Friday, November 30, 2018

1988 Toxo Viper - Around the Web

The 1988 Toxo Viper was Cobra's first foray into biological warfare.  While the figure has its oddities, it has also endured as a classic design of the Cobra army.  The removable helmet and interesting pack/weapon combo are a perfect array of accessories for a well designed sculpt.  Despite collector sentiment against anything Eco Warriors adjacent, there is a strong amount of content available on the Toxo Viper.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1988 Toxo Viper Profile

Toxo Viper by Golden Cobra 79

Toxo Viper at

Toxo Viper by JDoubleBigApe

Toxo Viper Pre Production at

Toxo Viper by DreadnokDread

Toxo Viper Video Review by HCC788

Toxo Viper Photo Feature at Joe A Day

Toxo Viper by thedustinmccoy

1988 Toxo Viper, Imp, 1991 Eco Warriors, 1993 Detonator

1988 Toxo Viper, Imp, 1991 Eco Warriors

1988 Toxo Viper, Imp, 1991 Eco Warriors

Saturday, November 24, 2018

1991 Low Light - Around The Web

Low Light became a classic Joe immediately upon his release.  The combination of sculpt, specialty and colors ingrained him into the psyche of the Joe community.  In 1991, Hasbro revisited the character.  And, while the trademark blonde hair was gone, the sculpt and design of the figure was easily on par with the original release.  This Low Light featured more gear and kept the dark color scheme that defined the character.  He remains a popular remake of a classic character.  Despite this, there isn't a ton of content on this version of the figure around the web.

1991 Low Light Profile

1991 Low Light at

Low Light by JogunWarrior

Low Light at

Low Light by instachamp

1991 Low Light, 1985 Mauler, Super Sonic Fighters Zap

1991 Low Light, 1985 Mauler, Super Sonic Fighters Zap, 2002 Dial Tone, Gift Set

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

2001 Pathfinder

I'm a Pathfinder fan.  On one hand, this makes sense since he's a good figure from a solid year of G.I. Joe releases.  On the other hand, though, Pathfinder was released long after I had stopped collecting toys and he never played a part in the comic.  (My only G.I. Joe consumption of the time.)  So, there's no real connection to the figure that explains my affinity.  Mostly, Pathfinder seemed exotic.  When I first started collecting Joes, all of the 1990 and 1991 figures were actually quite hard to find.  You never saw them in photos, beyond the fact that Pathfinder's head was often used in customs of the members of the LRRP that also included Snake Eyes, Stormshadow and Stalker.  When I first acquired a Pathfinder, it was as part of a large lot of figures that I had never owned before.  And, Pathfinder stood out among all the new acquisitions.  He remained a personal favorite for a while and kept his generally obscure stature in the collecting world until 2001: when Hasbro created this repainted version as the driver of a Toys R Us exclusive AWE Striker repaint.

At first, it was great to see Pathfinder.  In 2001, Hasbro hadn't really let the extent of lost vintage molds be known.  So, seeing a figure like Pathfinder gave us hope that many more exotic gems would follow.  (Spoiler, they didn't.)  But, in and of himself, Pathfinder was a good release that gave many collectors their first exposure to the sculpt.  Of course, though, he dark black and grey colors joined the muted look of his contemporaries and he faded into any group shot due to the over-saturation of various color hues.  But, seeing Pathfinder included with a vehicle gave hope that there was more great stuff to come in the line.

As a character, Pathfinder is a blank slate.  His sunglasses obscure his eyes and give him an eerie, mysterious look.  But, his specialty does not really lend itself to anything other than a standard infantryman who took on the dangerous work of blazing the trail for his team.  There's probably something slightly off about someone who would volunteer for point duty while wearing a massive buzzsaw that would be heard from miles away in a combat zone.  So, should I ever undertake a Pathfinder characterization, that will be my likely starting point.

This coloring of Pathfinder was largely seen as a "Night Force" incarnation of the character.  While there was nothing official to denote this, collectors of the era took the figure's colors in conjunction with the all black AWE Striker as a direct Night Force homage.  For that reason, this Pathfinder did see a bit of online notoriety for a couple of weeks.  But, that soon petered out and even the AWE Striker repaint fell off the radar.  There was simply so much going on in the Joe world of that time that new releases (unless they were spectacular) fell to the wayside once most people had them in hand.

Pathfinder has few variants for collectors to find.  There is the 1990 figure.  It has a European accessory variant, though the figure is the same.  The figure was planned for release in 1998 in a pack with Outback and Dial Tone.  But, that pack got cancelled.  We got this figure in 2001 and then a re-release of that same figure, though now with accessories in 2004.  The "Chocolate Chip" Pathfinder is a great miss for the collecting world as that set would have been great.  And, the 2004 figure could have been something different.  But, he was released in a set of two vehicles and three figures for $20, so there probably wasn't much budget to get something new.  Hasbro kept the Pathfinder mold after Funskool had stopped producing Joes, so there are no foreign repaints.  So, we get to enjoy two solid Pathfinder figures even if we could have gotten more.

While many vehicles from the 2000's have risen dramatically in price, the AWE Striker has not.  This is likely due to the mold's later overuse.  And, that disinterest in the vehicle has dragged this version of Pathfinder down, too.  Loose figures can be had for $1-$3.  (You'll pay around $9 for a 2004 version complete with the repainted accessories, though.)  You can get AWE Strikers with the figure for between $10 and $20.  Of course, neither the figure nor the vehicle are as common as they were a few years ago.  But, it's worth tracking down a version of Pathfinder for a couple of bucks.  He's something different, even if the 1990 figure is substantially better.  And, he's aged better than you would have thought back in 2001 just because we didn't see him again and the colors appeared with less frequency in subsequent years.

2001 Pathfinder, AWE Striker, 2008, Toys R Us Exclusive, Anti Venom, Mutt, 2004

2001 Pathfinder, 2002 Mirage, ARAHC, Clutch, 2004, 1988 Mean Dog

Saturday, November 17, 2018

1990 Range Viper - Around the Web

The Range Viper is one of the first figures I ever reviewed.  He was also one of the first figures that I never had as a kid who captured my attention.  Like many of these early collector age figures, though, the Range Viper's profile fell after a few years: his spot taken by newer figures.  Plus, Hasbro kind of ruined the uniqueness of the mold by repainting it so often in the 2000's.  But, the Range Viper is still a very solid release and remains an enemy I enjoy having around.  There's a good amount of content on the Range Viper from around the web:

1990 Range Viper Profile

European Spring Loaded Weapon Exclusives

Range Viper at the Viper Pit

Range Viper at

Range Viper at Half The Battle

Range Viper by Cobra Freak

Range Viper at JoeWiki

Range Viper by 00zxcvb

1990 Range Viper, 1983 Hiss Tank

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

1989 Hot Seat

I quit buying G.I. Joe toys in early 1988.  By 1989, even my younger brothers had mostly quit as they moved on to other things, too.  This left me only one real avenue by which I could see the new Joe releases for that year: the comic book.  But, in late 1988 through 1989, even my comic purchases fell off a bit and I actually missed a few months as things like Nintendo took up more of my leisure time.  I did start to catch up in 1989.  But, my interest in those stories fell off from earlier issues.  I retain a general knowledge of each Joe comic through issue 65 or so.  These early issues were key elements of my childhood and I read and re-read them dozens (if not hundreds!) of times.  This left an imprint that lingers with me to this day.  After that, though, the comics and stories tend to blend together.  But, there are individual scenes in the comics that I recall.

One such scene occurred during the arc that introduced the Raider.  At one point in the battle, the Raider raised up its hidden missile racks and destroyed a Razorback, killing the stunned drivers who didn't know the capabilities of the Raider.  Seeing this new vehicle in action made me wonder what the toy was like.  But, it would be nearly a decade before I saw an actual Raider.  Seeing the toy lead to the discovery of the Raider's included driver figure: Hot Seat.  Hot Seat was an incredibly obscure figure that was fairly difficult to find in the late 1990's.  But, I managed to find one and really, really wanted to like him.  But, the figure never really grabbed my attention and it's taken nearly 20 years to get around to profiling the figure, even though I had plans to review him nearly from the start of this site.

Hot Seat's uniform isn't badly sculpted.  His chest seems larger, like he's wearing armor to protect him inside the Raider's exposed, glass canopy.  The tan undershirt with rolled up sleeves is a nice contrast to the black gloved hands.  Hot Seat looks like he's at work, which I like in a vehicle driver.  The dark green flak jacket offsets both colors nicely.  Alas, the figure falls apart from here.  While the legs are nicely designed, they are orange with red canisters painted on the legs.  The orange is bright.  It is ostentatious and it simply overwhelms the figure.  All hope of Hot Seat being a cool, undiscovered gem is erased with one look at the figure's lower half.  It's just an odd choice and doesn't really fit with Hasbro's typical work of that time.  It was rare to see a figure that had such a disparity between his top half and his lower body.  But, in Hot Seat's case, it pretty much spoils the toy.

The best part of Hot Seat is the super bizarre helmet.  Hasbro went all in on the one eyed helmet designs in the Joe line.  (They were a hallmark of the late 1980's and must have had a fan on the design team.)  The practicality of such a design may be debatable.  But, aesthetically, Hot Seat's helmet works in it's uniqueness.  I know that I tend to like weird Joe designs more than many collectors, though.  So, the odd helmet's look on Hot Seat is something of which I tend to be more forgiving.  But, the helmet gives Hot Seat character.  My only real beef with it is that is covers Hot Seat's only other memorable trait: his grey hair.  There are not many grey haired characters in the Joe world.  Even the 1986 Hawk, represented someone who was at least in the mid 50's, had rich, auburn hair.  So, seeing Hot Seat's hair gave him an air of an elder statesman for the team.  It's about the only real defining aspect of Hot Seat's design.

Sadly, Hot Seat never showed up again.  Neither the character nor the mold ever made another appearance in the Joe line.  Really, just one release with better colored pants would have made for a great repaint.  1989 vehicle drivers either ended up dying with Olmec toys and their failed Bronze Bombers or showing up as 2000's era Convention releases.  But, Hot Seat saw neither of these fates.  A single repaint would have been cool as the figure could have worked in a late model vintage vehicle.  (He could have become a new Steeler or Thunder release without anyone batting an eye, too.)  With nothing else out there, Hot Seat remains a character and figure who will likely never see appreciation over what he has today.  (Though, Hot Seat did reference fear of brain injury from repeated head trauma in 1989.  So, he has that little factoid in his back pocket, too.)

Hot Seat figures are not popular.  While dealers will sell them for $10 to $12, they sell for half that on the open market.  (You can get a figure still in the bubble for $10 if you look hard enough and have some patience.)  The tight fitting helmet helps keep the volume of complete figures high.  And, the character's complete obscurity hides him from most collectors.  I've long wanted to like this figure.  But, it took me 15 years to finally get around to profiling him because I just never got motivated to get some solid pictures of Hot Seat out and about.  Even now, I kind of ran out of things to say about the figure or character.  I've had him as a vehicle driver from time to time.  But, it's a deliberate choice to include Hot Seat and not an organic decision where he is the best choice for a photo.  That's likely Hot Seat's ultimate fate and this is his lone moment in the spotlight.

1989 Hot Seat, Raider, Slaughters Marauders Mutt, Desert Fox, 1988

1989 Hot Seat, Raider, 2002 Night Rhino, Warthog, 2004, Anti Venom, Stalker, 1988, Repeater, Barricade

Saturday, November 10, 2018

1997 Snake Eyes Around the Web

The 1997 Stars and Stripes set was meant to be an homage to the original 13 Joes.  The execution was not realized, though.  But, there were some decent figures in the bunch.  The release of the version 1 Snake Eyes mold was well received by collectors as he was one of the most popular figures in the line and was one of the pricier Joes of that era.

The 1997 figure introduced new paint applications to breathe more life into the mold.  In the next decade, the mold would get overused, though.  But, in 1997, this Snake Eyes was a great addition to the Joe line.  Here's the (very limited) best of him from around the web.

1997 Snake Eyes Profile

1997 Snake Eyes Dio

1997 Snake Eyes Pre-Production at

1997 Snake Eyes, Toys R Us Exclusive, Star & Stripes Forever, Stalker, Zap, 1983

1997 Snake Eyes, Toys R Us Exclusive, Star & Stripes Forever, Stalker, Zap, 1983

1997 Snake Eyes, Toys R Us Exclusive, Star & Stripes Forever, Stalker, Zap, 1983

1997 Snake Eyes, Toys R Us Exclusive, Star & Stripes Forever, Stalker, Zap, 1983, 1985 Flint, Bazooka, 1986 Lifeline, Leatherneck

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

1993 Mudbuster

In the beginning, vehicles were the reason for the G.I. Joe line to exist.  These amazingly detailed mazes of plastic were incredibly profitable for Hasbro and provided the funding to keep the line moving.  It's likely that it cost Hasbro less or only marginally more to make something like the VAMP than it did to make a figure since the figures required so much construction prior to being ready for sale.  Joe vehicles remained combinations of model kits and toys for many years.  But, as the years progressed, corners began to be cut.  This was mostly due to changing tastes among kids.  Large, complicated vehicles and playsets became less important and action gimmicks became more important.  So, Joe vehicles changed with the times.  It's most noticeable after 1990.  By the line's final two years, vehicle releases were both less frequent and less impressive than those that had preceded them.  Which isn't to say that they don't have some fun, redeeming releases that are worthy of any collection.  The Shark 9000, Blockbuster and Cobra Detonator are all large vehicles that belong in any collection.  But, I find one of their smaller contemporaries: the Mudbuster, to be a hidden gem among the line's final years.

It is very probable that your opinion of the Mudbuster is entirely tied to your view of 1993 and 1994 G.I. Joe releases.  If you don't mind those figures, their colors and the new, bulkier sculpts, then you are probably OK with the Mudbuster.  It's no VAMP.  But, it's a toy that works great with the figures from the era.  If you're more of an '80's Joe fan, then you probably hate this vehicle.  But, the Mudbuster does perfectly encapsulate the changing purpose and design of vehicle toys from the 1980's to the 1990's.  The first waves of Joe vehicles were glorified model kits that were relatively cheap to produce and were long on details and playability.  By the 1990's, though, vehicles were something that needed to be in ready to play condition right out of the box.  This lead to toys that were easy to manufacture and assemble in factories (to keep costs down) rather than cheap to manufacture and package: leaving the construction labor to the consumer.  It's a rather drastic paradigm shift for toys and Joe straddled the changing consumer tastes.

It is a near certainty that I came across a Mudbuster at retail in the mid 1990's.  However, as it did not include a figure, I would have also quickly passed it by.  At the time, I didn't really have room for new vehicles.  And, since I had my full complement of childhood vehicles in decent enough condition, I felt I had no reason to acquire anything new unless it included a figure.  As all Joes disappeared from retail, this thinking started to vanish and I did pick up a couple of figureless vehicles.  When I got my first Mudbuster in 1999/2000, though, I realized that I would have loved it a few years earlier and I shorted myself by passing it by.  

One of the nice attributes of these later vehicles is that they were sculpted with the bulkier, later figures in mind.  Over the years, the basics of Joe figure construction remained unchanged.  But, the size and detail of some of the parts did.  By 1993, torsos and legs were bulkier, arms were more detailed and heads were rounder than those of the 1980's.  This is most visible when you attempt to put a 1993 or 1994 sculpted figure into a 1983 vehicle.  They will not fit into the Dragonfly and you can't get two of them to sit comfortably in the VAMP.  The later vehicles, though, accommodate the increased girth of their contemporary figures.  Part of the reason why the vehicles are larger is to interact with the figures of their era.

As a toy, the Mudbuster works.  My criteria for jeep type vehicles is that they can hold several figures with no hassle and that they have a play feature.  Sure, the Mudbuster features the de facto spring loaded cannon from the 1990's.  But, the design is good enough that it's believable.  And, the cannon can shoot a giant grappling hook with attached rope.  To me, this is the play feature that gives the Mudbuster its cachet.  The hook can be used to snag enemy vehicles and reel them in.  It's the ideal vehicle choice for law enforcement and it's in that capacity that the Mudbuster has found the greatest use in my collection.

But, the Mudbuster also works as a general, all purpose vehicle.  The turquoise coloring allows the Mudbuster to blend with both bright figure from the line's final years as well as those who came in more muted colors.  It's an odd versatility.  But, because both the figures and vehicles were designed in tandem, they are meant to complement one another and you see ghosts of the symmetry between figure and vehicle that was such a calling card of the 1980's Joe line. 

Some of the parts are reused from earlier vehicles.  That both gives the Mudbuster a generic quality that's tough to overcome.  But, it also shows that some different colors and a few new parts can make for a useful new toy.  (Something Palitoy pioneered in the Action Force line.)  The cockpit holds two figures with ease and there's even room for a weapon or two.  You can stack a couple of figures on the back, though it's tough to get more than one in the bed if that one is manning the gun.  There are nice storage holes for extra missiles.  And, the coup de gras is that the vehicle will extend with force as an action feature.  There is a rubber band that allows the vehicle to collapse and expand depending upon how you wish it to work.  It's not a very useful feature.  But, it was the type of thing that worked as a selling point in the 1990's.

Mudbusters aren't all that common to find.  The final year vehicles saw lower production numbers and weren't the ubiquitous parts of collections like their 1980's brethren.  But, they are also substantially less popular than the earlier offerings.  So, while it's fairly uncommon to stumble upon a perfect Mudbuster in the wild, you can find them for cheap with a little effort.  Boxed versions will run you under $30 and you can get loose, mint and complete Mudbusters for around $10.  For that price, the vehicle is a no-brainer if you have any interest in 1993 or 1994 figures.  So, there's no reason for anyone to be missing the Mudbuster aside from sheer lack of interest in the vehicle.

1993 Mudbuster, Mega Marines, Cyber Viper, Mega Viper, Duke, Battle Corps

1993 Mudbuster, Mega Marines, Cyber Viper, Mega Viper, Duke, Battle Corps, Mirage, Eco Warriors, Outback

1993 Mudbuster, Mega Marines, Cyber Viper, Mega Viper, Duke, Battle Corps, Mirage, Eco Warriors, Outback, General Flagg

1993 Mudbuster, Tiro Certo, Brazil, Estrela, Cerebro, Raio Verde, HEAT Viper, Mace, Bulletproof, DEF

Saturday, November 3, 2018

1984 Recondo - Around the Web

It's tough to wrong with Recondo.  He remains one of the most iconic Joe figures ever released and is a favorite of many collectors.  As a kid, I wanted to love the figure.  But, something about him never really clicked.  I've never been able to put my finger on it and I do enjoy the figure now and use him in photos quite often.  There's a couple of different variants of the figure out there where his leg camo is greener or browner that gives you something to track down.  Plus, there's an Auriken version from Mexico and an Estrela version from Brazil to find.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1984 Recondo Profile

Recondo at

Recondo Video Review

Brazilian Recondo (Leopardo) Profile

Recondo Pre Production at

Recondo at

Recondo at Joe Wiki

1984 Recondo, Spirit, 1983 VAMP

1984 Recondo, Spirit, 1983 VAMP, Tiger Force, Black Major, Starduster, Mutt, Mail Away, Bootleg, JUMP, Factory Custom

1984 Recondo, Spirit, 1983 VAMP, Tiger Force, Black Major, Starduster, Mutt, Mail Away, Bootleg, JUMP, Factory Custom

1984 Recondo, Spirit, 1983 VAMP, Tiger Force, Black Major, Starduster, Mutt, Mail Away, Bootleg, JUMP, Factory Custom, Clutch