Olhos de Fenix Profile
Olhos de Fenix by specialmissionforce
Olhos de Fenix by gladiousbrazil
Back in 2001, there was still not a central documentation platform for all the figures released in Brazil. What archives that did exist were incomplete, especially for figures that were similar to the Hasbro releases. As such, from time to time, "new" figures would pop up. Usually, these were vehicle pack ins or from a series that was not featured on one of the cardbacks in various archives. So, when a Brazilian collector told me he had an Asa Negra figure available, there was no documentation as to who the character was or what figure mold he used. My Brazilian friend was able to scan in a cardback and I was able to see that Asa Negra was a repainted Headhunter Stormtrooper figure that was fairly similar to the Hasbro release. It was kind of a letdown. Especially since he wanted so much money for the figure at a time before Brazilian swivel arms had really begun to take off.
Asa Negra loosely translates as "Black Wings". The original release from Brazil was a barely repainted 1993 Headhunter Stormtrooper figure that was carded with a glider. This Red Laser figure borrows loosely from the Brazilian figure that would have been made in either late 1994 or 1995. He feature the grey color base. But, it's offset with gold highlights. The most noticeable tribute to the original figure is the red goggles. Little details like this allowed Red Laser figures to be tied back to the Brazilian or Argentine counterparts. In the case of Asa Negro, it created a figure that is different enough to stand on his own and rise above the rest of the grey figures that were also released in 2018.
Red Laser and Black Major took very different approaches to producing factory custom figures. While Black Major focused on army builders and maximizing the number of repaints from each, full figure configuration, Red Laser focused on characters and concepts that would mix and match the parts library. This was nice as it offered a fuller, more developed range of offerings for collectors. Though, in some cases, I do think Red Laser went almost too obscure. Asa Negra is a case in point. Prior to the Red Laser release, only the most die hard collectors knew who Asa Negra was. And, only a small subset of them had any interest in really owning the figure. So, the name, Asa Negra, wasn't nearly the selling point of, say, a Ghost Mortal.
The upside is that this Asa Negra turned into a really nice figure release. In fact, it's a better way to use the character than if you owned the original Brazilian figure. I see most Red Laser characters as early Cobras. They were freelancers who worked for the Commander when he was still building Cobra. Most were outcasts from other organizations or known mercenaries who were looking for a payday in the safer location of the US. Here, Cobra Commander would use the valued skills of his new hires to carry out his early objectives. He didn't much care if they were killed, so long as they got the job done. And, he could keep them at arm's length should they be captured. Asa Negra was among those early contractors. His robotic appearance was frightening and he served to train Cobra's paratrooper corps. I don't know how he will meet his demise, yet. But, you can be sure he didn't survive into the mid 1980's as the Commander cleaned up those loose ends as Cobra became larger and more financially successful.
When the art mockups of these figures were produced, the skull tampo on a Snake Eyes head seemed risky. It was the type of thing that was probably going to go wrong. But, it didn't. In fact, the skull print lived up to the hype and worked on every figure on which it appeared. And, the upside is that all three uses of it are different enough that you can use the figures together without them seeming too repetitive. Skullbuster's is the classic skull. Shadowtracker's is the day-glow, horror skull. And, Asa Negra's is the metallic, brass skull. It's a nice mix of approaches that keeps the figures from seeming too similar while also getting the full value out of an expensive paint mask.
Asa Negra's quality is top notch. The intricate paint masks on his head and chest are crisp. And, the golden color is a departure from most other Red Laser releases. He features Snake Eyes's head, done up with the gold skull mask and red goggles. The countenance is the highlight of the figure. He then features Clutch's chest. This was a part I was most looking forward to. And, Red Laser got good use out of it. It gives the figure more depth when posed with pre-1985 Cobras. His arms, legs and waist are non-descript. But, his gloves (that also encompass the cuffs on his shirt) help make him stand out a bit. He's not overly done in paint applications. But, he has enough to not look cheap. And, the tight joints and quality plastic give the feel of a real figure we could have played with back in 1984.
Asa Negra's accessories are sparse. He included a grey version of the 1984 Firefly's rifle and a grey grenade. The grenade is small and the type of thing that's easy to misplace since it neither fits into his hand or includes any type of holder. Firefly's rifle is a solid sculpt. But, I've found it doesn't mesh with every figure. Having it in grey is nice. But, after tons of releases in black in the early 2000's, the need for more Firefly rifles has definitely diminished. Personally, I re-outfit him with other grey weapons from other figures. Both the Snake Eyes Uzi and the Mutt Mac-11 work with the figure. While Asa Negro doesn't need a helmet, it would have been cool for him to have some sort of pack. A recolored JUMP would have matched his specialty, too.
2018 Red Laser Army figures have dried up. You'll pay a substantial after market premium for most of them. Asa Negra is seen less often than many of the Joe figures. But, you should still be able to find one for $30 or under. That's a lot for this guy. But, much of the repetitiveness of the grey and black figures is lost to passed time. So, a single figure like Asa Negra can really work in a collection. And, as we aren't likely to ever see Red Laser's molds return to production, this is probably the final attempt at Asa Negra that we'll ever see. I find Red Laser's figures to be great ways to expand the early Joe mythos, before Cobra got too big. And, as there's also lots of heroes against whom they can battle, the figures really allow a collection to flourish.
Destro is an iconic character in the Joe line who is defined by his steel mask. In Europe, though, the figure mold didn't debut as Destro. Instead, it was released as Red Jackal. At it's core, Red Jackal is very similar to Destro. But, I'd argue that Red Jackal is better just because he doesn't have the open shirt. Though, he could stand a bit of pain on his necklace.
Red Shadows are probably oversaturated, now. I liked them as a smaller, more localized organization that eventually morphed into Cobra. A guy like Destro helped facilitate that from his various identities that he used on each continent. Red Jackal was his European persona and one that he abandoned after he completed Cobra's assimilation of the European organization. I never saw Red Shadows as a threat on the level of Cobra as they had less time to organize and, tended to be more fanatical. (This is why the early Cobra Troopers, heavily pulled from old Red Shadows ranks, were quick to die rather than disappoint their new Commander.) As the Red Shadows died off within Cobra, the Commander replaced them with a different breed of recruits who were less driven by fanatical ideology and more focused on the ways in which Cobra could improve their life. The Commander offered them financial hope, like minded compatriots who felt their country abandoned them and a sense of camaraderie in that their cause was just. This fueled loyalty but also subjects who were willing to die for the cause, but not just because a battle didn't go their way. This made them more dangerous in the long run.
There's a bit of Red Jackal content out there. In the early days of collecting, it was pretty easy to track them down. And, they were, maybe, $20 figures at the turn of the century. Even into the late 2000's, Red Jackals were obtainable and affordable. Now, that's not the case. The figure is expensive. And, the premium probably isn't worth the slight uptick in quality over the cheaper and more available 1983 Destro figure. But, the one time commonality allows for some content volume you can check out below.
My foray into Brazilian figures was entirely driven by the Cobra Flying Scorpion. It was a figure that, once I was aware of its existence, I had to own. And, in the 21 years since then, the Flying Scorpion has appeared time and time again on this site. I get him out relatively often for a super fragile figure. And, there's a lot of different photo shoots in which he plays a central part. Lost in the personal appeal that the Flying Scorpion holds for me, though, is that his Cobra team mate in the Brazilian Sky Patrol might actually be a better figure. And, while I've owned the Abutre Negro figure almost as long as I've had a Flying Scorpion, he is used infrequently and takes an undeserved back seat the primary Estrela figure in my collection.
The Abutre Negro is black, silver and red. The color scheme works with classic Cobras as well as later Cobra releases. Originally, I matched him up with the 1988 Destro and team. As Iron Grenadiers have lost prominence in my collection, though, this figure finds himself more on his own. As a kitbash, the figure is well done. Cesspool's chest is one that should have had more uses in the Cobra ranks. And, Dee Jay's head recolored not only gives the figure a completely different look but also gives a bit of disguising face covering that was common on most Cobras. In short, if you found this figure in the 1990's, there is nothing about it that suggests anything other than these parts were meant to work together to create this character.
Oddly, though, this figure remains pretty obscure in my collection. I've only photographed him once since 2012. Which seems odd since the figure is so well done. I just haven't had occasion to get him out and use him as often as his quality demands. Part of that was that I rarely use aircraft in photos. The other part is that I'm hesitant to attempt to pose him too much in fear of the brittle crotch and thumbs getting broken. I opened my figure straight off the card back in 2002. So, he's always been more of a collectible than a plaything. Hopefully, I can get some more photos of him in the coming years.
One point of interest to me is that I refer to the Flying Scorpion by the English translation of his Brazilian name of Escorpiao Voador. Yet, for the Abutre Negro, I refer to him by his Brazilian name instead of the translation of Black Vulture of Black Buzzard. I assume it's just laziness since Escorpioa Voador is more of a mouthful than Abutre Negro. But, also, in my collection the Flying Scorpion figure is a different character. So, I really only ever refer to him by his proper name in collecting forums.
So, yeah, Abutre Negros are stupidly expensive. Patrulha do Ar figures were among the first Brazilian figures to be readily available in the US. But, they quickly disappeared by the early 2000's. And, as wave after wave of Brazilian Python Patrol and Tiger Force figures showed up in the 2010's, the Estrela Sky Patrol figures remained relatively scarce. As they were late releases, it's likely that the stock that was common in the late 1990's and early 2000's was overstock that was purchased by dealers and resellers and few of them were actually toys. (Much like the 1994 figures in the US.) So, now you'll pay well over $200 for a mint loose and complete Abutre Negro. It's a lot and probably more than the pleasure of owning the figure is worth.
I hope that at some point the Pulse collection will move away from straight vintage homages and into more unique territory. Producing a figure like this would be a strong way to get collectors something they wanted while not straying too far from purpose of the line. I doubt it will happen, though, as releases have been too sparse so far for them to get into any deep cuts.
Everyone knows the major Brazilian exclusives. They are either major repaints or completely new amalgamations that have captured the attention of the collecting world for over 25 years. Lesser known, though, are the figures that are more similar to their Hasbro counterparts. At first glance, a casual collector might not notice a difference. But, every figure produced in Brazil is a unique release that has differences from its Hasbro ancestor.
Leopardo is the Brazilian version of Recondo. Recondo is an iconic figure, so having a slightly different look for him from Brazil isn't a terrible thing. The two main differences are the skin tone and the deeper shades of green on his hat and gear. (It should be noted that there are variants in Leopardo's cammo pattern on his legs, too. Just like the American Recondo.) The slight differences make for a different look for Recondo.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a good amount of content featuring Leopardo. There are a lot of Brazilian creators who feature the figure. But, he also appears elsewhere, showcasing that the figure was relatively easy to acquire in the 2010's for sane prices. Now, that's less easy to do as Brazilian figures have drastically risen in price. For a few bucks, this figure is a must own. But, when you spend nearly $100 for one, the differences aren't really worth the premium over a Hasbro Recondo.
So, the whole 1982-1994 thing really burned me out. That's why it kind of slow rolled to the end and I took a few shortcuts. As such, April is going to be a light month. Years ago, I called April "International Joe Month". It never took off. But, I'm going to heavily focus on non-US releases in April: mostly with Around The Web and Random Photo features. I've one or two profiles to release, though. So, they'll pop up. Hopefully, that will give me some time to get re-energized for May. And, if not, I already have most of the work done for Rarities Month in June. So, there will be 12-15 new Rarities offerings coming then.
Until then, here's some of the various foreign figure content I've had saved up. A lot of them, like this Wild Bill, don't have a ton of content as there just aren't too many photos out there using the figures. A lot of the work done in the early 2000's when these figures were common is now gone. So, I found what I could and encourage those who have some figures like this to get them out and take more photos.