Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2017 Tiger Force Starduster - Factory Custom

Starduster is one of those odd figures who should not work.  But, he does.  When you sum his distinctive appearance with his rarity, though, you get one of the most expensive figures in the entire vintage line.  Had he been released in 1992, no one would care about the figure.  But, the early release year and classic construction combine to make a figure that collectors enjoy.  The character did not appear again until 2007 when he was included in a convention set.  For those who like the character and the figure's design, there was little to track down beyond hard to find and expensive variants that are, basically, the same figure.  In 2017, though, collectors were offered some new Starduster factory custom figures.  Among the rainbow of flavors of Starduster was a Tiger Force version.

This figure has a lot going on.  The black shirt is a great juxtaposition against the yellow pants.  Yes, yellow pants.  But, you don't really notice them because of the black stripes and detailed holster on the figure's legs.  The silver grenade and insignia pin give him some additional color.  The brown bandoleer and gloves, though, are a nice leathery color and provide the final color swash to the figure.  The figure works well with classic Tiger Force figures.  But, it can also be used by itself.  The black torso isn't something you saw often in the vintage Joe line and it works on this figure as it does in most of its appearances.

Starduster includes not just the jetpack, grenade launcher, helmet and visor based on the originals, but also a recolored JUMP gun and cord that connects it to the launcher.  There are some notes on the figure's gear.  First, the jetpack and gun are a deep blue color.  They aren't quite Cobra blue, though.  But, they work with the figure's colors.  The helmet is yellow with the star.  It looks great on the General figure from Red Laser's Army.  The visor is black like the original figure, but is of different plastic and easy to differentiate from an original.  The grenade launcher is somewhat controversial.  It, though, is a much shinier silver than a vintage Starduster launcher.  But, if that isn't obvious enough, the gun has a different handle from the original mold.  There really isn't any way to confuse a vintage Starduster gun from the Black Major versions and the fear around these weapons is massively overblown.

The figure is also available with both Starduster torsos.  You can get both the Duke chest and the earlier Recondo variant chest.  What's odd to me is that I find different colors of the figure to work better with different chest pieces.  For the Tiger Force variant, I prefer the Duke chest.  Things like this are completely subjective.  But, it's nice to have options for the figure construction as it gives you slightly different looks for various occasions.  The figure also has brown hair instead of the black hair from the vintage figure.  Since Starduster wears a helmet, this doesn't bother me all that much.  But, it allows you to use the figure as a different character should you so choose.

The key to this figure is that you get a way to use Starduster in different settings.  I find the earliest Joes to remain among my favorites since they formed a large part of my childhood memories.  Having a chance to add some additional characters and paint jobs in this construction style is great.  I like that so many new figures in the classic swivel head design have come out in recent years.  They allow for far more diverse set ups and have brought some remarkable new color schemes to what is actually a relatively small subset of Joe figures.  While I have found that too many repaints can make a mold stale, there are usually two or three color variants that hold my attention.  For Cobra Troopers, it is the Soldado.  For Cobra Mortal, it is the blue version.  And, for Starduster, it's this Tiger Force version.  For others, that's likely to vary.  But, for some reason, the notion of a Tiger Force Starduster resonated with me.

These Tiger Force Starduster variants remain available for original price.  You can get them between $10 and $15 depending upon how many different figures you order, how much you pay for shipping and if you take advantage of various sales and promotions.  Your mileage from this figure may vary based on the price you pay.  For me, getting a Starduster in a slightly different configuration is a fun way to add him to more photos and scenarios.  Pricing on vintage Stardusters is getting to the point where I don't want to take my original figure out for photos for fear of damage.  These factory customs help solve that dilemma and allow me to use the character in more diverse arrangements.  I can't ask for much more from a custom figure in this day and age.

2017, Tiger Force Starduster, Mail Away, Jet Pack, JUMP, Gold Head Steel Brigade, Black Major, Red Laser Army, Bombadier, 1993, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines

2017, Tiger Force Starduster, Mail Away, Jet Pack, JUMP, 1983, Recondo, 1984, Mutt, Zap

2017, Tiger Force Starduster, Mail Away, Jet Pack, JUMP, 1983, Recondo, 1984, Mutt, Zap

2017, Tiger Force Starduster, Mail Away, Jet Pack, JUMP, 1983, Red Laser Army, Black Major, The General, Hawk, Odin, Cobra Trooper


  1. I absolutely love these figures. I have a Red Shadows,Night Force, and the traditional BM version. Yes, there's some chatter among some collectors who think the BM stuff is lowering their precious originals, which were probably overpriced in the first place.There is rumors abound of some ebay seller who has a huge box of convention (?) Stardusters that sells them one at a time at a inflated price.
    I absolutely love the opportunity to get a hold of some classic molds for a decent price.I'm really excited with what he's going to do with the 85 Snake Eyes mold.Long live the o-ring! All hail the Black Major!!

  2. there’s something about black majors stuff that looks/feels kinda cheap.....almost like its a knockoff or something. the red laser stuff i’ve handled feels like a corps! figure but at least have a production look to them and as far as i can tell his online persona isn’t trying to be action figure tony montana. either way this all comes screeching to a halt once that snake eyes movie comes around.

  3. Why would this all come to a screeching halt once the snake eyes movies comes around?? I fail to see the connection there.

    Anyway, I always hated the original Star Duster figure. To me he looks like an insurance salesman in his pajamas. This new Tiger force version though, you are correct. There is something about this design that is pretty cool. I may have to pick one up.

    (Also, I agree with the previous poster that some of my Red Laser figures seem to be of a higher quality than some of my black major stuff)

  4. Can we get a float test confirmation with that repro weapon. Let's go nuts over decades old pieces of plastic being worth more than one made 2 years ago. That's what collecting is all about obsessing over aging things that weren't even made to last.

    I haven't gotten any Black Major or Red Laser stuff (is he still making stuff) in some time. There's how they feel, like Paint Wipes says. You have to accept them as similar toys but different than official joes (sort of like Funskool), and for me it takes a bit to warm up to them and at the prices...I'd just as soon go after official stuff I missed.

  5. “Why would this all come to a screeching halt once the snake eyes movies comes around?? I fail to see the connection there.”

    I’d imagine hasbros IP people will be on the war path with a movie, probably a toyline and any related media out there. Admittedly i wasn’t around the collecting world at all when the two movies were out so i don’t remember if the bootlegs dried up during that time.

    1. The first customs appeared at a Canadian convention where Hasbro was in attendance. It was right before the 1st movie. Guys were selling the Cobra Troopers with no issue. But, Hasbro saw someone selling movie figs "early" and freaked out and tried to confiscate them.

      As long as you don't use packaging or trademarked names, you can avoid them. Try selling a packaged Snake Eyes figure with that name and the movie logo, though, and you'll get a nice C&D letter.

  6. I absolutely cannot stand the reversed shoulder/forearm rivets on these figures - it greatly cheapens the look on an already cheaply made figure. Coupled with the high "price point" (I can bet these cost the sellers no more than $1-2 each to produce since they are bulk made – but are charging over $10 each on the open market), it just adds insult to injury . . .

  7. I really like the factory customs figs. Red Laser's Navy-Vipers, for instance, are outstanding. Sure, some aren't as solid as others, but I do like that these guys are doing interesting things with old molds and part-swaps.

    They don't diminish my collection at all, but enhance it. Being able to buy "new" figures today breathes life into my old stuff. As there is no way Hasbro will ever dip back into O-ring, this will do nicely.