Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rarities - 2004 Yellow Gloves Steeler

There were lots of oddball figures that appeared in Asia in the 2000's.  Some were full bore unproduced variants.  But, there were also weird figures with random colors that made no sense.  It's possible that many of these were factory mix ups in terms of planned paint colors.  But, it's left collectors with some figure that simply aren't necessary to own even though they are a frustrating relic of Joe history to track down.

Below is a 2004 Comic Pack Steeler figure that has bright yellow/orange gloves.  I'm not sure why he has bright yellow/orange gloves.  But, he does.  This guy showed up in the mid 2000's at some point.  But, he wasn't overly common and, since he wasn't popular, there aren't too many of them out there to track down.  If you bought lots of pre-production figures during that time, it's possible you have this figure lying around.

2004 Yellow Gloves Comic Pack Steeler Unproduced Bootleg Midnight Chinese

2004 Yellow Gloves Comic Pack Steeler Unproduced Bootleg Midnight Chinese

2004 Yellow Gloves Comic Pack Steeler Unproduced Bootleg Midnight Chinese

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Rarities - Funskool Super Hero Repaints

One of the most famous Funskool figures is the Super Hero figure.  A heavily Torpedo repaint with a Short Fuze head was repainted in Superman colors and given a cape.  It's meant to be Superman, but couldn't be for licensing reasons.  In the 2000's, Funskool repainted the Kenner Batman line.  If you are a collector of that line, there are Funskool variants of tons of figures in the line just like there are tons of Funskool G.I. Joe repaints.  As part of the line, though, Funskool repainted a couple of G.I. Joe vehicles as well.

The first vehicle is a repaint of the 1988 Stellar Stiletto.  (It's actually a repainted 1993 Star Fighter since it has the missile launcher.  But, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.)   It was released under the Batman license.  (Oddly, Funskool never released the Stiletto mold in the G.I. Joe line.)  The all black body with the silver tip is actually well done and would have made for a great repaint.  There are two major issues with the design.  First is the overload of stickers.  They detract from the look.  But, stickers can be removed.  The real issue is that the vehicle was release without a canopy.  The larger Batman figure would never fit into the cockpit with the canopy closed.  So, it was simply omitted.  The lack of canopy doomed collector interest in the U.S. when a small supply of these was offered by American dealers in the early 2000's.  Now, though, anyone could easily swap a Stiletto or Star Fighter canopy onto this body or remove the silver parts from this release and upgrade either of the American releases of the mold.

Funskool Super Man, Batman, Stilletto, Claw

The second release is a repaint Cobra Claw.  This exclusive was released under the Superman banner.  In this case, Funskool did release a Claw in the G.I. Joe line.  But, this repaint was far more obscure and only had a small amount of them imported to the U.S. since the Claw wasn't overly popular at the time.

The artwork on the card shows a yellow body.  With Funskool, variants are always a possibility.  What's notable, though, are the silver/chrome parts of the Claw.  These would be fun ways to upgrade a U.S. Claw release.  And, the blue and red colors could be seen as Cobra themed, too.

Funskool Super Man, Batman, Stilletto, Claw

Funskool Super Man, Batman, Stilletto, Claw

Funskool Super Man, Batman, Stilletto, Claw

Funskool repainted G.I. Joe vehicles into many of their lines.  Super Cop, these Super Hero releases and a few other, known variants all point to Funskool using the molds as often as they could.  It's probably we'll find more Funskool re-uses of G.I. Joe molds in the future.  But, these Super Hero items are an interesting take on Joe and show a diverse cross pollination of once popular U.S. toy lines.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Rarities - 2004 Light Blue Anti-Venom Roadblock

For whatever reason, the 2000's Toys R Us G.I. Joe exclusives had many unproduced variants.  It may have just been inattention to early details that lead to the changes.  Or, it might have been that collectors had occasion to learn about these figures just due to the Asian action figure sellers who were able to get a hold of them.  But, massive quantities of these unproduced figures were made available to collectors and thousands upon thousands of the figures were moved from Asia into collections...many to never be seen again.

The 2004 Anti Venom set went through a few iterations.  First, there was a dark blue version of the set.  Then, a lighter blue set appeared.  Finally, we got the tan version at retail.  The retail figures are held in high regard and tend to fetch decent prices today.  I was never a fan of the dark blue figures: mostly because the blue was too Cobra.  The light blue set, though, was better since the color kind of work for law enforcement type figures like Mutt and Barricade.  For Roadblock, though, the light blue pants are out of place and the production figure is substantially better.

In the mid 2000's, you could buy these figures on Ebay, on a website, or just by emailing the seller.  Depending on what the most recent Ebay auctions ended at, you could get these figures anywhere from $10 to $20.  The light blue Anti Venom unproduced figures were among the more common sets and you could get Duke and Charbroil for 1/2 the price of this Roadblock.  Obviously, this isn't the case today and this figure will fetch a substantial premium.  But, there are a lot of them out...probably almost as many as the convention set character figures.  You just don't see them as often as you used to.

Below is a photo of the retail Anti Venom Roadblock, the unproduced light blue version and the production HAS figure which used the same paint masks as the Anti Venom set, but changed the plastic color on the pants.  You'll notice that in addition to the light blue pants, the unproduced Roadblock also has a slightly darker shirt.  Other than that, the figures are very much the same.  Personally, I think the HAS figure is the best use of this mold with the Anti Venom production figure being second.  But, the unproduced figure gives collectors something more to seek out.

2004 Anti Venom Roadblock, Light Blue, 2005 HAS, Toys R Us Exclusive, Midnight Chinese, Unproduced

Monday, June 17, 2019

Funskool - Maltova Promotional Figures

Maltova is a chocolate drink marketed towards kids.  Funskool makes toys directed for the same market.  So, it was only natural that the two would team up for a cross promotion.  Funskool made some exclusive figures in the vein of the Calcium Sandoz figures that were either included with Maltova products or as a premium.  (Based on the ties on the packages, I lean towards them being attached to some product.)

I have no idea how many figures there might be.  Below are pics of a few of them.  Sadly, these figures have the same issues as other Funskool promotions in that they have crappy straight arms that make the otherwise exclusively terrible paint schemes less valuable for a loose collector.  But, for collectors in general, they are highly desirable and some will fetch stupidly high prices.  Each figure has a new code name included on the bio card.

Dial Tone (Navigator):

Here you have a 1994 Dial Tone torso and head that are colored similarly to the Funskool release of the figure.  It looks like he has Dodger legs.  But, I didn't look them up and am going from visual memory.  So, please offer corrections in the comments.

Funskool, Maltova, Budo, Quick Kick, Blocker, Cutter, Countdown, Croc Master, Dial Tone

Cutter (Tracker):

This figure is one of the more interesting concoctions.  The figure uses the body of Cutter, but the Countdown head.  The coloring is reminiscent of both Cutter and the Funskool Grunt figure.  With swivel arms, this figure would simply be a must have.  It looks great and would be a perfect addition to either a Whale or Flagg crew.

Funskool, Maltova, Budo, Quick Kick, Blocker, Cutter, Countdown, Croc Master, Dial Tone

Here's another oddball: a Quick Kick body with a Budo head.  The figure's name starts with Karate, but I can't see the rest.  I've never seen a Quick Kick custom using the Budo head and the design is kind of ingenious.  I'd easily buy this figure (if he had swivel arms) and I hate Quick Kick.  Sometimes, though, you strike gold.

Funskool, Maltova, Budo, Quick Kick, Blocker, Cutter, Countdown, Croc Master, Dial Tone


The colors here are just iconic Funskool.  You have a Red Blocker head with an orange Psyche Out chest.  I'm not sure about the legs.  But, the whole ensemble is a great way to enjoy Funskool.

Funskool, Maltova, Budo, Quick Kick, Blocker, Cutter, Countdown, Croc Master, Dial Tone

Croc Master (Snake Shadow):

This is probably the least interesting figure since it's a barely painted Croc Master.  Every other Croc Master release is better.  So, this figure would be an easy pass.

Funskool, Maltova, Budo, Quick Kick, Blocker, Cutter, Countdown, Croc Master, Dial Tone

Budo (Scorpion):

Looks like Budo was a cheap mold to get into production.  This version isn't painted much at all, even though the colors of the base plastic are decent.  But, again, the production figures are better and this guy's value is as an oddity.

Funskool, Maltova, Budo, Quick Kick, Blocker, Cutter, Countdown, Croc Master, Dial Tone

With all things Funskool, it's probable there are more variants out there.  But, all of these promotional figures are interesting looks at Funskool's attempts to entice new customers through other products.  Hasbro rarely did this in the Joe line.  But, they did go it.  And, Star Wars had an exclusive figure available with Fruit Loops cereal as recently as 1996.  So, there is ample precedent for such cross promotion. 

As a kid, my parents weren't too keen on tie ins if they were with brands that they did not, normally, buy.  But, I ate a ton of Fruit Loops in 1996 to get a couple of the Han Stormtroopers.  And, were even poorly articulated figures like these released as promotional items in the U.S., I'd most likely buy enough to get a full set.  But, that's what collectors do. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rarities - 1997 Stars and Stripes Rock and Roll Skin Color Variant

Originally, the 1997 series of figures was planned to include a repainted Breaker and a repainted 1983 Rock and Roll figure.  Handpainted samples were shown on the back of the Star and Stripes set.  But, the molds for those figures were "lost".  Hasbro resorted to some quick replacements and both characters were released in 1997 as repaints of the 1986 Roadblock body with different heads.  Somewhere along the way, though, there was a miscommunication.  Somehow, Rock and Roll was given black skin.  This may have been a holdover from the Roadblock color templates that were used.  But, a good amount of the mis-painted figures were packaged into Stars and Stripes sets and sold in Toys R Us stores across the country.

Today, this variant is rather tough to find and is worth a couple of hundred dollars.  But, in 1997, the figure was findable.  Anecdotally, collectors of the era estimated that about 1 in 30 Stars and Stripes sets had the variant.  As the production run for the set was believed to be around 30,000 sets, that would place 1,000 Rock and Roll variants into the collecting community.  Of course, that "back of the napkin" estimate could be wildly off.  But, the variant was quickly discovered by collectors of the time.  However, the figures weren't overly desirable and you could easily trade a spare 1997 Alley Viper straight up for one. 

The variant set that includes this Rock and Roll also contains a significant Breaker variant.  But, since it's just a color hue change, no one cares about it and it lacks the cachet and value of the Rock and Roll.  It was extremely rare for Hasbro to race change a figure mold in the US.  So, in the cases where it did occur (either intentionally or by accident) the resulting figures have found great collector interest.  You used to be able to find sealed Stars and Stripes sets with the variant figures in mislabeled online sales and could get deals.  But, it's been more than a decade since those dried up and this figure is now well known and accordingly priced in the community.  It's safe to say that almost all of the variants ended in collector hands due to the rapid identity and communication of the variant.  But, it's still one of the rarest and most significant retail variants in the history of the G.I. Joe line.

1997 Rock and Roll, Variant, Race Changing Figures

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Rarities - Unproduced 2002 Shock Viper

In 2002, collectors were army builder crazy.  They were desperate for any new figure that could be army built in any capacity.  Early in that year, Hasbro repainted a 1994 Ice Cream Soldier and released him as a new Cobra named the Shock Viper.  But, that figure saw a truncated release and was only available online.  Collectors were only able to get three to six of that version.  Hasbro attempted to rectify this situation by releasing a different version of the Shock Viper to retail at the end of 2002.

At the 2002 convention, Hasbro showcased their planned Shock Viper that would debut at the end of 2002.  This version lacked the purple and red of the original and replaced it with a nice grey color.  Grey Cobras are pretty rare in the line.  So, seeing the figure was a visual treat.  You will note the copper highlights on the hand painted sample that carried over to to the production figure.

For some reason, though, this grey color scheme was abandoned.  It was replaced with a burnt orange Shock Viper that's odd and not all that useful.  He was only packed one per case upon his release, which helped to offset the poor design of the retail figure.  This grey sample would have been a far superior color scheme and one that collectors would hold in higher esteem today.  Hasbro never commented as to why the change occurred and the Shock Viper mold would not appear again until 2007 when it was used on the Lt. Clay Moore figure.  This grey Shock Viper would have been a cool addition to a later retail release.  But, it remains an interesting insight into some of the concepts that were planned but didn't make it to retail in the early 2000's.

2002 Shock Viper, Unproduced G.I. Joe

2002 Shock Viper, Unproduced G.I. Joe

2002 Shock Viper, Unproduced G.I. Joe

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Rarities - Unproduced 2005 Destro

In 2005, the Iron Grenadiers concept was chosen as the theme for the convention exclusive figure set.  It turned into one of the most popular sets in convention history and remains one of the most popular releases nearly 15 years later.  One oddball in the set, though, was the Destro figure.  Instead of a classic Destro mold, the Destro figure used the 1992 figure's head and a 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal figure.  All of the figures in the set seemed to fit together except for this Destro.  But, in the zeal of the set's quality, the Destro was largely forgiven and collectors moved on.

However, as 2005 progressed, an unproduced prototype of a 1988 Destro figure started to appear in Asia. The first speculation, of course, was that collectors were finally going to see a good Destro in a Toys R Us 6 pack.  But, as those sets' days at retail were done, that was not the case.  The mystery figure was actually something different.

It seems, in their infinite wisdom, that the club stumbled across this Destro mold when looking for figures to release in the 2005 convention set.  Since they were so plugged into the 3 3/4" collector community, they decided that collectors hated this version of Destro and discarded it.  When the 2005 Destro figure was revealed, most collectors wondered why it wasn't the 1988 figure mold in the set.  Caught with their pants down in embarrassment at their lack of understanding the 3 3/4" collecting world, the club released the mold in 2006: but as Overlord.  Collectors never got a 1988 Destro repaint and the club was embroiled in another snafu that even a novice 3 3/4" collector could have avoided.

In retrospect, it's very unfortunate that this Destro never got reuse.  In 2005, Hasbro released a terrible repaint of the 1992 Destro in a comic pack.  It is a completely wasted release and is ignored by collectors today.  Had it been a 1988 mold repainted in 1983 style, though, it would be among the more favored repaints of that era.  Seeing this figure is reminder of how badly both Hasbro and club bungled the few vintage Joe repaints in the 2000's.  They got some right.  But, they missed on so many more.  This Destro is a perfect example of what might have been.  This mold in Iron Grenadier colors and with convention level paint masks would have made the 2005 convention set perfect.  A feat that was never accomplished.  But, it was not to be.

1988 Destro, 2005 Convention, Iron Grenadier

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rarities Month - 2019

2019's Rarities Month is going to be subdued.  I don't have as much to showcase since I've depleted my archives.  I've got a couple of fun items, though, and should have about 2 posts per week.