Countdown was the first Joe astronaut that was released on a single card. Oddly, this was a case when Cobra got a carded specialty first. But, Countdown was worth the wait and remains one of the top astronaut sculpts in the line. He's sleek, properly colored and includes amazing gear. He got a few repaints, some of which are equally as nice as this figure. Here's the best of him from around the web.
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Taste is subjective. All collectors have irrational favorites. And, everyone has one figure that just bugs them for some reason. I do not like Crystal Ball. But, I do see the quality of his overall sculpt. Big Boa is the worst figure in the vintage line. But, I also acknowledge that I feel that way because he was such a good character and I was super disappointed that his figure didn't live up to his filecard. There are, though, a select few figures that are objectively bad and have no redeeming qualities at all. 20 years ago, Hasbro released one such figure. I was shocked to find, though, that, at the time, a lot of other collectors loved him. And, even two decades later, people rush to defend a figure that has no intrinsic value whatsoever. But, I will remain steadfast that the 2001 Crossfire is just a terrible figure and, subjectivity be damned, anyone who likes him is just wrong.
The A Real American Hero Collection (ARAHC) started off with a bang in the fall of 2000. Joe returning to retail was huge. But, Hasbro went a step further to find some favorite molds and characters, paint them well and include all their original gear. The second wave was even better as it expanded the mold library and brought in some later figure sculpts that followed the same formula as Wave I. But, a troubling pattern started to emerge with Wave II. Too many of the Joes used the same color palette. Gone was the retail visual complement that Hasbro strove for with the vintage line. Instead, all the figures looked the same. And, when Wave III debuted, the pattern continued into a full blown issue. Wave II was starting to stagnate at retail. (Though, that was all the fault of packing 4 Big Ben/Whiteout packs per case.) Wave III, though, saw a lower production run and, generally, sold through just due to lower numbers. But, Wave II had done in the line and the banality that was Wave IV heavily found its way to discount and closeout stores. Hasbro listened too much to some people who had a very limited and narrow view of Joe. And, the sea of olive green was just too boring to sustain a line at retail. In 2002, Hasbro moved more towards a vintage Joe approach with coloring and the line was hugely successful for a couple of years.
Backing up to 2001, though, Wave III was actually pretty well anticipated by the collecting community. It featured two new army builders (always welcome in those days!) as well as a redone Cobra Commander and Destro. On the Joe side, we saw a repainted Low Light, Wet Suit and Torpedo. The classic 1984 Roadblock mold returned. Though, with a new name. Also in the wave, though, were two "new" figures. One, Sure Fire, used the amazing 1992 Shockwave body. (And, kind of sullied that mold for a long time.) The other, Crossfire, was an amalgamation of parts. But, like Sure Fire, he included a newly sculpted head to denote the new character. Sadly, both these heads were just terrible. Both had receding hairlines and while Sure Fire's head was too small, Crossfire's was too big. Both look out of place with the rest of the parts and stick out as a newly minted part created by sculptors less talented than those who worked on the vintage Joe line.
Crossfire suffers from many ailments. His pasty, balding, middle aged white guy head has always sucked. In fact, it's kind of embarrassing. Hasbro designers completed failed on all the new heads in the ARAHC line (We'll toss in Volga from 1998 as well as most of the Comic Pack heads, too.) If the rest of the figure was good, then the new head could be somewhat overlooked. But, the rest of Crossfire is just as much a mess as is his head. His chest and arms are from the 1990 Big Ben. Remember, at the time, the 2001 Arctic Big Ben was pegwarming all over North America. And, the colors chosen for Crossfire were reminiscent of the 1990 figure while also being worse at the same time. He was also given flesh colored hands. The fact that Big Ben has gloves sculpted onto his hands didn't seem to bother the Hasbro team of the time. They're not as bad as Dialtone's hands. But, it is still noticeable. Speaking of Dialtone, Crossfire uses his legs and waist. The slim 1986 sculpt is not a good match for the 1990 torso. So, Crossfire appears off balance. The legs are also nearly the same green as the 2000 Dialtone figure. So, again, the entire ensemble just felt tired.
Crossfire's torso and legs are different shades of green. They are not complementary shades. They are just different enough to make you think that the top or bottom has discolored from the sun. He also has gold bullets with silver belt details. Again, this is a color contrast that makes the whole figure look confusing. Lots of color is usually good on a figure. But, when it's clashing colors that simply distract from the mold's details, you realize that this wasn't a figure with a lot thought put into his design. It was a cheap way to reuse parts and create a "new" character without trying too hard or blowing the budget on a lower production wave of figures.
The final indignity of Crossfire was his complete lack of weapons. He didn't include a helmet. His only gun, the 1991 Dusty rifle and stock, had become commonplace and even overused by 2001. Personally, I use it exclusively as a Cobra weapon after the 1998 Cobra Infanty was released. So, it was good to have a spare of two when Hasbro stopped giving Vipers decent weapons in 2002. Crossfire didn't even have an obligatory backpack. Supposedly, Crossfire had all sorts of specialties. But, he got no gear to prove that out. His pack mate, Double Blast, got a lot of gear. And, it wasn't uncommon for one figure to have a large amount of gear in the ARAHC packs while the second figure got barely a pittance. But, with Crossfire, it just stung since the gear added nothing to the figure. The 2001 Leatherneck's Richard Nixon head was saved by including a helmet. Crossfire just gets to look like a guy who's slowly drinking himself to death with cheap gin.
Despite three plus paragraphs describing just how terrible Crossfire is, collectors somewhat liked him. Some used him as a Greenshirt. Others found use for him in various dio stories of the day. All of these people were wrong. Crossfire is a figure that deserves to be ridiculed and should be forgotten on the scrap heap of terrible Joe ideas. But, things like this are what make collecting fun. I can jest about others being wrong in their opinions of this figure. But, it's not malicious. At the end of the day, I own this figure and am publishing an article about him more than two decades removed from his release. Those who like him can still like him. The things about him that bug me may be endearing to others. And, remember, my favorite figures tend to have neon colors. So, how valid can my opinion be, anyways?!? My biggest issue is, knowing the molds that Hasbro had available to them at the time, we got Crossfire instead of Mutt or Bullhorn or Salvo or Rock and Roll. Any of those figures would have been preferable. But, in Hasbro's feeble attempts at something "new", they created something completely forgettable.
Crossfire's code name didn't help. The Crossfire was an obscure 1987 radio controlled vehicle that is most famous for producing Rumbler. On top of the reuse, though, Hasbro wasn't overly creative with names in the early 2000's. In short order, they released Crossfire, Surefire, Crosshair, Sideswipe, Side Track and Sidetrack. The names all blended together into a cacophony of banality that made all the characters lamentable.
Dealers try to get $20 for mint and complete Crossfires. But, they won't sell until the price drops to around $10. Left to the open market, he's a $5 or $6 figure. You can get carded versions of he and Double Blast for under $20 still, too. (Dealer pricing hovers around $30, though.) At $5, I guess this guy's an ok addition. I paid $4 for him at retail in 2001. I felt ripped off back then. And, there's not really a circumstance where I'd have actually bought a Crossfire figure had I not wanted the Double Blast and been a completist two decades ago. But, your mileage may vary. Lots of collectors still enjoy him. And, figures for $5 are almost unheard of in this market. So, if you're missing Crossfire, it's as good a time as any to acquire him...even if he has no use.
Sunday, October 24, 2021
Saturday, October 23, 2021
1986 Zandar Profile
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
The 1983 Zap is a fun figure. His brighter green helps him stand out among the original 13 Joes. And, his antiquated weapon actually works in the context of the Joe team. He wasn't a figure that I really had when I was a kid. Both his thumbs broke on a straight arm version within hours of his opening. But, I've kept this figure intact for two decades and still enjoy him more than most of the early Joe figures.
Sadly, the brittleness of Zap has lead to his extreme expense in modern times. Before he was a $100+ figure, I had a lot of fun getting him out for photo shoots. These days, though, I'm more careful as a simple slip would cost me way more than this figure is worth to replace. So, the 1997 Zap has become the proxy for this original figure. But, here's some pics of him back when the figure was still a reasonable acquisition.
Saturday, October 9, 2021
1989 Snake Eyes Profile
1989 Snake Eyes by thedustinmccoy
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
In my profile of the Funskool Croc Master figure, I mentioned a Calcium Sandoz repaint of him done in dark colors. Well, here it is. The figure is actually a very dark green with black pants and golden eyes. The overall ensemble is an amazing look for Croc Master and would have been one of the more sought after repaints had it been a standard carded Funskool release.
Sadly, this figure only exists in the Calcium Sandoz construction. So, he has those odd, blocky, straight arms. They ruin what would otherwise be an amazing figure. The color palette, though, almost makes up for it. I love the golden eyes as they brighten the figure's face and help offset the dark undertones. In general, this look is in line with Croc Master's character. But, it also brings something more sinister to the table.
It appears this Croc Master doesn't include the whip. But, he does have the crocodile. Were these figures attainable, it would be worth it to swap the arms for some bare arms from another figure to make a really solid Croc Master repaint. But, at several hundred dollars these days, that's not really a viable outlet for a different take on Cobra's Reptile Trainer.
Saturday, October 2, 2021
Heavy Duty Profile
Heavy Duty by thedustinmccoy
Heavy Duty by strikeforce_codename
Heavy Duty by playfulmonkeycosplay