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


  1. I will contend that minus the obvious 97 quality issues, the 97 rock and roll is a hell of a lot better than some of the shit we saw in the 2000's. the 86 roadblock is a surprisingly versatile figure, this could have easily been a "combat ready" hawk released with some vehicle, or with a series of new/reused heads and maybe a different set of arms could have been perfect for a "greenshirts" pack. but hasbro 2000's etc etc. i've always been infatuated with the 97's, it was obvious that someone was trying and the prototypes show that but everything got washed in the unorganized wreck that was the post kenner hasbro.

    i had one of these. i scooped up a few clearance stars and stripes sets from the TRU in riverhead NY before they did a massive remodel in late 99 with the intention of reusing everything for customs. realizing it was a weird production variant i tossed it in a baggie in a storage toe and a couple years later going through my collection before a move i found it again and the t-bar had basically turned to dust. the next time i went looking for it a few years later before selling off 95 percent of my collection i couldn't find it and never did, no clue what the hell happened to it.

  2. He'd make a fine Funskool Joe...if Funskool actually made India characters! (IIRC, Their torpedo was from Goa, though).

    I probably saw this back in the day, but was so replused by the appearance of the figures that I never even got the common Star and Stripes set.

    The quality issues are why I dislike 1997. Such potential, so disappointing. If I were crazy rich I'd bootleg 1997 figures...okay, I probably wouldn't. How does one even start such a thing? A dozen variants of a dark skinned Roadhawk'n Roll...not sure even Red Laser (who doesn't just do Cobra army builders) would touch that.