Saturday, July 30, 2022

1990 Sub Zero - Around The Web

Sub Zero is one of the more obscure arctic releases.  He's kind of the forgotten man when you think of Joe's winter operations team.  But, he's a worthy successor of his predecessors.  He includes a plethora of excellent gear.  He has a solid sculpt.  And, his colors are near perfect for arctic conditions.  And, he's found more acceptance in recent years.  Seeing Joes out in the snow is fun.  So, here's some of the best content on the 1990 Sub Zero from around the web.

1990 Sub Zero Profile

1990 Sub Zero by thedustinmccoy

1990 Sub Zero by scarrviper

1990 Sub Zero by yovalleyjoe

1990 Sub Zero by codename.steve

1990 Sub Zero by gijoecollector

1990 Sub Zero by joes_by_james

1990 Sub Zero by gen_liederkranz

1990 Sub Zero by HCC788

1990 Sub Zero by andrewofsengir6

1990 Sub Zero at Toysfromthepast

1990 Suz Zero by gen_liederkranz

1990 Sub Zero, 1987 Maverick, Battle Force 2000

1990 Sub Zero, Cold Front, 1985 Snow Cat

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

2005 Comic Pack Zarana

The Comic Packs were an inspired idea.  The offered promise of spectacular new figures, long desired repaints and new characters who had been missing from the Joe line for its 22 year run.  But, in the three years the concept was produced, very little of these promises came to be.  Instead, the Comic Packs became a home of overused parts, repetitive characters and releases that were barely different from the original figure releases.  Such was the case with the 2005 Zarana figure.  Ostensibly, a new Zarana should have been a welcomed release.  But the actual figure offered nothing that could not be acquired from either the original figure or the super common and $4 Funskool Zarana that was available at the time, too.

The calling card of the Comic Packs became newly sculpted heads.  That (along with the $10 price point for 3 figures!) was the primary drawing point for the product.  The problem, though, was that the heads didn't really offer anything extraordinary.  In fact, pretty much every new head in the 2004 releases was inferior to the original and many of the 2005 new heads were either too small or too large.  Hasbro started to find their stride in later 2005, though, as figures like Firefly, Serpentor and Fred all featured some excellent sculpting.  But, there were also duds like Tunnel Rat, Zartan and Roadblock who were released at the same time.  Zarana's head falls into the middle.  It's not bad.  It's not great.  It's a softer look than the mohawked 1986 heads.  But, I'm not sure that really fits with Zarana's character.

In the comic, Zarana slowly overtook the character role that had been held by the Baroness.  She was given leadership positions.  While you can question why she was chosen for this instead of just leaving the Baroness there, at least she was consistently portrayed as rather ruthless in the comics.  She wasn't a character who was offered a redemption arc.  (Like the Baroness was.)  So, for that reason, at least her character was consistent.  My biggest complaint with this 2005 figure is that the newly sculpted head doesn't really convey that.  Zarana was an angry character.  This figure shows her as more calm and put together.  As Zarana was never depicted that way, the new face makes no sense.  It doesn't flow with Zarana's characterization and is somewhat anti-thetical to her entire existence.

My other issue, though, is that this figure is pretty much the 1986 color scheme with very slight shading differences.  If you have the 1986 or Funskool release, this 2005 figure offers you nothing new.  While the 2004 convention figure tried and failed to really change the look for Zarana, they didn't take any chances.  The Comic Packs were a place to do that.  But, to be fair, Zarana never appeared in any color scheme other than one matching her figure.  So, there wasn't a ton of artistic license to be taken from the source material.  But, you get a blue and pink Zarana figure that looks like a famous actress is playing Zarana in a movie instead of someone who looks like the character.

The original card artwork for the 1986 Zarana showcased two features that were changed on the figure prior to its release.  The first was that Zarana had a tattoo on her arm.  This was removed.  The second was that Zarana was not wearing pink leggings under her ripped jeans.  So, she exposed a large amount of fleshy thigh.  This was too much for a figure also wearing a low cut crop top.  So, the pink undergarment was added via a paint application.  This 2005 does not bring back the tattoo.  We can then argue about whether they changed her leg to be bare skin or still covered by an undergarment.  When I asked this question of collectors, the results were mixed...meaning that any definitive change Hasbro may or may not have wanted to make is still completely muddled.  Due to Hasbro's inability to adequately paint caucasian skin tones in the 2000's, Zarana's leg could be skin or pink tights.  I'll leave it to the individual collector to make their decision.  

Overall, the quality of this figure is mixed.  While the limbs move easily and don't fall apart, there is an issue with the head.  It will only turn to the right.  I have three Zaranas and none of their heads will move left.  You could probably force it.  But, when you do, you'll crack the torso around Zarana's neck.  This is a common affliction of the Comic Pack figures.  So, you have to exercise a bit of caution when positioning the head.  The gear fits and the thumbs are soft.  So, you won't break them.  Zarana's face sculpt is actually really well done.  But, it doesn't look like Zarana.  Honestly, the face would have worked better on the 2006 Lady Jaye figure.  It's just too kind looking to fit with the mean and dastardly Zarana and it doesn't display the effects of the Dreadnok hard lived life in which Zarana partook.  The paint applications are strong, though.  So, the figure showcases much of the sculpted details, just like the original figure does.

Zarana's accessories are on the low end of Dreadnok gear.  She includes a backpack that's not all that interesting, it's just in black this time.  And, her weapon du jour is a saw.  This isn't a realistic chainsaw like Buzzer's from 1985.  It's a spin blade thing that really would only have purpose in sawing people.  If you look at it like that, the saw is rather gruesome.  But, honestly, it's kind of boring.  As a kid, figures without firearms were tough to use.  And, as Buzzer had a far better saw, there was really no reason to use Zarana.  Her saw appeared a couple of times in the early 2000's and you can find it in black and silver with various other figures.  So, you can change around the look of this Zarana's weapons a bit.

A final word about figure quality.  The plastic used on the Comic Pack Joes (and, Joe figures in general) during the early 2000's is turning out to be absolute garbage.  Especially for whites, light blues, greys and flesh colors.  You know, basic colors that appear on a ton of figures.  You'll notice in the top photos below that the Zarana's upper arms are starting to discolor.  The third photo is from 2007 and you can see the different coloring on the figure's arms.  Like the 2005 Scrap Iron, this is an inevitability and not something you can really stop.  Carded figures are seeing the same thing happen still in the package.  The plastic isn't holding up at all.  I only hope the super expensive 2022 Pulse release use better quality materials.  But, in the not too distant future, there will be no mint 2005 Zaranas left.  This sucks.  There's no other way to put it.  But, it's a grim reality for the 2000's era Joe figures.

Zarana has an interesting history.  The original figure was sculpted with a fatter head with earrings.  Hasbro didn't like this and decided to sculpt a new head that was also released in 1986.  This figure color changed like Zartan and Zandar.  But, once her retail run was over, Zarana disappeared.  Then, in the mid 1990's, Zarana showed up in India.  Funskool released her for several years.  However, prior to the mass imports of Funskool that started in early 2001, Funskool had taken Zarana out of production.  So, she was a relatively difficult figure to find at the time.  But, in 2002, Funskool revived several classic molds: including Zarana.  There are subtle Funskool Zarana variants.  But, she is one of the few Funskool figures who doesn't have major variants in coloring.  In 2003, Hasbro recalled 18 molds from Funskool.  Zarana was among them.  The club quickly put her mold to use in the poorly received 2004 Dreadnok themed Convention set.  For years after it's release, these figures were available for below original price.  Then, this Comic Pack Zarana debuted in 2005.  The mold was retired at that point.  Despite all the versions of Zarana, she really only has her one classic look.

As the Joe market finally starts to cool down, figures like this Zarana are feeling the pinch.  While dealers offer a ton of them for $30 or so each, they don't sell.  Mint and complete figures are worth about $12-$15 each.  It's a fall from a year ago when they were nearly double that.  And, while some carded Comic Packs from that era still command premiums, carded Zaranas top out around $50 and she is, far and away, the least desirable figure in the pack.  So, if you're missing her, Zartan and the Fred Cobra Commander, just buy and open a carded set.  For me, this figure isn't a good Zarana.  The original heads are better.  This figure is a good attempt at something different.  But, it just didn't deliver.

2005 Comic Pack Zarana, Buzzer, Dreadnok, Zartan's Sister

2005 Comic Pack Zarana, Buzzer, Dreadnok, Zartan's Sister

2005 Comic Pack Zarana, Buzzer, Dreadnok, Zartan's Sister

2005 Comic Pack Zarana, Buzzer, Dreadnok, Zartan's Sister

Saturday, July 23, 2022

1994 Action Marine - Around The Web

The 1994 Action Series figures are about the only 1994 releases who haven't experience a massive price bump.  This is likely due to several factors.  The figures probably saw a pretty large production run.  The earliest Joe collectors (including 12" Joe fans) gobbled these up as collectibles, so there are plenty of boxed figures still available.  And, finally, the figures aren't really characters that are ARAH compatible.  So, there's no urgency to own any of them since they are faceless army builders.

Despite that, though, the figures are well done and really should be more popular.  But, the fact that they aren't allows modern collectors to still acquire them for decent prices.

1994 Action Marine Profile

1994 Action Marine by Slipstream80

1994 Action Marine by toyphotology

1994 Action Marine by recondo martin

1994 Action Marine at

1994 Action Marine Flocked Head Custom by unclesnorky

1994 Action Marine Keychain Figure by redsquad119

1994 Action Marine, Action Soldier

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

2022 SDCC Carded Skystriker Figures

I was really hoping these figures would be released on the old resealable bubble cards that were used for convention figures.  You'll have to tear up the cards to get a set of loose figures, which is what I'm after.  So, that kind of sucks for loose collectors.  

The artwork on the never before carded figures looks pretty weak, though.  It's similar to the fan art inspired stuff we see on Super7 cards.  It's definitely lost the feel of the vintage work.  It's just a bunch of guys (and one girl) standing around.  Meh.  These will definitely look out of place among either vintage carded figures and even the 2022 releases that were based on the standard vintage artwork.

But, these will resell for stupid amounts.  I'm guessing over $300 easy for the Cobra Commander, maybe higher if the vintage market hasn't cratered by the time this is released.  But, man, is his artwork weak.  It's really amazing how much the Ripcord artwork (which is based on the vintage) stands out among the rest of the statues.

SDCC Skystriker Carded Figures, 2022, Haslab, Ace, Fail Safe, Cobra Trooper, Mickey Mouse Cobra Commander, Scarlett

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Funskool Beach Head

As my collection has grown, I find that my preferences for figures changes.  While I once held the figures from my childhood in the highest esteem, I am now more open to their flaws.  And, as such, I've discovered that some of my childhood favorites are simply no longer even considered as candidates for photos or profiles.  Many later acquisitions, though, have held up better.  But, even figures I first acquired in the 1990's have suffered from my expanding roster of figure options.  It doesn't mean these old favorites are bad.  I just like other options better.  This became very evident to me, though, when I recently commented on a photo of the Funskool Beach Head figure.  This figure has now been in my collection for so long that I consider him a staple who feels as if he's always been there.  And, in a fleeting moment as I typed, I realized that the Funskool Beach Head, in his lime green glory, has completely and utterly replaced the 1986 Beach Head as the de facto version of the character in my collection.  As my profile of that figure from 2014 is dated and sparse, it gave rise to an opportunity to revisit a figure that, truly, has become one of my favorites in the long and vast history of the Joe line.

We first have to look at the history of the Funskool Beach Head in general.  He is one of the earliest Funskool offerings, dating to at least 1995 and maybe even earlier.  From the beginning, though, the figure was not colored like the American release.  This is rather odd.  We know that Hasbro was very adamant in maintaining consistent looks for certain characters.  This is why the oddly colored Funskool releases in the early days were accompanied by other variants of the figure that were more in line with the original coloring.  Only characters that Hasbro no longer cared about were left to be fully "Funskooled" with bright colors.  Beach Head doesn't seem a candidate for this treatment since he was prominent in the early cartoon and was always a collector favorite.  But, you can also make an argument that his departure from the more muted greens of the Hasbro release are less a change than something like a bright yellow and blue Major Bludd.  Early Beach Heads had some darker green base colors.  But, they were offset with a bright yellow vest with matching blood red highlights and head.  These monsters are rare and expensive.  So, in contrast, the lime green variants that came later seem more in line with the U.S. figure.  

Once the lime green figure came to be, they were released for a long time.  During the years preceding 2001 or so, Funskool produced tons of minor variants of the figure.  There are brown eyebrows, black eyebrows, dark grey highlights, light grey highlights, black hands, green hands and various colors of vests, blue cammo and brown pants.  If that's not enough, there are black guns, light grey guns, dark grey guns, dark green backpacks, black backpacks, lime green backpacks and hard and soft satchels.  It's probably impossible to document all the combos any more.  But, there are dozens of variants.  But, when Funskool imports to the U.S. began at toy dealers in 2001, Beach Head had been out of production for a while.  A few lucky collectors were able to find old bagged samples as vehicle drivers in the influx of Funskool vehicles of the day.  But, generally, Beach Head was out of circulation and hard to find.  But, in 2002, Funskool brought back a few old favorites.  Along with Flint, Airtight, Scrap Iron, Zarana, Buzzer and Ripper, Beach Head returned to production.  Between 2002 and 2003, there are, again, many slight coloring variants.  In 2003, Hasbro got the mold back.  And, thus ended one of Funskool's most popular, enduring and iconic figures.  

So, now, we revert back to before all that happened: to 1986.  In this year, Hasbro released Beach Head.  The figure quickly became a favorite of all my Joe collecting friends.  He was kind of like Snake Eyes with the masked head.  But, he had very militaristic gear and definitely filled a different role than the Joe's silent icon ever would.  And, he became one of my favorite figures, too.  He and Leatherneck formed a team that lead many adventures in my room, my grandparents' backyard or the front steps of my grandfather's home in Buffalo.  He went everywhere and was a vital part of my collection.  Until he wasn't.  One reason is that I left a Leatherneck figure in the hemlock bushes next to those limestone steps in Buffalo.  I didn't get a new one for a year.  Another reason is that I broke Beach Head's ammo pack and I hated breaking accessories.  I then used the figure as pieces for new, custom characters.  Eventually, I replaced both Beach Head and Leatherneck and had solid versions to use.  But, by then, the 1987's were overtaking my collection and Beach Head kind of fell away.  As an adult, I was slow to take the figure back up.  He was a figure that looked cool.  But, I had lots of newer options that filled the same purpose when I went to take photos.

In very early 2002, long before Funskool announced the figure would return to production, I was able to trade for a bagged vehicle driver Funskool Beach Head.  He arrived in my mailbox one snowy Saturday and the figure immediately captured my attention.  The lime green was just as striking as I had imagined (there were few photos of the figure online in those days) and he was everything I wanted in a foreign repaint.  Suddenly, I found this figure appearing in some of my that would never have included the American figure.  The brighter colors popped against dark backgrounds.  But, at the same time, the general overall hues worked.  He wasn't the Funskool Wild Bill, all decked out in orange.  He had the basics that allowed him to be useful along with more traditional Joe figures.  But, he had added visual appeal that garnered attention when he was showcased.  When the carded Beach Heads were released a few months later, I picked up a couple to get both his gear but also a carded sample of a classic character.  In the ensuing years, I acquired a few more and now have half a dozen samples here that remain a hallmark of my photo repertoire.  

Because of all that, I now view the Funskool lime green version as the default for Beach Head.  I rarely even consider the U.S. figure at all any more.  It's an interesting phenomenon as it speaks to the changing nature of being a collector.  I've owned this figure for nearly 20 years.  In that time, I've taken thousands of Joe photos.  And, I've easily spent more time on the hobby in that time than I did between 1986 and 1987: when the American Beach Head would have been at his apex.  But, the more exuberant green has turned the Funskool figure into my main vision of the Beach Head character.  When I see the Classified Beach Head as an homage figure, I first think that the color is wrong.  Then, I remember that the lime green I associate with the character is actually his foreign variant.  It's weird.  But, it also is normal.

My main interest in the figure is the striking visual he represents when placed in various photos or when combined with other figures.  But, also, the more vibrant Funskool colors allow for me to really appreciate all of the subtle details on Beach Head's mold.  His red shoulder really stands out.  And, the lighter browns and blues that comprise his legs also seem to be better offset against the brighter color.  In short, he's just more fun to look at.  And, because of that, this Beach Head has found a very valuable place among my most used figures.  He drives vehicles, sits in the background or dominates a photo.  I have a couple just so I can display in different locations all at once.  While he may not hold this presence over other collectors, he does to me.  And, so, for that reason, he is Beach Head in my collection.

The upside to Funskool was that they included all of Beach Head's original gear.  The Russian figures and the 2002/2003 re-releases all include a dark green backpack.  It's tough to see at times.  But, it's definitely green and also allows you to better see the details of Beach Head's pack.  The rifle included with the Funskool figure is lighter in color than the Hasbro release.  There are versions that can be darker and tougher to differentiate.  But, the later releases are visually distinctive and can be flimsy at times.  Beach Head's ammo pack is also brittle.  It will snap if you toss it over the figure's chest too many times.  And, it's not unheard of to find dried out ones that have already snapped while still on the card.  So, the Funskool accessories really aren't better than the 1986 Hasbro versions.  But, they are easier and cheaper to acquire...kind of.

Beach Head got the standard two year release by Hasbro.  He then disappeared.  A huge number of 1986 molds were released in Brazil.  But, Beach Head was not among them.  As he appeared early in the Funskool line, though, there's more than enough to collect.  You could probably find 100 Beach Head variants if you looked long enough.  And, much of his mold was also used on the Funskool Skydiver figure, offering you some additional parts colors to play with.  Funskool returned Beach Head to Hasbro in 2003, though.  Collectors wanted the figure, even though he was readily and cheaply available from US importers.  In 2004, the club released a Tiger Force Beach Head.  The figure is interesting and actually looks great next to the Funskool version.  Sadly, this figure didn't include Beach Head's original gear.  Which, was odd since the Dreadnoks who had also been recalled from India and were first used in this set did have their original weapon molds.  In 2004, Hasbro dropped Beach Head into the Toys R Us exclusive Night Force set.  Again, his original gear was gone.  And, that was the end.  A desert Beach Head would have been cool.  As would have an Arctic Beach Head.  So, there's still life in the mold since he's such a popular character.  Perhaps we'll see him from Pulse.  But, that will likely be either a 1986 homage or a cartoon appearance color scheme.  (Which, would be OK.)

Funskool Beach Head pricing is based on the variant.  Some bagged vehicle drivers just missing the gloves will fetch $300 or more.  But, the reality is that carded figures from the 2002 - 2004 production runs (including a widely available Russian exclusive) were heavily imported.  Collectors bought up the figure in droves due to the classic gear and the fact that, at the time, American Beach Heads were substantially more expensive than the $4 that a carded Funskool version would set you back.  Tons of collectors bought the Funskool figure just for the gear and used it on their American figures.  Now, that popularity has lead to a more common and easy to find Funskool offering.  Carded Beach Heads remain common.  But, they will run you between $30 and $50 depending upon various nuances or impatient buyers.  Loose figures are harder to find and still command a premium.  You'll probably spend $20 or more to get a mint and complete version.  But, seeing as how American Beach Heads appear to be $50 loose figures these days, even the carded price is a palatable option.  

Funskool Beach Head, 1986, 1985 Snake Eyes, 2004 Night Force Tunnel Rat, 1982 VAMP

Funskool Beach Head, 2005 Winter Operations Snake Eyes, Toys R Us Exclusive

Funskool Beach Head, 1986, Mastim, Mutt, 1984

Funskool Beach Head, 2002 BAT, Battle Android Trooper

Funskool Beach Head, 1986, 1985 Snake Eyes, 2004 Night Force Tunnel Rat, 1982 VAMP

Funskool Beach Head, 1986, 1985 Snake Eyes, 2004 Night Force Tunnel Rat, 1982 VAMP

Saturday, July 16, 2022

1991 Cobra Commander - Around The Web

The 1991 Cobra Commander is an under rated gem.  Few people pay attention to it as it's a non-traditional look for the Commander.  But, the colors are very Cobra and are a great way to have a field ready Cobra Commander.  Being a 1991 figure, he's not overly easy to find.  But, he's still a lot cheaper than a high quality 1983 release.  And, he perfectly matches up with figures from 1991 through 1994.  

There's some nice work on this figure out there.  Much of it shows how this figure can really work as the Commander.  And, you can see how well he does integrate with later figures in the line.

1991 Cobra Commander Profile

Funskool Cobra Commander - 1991 mold

1991 Cobra Commander by yotothejoe

1991 Cobra Commander by jogunwarrior

1991 Cobra Commander by tituslester32

1991 Cobra Commander at

1991 Cobra Commander by general_liederkranz

1991 Cobra Commander by Wes Ferguson

1991 Cobras at The Dragon Fortress

1991 Cobra Commander by slipstream80

1991 Cobra Commander by jogunwarrior

1991 Cobra Commander by fun_time_at_serpentorslair

1991 Cobra Commander by gen_liederkranz

1991 Cobra Commander, 1992 Firefly, 1993 Detonator

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

1991 Eco Warriors Cesspool

Eco Warriors are a series whose time has finally come.  Through the late 1990's and early 2000's, Eco Warriors were generally loathed and often found themselves as the butt of jokes.  As the 2010's started, though, younger collectors started to come online.  And, with their addition to the Joe collecting ranks, brightly colored figures from the 1990's started to gain a bit of popularity.  In the 2020's, there are strong contingents of collectors who focus on the 1990's and appreciate figures like the Eco Warriors to a greater degree than the Joes who preceded them.  Some characters have even become essential parts of a collection.  One example is the Eco Warriors Cesspool figure from 1991.

My introduction to Cesspool was in the comic.  Here, Larry Hama started out using Cesspool as an archetype of the corrupt CEO.  Basically, he was Cobra Commander with an army of corporate sycophants instead of assault troopers.  But, he was decidedly evil.  Then, he had an accident with his toxic waste and was turned into a caricature of himself.  In this role, he thought he was Cobra Commander and acted like him in various scenarios.  Eventually, he got his comeuppance.  But, he served a major role for a few comic issues to promote the new line of Eco Warrior toys.

Once you get to 1987, the named Cobras really start to lose their media presence.  The non-army building Cobras who came later struggled to find a place in the comic as Larry Hama always went back to his mainstays.  There's nothing wrong with this.  And, the nice side effect has been that collectors have had relatively blank slate figures from the line's later years with which they can create their own Cobra characters.  Some figures have found solid life among the collector set.  And, Cesspool is one of them.  He's now a staple of most collections and even die hards from the 1980's see the value in his design and character.

Cesspool was one of the earlier figures I acquired during my early collecting years.  I picked one up in a lot of 1990 and 1991 figures that were all mint and complete with filecard.  I paid under $2 per figure for the lot as no one liked 1990's figures at that time and the competition for these later collections was minimal.  Once in hand, I found various uses for the figure.  He piloted the Hurricane for a bit.  Then, he was a close advisor of the Commander.  Then, he just became a stand alone villain.  There are enough Eco Warrior Cobras for Cesspool to have his own little army.  He's then one of many Cobra generals who are responsible for various parts of Cobra's empire.  He's not a guy to cross.  But, he's also someone who lacks the power to actually challenge the Commander's authority in any meaningful way.

Cesspool's gear is also part of his appeal.  His helmet includes a separate breather piece that is often missing.  But, when included, it adds a solid dimension to Cesspool's helmeted appearance.  He then includes a golden chainsaw.  I'm not sure of the practicality of this weapon.  But, it looks cool and is something that an outlandish villain like Cesspool would carry.  The figure is rounded out by the requisite water squirting weapon, hose and tank backpack that were released with all the Eco Warriors in various colors.  The gear fits the character and the figure.  While the water squirting apparatus isn't a great visual offering, it has great practicality is was a pretty nifty idea to include as an enticement to spend more for an Eco Warriors figure.

Cesspool's mold got some use.  The original release was just produced by Hasbro.  They quickly shipped the mold to Brazil.  There, Estrela released a Cesspool repaint in brighter blue named Poluicao.  Then, the used the parts for two different figures in the Patrulha Do Ar subset.  Cesspool's body was used for the Abutre Negro (Black Vulture) figure.  Then, his head was famously used for the Escorpiao Voador (Flying Scorpion) figure.  The head is cast with black skin and has become a fan favorite character.  The mold never appeared again.  I'd have loved a Funskool version.  But, it was not to be.  Cesspool is the type of character that would even work in the 2020's Hasbro o-ring releases as most fans accept the character and would gladly buy up a new version.

As Cesspool's popularity has increased, so has his pricing.  The helmet breather is often missing and complete figures tend to command a premium.  There's not a ton of selection available at any given time.  So, you'll pay between $35 and $50 for a mint and complete Cesspool.  Figures missing just the breather, though, will still fetch $25-$30.  You can get a figure alone for around $10.  So, Cesspool will cost you in pretty much any form.  The upside is that the figure's head is amazing and you can get use from him sans helmet.  So, a budget minded figure isn't a terrible option.  Cesspool would be high on my list of post 1987 figures to appear in Hasbro's new line.  He's a great villain, a cool sculpt and a character who is far more popular than he was even a decade ago.  I don't know if it will ever happen.  But, Cesspool is a figure from the 1990's who could pull off a popular, current and successful re-release.

1991 Cesspool, Toxo Viper, Eco Warriors, 1986 STUN

2001 ARAHC Destro, 1997 Baroness, Toys R Us Exclusive, 1991 Cesspool, Eco Warriors

Saturday, July 9, 2022

June 22, 2022 - Hasbro Pulse Reveal (Cobra Stinger)

On 6/22/22, we got a couple of new product reveals.  The main one of interest is a new Cobra Stinger.  I know I'm late on a write up for this.  But, I had a bunch of new posts with set publication dates in June.  So, this is two weeks late in appearing.  The main reason I do this, though, is because one of my great regrets is not better documenting the Joe releases of the early 2000's.  Now, most of the info regarding case ratios, release dates and clearance pricing has been lost to long extinct forums.  At some point, the Pulse info will be gone, too.  So, I want to commemorate it so that I have some real time info to refer back to when I profile the 2022 Stinger Driver in 2039.

This new Stinger features some different color shades and a new driver based on the recently released 2022 Cobra Officer.  It will come in a vintage inspired box and not have the driver be a carded figure like we've seen with the Transformers releases.  The price point is $33.99.  After taxes and shipping, two of them will run you a little over $80 in the U.S.  We'll talk about pricing more later, though.  On to the vehicle itself.

2022 Hasbro Pulse Stinger, Stinger Driver, 1984, MIB, Boxed, Loose

You will note that this Stinger features a few changes from the vintage release.  Most notably, the grey highlights are lighter and more pronounced.  You also see a black brush guard instead of the vintage grey.  Both of these are fine changes to bring some diversity to a Stinger convoy without losing the overal aesthetic.  I would have very much liked Hasbro to have updated the missiles to match the two tone versions shown in the artwork.  Sure, you can update the Stinger with the missiles from a Pac Rat.  But, this would have been an easy update to really make this release stand out.

The other notable point is that the Driver has wonky eyes.  Now, this Driver is the same mold and paint masks as the just released Cobra Officer.  And, the Officer figures had fine eyes.  So, I expect this to be corrected upon release.  However, the Officer does have bad knee joints that are too large to allow for a full range of motion.  Again, I expect this to be corrected on the Stinger Driver.  Though, I'm not convinced it will happen.

The new box back gave me a good laugh.  It does not actually feature the new Stinger or its new driver.  Instead, the picture on the back features a vintage Stinger with vintage Driver.  It's odd for sure since the two are so visually different.  I assume it was because the box back photography was already done ahead of the prototypes being available.  So, they went with it.  But, it's weird and reminds of the 1997 Rage box that features a hand painted 1989 Alley Viper done by a collector instead of the figure actually included in the box.2022 Hasbro Pulse Stinger, Stinger Driver, 1984, MIB, Boxed, Loose
I was surprised that this vehicle was only $33.99.  I figured that Hasbro would have tried $40 or more.  But, at the same time, a re-released vehicle with a more expensive figure type was released at retail in 2020 and 2021 for $24.99.  So, this is a $9 increase in under a year for, essentially, the same product.  After the sticker shock on the Transformers vehicles and figures, though, this Stinger seemed like a bargain.  That's not great.  It will be interesting to see how this sells in coming weeks.  As original Stingers have now gotten stupidly expensive while also turning brittle, the Stinger is a welcome addition to the Pulse line.  And, I'm really glad it wasn't a Hiss Tank or FANG this time around.

After just 1 day, the Stinger sold out.  This is odd as no o-ring items have ever sold out beyond Snake Eyes and Stormshadow being out before coming back into stock and then put on sale since so many are left.  Hasbro mentioned limited quantities of them would be available on Pulse.  So, it's pretty likely that this Stinger will show up at another retail partner at some point later in the year.  I wouldn't panic if you missed it...yet.  

2022 Hasbro Pulse Stinger, Stinger Driver, 1984, MIB, Boxed, Loose

2022 Hasbro Pulse Stinger, Stinger Driver, 1984, MIB, Boxed, Loose

2022 Hasbro Pulse Stinger, Stinger Driver, 1984, MIB, Boxed, Loose

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

2022 Cobra Officer

We were introduced to these new Cobra Officers in late February of 2022.  Four months and change later, the figures are now showing up in mailboxes all over North America.  The general sentiment on the figures is that they're good enough.  They are solid homages with good paint, proper colors and hands that don't turn to dust when you affix a weapon to them.  Beyond the softer plastic, though, they don't offer anything that we haven't had for the past 39 years.  But, in terms of the basic blue Cobra army builders, that's OK.  The originals are fragile and prone to discoloration.  So, having a chance at some new figures in brilliant, out the package blue is a fantastic opportunity.  In the past 12 years, we've had tons of factory custom Cobra Troopers.  So, this new Cobra Officer is more interesting to me since he's not a figure that's ever played a serious role in my collection and there hasn't been a solid influx of high quality Officers since Hasbro Canada in 1999.

For me, though, the Officer isn't a figure that has a huge childhood connection.  While we had one, he never got much use.  It was the Cobra Trooper who was the faceless legion of Cobra cannon fodder.  And, for many years, I just considered the two figures to be interchangeable.  As I moved towards being a collector, I managed to get a perfect Cobra Officer early in my acquisition phase.  With him in hand, I never really sought out too many more.  I'd take then when they came with a large lot.  But, usually, the figures featured broken thumbs, broken crotches or, most often, damaged silver Cobra sigils.  As we know from the Viper Pilot and Hiss Driver, silver Cobra logos in the vintage line were notoriously difficult to keep mint.  Just storing a silver logo figure loose with other figures could seriously damage it.  So, when it was time to downsize, all my Officers sans the perfect one were let go.  I kept most of my Cobra Troopers as I prefer that mold.  And, the Officer fell to the wayside once again.

With this new release, I'm still unsure of the impact this new Officer will have on my collection.  It's amazing to see the bright, vibrant Cobra blue on the figure.  The paint masks are crisp.  And, the silver logo is factory fresh.  I'll have to store this figure in such a way that the logo stays that way, though!  So, it's possible that you might see the Officer more and more.  As I don't have to worry about broken thumbs, it opens up a realm of posability options that I don't have with my vintage figure.  

The Cobra Officer does have a major flaw.  For some reason, the pegs behind his knee are too large.  This means that the Officer can not bend his knees at right angles like we are accustomed to all Joe figures being able to do.  It's a pretty major design flaw.  You can fix it with a bit of shaving the plastic.  You'll remember the 2006 Viper Pit having a lot of problems with molded pieces not fitting correctly and requiring post acquisition fixes.  Those figures, though, cost less than $3.50 each at retail.  I paid $21 for this Cobra Officer.  And, for a premium price, I do want to see premium quality.  And, this one issue is enough to make this figure seem vastly overpriced.  I expect to see it corrected on the Stinger Driver that will be released later this year.  

The other oddity is the box art.  The artist swapped the weapons with the Trooper and Officer.  So, the silver logo-ed Officer is carrying the Dragunov sniper rifle instead of his iconic AK-47.  While it might make sense to make this switch, it's not carried over to the figures.  So, we now have the Snake Eyes/Stormshadow box art that features the 1985 Snake Eyes look while the figure is based on the 1982 and we have these swapped rifles on the Trooper/Officer.  It's a small thing.  And, I HATE all the extra cardboard involved in getting these figures shipped to my home and into my collection.  But, for a line that's squarely aimed at adult collectors, getting little things like that right helps solidify that the people behind the line take it seriously.

This two figure set also included a bundle of extra weapons in addition to the rifles that are individually carded with the figures.  These are welcome additions to help grow an arsenal, especially as vintage accessories now command exorbitant prices.  There are two bundles packed in the extra box section below the main box.  (There's a lot of boxes if you order this set.)  One includes a mortar, mortar bi-pod, bazooka and figure stand.  The other includes an M-16, M-32, Rock and Roll's M-60 and bi-pod, a figure stand and a new weapon that's the Officer's AK-47 but with the stock and barrel cut off.  It looks like a broken accessory and I'd have much preferred another full AK.  The bazooka is also missing the sight.  Again, this makes it look broken since so many bazookas left on the market have the sight broken off.  The interesting thing about this gear complement, though, is that each weapon was included with either a Trooper or Officer at some point or place during the 1980's.  The J.C. Penney 3 pack included a bazooka and mortar with the Trooper and Officer.  The M-32 was included with the Estrela Cobra Officer from Brazil.  The M-60 and M-16 was packaged with the Cobra Soldado in Brazil.  

We know of one coming repaint of this mold already: the upcoming Stinger Driver.  Maybe, there will be more.  I'd love a Crimson Stinger with a red driver.  But, honestly, the Officer mold isn't as tired out as the Trooper mold and still has some possibilities for repaints.  Just a red masked Cobra Officer would be enough to get me to buy a few more.  And, if we'd see a multi-colored army building pack, I'd get behind that.  My dream, of course, would be to finally see a real Scarface figure.  I'd love a set of him and Dr. Venom.  My only hope for that lies in the fact that Hasbro has made "retro" figures for Star Wars that are compatible with vintage Kenner figures.  The Joe line needs something new to accompany the homages that we're getting.  Otherwise, it's going to be the ARAHC or Comic Packs all over again.

Oddly, the Cobra Trooper/Officer set hasn't sold out.  So, you can buy it for $41.99 right now.  At $21 per figure, it's a tough pill to army build.  But, you can not get any high quality Cobra Officers with the silver logo anywhere near that these days.  So, if the Officer is a figure you care about, you can snag them from Hasbro.  I'd love an option to get some extra figures in baggies for a cheaper price so that army building is feasible.  But, right now, Hasbro seems content to focus on the younger collectors who really want boxed and carded toys instead of loose items for display.  I don't see that changing much.  Maybe we'll get an army builder set like they do for Star Wars.  But, those don't break down to under retail despite the packaging savings.  So, we're going to pay for new troops regardless of their sales strategy.  But, this Officer is an excellent replacement/upgrade for the vintage figure.  It's probably superior just due to the softer plastic.  So, I do recommend picking one up.

2022 Cobra Officer, Cobra Trooper, Haslab, MOC, Carded, 1984 ASP, Black Major Cobra Trooper

2022 Cobra Officer, Cobra Trooper, Haslab, MOC, Carded, 1984 ASP, Black Major Cobra Trooper

2022 Cobra Officer, Cobra Trooper, Haslab, MOC, Carded, 1984 ASP, Black Major Cobra Trooper

2022 Cobra Officer, Cobra Trooper, Haslab, MOC, Carded, 1984 ASP, Black Major Cobra Trooper

Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Zeroes - Mark VII

Another Rarities Month is in the books.  It was a lot of fun and tons of people stopped by to check out the various posts.  For this Fourth of July weekend, I'll do another tradition with the list of the "Zeroes".  These were the 10 least engaged posts in the past year.  Some make sense.  Some are surprises.  But, overall, you'll see the posts in which people just didn't have much interest.

Overall, post engagement is falling across the board.  Just a couple of years ago, a profile with under 600 page views was an under-performer.  Now, if one gets close to 300, it's a top 10 post for the year.  That's a big change in a couple of years.  My plan of going year by year from 1982 through 1994 didn't work out all that well.  It was too limiting and also didn't really tell a linear story.  So, I won't be doing that again.

There's some themes in these low performers.  Turns out that Funskool figures really aren't that popular.  I find that surprising considering how expensive these common figures have become.  But, they don't perform all that well.  Asa Negra being in the bottom is also a surprise.  Factory Customs usually are among the most viewed posts.  But, Asa Negra didn't resonate.  The biggest surprise is the 1994 Star Brigade Roadblock.  Usually, any content on that figure tops the charts.  But, this one was a dud.  Not sure why.  But, I expected him to do better.

Without further ado, here are the bottom 10 performing posts for the past year.

Funskool Ripper

While Dreadnoks are "supposed" to be popular, they never live up to the hype.  From the failure of the 2004 convention set through modern interpretations, Dreadnoks never really perform like some people think they should.

Funskool Ripper

2005 Comic Pack Stalker 

The Comic Pack figures have gone from custom fodder to highly desired collectible.  It's insane to see some of the prices that poorly conceived and common figures can command today.  But, this Stalker wasn't one of them.  And, few people bothered to read about him.

2005 Comic Pack Stalker, 1984 Thunder

1993 Outback 

No real surprise here.  While I really like this figure as Outback, I'm in the minority on that point.  Most collectors aren't big on this figure being Outback.

1993 Outback, 1994 Star Brigade Mexican Lobotomaxx

1983 Zap Random Photos

This is somewhat of a surprise.  Usually, original 13 figures perform well.  And, Zap has become one of the more popular figures from that line.  But, this post on Zap flopped.

1983 Zap, Original 13, Tripwire, Funskool Bomb Disposal

Asa Negra - Red Laser Army

Usually, Red Laser figures get a lot of views.  But, Asa Negra didn't pull them in.  Not sure why as he's a neat design and works well with vintage Cobras.

2018 Red Laser Army Asa Negra, Factory Custom, Black Major, Python Patrol Stormshadow

1990 Sonic Fighter Dialtone

Dialtone is one of my favorite molds.  But, he's not popular and is never a big performer.  So, his most obscure release surely wouldn't perform well.

1990 Super Sonic Fighters Dialtone, 1986 Lift Ticket

Funskool BBQ Around the Web

Funskool BBQ is a crazy looking figure.  But, his specialty allows for his colors to make sense.  It's too bad this one didn't do better as I think this figure deserves more publicity.

Funskool BBQ, Law

G.I. Joe #27

It's been a long time since I profiled a comic.  And, this issue was the first G.I. Joe comic I ever bought.  But, turns out comic reviews aren't something people were interested in.

Marvel Comics, Issue #27

Funskool Spearhead

This was a modest surprise.  Since this figure is very close to a Night Force version, I thought it would do better.  But, it seems that Spearhead isn't an overly popular character.

Funskool Spearhead, Night Force, Beach Head

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock 

This was a surprise to see.  Usually, 1994 Star Brigade does pretty well.  And, this Roadblock is now a $100 figure.  So, you'd think he was popular.  Turns out, he wasn't.

1994 Star Brigade Roadblock

For the 2nd half of 2022 I'll be back to profiles.  I may slow down a bit as I'm running out of figures and vehicles to write about.  I have over 420 drafts, though.  Most are Around the Web and some Random Photos of the Day posts.  So, those will be coming fast and furious through the end of the year.  The next six months are going to be very interesting.  We're seeing some signs that prices are starting to fall.  Will that continue?  Or, will there be a post summer surge?  I'm betting on the former.  But, with Hasbro starting to pump out figures, factory customs, tons of o-ring Kickstarters and catching up on what you might have missed, there's a lot to keep you busy and engaged with the Joe community for the rest of 2022.