Thursday, October 31, 2019

Mummy Mask - Power Commandos

The vintage G.I. Joe line had many imitators.  Usually, they were cheap lines that tried to ply on the Joe brand while appealing to the limited budgets of gift givers or parents.  As a kid, I abhorred most of the attempts to knock off G.I. Joe.  I found the quality, accessory and articulation differences to simply be too much to overcome.  So, none of the classic knock off lines like Remco, Sgt. Rock or even the CORPS! were ever part of my childhood toy experience.  This, of course, has carried over to my adult collecting.  In general, I have no interest in toy lines that attempt to mimic G.I. Joe.  While there are a few conversation pieces out there, I rarely find the figures actually compatible and avoid them.  But, the opening of the collector world to worldwide experiences has introduced some knock off brands that have been able to capture my attention.  In the case of the Power Commandos, the line gets me both due to the offbeat nature of the theme as well as the blatant rip offs they stole from the Joe line.  In recent years, the Power Commandos have become more famous.  Much of that has to do with the singular character of Mummy Mask: who is profiled today.

Mummy Mask is the perfect blend of complete oddball design with off putting colors.  There is no reason for the character to have any interest except for the fact that he's just so bizarre.  The primary selling point is that the figure is a mummy.  He's the classic all bandaged visage.  But, for some reason, he's wearing a captain's hat.  The result is something that both makes no sense and is still totally familiar looking.  On the surface, a mummy may seem too out there to be integrated into Joe.  But, Cobra had a snake man, a guy who dressed up as a bird, an alligator, monsters, zombies and a gypsy hypnotist on their roster.  So, I'll hold off on denigrating a mummy as too far out there.

Power Commandos are supposed to be a space themed line.  Mummy Mask brings an element of fantasy to it, too.  If you read the figure's bio-card, it refers to him as a creature.  He is an alien, as well.  His entire persona is a Master of Disguise and the bandages wrapping his face are an obfuscation of his true self since he only removes them to showcase the countenance of his disguised persona.  He is afraid of both fire and water.  So, if you can catch him on fire, he won't put himself out.  My favorite part of the dreadful writing is that he's from the "City of the Underworld".  I read it like various wrestling heels hailing from "Parts Unknown".  But, the cheesiness of the filecard fits the figure, perfectly.

1992, Lucky Bell, Power Commandos, Mummy Mask, Metal Hawk, MOC, Carded, Filecard

If you look at the Mummy Mask parts, you can see the influence of the 1985 Tele Viper.  Mummy Mask's chest is, basically, the same as the Tele Viper.  It's pretty likely that the company who produced these items used real Joes as the basis for their parts and then modified just enough to avoid any legal issues.  (Lanard did the same thing with CORPS! accessories.)  It creates an cohesive look for these figures when posed with Joes, though, since the familiarity of the parts ties the two figures lines together.  The parts are used on additional figures in the line, so Lucky Bell worked hard to minimize their costs while still creating some interesting figures.

In the end, Mummy Mask is really no different a concept than many other out there Cobras who populate the Joe world.  And, in that regard, this figure can be a fun addition to any collection.  For me, he's going to be some sort of villain character.  But, I haven't found the perfect backstory for him, yet.  Until then, he's a fun conversation piece that can appear in photos.  In some ways, he's a good companion for Serpentor. But, that's also a bit too on point.  I'm not sure what would convince someone to dress up as a mummy as their gimmick.  A burn victim leaves too many questions.  But, a guy who's just kind of off may work.  I see the hat on his head as kind of a 1930's era pilot cap.  Again, though, I'm not sure how to make all of this fit into something that isn't too hackneyed.  I'll have to revisit this figure in a few years to see if I've made any progress.

Mummy Mask's gear is fun.  He's got a big blade thing that looks like it incorporated a bit of the Techno Viper's tools.  He's also got a pointed staff that's neither a spear nor a sword.  Both weapons fit with the oddity of the character.  His rifle is a black mash up of the 1986 Viper rifle and the barrel of a weapon I can't place from memory.  (There is a later Mummy Mask variant that includes a green version of this weapon.)  Sadly, the figure has tight, brittle thumbs that preclude me from really trying to get his accessories into his hands.  But, the gear is original, weird and still useful.  The quality of the weapons is high and the colors are realistic and match the figure.

Once upon a time, Power Commandos were super rare and rather expensive.  However, in the late 2010's, a large quantity of them began to show up in Mexico.  These were offered to American collectors for very cheap prices.  Buying in lots, you can buy the full first series of 6 figures for around $8 per figure.  If you can find complete figures individually, you'll pay a premium for Mummy Mask...usually to the tune of $15 to $20.  But, today, it is still a bit easier to find carded sets than it is loose samples.  The series 2 Power Commandos figures, which include a variant Mummy Mask who features much darker blue highlights as well as figures that are near exact matches for the Cobra Viper and BAT, remain incredibly rare.  Once the Mexican stock dries up, it's possible these series 1 figures will once again get hard to find and be priced accordingly.  As we've seen with both Plastirama and Funskool figures, once the common overstock is finally absorbed, pricing can increase quickly.  The good news is that Mummy Mask is a gimmick figure that isn't really all that necessary.  He's fun to own and can fit with an oddball Cobra army.  But, he's a knock off from an obscure line and that precludes him from ever being a key figure for anyone to own.  But, if you think you're ever going to want Mummy Mask, it's probably best to act now before they get harder to find, again.

1992, Lucky Bell, Power Commandos, Mummy Mask, Metal Hawk, Black Major, Night Force Snake Eyes, 2019

1992, Lucky Bell, Power Commandos, Mummy Mask, Metal Hawk, MOC, Carded, Dhalsim, Mortal Kombat, Movie Edition

1992, Lucky Bell, Power Commandos, Mummy Mask, Metal Hawk, MOC, Carded

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Funskool Tripwire - Around the Web

Years ago, the Funskool Tripwire was just a somewhat popular $4 figure.  Everyone had him.  A few people even army built him.  There were few people who didn't like him.  Then, Funskool dried up.  In the ensuing decade, Tripwire got a little harder to find and his popularity lead to some price increases.  Now, though, G.I. Joe pricing is stupid and the Funskool Tripwire is a $100 figure.  That's way too much to pay for a figure like this.  But, that's what the market is demanding these days.  We'll see where we are two years from now, though.

There's a good amount of content out there on this figure.  (Proving it's far more common than the current pricing suggests.)

Funskool Tripwire Profile

Funskool Tripwire at The Viper Pit

Funskool Tripwire at

Funskool Tripwire by SpecialMissionForce

Oreobuilder's 50 Shades of Tripwire

Funskool Tripwire by Skip A Frogman

Funskool Tripwire by whatsonjoemind

Funskool Tripwire, Beach Head, 1993 Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines

Funskool Tripwire, Beach Head, 1993 Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines, Flint, Airtight

Thursday, October 24, 2019

2005 Convention Exclusive Dragonsky - Around The Web

The 2005 Convention Dragonsky figure was one of the best kitbashes of the 2000's.  The parts, colors and accessories all combined to create an amazing figure.  For many years, though, this guy was a forgotten classic.  But, in recent times, he's gotten more expensive and difficult to find.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

Dragonsky Profile

Dragonsky at

Dragonsky at

Dragonsky at

Dragonsky at Half the Battle

2005 Convention Exclusive Oktober Guard Dragonsky, Comic Pack, Buzzer, Dreadnok, 2006

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

1992 Duke

Something happened to the Joe line between 1991 and 1992.  While 1991 saw the full complement of 17 standard carded figures, many of them were short shipped and only appeared at retail for one year.  In 1992, the Joe line was drastically cut down.  There were only 12 standard carded figures.  There were, though, 19 new figures that were branded under different subsets.  It seems the standard Joe line had gotten a bit stale at retail.  So, Hasbro pumped up new themes and refreshed some of the cardback designs to make the toys stand out more on retail shelves.  For most collectors, the 1992 year is defined by the perception of bright colors.  But, in looking at the 1992 releases, the neon that would be more common in 1993 is largely absent.  The standard line is full of muted, realistic colors.  The DEF figures are more traditionally colored.  It's not until you get to Eco Warriors and Ninja Force that the colors get out of whack.  (Though, I can forgive Eco Warriors as the colors make sense there.)  But, among the 12 carded figures, there are still missteps.  Brightly colored divers are forgiven due to their specialty.  But, the 1992 Duke features a poor color choice that doomed an otherwise excellent figure.

Most collectors know the 1992 Duke from either his ubiquity in the marketing materials of the day or for the parts base that created several figures during the 2000's repaint era.  But, as a figure, Duke stands mostly on his own.  The figure features a tan base color with brown highlights and golden metal accouterments.  He has muted cammo on his legs and some color splashes on his arms, neck, sleeves and boots.  All this sounds good so far, no?  There's one key detail here that is missing but defines the figure.  The color chose for those splashes, as well as the cammo pattern, is red.  Visually, the red ring around Duke's neck and even the sleeves could be forgiven.  But, the figure becomes a contrast in red when you view him in totality.  Were this red a green, black or brown, this figure would be the best Duke ever released.  But, he wasn't and, therefore, he's not.

But, from a pure sculpting and design standpoint, this Duke is excellent.  The headsculpt is very detailed.  It retains the idea of Duke.  But, the stupid grin is gone for a more hardened face.  The figure's chest features a flak jacket as well as a centrally aligned pistol as well as bandoleers and grenades.  His waist is full of pockets that give it some bulk and the rest of the figure is relatively unadorned which keeps Duke from being too busy.  His arms feature a weird shoulder length short sleeve.  It's different and weird and became the bane of collector's existence in the 2000's.  As a one off, the look can work.  But, beyond that, the sleeves become annoying.

Duke's gear is OK and terrible.  He is one of the last few figures (outside of Star Brigade) to include a removable helmet.  Duke includes a small brown knife and a large rifle as his weaponry.  The knife is well done.  The rifle is cool.  But, it's rather large.  The small stock and comically lone barrel and body make is less useful that it might otherwise be.  It should be noted, though, that the brown plastic used on these weapons is extremely brittle.  The knife is prone to snapping in two and the rifle's handle is easily stressed and will snap off as well.  Duke also includes a huge missile launcher.  This can be used in two ways.  The first is as a backpack.  It looks dumb.  The second way is that the launcher includes a stand and a seat.  Duke can sit atop the cannon and ride it.  This looks dumber.  On some level, the engineering to produce this launcher is impressive.  But, the reality is that it's a waste of resources that could have given this Duke more traditional gear.

In my collection, this Duke doesn't have a huge role.  I first acquired the figure in 1999 or so.  At that time, new figures were quickly entering my collection.  As I was a long time fan of the 1993 Duke (I had found him at retail a few years earlier.), I had no need for this Duke.  He went into a drawer and stayed there.  When the 2001 repaint was released, though, it showed how much potential this figure had.  By late 2001, I had the character represented by the 1993 Duke sent to die in prison for treason.  The 2001 Duke became the new field leader of the Joes.  This 1992 version was his older, less accomplished brother.  (The brown hair on the 2001 duke helped distinguish them as different people.)  The two brothers had an early bond since the character of this 1992 Duke was more experienced.  But, he had less talent.  This Duke was slowly left behind as the 2001 version became increasingly the point where he is now the number three leader in the Joes.  If I ever want to use this figure mold, I use the 2001 version.  The 1992 version has seen precious little time in any photos I've taken through the years.  And, that's likely to remain his fate since the later repaint is so vastly superior.

1992 was also interesting in of the 12 characters released in the standard line, only four of them were new characters.  (You can make a case that General Flagg was also an existing character due to the comic, but this figure is his first appearance.)  The remaining figures are all updates of classic characters that were hold overs from the '80's.  Looking at the subset figures, the trend continues with Stalker, Cobra Commander, Hawk, Mutt, Cutter, Stormshadow and others.  It's almost like Hasbro gave the line a soft reboot to keep classic names front and center.  The 1990 series featured only 5 rehashed characters.  In 1991, slightly more than 50% of the carded figures were existing characters.  In 1992, it was 18 out of 31.  Maybe this was a way to connect buyers to cartoon reruns and recycled marketing material.  But, it is a definitive shift in the line's strategy in a very short time. 

This Duke version feels like it was heavily used.  The reality is that it really wasn't...outside of a couple of years in the early 2000's.  Several closely clustered uses of the mold made it appear common.  But, there is really one Duke figure that uses this body: the excellent 2001 version.  The ARAHC from that year is, easily, the best paint job on this mold and is the definitive use of the parts.  Later that same year, the chest appeared on the Leatherneck figure.  In 2004, the superb Desert Patrol Stalker used this Duke's body with a 1989 Stalker head.  Again, it's an excellent figure (one of the highlights of the repaint era) but it's Stalker instead of Duke.  Various Duke parts were then used on other figures, including the 2000's era Crimson Guard.  The mold was planned for a 2003 Wal Mart exclusive Sky Patrol Duke.  While the figures were cancelled and never actually released, hundreds or thousands of the pre-production figures made their way into the collecting community via Asian Joe sellers.  The Wal Mart figure is extremely well done and was once common enough to encourage collectors to track it down.  Now, it's a 3 digit figure that can months or years to find.  But, it does exist for fans of this mold.  I'd have loved to have seen this figure released in the 2000's in colors similar to the V1 Duke.  It would have been a great repaint.  But, it was not to be.

1992 Duke figures are cheap.  Despite the fact that the figure tends to discolor and the seat, stand, knife and his gun tend to be brittle, you can easily get mint and complete figures for around $8.00.  In this day and age, that's a pittance for a vintage figure that is pretty good.  Dealers will sell them for about double the open market pricing.  But, for a figure of a major character that's pretty well done and has good gear, you'd expect to pay much more.  A big part of that pricing, though, is the fact that this isn't the best paint job for Duke in this mold.  And, it's also not the best desert themed Duke.  So, collectors don't really need this figure for anything.  There are better options out there and that helps keep the figure affordable.  If you're looking for a decent enough Duke or just something different, though, this version is definitely one of the top options.

1992 Duke, 1993 Backblast, 1982 FLAK

1992 Duke, 1993 Backblast, DEF Mutt, Locust, 2000, Dragonfly

1992 Duke, 1993 Backblast, DEF Mutt, Locust, 2000, Dragonfly, Ninja Force Snake Eyes

Friday, October 18, 2019

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk - By Past Nastification

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Cobra’s first jet wasn’t the Rattler.  It was the Fisher-Price Turbo Hawk. 

Released in 1982, a year before the beloved Sky Striker, this must have been Fisher-Price’s attempt at upping its game with the boys’ toys.  Released as a kit, the concept was that the child would assemble the toy.  The ARAH Joe vehicles were like this, but Hasbro didn’t stress the “kit” concept at all. 

Clearly a military vehicle based on the real word F-15, Fisher Price didn’t promote it that way.  There are no removable and/or molded-on missiles or a nose cannon, or any markings designating it as US Air Force.  It wasn’t molded in tombstone grey or olive drab.  But it is what it is.  When you look at it, it’s unmistakably a war machine.  The imagination of a 9 year old can make up for the “missing” weaponry and other issues.

Take a minute to appreciate the fact that Fisher Frickin’ Price made a 1:18 scale combat jet before Hasbro.  Not to mention a pretty good space shuttle, but that’s another review.     

Very under-scaled but moderately well detailed, the main body of the Turbo Hawk was also conveniently molded in a saturated blue instead of more realistic colors.  It’s not a dark early 80’s Cobra blue, but obviously GI Joe wouldn’t have a blue jet, right?  Hasbro would later use a similar blue on the HISS II or the ARAHC HISS, for what that’s worth.  The Turbo Hawk’s dark tinted canopy is also an elegant touch. 

I’m sure this vehicle has been customized in both black and Cobra blue, and I’m sure those look spectacular. 

The Sky Striker vs Rattler dogfight scenario always felt a bit lopsided in favor of the Joes.  With the Turbo Hawk, the playing field was a bit more level (despite its diminutive size and lack of any weapons).  Sky Striker vs. Turbo Hawk?  There’s a more evenly matched fight card.   

Speaking of the Sky Striker and the Rattler, they both fail the “drop test”.  Drop either one of them more than a foot and something will either pop off or break on them.  Much like the Tonka Hand Command Turbo Prop, the Turbo Hawk is a durable beast.   The canopy will likely pop off, but the rest of the vehicle will remain intact.  It’s a simple ruggedness that the ’82 wave of Joe vehicles had.  After the inaugural wave, most Joe vehicles lacked that sturdiness and it didn’t really return until the New Sculpt era.  Fisher-Price and Tonka vehicles, for the most part, were sturdy- and remain so today.  Think of how otherwise great items like the Killer Whale or Transportable Tactical Battle Platform turn into piles of parts over time.  Simple is better in some regards, and Fisher-Price was the king of simple.   

I obviously have a nostalgic soft spot for this vehicle, but it’s far from perfect.  It has no proper landing gear/struts, just tiny wheels on the bottom of the fuselage.  Like cutesy little shopping cart wheels.  The eye line of a figure standing next to the Turbo Hawk is higher than the canopy.  When I say the Turbo Hawk is under-scaled, that’s being generous.  It is the same length as the Battle Force 2000 Vector, with a nominally wider wingspan.  Because the Vector isn’t based on a real thing, it’s easier to accept it as being “realistic”.  Like how CGI dinosaurs look better than CGI humans, as you’ve never actually seen a real-life dinosaur with your own eyes (and, yes, I know that dinosaurs were real before becoming petroleum, which in turn became all the toys we adore, except for Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys).  The cockpit has no detailing aside from a seat, and it’s a pretty bland seat at that.   

The Turbo Hawk included a very generic pilot.  The parts used don’t truly make for a convincing flight suit and give the figure a thicker look than you might expect for a fighter pilot.  The pilot is decked out in a crazy big helmet and a white jumpsuit.  The helmet’s size may have been accurately scaled for a generic safety helmet of the day.  I believe it was originally used for a dragster driver, but I’m not sure.  It doesn’t appear to be specifically designed as a “pilot” helmet.  For anyone toying with the idea of making Airwolf customs, this would actually be a good stand-in for those helmets.  As Adventure People go, it’s actually a fairly meh figure.  There’s just not much to it, aside from a nice logo on the back.  But for a figure designed to sit inside of the cockpit, it’s acceptable.

Almost any newer 1:18 scale jet would be an upgrade over the Turbo Hawk in terms of scale and detailing today.  Take your pick from Chap Mei, Solider Force, World Peace Keepers, GI Joe (when Hasbro actually tried), True Heroes, or maybe even Processed Plastics or similar super-cheap lines.  But there’s something to be said for the Fisher-Price Turbo Hawk, because it came first.           

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk, Adventure People

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk, Adventure People

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk, Adventure People

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk, Adventure People

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk, Adventure People

Fisher Price Turbo Hawk, Adventure People

Thursday, October 17, 2019

1988 Night Force Psyche Out - Around The Web

Night Force is super popular.  Psyche Out is not.  So, you are left with a figure that's part of a stupidly expensive sub set but remains relatively affordable.  This 1988 release, though, is the best Psyche Out figure and shows that the mold was solid when done up in better colors.  This figure is my go to Psyche Out.  But, I don't really use Psyche Out all that often.  So, despite being a good figure, he's rarely out of his drawer and in photos.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

Night Force Psyche Out Profile

Night Force Psyche Out at

Night Force Psyche Out at

Night Force Psyche Out by Ed Speir IV

Psyche Out Variants by Hit and Run

Night Force Psyche Out by Dreadnokdread

1988 Tiger Force Flint, Night Force Psyche Out, Super Trooper, Mail Away, Toys R Us exclusive, 2002 Night Rhino

1988 Tiger Force Flint, Night Force Psyche Out, Super Trooper, Mail Away, Toys R Us exclusive

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

1987 Jinx

I am not a Jinx fan.  As a kid, I relegated her acquisition to my youngest brother since I thought her swords might be useful.  I thought the figure was just terrible and of absolutely no value, whatsoever.  As an adult, this bias carried over.  And, even as I picked up most every figure from the 1980's, I simply didn't care about Jinx enough to verify that I had a complete or mint version.  Even today, I don't much care for Jinx.  But, I can not discount her popularity among collectors.  Jinx is a beloved character and remains someone who collectors fawn over.  On top of that, her original figure release was very well done and features some solid sculpting work for the time.  In the repaint era, Jinx, Lady Jaye, the Baroness and Scarlett were all repainted to death.  But, this original Jinx figure remains her iconic look.

Most of the Jinx love comes from the cartoon.  (I can recall one main role for her in the Special Missions comic.  But, her comic appearances elsewhere did little to remain with me.)  I'm not cartoon guy and still have never seen the 1987 animated movie.  So, I'm not sure why her character resonates so much.  However, Jinx had the fortune of being the last new female character to be introducted in the vintage Joe line.  She was the last female figure in the line until the 1993 Ninja Force Scarlett.  This uniqueness helped collectors glom onto her.  And, in the trend of female figures being perceived as rare and popular that was pervasive in the 1990's and early 2000's, Jinx found popularity in re-releases and collector created content. 

Today, I'm still not a Jinx fan.  Her missing out on both my childhood play and early adult foray into collecting leaves her as an odd woman out.  I hold the figure in the same regard as I do her 1987 brethren of Raptor, Big Boa and Crystal Ball.  Despite her release year, I have no attachment to the figure or the character.  She never played an interesting role in my collection and it's doubtful that she ever will.  I find her redundant, especially as Scarlett started to move more towards the ninja ranks.  I think the look of the character would have better fit as a villain.  Jinx could have proven a valuable foil to Scarlett and given her a natural enemy.  Tying Jinx to Snake Eyes was really the beginning of every martial artist in the line being traced to Snake Eyes/Stormshadow.  Having her a random villain who had no ties would have been more interesting to me.  Though, I'm not sure even that would have been enough to get me interested in the figure.

Despite all that, though, the Jinx figure is an excellent example of Hasbro at the top of their game.  She is more slightly built and appears feminine while not being overly exaggerated like female action figures made since 2000 tend to be.  The hooded head works quite well and is in scale with her body.  The red suit may be eye catching.  But, it's not too bright to be outside the realm of what a martial artist/ninja might wear when out and about.  The slip shoes work well enough and the skin showing on Jinx's feet help bring some color that breaks up her legs from being a sea of red.  It is the figure's simplicity that makes her useful as Hasbro didn't try to over-engineer the figure.  Her look is clear, clean and easy to quickly understand. 

Basically, Jinx is all red with a few splashes of black to break it up.  There is some flesh tone on her legs, hands and eyes.  But, the figure only features three unique colors.  For a vintage figure, this small number of colors is an anomaly.  Many figures of her time could feature up to eight different colors on the figure alone.  However, the lack of color diversity is made up for by paint mask intricacy.  Jinx features a black dragon logo on her left shoulder.  It is a very detailed tampo with many fine details.  She also features painted fingernails.  This was an unnecessary paint application.  But, it was also something that helped Jinx stand apart.  That little detail gives the figure a richness that belies her tri-colored hues and shows that Hasbro was willing to spend development resources even on figures they, ostensibly, designed to save money.

Jinx included 4 accessories: two swords, a backpack that could carry them and a large, bladed staff.  The swords and staff are slight and are very in scale with Jinx.  I have found that they look out of place with other figures.  But, that may just be bias left over from my childhood where I forever associated most accessories with the figures with whom they were first released.  Jinx's swords were recolored with the 1993 Ninja Viper.  Most Ninja Vipers you see out there now have Jinx swords included with them instead of the correctly colored versions.  All of Jinx's gear was reissued with Vypra and the Tiger Force Jinx.  And, her backpack, somehow, became the default "parachute" pack for 2000's era convention releases.  (The sword sheaths form natural rings to which strings for the parachute could be tied.)  Even the vintage Jinx's gear is pretty easy to find.  The weapons are well detailed and look nice and would have been good additions to other 2000's era figures.

Jinx got quite a bit of use.  During the vintage era, she was just released in this 1987 color scheme.  But, she was available both carded and as a mail away.  The mail aways are quite common and many bagged Jinx figures are easily found today.  Hasbro then used the body for the Mortal Kombat Sonya Blade figure and then used all of the body except for the lower legs for the Mortal Kombat Movie Edition Sonya Blade figure.  The entire mold reappeared in 1998 when it was changed to a new character named Vypra.  Jinx returned in the 2003 Tiger Force set (a figure that is now quite desired and expensive) and the body was used for the 2004 Comic Pack Scarlett.  The final uses came at the end of 2004 when Hasbro slightly repainted the mold as the Vypra twins in the Ninja Strike set.  There are many collectors who would have loved to have seen more Jinx repaints.  But, there's a ton of offerings that use most or all of the mold that are available. 

Jinx figures are pretty expensive.  Mint and complete with filecard figures run $30 or more.  You can pick them up for a bit cheaper if you can forego the filecard.  But, you will spend a lot to get pretty much any version of the character.  I don't think this figure is worth it, personally.  But, due to the character's popularity, the prices are completely within the realm of reasonableness.  Were it not for the fact that Jinx was a leftover from some lot of 1987 figures I acquired two decades ago, she would not be in my collection.  But, I have her and I'm glad for that as it means I don't have to spend two army builders' worth of collecting funds to acquire a figure that I really don't care for.

1987 Jinx, Mercer, Slaughters Renegade, Dodger, Battle Force 2000, Awe Striker, 2008, Black Major, Stormshadow, Cobra Mortal, Argentina, Plastirama, Quick Kick, Sigilo

1987 Jinx, Mercer, Slaughters Renegade, Dodger, Battle Force 2000, Awe Striker, 2008

1987 Jinx, Mercer, Slaughters Renegade, Dodger, Battle Force 2000, Awe Striker, 2008

Thursday, October 10, 2019

1993 Ace - Around The Web

The 1992 Ace was an amazing update to the classic G.I. Joe pilot.  But, his more obscure 1993 repaint was actually done in better colors and remains the pinnacle paint job for this mold.  The olive green, black and gold makes for a great combat pilot.  And, the helmet and air mask fit well to make Ace both useful in and out of the cockpit.  Due to the unpopularity of the Ghoststriker with which Ace was included, the figure is somewhat hard to find these days and you don't see him around like you probably should.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1993 Ace Profile

Ace by Soundwave

Ace Pre Production at

Toy Fair Ghost Striker F-16 Presentation at

1993 Ace, Ghost Striker X-16, 2006 Overlord, Convention Exclusive, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines, 1994 Stalker, General Flagg, Gung Ho, Razor Blade

1993 Ace, Ghost Striker X-16, 2006 Overlord, Convention Exclusive, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines, 1994 Stalker, General Flagg, Gung Ho, Razor Blade

1993 Ace, Ghost Striker X-16, 2006 Overlord, Convention Exclusive, Monster Blaster APC, Mega Marines, 1994 Stalker, General Flagg, Gung Ho, Razor Blade, 1990 Stretcher, 1991 Retaliator

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

2019 Python Patrol Snow Serpent - Black Major

So far, 2019 has been light on new factory custom figures.  We've gotten a ton of Snake Eyes repaints as well as some configurations for various viper types.  But, the overall releases have been somewhat sparse.  Late September of 2019, though, began to change that when the Snow Serpent mold appeared.  A rainbow of Snow Serpent repaints showed up all at once and gave thirsty collectors something that they could hunt down and army build.  Being a desert dweller, though, arctic figures hold little value to me.  I haven't seen snow in years.  And, the Snow Serpent has always been among my least favorite 1985 army builders.  But, a few of the Snow Serpent repaints seemed useful to me.  I'm not someone who buys each and every factory custom figure.  I pick and choose the items that go with my collection.  But, in the case of this Python Patrol inspired Snow Serpent, I went against the grain and acquired something different for my collection.  In doing so, I found something rather cool.

Ostensibly, a Python Patrol Snow Serpent makes no sense.  But, neither does a Python Patrol Crimson Guard nor a Python Patrol HEAT Viper.  But, Python Patrol is now iconically Cobra.  So, seeing all the figure molds under the sun in the pattern is something collectors can get behind.  Thus, a Python Patrol Snow Serpent fits into the theme as well as anyone else and you might as well get him in this design while the Snow Serpent repaints are in production.  And, the results are really nice.  The subtle grey body would work well enough in a snowy climate.  The red and yellow are a bit much.  But, they are far less ostentatious than many of the other Python Patrol inspired factory customs.

For some reason, though, this paint job works for me.  Many of the other Python Patrol inspired figures are more intricate and use more color than this Snow Serpent.  And, I think that's why I like this guy.  He's not too busy.  Instead, there is a smattering of yellow with just a hint of red.  The figure isn't an over the top Python Patrol entry and more closely resembles an oddly colored Cobra figure from the 1990's instead of a modern homage.  At the same time, though, this figure shows off the fun aspects of having some splashes of color.  The brighter colors bring more attention to the mold and do detail how high of quality the figure actually is.  I'm not going to make this guy the leader of any arctic expedition.  But, he'll probably show up in photos alongside other Python Patrol members in coming years.

The Snow Serpent isn't a mold that I ever really wanted as a factory custom.  The original was extremely well done.  And, the arctic theme greatly limits the figure's usefulness in other color styles.  But, there are a lot of cold weather environments around the world with different terrain and fauna.  If you're a fan of the Snow Serpent mold, there are now many repaints available (including the return of the 1980's era Soviet logo on a few) to sate your desire for repaints.  I'm limited in what I'm after and picked up this Python Patrol version just for some diversity and to check out the paint scheme.  I figured I'd trade him some time in the future when the figs have gotten scarcer.  But, I find that I really enjoy this look for the Snow Serpent...even though it has limited use.  I'm at a point where visually appealing figures carry more weight than "realistic" paint jobs.  So, entries like this Python Patrol Snow Serpent are fun to have around.

The quality of these Snow Serpents is high.  The figures are not vintage Joe quality.  But, if you've handled any of the Black Major releases of the past two years, you know what to expect.  The joints move freely and the figure poses well.  The paint masks are crisp and intricate.  The gear is easily discernible from vintage pieces, but still of great enough quality for a collector to have no fear of breakage.  (The red also matches some vintage Red Shadows weapons, too.)   In short, they are toys easily worthy of addition to any collection.

The Snow Serpent repaints include all of the original gear.  This Python Patrol version has red variants of the classic AK-47, backpack, missile launcher, stand and snow shoes.  There is a red parachute pack as well.  However, the parachute and backpack are actually molded in white and painted over.  So, the color doesn't 100% match the rest of the accessories.  (This is likely due to the pliable plastic needed for the parachute pack being a separate production run.)  With the all the flavors of Snow Serpent now available, you can get the gear in green, red, black, yellow and other colors.  I'd love a run of black versions of the Snow Serpent rifle, though, that could be purchased separately.  I'd outfit most of my 2004 Cobra Infantry with them.

Right now, Snow Serpents are $18 figures.  I was fortunate and got mine in the introductory sale for a bit less.  So, patience can pay off.  But, if you look around, you see that most of the Alley and Night Viper repaints have started to dry up and can't be acquired as easily as they could 12 to 18 months ago.  The Starduster repaints prove elusive and are getting expensive.  Even a few of the Snake Eyes flavors from fall of 2018 don't appear as frequently.  Army builders are popular and Black Major figures are popular so it's always good to get them while the getting's good.  Joe's popularity is going to dive in 2020.  We are seeing both softening prices and decreased community engagement.  With some external factors thrown in, we should see cheaper prices in the new decade.  I don't know, though, if that will translate to figures like these.  The production numbers are low and most collectors seem to just buy one or two of each flavor rather than build an army of a dozen or more.  I've got mine, now.  And, you can get yours, too, with little effort.

2019 Python Patrol Snow Serpent - Black Major, 2000 Firefly, 2002 Big Ben

2019 Python Patrol Snow Serpent - Black Major, 2000 Firefly, 2002 Big Ben

Thursday, October 3, 2019

1992 Wild Bill - Around The Web

The 1992 Wild Bill figure is one of those great mold updates that is somewhat obscured by the color scheme.  Were he in vintage colors, he would be one of the most sought after figures from his year.  But, the figure still has tremendous value and is a worthwhile addition to every collection.  Here's the best of him from around the web.

1992 Wild Bill Profile

Wild Bill by xxTeam_Cobraxx

Wild Bill by HCC788

Wild Bill Pre Production at

Wild Bill at Joepedia

Wild Bill by Slipstream80

1992 Wild Bill, Duke, 2000 Locust, 1988 Destro

1992 Wild Bill, Duke, 2000 Locust, 1988 Destro, 1991 BAT

1992 Wild Bill, Duke, 2000 Locust, 1988 Destro, 1991 BAT, 1993 Cross Country, 1986 General Hawk

1992 Wild Bill, Duke, 2000 Locust, 1988 Destro, 1991 BAT, 1993 Cross Country, 1986 General Hawk

1992 Wild Bill, Duke, 2000 Locust, 1988 Destro, 1991 BAT, 1993 Cross Country, 1986 General Hawk, Night Force, Flint, 2004, Crimson Guard Commander, STUN

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

1992 Gung Ho

In December of 1992, I went to a local Toys R Us on my lunch hour to buy some Joes.  I hadn't been to a toy store in over 2 years.  And, while I was up on the Joe comic, I was not familiar with the toys.  A wall of never before seen figures awaited me at Toys R Us.  And, having limited time, I had to make some decision as to which figures I would buy.  I ended up going with names from my childhood as I picked up a 1992 Destro, General Flagg and this Gung Ho.  With these purchases, I became a Joe collectors, even if only a casual one for the next three years.

My choice of these three figures seems somewhat odd in retrospect as there were cooler figures available.  But, there was a method to my madness.  General Flagg was bought because I had always wanted one as a kid (even if it was a different character) and I thought his gun was just amazing.  Destro and this Gung Ho, though, were selected because they were both favorite characters from my childhood, were solid designs that were true to the characters from nearly a decade prior and they had weapons that looked amazing.  This was enough for me to add them in lieu of other figures that were surely hanging on the pegs.

The biggest thing for me is that this figure looks like Gung Ho.  If you showed him to anyone who had played with Joes as a kid, they could recognize this figure as the Joe team's original Marine.  The 1992 release date, though, brought with it the added heft that was always missing from the 1983 design.  Gung Ho now had a figure to match up with the muscle bound physique he sported in the comics.  While his Marine Corps tattoo is smaller on his chest, it is there: further defining the figure as Gung Ho.  (Oddly, for the 1993 release, the tattoo was moved to the figure's arm.)  It was these features that drew me to Gung Ho as an early acquisition.  He reminded me of the figures from my childhood while also solving some of the limitations that were apparent on the old designs.

Truth is, this figure is solid but unspectacular.  While Gung Ho features nice detailing on his chest with the bullets and vest, that's about the extent of his features.  His lower body is non-descript and the arms do not stand out.  While the coloring is muted and realistic, it's also kind of boring.  Truth be told, I far prefer the 1993 red repaint to this original green.  Sure, it's nice enough.  But, it lacks any pizzazz like you see on many other 1992 releases.  Gung Ho is just that staid, solid figure that was the foundation of the Joe line.  In looking at him now, were it not for the childhood connection the figure forged with me upon my discovery of him, it's unlikely this Gung Ho would have ever really been someone I sought out.  If he showed up in a lot, I'd keep him.  But, there's nothing about him compelling enough to make him the focal point of a search when there were more recent retail releases of the mold and a more bold coloring from the following release year available.

Gung Ho included a variety of accessories.  The calling card of the figure is his American flag.  It's designed to be carried by the figure.  I find it kind of cheap.  But, it's unique to Gung Ho in the vintage line.  He then includes a standard spring loaded weapon and stand.  The main gear is a well done backpack (Again, the pack was overused in the 2000's.  But, it was very good for 1992.) and a massive machine gun.  The weapon is oversized.  But, due to the heft of the Gung Ho mold, it somewhat works.  I find that Hardball's grenade launcher is a much better fit for this figure, though, and is more true to the Gung Ho character.  But, the machine gun is acceptable for me as well.  The gear is in line with vintage releases and matches with what you can see Gung Ho using in combat.  1992 would be the last year that this was really true.

In the 2000's, Hasbro loved this Gung Ho mold.  Though they only released it as Gung Ho once (on the bland and pretty worthless 2001 version), the figure's parts showed up on many releases over the years.  The best use of the Gung Ho torso was for the 2006 Classified figure from the comic packs.  But, he also appeared on some convention releases.  His parts were probably overused, but Gung Ho remains under-represented.  I'd have loved a TRU 6 pack in the 2000's that contained the 1992 Gung Ho, Wild Bill, Ace, Wet Suit, Duke and Mutt painted in a scheme like their original figure releases.  It would have been both a great homage and a spectacular update to each mold.  Hasbro had all these figures and could easily have done it.  But, they didn't and this Gung Ho really only has this and the 1993 repaint as unique and distinctive colorings of the sculpt.

The good news is that this Gung Ho is still cheap.  You can get carded versions for under $25.  And, while dealers will price and sell mint and complete figures in the $12-$15 range, you can easily buy them for 1/2 that price on the open market.  For a figure of this quality, those prices are a rarity these days.  But, the Joe market is showing signs of softening for anything that's not an investor grade piece in terms of both quality and rarity.  So, we might be coming out of the darkness that has been the past 18 months.  In the meantime, this Gung Ho is still a worthwhile acquisition. He's been in my collection now for 27 years and still remains relevant.  That's not an easy feat and is a testament to this figure's ties to the original Gung Ho character and the quality of the overall udpate to his appearance.

1992 Gung Ho, 2006 Classified, Snake Eyes, Comic Pack

1992 Gung Ho, 2006 Classified, Snake Eyes, Comic Pack, 2005 Winter Operations, Duke, Razor Blade, 1994

1992 Gung Ho, 2006 Classified, Snake Eyes, Comic Pack, 2005 Winter Operations, Duke, Razor Blade, 1994, Barricade