Larry Hama loved Roadblock. He was introduced in the comic with superhero level flair. He then remained a mainstay of the comic plot for the remaining decade of Joe media. As if this weren't enough, Roadblock was a staple of cartoon, too. He was that rare character who crossed over into both mediums and was appreciated by fans of each. He was also a favorite of Hasbro. Just as his iconic 1984 mold disappeared from retail shelves, Hasbro released a newly sculpted 1986 figure. This figure hung around until 1988 when the Tiger Force repaint of the 1984 was released. Roadblock then, though, went on a bit of a hiatus and did not appear again until 1992.
Roadblock's return to retail in 1992, though, was extremely well done. The new mold brought some heft to the character that had been missing in 1984 and only slightly improved in 1986. For the generations of kids who had grown up in the '80's, this 1992 sculpt was a missed redo of a favorite character. And, as collectors started to come of age, the 1992 Roadblock was one of the very few figures from that decade that were sought after. Hasbro helped this along in the early 2000's when they got the mold back from India and repainted it for the 2004 Anti Venom set. Gone were some of the more gaudy hues from the '90's and in was a palette of black, tan and deep green. It was extremely rare for the 2000's era Hasbro to produce the best paint job on a figure. But, with the Anti-Venom Roadblock, they succeeded.
Hasbro had planned a repaint of the 1984 Roadblock as part of the 1997 Toys R Us exclusive G.I. Joe assortments. While all of the other replacements from the original hand painted samples could be explained away by "lost" molds, Roadblock's absence was odd. While he was not replaced in that year's lineup, his 1986 sculpt did. The parts were used for Breaker and Rock and Roll in the Stars and Stripes set. But, then, those parts disappeared and the 1986 Roadblock was never repainted. In 2001, the 1984 Roadblock returned to retail: renamed as a new character. It was revealed the copyrights were an issue and may have been part of the 1997 snafu. The 1984 mold was re-done several times: to the point of annoyance in the collecting world. Finally, Hasbro got the 1992 mold back from Hasbro. While I'm not too keen on Hasbro's handling of the molds returned from Funskool, they did right by Roadblock. He was released twice, both times in a solid color scheme worthy of the character's importance.
When I talk about Joes of the 1980's, the memories are of childhood play. For figures from the 1990's, it is of my re-entry into collectordom and the recollections are a mixture of childhood regret of not having some of the toys when I was a kid and adult happiness for finding a fulfilling past time. My 2000's remembrances are of the acquisition of figures and the sentiment of the collecting community at the time of their releases. Each era has value to me. But, it also shows why many of the 2000's figures have faded with time. They lack any real connection to me aside from the community aspect. And, the community during that time was fun. Sure, there was nonsense. But, less than today and more guys got along since it wasn't a big competition like so many want to make collecting now.
For this Roadblock, though, I have found uses. I like Roadblock to appear in photos since he's a popular character. The 1984 has its uses. And, I no longer have the 1986, 1992 or 1993 figures in my collection. So, the Anti-Venom Roadblock and the HAS Roadblock see a good amount of use in various photos and dios. The colors are strong and the accessories are good. That's about all you can ask of a decade old repaint. But, that's also the extent of my involvement with the figure. He had no great adventures. I lack any anecdote about losing him somewhere or playing with him in a place that's long gone. (I have no nostalgia for any homes I've sold other than my first. If I liked them enough to stay, I'd still own them.) In short, he's something cool that's there. But, without his connection to my childhood toys, I'd have no reason to own him. I'm happy I have him. But, at the same time, I also realize that he's never going to be more than a box checked for some mythical collection goal.
I've talked about the Anti Venom Steel Brigade helmets before. For characters that had a unique helmet, the common theme detracted from the figure. But, for Roadblock, the helmets are less problematic. The original figure release did not include a helmet. So, the inclusion here doesn't replace something better. The helmet, of course, doesn't fit on Roadblock's head. So, it's value is minimal. The rest of Roadblock's accessories are derived from the 1984 original. He includes a black version of the 1984 .50 cal machine gun and stand. I consider this Roadblock's iconic weapon. So, its inclusion is a welcome one. The figure also includes a black version of the 1984 backpack. However, this is the modified version from earlier in the 2000's that lacks the peg for the tripod and has the ammo pack molded to back body instead of having it as a separate piece. It's a downgrade from the original. But, it also is less prone to breakage and loss. The final piece is a black figure stand. The fact that the Anti-Venom set included well thought out accessories seemed inconsequential at the time. But, this proved to be the only Joe set that ever included gear that really matched the figures.
The 1992 Roadblock mold had an interesting life. Originally, the 1992 figure was released with a spring loaded spinner and cool new machine gun. However, the spinner mechanism broke easily and was "recalled". Roadblock was then removed from later 1992 shipments. However, in late 1992 or early 1993 the 1992 Roadblock paint scheme was re-released on 1993 cards. This time, though, the figure included a weapons tree and the cool machine gun was gone. Once this stock was cleared out, the mold was repainted in a neon 1993 color scheme and shipped for the rest of the year. Hasbro sent the mold to India in the late 1990's where Funskool then released the figure in colors similar to the 1992 figure for many years. The Funskool release brought back the "recalled" 1992 machine gun and gave collectors a chance to easily get it. Hasbro got the mold back in 2003 when Funskool returned 18 molds to Hasbro. They then released it in this Anti Venom set. There are two different unproduced color schemes of the Anti Venom Roadblock: a light blue and a dark blue variant. Both are now expensive and hard to find. In 2005, Hasbro used the exact paint masks from the Anti Venom Roadblock for the HAS Roadblock. The HAS set was terrible, but the Roadblock and Snake Eyes figures were useful. The mold then disappeared and never appeared again. There's lots of paint jobs of the figure for collectors to track down. But, the mold probably had a couple of more uses in it if the line had continued for a few more years.
The Anti Venom set was actually relatively popular upon its release. At the time, collectors generally ignored any set that didn't include army builders. But, the Anti Venom set found some interest. While the Urban Strike set was reduced to $15 at Toys R Us stores around the country, the contemporarily released Anti Venom set never saw such reductions. While it hung around in stores through most of the rest of 2004, it did sell out. By 2006 and 2007, loose figures from the set were selling for double retail: a feat not even achieved by many army builders of that era. Now, too, the figures have gotten rather scarce. It's actually kind of hard to find mint and complete versions of the characters from the set. But, scarcity doesn't equal rarity and pretty much anyone who collected in 2004-2006 has this figure safely tucked away.
Still, though, a mint and complete version of this figure will run you between $15 and $30. That's quite a lot for a mold that was repainted twice and was heavily concentrated in collector circles. But, all Joe figures are pretty stupidly priced these days for things so common. If you can find collections amassed during the early 2000's, this guy will be there. And, that's probably your best way to get him cheap. This version is easily the best paint job on the mold and is a worthy addition to any Roadblock collection. With production numbers around 16,000, there's plenty of these guys out there. You just have to have some patience to find one for a fair price.