Saturday, January 29, 2022
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Saturday, January 22, 2022
The 1984 Mutt is one of my favorite figures. I use him all the time. Yet, when I went to look, I had not only neglected to do an Around the Web feature on him, I also only had a paltry two photos of him that I've taken in the past couple of years. This seems completely impossible as I use the Mutt figure all the time. He just appears in backgrounds instead of being the photo's primary subject. So, I'll have to fix that as 2022 moves forward.
As for Mutt, he is emblematic of the 1984 figure releases. While 1983 had been a substantial leap forward from the 1982 figures, the 1984 series was another leap again. The sculpting, colors and gear were taken to another level. Among the introductions for 1984 were smaller pistols, accompanying accessories, soft plastic wearable gear, backpacks that had their own accessories and animal companions. Mutt included most of these as he had his muzzle, Junkyard, a small Mac-10, his nightstick and a pliable leash for his dog. He featured more detailed sculpting and a slightly larger scale than the smaller 1983 releases. Joe would continue to evolve for many more years. But, Mutt's year was an important stepping stone that moved the line ahead.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
The issue itself is pretty good. While I tend to hold #26 in higher regard, that's more likely a carry over from the fact that I thought I'd never own #26 and I created a childhood mystique about it. #27 carries forward the story from the prior issue, resolves some storylines and introduces some other elements that would not be wrapped up for a few more months. In short, it's a strong comic book from the '80's designed to entertain and entice the reader to not miss any more. While the narrative of the other Joes continued after #27, it seemed that most of the Snake Eyes/Stormshadow story had been told. We'd see their origin, though, fleshed out for another 6 or 7 years before we really had the full story. But, the tale told in issues #26 and #27 lay the foundation and really contain the pertinent information needed about their origins.
There are many revelations in the book. The most memorable part, to me, is the ninja chase through 1984 New York. This showed the skill of ninjas while also showing that the best outcome of their abilities was to avoid any deadly violence. From there, we learned quite a bit about the characters. The biggest reveal seems to be that Cobra Commander's brother was the driver who killed Snake Eyes' family as they were on their way to the airport to welcome him home. While this is a bit convenient, it does help to explain why Cobra Commander sent someone to kill Snake Eyes during his ninja training. This helps bring forward the truth that Stormshadow likely has some redemption inside him as he's working to avenge his family rather than actually help Cobra. As I've said in some recent write ups on Destro, I'm not too keen about this, though. Stormshadow sliced down Gung Ho in issue #24. He kidnapped a beaten up Scarlett. You can't just forgive these things because he wants to, eventually, learn the identity of his uncle's killer and avenge him. The whole notion of revenge pretty much cements Stormshadow as a villain. And, this is where he should have stayed. Had the comic survived through 1995, we might have gotten to see Stormshadow in the right role for a final run of solid adventures.
As a memento, issue #27 is hugely important to me. To the whole of the Joe run, it's among the more significant issues, just for the fleshing out of the Snake Eyes origin story. Many of the events of the comic would be played out in future issues. But, like most comics from the time, this issue is worthless. A couple of bucks will get you a very nice original printing of #27. If you settle for a 2nd printing, the price is less. The story was retold numerous times in various outlets. So, it's not hard to find it. This comic represents the beginning of a larger Joe world for me. It was no longer just toys. This comic also opened me up to the world of comics in general. (There is a promo for the first issue of the West Coast Avengers Limited Series in this issue. It intrigued me. And, when West Coast Avengers launched its own title, I bought it from issue #1.) While that may have had some detrimental side effects, it was also a way for me to understand story telling in a more compact and visual format. For that reason, this comic remains a sentimental favorite.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Destro's introduction changed the direction of G.I. Joe. His appearance in 1983 helped set Cobra as a more viable foe for Joe. And, he also brought an element of design flair to the line. A human villain with a chromed head was a retail standout at the time. And, it helped make G.I. Joe a line that went beyond its olive drab roots.
In recent years, I've come to find the character of Destro to be overly problematic. He was portrayed as a man of honor. Yet, to me, this is disingenuous. He is an arms dealer who profits from violence and death. He uses his notion of "honor" as a way of shielding his conscious from the atrocities that he enables. This gives him cover and absolves him of responsibility for any actions of his customers. It's "just business". But, to me, that's the issue. It can't be an arms length transaction when innocent people are displaced from their homeland, intimidated and even killed in violent fashion by the machines of war. So, now, I see Destro as culpable. Every death that occurred by his weapons are on his head. And, his disassociation from that responsibility leaves him a coward in my eyes.
For me, now, Destro is just evil. So, he appears in my world as a conniving, evil man who seeks to profit off of suffering and war. It's still terrible. But, at least he's honest about who he is.
Obviously, lots of good Destro content out there. Check out all the links as you'll find fun stuff throughout.
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Saturday, January 8, 2022
Somehow, the inclusion of a self contained, single person jetpack has become accepted as "strict military realism" in the Joe line. Even in 2022, you see collectors who deride when Joe went "sci-fi" and say the line got bad when that happened. How they can accept something like the JUMP, HAL or Flash while deriding later concepts that were no further out there than these original ideas is beyond me. So, I make it a point to focus on the sci-fi aspects of the Joe line that were introduced in 1982.
The JUMP, though, is a great toy and may be the single most useful single backpack ever released in the line's history. Because of the generic name, it can be tough to find JUMP content. Even though a lot of it exists. But, you'll see some really strong content regarding the JUMP in the links below. The names who appear are a who's who of Joe photographers: proving the JUMP is an essential part of every collection.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
As a kid, I found the VAMP very frustrating. I wanted it to be my favorite. But, I found that the design was somewhat limiting. If I wanted to move two figures around the battlefield, it was perfect. If I wanted the passenger to be holding a rifle, that worked too. You could even fit any of the 1982 backpacks into the cockpit if you wanted. But, the bulkier gear that started to be included with figures starting in 1983 was problematic. There simply wasn't room for them. So, with no place to store the gear, I found the toy lacking. I wanted my figures to carry all their accessories into battle. If they weren't important, the figures would not have included them. So, anything too small to accommodate them was of limited use.
The more frustrating aspect was that it could only hold two figures. The comic and cartoon VAMPs seemed to grow or shrink based on the needs of the writers. The toy was more constrained. I desperately wanted Rock and Roll or Flash to man the gun turret on the VAMP. At various times, I attempted to attach the seat from a Whirlwind onto the back of the VAMP with rubber bands so that a third figure could sit by the gun. These never worked as the bands would not hold. And, the VAMP's gun is too low for a gunner to properly operate it. So, my imagination was limited by the toy itself. Eventually, my brother's VAMP's gun stripped off. With it gone, that VAMP became more of a service vehicle that supported the fighting vehicles that still had their weapons. Even years later, these service type vehicles were useful. And, my youngest brother even turned my VAMP MK II into a cargo vehicle by cutting the off the back and making it removable so that you could access the cavity beneath the facade.
There are few vehicles as iconic as the VAMP. Released in the first year of the G.I. Joe line, it went on to become one of the hallmark vehicles that defined the toys for years. The VAMP was the first vehicle to get reused when the VAMP Mark II was released in 1984. And, even today, it's the iconic jeep for all Joes. Collectors love VAMP re-releases and always seemed odd that Hasbro so underutilized the mold in the 2000's. But, the body configuration they had for the Desert Striker had a lot of limitations and it was only when they retooled the original VAMP in the anniversary era that those who enjoyed later figures had an option to place inside Joe's classic fast attack vehicle.
The VAMP is a constant of the Joe line from around the world. Various configurations and constructions of the VAMP have appeared in Canada, Brazil, India, Europe and Japan. If you want to spend $20 to get a VAMP, there are variants for that price. If you want to spend $1000 on a VAMP, there are variants that will cost you that much, too. Collectors who only focus on VAMP variants can still spend years and years tracking them all down. In the past few years, more new variants have been discovered and new versions were even released in India. In many ways, it feels like Hasbro could have done more with the VAMP mold. While there are variants of it for Cobra, the desert, Tiger Force, the police, civilian racing and all shades of green, Hasbro could have pumped it out to match every Toys R Us exclusive set in the 2000's and collectors would have gobbled them all up. It is my hope that the VAMP will return in some form in 2022 as part of the anniversary celebration. Time will tell, I guess.
For my money, the VAMP is a classically iconic toy. It is instantly recognizable as a G.I. Joe vehicle and stands on its own as one of the titans of the line. The subsequent repaints did much to cement the vehicle's legacy. Today, mint and complete VAMPs with the blueprints and Clutch will run you close to $100. The steering wheel alone can cost $30. But, there remain many cheap options available, too. VAMPs missing the steering wheel and gas cans are still selling for under $25. And, you can sometimes even get the gas cans in that price range. There's tons of them available which helps sate demand and keep the prices more sane. There's really no excuse to not own the classic VAMP. It still looks good and works with most figures. And, the multitude of factory customs in recent years have added to the spate of figures with whom the VAMP works well. For me, the VAMP is the toy that helped launch my Joe obsession.
Saturday, January 1, 2022
2021 has been an interesting year. We've seen massive amounts of factory customs. There were a few "retro" items available. And, most importantly, Hasbro is bringing back some vintage Joe style figures with commemorative releases and the Haslab Skystriker. 2022 has much for Joe collectors to look forward to. Promises of a variety of products that should hit everyone's collecting niche abound.
Looking through this year's top 10, it's an eclectic mix. Numbers 2 and 3 are really surprising. But, in general, the popularity seems to be all over the place. The site saw a massive uptick in visitors as both the pandemic raged and the Snake Eyes movie drew close to release. Even after the movie's disappearance from popular culture, though, the traffic has remained high. The site got 189,000 page views this year. That's a substantial increase from years past.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 posts in terms of pageviews that were released in 2020. I put that caveat on there because the most viewed post on the site in all of 2021 was, once again, the 1984 MANTA. I don't know why. But, it more than tripled the number 1 post that was new in 2021.
10. 1986 Claymore
Claymore is a "rare" figure who's price has far outstripped his value to a collection. As I got him for Christmas in 1986, though, he's somewhat important to me. And, his rarity always attracts eyeballs.2017 Commando
Red Laser Army figures tend to do well. Snake Eyes figures tend to do well. So, combined, they clocked in as the 9th most popular new post on the site this year.
8. 1983 Hawk
Hawk is kind of a surprise. I looked at the MMS last year, too. And, it was one of the worst performing new profiles of the year. So, to see the Hawk included with the vehicle get so many additional views just goes to show how valuable the inclusion of the drivers really was.
Bonecrusher was my pick for the best figure of 2020. I still maintain that it's an excellent design that brings some needed life to the 1985 Snake Eyes mold. It showing up there is no surprise.
Crystal Ball really shouldn't be among the most viewed profiles of the year. But, I can also see how he does belong. Everyone knows him. And, sometimes, people just can't look away, even at something that's goofy and silly.
To be honest, I thought the Riot Commando would have done better. It's an awesome figure and I got him within days of his 1st release. But, it seems this figure hasn't really caught on in the vintage Joe world. I expected lots of photos of him to appear in the months after his release. That hasn't happened. And, the Riot Commando seems to be fading into obscurity. That's an unjust fate for a solid figure with amazing paint applications that's priced right.
This one kind of makes sense. The Toxo Zombie has become a popular figure. Obscure carded figures tend to perform well. And, this is a relatively unknown foreign variant, too. It all added up to a well read post.
Ugh. Crossfire sucks. I despise this figure and have since his release 20 years ago. Yet, I must not be in tune with the community on this one as here he is, the third most viewed page on the site in 2021. Controversy gets clicks, I guess.
This one is surprising. Stargate figures get zero mention in Joe groups. And, while these figures include Joe accessories, they aren't all that exciting to anyone but variant nerds like myself. But, I suspect the offbeat nature of the figure and the loose connection to Joe brought in many casual readers.
No surprise that the biggest Joe news of the year lead the site in traffic. It wasn't a huge advantage, only about 30% more than Lt. Kawalsky. But, nothing beat out the Skystriker announcement. The night the Haslab funded was one of the most fun Joe collecting nights in my more than two decades of being a member of the online collecting community. Here's to another one in 2022.
Thus ends another year of Joe fandom. We know we're getting o-ring figures in 2022. We just don't know who and when. But, it will happen. And, assuming they aren't impossible to get, you'll probably see them here. The night of the Skystriker funding was one of the most fun Joe world experiences of the past 20 years. It's my hope that Hasbro can strike that kind of magic more often.
As 2022 is the 40th anniversary of the vintage Joe line, I'm going to take a different tact for the first part of the year and profile something each week in chronological order starting with 1982 through, at least 1994. (I'll see how I feel about touching on post '94 years.) It will follow my personal chronology with the line, how I grew with the line, abandoned it and then came back.
I hope you and yours have had a solid 2021 and wish you a better 2022. We have much to look forward to this year and I will enjoy sharing it with you!