Monday, February 25, 2013

1991 Cesspool - Eco Warriors

Eco Warriors are not the most popular Joe subset.  Really, far from it.  But, over the past 15 years, Eco Warriors have turned from a joke into something that most collectors can at least appreciate on some level.  The grim realities of the modern world have made chemical and biological warfare front page news rather than politically correct environmentalism.  As such, Eco Warriors have found a niche in the Joe world.  The bright colors of many of the Joes and Cobras from the set, though, still make them difficult to use.  However, the Cobra leader of the Eco Warriors has found a home in many collections.  The high quality and acceptable colors of Cesspool have given him a status in the Joe world not achieved by other members of his subset.  As such, he is worth a detailed look.

While I basically quit buying Joe toys in early 1988, I still purchased the comic book on a regular basis.  I kept up with the comic through almost the entire run: missing about 6 months in 1989.  One of the comics from the '90's that most stands out to me was the Cesspool/Eco Warriors story arc.  While it was somewhat over the top, my lasting memory is the bony fingers of a Toxo-Viper  protruding from the ooze after his skin was dissolved away after falling into a vat of toxic sludge.  The notion of working with chemicals capable of eating a man alive was a macabre vision of how terrible Cobra could be.

The center of that story was Cesspool.  A pre-Enron evil corporate titan who mutated himself into a maniacal super villain after being exposed to toxic waste.  Re-reading the story, Cesspool largely seemed to be a throw away character designed to sell toys.  But, the roots of a useful Cobra character are here.  Taking away some of the "toxic sludge made me crazy" angle, you are left with just the type of individual that Cobra would welcome into their ranks.  Cesspool was a highly successful businessman, even if he had no scruples.  Really, that's no different than Cobra Commander's origins.  Cesspool had the ability to create weapons and was also adept at making profit.  Both of these fit with Cobra's stated goals throughout the Marvel comic run and the vintage filecards.  As such, you have a character who really fits with Cobra and is very easy to integrate, even if you don't have an interest in the Eco Warriors angle.

Oddly, Cesspool's filename is that of a real Hasbro executive that oversaw the G.I. Joe division at the time.  Today, a corporate executive affixing their name to a character who was an evil businessperson would invite a real life SEC investigation.  In 1991, that threat was less so.  But, it is odd to see a real person's name attached to a Cobra character.  Many Joes had real life filenames and even likenesses.  But, it was rare for a Cobra and is another interesting footnote to the Cesspool character.

Originally, I used Cesspool as a Cobra pilot.  The helmet is just perfect for an evil aviator.  Plus, inside a Cobra aircraft, Cesspool's colors weren't as garish.  However, shortly after I acquired my first Cesspool, I abandoned this plan.  I found that I liked the figure enough for him to have other responsibilities.  So, I found other Cobra pilots and used Cesspool more for his intended specialty.  The well done sculpt combined with the characterization kept the figure around and allowed him to remain a player in my collection.

The Cesspool mold is one of the better sculpting jobs you will see in the vintage Joe line.  One arm is molded chain mail and he has adornments that frame the sculpted Cobra logo on his chest.  The legs are well done and combine well with the torso.  The entire mold is finely detailed.  The real attraction, though, is the head.  Cesspool features a molded on scar to showcase the damage done by his plasmatox.  This facial scarring was made all the more poignant by the sliver of red paint inserted into it.  You can really see how deep this scar must run and it is a perfect way to bring to light the damage described on the figure's filecard.  After Cesspool, Hasbro stepped up their facial sculpting, especially with damaged figures.  You can see it on the Toxo Zombie and the unproduced 1995 Dr. Mindbender figures.

Cesspool's accessories are well done, to a point.  He includes the terrible water launchers that were standard with all Eco Warriors.  However, the pack and weapon aren't as bad as I remembered.  The gun is actually somewhat in scale for the figure.  The pack, while quaint by today's standards, was a sharp piece of toy engineering in 1991.  Having water shooting weapons paired with figures who changed color when hit with said water is actually a feature that can have some uses.  Cesspool's real value lies in his helmet.  It fits perfectly on his head.  The helmet is complete with a removable re breather (which is often lost) that gives it a much more refined look than many single piece helmets.  Cesspool also includes a golden chainsaw.  It is oversized and nowhere near as detailed as that from Buzzer.  But, it is definitely unique to Cesspool and helps characterize him.

The Cesspool mold was just used this one time in the U.S.  The mold, though, became quite popular in Brazil.  Estrela used the mold on three different figures in their line: two of whom are among the most famous foreign Cobra ever released.  Estrela released five unique Forca Eco figures.  Four of them were Brazilian exclusive Frankensteins of various figures.  The fifth was a straight repaint of Cesspool named Poluicao.  The truly exciting use of the mold, though, came in the Patrulha do Ar (Sky Patrol) subset. Here, the Cesspool body was colored in black, given a Caucasian Dee Jay head and renamed Abutre Negro (Black Vulture).  Not to be outdone, though, Cesspool's head was made African American and slapped on a combo of Recoil and Scoop and named the Escorpiao Voador (Cobra Flying Scorpion).  These two figures take the Cesspool mold and show how proper repainting and slight part modification can make a figure mold completely unrecognizable and amazingly new.  After the Brazilian releases, the mold disappeared.  None of the Sky Patrol or Eco Warriors molds from Brazil ever appeared again in the U.S.  It is too bad as a modern repaint of Cesspool could have been amazing.  But, collectors are left with enough to track down that they can't feel the mold was wasted by Hasbro.

At one time, my entire Cobra world centered around their development of biological and chemical weapons.  Figures like Cesspool, Letal and Corrosao were staples of my Cobra army.  Legions of Toxo Vipers followed them on their quest to build bigger and more fearsome weapons.  Now, though, those days are gone.  While I still appreciate figures like Cesspool for his quality, he is no longer the focus of my Cobra collection.  Now, my focus remains on more of the classic, pre 1986 Cobras rather than the more technological villains who came in the line's later years.  As such, Cesspool's star has faded.  He is now securely packed away with other figure's from his year.  Some day, I could see him appearing on display.  But only if the space available to me has already allowed for all of the 1985 and earlier items to be prominently showcased.  But, Cesspool still has that nostalgic tinge to him.

Cesspool figures have gotten somewhat popular in recent years.  The lower production run, high quality of the figure, greater world importance on chemical warfare and his uses on the Brazilian figures have given him some cachet in the collecting world.  Today, mint and complete with filecard Cesspools can run over $15.  That's fairly pricey for a figure that was once considered terrible.  But, he is worth the price.  This is a great figure with a distinct look.  His coloring is acceptable within the Cobra ranks and he fills a specialty that any modern terrorist organization would consider among the most important weapons in their arsenal.  Not bad for something conjured up 22 years ago.

1991 Cesspool, Eco Warriors

1991 Cesspool, Eco Warriors

Friday, February 15, 2013

2002 Shipwreck - Internet Exclusive

Repaints of a figure mold should come in one of two varieties.  They should either be: a substantial improvement over the original release or something so different from the original that they could never be confused.  In the vintage line, Hasbro followed this fairly well until 1993 or so.  But, when Hasbro brought Joe back in 1997 as a straight repaint line, repaints that met the criteria above were few and far between.  Most of the modern repaints were either homages to the mold's original use or were redone in color schemes that were far inferior to the original.  There were some gems in terms of new interpretations of molds.  (The 2002 Mirage stands out as one.)  But, many were simply bad.  In a few cases, though, the repainted figure was so similar to the original that there really was no need for distinction.  Such is the case with the very limited 2002 Shipwreck figure.

The 1994 Shipwreck figure is one of the true gems of the vintage line.  He is a perfect blend of mold, colors, accessories and character.  Granted, Shipwreck as a SEAL is a bit far-fetched and the figure is very environmentally specific.  But, neither should take away from Hasbro accomplished in the line's last vintage year.  In 1998, the mold was repainted for the TRU exclusive sets.  This figure offered a black base color, but was highlighted in the odd choice of turquoise.  The figure is vastly different from the 1994 version, but it is certainly not better.  Keeping with the 4 year anniversary theme, Hasbro released the figure again in 2002.  But, astonishingly, they released it a grey and black color that is extremely close in design to the 1994 figure but, again, certainly not better than it.

In late 2000, Joe returned to retail as a full born, non exclusive product.  The reaction was extremely positive and the Joe Renaissance began.  But, Hasbro was quick to bungle a good thing.  Wave II of the A Real American Hero Collection was overproduced and overshipped.  It saturated the marketplace in January and February of 2001 as pegwarmers of Major Bludd and the Rock Viper and Big Ben and Whiteout backed up on the pegs of any store that stocked them.  The result was that Wave III was produced in smaller numbers and quickly disappeared from retail after only a few months of shipping.  By this time, the line was in trouble as the Wave III's had not helped sell down the Wave II figures.  Wave IV was ordered in small quantities by the major retailers and most of it ended up parsed out to discount stores and toy liquidators.  Retailers lost such faith in the line that the final wave was cancelled so that Hasbro could retool the line for a "modern" relaunch.

Fortunately, Hasbro had some innovative minds at the time who were somewhat engaged with the online community.  So, rather than scrap Wave V altogether, Hasbro bundled it as an Internet only product that was available to online toy dealers.  This seems quaint today.  But, a major toy company producing a short run of figures to sell to a fledgling online dealer network was rather novel in 2002.  The results were interesting.  On the night of February 15, 2002 as the figures first went on sale, the sites selling the figures were bogged down with orders.  Hundreds of collectors sat at their computers and hoped their orders were successfully processed and they would get their figure in due time.  Sets were limited in number so that army builders would not snatch up all the Shock Vipers.  Most collectors were able to get 1 to 3 sets with little difficulty.  A few online dealers sold only cases and saw their unsold stock sell out when the dealers who sold individual packs sold through their allotment in one weekend.  Quickly, the price of all the packs in the set exploded on the secondary market.  Even the Joes were selling for three to four times the original retail price. was able to get a second order of the figures into Hasbro before the cut off date, though.  As such, many collectors who missed out or who wanted more of the figures were offered another chance when their second order arrived.  This helped sate the demand and drove prices down...especially on the Joe packs as those did not sell out for many weeks after the second order was offered.

For a time, though, all the figures in Wave V held a mystique about them.  There were likely only between 3,000 and 5,000 of each figure incredibly small number that put these figures on par with the 2002 Convention Crimson Vipers in terms of rarity.  But, like all hot toys, the marked eventually moved on to the next big thing.  Within just 2 years or so, these figures were largely forgotten and the Joe sets would sell for below retail at online auction.  Today, the Tomax and Xamot and Serpentor/Shock Viper sets will sell for a premium.  If the right collectors are after them and the right dealer is selling them, individual Joe figures can go as high as $20 or so.  But, for the most part, the Joes, including Shipwreck aren't much more than "commons" that generate little collector interest.

The one thing Hasbro did right with the Wave V Internet wave was they included all the original accessories from the molds used to create the figures.  As such, this Shipwreck includes multiple rifles, his airmask, flippers and a knife.  He is fully accessorized to take on any Eels without hesitation.  Having the correct accessories makes all the difference with a figure like this.  While Hasbro placed less emphasis on matching figures with accessories as the vintage line wore on, they still maintained it to an extent.  Shipwreck's rifles are carry-forwards from other figures.  But, they make sense for a SEAL.  The flippers and airmask, though, make the figure.  Having them completes this figure and keeps him closer to the vintage legacy.  After this wave, Hasbro really lost interest in properly pairing ARAH style figure repaints with decent accessories.  And, their releases and sales suffered for it.

In my collection, the 1994 Shipwreck figure is still one of my favorites.  I wanted to like this version as much, but just don't.  In 2002, my plan was to army this figure.  However, after I had 2 in my hands, I lost interest.  While the lighter grey with paint wipes is OK, it's not as good as the 1994.  So, my army building was only focused on the 1994 figure.  Really, the only thing this figure is good for are memories of the early days of online Joe collecting.  When this figure was released, I was home on a Friday night, refreshing my browser on a dial up Internet connection.  Collectors were using email as their means of communication with each other: confirming their orders were processed, expressing frustration at how Hasbro handled the wave, etc.  It was a much different time for collectors and Joe in general.  Much has changed in the 11 years since that night.  But, it was the time in the collecting world that I enjoyed the most.  So, this version of Shipwreck is good for that reminiscing.  But, as a toy, I'd still rather have the '94.

Despite the low production run, this Shipwreck is still rather cheap...when you can find them.  They don't appear for sale with the frequency of the 1994's, but are still around the same price.  For the hassle it would take to find this figure versus getting a pristine or even carded version of the 1994, I'd go with the 1994.  This Shipwreck offers nothing that the original use of the mold does not.  And, the original is in a better color scheme.  Really, this figure personifies the repaint era.  It was a time of great promise that simply went unfulfilled.  Hasbro could have done something different with this great mold.  But, they didn't.  As such, it is very much a figure the modern collector can pass by without losing anything from their collection.

2002 Shipwreck, Internet Exclusive, ARAHC, Wave V

Thursday, February 14, 2013

1994 Night Creeper Leader

In the mid 1990's, there were still some G.I. Joe figures hanging around at various retail outlets.  Most of them were the less desirable figures from the 1992 though 1994 assortments.  But, you could find gems from time to time.  During that era, I purchased pretty much every figure I found at retail.  Every now and then, though, there was a figure that was just too terrible for even me to buy.  These were mostly things like the Shadow Ninjas or Star Brigade Armor Tech or higher price point figures like the Mega Marines.  There was one standard carded figure, though, that I could not bring myself to every buy: the 1993 Night Creeper Leader.  This figure was just about everywhere.  But, the bare chested, tiger striped orange monstrosity simply never sat right with me.  I could not come up with any possible use for the figure.  So, I left him behind.  Years later, I found that the figure was repainted in 1994.  This purple and yellow incarnation wasn't much better than the Tigger the Tiger inspired 1993.  But, for some reason, I wanted him.

I spent several months searching for this figure, but could not find one anywhere.  No dealers had one, there were none posted on the online auction sites.  Basically, you couldn't find this figure.  I searched for months to no avail.  While it's hard to imagine now in the late 1990's, 1994 figures were difficult to track down in general and the repaints of 1993 characters were especially difficult to acquire.  That didn't mean the figure was expensive: far from it in most cases.  But, it was frustrating to track down.  I ended having to purchase a carded version of the figure from a seller in Asia.  He was selling Funskool figures (which, at that time, were only available from Asian sellers directly) as well as some obscure 1993 and 1994 figures.  Since I had spent a year unable to find one of these figures in the U.S., I bit the bullet and just ordered the figure from Asia.

Once I had the figure, though, he stayed carded for a few years.  I simply never got around to opening him as the figure was obtained for completion's sake rather than true desire to own.  In the early 2000's, I got around to opening the figure up and found his about as I had anticipated: mostly useless.  The sculpt and specialty didn't fit with my collecting goals at the time and the colors just didn't mesh even with the Night Creepers who still had a bit of home in my Joe world.  As time passed and my collection focus changed, it never came around to the Night Creeper Leader.  I don't really use ninjas at all in my collection and I mostly find the figures of them (especially those from the '90's) to be poor in relation to the contemporaries released at the time.  So, the Night Creeper Leader stays tucked in a bag, in a box, in a closet.  Some day, he may join a full display of 1994 Joes.  Until then, this is likely the last time he will escape from his baggie for a breath of fresh air.

At it's core, the figure is just purple and yellow with a splash of easily rubbed away gold paint on the top of the figure's head.  The mold details are fairly well sculpted.  But, the figure being bare chested really limits it's potential.  Had they sculpted or painted a shirt, the figure might be more useful.  Still, the straps on the figure's chest hold grenades (which don't seem like the most ninja weapon to me...), a knife and a throwing star.  They are actually painted a different color than the straps.  Granted, that color is purple, but it's more than other 1994 figures were treated to.  The figure features another knife and more grenades on his wrists.  (Really, he has more grenades than anything else.)  The pants feature no additional trappings.  But, the figure's face is sculpted into a hardened scowl.  The facial sculpting of the Joe line really progressed in the final years.  And, were it not for the mask with no eye slits, the Night Creeper Leader's head might be more preferred among customizers today due to the level of detail.

As a character, the Night Creeper Leader is basically no one.  He appeared in one issue of the comic as a foil to Snake Eyes who was defeated soundly.  Really, he is still a blank slate.  I suppose he could be used as Aleph, the leader of the Night Creepers in the comic.  But, Aleph had a cool design.  This guy does not.  The biggest characterization he was given is that the character covers his eyes.  You will notice his eye mask has not holes through which he can see.  These would be unnecessary for a blind man.  I suppose this was Hasbro's way of incorporating some of Larry Hama's ninja mystique into the line.  I get what they were going at.  But, it all just seems a little much.  Leaving him as the leader of a cool sub faction of Cobra would have been good enough.  The "I'm so such an awesome ninja that I don't need to see!" seems a bit forced.  But, if not for that, this guy would be just another member of the ninja overkill that saturated the final 3 years of the vintage line.

For accessories, the Night Creeper Leader is actually decked out nicely...especially when you consider that he doesn't have an original weapon in the lot.  His golden tree included 2 well done ninja swords that form the backbone of his arsenal.  Also included is the wrist crossbow from Road Pig.  It's not the greatest accessory in the world.  But, at it least it fits within the ninja context.  He also includes a golden version of the classic Night Creeper crossbow.  This at least gives him some continuity within his ranks and allows him to be identified with the Night Creepers...even if his mold does not.  He is completed with a spiked arm shield and a wicked "lightning" knife.  All told, it's a well thought out complement to the figure that fits his specialty.  The golden color even works for the swords.  (Though the pads and crossbow are a bit of a stretch.)

The Night Creeper Leader mold was rarely used.  While the pants and waist are from the 1990 Night Creeper that was used 3 times in the U.S., the rest of the figure is new.  But, being a late release, the new parts never appeared again in the U.S. or any other part of the world.  It is likely that Hasbro had access to the mold during the repaint era.  But, collector disinterest in the mold likely never made it a viable candidate for re-release.  Still, the mold has potential and could have been used in the Convention Dreadnok Set.  Beyond that, though, there is really no reason to see this mold return.

Today, 1994 Night Creeper Leaders aren't difficult to track down.  The supply that was locked away 15 years ago has come out and is readily available.  Carded, this figure can be purchased for under $10 each.  For that price, there's no reason to not acquire a sample.  Even if the figure isn't great, he is worth that type of cheap price.  I'm glad I picked this guy up all those years ago.  He's not the abomination that defines his original, orange version.  But, he's not great, either.  Interspersed with a full display of the 1994 figures, though, the Night Creeper Leader does fit right in.  (And, that's not an insult!)  For what it costs to acquire him today, this limited use is still worth the outlay.

1994 Night Creeper Leader, Battle Corps, Shang Tsung, Ninja Commando Budo, Mortal Kombat Movie Line, 1995

1994 Night Creeper Leader, Battle Corps

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

1992 Bulletproof

In December of 1992, I wandered into a Toys R Us store for the first time in, probably, 3 years.  I went to the Joe aisle and was overwhelmed with tons of figures, all of whom were new to me.  I spent a good half hour reviewing the cardbacks and digesting the offerings available.  In the end, I decided upon 3 figures to add to my collection.  The following year, I repeated the ritual.  Again, I only acquired a couple of figures.  One of the 1993 pickups was the neon colored Bulletproof.  Mostly, I liked his gun and his helmet.

As a figure, Bulletproof reminded me of the Joes I had played with as a child.  He had nicely detailed accessories that were unique and complementary to his design.  His pack, helmet and gun were extensions of the mold rather than afterthoughts to it.  Really, 1992 was the last year in which this was largely true.  The '92 figures mostly feature newly sculpted, unique accessories.  By 1993, though, this was no longer the case as Hasbro moved more to generic weapon trees, repainted backpacks and spring loaded launchers.

Bulletproof saw immediate use in my collection as an urban assault specialist.  I used him as a army builder as well as a named character.  In the late '90's, he saw a good deal of combat against the Alley Vipers and Range Vipers who formed the backbone of my Cobra urban death squads.  But, as I acquired more and more figures, Bulletproof slowly vanished from my usage rotation.  His novelty wore off since he had been a part of my adult collection from the very beginning.  It was a somewhat sad fate for a figure of this quality.  To this day, I don't really think of the figure all that often and he rarely sees use outside of a DEF display.  Bulletproof just doesn't hold my attention like he once did.  At some point, he may come back into vogue in my collection.  But, until that happens, he remains a spectre hanging around the fringes.

As a subset, the figures in the DEF are quite good.  They all feature new, highly detailed molds, excellent accessories and sane colors.  Based on that, how could the set go wrong?  The answer was simple, Hasbro raised the price point on the figures due to the spring loaded weapons.  Sure, they hid this under a larger card.  But, when faced with a choice of what to buy, parents simply weren't convinced that the extra dollar was worth.  So, the line only lived one year and the planned 1993 repaints and new figures were just rolled into the basic figure line.

But, if you look deeper, you see that this figure does show the beginnings of troubling trends for the line.  Bulletproof only used 2 colors on the main body and only has one paint application.  While the green and beige are an excellent combination, the figure lacks the details that brought forth the quality of the Joe molds.  If the figure featured a few extra colored paint details, it would be on par with vintage figures.  But, this lack of paint applications does knock the figure down a bit.  Bulletproof's head mold is also a bit...dated.  The box haircut may have been acceptable in 1992.  But, 20 years later it is as out of place as the Dreadnoks.  It is definitely an interesting piece from a historical perspective.  At least the helmet covers it up.

The code name of Bulletproof was originally used in the C.O.P.S. line.  The C.O.P.S. character was also black.  But, I think that the connection between that character and this one is limited at best.  More likely, Hasbro re-used the name so they either would not lose the copyright on it or because it had already cleared legal and it was cheaper to resurrect than it was to come up with a new name.  As many collectors also have an interest in the C.O.P.S. line, the shared name is sometimes thought to be more than a coincidence.  But, I doubt it was really anything more than a cost saving move on the part of Hasbro.

The Bulletproof mold was used in the US in 1992 and 1993.  From there, the figure appeared in Brazil as Tiro Certo.  Tiro Certo uses colors close to the 1993 Bulletproof with one glaring distinction: the Brazilian figure is Caucasian.  While the figure mold appears to have either died in Brazil or simply wasn't resurrected by Hasbro, the helmet did appear in the US in 1995 as part of the Mortal Combat movie line where it was released in black with the Night Fighter Guile figure.  But, since the helmet was not released in Brazil, it is impossible to know for sure if the mold ever made it's way back into Hasbro's hands.  Truthfully, this figure could be repainted in a variety of ways that would make for a quality release.  But, even customizers seem to avoid the mold and you rarely see new takes on the Bulletproof character.

Bulletproof is not terribly hard to find.  Even though he has a microphone, the figure remains easy to complete and inexpensive.  You can still buy carded versions of this figure for $8-$12.  That's remarkably cheap for the quality of the figure and the range of accessories he includes.  There was a time a few years ago when all the DEF figures were quite the rage.  But, that seems to have subsided quite a bit.  If you waited to fill these gaps in your collection, it probably saved you a bit of money.  But, I find this Bulletproof to be such a valuable addition to a collection that missing him for years for the sake of saving a couple bucks would not have been worth it.  This is a solid figure who is definitely worth the money and time it takes to acquire him.

1993 Firefly, General Flagg, 1992 Bulletproof, DEF, Mudbuster

1993 Firefly, General Flagg, 1992 Bulletproof, DEF, Mudbuster

Friday, February 1, 2013

1993 Battle Corps Gung Ho

There are few figures as iconic as Gung Ho.  From his first appearance in the media surrounding G.I. Joe #11 in 1983, he has been nearly ubiquitous in the Joe mythos.  His tattoo bearing chest and distinct color make him instantly recognizable among all Joe fans.  He crossed the comic and the cartoon and remains wildly popular with collectors and fans today.  But, for all the fan-fare, Gung Ho really only had the one figure in the early vintage days that drove his popularity.  Hasbro, though, made up for that by the time the vintage line ended in 1994.

In 1986, Hasbro released Leatherneck.  A marine, Leatherneck also shared a mustached face with Gung Ho.  Really, Leatherneck could have easily been seen as Gung Ho's replacement.  But, in 1987, Hasbro brought out a new Gung Ho figure, though in his marine dress blues uniform.  It wasn't a great figure, but was a great way to keep the character alive and prove that Leatherneck and Gung Ho were meant to be complements and not replacements.  Not until 1992, though, did Gung Ho receive a combat update.  This figure kept many of the elements of the original Gung Ho figure (that bare chest, the tattoo (though now on his arm in lieu of his chest), his muscular physique, the mustache and bald head) but also brought some new flair to the character.  Gone was the traditional grenade launcher and in its place was a massive M-60 machine gun and American flag.  In 1993, Hasbro repainted the previous year's figure with a red vest.  The result if this figure: the 1993 Gung Ho.

This version of Gung Ho was my white whale for some time in the early 2000's.  I desperately wanted him (and some other 1993 repaints) due to the obscure nature of the figure as well as the distinctive look.  While the red vest was not overly conducive to combat (especially when compared to the green 1992 figure) it was a color combination that really worked for the figure.  The 1992 Gung Ho sort of washes away due to the lighter colors.  But, the 1993 figure is bolder.  It befits the character of Gung Ho, especially when you consider his origins of turquoise green.  I bought tons of figure lots that included 1993 releases.  But, Gung Ho was never among them.  Finally, I managed to trade for the figure you see below.  He filled a gap and became the default Gung Ho in my collection.

In 1992, Gung Ho was one of the few figures I purchased at retail.  He looked like the character I remembered from my childhood and had some decent accessories.  If you look at the mold, it has sensible details like the bullet strap that befits his new machine gun.  The bare chest and massive arms showcase the strength that was the hallmark of Gung Ho's comic appearances.  He has a grenade on his arm that can be construed as an homage to his original grenade launcher, but it likely just a neat little detail.  Beyond that, though, the figure is fairly plain.  It is a simplicity juxtaposed to the necessary detail that makes this mold relevant as the Gung Ho character.  Having the 1992 version as one of the first figures post childhood has provided a nostalgic factor to this figure as it was one of my first forays into collecting Joes.  The 1993 version, though, has replaced that '92 figure.  When you want Gung Ho for a dio or photo, but don't want to use the original version, the red and dark green 1993 figure works better than any of his other releases.  You know it's Gung Ho, and his uniform is acceptable enough to work in combat situations.

This Gung Ho body mold was eventually overused.  In the vintage line, it appeared in 1992 and 1993.  (The 1992 version was also released in Asia in Asian packaging.  Nothing like seeing a figure packaged with an American flag but packaged in Asian writing.)  Hasbro brought the mold back in 2001.  After that, the body became a Hasbro favorite for the repaint line as it appeared on numerous retail and convention figures as either Gung Ho or parts of other characters.  This over saturation of the mold soured most collectors on it.  But, these vintage releases are high enough quality to remain use full...even after the mold was rendered moot.

While certainly not a rare figure, this 1993 repaint (along with a few others) are more difficult to find than they really should be.  It's easier to find this figure carded these days than it is loose.  But, neither will cost you more than $6 or $7 as the figure is just not that popular.  This is a good thing, though, as it allows the modern collector to pick up a high quality version of a major character for basically the cost of a sandwich at lunch.  For a 20 year old toy, that's not too bad.  This is a figure that I still enjoy having in my collection.  It's different yet recognizable.  You really can't ask for more from something that's still so affordable in the vintage line.

1993 Gung Ho, Battle Corps, Mail Away Parachute Pack

1993 Gung Ho, Battle Corps, 1991 Grunt, 2002 Big Ben

1993 Gung Ho, Battle Corps, General Flagg, Sgto. Slaughter, Argentina, Plastirama, Bootleg Crimson Cobra Trooper, Black Major