Friday, November 27, 2015

2001 G.I. Joe HQ - Around the Web

With Black Friday upon us, I take a look at what's out there for the 2001 G.I. Joe HQ.  The reason is that on Black Friday 2001, I went to TRU with plans to get one of these.  When I got there, the line was around the building with people waiting to get in.  I had NO desire to wait in that line so I skipped it.  I then ended up skipping the HQ, too and never got one.  I did get the figure.  But, in retrospect, I probably didn't miss much by skipping this item!

There's not much out there on this, but here's what I could find:

2001 HQ Flint/Rock and Roll Page Review of 2001 HQ

Icebreaker HQ Flint Review

Not the 2001, but a good view of the 1992 Version from

2001 Flint, HQ, Rock and Roll, 2002, ARAHC

2001 Flint, HQ, Rock and Roll, TRU Exclusive, Dino Hunters Ambush, 2000 Dial Tone, ARAHC, 1994 Metal Head, 1988 Swampmasher

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

2004 Unproduced Comic Pack Hawk - Custom Figure Skeres

The summer of 2004 began a weird time in Joe history.  As 2003 wound down, a large volume of figures in unproduced color schemes began to appear from Asia.  The first were items like the cancelled Wal Mart exclusives and a few alternate color schemes for convention figures.  As 2004 passed by, hundreds of these alternate figures began to appear.  Almost every Toys R Us exclusive set released in 2004 also had an unreleased counterpart in an alternate color scheme.  Some were drastic.  Others were minor.  But, collectors had a steady stream of unproduced figures available to them.  The prices would fluctuate wildly.  Some figures would sell for $100 one week and $15 the next.  Some figures disappeared after only a few appearances while others seemed to have a never ending supply.  As a collector who likes oddball items, a few of these alternate figures caught my eye.  The one that really got me going on the unproduced bandwagon, though, was an alternate set of the 2004 Comic Pack #3 figures.

Comic Pack #3 included Clutch, Hawk and Stalker.  Originally planned to be part of the first case of comic packs, it was initially pulled from the first case assortments and didn't appear at retail until a few weeks later.  Frankly, of the first three comic packs, this was the one collectors were least excited about.  So, the fact that it was delayed helped to foster some interest.  Asian sellers, though, had a different version of the 3 pack.  It included the same three figures with three major differences:

1.  Clutch's head was different.  The alternate version was smaller than the production figures.
2.  Stalker's face had Caucasian skin.
3.  Hawk had an African-American skin tone.

It was the Hawk figure that made the pack a must buy for me.  Here was the chiseled Hawk from the comic, with his blazing blonde hair, but set in a completely different racial release.  As soon as I saw the figure, I knew that I had found the perfect head for a new Cobra.  I spent the ~$30 to get the figures from Asia and added this alternate Hawk to my collection.

I didn't, though, know what to do with him.  Switching the Caucasian Stalker head onto the Caucasian Hawk body was a decent match.  For a while, I saw that creation as Manleh.  But, in time, the bright green didn't feel right for the character and that figure faded away.  The African American Hawk head on the African American Stalker body was OK.  But, the small head didn't look right on the body.  And, Stalker's color scheme was pretty weak.  So, I took the head off and left it sitting in a box.  In the first week of 2005, though, my local Wal Mart clearanced all their #4 and #5 Comic Pack sets for half price.  Through this, I was able to acquire a large number of Comic Pack Cobra Officers from the #5 pack.  For some reason, I liked this version of the figure.  It was then that I realized the variant Hawk head would be a perfect fit on one of these Officer bodies.  I made the switch and Skeres was born.

Anthony Burgess (Of A Clockwork Orange fame) wrote a novel titled Dead Man in Deptford.  In the book, there is a character named Skeres who is introduced as a filthy man with no taste for hygiene.  His profession is described as "cutter".  As in, good with a knife and will cut you, cutter.  I thought the name was perfect and the specialty was a natural fit for the background of a new villain to add to my collection.  For years, I had this character in the background, but could never find a figure that fit him.  Enter this Hawk head.  When placed on the Officer body, I had something so visually distinctive, but at the same time grounded in Cobra lore, that I needed a character for the creation.  The marriage of Skeres and this custom was a perfect bit of kismet.

From the get go, this figure has featured prominently in my photos, dioramas and profiles.  He is a mesh of classic pre 1985 Cobra that will mingle with those figures while also being "modern" and fitting with figures from post 1984 release years.  So, I've long used him whenever my Cobra hierarchy meets.  He's such a different animal than you usually see with Joe figures that he always stirs conversation.  Plus, his visible face is part of my new Cobra mentality where the new, younger, dynamic leaders don't hide behind masks or helmets as they do not fear the repercussions of their actions.  They are so confident in their abilities that they don't retain a secret identity that allows them to hide in defeat.  It sends a clear message to the new Cobra troops and has helped turn Cobra into a more dynamic enemy since they are no longer content to slink away for another day.

I have an entire backstory for Skeres that I wrote up nearly a decade ago when I first posted the figure:

A native Algerian, Skeres was orphaned at a young age and left to fend for himself on the streets of Barcelona. He quickly learned the value of being good with a blade and earned a reputation among the homeless squatters of that city as a dangerous man to cross. This reputation brought him to the attention of the Basque separatists who recruited him for terrorist activities in the city. Skeres was taught demolitions and explosives and was turned loose on the unsuspecting city. He destroyed several vacant buildings that had become homes to the street urchins he had recently considered peers. However, Skeres grew disillusioned with the Basque's motives and sneaked out of Spain having pocketed a substantial sum of the Basque's money.
Over the next several years, Skeres roamed the world's hot spots in Africa and Eastern Europe. Here, he honed his skills as a mercenary and soldier. As Cobra looked to move their operations into Africa, Skeres name appeared again and again as a possible recruit to lead operations in the area.
Skeres was approached by Cobra operatives several times about joining them. However, he was never fully convinced they had a viable plan. Finally, though, the leader of Cobra's South American Operation (Ramen) was able to bring Skeres aboard. He was quickly dispatched to South America where he distinguished himself as a field commander. Those who served under Skeres would follow him to their deaths without hesitation. He is a rare commander who earns the respect of his troops through skill, loyalty and sheer ability.
When Cobra was finally ready to move into Africa, Skeres was the first choice to lead the 1st Afrikaaner Division. This unit is comprised of many of Cobra's most battle hardened troops. In the division, there are no ranks. An officer may report to a sergeant depending upon the situation. It is a unique arrangement and one that has drawn great ire from the more established Cobra regimens. (Most notably, the Crimson Guard.) The men who comprise the Afrikaaner Division, though, look to Skeres and his dealings with the Cobra aristocracy. Skeres is the buffer between the bureaucracy and the field troops. His men know he will not betray them or lead them astray. The reward him in turn with fierce loyalty and ruthless drive to complete their goals.
As Cobra expands their operations, Skeres looks to become a prime player inside of Cobra. His affiliation with Ramen is troublesome to the Commander, but no one on Cobra Island can argue with the results that either of them have achieved.
Skeres remains one of the most dangerous knife fighters in the world. While his recent laurels have been earned as a field commander, he is known to still effectively practice the skill that first earned him his name.

The reality is that this figure is very difficult to find.  While there were a good number of these sets available in 2004, the variant comic pack dried up fairly quickly.  In the ensuing decade, all of the unproduced figures have become scarce.  But, with the scarcity has also come obscurity.  While all of these figures are rare, only the most desirable variants (Tiger Force Steel Brigade, Night Force Tracker, Dark Blue Anti-Venom figures) have retained extremely high prices.  Many of the others can be had for more reasonable prices...though they may still run anywhere from $40 to $80 depending on the character and who's in the market.  The problem is that you may wait for years before you see a specific figure.  You might be the only person who's interested when you do find it.  But, you have to be in the game for the long haul to track down all of these figures now.

I was fortunate to be collecting when these figures were available from the source.  It allowed me to add them to my collection with cheap ease.  As those days are gone, it's unlikely that figures like this variant Hawk would be part of my collection were I new to the collecting world.  But, I'm grateful for figures like this.  So much of the ARAH style figures that were released in the 2000's was bad and bland that items like this that were completely different and a little hard to find were fun.  The speculation that the figures were "illegal" or "stolen" only added to the mystique.  This Skeres is a figure that has simply become part of my collection.  He is no longer an oddity or a rarity.  He just "is".  I like that.  It gives me a fun character that's different.

2004 Unproduced Comic Pack Hawk, Skeres, Custom, African American Hawk, Cobra Officer, 1984 ASP, Cobra Trooper, Viper Pilot, Bootleg, Black Major

2004 Comic Pack Hawk, Unproduced African American Head, Midnight Chinese, Unreleased, Rare G.I. Joe Figures, 1983 Cobra Commander, 2005 Gas Mask Trooper, Cobra Officer

2004 Comic Pack Hawk, Unproduced African American Head, Midnight Chinese, Unreleased, Rare G.I. Joe Figures, Stinger Trooper, 1984, Black Major Customs, Bootleg

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

1997 Torpedo

The 1997 Joe line was so full of promise.  While collectors were largely disappointed by the actual, final product that was released, the reality of new Joes at retail was an endless stream of what could be.  Sure, there were misfires like the Breaker and Rock and Roll figures.  But, many of the other figures were strong and hinted at the possibility that the long term prognosis for the line was a steady flow of classic molds with their original accessories done up in new and often solid color schemes.  While that, largely, didn't come to pass.  The early waves of re-released Joes did have some real winners.

This Torpedo was everything collectors ever wanted in a repainted Joe line: an iconic pre 1988 figure with his original accessories done up in a color scheme that was strong, but did not tread on the original nor get too environmentally specific.  Granted, the base black color bears resemblance to the 1983 figure, but the lack of grey really differentiates them and allows the different versions to co-exist.  (The 2001 Wetdown, was a different story, though.)  The red highlight treads on Cobra coloring.  But, as an accent, it does help to give this figure more depth than a completely black figure would.  It should have been a great figure.  And, until you hold it in your hand, it is.  But, the construction quality on the 1997 Joes was spotty and Torpedo is among the worst offenders.  He feels like any movement could break the figure apart.  It's a sad detriment on a repaint that should be held in higher regard.

Torpedo was sold on a blister card for $9.99 in 1997.  The 1997 series consisted of 3-figure blister carded sets or "Mission Series" where you got 1 figure and a small vehicle for the same price.  The Mission Series consisted of Duke and the Silver Mirage, Viper and Trouble Bubble and Torpedo with the Night Landing.  This time, though, the Cobra raft was rebranded to Joe.  In and of itself, that wasn't a terrible choice.  The raft is generic looking enough that it could easily be manufactured stock that was sold to many buyers.  Plus, it's not really an iconic vehicle (like the Rattler!) where it would be tough to see it in any color without Cobra sigils.  For $10, these sets were an OK deal.  They seem like a bargain now, especially since the figures included their full complement of accessories.  But, in 1997 and 1998, you could often get the original figures and the original vehicles for about the same price.  (Even less if you bought large collections.)  It wasn't uncommon for lots of 40 to 50 mint and complete 1982 - 1985 figures and vehicles to sell for an average of $1 per figure and a couple of bucks per vehicle, depending on which vehicles they were.  So, when you considered that, the sets were seen by many collectors of the time to be of less value for their collecting dollar than buying vintage pieces.

As such, the 1997 Joe line largely languished on the shelves.  While it did sell well enough to warrant a 1998 series, pretty much every 1997 pack and vehicle was available through the entirety of 1998 and even in 1999.  Slowly, the more popular figures started to disappear.  And, as the various production runs of '98 figures came and went, the '97's started to dwindle, too.  The slow burn left a lot of collectors somewhat jaded on the 1997 figures for a few years.  But, when the Joe world exploded in late 2000 and early 2001, the rush to complete these recent sets brought back a great deal of interest in them.

The construction quality of the 1997 figures left a lot to be desired.  And, Torpedo is one of the worst figures in the series.  The figure just feels weak and poorly built.  It may a function of the mold's long use in India by Funskool, or just a really horrible batch of plastic.  But, Torpedo figures feel cheap and like any pressure would break it apart.  As a toy, this is a severe detriment.  As a collectible, it's less an issue.  But, the overall soft plastic used for the hands does make it difficult to long term display the figure in any configuration where he's holding his gear.  That greatly diminishes the figure's value.  If you can't put him out on display, what can you do with him?

And, in the end, that is what makes this figure problematic.  You can argue that this is the best version of Torpedo in terms of coloring.  But, the original is still so strong that this version being superior to it is a marginal victory if one at all.  What you gain in color, you lose in construction.  So, in the end, it's a wash.  I first acquired this figure back in early 2001.  I've wanted to use him many times since then.  But, I find that it's the original Torpedo figure who gets the call for dioramas, photo shoots or general display purposes.

The Torpedo mold got a lot of use through the years, though in few color schemes.  After his American release, Torpedo was also produced by Hasbro for Japanese and European markets.  The mold was then given to Funskool.  Torpedo was among the first figures released by Funskool and saw production runs for many years and in many variants.  (The most famous being the yellow Torpedo figure.)  Funskool, though, also used the mold for parts on a variety of different figures including their infamous Super Hero figure as well as Snake Eyes.  Hasbro reacquired the mold for this release and then proceeded to produce a renamed figure in 2001.  Unfortunately, outside of the Funskool yellow version, most of the other Torpedo molds resemble the V1 American figure.  There is no Tiger Force, or swamp Torpedo that would have brought some diversity to the mold.

The 1997 figures have had an odd aftermarket life.  In 1997 and through the first part of 1998, they were all fairly common at retail.  It's likely that had they more shelf space at TRU, collectors would have considered them pegwarmers.  They sold, but not briskly and you could pretty much get any set you wanted at retail for at least a year.  When the 1998 Joes came out in December, though, that helped wipe away most of the unsold 1997 merchandise.  While you could find some of it into 1999, it was mostly gone.  (At least, the figure sets were.  The Stars and Stripes set lingered a little longer.)  Once they were gone from retail, though, collectors largely forgot about them...until 2001.  Then, as the Joe world exploded under the release of the full retail A Real American Hero collection as well as internet ascension kismet, the market for 1997 figures got rather heated.  By the end of 2001 and through 2003, most of the 1997 Joes were $15 - $20 acquisitions with the army building Vipers and Alley Vipers hitting nearly $30 with regularity.  The 1997 Joe collectors had bought the new figures for their collections, but few bought extras for future trading.  So, as the Joe world got larger and larger, there was simply no supply of 1997 figures available and pricing reflected that.  Slowly, though, a combination of a shrinking collector base and release of other, better versions of many of the 1997 molds brought substantially lower pricing.  Today, the 1997's tend to be pretty cheap.  The poor construction and materials combined with the wealth of other figure options has left them largely by the collecting wayside.

And, that is the fate of Torpedo in my collection.  The vintage figure is much better both in terms of coloring and construction quality.  As such, he is much more useful.  As an alternate, this Torpedo is decent.  But, the overall dark color base makes him difficult to photograph in many vehicles where he would best fit.So, when I'm looking for a Torpedo to man the WHALE or Shark 9000, it is the vintage version who gets the call.  This 1997 figure mostly sits in his drawer and gets pulled out when I have things like a profile of an obscure figure version to write.  It's not a terrible fate and this is a figure who is superior to many of his contemporaries.  I just don't find myself taking advantage of the figure's quality.

1997 Torpedo, Toys R Us Exclusive, Night Landing, Stalker, Duke

1997 Torpedo, Toys R Us Exclusive, Night Landing

Thursday, November 12, 2015

1989 Payload

The 1987 Payload figure was the first Astronaut released in the G.I. Joe line.  As the pilot of the Defiant Space Shuttle, he was designed to be both realistic and militaristic.  In these regards, the figure succeeded greatly.  The Defiant, though, was a large, expensive to produce playset with low production numbers.  In order to recoup the development costs, Hasbro re-released part of the shuttle as the Crusader in 1989.  This scaled down shuttle was more affordable and a good way for Hasbro to get more mileage out of the original mold.  To retain consistency, Hasbro included Payload as the Crusader's pilot as well.  This 1989 version was brighter, but retained the design and accessories that made the original version so great.

Payload was designed to be an astronaut: first and foremost.  The result is that he looks like he's wearing a legitimate space suit.  It has some bulk, is well detailed and fits the look of late 1980's astronauts.  The helmet is a bit stylish.  But, this was still a toy and it was designed to be eye catching.  The figure has the "puffiness" of a spacesuit, while not being bulky.  The helmet bubble is very large and protrudes on the back.  But, this is a less claustrophobic look than that of the Secto Viper or even the 1991 General Hawk body.  (Though it does cause the head to flop a bit inside the helmet.)  The one detail that proves this is a Joe figure is the molded pistol on the figure's leg.  This retains the military bent and adds a bit of a science fiction element to the character since he's carrying a firearm inside of a vehicle that, were it perforated at all by a single bullet, would spell death for each crew member.

There were 2 astronauts released in 1989: this Payload and the original Countdown.  Of the two, Countdown has better coloring.  He is a all white with subtle blue and silver highlights.  Payload is far more garish with his white base offset by bright yellow details.  These yellow parts were done in a brownish maroon on the 1987 version.  (It should be noted that the two figures do use some different paint masks as the knee pads on the 1989 figure are unpainted.)  This yellow hue gives the figure a completely different look.  The result is that the '89 Payload figure is more at home with the 1993 and 1994 Star Brigade figure than is the 1987.  But, this difference is nice as it gives the mold some diversity.  While the base, white color is the same.  The reality is that the starkly different accent colors create two definitive figures.  While the usefulness of bright yellow can be debated, the fact that is starkly contrasts with the original figure can not be.

Payload's accessories are the same as the 1987 version, only in different colors.  The figure's helmet is yellow, to match his highlights.  He then includes the astronaut backpack with extender arms.  It is, though, colored light grey as opposed to the white from the 1987 version.  The result is that Payload looks like an astronaut with gear that was appropriate for the 1987 release year.  The 1988 Astro Viper and 1989 Countdown, though, both went in a different direction and included gear that was less realistic, but more fun to play with.  It's a somewhat stark difference from just 2 years of design.  But, it shows where G.I. Joe was going as the '80's wound down and the '90's were beginning.

In the comic book, the Payload character was portrayed as African American.  Both of his figures, though, were Caucasian.  As such, there was a disconnect over the figure's race at some point between the Hasbro final figure design and the source material that Marvel used for the comics.  (Or, it was just an artist error that they kept up for a while.)  It's about the only interesting thing about this figure/character from the Joe canon.

Astronauts are among my favorite figures.  The reasons vary from time to time.  But, the notion that you could get astronaut figures in a line that was, otherwise, military was a great way to expand the core G.I. Joe concept.  My affair with the action figure began in 1978 with my first Kenner C-3P0 figure.  The science fiction element of Star Wars appealed to me.  As I got older, though, I found that play more based in realism was more to my liking.  G.I. Joe astronauts enabled me to appease both facets.  I had realistic space based figures, but could use them in science fiction settings.  I desperately wanted a Payload for part of 1987 when I added an old Slave I ship to my Joe vehicle stable.  Payload would have been the perfect pilot.  Without him, I settled for Knockdown.  The limitations of that figure quickly ended the Star Wars/G.I. Joe vehicle crossovers and my interest in the line diminished.

The Payload mold was used for the two American figures in 1987 and 1989.  After that, the mold was sent down to Brazil where Estrela released the Crusader with a version of Payload named Orbita.  Orbita was, basically, the same as the '89 Payload, but is still a fun figure to find.  Hasbro planned to bring Payload back in 1993.  Early 1993 Star Brigade cardbacks featured an airbrushed 1987 Payload mold, colored in a green and black color scheme.  With the mold being in Brazil, though, Hasbro could not use for the 1993 figure.  So, they chose the 1992 Eco Warriors Barbecue mold as the Payload repaint and promptly created three unique paint schemes for the figure that was released in the two years of the Star Brigade line.  It's likely that this original mold would have seen the ad naseum repaint treatment has Hasbro found it.  It would be interesting to see what a trio of late run releases that would have been clearance fodder would have done to the value of the first two Payload figures.  Especially if the final three repaints were deemed to be better paint jobs.  It's likely that they would have greatly devalued these figures from the 1980's.  But, we'll never know.

1989 Payloads are no where near as expensive as 1987 figures.  The figure is still not overly easy to find, though.  Mint and complete with filecard figures sell between $30 and $45.  That's about half the amount of the 1987, but still pretty pricey.  Every astronaut aficionado needs to have at least one version of the original Payload mold in their collection.  He's unique and offers something that 1993 and 1994 Star Brigade figures do not.  But, if you're going to do a high dollar purchase for a version of this mold, the higher priced 1987 is a better figure and is worth the extra money.  This yellow version is a nice placeholder and has uses.  But, that's a small fate for a figure with such a high price-tag.  I was able to get my copies of this figure back in the days before they got overly pricey.  I'm grateful for that since it is a great mold and I'm a sucker for space figures.  Some day, I'll have a full Defiant.  Until then, these figures wait for their turn to be out on prominent display.

1989 Payload, Crusader, Star Brigade, 1998 Ace, Flint, Muralha, Brazil, Estrela, Jinx, 1987, Fast Draw, Hardtop, G.I. Joe HQ, headquarters, 1983

1989 Payload, Crusader, Star Brigade, 1993 TARGAT, Astro Viper, 1994 Cobra Commander

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

16th Anniversary

Today is the 16th Anniversary of Forgotten Figures.  My first profiles were posted on November 10, 1999.  Here they are in all their glory:

1990 Decimator:

1995 Unproduced Battle Corps Rangers Unnamed Figure (likely Flint):

A lot has happened since November of 1999 in the Joe world.  Some good, a lot not so good.  But, we're still here, enjoying the hobby we grew up with.

1990 Decimator, 1988 Secto Viper, BUGG, Hammerhead

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

1986 Slipstream

Vehicle drivers were always among my favorite Joe characters and figures.  There was something about not being able to get the figure unless you purchased a much more expensive vehicle that made them seem more special than the scads of figures that were always available on retail shelves.  From the very beginning, vehicle drivers were created with the same care and quality that was evident on all the carded figures.  Through 1985, vehicle drivers were some of Hasbro's best work.  In 1986, though, the standard began to falter.  Some of the '86 vehicle operators simply weren't up to snuff.  The molds seemed less sharp and the colors less integrated.  Figures like Lift Ticket and Cross Country were perfect examples of characters who should have been excellent, but whose figures fell short.  While those guys were disappointments, nothing was worse than when Slipstream entered into my collection.  I always had high hopes for pilots.  They lended themselves to cool designs with helmets, air masks and fully decked out flight suits.  I so wanted Slipstream to be the pilot figure I had dreamed of getting.  Instead, he was a very flawed figure that not only soured me on the character, but also his high quality aircraft.

Slipstream was introduced as the pilot of a cutting edge aircraft: the Conquest X-30.  From the neck down, his flight suit fits the motif of the advanced flying machine.  (Though, to be honest, if you painted him orange, the flight suit is a doppelganger for an X-Wing Pilot from Star Wars.)  The Slipstream head, though, has two major flaws.  Figure wise, the head is too large for the body.  That alters the entire figure and reduces the usefulness of the figure.  The real issue, though, is that the guy who flies the most advanced plane in the entire world chooses to wear a leather flight hat straight out of a bad World War II movie.  Any fighter jet that required advanced computers to stabilize it in flight and was capable of pushing G Forces to any pilot's blackout threshold would surely have dictated that said pilot wear the most cutting edge head gear around.  This would ensure proper oxygen flow and help him retain maximum alertness in a combat situation.

These limitations pushed Slipstream to the bottom of my Joe pile.  I simply had no use for him.  I didn't like how he looked, so I didn't even consider him for any play.  There were times when he was used as the co-pilot of the Tomahawk.  But, even those were limited.  Eventually, like most of the figures I owned that I didn't really like, Slipstream ended up as a nameless criminal who would attack a Joe or Cobra base.  He and his compatriots might gun down a few Joes or Cobras.  But, in the end, most would end up dead or captured.  It allowed for reuse of the Slipstream figure.  But, didn't give him any value beyond that of being a toy that could hold a gun.  (Something the knock offs of the time could not.)

The really odd thing, though, was that Slipstream's fate was also tied to that of the Conquest.  Ostensibly, the Conquest was exactly what I wanted in a fighter plane as a kid.  It was small enough to hold in one hand.  It had missiles, guns and bombs.  The cockpit was exposed so you could see the figure.  And, it was sturdily built.  As such, this should have been my default Joe aircraft.  But, it didn't happen.  Without a solid pilot, the Conquest languished in the "hangar" under my bed.  Slipstream wasn't cool enough to use and, at the time, I didn't have any other pilots who were a good match for the plane.  So, the Conquest never took off in my collection due to the poor pilot figure.  This allowed me to re-discover the Conquest as an adult collector.  I now appreciate it for what it is.  But, without that childhood connection, it still never gained popularity that the mold probably justifies.

Now, though, I appreciate the Slipstream mold a little more.  It is greatly detailed.  And, the colors are pretty solid.  The large head and nose are still an issue.  But, many other figures have similar issues and I overlook those.  Plus, with more, better pilot figures available than I had in 1986, I no longer feel cheated out of the perfect flight suit.  That isn't to say the figure appears all that frequently.  But, I do have a Conquest and when it's displayed, Slipstream will be at the helm.  Really, that's the best fate this figure could hope for.  But, it does show that the context of a release may taint a figure for a long, long time.

The Slipstream mold was used only twice.  Once for Slipstream and again for the Sky Patrol Altitude figure.  (Though Altitude had a new head.)  The mold then disappeared.  The '86 vehicle drivers faced many fates with some going to Olmec and others going to Funskool.  Slipstream, though, was never rumoured in any foreign country and it's likely that the obscurity of his character precluded anyone from ever searching for the mold.  (It should be noted there is a Slipstream variant with different figures having slightly different coloring, a "gap" in the teeth and different production markings.  Neither appears more popular than the other, but it's something to look for.)  In 1998, Hasbro forewent Slipstream and included a repainted Ace as the Conquest pilot.  This pairing actually makes more sense and is a better fit than the pilot who was designed for the aircraft's cockpit.  The character's name was resurrected in 2003 in a Conquest repaint.  But, the figure was the 1992 Ace body with a new head.  The character has appeared in other construction types.  But, the original mold is long gone and will never be seen again.

Slipstream figures are cheap and plentiful.  The plastic is susceptible to discoloration and Slipstream's nose often exhibits paint wear.  But, due to the high volume release year and highly popular aircraft with which he was included, there are still lots of Slipstream figures out there.  Mint and complete with filecard versions can be had for under $5 with ease.  So, there's no financial reason why Slipstream isn't a member of everyone's collection.  But, from a usability and coolness perspective, there is.  This figure just isn't that interesting and the failures of sculpting only exacerbate that fact.  As the pilot of the Conquest, Slipstream is useful.  But, there are so many other, better pilots available in the line that are more technological matches for the aircraft that the need for Slipstream is greatly diminished.

1986 Slipstream, Conquest, Mainframe, Sci Fi

1986 Slipstream, Conquest, 1987 Hardtop, 1983 APC, 1989 Hot Seat

1986 Slipstream, AVAC, Firebat, Air Viper Advanced Corps, 1987 Chuckles, 1998 Ace, Chinese Exclusive Flint, Tiger Force Falcon