Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Top 10 - 2023

2023 was a good year and a slow year.  Overall, site traffic was actually way, way up.  Pages were viewed over a quarter of a million times.  And,  there were over 400 comments posted on various profiles and articles.  Individually, though, post views were somewhat down.  Most profiles sat right around 200-225 page views.  But, a few items broke through and got some good engagement.  The theme of the year, though, is Super7.  They occupy 3 of the top 10 slots.  But, that's about all that's really happening in the 3 3/4" Joe world.  So, their popularity isn't surprising.  (Especially, with the "hate views" that Super7 stuff tends to get.)

Aside from that, there's nothing that really stands out other than the 2000 ARAHC Big Ben.  I have no idea why he resonated so well with the community.  But, he was the most mundane entry in this list.  The Black Major Steel Brigade Ranger and the 1991 Badger were the last two posts to fall just outside the top 10.  So, the year was more standard than others we've had, recently.  

So, onto the list of the site's most popular posts in 2023:

I haven't looked a ton of the Street Fighter figures from the vintage Joe line.  And, among them, Blanka is one of the most visually distinctive.  That added up to the 10th most viewed page of the year.

1993 Street Fighter Blanka, 1994 Viper

There was a time when this profile would have lapped the field.  But, those days are past and Satan, despite the current high pricing, is a bit passe in the Joe world.  This still was popular enough to break the top 10.  But, I thought it might have done better.

Satan, Plastirama, Argentina, Stormshadow, Red Ninja

Shipwreck is the first of three Super7 appearances in the top 10.  This figure is neat due to the Brazilian origins of the design.  Super7 figures are what they are.  And, in 2024, Joe fans will see what the company can do with o-ring figures.  I fully expect them to just be sculpting similar to this figure but with the additional joints.  Regardless, I'll take their line as a supplement to my Joe collection and use it to fill out missing holes and such.  But, there's just no way I'll buy more than a handful of figures from the first few waves.

Super7, Tiger Force, Shipwreck, Marujo, 2023

The first Super7 figure I looked at clocks in as the 7th most viewed profile of the year.  Ninja Ku is well known.  But, being a Target exclusive, he was also clearance fodder.  And, that's how I got him.  We have seen from the Target computer that Duke, Snake Eyes, Ragnar and a blonde Cover Girl are planned for the first wave of o-ring figures from Super7.  (I expect there's more, unannounced figures to come, too.)  It will be interesting to see how they play at retail in late 2024.

Super7, Ninja Ku, Ninja Black, Plastirama, Argentina, Target Exclusive, 2022

I miss Red Laser Army.  There was a hoax going around that he was returning.  But, he's focused on his Kickstarter o-ring line of ninjas that looks great.  Figures like this Kickstart version are a great supplement to a Joe collection.  You can use him as a different look for Snake Eyes or as a new character.  The blank slate is something we're missing in the line these days.  

Kickstart V2, Red Laser Army, Snake Eyes, Black Major, Factory Custom, Sightline, 2017, Steel Brigade Ranger, 2023

Rarities month was a dud this year.  But, this Mega Marines Toy Fair Catalog post did break out.  It has tons of action and features some pre-production figures among the displayed toys.  I don't have much for Rarities Month in 2024.  But, it will still go ahead, even if it's just a handful of posts.

1993 Toy Fair Catalog, Mega Marines

Yeah, I have no idea.  This Big Ben is the compulsory oddball in every year's top 10.  The upside, though, is that this really is a great figure and one of the better repaints not only of that time, but in any era.

2000, 2001, Big Ben, ARAHC

In my 2022 Top 10, I mention there were rumors of a Soundwave with Zartan and Zarana.  Well, it turned out to be true.  The reveal of it was the third most viewed page of the year.  It was also the only 3 3/4" G.I. Joe that Hasbro released to retail in 2023.  For 2024, we have a Hawk/MOBAT that's confirmed and rumors of a Triple T with Sgt. Slaughter and another, unknown Transformer coming with Leatherneck.  All three sound like bigger duds than the Thunder Machine.  We'll see what we end up getting, especially since the smaller retailers that Hasbro duped into buying the Thunder Machine are currently sitting on really expensive stock that isn't moving and won't be buying any future offerings in this ill-conceived line.

2023, Soundwave, Thunder Machine, Zartan, Zarana

The Skystriker figures were the talk of the community upon their release.  And, this Scarlett did very well.  Now, the figures are both old news and relatively forgotten.  The aftermarket crash for the plane and the figures have left many collectors sour.  I have another Skystriker profile that will show up in the first few weeks of 2024.  So, we'll see how that compares.

2023 Pilot Scarlett, Haslab, Skystriker, 1985 Snake Eyes

I followed the failed Cobra Mothership on a (mostly!) weekly basis.  Overall, the posts relating to the Mothership were viewed over 2500 times and it was the most popular subject on the site this year.  It's too bad that the ship failed.  Cool, big, expensive toys should get made every now and then.  And, when you consider that you could have gotten the Mothership for the same price as 2 each of the Megatron/Baroness, Bumblebee/Stalker and Soundwave/Zartan sets, it really puts the failure into perspective.  But, Joe fans are cheap.  And, we are few.  That's not a combo that sets you up for great success.  And, the Mothership's demise was just another knot in the string of dead bodies that the Joe line has left behind since the first reboot failed back in 2001.

Super7, Cobra Mothership

So, that wraps up 2023.  Really, I ended up doing way more with  the site this year than I had anticipated.  But, I found some good photo subjects.  And, Super7 gave me some nice content in the 4th quarter that disguised my otherwise dearth of updates.  I've got some fun stuff ready to go in January and February.  But, I'm behind on picture taking.  This time of year is rough as everything is just brown and  uninteresting.  I'll find something, though.

I hope your year was excellent and wish you a happy 2024.  In November, we'll mark the site's 25th Anniversary.  At that point, I'll have been doing this for half my life.  Perhaps, that's a wasted life.  But, hobbies are just that.  We'll have lots to discuss in 2024, though, between new products, Black Major and Kickstarters.  Some of that will be good, some will be terrible and most will be the forgettable layer in between.  But, we'll cover it all.  We'll write it down.  And, maybe, some day in the future, that info will be a valuable marker of sentiment or fact regarding a release that would otherwise be lost to time.  

Until then, I wish you all well and sincerely thank you for stopping by to share the Joe hobby with me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

1997 Hawk - Random Photos of the Day

This week, we learned there is a General Hawk coming.  I'm not excited.  The reasons for that is that this new Hawk is not going to be better than the 1986 figure.  He's not going to feature at least an attempt at a different look like this 1997 figure.  And, he might not even be better than the 2005 Comic Pack figure.  Hasbro's re-makes of Joes have gotten steadily worse since they were debuted.  And, that's a near certainty to continue since we, as collectors, don't punish bad products.  So, Hasbro learns they can give us crap and we'll gratefully gobble it up.

Which really takes me back to this 1997 General Hawk.  The 1997 figures were the 15th Anniversary figures from the beginning of the vintage line.  Now, they are 26 years old and all us old, adult collectors recall finding them as adults.  And, at the time, we vilified these figures.  Sadly, we didn't know how good we had it.  The 1997 series is full of fun repaints that have aged quite well.  Even figures like Hawk, which didn't deviate too far from the original figure's colors, is still a very nice update to the mold and gives collectors something different to add to their collections.  

The main reason I enjoy this figure is that the colors are subtle.  Even in photos, it can be difficult to catch all the various colors that comprise this figure.  Lost in the dark jacket are some rich greens, subtle browns and some black.  The grey pants help offset the upper body and are a nice diversion from the green camo of the 1986 figure.  And, the details that are painted on the figure are convention level quality.  To think, we got figures like this for $3 each.  This Hawk, a completely repainted A-10 and an excellent Ace figure were sold for 1/4 of the price that two figures and a smaller vehicle cost today.  

While the sunburnt skin isn't my favorite, it's light years ahead of the pale, painted faces of the 2022 and 2023 releases.  It also gives some diversity to the skin tones of the Joe team.  That and the figure's accessories are the only main complaints. The Battle Gear 1986 helmet works for this figure, though.  And, back in 1997, it was both cheap and easy to find 1986 Hawk pistols.  So, it was a lot easier to outfit this figure in other accessories than it is today.

Back in 1997, I wasn't too high on that year's figure releases.  And, I passed most of them by to focus on vintage collections and POTFII Star Wars figures.  But, in short time, that changed.  And, in the ensuing decades, the year has grown on me and I now consider 1997 and 1998 to be among the best Joe years Hasbro ever produced.  They are full of great character repaints, main and obscure characters and lots of nice army builders.  It's unfortunate that the formula for success was never repeated.  I just wish some of the lessons learned from the late 1990's could be applied to the Joe line today.  But, that's just a pipe dream at this point.

1997 General Hawk, 1987 Tunnel Rat, Toys R Us Exclusive, 2004 VAMP, 1992 Gung Ho, 1986 Roadblock

1997 General Hawk, 1987 Tunnel Rat, Toys R Us Exclusive, 2004 VAMP

1997 General Hawk, 1987 Tunnel Rat, Toys R Us Exclusive, 2004 VAMP

Friday, December 22, 2023

1993 Flak Viper - Around The Web

By the time I was hunting down the final Joes remaining at retail in my area in the mid 1990's, most of the Cobra army builders were gone.  Figures like the Headhunter, Alley Viper and, especially, the Flak Viper mocked me from the cardbacks of the Joes I could still find.  The bad guys were long gone: sucked up by a combination of the first adult collectors as well as the burgeoning speculator market.  So, as the internet became a viable option to acquire old toys, my first focus was finding many of the figures who had I longed for just a few years prior.

The Flak Viper was among my most wanted acquisitions.  Fortunately, at the time, the 1992 version was pretty available and relatively cheap.  The 1993 version, though, was a bit harder to find.  Even carded versions weren't all that common.  In the ensuing years, though, the 1993 became more common.  And, today, remains among the easiest to find 1993 army building figures.

There's lots of good Flak Viper content out there.  The figure's stark colors, congruency with the 1992 original and excellent gear all adds up to a figure that is a lot more fun to own than you might otherwise think.  While I've managed to build up a small army of these guys, I still want more.  And, when the price is right, I still pick up a spare or two to keep building my forces.

1993 Flak Viper Profile

1993 Flak Viper by fun time at serpentor's lair

1993 Flak Viper by thedustinmccoy

1993 Flak Viper by Danish Dude

1993 Flak Viper by HCC788

Flak Viper at

1993 Flak Viper by thedustinmccoy

1993 Flak Viper by gvilla74

1993 Flak Viper by Slipstream80

1993 Flak Viper by nightforcetunnelrat

1993 Flak Viper by ronnie_trickshot

1993 Flak Viper by thedustinmccoy

1993 Flak Viper by gen_liederkranz

1993 Flak Viper, Detonator

1993 Ninja Force Zartan, 1984 Chameleon, Flak Viper

1993 Flak Viper, 1986 Dreadnok Stinger, Sears Exclusive

Monday, December 18, 2023

2022 Blue and Red BAT - Black Major

I don't much care for BATs.  I didn't like them when I was a kid.  And, the idea of robots hasn't really developed any additional appeal to me now that I'm an adult.  I like the 1991 BAT figure because the colors are great.  (The fact that no one has yet painted the 1986 BAT mold in 1991 colors seems like a hugely missed opportunity.)  But, I've never been overly fond of the 1986 BAT's design.  It's not bad, per se.  I just don't get the hype.  Even as a kid, I thought the figure was wildly overrated by other kids.  I just didn't see the appeal.

One of the upsides of being a rational person is that you can realize that something, while not for you, personally, can be something that most other people like.  And, with that knowledge, you can learn to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, even if they aren't something in which you'd normally partake.  Such was the case with Black Major's 2022 BAT releases.  He created a new mold and offered the classic 1986 sculpt in a rainbow of colors.  Most were small runs, dispersed among various resellers who marked up the prices to, in some cases, as high as $35 per figure.  But, the Black Major himself offered a special deal to those who pre-ordered.  They had the choice of 2 BAT colors and could buy up a small army for about $9 per figure.  I may not like BATs.  But, you don't often get the chance to buy even factory custom figures for that price.  So, I jumped at it and added a bunch of blue and red BATs to my collection.

I've always felt the BAT would lend itself to classic Cobra colors.  Black Major did make some Cobra blue BAT's back in the very early 2010's.  But, they were relatively hard to find and I never came across a lot of more than 1 figure where the price was right.  In the late 2010's, Red Laser Army made a couple of blue and red BATs.  But, their availability was problematic.  One seller even pulled some shady stuff and dragged Red Laser Army's reputation through the ringer due to their terrible offering scheme of some, otherwise, cool BATs.  So, there was never really any good options to pick up an army of the robots in the classic Cobra colors.  

Black Major fixed that in 2022.  Among the many BAT colors are this red and blue version.  There are other versions that are blue, red, orange, purple, green and grey.  In 2023, there are glow in the dark figures, some that look like Overkill and even niche homages like Boba Fett and Batman paint jobs.  Pretty much every collector desired paint job for BATs is now available.  But, for me, the staple for my collection is just the classics.  So, I plunked down the money and added a small cadre of these blue and red BATs to my collection.

Once in hand, these BATs are nice.  The blue is the lighter color you often find on blue factory custom figures.  It's brighter than classic Cobra blue.  But, it does nicely mesh with the multitude of Vipers, Alley Vipers, Night Vipers and Cobra Troopers that have been released by factory custom makers in the past few years.  They will integrate with classic army builders.  But, they do stand out among 1986 Vipers or 1983 Cobra Troopers.  On their own, though, they make for a formidable force.  And, they are a nice match for some of the 2022 and 2023 Hasbro Cobra Commander figures.

Now that I have these figures, though, I still find that my uses for BATs are limited.  The idea of battlefield robots always seemed boring to me.  You just turn them on and they move forward.  Sure, they can mow down people who don't have the explosive firepower to stop them.  But, that's fun a couple of times.  After that, the human element that is essential to storytelling simply fades away.  You lack the decisions that humans make which turn a carefully tuned exercise into chaos.  It's in that pandemonium that the actual story occurs.  Here, people become heroes and villains in an instant when a random decision they made (often out of fear or panic) turns out to be right or wrong.  This can deify incompetent leaders and vilify honorable people who made the right decision for the right reasons but it still went wrong for them.  

This is why I've always found robots like the BAT to be so mundane.  You can't really tell stories about them unless they become sentient.  And, in that case, the robot is then a human: at least from the storyteller's perspective.  The Battle Droids threatened to suck the soul out of Star Wars.  But, the Clone Wars humanized the Clone Troopers and elicited great stories by exploiting the personality and humanity of the Clones.  Turns out, they were a lot more interesting than simple robots.  Fortunately, vintage Joe story tellers didn't rely on BATs too often.  And, in cases where they did, the BATs were a faceless foil to showcase the heroism and bravery of people: not celebrate the mindless automation of poorly conceived robots.

But, I'm drastically in the minority on that point.  Most collectors love the BAT and there's an argument that he's the most popular vintage Cobra army builder.  People build massive armies of the figure.  Even if it's just to stand them in 2001-esque rows on some dusty metal shelf in their basement.  But, that's OK.  I like a lot of offbeat and obscure figures.  Others love the classics.  There's no wrong way to enjoy a hobby that has well over 2000 different figures to chase down when you include international releases and factory customs in the count.  

These BATs have the standard complement of accessories that were included with the 1986 figure.  There is the backpack and 4 arm attachments: hand, laser, flamethrower and claw.  The hand is red while the remaining accessories are all silver.  In addition to this standard fare, though, the figure also includes two additional accessories.  The first is a remade 1992 Eel weapon.  It doesn't make much sense with the BAT.  But, as an avid fan of the 1993 Eel, I have given the extra silver weapons from these BATs to my burgeoning 1993 Eel army.  The figure also includes a blue gatling cannon.  While the weapon is large, it is exactly the type of thing that robots could carry into battle as the size, weight and sheer force of the weapon would be less of an issue to a non-human.  I'm not, usually, a fan of the robot with stupidly big gun trope.  But, the gatling is in scale with the BATs.  And, the figure's claw can easily grip the weapon to make for fun posing.  

The figure quality on these guys is pretty good.  The joints are tight and the paint masks are crisp.  The figures have replaced the glued on lenticular with a painted Cobra logo.  The lack of sticker does take something away from the figures.  But, it's also one less thing that can go wrong.  The handle on the silver spear gun is a bit large...likely just a function of it's later introduction date.  But, the figure can still hold it.  The thumbs are more solid than  Hasbro's post-vintage offerings.  They are, though, still more pliable and less prone to breakage than vintage thumbs.  And, the figure has an added paint detail on the head that is the robotic Cobra logo.

The blue and red BATs haven't really taken off in the collecting world.  So many BAT flavors were produced in a short time that it was difficult for any one coloring to really break out.  You do see these blue and red figures show up in Joe photography moreso than other colorings.  But, the relative availability of them allowed for some people to stock up and then reduce their army.  As such, you can still find these figures in the $15 to $18 range.  If you're patient, you can even still find deals on multiples that will drop the price per figure below that range.  This is good, though.  I'm not sure that $40 aftermarket factory customs are really a good thing for the hobby.  And, as our numbers shrink and the desire to army build anything and everything has subsided, figures like this BAT remaining affordable is a decent byproduct that still allows newer collectors to enter the hobby without breaking their entire budget on just a couple of cool figures.

2022 Black Major BAT, Battle Android Trooper, Crimson Guard, 1984 ASP, 1986 Cobra Viper

2022 Black Major BAT, Battle Android Trooper, Crimson Guard, 1984 ASP

2022 Black Major BAT, Battle Android Trooper, Crimson Guard

2022 Black Major BAT, Battle Android Trooper

Saturday, December 16, 2023

1993 Long Arm Around The Web

Long Arm is one  of those obscure figures from the line's final years who has found his fans.  While he remains a figure that most people ignore, there is a small contingent of collectors who use the figure frequently and keep him alive in the conscious of the community.  Long Arm's sculpt is great.  His colors are eye catching.  And, he'd have worked great in a variety of other subsets.  There's some cool content on the figure out there.  Check out the links below to see a portion of it.

Long Arm Profile

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The Mothership Fails

There are failures.  And, then, there are embarrassing failures.  And, the Cobra Mothership was nothing more than one of the most complete and utter disasters the Joe world has seen.  Even the failed DTC experiment had an initial modicum of success.  The failure of the Super7 Cobra Mothership, though, is so thorough that it's tough to take away any useful lessons.

I was an advocate for the Mothership.  I wanted it to succeed because cool toys need to be made.  I was clear that it wasn't a toy for me just due to the sheer size.  But, up until  the end, I was optimistic that the ship would fund.  It needed about 2500 backers on the final day.  This isn't an insurmountable number.  And, Haslabs often have 5,000 or more backers on the final day of funding as they blow through tiers.  Kickstarters are notorious for seeing a surge of last minute pledges.  It's a fundamental truth in the crowdfunding world.

But, with the Mothership, there was no final day surge.  Sure, the numbers went up a bit.  But, not even 100 people backed it in the final day.  That is unprecedented.  And, it is that lack of last minute interest that bears the most scrutiny.  In the end, 1598 people out of a necessary 4000 backed the project.  That is an astoundingly bad showing for a product whose community regularly generates 15,000 or more backers for Haslabs.

Throughout the campaign, I was surprised by Super7's lack of advertising of the product.  It was only near the end of the timeline that they started reaching out to toy influencers on YouTube to hype the toy.  And, even then, their presentations were tepid.  While it's likely that Super7 could not create any advertising showcasing vintage Joes in the Mothership, there was no reason why an online personality couldn't have done so in one of their videos.  It would have been a nice visual.  And, would have gotten some play in the vintage Joe discussion groups.

Speaking of those groups, though, Super7 never even attempted to use them.  Facebook is full of Joe groups with 10,000 or more members.  Why didn't Super7 do a quick Q&A livestream with one of the  admins of these groups?  It would have been free and a way to instantly reach most of the still active Joe fans who exist.  And, things like that are FREE!  Which, for a project that only sought $2,000,000,  was probably an essential component.

To me, the complete lack of fanfare over the toy was the single reason for it's failure.  Items like the Skystriker, Hiss Tank and Dragonfly generated discussion in the Joe community every single day of their campaigns.  The Mothership did not.  Part of this is that it wasn't a Hasbro product.  And, that means a lot as there are many collectors who view non-Hasbro product as non-official, even if it's fully licensed.  Part of that is that the Mothership was somewhat obscure and not a toy that had ever really generated a lot of speculative interest.  The Cobra helicopter?  Sure.  Collectors have wanted that for 30 years.  But, the Mothership never even appeared on the once common "wishlist" items that dominated online Joe discussion.

The final issue was price point.  I have no doubt that $500 was a necessary price to make this happen.  But, even Hasbro has shown that the sweet spot for crowdfunding is between $200 and $300.  At that level, the items don't seem like such a big ticket purchase.  But, they also make the item seem special.  I don't think that Super7 could have created a version of the Mothership that was viable within that optimal price range.  So, they took a huge chance on a more spectacular product.  And, it backfired on them.

So, what does this all mean?  Truly, I have no idea.  We are certain that 3 3/4" o-ring Joes are dead to Hasbro.  They have been farmed out to Super7.  I doubt the failure of this ship will alter those plans.  Super7 has had enough success with their 5POA line at retail to justify a solid attempt at o-rings.  And, figures always do better than vehicles in today's toy landscape.  I'm sure there's some hand-wringing at Super7 HQ today as its leaders wonder if they bet too much of their company's success on a single brand that, frankly, has a lot more failures under it's umbrella in the past 25 years than it does successes.

2023 Cobra Mothership, super7, Reaction


2002 General Tomahawk - Random Photos of the Day

So, the other night, I heard my dog chomping on something.  I got up to see what it was.  But, I didn't find anything in her mouth.  As I returned to bed, though, I saw something on the floor in the dark.  Turns out, it was this General Tomahawk figure.  I have no idea where she got it.  I think my boys had the figure out and must have left it somewhere the dog could find it.

So, now, this figure is a flesh colored stump atop a torso that has just shoulders and upper arms.  His legs no longer have feet.  I tossed what was left of the figure into my custom fodder box.  I don't really know why.  I have put all my spare pieces into this box since at least 1986.  And, I have never done anything with them.  The box is massive and there's everything in their from my childhood straight arm pieces to old CORPS! figures and, now, what remains of this Tomahawk.  My plan is that I'll retire in the next 25 to 30 years.  And, when I do, customizing Joes will be something I do in my copious spare time.  So, stop by in the 2050's and see if I follow through.

Time was, I had a couple of these figures.  But, I'm not sure if I had more than 1 these days.  So, the days of this General Tomahawk appearing in photos could be over.  I hope I find a spare in the 2002 drawer.  But, I don't care enough to actually look.  Maybe sometime next week.  But, this is a figure that's worth having.  It's better than the 2000 version and is the type of figure that's nice background fodder in many photos.  

1992 Air Commando Spirit, 2002 General Tomahaw, 1984 VAMP Mark II

2002 Wave 1.5 General Tomahawk, Hawk, 1982 VAMP, Big Ben, 1988 Desert Fox, 1991 Super Sonic Fighters Psyche Out, 1992 Talking Battle Commanders Stalker

2002 Wave 1.5 General Tomahawk, Hawk, 1982 VAMP, Big Ben, 1988 Desert Fox

2002 Wave 1.5 General Tomahawk, Hawk, 1982 VAMP

Saturday, December 9, 2023

1988 Tiger Force Bazooka - Around the Web

Bazooka sucks.  He's a boring figure and an even more boring character.  I've never been a huge fan of the figure.  I'll argue the Tiger Force version is a better figure than the 1985 original, though.  And, the green of his backpack is a deep, rich color that doesn't appear anywhere else in the line.  In the end, though, the most interesting thing about him is that I've always had him hold his weapon backwards.  And, he looks silly with it being held any other way.  There's some strong content on the figure that's out there.  So, check them all out.

Tiger Force Bazooka Profile

Tiger Force Bazooka by dashiellrfairborn

Tiger Force Bazooka by atwooddan

Tiger Force Bazooka by gen_liederkranz

Tiger Force Bazooka at

Tiger Force Bazooka by relena_warcraft

Tiger Force Bazooka by yojoe_collector

Tiger Force Bazooka by Hit and Run

Tiger Force Bazooka by thedustinmccoy

Tiger Force Bazooka by atticagazette

Tiger Force Bazooka by thedustinmccoy

1988 Tiger Force Bazooka, Mean Dog

1988 Tiger Force Bazooka, Hardball, Night Force Crazylegs

Friday, December 8, 2023

2023 Cobra Mothership Tracking - The Home Stretch

So, yeah, I've been offline for a couple of weeks.  Lots of stuff going on and it was simply easier to drop Joe from my life for a bit than it was to try and keep up.  So, I haven't updated the tracker since 11/23.  And, in the two weeks since then the Mothership...still hasn't moved.  Here's what updates I did track:

11/25/23 - 1443 + 0
11/26/23 - 1443 + 0
11/27/23 - 1446 + 3
11/28/23 - 1446 + 0
11/29/23 - 1446 + 0

And, on 12/8/23, the total number of backers is 1484, less than 40 in two weeks.  The bulk of that number was a small jump from the Super7 announcement that they will be bringing an o-ring line of Joes to production in late 2024...about the time this ship will be distributed.  (Assuming it funds.)  But, more on that later.

For now, we're three days shy of the deadline for the Mothership.  I still think we'll see a last day surge.  But, we should be seeing some folks back it this weekend.  So, now, I'm non-committal on the funding.  It probably won't fund at this point.  But, it still might.  I definitely want it to fund, even though I'm not backing it.  And, I'm going to HATE the terrible takes that will dominate the Joe world for a day or two if it fails.  (Hint, they'll all be completely wrong about why it failed and will be all based on myopic, pre-conceived notions rather than actual data.)  

As for the announcement of the o-ring line...I'm ambivalent.  I'm not going to collect it, per se.  In cases where it will supplement or augment my collection, I'll buy a couple.  I'll certainly pick up any I find on clearance as it's tough to find any o-ring figures for under $8.  But, I'm past the point of picking up a new line.  And, it's pretty obvious that the new line will be a homage to the vintage line rather than a continuation.  Even Hasbro has utterly failed to capture the essence of the vintage line's sculpting and design.  

I expect the Super7 line will look decent.  But, it will be different from the vintage Joes.  A Dr. Venom will be a nice supplement to my vintage Joes.  But, the first Cobra Commander is going to look out of place among 1983 Cobra Troopers.  So, I'll pick and choose.

When I look at the figures that Super7 has made for the ReAction line, there's several designs I'd have bought in o-ring format.  But, there's many great designs that simply don't have any resonance with my collection.  The Gamemaster figures are great.  But, I'd never buy them as I'm not a cartoon guy.  But, I'd buy a cartoon coloring of Flint in an instant.  

I do wonder how the line will do.  Hasbro proved there is no market for $25 o-ring figures among Joe fans.  That line crashed and burned faster than the Dungeons and Dragons line.  And, with different construction, I'm not sure they'll appeal to the standard ReAction figure fan.  You'll see people talking about lower production numbers for Super7.  But, the Pulse o-rings didn't have high production runs.  And, they still failed.  If the Super7 figs go to real retail, they might do better.  But, I still wonder if there's a long term market for any o-ring line.

I'll be interested to see what Super7 comes up with.  But, I'm not going whole hog on the line.  It's doubtful that the gear will be compatible.  And, the heads will stand out quite a bit.  That's doesn't mean, though, that I won't buy some, photograph them and write way too much about them.

We'll touch base again on Wednesday when we know the Mothership's final fate.

Super7 Cobra Viper, O-Ring, Cobra Mothership

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

2010 Convention Flint - Random Photos of the Day

About a decade ago, convention figures were just ignored.  Even the now sought after characters were cheap and unimportant.  Joe characters would sell for under $20.  I even missed the green version  of the 2010 Convention Flint that sold for about $4.  But, the stupid market of 2020 impacted convention figures more than pretty much any other group of Joe toys.  Now, even common, unliked army builders are $50 figures.  And, named characters can run over $700!  That's just ridiculous.  But, guys are hoarding figures, especially those with low production runs and there just aren't any in the market.  They're going to come in the next couple of years, though.  Until then, I'll just watch the insanity.

The parachute drop figures at the conventions were, at best, a mixed bag.  Some were great.  But, many were just outright bad.  The 2010 Convention Flint is somewhere in the middle.  If you have a liking to the character and great colors, he's great.  But, if you hate fun, you also probably hate this figure.  Which is why so few Joe collectors actually use him in any photos.

Content using this figure is pretty sparse.  There was a time when  this Flint appeared frequently enough.  But, that was 12 to 13 years ago.  Now, I can't even find enough content featuring him to fill an Around the Web post.  So, instead, I'll just drop some random photos of this Flint.  I've found he's a great complement to the under-rated 2002 Paratrooper Dusty.  And, he works well with many figures of the repaint era.  

2010 Convention Flint, 2002 Paratrooper Dusty, 2023 Ripcord, Night Force

2010 Convention Flint, 2002 Paratrooper Dusty, 2023 Ripcord, Night Force

2010 Convention Flint, 2002 Paratrooper Dusty, 2023 Ripcord, Night Force

2010 Convention Flint, 1993 Mega Marine Clutch, 1991 Badger, 1994 Dialtone

Thursday, November 23, 2023

2023 Cobra Mothership - Weekly Tracking Week 6

I was on vacation this week and missed a couple of check-ins.  Not much change, yet.  We'll see how it goes over this weekend.  I expect the needle to move some.  But, even if it doesn't, I'm still not convinced that the item won't fund.  Here's the numbers for this week:

11/18/23 - 1438 + 0
11/19/23 - 1438 + 0
11/20/23 - 
11/21/23 - 1441 + 3
11/22/23 - 
11/23/23 - 1443 + 2
11/24/23 - 1443 + 0

5 new backers this week.  Not much moving of the needle.  But, starting next week, pretty much everyone will be within their same credit card statement for the end of the campaign.  So, buying it then vs. buying it the last day won't really matter much.  We'll see if people get interested.

The upside is that, this week, Super7 clearly communicated that the Mothership was compatible with vintage o-ring figures.  They haven't shown pictures...likely because they can't.  But, this is why a quick collaboration with any toy influencer out there would be ideal. That person could show vintage Joes in  the ship and allow the photos/video to circulate online.  So, there's more that could be done.  

Super7, Cobra Mothership, 2023, Haslab, Cobra Commander, Cobra Trooper

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

1989 Downtown - Around The Web

I'll always believe that Downtown started his life as an updated Short Fuse.  The similarities are just too great.  The one difference, though, is that Downtown is a pretty good figure.  He has interesting and unique colors, the sculpt is top notch and his accessories blow away  those from the 1982 Mortar Trooper.  Despite all this, the figure lives in obscurity.  While there's some nice content on the figure out there, you really don't hear much about Downtown or see him as a major character in too many collections.

The figure's quality lends it to photography.  And, you'll see that some folks in the links have really been able to showcase just how awesome Downtown can be.  So, check them out below!

1989 Downtown Profile

1989 Downtown by retroworld_n

1989 Downtown by thedustinmccoy

1989 Downtown by g.i.boyz

1989 Downtown by gijoebarcelona

1989 Downtown by Hit and Run

1989 Downtown by elevatemetoahigherhumanform

1989 Downtown by dantedmc37

1989 Downtown by thedustinmccoy

1989 Downtown by jogunwarrior

1989 Downtown by evilface

1991 Super Sonic Fighters Rock and Roll, 1989 Downdown

Saturday, November 18, 2023

1991 Sci Fi - Around The Web

The 1991 Sci Fi is a rather popular figure.  Really, he solves for pretty much all of the criticisms of the 1986 debut figure.  This later redesign features a removable helmet, smaller rifle and an overall sculpt that is less bulky than the original.  In all, the figure is a strong update to a character who isn't all that high on most collectors' lists.

There's some nice content featuring the figure out there, though.  For many collectors, the figure is their laser trooper.  And, all the figure's gear allows for some cool posing.  You'll see a bunch of these in the photos and content below.

1991 Sci Fi Profile

1991 Sci Fi by viper_space

1991 Sci Fi by evilface

1991 Sci Fi by TunnelRat

1991 Sci Fi by gijoe_c4_panama

1991 Sci Fi by albafica

1991 Sci Fi by Slipstream80

1991 Sci Fi by gvilla74

1991 Sci Fi by cowledcollector

1991 Sci Fi, Super Sonic Fighters Zap

1991 Sci Fi

1991 Sci Fi, 1986 Conquest, 1994 Star Brigade Ozone

Friday, November 17, 2023

2023 Cobra Mothership - Weekly Tracking Week 5

This week, Super7 did some promotion for the Mothership.  Their Twitter account starting posting some new pics of the toy.  It showed just how big the ship actually is.  And, they showed off some of the interior of the ship.  They promoted the 5 figure army building packs.  And, they appeared on a podcast.  The result of all this effort was...little.  After gaining only 4 backers last week.  It gained 7 backers this week: three of those occurring on Friday afternoon.  Not a great return.  But, at least it was free promotion instead of paid shilling.

I missed a day this week.  Just got busy.  I expect the same to happen next week with the holiday.  But, with only 7 backers in a week, the daily totals become less important.  For now, the only real value in the tracking of the numbers is to see if the 10% in the first week and 90% in the last week comes true.  We'll see.

Here's the breakdown:

11/11/23 - 1431 + 0
11/12/23 - 1433 + 2
11/13/23 - 1433 + 0
11/14/23 - 
11/15/23 - 1435 + 2
11/16/23 - 1435 + 0
11/17/23 - 1438 + 3

Next week is Thanksgiving in the US. Typically, the Friday of that week is the biggest shopping day of the year and the day that people often commit to big gifts.  So, I don't expect the needle to move much next week since I'll post an update early on Friday.  But, the week after, that will cover Black Friday and Cyber Monday, should see an uptick from people who want to gift this item to themselves directly or by proxy.  And, we should be within the next credit card statement date for most people, meaning that ordering it over next weekend vs. waiting for December should still get the charges on the same statement.  After that, we'll have about 2 weeks left in the campaign.  I still expect a surge on the final day.  We'll see if it's enough to make this thing come to fruition.

Super7, Cobra Mothership, Haslab

Super7, Cobra Mothership, Haslab

Monday, November 13, 2023

2001 Tripwire

Hasbro had a short break between the death of the Joe line in 1994 and its first reappearance as a collector themed line in 1997.  But, really, 1997 Hasbro was a completely different company than the one that existed in 1994.  The people who had made the vintage Joe line were gone.  In their place were new people who lacked the connection to the brand.  And, instead of trying to find a recipe that would have given them massive retail success, they fell upon a select few, elder members of the collecting community to guide their design choices.  The result is a short era of safe, bland and uninteresting figures whose value is almost entirely tied up in the nostalgic ties that barely repaints evoked among a certain set of adults.  The figures of this era aren't, necessarily, bad.  They're just boring.  They take no chances and don't challenge anyone's sense of comfort when thinking about their collecting habits.  

This was the core problem with the A Real American Hero Collection (ARAHC) that was released in 2000 and 2001.  Too many of the figures blended together.  To uninitiated parents and casual collectors, the shelves appeared to be full of the same figure over and over again.  Nothing stood out: either good or bad.  The figures were, though, relatively good.  Collectors liked them and bought a fair amount.  But, the line couldn't compete with the adult collector driven but still kid supported Star Wars line.  A few figures, though, really did work in the muted color schemes.  Among them was the 2001 Tripwire.

You can make an argument that this is the best Tripwire figure.  (Though, you'd be wrong as the Funskool figure is the best!)  But, it's really not all that different from the 1983 version.  The green is a little darker.  The main difference is that the unique grey from the original version has been replaced by a more common black color.  The color lacks the sheen of vintage black figures who still appeared shiny and vibrant and was, instead, a very flat black.  This was the type of thing that the cool, hip adult collectors of 2001 pretended that they wanted.  And, Hasbro gave us a whole line of figures who were almost exclusively the boring green and black colors.  And, that line didn't last a year at retail.  2002 brought a ton more color to the line and it launched the Joe renaissance of the early 2000's where the brand had retail viability for a couple of years.  

The thing about this figure is that the 1983 Tripwire is pretty much perfect.  His lighter green gives him some distinction from some of his contemporaries.  But, his grey highlights were a rarity in the vintage Joe line.  For that reason, Tripwire stood out.  A relatively boring figure became memorable with just a few design choices.  For the 2001 figure, all of that personality was stripped away from Tripwire.  Were he a lone release of this ilk, that would have been OK.  But, most of the ARAHC was ripping the soul from classic figures in order to appeal to a false sense of "gritty, military realism" that NEVER existed in the Joe line.  It left a line of figures that people like.  But, you don't see them used since, in pretty much every case, the vintage figure that was replaced by the later repaint is better.  And, they are not different enough to warrant using the later design.  It would be one thing if this was the only desert tan Tripwire that was released.  That would have been safe, but also useful.  Instead, it's the same ground we tread before: only 18 years later and not as good.

Of the ARAHC figures released in 2000 and 2001, this Tripwire remains one of the most frequently seen in various photos and dioramas (such as they exist in 2023).  He's one of the few figures who often replaces the original.  I suspect this is because this Tripwire is good enough and it offers the exact same aesthetic to a scene that the original figure provides.  Tripwire is great as a vehicle operator or support figure.  And, his covered head also allows you to use him as an army builder.  (Fun fact, the 1983 Tripwire head looks amazing on a Steel Brigade body if you have some part swaps you want to try.)  So, you can have a couple of them if you want.  But, most people like to use Tripwire as the lead: clearing the way for his team mates to safely navigate a passage.

The ARAHC started strong, gained momentum and then completely petered out in about 8 months.  The first figures popped up in October of 2000 and by the summer of 2001, the figures were backed up all over the country.  By October of 2001, the figures were showing up in discount and closeout outlets.  The final wave was cancelled from retail and only salvaged by two online retailers because Hasbro was so far into the production process with the figure wave.  (Despite the angry retorts to the contrary, I still fully believe the Crimson Viper was planned for Wave V but was pulled from there and moved to the 2002 convention release.)  Tripwire and his terrible packmate, Big Brawler, were staples of closeout stores well into 2002.  But, even at $5 for two figures, few people really stocked up on the set and even the army builders from this final retail wave were easy to find for more than a year if you frequented outlet malls or the offbeat closeout stores that still existed 21 years ago.

One huge upside of the ARAHC figures was that they, mostly, included the figure's original gear.  The Joe design team of the 1980's spent inordinate amounts of time matching characters and their accessories.  So, keeping the figure's paired with original gear worked well.  This Tripwire includes his pack, three landmines and minesweepeer that debuted with the original release.  Sans this gear, Tripwire is useless as a standalone figure.  He can still work as a vehicle driver.  But, Tripwire needs his gear to stand out among the other Joes.  For some reason, I've never actually plugged the 2001 Tripwire's minesweeper into his backpack.  I like the look of it still in its rigid, original form.  This makes no sense.  But, you can still pose the figure without this gear actually plugged into the pack as was intended.

Oddly, Tripwire is one figure that really got utilized quite well.  The original 1983 figure is solid.  He was sold all over the world and there are slight arm chevron variants to track down.  In 1985, Hasbro went nuts and gave us the awesome red and orange Listen & Fun Tripwire.  It's completely ridiculous.  Which makes it awesome!  This darker figure appeared in 2001.  From there, Hasbro sent the mold to India where the amazing Funskool Tripwire was produced.  If you want a realistic Tripwire, you have options.  If you want a surreal repaint, you can get one that fits that criteria.  And, if you want a solidly colored but weird figure, the Funskool is there for you.  Sure, a tan Tripwire would have been nice.  But, you've got 4 distinct releases with two of them being something completely different from anything else in the line.  (BTW, I forgot 2 releases, Blades and the Tiger Force Tripwire - Thanks to JRizzo in the comments.)

Tripwire figures aren't all that desired.  While dealers will try to get $20-$25 for a loose, mint and complete figure, the reality is that you can get a carded set for less than that price.  Open market figures are between $7-$10 with deals to be had by those who are patient.  These days, it's far and away the cheapest Tripwire.  And, as the colors are good, it's adequate for the character unless you want something weirder to represent the team's mine detector.

1985 Flint, 2001 ARAHC Tripwire

Friday, November 10, 2023

1983 Hiss Tank - Around The Web

The Hiss Tank is the single most iconic Cobra ground vehicle.  It is a staple of every collection and is the perfect combo of being a toy and a collectible.  It's been released time and time again.  So, everyone has a shot at it.  Not much else to say other than to check out all the great content that features it.

1983 Hiss Tank Profile

Hiss Tank Diorama

1983 Hiss Tank by steelbrigade