Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2005 Comic Pack Flint

2004 had all the makings of a remarkable Joe year.  First, Hasbro reacquired 18 of the most popular figure molds from Funskool.  Secondly, they were knee deep in producing two near quarterly vintage Joe exclusives for Toys R Us.  Finally, they were launching a line of retail release comic book figure packs.  These were three figures in vintage style and a comic book for a retail price of 9.99.  There was so much potential, collectors were salivating.  At the end of 2004, though, things had drastically changed.  The Funskool molds were used sparingly and the classic accessories were mostly missing from the sets.  The Toys R Us army builders that showed so much promise fizzled into poorly accessorized and oddly colored banality.  And, the comic packs were a sea of the same green colored bodies over and over again.  As 2005 came and went, so did the retail Joe line.  Unable to find retail partners willing to sustain the line, Hasbro turned to their fledgling online toy store to sell Joes exclusively.  The line launched with much fanfare.  Among the solid vehicles and army builder packs were some new comic packs.  At first glance, they were a departure from the retail norms: using later issues and figure molds.  But, the issues that plagued the line in 2004 were too deeply rooted.  The potential for greatness was there.  But, the ability to execute on that potential was not.  Among the forgotten releases of the initial DTC waves is the Comic Pack Flint.

The Comic Packs were an ingenious idea.  Three figures and a story to act out for a cheap price should have been a home run.  And, initially, they were.  The first wave sold well enough.  But, over ordering on the first wave created backups around the country.  For collectors, the first three packs were great with the long awaited release of Kwinn, new takes on Clutch, Hawk and Stalker and a Cobra Trooper.  But, after they had two of each pack, collector interest turned elsewhere.  The problem was compounded when the 2nd wave of packs looked very much like the first wave.  Confused parents saw the familiarity and thought they had already bought the pack.  Wave 2 ended up on clearance throughout the country and the third wave (with the Oktober Guard) ended up getting a truncated production run due to lack of retailer interest.  Hasbro's initial insistence to go chronologically likely doomed the packs since there was too much homogeneity in the initial 10 issues of the comic.  Had they skipped around to get a more diverse figure crop, the outcome might have been different. (Sadly, Hasbro learned from the Joe mistake and didn't repeat it when they introduced comic packs into the Star Wars line and later brought them into the Anniversary style Joe releases.)

By the time Comic Pack #76 was released in DCT, collectors had tuned out the comic packs.  They were generally thought of as clearance fodder and many people simply waited for discounts rather than pay full price.  The additional shipping cost caused by the comic pack's bulk also made online ordering far less attractive.  The pack, in the package, looked decent.  A redesigned 1986 Hawk, 1987 Tunnel Rat and this Flint were a compelling cast of characters.  The execution of them, though, was deeply flawed.  Hawk was overly bright and the recast 1986 chest did not mesh well with the Talking Battle Commandos version's legs.  The figure was a definite downgrade for the Hawk character, even if the flat topped blonde head was a welcome addition.  Tunnel Rat was awful.  The new head was far too large.  Tunnel Rat's trademark gear was missing and the base colors were too similar to the '87 versions.  The two figures seemed like a wasted opportunity for Hasbro to appease the neglected vintage Joe collecting base.

For me, though, Flint was the most disappointing.  V1 Flint is my favorite mold in the entire Joe line.  The prospect of getting a new version of it, even with a new head, was tantalizing.  But, the actual figure was not.  This Flint is done up in colors too similar to the original's.  At the time, Funskool Flint's were readily available for $4: and those included the original accessories.  If you wanted a V1 Flint derivative, the Funskool was a vastly superior option.  Aside from the color snafu, though, the new head was underwhelming.  Flint's cocky grin shaped his personality.  This figure's blank stare showed a laissez-faire attitude by the Hasbro design team that was obvious to collectors of the time.  It was a dismal showing for my favorite character.  The main redeeming point was the inclusion of the newly sculpted M-16 rifle.  It was a staple of the comic packs, but actually looks decent with the figure.  The newly sculpted shotgun, though, was awful and a dreadful reminder that Hasbro didn't use the vintage accessories that were available from Funskool.

To say that DTC was a failure understates the epic failure that it was.  Hasbro cut bait on the experiment in 2006 and sold all their lingering overstock to Toys R Us for deeply discounted prices.  Toys R Us rolled out the line nationwide and promptly saw the items collect dust on their toy shelves, too.  Comic packs were available well into 2008 in most parts of the country.  Toys R Us's online arm as well as the Hasbro Toy Shop discounted the comic packs down to around $4 each.  Even at these slashed prices, the stock was slow to move.  Collectors were leaving the hobby in droves and the figure offerings just weren't compelling enough, even at below wholesale price for a pack.

As such, this figure is worthless today.  Collectors don't care for him and there are multitudes of better Flint alternatives available.  Even MOC, this set can be had for less than original retail from a decade ago.  It's a fitting fate for figures like this.  Hasbro mailed in their design efforts.  Those who threw this junk at collectors, though, have moved on: sometimes to better things.  As they aren't collectors and weren't really concerned with the legacy of the franchise upon which they were working, it's unlikely that the general absence of this figure from the collecting conscience is something they even consider.  For those of us still left, it's a bitter reminder of how the line was treated as it's second retail run sputtered to an ignominious end.

2005 Comic Pack Flint, 1997 Rage, 2004 Night Force Beach Head, Urban Strike Scrap Iron, Viper Pilot, Stinger Trooper, Cobra Trooper, Bootleg, Black Major, Urban Trooper

2005 Comic Pack Flint, Night Watch Officer, DTC, 1997 Stalker


  1. Don't you mean (Fortunately, Hasbro learned from the Joe mistake and didn't repeat it when they introduced comic packs into the Star Wars line and later brought them into the Anniversary style Joe releases.)?

    Also, the shirt maybe, but the color scheme on that T-Rat is different enough.

    1. No, I meant sadly. Lots of people at the time told Hasbro the figures were too homogeneous and they needed to change the order. But, they weren't going to listen to any fans at that time. The line died and we suffered for their hubris.

  2. The new head was lame, like a lot of the new heads. They were often too small because they wanted to match the "new sculpt" aesthetic.