I've got an even dozen posts coming in June for Rarities Month. There's some interesting and odd stuff. This year, though, I'm going to be away from the Joe world for the month of June. So, you'll see posts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday during the month. But, I won't be online to promote them on my various channels. I'm heading out of the heat and into the mountains for a month and am not taking my computer with me. So, please stop by, comment and enjoy. I'll respond back when I return in July. But, enjoy this year's selections.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Saturday, May 29, 2021
The Monster Blaster APC is one of those vehicles whose time has finally come. After being ignored for years and years (even with a Cobra themed repaint offered at retail) it seems collectors have come around to the quality of this vehicle. The late release date and Mega Marines subset got many to ignore the Monster Blaster. But, the vehicle is on par with early Joe releases and is full of play value. There's a little bit of content on this thing out there. It's highly photogenic. So, I hope more people take advantage of it in coming years. Here's the best of the Mega Marines Monster Blaster APC from around the web.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Everyone knows Tomax and Xamot. They are two peas in a pod and the characters are forever intertwined. Though the years, Larry Hama and Hasbro tried to tie a few figures and characters together. But, rarely did they really stick outside of the main media. Missing was the alliteration that created the pneumonic device for people to perpetually associate two characters. In 1991, two characters appeared in the comic, though, who solved this. In 1992, Slice and Dice appeared as action figures. And, while the characters were linked in character and name, they did not share any aesthetics aside from being in general martial arts garb.
One of the things about Dice in the comic is that he interacted with the 1991 Snake Eyes uniform. And, this Dice actually works better with that mold of Snake Eyes than it does with the Ninja Force version from 1993. The 1992 Ninja Force figures are less of a departure from traditional Joe construction than the 1993 figures. Dice, and the rest of the 1992 figures) still maintain the o-ring and have traditional Joe construction. They can not wear backpacks and do have the ninja action feature. The main drawback of the figures is that they can not be fixed should the o-ring snap without prying the torso open and then re-gluing it in some way.
While a lot of the 1990's ninja story line in the comic was overdone, it also had some good stuff. The Night Creepers were a fun addition to the mythos. I always felt that Slice and Dice would have been better served to lead that faction. Their look fits with the Night Creeper motif. And, the Night Creeper Leader was not a great character. (In the comics, Aleph, worked fairly well, though.) Slice and Dice leading that army instead of the Arashikage clan would have been less intertwined and might have given the characters more life.
I mentioned the 1991 Snake Eyes earlier. And, it is against this figure where Dice finds his greatest use. I like the look of the two of them together. The 1991 Snake Eyes is more a ninja and less a commando without being 100% ninja. It's a nice balance and helps him fight against Slice and Dice since his advanced skills are a better match against two foes rather than one. I also use Dice as the leader of various ninja factions. For some reason, I see Slice as more independent and working on his own whereas Dice takes on leadership responsibilities.
As a sculpt, though, Dice is well done. He doesn't have so much detail that it overwhelms him. But, he has enough. His boots are a bit odd. They have huge knee pads. But, I'm more forgiving of things like that when they match the rest of the aesthetic. The purple color is offset by silver and black details, putting the figure square into the color scheme of classic Cobras. His chest is adorned with throwing stars and grenades: a not so subtle juxtaposition of old and new world combat styles. The most interesting part is the head. Dice's face is obscured by a helmet covering his eyes. But, it also has lines that protect his face. It's a design that works for Dice. It kind of looks like a spider hugging his face. But, it adds to the creepiness of the character and would be an intimidating look for battle.
Dice didn't include much gear. He just had a silver axe and a silver bo-staff. The staff is cool as it's a rare weapon to appear in the line. And, he can hold it with two hands. Again, a novelty. There's also a black figure stand. But, that's it. The figure seems under-accessorized to me. But, he's in line with the 1992 Ninja Force figures. It was not until the 1993 series, with the introduction of weapon trees, that Ninja Force figures started included a wide array of gear. The nice thing is that it seems that Dice's gear is unique to him and it is well paired with the figure. And, he can hold and use both weapons at once. So, he makes for a nicer display than some 1993 figures where you have their surplus gear lying on the ground around them since they can't hold all their swords and knives.
Dice only appeared in the 1992 series. While Slice would be repainted twice, Dice never saw such resurrection. In 1993, though, the Dice mold was used for the Red Ninja figure. This figure is obscure and hard to find and has gotten expensive in recent years. Dice's body was then used for the Mortal Kombat Kano figure. This figure has a base body in white with silver and black highlights. There really isn't a good Dice head to match it, though. Otherwise, it would be a fun look for Dice and you could make customs of all white Slice and Dice characters from Mortal Kombat bodies. And, while the Slice mold returned in the 2000's, Dice did not. Of the two, he's definitely the less popular with Hasbro...which seems odd as both figures are excellently done and really need to be released as a pair.
Dice figures are not pricey. While dealers will ask $15 or more for a figure, there's plenty of them available on the open market. You can get a mint and complete Dice for between $7 and $10 without too much trouble. Carded Dices will run $40+, though. Which seems to be a pretty big disparity between loose and carded. Usually, you only see figures from the '80's with that type of gap between carded and loose. This might imply that the 90's carded stock is drying up and will soon be in line with 80's figures or that loose Dices are under priced. Or, we might just be in a weird bubble and two years from now, we'll be wondering what the heck everyone was thinking. But, the loose prices on Dice are such that everyone should have the figure. He looks good, needs to be pared with Slice and makes an excellent foil for Snake Eyes. Few cheap figures have so much going for them.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Saturday, May 15, 2021
1992 Stalker Profile
1992 Stalker by fun_time_at_serpentors_lair
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
The calling card of the Funskool Budo is the accessories. While he includes the same complement of gear as the American figure, there is one important difference. The Funskool Budo's sword colors are swapped from the American release. So, you get a red scabbard and a silver sword. So, by combining them, you get one Budo with both a silver scabbard and a silver sword. In the days when Budo was a $4 figure, it made perfect sense to just buy one to get the sword variants. Along with that, you get a helmet, sai and backpack that can hold his gear. The helmet lacks the paint details from the Hasbro figure. But, it still works well enough.
Funskool Budo wasn't overly popular during the heyday of Funskool imports. As the figure was very similar to the American figure there was little reason for many collectors to pick one up. That malaise from the time has carried over and you don't see Budo as often as you do more popular figures like the Cobra army builders and major U.S. characters. But, he's still fairly available and not overly popular. You can get carded figures for around $20 if you are patient and act quickly. But, the more common price is $30-$40. The 2009/2010 variants tend to go a little higher as they were imported in far fewer quantities than earlier releases. As American Budos tend to run in the $15-$20 range for a nice version, the Funskool release isn't too more expensive. But, spending $40 or $50 to get a good figure with all silver weapons now seems like folly. If you like Budo, though, the Funskool version is kind of a must own since it's a slightly different look for the character and you can still find them.
Saturday, May 8, 2021
In 1988, Hasbro updated one of their most iconic characters. Stormshadow was now a Joe instead of a Cobra. The new look for Stormshadow was a huge hit. 33 years later, collectors still love the 1988 mold. It was another perfect example of Hasbro really nailing a character update. Because of this, there's a lot of 1988 Stormshadow content out there. The figure is extremely photogenic and remains a collector favorite. I don't use this figure enough and really need to work him into more photos. But, for now, enjoy the 1988 Stormshadow's best content from around the web.
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021
1994 Lifeline Profile