Friday, April 30, 2004

2003 Agent Faces (Crimson Guard Disguise)

In late 2003, Hasbro finally offered collectors a mail away premium figure. This long awaited development was greeted enthusiastically by collectors who have wanted a mail away figure since Joe really returned to retail in 2000. The choice of the figure and character was almost perfectly selected as it offered something that was different from anything ever released in the line and utilized one of the most popular sub-groups in all of Joedom. The fact that the figure tied into the Spy Troops movie was just an added marketing bonus for Hasbro.

If you wanted an Agent Faces, you had only to send away 12 Battle Points (Or Flag Points if you still had them!) and $2.99. If you wanted 2 figures, the Battle Points total doubled though the cost stayed the same. (It seemed Hasbro was really pushing you to order 2 figures.) 6 to 8 weeks later, bagged Agent Faces figures would show up in the mail. While Hasbro told customers that only 2 figures could be sent to each address, most collectors quickly found ways around this and were able to find new figures in their mailboxes on a consistent basis.

Many collectors are desperate to use this version of Faces as a Cobra army building figure. You will notice in my photos below, though, that Faces never appears with his helmet on. The reason for this is that the helmet, while a neat idea, really looks bad on the figure. It barely fits and is incredibly bulky. To me, it completely renders the figure useless as an army builder. What then is a collector to do with this figure? Faces is a neat character. However, I don't mingle old sculpt and new sculpt figures. As such, my ARAH-style Joes are well represented in the undercover world by Chuckles. The Wave 8 Faces figure is that character among my new sculpt Joes. That leaves this figure as kind of the odd man out. However, as soon as I saw this version of Faces, I knew how I could incorporate him into my Joe world.

As you may know, my Cobra hierarchy is primarily comprised of new characters that I have created. Back in the summer of 1994, I came up with 5 primary new Cobras. One is now dead, three others are major players in my Joe world. The fifth and final character, the one I described as a "spineless worm who sucked up to both the Commander and the Sea Slug character.". This character is a non-combatant who spends his time maneuvering politically to maximize his power within the Cobra hierarchy. He has no pull with the troops as he doesn't fight. He is, though, a great conniver who is capable of gaining the trust of the Cobra command. In this capacity, he is very dangerous. He is not interested in the furtherment of the Cobra cause. He is only interested in personal advancement. While this may seem to most collectors to be the type of person who would fit perfectly into Cobra, in my Joe world, he is not. My new Cobras are of a higher order than those past. They realized that no good could come from personal grabs for power. As such, they work together in a manner that is more inclined for success. As such, my new Cobra leaders have been incredibly successful. Throwbacks, like this character that this figure will represent, though, continually through wrenches into the cogs of the Cobra military machine. As my Joe world is now focusing more and more on the background maneuvering rather than actual fighting, a figure like this will probably end up getting a lot more use that I might have originally thought.

This figure is not a straight repaint of the original Crimson Guard figure. That mold was last seen in Brazil and has not been available. This figure is a remold based on the original design. For the most part, the chest and legs are identical. However, if you look at the front of the figure's collar and compare that to an original CG, you will that the Faces' body is a bit more squared off and is, definitely, a different tool than the CG. (If you look inside the torso mold, you will other tell-tale differences as well.) The figure uses a repainted head from the now oft-used 1992 Duke figure. Faces' upper arms are also from that figure. The lower arms are from the 1992 Shockwave figure. The result is a figure that looks a lot like the original CG, but is different enough to be something new. Since this figure, Hasbro has also remolded a few other classics. In some cases, I think this is good. Collectors do need a cheap alternative to some of the now expensive classic army building figures. However, I don't want Hasbro to spend too much time recreating classics when there are still so many high quality molds that were poorly painted the first time around and who, with a new paint job, could become excellent figures.

Agent Faces are out there in numbers. There are many collectors who have, literally, dozens of this figure. Many have spares for army building in the unlikely event Hasbro does not release a real Crimson Guard army builder pack. Others simply have extras as future trading fodder. The fact that this figure now sells in the $20-$30 range shows that there should be demand for him there: at least until a real CG is released. What's odd, though, is that Faces reached this price point on the second hand market while it was still possible to order 2 of these figures from Hasbro for under $3. This shows the insane reasoning behind some of these "collectibles" and makes me think that a lot of the higher prices you are seeing are artificial and are based on the naiveté of neophyte collectors. That could bode ill for the long term value potential for a lot of figures. With that said, I don't think I'd spend a lot for a Faces. Frankly, if you look at the offer, it states until March 30th, 2003 or while supplies last. As such, if Hasbro had a few hundred of these left over after the deadline, I would bet that they would honor orders postmarked after the magic date just so they can get rid of the figures. Hasbro has no use for surplus figures so I would imagine they will continue to send them out until their supply runs dry. On top of that, much of the demand for Faces stems from the fact that he's a new Crimson Guard body. Right now, a large number of pre-production Snake Eyes, Gung-Ho and Duke figures all in Crimson Guard disguise have appeared on Ebay. This would seem to indicate that the cancelled 3-pack featuring these figures is going to see some sort of production which will put more CG bodies into circulation. Plus, every collector knows that, at some point in the not too distant future, Hasbro is going to use this body to release a real Crimson Guard figure. Hasbro didn't remold the body to use it just a few times. Once there are more options for new CG's out there, the demand for Faces will soften and you will see the prices on them drop to levels that are more indicative of the figure's availability. In the meantime, enjoy the ride!

2003 Agent Faces Crimson Guard Disguise, Mail Away, 2004 Cobra Trooper, Cobra Flying Scorpion, Estrela, Brazil, Escorpiao Voador

2003 Agent Faces Crimson Guard Disguise, Mail Away, 2004 Cobra Officer, 2003 Alley Viper, Funskool Flint

2003 Agent Faces Crimson Guard Disguise, Mail Away, 2004 Cobra Officer, 2003 Alley Viper, Funskool Flint, BAT, Cobra Flying Scorpion, Estrela, Brazil, Escorpiao Voador

2003 Agent Faces Crimson Guard Disguise, Mail Away, 2005 Crimson Guard, Tomax and Xamot, Crimson Hiss, Sears Exclusive SMS, Crimson Guard Immortal

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