Thursday, November 15, 2001

1994 Battle Corps Flint

Back in the summer of 1995, I was on a quest to find every single remaining G.I. Joe figure that was still available at normal retail outlets. The pickings were very, very slim. By that point, the figures that were left tended to be lesser characters who were packaged with neon weapons. I started a simple policy, I bought any figure that had black weapons. This lead to my purchase of some fairly dismal figures, but also allowed me to acquire a few figures that turned into important elements of my growing collection. One day, I found the final figure that was left in a local Target store. It wasn't even on the pegs and was just sitting on the shelf. Labeled slots for G.I. Joe figures were gone, by then. If you could find a lone figure like this one, you bought it. The fact that it was a figure that I didn't have already was also an enticement. On top of that, the figure came with black weapons. The final piece that gave an inkling of how much fun I would find this figure to be was the fact that it was a remake of one of my favorite childhood characters: Flint.

Perhaps my favorite element to this Flint is his accessories. Unlike the original version's shotgun, this Flint's weapons were not original. They were, though, still spectacular. He included the standard Hit and Run rifle, but also a smaller, slimmed down version of Big Ben's machine gun. Unlike Big Ben's weapon that played more like a large, heavy rifle, this version of the gun is more in line with an infantryman's gear and is my weapon of choice with this figure. The other gun he came with is a slightly retooled version of Sidetrack's gun. Again, the slimmer appearance made this gun my favorite weapon to be used with the only 1994 Cobra trooper I could find, the Viper. This assortment of guns was enough to make me seek out additional specimens of this figure in order to increase my weapon reserves in those pre-Ebay days.

The moment I first opened this figure, he became my favorite. At that time, I had a stash of about 30 figures that were available to me. Most of them were lame, off conditioned figures that I hadn't bothered to attempt to save from my childhood. I also had a couple of newer figures that I had bought at retail like General Flagg, 1994 Shipwreck, 1992 Wild Bill, 1994 Viper, and the Crimson Guard Commander. From this eclectic mix of different figure generations I was able to create storylines that continue even to this day. It has also lead to the enduring popularity of these figures in my collection. You will notice throughout the many profiles on this site how often I refer to the days of 1993 through 1997. Those were the times when my collection was small and I didn't have the means to expand it. As such, the figures I did have got lots of use and have remained sentimental favorites far beyond even the figures of my youth. That's why I have such an emphasis on the post '87 figures here. Everyone seems to like and remember those older figures. For me, it's the newer and more obscure guys that make Joe fun. It takes a lot more imagination to come up with a role for many of these later figures than it did for those early ones. To me, Joe has always been about that.

This version of Flint became the 1992 Wild Bill's sidekick. Wild Bill was the strategist and money man for a criminal empire. When he left to ally himself with the character portrayed by General Flagg, he needed an excellent fighter to help keep him safe. He took this character because he was the best, but also because this version of Flint has a deep, dark secret that the Wild Bill character knows. The two are friends, but the fear of each of their power makes for a wonderfully symbiotic relationship. (You can read of more of their exploits in my Stretcher profile.) As time wore on, though, Wild Bill had less and less need of this character's services. He then became a loner who often appeared at just the right time. In the final picture below you see the figure in a desert poncho that is from one of the Star Wars Episode I accessory packs. (Also see Stormshadow for more examples of these great accessories.) When the character wore this, it symbolized his movement away from his friend and allowed him to become more of a Joe-allied mercenary.

In the past few years, though, my collecting focus has really shifted. I moved beyond individual characters and started building armies, both Cobra and Joe. Once my figure count rose to over 4 digits, I no longer had any desire to utilize the small bands of fighters that had been the hallmark of my early Joe days. As such, this figure moved closer and closer to the bottom of my 1994 Joe drawer. Recently, though, my time has been more limited. If I want to utilize some of my army builders, I take half my available time just getting them out and properly accessorizing them. Rather than do this, I've seen my focus once again shift back to smaller, more specialized storylines. Figures like this Flint are starting to once again play an important role in my collection. I've said many times over the past few years that I appreciated my collection much more back when it was significantly smaller. As I downsize the collection I once had, I'm starting to rediscover that appreciation once again. With it comes the resurgence of figures like this one.

Like all of the 1994 releases, Flint isn't difficult to find. You do, though, have to expand your mediums to acquire one. Most '94's are readily available if you want a carded specimen. If you want them loose, mint, and complete, you will be in for a much longer, and harder, search. However, just because they are carded does not mean they are expensive. Most '94's, with the exception of the Alley Viper can still be purchased for under $10. At that price, you can't go wrong. Also like most other 1994's, there are two versions of this figure: one with painted highlights and one without. As variations go, it is mundane. However, it helps explain why some people like this figure and others don't. With the highlights painted, the figure has more detail and is more in line with earlier releases. Without the highlights, the figure starts to appear bland and blend in with other figures who lack pizazz. The good part is, neither is tougher to find or more expensive than the other. At any rate, the 1994 Flint is a figure that most people pass by. He is not, though, one that should be. He is just another example of a great figure that was released in 1994 after most people had given up on the less than stellar 1993's. That allows the modern collector the unique opportunity to acquire a great mold of a popular character without breaking the bank. It is not an opportunity that I see lasting forever, though. The '94's were produced in smaller quantities than any other year. Not taking advantage of Flint's availability now many one day come back to haunt you.

This figure is great, but I don't need any more of him. However, I do need the repainted version of this mold that is currently available as Rock and Roll from the new headquarters. If you have one of those with which you wish to part,email me.

1994 Flint, 1990 Desert Scorpion

1994 Flint, Viper, 1997 Rage, 1993 Flak Viper

1994 Flint, Viper, 1997 Rage, 1993 Flak Viper

1994 Flint, Viper, 1997 Rage, 1993 Flak Viper

Saturday, November 10, 2001

1983 Gung Ho

Over the years, I've talked of my beginnings in Joe. I started my collection with the RAM motorcycle and Breaker. I slowly added a couple more figures and vehicles but, in 1983, my interest waned. Return of the Jedi brought me back to the Star Wars fold and I was only interested in those figures. However, during the summer of 1983 it finally happened. Star Wars lost my interest. With the movie tying up the loose ends, I had few adventures left with my figures. They just didn't hold my interest. This, alone, would not have been enough to end my Star Wars days. There was another catalyst that finally swayed me to collect G.I. Joe. In 1983, Hasbro added one simple little articulation twist: swivel arm battle grip. Once this feature was added to Joes, no other figure line could measure up. I remember seeing the first commercial for the new 1983 figures. It showed Airborne, Doc, Snow Job, and this guy: Gung Ho, in an Arctic setting and showing off their new play value. This was enough. When I first held an Airborne figure, my Star Wars days were over. From that day on, I was a G.I. Joe fan.

That brings me to why I chose to profile Gung Ho as my 2 year anniversary figure. It is both hard to believe that it's been that long and amazing that I've had the site going for only that amount of time. Usually, on my anniversaries, I profile a special figure. This one is no exception. There are very few figures in my collection that I have a sentimental attachment to. The original Gung Ho is one of them. You see, I got my first Gung Ho figure for Christmas in 1983. Like most of the figures I acquired back then, he had a hard life. His weapons were lost and his crotch and thumbs broken. This dropped him from my collection and would have relegated him into obscurity. However, in late 1984, I found a new Gung Ho at retail. I had some money and decided to buy him. Rather than allow him to fall into the general release of figures that populated our toy room, I kept special care of that Gung Ho. I liked him a lot and didn't want this version destroyed.

As such, Gung Ho was my figure. I was the only one who could use him. Still, I was young then and the figure did have some hard times. As can be evidenced by the photos below, he is now heavily worn and no where near a mint specimen. For one of the few times in my collecting life, though, I wouldn't have it any other way. With the thousands of figures that have passed through my hands in the past 4 years, you would think another Gung Ho would have been among them. (I have at least 5 of every other figure from 1983. Well, okay, I only have 1 Viper Pilot, but that's understandable.) He is one figure, though, of whom I have never acquired a duplicate. The only one in my collection is the one you see below. I don't know if that is a sign, or just a coincidence, but it makes this particular Gung-Ho an important part of my collection.

What I, and many other fans, loved about Gung-Ho was his characterization. He was big, strong, mean, and very cool. The bayou accent and persona that was evidenced by his filecard and early comic appearance made him stand out. Over the years, few characters were able to rise to Gung-Ho's level. Whether that was a product of poor characterizations or simply bad timing is another issue. What everyone knew was that Gung-Ho was awesome. I remember having schoolyard debates among my friends over which Joe was the strongest. While Roadblock usually won out, Gung-Ho got more than his fair share of lip time among the participants. From his first appearance in G.I. Joe #11 where he wore no shirt in sub-freezing weather, you knew this was going to be a character for the ages. Gung-Ho's undying popularity seems to indicate that it worked. (The figure has had 7 versions in an 18 year span. Few other characters who weren't ninjas got that kind of reinvention.)

Most of you know that I've spent the past several years in Arizona. As such, I have not had a true fall or winter. This year, I've come back to the Midwest for the change in seasons. After cutting my lawn one fall day, I remembered another day, years ago. It was a fall day like this one and I had just finished cutting my parent's lawn. Afterwards, I took my Gung Ho and Vamp outside to play in the freshly cut grass. I remember having so much fun that I relived the same adventure for several more days. Remembering those simpler times reminded me of my old Gung Ho. As my figure is so beat up, I rarely, if ever, use him. I hadn't looked at him in a long time. I then decided that Gung Ho would be my next profile. I then took him, my VAMP, and a couple of Cobra Troopers out in into my freshly cut lawn and wished I could recapture that feeling of so many years ago.

Gung-Ho's aren't tough to find. They aren't even all that expensive. They are, though, very prone to breakage and discoloration. All that means, though, is that people who took good care of their toys will have mint Gung-Ho's. People, like me, who used him to death, will not. Surprisingly, most of the '83 figures are easy to get and relatively cheap. That is a very nice feature for all the people out there who had these guys as kids but spent their days destroying the toy through vigorous play. I certainly have many memories of all my early figures. Many other collectors out there do as well. Despite the means to purchase an updated model, I wouldn't trade the symbol of those memories for the rarest figure in line. If that means that the figure you see here is the only Gung-Ho I will ever own, well, I think that would make me very happy.

I like Gung Ho, but this one has some sentimental value. However, if you have a 1993 Gung Ho with the red vest or a 1997 Gung Ho that you want to trade, email me.

1983 Gung Ho, VAMP, Cobra Trooper

1983 Gung Ho, VAMP, Cobra Trooper

1983 Gung Ho, VAMP, Cobra Trooper

1983 Gung Ho, VAMP, 2004 Clutch, Scarlett