe. As Hasbro was putting out figures like this guy, some may say it was a mercy killing. I am a staunch supporter of figures from 1992-1994. I think there are many great gems from those years. There are, though, more than those years' fair share of stinkers as well. The Create a Cobra is among them. They just aren't cool figures. The mold, Targat's body with the Crimson Guard Immortal's head, is great. The color scheme is terrible. Had this guy been done in Cobra blue and black, I think bagged samples would be selling on the same levels as the gold headed Steel Brigade figure.

Still, this figure does have it's appeal. I just don't know what it is. If I ever come across a spare Crimson Guard Immortal's head, I'm going to create a custom Create Your Own Cobra in the original Targat and CGI colors. I think it would look very good, and would be indicative of what Hasbro could have done with these figures. I remember seeing this in a catalog in late 1994. The color was so bad that I passed. (Like I did on all the mail ins. I sure wish I had taken the chance to get a complete Whale. I missed that boat. At least Hasbro Canada eased some of the pain.) This is a fun guy to look at, but I can't think of a single use I would have for a loose sample. At least some of the other mis-colored Cobras have some redeeming play value. With this guy, it's pretty hard to find.

These guys are tough to find. It took me nearly a year before I came across my first one. Since then, I have only seen three or four others. I honestly believe that the Create Your Own Cobra is among the 30 to 40 rarest Joe figures. Not many people have them. He's not like the gold headed Steel Brigade (which was available around the same time period) in that those guys appear both bagged, but also fairly regularly loose. I have never seen a Create Your Own Cobra figure offered loose. They have all been MIB, like the one you see here. I think the fact that kids didn't want to associate with bad guys, plus a terrible pink color scheme doomed this figure. No one wanted him and the only people who have him are dealers and collectors. Still, when these guys go appear for sale, the demand is small and you can get them for around $10-$15. You just may have to wait a while.

If you have any questions, comments, or have any new variations of the Create a Cobra, email me.

1993 Create a Cobra, Mail Away, 2000 Undertow, 1984 Copperhead, Water Moccasin

1993 Create a Cobra, Mail Away, MIB, Cyber Viper, Mirage, Mega Marines

1993 Create a Cobra, Mail Away, MIB

1986 Wet Suit

After the remarkable figures that came out in 1985, it was going to be nearly impossible for Hasbro to top itself. Rather than do this, though, they decided to reinvent the Joe team. 1986 was the beginning of the replacement figures. Many 1986's had similar or exact same specialties as earlier characters who had been removed from the shelves. This was the first year where the real turnover occurred. Many of the figures they produced, however, were excellent. The 1986 Wetsuit is no exception. While Torpedo was a great figure, Wetsuit added new accessories that made him every bit as much fun to have as the Eels are.

I loved this figure. He was my favorite diver, until I got the Mission to Brazil version the next year. Still, though, this guy is pretty high on my list. I was especially pleased that Hasbro included him in the 1998 Navy Seal Team set. I loved setting him against my Eels and the Cobra Hydrofoil. I had too many adventures to even try and recall with Wetsuit, Torpedo, the Hovercraft and the Hydrofoil. Even without a pool in my backyard, I managed to get extended use of all the divers and boats that were in the line.

Wetsuit's uniform is pretty good, though he seems like more of a tropical diver. (You'll have to forgive me for the quality of this scan. I was experimenting at the time and, as you can see, this particular experiment didn't turn out so well.) I'm always a sucker for figures with hoses that attach to both the figure and a pack. In my opinion, this was a feature that wasn't used on enough figures in the line. Those that did have it, tend to exist in multitude in my collection. The orange accessories work with this version of the figure, though he also looks good with the black versions from 1998. Had Wetsuit come with a gun of some type, he would have been off the charts. Fortunately, I used the Torpedo's gun from an accessory kit with him. It looks kind of funky, but will grow on you in time.

The Wet Suit mold has only been used by Hasbro. After the 2 vintage releases, it was dusted off in 1998, 2001 and 2002. At this point, we have pretty much all the Wet Suit figures we need. Still, it would be kind of nice to see the character brought back in land based military attire (like the underrated and hard to find '04 Torpedo figure from the VAMP). It would be a good way to bring some versatility to the character without using the limiting, original design.

Wetsuits aren't too tough to find, but they can cost a little more than the average figure, especially if they are complete. 1986 was still during Joes peak popularity and all the figures from this year are very plentiful. Some dealers will use the "it's an old figure" routine to try and secure a higher price. Don't be fooled. These figures exist in abundance. With minimal effort and expense, you can add this guy to your collection.

1986 Wet Suit, Havoc, 2004 Unproduced Night Force Tracker

1986 Wet Suit, 1984 Whale, Mutt, Cutter

1986 Mission to Brazil Wet Suit, Wet Suit