In 1999 and early 2000, Joe figures from Argentina were incredibly scarce in the U.S. Ninja-Ku's sold for $300-$400 a piece for carded specimens. Even straight up reissues of American molds were incredibly hard to find. Then, in the early fall of 2000, Argentinian Joes began to appear with great regularity on the American second hand market. Figures like Airborne, Sgt. Slaughter, Alpine, Blowtorch, Doc, Ripcord, Sparta, Destro, Ninja Ku, Satan, Storm Shadow, and Sokerk suddenly became very affordable and easily acquired in the U.S. While I'm not often one to be high on some of these Argentine issues, I am also not one who lets a good deal pass him by. For just about nothing, I picked up Sparta (a Cover Girl repaint with unique card art), Destro, Ripcord and the figure I am now profiling: Sokerk.
Apparently, there are two versions of Sokerk. One version is actually the Tan Grunt. The figure matches the card art. The second version, and the one that seems to be more prevalent right now, is the one you see here. It is a straight repaint of the Ripcord mold that has been recolored to more closely match the tan uniform you see on the card art. Frankly, this feature was simply a bonus. You see, I purchased the figure just for the card art. I like things that weren't available in the U.S. Since the Tan Grunt figure was never available on the card here, I seized the opportunity to pick up one of the foreign versions that was. It was just a happy coincidence that the figure I bought happened to be the repainted Ripcord. For once, I got doubly lucky. I managed to acquire not only unique card art, but a unique figure as well.
I will quickly admit that I am not anywhere near an authority on South American Joes. In fact, I know very little about them. However, I do know that the series of which Sokerk was part seems to be fairly plentiful. There is an earlier series of Argentine Joes that features straight armed figures that are very unique repaints from their American versions. Figures like Topson, Shimik, and the legendary Cobra Mortal are among the scarcest Joe figures ever produced in any country. In fact, in the years that I've been buying Joes online, I have never, ever seen any figure from that original Argentine assortment offered for sale. While Brazilian figures like the Cobra De-Aco and Cobra Invasor seem to appear several times every year, these original Argentine figures are impossible to find. I would run for cover should a gem like a Cobra Mortal ever appear for sale in a public forum. My guess is that his sale price would shame even those of the 1995 prototypes that have found their way to the second hand market.
Frankly, I like Sokerk. The figure is a very nice take on the classic American figure. In fact, it was only through careful scrutiny that I was able to determine this to be the same mold as Ripcord. The colorations are that different that you would never know they were the same mold. The one problem with this guy, though, is that the paint job sucks. I don't think the Argentines were as careful with paint mask and attention to quality as their American counterparts. For that reason, this figure looks terrible. It's no fault of anyone's, save the manufacturer. This is a common problem with early South American Joes and it takes away from the figure. I was once planning to open both Sokerk and Sparta. After seeing them, though, I decided that it just made no sense to do so. The quality of the figure is so low that taking them off the card would make them useless. It is unfortunate, though, as I would have liked to have had Sokerk available in loose form for various missions. I think he and Sparta both would have helped expound the interest in some basic dioramas I was planning. At any rate, though, he will remain as one of the few carded figures in my collection if only for the fact that I currently like him that way.
Were I writing this profile even one year ago, I would tell you how Sokerk was a very difficult figure to find in the U.S. and a carded version of him would probably cost $40-$70. Now, the story is very different. Sokerks are very easy to find and they are pretty cheap. Sure, a few MOC specimens still fetch $20-$25, but that is usually due to uninformed buyers. It is much more common for this figure to sell in the $12-$15 range for a MOC figure. At that price, he is a great acquisition. Sokerk offers you the opportunity to add a unique foreign figure with unique card art to your collection without setting you back an entire collecting year's budget. However, I would take advantage of Sokerk's availability now. The supply of these guys that has made its way to the U.S. could dry up. Collectors are slowly absorbing Sokerk and his other brethren. I would imagine that in a few years, figures like Sokerk will be a tougher find once again. At his current price levels, though, even if this guy became more common, he is still attractive. It's getting very hard to find any American Joes MOC for under $10. As more and more collectors move away from loose collections and into the carded realm, I would think this will remain the case. Having a figure like Sokerk gives your collection some individuality and provides some relief from the monotony of American Joes. At any rate, I enjoy this figure and see myself keeping him for a long time. I think you will find he fits into your collection very nicely as well.
Sokerk's cool, but I don't want any more. Frankly, I don't really know if I want any more Argentine figures. Well, unless you've got a Shimik, Topson, or Cobra Mortal you want to get rid of for cheap! ;-> At any rate, what is your opinion of the South American Joes? Let me know.