Yes, tomorrow is that time again: Rarities and Oddities month. Once again, I have some of the more obscure G.I. Joe and G.I. Joe related ephemera to showcase. The goal, of course, is to create a reference for items that are otherwise impossible to find. In the past year, several old Rarities posts have found new life when someone posts and unknown item in a group and my posts are referenced as the only source of info that's publicly available. I truly wish there was an active community resource that could document all of the cool stuff that's been uncovered in the decades since corporate ownership ravaged online resources. But, that's unlikely to happen. So, if you're going to write a book, publish an article or some other pretend pursuit that's really just a guise to hide your displeasure with a rare item being searchable by Google, these posts really don't affect you. Please continue your quest and get more and better information out there. Until then, enjoy the month!
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
In late January or early February of 1984, I was owed one figure by my parents. It was for good grades. Such incentives were common. And, many of my figure acquisitions in the spring and fall of 1984 and 1985 were under similar circumstances. This particular instance, though, I vividly remember. We were at the Kohl's store on our side of town. We went fairly often. The store had only been open since the summer of 1983. So, it was still new. Back then, Kohl's had a toy department that rivaled that of Target or K-Mart. (We didn't have Wal Marts, yet.) And, in the latter half of 1983, it had been the go-to store for all the hard to find Joes. I got my Dragonfly there. And, the only instances of any of my friends finding Torpedo or Trip-Wire were at the store. So, I had high hopes of getting a new figure for my collection.
When we arrived at the toy aisle, though, there was nothing but sheer retail devastation. In the Christmas run up and then the post holiday clearance sales, the toy aisles were nearly bare. One entire aisle that had been full of Star Wars and G.I. Joe was nothing buy empty pegs. Sure, in 2023, this is a common sight. But, 40 years prior, it was unfathomable for a store to sell out of such staple toy lines. There were, though, just two figures hanging on the pegs. One was a new 1984 Duke. Normally, this should have been a source of excitement. But, I had gotten the mail away Duke just a few weeks prior. The other figure was a carded Indiana Jones figure.
Indiana Jones was iconic at the time. Every kid knew about the whip and wit that defined the character. I had passed on his toys, though, because they had articulation that wasn't really Star Wars but then, later, inferior to G.I. Joe. I had a weird aesthetic where I needed my figure styles to match. (This is why I could never get into He-Man or the super hero lines of the day. I didn't see them as compatible to the figures I already had in my collection.) I held the figure in my hands for a bit. But, I was unsure if I wanted to waste my gift on him. It was still a few months from lawn mowing season when I could start buying all the toys I wanted with my own money. And, I had a weird hesitation about asking my mom to buy him. I don't know if was just a fear of her going on about buying another all new toy line. But, I put the Indiana Jones down and left the store. A week or two later, I found the 1984 Firefly at a local Zayre store and bought him as my gift.
So, the original Indiana Jones never entered my collection. I did, though, get the Indiana Jones in Nazi uniform. It's weird to think that was a thing in the '80's. But, it was a cool figure. The leg articulation was a bit weird, though. And, it made him difficult to use in vehicles. But, I used him as a generic good guy (the original green shirt!) until I dropped his bazooka in the grass under our jungle gym and couldn't find it. Once that happened, the figure went into a box with my forgotten Star Wars collection and was, eventually, sold to the kid next door for a quarter per figure.
There is a new Indiana Jones movie coming out later this year. My kids were too young for the Star Wars revival in theatres. But, I'll be able to take them to see the final Indiana Jones movie. That will be fun. Of course, there's lots of internet drama about the movie. The usual forces are, of course, up in arms for a variety of reasons. One thing I learned when watching the sequel trilogy with my boys, though, is that those were entertaining movies. Maybe they weren't Order 66 level. But, I had been waiting for that moment since 1983. So, we'll go. We'll enjoy the movie. And, I'll move on with my life from there.
There is no 3 3/4 Indiana Jones line coming for this new movie aside from this retro line, though. That's probably OK since the 2008 line ended up on massive clearance. And, really, there's not much that could be done to the core characters that were made in 2008 that would update them enough to warrant the inevitable $17 price tag in 2023. You can buy MOC figures from 2008 for less than that. There are, though, new 6" figures that look great. So, they are the collectible to come from this final revival.
Sadly, though, the quality on this figure is...lacking. Like the Haslab figures from earlier this year, Hasbro seems to have only intended these toys for MOC collectors. From that perspective, the figure is great and checks all the boxes. Once opened, though, the cut corners become apparent. The pistol doesn't fit into the side holster very well. And, the figure can't really hold either the gun or the whip. The whip's always been a weird design. But, the small hands struggle mightily to hold onto the whip for any period of time. While the paint is good, the head is definitely different and looks more like a Kenner Han Solo and the vintage Jones figure. And, finally, there's huge copyright information written on the figure's back. It's no only offputting, but just seems unnecessary when the Retro Star Wars figures feature unobtrusive COO markings just like the vintage Kenner product. But, at best, this figure is going to stand in a display case for decades, never seeing any use. For that, it suffices. But, I still find it disheartening that Hasbro now makes retail products that they don't even pretend to be anything other than MOC collectibles for adults.
The retro figures are cool because I can now get a facsimile Indiana Jones figure for $12. Original figures from the '80's are expensive. And, Indy's pistol was one of the very earliest accessories to be bootlegged. So, ungraded ones will often include reproduction gear. Mint and complete Indiana Jones figures will run up to $300-$400 these days. I'm not sure if that's hype before the movie or residuals from the COVID hobby spike. But, it's a pretty big disparity. And, for my purposes, this figure is good enough. I don't need an original as I never had one. Getting a reasonable facsimile for cheap is the perfect compromise.
Saturday, May 27, 2023
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
The Motor Viper was the vehicle driving companion figure to the 1986 Viper. As a kid, I wanted as many Motor Vipers as I could get so they could drive all the Cobra vehicles. For a bit, I was able to do this. But, I liquidated many of my spares and now have just one that's loose. That's too bad as this figure looks great with a variety of other accessories. I've found Techno Viper, BAT and Toxo Viper gear looks really good on the figure. Heck, even as a kid, I gave this guy the Battle Gear version of the Viper's rifle. I still think he's one of the best common Cobra drivers. And, he remains cheap and available enough to outfit all your Cobra vehicles with a Motor Viper crew.
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Deep Six sucks. Well, not the character. Just this 1984 figure. But, surprisingly, he's always been rather popular when I've posted content on him. I'm not sure why that is. There's even a good amount of content on the figure that's out there. Again, I find this surprising. I'm likely, though, just out of touch with other collectors really enjoy. So, here's the best of the 1984 Deep Six content I could find around the web.
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
The 1991 Tracker is a figure whose popularity has grown over the years. As such, you'll pay a premium for a complete version these days. Sadly, the mold wasn't properly used in the 2000's and he still only exists in brighter colors. Here's some photos I've taken of him in recent years.
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Torpedo isn't a character or figure that I often use. I'm not sure why as he's really good for what he is. But, when it comes to divers, I always go a different direction. I think it's due to either removable helmets or attached hoses. Both are features that I enjoy more than Torpedo's sculpted head. So, Torpedo isn't someone who appears in photos all that often. While this 1997 repaint is strong, it's also tough to find content on it. Most people use the 1983 figure instead of the 1997. But, here's a bit of content I was able to track down on the 1997 repaint.
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Metal Head is one of my favorite Cobra characters from the 1990's. I first became aware of him when a kid down the street had one. I thought the figure was really cool. Then, I came across him in the comic and the character was interesting enough. As I hunted down the remainder of the Joe line at retail, I discovered that Metal Head had returned in a new version. I quickly bought him and he became a key component of my first foray into collecting. Once I acquired a 1990 Metal Head, though, I found that I actually appreciated the 1994 design much more.
When Joe returned in the early 2000's, I was hoping that the 1994 Metal Head would return with a nice, new repaint. That never happened at retail. But, he did appear in the 2005 convention set. This figure returned my favorite look for Metal Head. But, the figure didn't resonate with me. While it was great to see a late mold return, the overall colors for the figure weren't spectacular. And, I wasn't really a fan of tying him to closely to the Iron Grenadiers.
The Iron Grenadier set is generally considered the best overall convention set. While others may have individual figures that surpass any in the 2005 release, the Iron Grenadiers tend to win out when taken top to bottom in terms of each individual figure. But, at the same time, this Metal Head is generally regarded as the bottom figure in the 2005 set. The army builders are well liked. And, both Destro and General Mayhem have found stupid aftermarket interest in recent years. Metal Head, though, has not. He's one of the most neglected convention Cobra characters.
The figure is flawed for many reasons. While the Iron Anvil and Iron Grenadier figures are really nice repaints that feature Iron Grenadier adjacent colors, Metal Head seems more of a mess. First, he was given a bright red shirt. And, this gives him a base color that is difficult to offset. It's especially difficult when the color covering it is gold. Gold paint is notoriously brittle. And, slathering the figure in that base color, especially on the chest is a recipe for disaster. The final piece is the asymmetrical arms. Sure, this exists on the 1994 figure, too. But, the 1994 keeps the left arm in all black. So, the differences are less noticeable. But, the extra paint on the arms showcases the unexplained differing details on each. And, it calls out some of the limitations of the mold. I find the head problematic. But, that's more personal preference as I feel Metal Head's beard should be fuller and the sunburnt skin tone that was so common in the 2000's always feels off to me, especially when you have a figure using red as one of the primary body colors.
Personally, I don't like Metal Head being so bogged down as a member of the Iron Grenadiers. But, that is heavily a function of the fact that I had the original Metal Head figure in the mid-1990's and used him as one of the many "new" Cobras that I had created. The 1994 coloring allowed Metal Head to be independent. So, seeing the sculpt with an Iron Grenadiers logo on it is somewhat off-putting to me. But, this is a function of my own, personal, experiences with the figure mold and character. For others, seeing Metal Head as an Iron Grenadier and in colors that perfectly match army builders and characters from the same set would have been welcomed.
Metal Head's accessories are typical of the 2000's era. They are random weapons assigned to the figure with no real purpose. I guess the same could be said of the 1994 Metal Head's weapon tree, though. Convention figures included grey accessories and clear figure stands. This was, supposedly, done to prevent the new weapons from being mistaken for the originals. I do think, though, that the club also wanted the special gear so that it wasn't possible to stock the figures with indistinguishable weapons from the cheap retail fodder of the era. It helped to justify the exorbitant pricing on their sets. Metal Head includes a JvC era machine pistol. It's small and just OK. Then, he has a redone 1992 Duke weapon. This gun looks good until you put it into a figure's hand. Then, the imbalance of the handle placement and oversized sculpt become obvious. The upside is that lots of overstock convention weapons were sold over the years. So, it's not impossible to complete a figure like Metal Head if you can find an incomplete one for cheap.
If you've been around this site enough, you know I am not a fan of the collector club that existed in the 2000's. Their utter disdain and disrespect for their customers irreparably harmed the entire G.I. Joe brand. And, their entire tenure is just a series of one fiasco and public relations disaster after another. If you ever want to study how a nepotistic monopoly still managed to run itself out of the business, the club is the prime example. But, I have to be fair to them when it comes to the 2005 convention set. In either late 2004 or early 2005, the worst kept secret in Joe fandom was the list of proposed 2005 convention figures.
This list laid out the Iron Grenadier theme. If mentioned the Iron Grenadiers using the original 1988 mold. Desto was there. And, the convention vehicle was going to be the Cobra Condor. People who could discuss the list in private showcased excitement. But, as the club was know for pettiness, the list wasn't shared publicly for quite a while. And, when it was, the club denied it 100%. Then, when the convention set ended up being about 90% correct, the club got self inflicted egg on their face. But, the fact that the list was wrong wasn't their issue. In 2004, they would have been seeing if molds could be found or utilized. It is known that a mold labelled 1988 Iron Grenadier was found. But, it actually ended up being the 1988 Destro. So, the fact that they had to improvise for the Iron Grenadier and swap out the Condor for something different isn't really an issue when you look at a proposed list generated so far before a production date. The list itself wasn't the problem. But, the club's consistent bungling of their messaging ended up with their best set being met with a bit of malaise.
Pricing on this figure is weird. In just 2021, you could get mint and complete versions for under $30. Now, you see dealers trying to get $150-$250 for him just because he's a convention release. You can occasionally find one for $75. But, that's rare and hard to do right now. In another year or two, I expect this figure will back down into more normal pricing realms. He's not popular and the Iron Grenadier set seems to exist in more than ample enough quantities to satisfy the demand from a dwindling collector base. Most importantly, though, this isn't a figure that gives you enough satisfaction to demand premium pricing. He doesn't stand out on his own. And, I'd argue the original version is better. So, he's a definite figure to avoid in the current market.
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Footloose was the first 1985 figure I purchased in February of that year. (I got Airtight at the same time, though.) He was just so cool. He had amazing gear, strong colors and a design that seemed like a substantial upgrade over the 1984 figures. Footloose quickly became a staple of my adventures. He would wait inside the Hovercraft until it landed and then emerge to devastate the Cobras in his way. I even made up a little song for him when he jumped into battle. He was one of the most important figures in my collection. Sadly, though, I then broke his rifle. Once that happened, Footloose's value to me plummeted. I took the figure apart and used his parts on many of my customs of that era who represented new characters in my collection.
As a collector, I ensured I acquired a couple of Footloose figures. They were in good shape. And, now, I'm afraid to put his rifle into his right hand for fear of breaking the thumb. I should work on it. Mainly because I don't feel I've ever gotten a good photo of Footloose. I've tried many different situations for Footloose. But, none of them ever really capture my childhood essence of the figure. I've seen many other people adequately capture just how cool Footloose is. But, I've never been able to do it. So, here's my latest attempts to make Footloose look great. I still don't feel I've captured him, though. I'll keep trying.