Thursday, March 31, 2022

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock - Around The Web

The 1994 Star Brigade Roadblock was one of the first profiles I ever wrote.  He was an immediate addition to the site because he was such a hidden gem.  From the minute I first saw him, I had to have one.  And, then, more and more.  There was something about the bright orange space suit that simply called to me.  I bought one, sung its praises, voted for it as the best figure in the line and watched as everyone ignored the figure's existence.

Slowly, though, that changed.  And, now, this is a $100 figure.  That's, frankly, dumb.  But, the market is crazy and people are paying out the wazoo for figures that take a while to find.  With the figure's newfound popularity, though, I also expected to find a lot more content on the figure than I did.  Turns out, most of the posts about him are simply humble brags from people adding him to their collection instead of actual content.  

I was able to find a few photos and write ups on Roadblock, though.  Space photos are hard to do.  So, that filters out a lot of content on the Star Brigade figures.  And, collectors mostly ignored the theme until around 2016 or so when Star Brigade started to no longer be considered taboo.

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock Profile

1994 Star Brigade Carded Set

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock by corpscommandercody

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock by Nekoman

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock by gen_liederkranz

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock at

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock at

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock by corpscommandercody

Roadblock at Half The Battle

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock, 2005 Convention Iron Anvil, 1990 Retaliator

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock, 2005 Convention Iron Anvil, 1990 Retaliator

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock, Ozone

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock, Shadow Ninja Night Creeper

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

1994 Flint - Random Photos of the Day

The 1994 Flint holds a special place for me.  First, he was Flint, one of my favorite characters from childhood.  Second, this is a badass figure with a cool helmet and a slick design.  Finally, he included a great tree of black weapons that outfitted several of my other 1993 and 1994 figures for a while.  This enticing package quickly made this Flint one of the centerpieces of my very small collection during that time.  Since then, his popularity has ebbed and flowed with me.  I've always liked the figure.  But, he appears and disappears as my tastes morph over time.

My main memory of this figure is finding him, and only him, in a sparse toy aisle in the Target at Nora in Indianapolis at some point in 1995.  Seeing no other Joe figures besides him really sank in that the line was over.  I bought that Flint with the knowledge that it was probably the last Joe figure in a store that had supplied so many of my figures since the line launched 13 years earlier.  It was bittersweet as I was just coming back to collecting right as the line was dead.  But, I managed to find a quite a few figures still hanging in nooks and crannies of various retail stores.  In fact, I'd find another Flint, too.  I bought it and still, to this day, have it carded.  I bought it for the extra weapons but couldn't bring myself to open it.  

One of the staples of this figure in my collection is that my original version has worn a poncho from an Episode I Accessory Pack since I found the sets on clearance in 1999.  The poncho is a tight fit.  But, it's a perfect addition for the figure.  Aside from solving the issue of bare arms in the desert, it also ties him more to the "Man Without a Name" motif.  But, the poncho also obscures much of Flint's quality.  And, while I love his helmet, it also covers up the face of Flint.  And, the 1994 head sculpt is really amazing.  Gone is cockeyed from from the 1985 Flint.  Now, his face is older and more stern.  He is a battle hardened warrior, now.

Hasbro released Flint with two paint schemes: one with painted leg straps and one with monochrome legs.  The straps version is better as the added detail looks nicer.  Hasbro repainted the mold in green and brown in 2001 and 2002 and released him with the HQ of that era.  (Lots of these figures were also available from Asia, making them much easier to find today than they should be.)  As this figure didn't have the helmet, he's kind of boring.  But, it also showed that this Flint had some potential.  A repaint in 1985 colors would have gone a long way.  But, it never happened.  At least the two paint jobs the mold received were both top notch.

When I say that I like this figure, I mean it.  Even in my pared down and heavily liquidated collection, I still have 6 of this figure.  Some have the extra paint applications.  Some do not.  All, though, get rotated into use in photos, etc. at some point or another.  This Flint is just a strong release of a main character.  And, having him available in environmentally specific themes is a nice bonus.  As loose, mint and complete with filecard figures run about $15 (carded figures are about double that), the 1994 Flint remains relatively affordable in comparison to his contemporaries.  So, I highly recommend picking one up and enjoying all the figure has to offer.

1994 Flint, Battle Corps,  1988 Mean Dog

1994 Flint, Battle Corps,

1994 Flint, Battle Corps, 1992 Flak Viper, 1988 Desert Fox

1994 Flint, Battle Corps, 1993 Iceberg

1991 Super Sonic Fighters Rock and Roll, 1994 Flint, Battle Corps

Saturday, March 26, 2022

1993 Gristle - Around The Web

I found Gristle at retail several times in the mid 1990's.  He was not a popular figure and would often be the only remaining figure at random stores.  But, despite me being pretty adamant about buying anything I could find at retail in those days, I skipped Gristle.  I simply didn't like the figure.  There was something about the design that really left me uninterested in the figure.  That has continued to this day as I remain relatively cool on Gristle as a design.  I hadn't taken a photo of him in 5 years.  So, that kind of explains his standing in my collection.  

That doesn't mean, though, that Gristle isn't a pretty solid figure.  In terms of sculpting, Gristle is top notch.  His head sculpt is among the most detailed in the entire Joe line.  And, he has lots of fun little details hidden on his mold.  The 2008 repaint was fairly decent.  And, it showed how '90's mold could be updated with different colors.  There's a good amount of content on Gristle out there.  So, check out the various artists and their take on Gristle.

1993 Gristle Profile

1993 Gristle by gvilla74

1993 Gristle at Nekoman's Viper Pit

1993 Gristle by fun_time_at_serpentorslair

1993 Gristle at

1993 Gristle by neapolitanjoe

1993 Gristle by Scarrviper

1993 Gristle by jogunwarrior

1993 Gristle by slipstream80

1993 Gristle by corpscommandercody

1993 Gristle by Scarrviper

1993 Gristle by ToneGunsRevisited

1993 Gristle by Nekoman

1993 Gristle by Agent Viper

1993 Gristle by corpscommandercody

1993 Gristle by LordRaven

1993 Gristle by Scarrviper

1993 Gristle by thedustinmccoy

1993 Gristle, DEF, 1992 Firefly, 1984 ASP

1993 Gristle, DEF, Headhunter, Interrogator, Mail Away

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

1993 Keel Haul

There are almost 40 repaints in the 1993 G.I. Joe line.  Of those, repaints, though, almost all were molds that had been first released in the 1990's.  Budo and Dee Jay were from 1988 and were the oldest of the figure repaints that year save for one.  In the standard Battle Corps line, Hasbro finally released a retail version of the G.I. Joe Admiral named Keel Haul.  Keel Haul had been the original figure included with the USS Flagg in 1985.  Though he had been available as a mail away offer for a while, he was still a figure that many kids had never seen.  So, offering one at retail was both a way to bring the character to a greater audience while also saving sculpting costs on a figure that most people would construe as new.  The fact that the 1993 Keel Haul is well colored is just icing on the cake.

I found this Keel Haul in a KB Toy Store in a mall in the summer of 1995.  He was there with Backblast and both were figures I had never seen elsewhere.  I sucked up the KB higher price point and bought them both.  Upon opening Keel Haul, I didn't know he was a straight repaint of the figure first released during the heyday of my childhood in 1985.  At the time, I had never owned a Keel Haul and had, maybe, seen one of them for a brief time at a friend's house.  So, to me, he was all new.  And, with that false notion in my head, I set about finding a role for this new Keel Haul since I didn't have a Flagg.

As luck would have it, I found an obscure boat at a local K Mart store that was going out of business.  I distinctly remember my younger brother telling me that there were some Joe toys at this K Mart.  And, I remember going to the store with him on a rainy day in November or December in 1994.  The boat was the Shark 9000.  It was and still is an amazing toy.  It filled the role I had long given to my WHALE Hovercraft and I had no fears of breaking of the new toy like I harbored over the brittle WHALE shell that was leftover from my childhood.  So, the SHARK 9000 quickly became a new favorite.  And, with a new boat came a new crew.  Cutter drove the craft.  And, in time, the 1994 Shipwreck was aboard as infantry and underwater support.  The 1994 Dial Tone manned the turret.  And, Ice Cream Soldier and a 1993 or 1994 Beach Head were in the side gunner stations.  The last position to be filled was the 2nd mate.  And, in this role, Keel Haul excelled.

I did not see the figure as Keel Haul.  Instead, he became a nameless naval officer who was second in command to Cutter aboard the Shark 9000.  Keel Haul carried his massive machine gun, though, and was able to repel boarders, shoot out Moray gun stations or hold prisoners at gunpoint as they were taken back to shore.  Sometimes, he'd mutiny against the captain and end up either taking over the boat and failing in his coup and would be keel-hauled (heh, heh) as fatal punishment for his disloyalty.  

As a figure, Keel Haul is nice enough.  He uses a lot of blue.  But, by 1993, blue was no longer the main color of Cobra.  So, unless you were too old to have been buying the figures (like I was!) you'd have had no real inkling that Keel Haul's colors had once been reserved for his enemies.  His hunter green pants are a color that was criminally underused in the vintage line and are a great complement for the brown highlights and also a nice juxtaposition against the blue jacket.  His chest insignia, dog tags and belt buckle are gold and silver and bring a splash of color.  The only real missing element is the insignia on Keel Haul's hat is left black.  Someday, I'll have to see if a 1985 head matches the skin tone of the 1993 and do a head swap.  But, overall, that's a small criticism.

Keel Haul's accessories are good and not so good.  He uses what I refer to as the "Cloudburst tree".  I had not seen this tree before I acquired Keel Haul.  But, both he and the Backblast that I found on the same day include this tree, just in different colors.  I don't really mind the dark blue color since it matches the figure.  Clashing weapons were a bigger issue to me than offbeat colors.  Keel Haul's tree includes the Cloudburst rifle.  At the time, this weapon was new to me and I though it brand new.  I loved it since it was detailed, cool and worked with the figure.  It's my preferred weapon for Keel Haul today.  The tree also included a blue knife and a blue Eco Warriors weapon and figure stand.  The Eco Warriors gun is big and bulky.  I've never liked it and it was never something I used.  Keel Haul also included the requisite missile launcher and two missiles.  The rifle is a great pairing for Keel Haul and the knife if useful.  The rest of his gear isn't.  But, this figure really just needs a single weapon to be useful.

My main take away from visiting this Keel Haul is the memory of finding him at KB Toys.  KB has been gone for a long time, now.  And, the notion of finding a toy store in a mall is even more dated than the idea of malls being a viable retail option any longer.  But, in the '80's, malls dominated retail shopping.  My family usually went once a week or so to pick up various things.  And, good behavior was rewarded with a stop at KB.  We'd rarely buy.  The mall location meant that prices were always higher than stand alone stores.  So, KB purchases were limited to when they had something in stock that was impossible to find elsewhere.  As I sought out any bastions of remaining Joe toys at retail in the mid 1990's, though, KB could be a treasure trove.  The higher prices meant that stock turned over less frequently than the big box retailers.  But, it also meant taking time to drive to a mall, park, and then try to find the store inside.  

For the two malls I was familiar with during the era, I knew where to park to get in and out as quickly as possible.  For newly visited malls, though, I'd almost always end up parking on the other end of the mall from where the KB was located.  There were no online maps to find stores.  So, it was go into the entrance, find a store map and then walk.  So, I didn't get nearly as many KB's as I did exotic Wal Mart, Target and Toys R Us stores.  KB stores slowly turned into toy graveyards where lines that didn't sell well were discounted.  And, KB started closeout stores called ToyWorks that were havens for overstock lines.  It was at one of these where I first found 1993 Star Brigade figures for $2.00 each.  Sadly, KB's parts were more valuable than the whole and corporate raiders bought it out, saddled it with debt and let the chain cannibalize itself.  There used to be some great write ups of what went down.  Hopefully, they're still out there and you can get the gory details of their demise.  But, it was pretty much the same story that murdered Toys R Us about 15 years later.

There are two versions of this Keel Haul figure.  One has a very small logo on his back.  The other has a larger logo.  At retail, I found the larger logo version.  But, the figure you see below has the smaller logo.  Neither appears to be more common or desirable than the other.  But, it's something else to look for.  It is an odd bit of kismet that both Keel Haul and Backblast have logo size variants and that I found both of them, together, at the same KB at the same time.  The existence of the difference implies multiple paint masks were created.  And, the cost savings on paint for the smaller logos would have been more than gobbled up by the creation and shrinking of the additional paint mask.  So, the reasons why these variants exist have been lost to time.  It might have been a miscommunication with the factory and the logos were fixed and one is meant to be "correct" and other is an error.  We just don't know which is which.

Keel Haul has one distinguishing feature that appears a lot in the Joe line.  While he is excellently designed overall, his flight jacket is unzipped just a bit too low.  Especially since he doesn't have an undershirt on underneath it.  This unzipped/unbuttoned shirt or jacket look appears quite frequently in the early Joe line.  The 1983 Destro is the first time it appeared.  But, it also appears on the 1983 Wild Bill.  (You can make a case for Gung Ho, too, but his vest is completely unbuttoned to show off the Corps tattoo.)  In 1984, Recondo's shirt is open, though his specialty could explain it.  Then, you have Copperhead and Roadblock with bare chests.  In 1985, you have Buzzer, Ripper and Torch with a lot of exposed chest.  But, Tollbooth joins Keel Haul as figures with the low zipper.  In 1986 and 1987, we see the explosion of the fully bare chested figure and the low zipper starts to disappear.  I figure the Hasbro designers were likely young men during the 1970's.  And, their perceptions of being "cool" didn't age when they did.  (This is common, though, and not a criticism of them.)  So, anachronisms like the exposed chest that had dominated discos in the prior decade didn't seem as out of place as they would have to younger people coming of age in the 1980's.  

The Keel Haul mold didn't see a ton of use.  The 1985 release with the USS Flagg was a small production run.  But, Keel Haul was a staple of later mail aways and I even got a bagged version of him from the Hasbro Canada find in 1999.  This repainted figure was released in 1993 and has the two variants.  Then, the mold went to Brazil.  Around 1995, Estrela released the Anjo de Guarda figure.  This carded release was based on the 1993 Keel Haul coloring.  It is slightly different, though, and includes different weapons in similar colors to the 1993 figure.  After this, the mold disappeared.  We now know that Hasbro likely had this mold back in their possession in the 2000's.  And, it not appearing in a convention set meant that either someone didn't care about Keel Haul, or no one bothered to look for him.  But, both Keel Haul figures are pretty nice and there's really not a reason to see another repaint of this mold.

I don't really know why, but this Keel Haul figure has gotten expensive.  Once a staple of cheap, carded lots of 1993 figures that were passed from dealer to dealer, you know see loose Keel Hauls priced at nearly $40 for a mint and complete with filecard figure.  Despite that insane dealer pricing, carded figures sell in the $30 range.  But, even on the open market, loose mint and complete Keel Hauls will fetch well over $20 each.  That seems high for a 1993 release.   But, Keel Haul maintains a mystique that's a holdover from his 1985 release and many new collectors associate later, more common versions of characters with their earlier, rarer releases and bid up prices for nostalgic reasons.  In the unlikely event you have a Flagg but not a Keel Haul, the 1993 figure is a cheaper option.  Outside of that, though, the limitations of the Keel Haul figure remain and there's really no other reason to own one version over another.

1993 Keel Haul, G.I. Joe Admiral, 1993 Gung Ho, 1986 Dreadnok Swampfire

1993 Keel Haul, 1998 Col. Brekhov, Oktober Guard

1986 Roadblock, 1992 Talking Battle Commanders Stalker, 1993 Keel Haul, Battle Corps, G.I. Joe Admiral

Saturday, March 19, 2022

1992 Firefly

I have twice profiled the 1993 Firefly figure on this site.  I prefer the black on green look for the mold and find that Firefly to be among my favorite late Cobra characters.    However, my introduction to this sculpt was in December of 1992.  During my lunch hour at a local grocery store, I drove up to Toys R Us at the Castleton Mall in Indianapolis.  There, I bought my first G.I. Joe figures at retail since a lone Night Viper in the summer of 1990.  I acquired several figures.  The 1992 Gung Ho and General Flagg were two.  I know I bought the 1992 Destro as well.  They were joined by the 1992 Firefly: a figure I couldn't pass up due to the character and the awesome new rifle that was included with the figure.

Not much changed for me as 1992 started.  I still bought the Joe comics.  But, I didn't buy any toys.  And, what little money I did have to spend on collectibles was dropped at local sports card shops that were slowly going out of business, offering me a chance to buy many items I had long wanted for a fraction of their "book value".  In the fall, though, I went off to college.  Naturally, my interests drastically changed with the newfound freedoms of independent living.  With that independence, though, came newfound confidence.  I no longer really cared what people thought of me.  And, the idea of buying some G.I. Joe figures seemed plausible.

In December of that year, I was home for an extended Christmas break.  For some reason, all of my finals were done by Tuesday of the final week of school.  So, I went home early, got a job working in a local deli and then proceeded to work 10 hours a day for 6 days per week for the entirety of my break.  I needed the cash for when I went back to school.  But, I did decide to spend a little bit of my earnings on a few new G.I. Joe figures.  So, at lunch one day, I drove to the Toys R Us at the Castelton Mall in northern Indianapolis.  There, I was met with a massive crowd and a wall full of G.I. Joe figures that I had never seen before.  I didn't have a lot of time to choose some figures to buy.  So, went with characters whose names I knew or figures that seemed to have really cool accessories.

I know that I bought 6 figures in 1992.  I can not recall which I bought on that first trip to Toys R Us and which came later.  But, I bought three figures.  When I went to checkout, though, I got into a random line.  When I came up to the cashier, it turned out to be an old acquaintance with whom I had worked at a grocery store in 1990.  He had owned a sports card store for a short time in 1991.  I had about a third of his store for the cards I was selling.  As the market was crashing, though, the shop was short lived.  We had lost touch in 1992 as we both had different priorities.  We caught up for a quick minute.  I left the store with my purchases and never saw him again.  

With the newfound confidence of an "adult", these purchases in 1992 were the beginning of my collector phase.  Joe was no longer a childhood toy but now something to be enjoyed as a collectible.  I still only dabbled, though.  Money was one issue.  The second was that there was no place to buy toys in my college town.  There was a single K-Mart.  They had a SAW Viper with no accessories and one or two Sky Patrol figures whose parachutes had been torn out.  So, I bought only a handful of figures between 1992 and 1994.  The advent of Power of the Force II in 1995 changed that again and turned me into a full blown collector.  

When I saw this figure, the fact that it was Firefly got my attention.  While neon green wasn't a color that was overly common on my childhood Joes, it was in line with figures like Sci Fi and Airtight.  So, I didn't mind it.  And, the amazing rifle included with him was just too much to resist.  I had to buy the figure.  It was only upon getting home that I realized it was a pretty nice design.  I didn't have much time to really think about how I was going to use the figure, though.  I'd mess around with him from time to time.  But, I wasn't sure how he was going to fit into a collection, especially one where I still had a 1984 Firefly floating around in a red LEGO container in my closet.

In the summer of 1994, though, I sketched out some new Cobra characters on note cards while working at a boring real estate job.  One of these figures was a capable and brave fast attack commander.  He was also the confidant of my new, up and coming Cobra leader.  I wanted a figure that was different from what I had grown up with while also being worthy of representing my 2nd favorite new character.  And, this Firefly fit the bill.  He quickly became the face of Cobra combat operations, often riding high in the command post of a STUN.  Here, his bright color let the Joes know he was coming and there was still nothing they could do about it.  He was armored and carried a powerful, new weapon.  He was covered in grenades and explosives that would casually toss into targets as he zoomed past them.  And, should he ever get into close quarter combat, he carried a visible garrote to let you know that he wasn't afraid to simply kill someone with his bare hands.

The 1992 figures saw a limited production run.  While the figures were ubiquitous in 1992 and every toy store had a huge display of them for sale, they were not continued into 1993.  (With the exception of some leftover Roadblocks that were slapped on 1993 cards.)  Instead, 9 of the 12 carded 1992 figures (including Firefly) were repainted as new figures for 1993.  A 10th figure (Big Bear) was also released as a mail away.  Only Duke and Destro didn't get a new paint job.  Though, both of them were then released in 2000/2001.  This has lead to the 1992 series being a bit tougher to find on the secondary market than most people would imagine.  They're not rare.  But, some of the figures in the year take a lot more time to find than you'd think when you consider the figure's popularity.

The 1992 Firefly isn't overly accessorized.  His main gear is a well done rifle.  It's one of the cooler weapons in the line.  But, it's also neon green and that robs the weapon of the accolades it justly deserves.  After this, Firefly's calling card is a spinning top.  The top fits into a launcher and a green pull cord is used to launch the top.  It's an asinine contraption that's also fun as a toy.  But, it also helps lessen the popularity of Firefly.  One relatively unused aspect of the 1992 Firefly is that his grey highlights are a perfect match for the 1984 Firefly's backpack.  (The ubiquitous black Firefly gear from the early 2000's is also a perfect match for the 1993 repaint.)  So, a spare pack goes a long way to fill out the 1992 Firefly and make him more in line with his original saboteur specialty.  

The 1992 Firefly mold is really well done.  And, the quality is obscured by the neon green.  Hasbro repainted the figure just once in 1993.  The grey highlights of the 1992 figure were turned black.  It's probably a better figure.  But, the mold never appeared again.  In the early 2000's, though, Firefly's rifle started to appear with convention figures.  It is extremely likely that Firefly was available as a mold for Hasbro.  Imagine how much better the 2004 Urban Strike or, especially, the 2005 Crimson Guard set would have been with a 1992 Firefly mold repainted in the colors of the 1984 included with those sets.  But, Hasbro listened to select few people as to which molds were popular in the early 2000's and they would have never suggested the 1992 mold as an alternative to the 1984, even after the 1984 had been repainted half a dozen times.  I'd love this figure in the 1984 color scheme.  Or, really, anything substantially new.  But, that's probably never going to happen at this point.

1992 Fireflies can be a pain to track down.  While dealers will sell them in the $20 range, you can get mint and complete with filecard figures for about $10 on the open market.  The 1993 figure having identical accessories really helps to make completing the figure easy.  Carded figures can be had in the $30-$35 range, too.  It's a pretty good price for a single release year figure of a major character.  And, as neon figures have increased in popularity, the fact that Firefly remains cheap keeps him among the only really bright figures that you can still buy for non-inflated prices.  So, this remains a figure worth checking out for even the "post 1988 sucks" purists.

1992 Firefly, 1991 Incinerators, 1993 Detonator

1992 Firefly, 1982 HAL, Black Major Steel Brigade Mail Away

Sunday, March 13, 2022

1991 Eco Warriors Flint - Around The Web

So, not much was going on for me personally in relation to Joe in 1991.  I was buying the comic.  But, that was more out of habit.  My focus was on sports cards and action figures didn't really play into my interests.  As such, I have few anecdotes about 1991 releases that actually relate to 1991.  As I tried to write a new profile, I realized that.  So, I'm just going to post up this Around The Web on the 1991 Eco Warriors Flint and move to 1992 next week.

Love them or hate them, Eco Warriors are well known.  Collectors love them or are at least aware of them to use as the butt of jokes.  But, all the figures in the set are extremely well done.  And, the head on this Flint is fantastic.  I'd have really enjoyed more Eco Warriors mold repaints in the 2000's.  But, that never happened beyond trying to make this figure into a desert vehicle driver and then using his body on a ill-designed Red Shadows character.

1991 Eco Warriors Flint Profile

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by thedustinmccoy

1991 Eco Warriors Flint at the Attica Gazette

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by purple_cobra75

1991 Eco Warriors Flint at Nekoman's Viper Pit

1991 Eco Warriors Flint at

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by jogunwarrior

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by Slipstream80

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by purple_cobra75

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by Pegwarmers

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by nostalkid

1991 Eco Warriors Flint by thedustinmccoy

1991 Eco Warriors Flint, Snake Eyes

1991 Eco Warriors Flint, 1991 Sonic Fighters Rock and Roll

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

1991 Snake Eyes - Around The Web

In the late 1990's and early 2000's, this 1991 version of Snake Eyes was considered his worst look.  No one cared for it and it was largely ignored by the collecting world.  Slowly, though, kids who had this figure as their only Snake Eyes grew into adult collectors.  And, today, you see a ton of collectors who consider this "their" Snake Eyes since he defined the character in their childhood.  It's been a slow, but welcome transition in the community to have more people appreciate the 1990's Joes due to their inherent quality and design.  In the case of this figure, even the red weapons work within the context of the figure.

1991 Snake Eyes Profile

1991 Snake Eyes by Self-Modifier

1991 Snake Eyes by toysandtomfoolery

1991 Snake Eyes by myplasticshots

1991 Snake Eyes by HCC788

1991 Snake Eyes by 73larebear

1991 Snake Eyes by gen_liederkranz

1991 Snake Eyes by darkstar_vintage

1991 Snake Eyes at

1991 Snake Eyes by elevatemetoahigherhumanform

1991 Snake Eyes by joerizzo2025

1991 Snake Eyes by codename.steve

1991 Snake Eyes by toysandtomfoolery

1991 Snake Eyes

1991 Snake Eyes, 1993 Outback, Battle Corps

1991 Snake Eyes, 2020 Black Major COIL Ninja, Stormshadow

Saturday, March 5, 2022

1990 Salvo - Around The Web

Salvo is an oddball figure.  But, he works on a number of levels.  The colors, helmet and massive amount of gear all add up to a solid package.  Salvo's been a favorite of mine for a long time as he was one of the first 1990 figures I ever acquired.  Originally, I used him with a Night Force Spearhead rifle and Tiger Force Flint backpack.  Now, though, I really like his real gear as the color isn't common and the design is unique.  There's some good content on Salvo out there.  So, enjoy a look at him around the web.

Salvo Profile (2013)

Salvo Profile (2000)

Salvo by gigamech

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

1990 Bullhorn

I bought my last childhood Joes in 1988.  I bought no figures in 1989.  But, in the year of 1990, I did buy a solitary figure.  However, it was a 1989 Night Viper.  While I was fully engaged with the 1989 new figures and knew who they were, I was not similarly engrossed in 1990.  I had new pursuits filling my time.  I liked many of the characters who appeared in the comic.  Their designs looked interesting.  But, not interesting enough to really get me to think about buying them.  My younger brothers had also heavily outgrown Joe.  They had never really liked it as much as I had and when my interest flagged, so did theirs.  But, being more of an age where toys were still acceptable gifts, they'd get an occasional Joe figure.  My main foray into 1990 figures was when I babysat some kids down the street.  They had the newer Joes and I'd see them when I took care of them.  My main memories of that collection was Metal Head.  (They also had a Paralyzer and Big Ben that I saw in 1991.)  I've looked at Metal Head enough, though, that I turned to the one figure that we did own from 1990: Bullhorn.

In my household, we had just one 1989 figure: Scoop.  And, that pattern continued in 1990.  My youngest brother picked up a Bullhorn at some point.  I found the figure and was immediately enthralled with him.  The design was strong, his rifle was amazing, the sniper pack was what Destro had promised in 1983 and his gas mask was the type of accessory I had wanted since 1984.  In 1990, though, all my Joe toys were put away and those that my brother still had out were beat up, incomplete and generally spread around the house.  So, Bullhorn was more of an imagination figure for me.  I imagined how I would have used him had he been a part of my childhood.  His gear opened up new possibilities for me as the only real gasmasks that the Joes had were Ripcord's, Blowtorch's and Lifeline's.  And, each of those was set aside for specific purposes.

When I started collecting Joes as an adult, our old Bullhorn was still around.  He wasn't mint and some of his gear was gone.  So, as I sought out lots of figures, Bullhorn was a figure I'd target.  I used to have a point system for lots I was considering.  Figures with a score of 1 were either figures I didn't have, army builders or figures like Bullhorn where I'd buy extras even if they were Joes.  So, Bullhorn got a 1 and I ended up with a good little army of them for a while.  With the figures in tow, I set about trying different accessories with them since I found Bullhorn's main rifle to be unwieldy.  In time, I found Topside's and Freefall's weapons worked well with them.  And, even Sub Zero's heavy machine gun could be useful.  With the masks on, the figures could be an elite unit of army builders.  

Joe underwent several accessory stages.  The early figures included a helmet, weapon and maybe a pack or visor.  In 1983, the packs got larger and the weapons more detailed.  1984 was a major step forward with animals and additional gear.  1985, though, kind of stood still.  While ropes and rubber hoses were added, the overall amount of accessories per figure was pretty similar to 1984.  The line then stayed constant through 1988.  In 1989, though, the volume of accessories began to rise.  The number and intricacy of the accessories took a noticeable step forward.  In 1990, the figures were nearly over-accessorized.  Almost every figure includes a ton of gear and is often not able to store it all.  It was likely a way of appealing to the value of parents who were starting to see larger sized figures compete with Joes as the gift of choice for their children.

This means that Bullhorn is excellently accessorized.  Really, the least interesting part of his gear complement is his namesake bullhorn.  It's two pieces and really well done.  Supposedly, the pistol grip is a "gas gun" with a bullhorn attached.  It makes no sense and I've always seen it as a bullhorn.  There's a round whole on the back of the gun that implies it should have had a place where it could be hung.  But, no such peg exists and it may be a remnant of Bullhorn's design that was removed earlier in the pre-production process.  Bullhorn's main rifle is cool looking.  But, it's rather big and can be a thumb breaker.  At the time, I thought it was amazing.  But, the weapon lost its luster over the years.  It appeared in a variety of softer plastic weapon trees in 1993 and 1994, though, and those can be easier on thumbs.  There are also two grey versions of it.  One is a hard to find 2008 convention piece.  The other is a Stargate weapon and it gives Bullhorn something different to use.  

It is the remainder of Bullhorn's gear that really sets him apart.  The calling card for the figure is his sniper and case.  This time around, though, the bulky case holds three pieces that can be combined into a sniper rifle.  The case features a keyboard to imply it is locked.  The actual sniper rifle, when put together, isn't very impressive.  But, it's a stock, body and sight that interconnect to make a whole new accessory.  Really, it's something that's more cool as a concept than it is an actual plaything.  But, that was kind of the point.  Bullhorn's gas mask rounded out his accessories.  It is my favorite part of the figure.  And, I use it on a variety of figures when the situation calls for it.  The mask fits really well.  And, since it's not a helmet, it is a very different look for a figure wearing protection from toxic gases.  Sadly, the gas mask never returned and that's a shame.

Bullhorn didn't get much use.  He was released by Hasbro.  There is a European exclusive accessory variant that's not easy to find, but also not different from the American figure.  Bullhorn's legs were used on the 1993 Bazooka figure.  He then disappeared until 2008.  He then appeared as a convention figure that was included with a repainted Hammer.  This 2008 figure had 1992 Shockwave legs since the original lower body was separated from the mold in 1993.  The 2008 isn't materially different from the 1990 figure.  And, Bullhorn could have used a nice repaint or two at retail during the early 2000's.  Seeing him in more urban coloring or even environmentally themed could have been a great way to update the mold.  This didn't happen, though.  So, collectors have few options for Bullhorn and those beyond his standard release are hard to find and can get prohibitively expensive.

Bullhorns were once cheap.  As Joes got popular, he rose in price.  But, as interest faded, he dropped back down, again.  Now, though, he's somewhat in the middle.  While many 1990 figures have gotten absurdly expensive, Bullhorn hasn't gone nuts...yet.  Both dealers and the open market seem to agree that a mint and complete with filecard Bullhorn is about a $25 figure.  It's rare to find such synchronicity.  Sure, some dealers will get a lot more.  But, there's plenty still available for that price.  You can get figures for a couple of bucks with the mask running about $5 and his sniper pack running about $12.  So, the complete version is still the way to go.  Bullhorn's gear works well with some other figures and extra gas masks are always a welcome accessory to have around.  So, even if my late 1990's army building obsession with Bullhorn has subsided, I can still appreciate the figure always find use for his gear.

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1990 Bullhorn