Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lobisomem - Brazilian Cobra Werewolf

It is amazing how much of a difference a little bit of paint makes.  Take the common Grand Slam figure, paint over his red pads with silver paint and you have a highly desired figure from the line's first years.  Replace the red logo on the Cobra Trooper with a silver one, and instead of a $15 figure, you have a $70 figure.  One dot of paint missing from the nose of a Tele Viper renders the figure almost useless.  The point is that a little paint often makes the greatest difference for a figure.  In the case of Estrela's release of the incredibly popular V2, 1985 Snake Eyes mold in Brazil, it was their decision to leave one paint application off that is the difference between this being a $300+ figure that is highly desired and among the most famous international figures and it being a $100 figure that is left to the hardcore collectors, many of whom don't even realize the figure's affiliation change.  In Brazil, this figure was released as a Cobra.  The difference is a small Cobra logo.  Had Estrela included s small, silver or red Cobra logo on the figure's chest, arm or, even, leg, this would be a highly desired figure.  But, that omission has left this release as a forgotten gem that exists in the South American exclusive figure lines.

Lobisomem translates to Werewolf.  Lobisomem is the Cobra Black Commando whose specialty is night missions.  A Cobra Werewolf who works at night.  How can this figure not be a collector favorite?!?  The answer, though, is simple.  The only real distinguishing characteristic of this figure from the American Snake Eyes is the made in stamp on the figure's mold.  Lobisomem was made by Estrela in Brazil.  Other than that, the figures are almost identical.  So, to collectors, this figure is just Snake Eyes.  Sure, it's the most famous and popular mold for Snake Eyes.  But, you can get the American figure just about anywhere and most collectors already have one, if not more.

But, the character of Lobisomem has a lot of potential.  It's always great to find some international exclusive characters because there, frankly, aren't that many of them.  So, when you find a new villain who has hints of interest, you take note.  Below, you can read a rough translation of Lobisomem's filecard to see his character:

To devote himself to the martial arts, Werewolf isolated himself in the mountains, with Oriental Masters.
His identity has never been revealed, and who knows if he's still living.  Accompanied by a fierce Wolf who is always ready to attack whoever approaches with claws and teeth.
Primarily a commando!
 Werewolf leave his hiding place when summoned by Cobra for a special night mission.  And when that happens, you can hear the wolves whimpering in fear.
You can see that the character has his roots in Snake Eyes, but has been converted to an enemy affiliation.  If Lobisomem had a Cobra logo, he's likely be highly regarded.  You'd have seen multiple reinterpretations of the character in the comic, the modern figure line (as a convention exclusive) and other Joe media.  But, most people assume this Brazilian release is just Snake Eyes.  And, thus, they ignore it.

I have to admit, though, that I'm squarely in the "ignore" camp as well.  As a collectible, I enjoy this figure.  He looks great with the other Brazilian figures from his era.  I find it cool to have a near complete 1985 run of figures that were released in other countries.  But, unlike many of the other Brazilian exclusive characters, I just don't have a home for Lobisomem.  The figure is V2 Snake Eyes.  And, my preferred look for Snake Eyes has always been his V2 incarnation.  So, seeing an exact duplicate of that figure is just Snake Eyes to me.  Were Lobisomem differently colored or used a few other molds, my take would be different.  But, in photos, the figure is indistinguishable from Snake Eyes.  Figures like Armadilha are different enough from the American figure that you can tell it's someone new.  That is not true with Lobisomem and that greatly hinders his value to a collection.

There are two main differences between the Brazilian and American figures.  The harder to see difference is that the grey highlights on the Estrela made figure are slightly brighter.  You can see a comparison pic below.  The difference is so slight, though, if you only had the Brazilian figure in your hands, it would be tough to tell that is was not the Hasbro version.  However, there is another difference.  The Hasbro Snake Eyes has a made in Hong Kong stamp on the figure's backside.  This was removed for the Estrela figure and was left with no mark at all.  Again, you can see the comparison in the photos below.  You should note, though, that both figures feature a Hasbro 1985 stamp on the inside of the leg.

The most telling feature of Lobisomem are his accessories.  The Brazilian wolf is a slightly different shade of grey and is very noticeable when placed next to an American Timber.  The figure's Uzi is also different.  The think barrel version of the Uzi that was introduced with the 1985 Snake Eyes is not present.  Instead, you get a thin barrelled Uzi that was the original use of the mold.  The Brazilian Uzi, though, is the dark black color of the American, thick barrelled gun and is not the charcoal color of that mold's Hasbro produced releases.  It's a subtle difference and not one that most would care about.  But, in a quest for a complete figure, it's something to watch out for.  The figure's sword and backpack are made of Brazilian plastic.  You can't really see a difference, but you can feel the change in materials if you have an Estrela and Hasbro version in your hand.

The V2 Snake Eyes mold has always been a personal favorite.  From being the first kid in my class to own one after I found an unopened case of Joes on the local TRU floor in early 1985 to getting this Lobisomem, the mold has help a high place in my collection.  As a kid, I broke two or three Snake Eyes figures.  I got a second one at retail in 1986, but also bought a couple from classmates who were abandoning Joe as they aged out of toys.  I constantly wore out the figure.  Despite that, though, I have few real memories of playing with Snake Eyes.  He was always there.  But, I can't recall any specific adventures for him.  He was always the figure picked whenever friends would come over to play, though.  But, for a figure as popular as he was to me, the mold doesn't appear all that much in my photos.  I think the the base black makes it tough to capture how excellent the mold really is.  But, also, Hasbro released so many Snake Eyes figures in 1997 and later that there was always a new one available whose appearance in a photo was more timely.  So, the figure remains relatively unrepresented.

Not counting Lobisomem, though, I have three 1985 Snake Eyes figures.  He's so cool that I have a few to, eventually, round out my collecting display.  He can't just appear once.  So, there's one for the Mauler, one for the HQ and another for general display purposes.  As time goes on, there could be more.  It will be interesting, though, to also have this Lobisomem out and mingling with Cobras.  He and Stormshadow can fight side by side.  It's not a great use for this figure.  But, it's a way to get another showing of the mold and makes for an interesting story.  At the end of the day, though, this mold is Snake Eyes and I'm actually kind of happy that Hasbro didn't have it in the '90's and '00's as they would have released it to the point or irrelevance.  With just these two versions and the one, basic, look for this mold, his individuality and legacy were unaltered and spared.

A few years ago, Lobisomem figures were relatively available and could he had for under $50. Being the V2 Snake Eyes mold, he always enjoyed a bit of popularity.  But, most of Lobisomem's notoriety stemmed from him being responsible for Hasbro not being able to re-release the V2 Snake Eyes mold during the repaint era in the 2000's.  Now, though, mint and complete with filecard Lobisomems will easily fetch $100 to $125.  Like most Brazilian figures, Lobisomem is experiencing an upsurge in collector demand and that is driving prices higher and higher.  I'm not sure if this is sustainable as we've seen once highly priced European exclusives drop in price and have seen similar behavior on once super expensive Funskool figures, too.  Of course, the Plastirama exclusives have steadily risen for a decade and a half now.  But, they may not be the best model to follow as the prices from the early 2000's were, likely, artificially low due to the warehouse fine and the temporary supply outpacing demand.

Long term, I could see this figure becoming cheaper.  But, I could also see him staying the same price.  The difference between this figure and some of the later, brighter Brazilian figures is that Lobisomem is made of a classic mold and is the only other release of that mold anywhere in the world.  Of course, the figure is also, basically, identical to the American figure.  So, you have both an antagonizing and mitigating factor on his desirability in the same characteristic.  Personally, if you have the money, Lobisomem is a cool figure to own.  Sure, he's Snake Eyes.  And, using him as anything else will be hard.  But, knowing that this was a Cobra character and the Brazilian kid who originally owned him only knew him as a Cobra is fun part of the collecting experience.  But, if you are looking to economize, or only have a small budget for Joes, this is a figure you can also easily skip.  There are many other Brazilian exclusives that bring more to the table than this figure.  And, many of those are still cheaper than Lobisomem to boot.  As a collectible, this figure is nicely done.  But, other than appreciating the nuance of the different release countries, Lobisomem doesn't offer much that can't be found elsewhere for less money.

Brazilian Cobra Werewolf, Lobisomem, 1985 Snake Eyes, Estrela, Chinese Major Bludd, Funskool Street Hawk, India, Vibora, Python Patrol Officer, 2002 Convention Exclusive Paratrooper Dusty

Brazilian Cobra Werewolf, Lobisomem, 1985 Snake Eyes, Estrela, 2006 Flaming Moth Shipwreck

Brazilian Cobra Werewolf, Lobisomem, 1985 Snake Eyes, Estrela

Brazilian Cobra Werewolf, Lobisomem, 1985 Snake Eyes, Estrela

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