Monday, August 28, 2023

1988 Charbroil

I was done collecting Joe in 1988.  I bought a Hardball, Tiger Force Roadblock and Hit and Run.  But, that was it.  My younger brothers, though, managed to still acquire most of the 1988 retail figure run.  There were a couple of figures they didn't own.  Along with figures like Budo, the Hydro Viper and Spearhead, the 1988 Charbroil was also absent.  It's doubtful this was an intentional choice and was just how the cards fell.  While I missed a figure like Muskrat that was not in our collection, though, Charbroil never entered my consciousness.  

I'd sneak my brothers' figures from time to time.  And, guys like Repeater would become, basically, mine after my siblings lost or broke the original gear.  While I desperately wanted them to get a Muskrat, though, I never had any pinings for Charbroil.  In my younger days, I had used Blowtorch.  My best memory was playing with him in the lava rock pumice stone that decorated the ground under the white rose trellis that covered the limestone steps between the first and second terrace in my grandparent's backyard.  Here, Blowtorch melted the rocks onto the Cobra army and the Joes won the day.  But, after that, I found that putting out fires were more interesting play scenarios than starting them.  So, I never had much interest in Charbroil since flamethrowers weren't a big part of my Joe army.  

And, with that, Charbroil was a very late entry to my collection as an adult, too.  I just didn't have any interest in him.  It wasn't until I stumbled upon a nicely priced one at a store in Greenville, South Carolina that I finally pulled the trigger.  And, even after owning him for a year, I barely have any pictures of him and this profile waited more than a year to appear.  None of this points to Charbroil ever being much more than a checkmark on a list that closes out the figures I'm missing from 1988.  Others may disagree, though.  Charbroil does mesh well with other 1988 figures.  And, he's a nice match for 1988 vehicles, too.  So, he definitely wasn't an afterthought to Hasbro.  He's just one of those figures who simply doesn't interest me.  And, that's OK.  

Charbroil is an interesting sculpt just because his head may or may not be the same as the 1987 Knockdown figure.  The head is modified.  But, it's unclear if this was an all new head or if the Knockdown head was modified.  (I suspect it's all new since the Knockdown head later appeared in Brazil.)  Charbroil also has a variant.  He can have either black eyes or red eyes that match his hair.  They appear with similar frequency and one is not desirable over the other.  The biggest issue is that Charbroil's elbows crack.  It's becoming nearly impossible to find one that isn't damaged in this way.  And, if you have one that's still intact, it's pretty much guaranteed that they will crack should you only move the arms a slight bit.

The 1988 series of figures is notorious for being light on the paint applications.  Charbroil, though, both is and is not an example of this.  At its core, the figure features a relatively rare brown base color.  He also features yellow, silver and red accentuating colors.  It is the silver torso, though, where the lack of paints apps are noticeable.  The chest plate is well detailed.  So, having just a couple of painted details would have made Charbroil just about perfect.  Instead, though, the details are lost in the sea of uninterrupted silver.  Charbroil's color scheme isn't often seen on Joes, though.  So, that gives him some sense of individuality.  But, that's about the only characterization that Charbroil actually has.

Charbroil's gear is...weird.  His helmet has bug eyes.  And, it doesn't quite cover his face.  This would be troublesome.  The flamethrower itself is fairly well done.  I don't like it as much as I do the weapon included with the 1984 Blowtorch.  But, the weapon works as intended.  My introduction with it was actually with Ice Cream Soldier in 1995 or so.  So, I actually consider it to be Ice Cream Soldier's weapon instead of Charbroil's.  Charbroil includes a large, silver backpack.  One of the oddities of 1988 was that Hasbro included some holograms on various accessories.  Charbroil's pack was one of them.  While this hologram can be missing, it's far more common to find it still on the back than it to find a similar item attached to loose 1991 BATS.  The final piece of gear is a thick, black hose.  While the idea of a bulky hose is nice: the practicality of it is lost.  The hose is too rigid.  And, it doesn't really fit onto the gun and pack without it being somewhat awkward.  (It should be noted the 2004 is even worse and can't be confused for a vintage hose for this reason.)  So, the whole package is just odd.  Individually, the pieces are nice.  But, when added to the figure, the accessories are tough for Charbroil to use and the figure suffers for it.

Charbroil didn't get a ton of use.  He was first repainted in the Night Force series in 1989.  For a time, Charbroil was the most expensive of that set.  Now, he's even more stupidly expensive.  But, he has been eclipsed by other characters as the most expensive of the Night Force subset.  The figure disappeared after that.  Most of the 1988 figures saw release in both Brazil and India.  But, Charbroil was not among them.  He didn't return until a surprise appearance in the 2004 Anti-Venom set.  This is a solid figure.  But, the replacement helmet takes away from the Charbroil character.  There are two unproduced 2004 Charbroils: a more common light blue figure and a harder to find dark blue figure.  Since he got his gear in 2004, there's really not much more Hasbro could do with the mold.  We've got three solid versions of the character.  That's more than many other, better figures.

Dealers will ask $25 to $30 for a mint and complete with filecard version of the 1988 Charbroil.  These prices are dumb.  Charbroil isn't a popular character.  And, none of his gear is all that tough to find.  So, the only premium to pay for the figure is if he has uncracked elbows.  But, few do.  And, most of the dealers sales feature this affliction but not a commensurate discount.  Left to his own devices, Charbroil is, maybe a $15 figure.  You could piece a nice one together for about 1/2 that if you want to spend some time on it.  And, considering the expense of a 1989 Night Force figure, it's well worth it to just get the original.  But, as a specialty and a character, both Blowtorch and Ice Cream Soldier are better.  

1988 Tiger Force Lifeline, Charbroil, Flamethrower

1988 Charbroil, 1989 Rock and Roll, Downtown

1988 Charbroil, Mean Dog

Saturday, August 26, 2023

1984 Wild Weasel - Around The Web

In one of my many moves, the front gatling cannon on my Rattler snapped off.  The plane is otherwise perfect.  But, there's no real way to replace it without destroying the entire toy.  Which really sucks as, without the gun, I only see the imperfection on my Rattler and it has yet to appear in photos since the break.  

The figure this affects the most is Wild Weasel.  One his own, the Rattler Pilot isn't a great figure.  I always thought his appearance in #24 and #25 of the comic would have made for an amazing toy.  But, Wild Weasel is to the Rattler as the Skystriker is to Ace.  You simply can't have one without the other.  So, this means there's lots of great content featuring the 1984 Wild Weasel out there.  So, take some time and check all the artists who use Wild Weasel.

1984 Wild Weasel Profile

1984 Rattler Profile

1984 Wild Weasel by Nekoman

1984 Wild Weasel by evilface

1984 Wild Weasel by Purple_Cobra 75

1984 Wild Weasel by viper_space

1984 Wild Weasel by Cobra_Florence

1984 Wild Weasel by badger23actual

1984 Wild Weasel by Purple_Cobra75

1984 Wild Weasel by viper_space

1984 Wild Weasel by diorama_accessories

1984 Wild Weasel by thedustinmccoy

1984 Wild Weasel by viper_space

1984 Wild Weasel by Purple_Cobra75

1984 Wild Weasel by diorama_accessories

1984 Wild Weasel, 2022 Cobra Commander, Hasbro Pulse, 2009 Crimson Cobra Trooper, Factory Custom

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

1991 Badger

We all know that the Joe line evolved during it's retail run.  The packaging changed a little.  The figures changed quite a bit.  But, the biggest change was the way vehicles were constructed.  The line started with vehicles that were nearly model kits in their construction complexity.  There were lots of individual pieces, many on a sprue, that all fit together.  In most cases, they weren't meant to be taken back apart.  But, as the line progressed, the toy market changed.  With it, Joe vehicles moved away from their model-like origins and began to feature more molded plastic that was already put together in the box.  The array of add on pieces was reduced in quality, number and colors.  But, these changes didn't mean that all the later year vehicles were bad.  They were just different.  When you look at the 1991 Badger, it's very different from a 1985 AWE Striker.  But, it's a solid toy and it won't fall apart like many of the early vehicles could should they undergo rough play.

The Badger is a small, but rough-and-tumble Joe attack vehicle.  It isn't meant to carry a lot of figures.  But, it has big tires, a stocky build and a battering ram on the front.  It's everything a small, cheap Joe vehicles was meant to be.  Had it been released in 1984, though, the tires would have been attached to a metal rod instead of plastic pegs.  The well detailed headlights and battering ram would not have been one, single plastic piece that affixed to the vehicles body.  It would have featured clear plastic lights and likely been broken into multiple pieces for a kid to put together.  Instead of the deeply sunken driver's seat that is covered with one, big canopy, the figures would have slid out in different ways and the vehicle's main gun would not have to move into an unusable position of the driver had to abandon the vehicle.

One the surface, it sounds like the hypothetical 1984 Badger might have been better.  But, let's face it, as kids, the putting together of our toys was a one time occurrence that likely delayed the adventures we had already devised on the ride home from the toy store.  The only real memory I have involving the construction of the vehicles was from Christmas of 1980 when our next door neighbor (the father of three girls) came over on Christmas and had a ball putting our toys together since he never got to play with spaceships and castles.  I wanted my toys put together quickly so that I could get down to playing.  So, the changes in construction and packaging didn't both me...provided the toy inside was good.  And, the Badger fits that criteria.

The Badger is a nice match for 1990's figures.  Really, it goes best with 1993 and 1994 releases.  The bright colors are in better alignment with figures from the line's final two years.  Seeing this vehicle in the same release year as Big Ben, Dusty, Heavy Duty and Low Light seems odd.  But, the colors are nearly the same as the Swampmasher.  And, that was released in 1988, with even more figures that weren't perfect matches.  But, Tracker, Sci Fi, Mercer and even Grunt work well with the vehicle's green and blue color scheme.  

Often times, small vehicles were among the most fun toys in the line.  The Badger isn't great in that area.  It holds one figure in the cockpit.  And, when that figure is there, it's difficult to see.  You can put two other figures on the footpegs.  So, it can really only display three of which is poorly shown.  But, even the original VAMP only holds 2 figures.  So, that shouldn't be as much of an issue.  But, the Badger is tall.  So, it's tough to integrate into photos where the figures can been seen along with the details of the vehicle itself.  But, where it excels is in the play category.  The Badger could bust through any Cobra establishment and had the firepower to finish off any stragglers.  The big tires would have been awesome for childhood me as Vipers and Crimson Guards would have been wrapped into the wheel wells after being run over.

When it comes to armament, the Badger is both well equipped and rather sparse.  It has one main spring loaded cannon that's designed to figure one of the missiles that comes with the vehicle.  The other big change was the dawn of the spring loaded weapons.  These were a function of the broader toy industry moving towards features like this.  Kids wanted weapons that could really shoot.  And, Hasbro obliged.  So, the realism of the main weapons from the early days of the line was replaced with functionality that a new generation of kids demanded.

The Badger was repainted in maroon and orange in the 1993 Street Fighter line.  The Crimson Cruiser is also a nice version that meshes well with different figures from 1993 and 1994.  Aside from that, the mold was ignored.  The Mudbuster is really a better version of the Badger that was released in 1993.  So, I'd rather have an updated version of that instead of the Badger.  The biggest thing about the Badger is that the wheels are shared molds with other vehicles.  Hasbro was starting to search for cost savings with vehicles.  So, the tires were shared with the Scorpion and the Bugg.  I don't mind the sharing of parts like wheels or missiles.  They can be the same and still unrecognized when the vehicles with the shared parts are photographed together.

Badger pricing is pretty disparate.  Dealers get around $35 for a mint and complete version.  Yet, at the same time, you'll see similar items sit unsold for $10.  As it's a vehicle, shipping is an additional cost.  But, that's still a striking difference when you see so many dealer sales.  But, the Badger's antennae is often broken and you'll often see them with the incorrect number of missiles, too.  For cheap, the Badger is something to get.  It's fun to play with.  But, it's value as a display piece is limited.  So, I wouldn't pay top end dealer prices for one.  Especially, since they aren't nearly as limited in production numbers as similar vehicles from 1994.  If you don't have many, or any!, 1990's vehicles in your collection, the Badger is a good place to start.

(This profile was disjointed as hell.  I'll get more coherency to my thoughts for next week.)

1991 Badger, 2010 Paratrooper Flint, 1993 Mega Marines Clutch, Bulletproof, 1992 Deep Six, DEF, Eco Warriors

1991 Badger, 2010 Paratrooper Flint, 1993 Mega Marines Clutch, Bulletproof

1991 Badger, 1993 Bulletproof, Bazooka, Mega Marines Gung Ho

1991 Badger, 1993 Bulletproof, Bazooka, Mega Marines Gung Ho

Saturday, August 19, 2023

1993 Duke - Random Photos Of The Day

The 1993 Duke is really a great figure.  It's got a strong mold, great colors and cool accessories.  The sad part is that the mold had a ton of potential that Hasbro never even bothered to explore in the 2000's.  This mold would have worked great in various color schemes.  But, it was not to be.  At least, though, we got one great use of the parts.

I tend to use this figure quite often.  In older days, he was actually one of the most important characters in my Joe world.  He wasn't Duke, of course.  Because Duke sucks.  Instead, he was the chosen one who was anointed by the brass to take Hawk's place.  But, that type of character gets old.  So, he was set up to take the fall for some military failures and, ultimately, was sent to die in prison.  The characters who replaced this failed idea were more complex and had issues that made them more interesting.  They were also more successful as they had histories of failure that gave them the growth and maturity needed to overcome the most difficult situations.

For now, here's some photos of the figure in action.  I'm sure he'll appear many more times as he just works so well.

1993 Battle Corps Duke, Funskool Flint

1993 Battle Corps Duke, Funskool Tunel Rat, 2004 Night Force Short Fuse

1993 Battle Corps Duke, Beach Head, Backblast

1993 Battle Corps Duke

1993 Battle Corps Duke

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

2023 Steel Brigade Ranger (Black Major)

I like very vibrant green colors.  Duller greens are somewhat boring to me.  But, if you get a strong, powerful green color, then it's usually something I enjoy.  In the vintage line, it was rare to find figures who featured a sprightly green base color. But, those who did were often found in my play rotation.  I even like figures such as Blaster: where I'm willing to overlook mold problems in favor of his dominant color.  It's one of the reasons why I do like Action Force as the green color they used is bright, fun and kid friendly.  So, it has been a modern lament that no factory custom maker has been able to adequately mimic the European green seen on Action Force.  But, in the process, there have been some interesting attempts that have still created awesome looking figures: even if the green isn't quite right.  Just recently, though, Black Major released his Steel Brigade Ranger figure.  In my opinion, it's one of the strongest Steel Brigade repaints we've ever seen.  It features a powerful green color, offset by a dark brown torso and opaque cammo patterns on the legs.  In short, it's exactly the type of figure that I would enjoy.

It should come as no surprise that I am not a fan of the Steel Brigade.  To me, the notion of G.I. Joe army builders is somewhat anti-thetical to the notion of an elite military unit.  At the same time, when I was a kid, I had a ton of figures that were faceless army builders so that Cobra could rack up some kills, too.  My main issue with the Steel Brigade is that it was co-opted by the worst elements of fandom and was used as a cudgel to keep Joe fans from ever getting toys that were not rubber stamped by people who had a very limited view of what Joe should be.  The entire debacle of o-ring releases in the 2000's was orchestrated by this group.  And, it's forever sullied me on the notion of the Steel Brigade.

On top of that, many collectors that are newer to the hobby don't recall the days of all the Steel Brigade figures you could ever want available for $5 for a MIB figure on Ebay.  You see them call common variants "rare" with no irony.  There are hard to find Steel Brigade variants.  But, others are quite common.  But, the modern collector seems to have confused popular and rare and simply can't fathom that there are people out there with hundreds of vintage Steel Brigade figures hoarded away.  They simply built their army when it was affordable and easy to do.  We're now in the third decade of online Joe collecting.  So, a lot of what seems to be true today is actually just a result of the actual truth from 25 years ago.

So, what is someone who dislikes the concept of this character to do with the mold in several differently painted themes?  Well, Cobras need someone to kill in my photos.  And, this site is littered with Steel Brigades being blown apart and executed in various ways.  Having nice colors to better mix with Cobras allows for the characters to continually die without me having to waste a main character in the various photos.  I like the idea of the character being cowardly and begging for their life, even willing to turn over their comrades.  Because of this, the Joes don't trust the Steel Brigade and don't tend to interact with them all that often.  They let them die on ill-fated missions against Cobras mainly as a way to gauge Cobra's effectiveness.  So, it's worth having a figure or two for photos like this.  Even if they serve no other role in my collection.

The 2017 era Steel Brigade figures included a backpack, the Recoil rifle, an Airborne rifle and an alternate Chest that was originally used by Airborne, too.  Now, the figures still include a backpack and both rifles.  Gone is the alternate chest.  But, now, they all include JUMP jet packs.  Personally, I'm a fan of the changes.  Hasbro is including a jet pack with their Classified figure that's based on the Steel Brigade.  (They lost the rights to Steel Brigade to a former employee.  Hasbro has since been low key trolling him with their product releases for a while, now.)  So, the inclusion here fits with the current depictions of the character.  But, it's just good to have more JUMP packs.  And, the tan color is neutral and can be used with a lot of figures.  The rifles are not the glossy black of 2017 and are, instead, closer to the charcoal color of the original.  It's still easy to distinguish.  And, the plastic is so different that it even sounds different than a vintage piece.

The biggest issue with the 2017-ish Steel Brigade figures was the quality.  The hands were too small to actually hold the rifles that were included with the figures.  Some collectors were able to shave down the handles of the weapons to get them to work.  But, this was a major detriment to them.  This time around, though, these quality issues have been addressed.  The figures hold their weapons with no issues.  Both the Recoil rifle and Airborne rifles work very well with the figures.  On top of that, the quality of the figure itself is better.  The joints are tight and the figure is poseable in ways that the 2017's just weren't.  So, it's a big improvement over the original releases and definitely worth an upgrade.

These figures are still available.  Individuals run $18.  But, you can buy them in multiples for less.  The last iteration of Steel Brigade figures have taken on nice aftermarket appreciation.  Personally, I feel this wave is far better in terms of quality and colors.  So, you'd expect them to remain desirable well after production has ceased.  I find this Ranger to be one of the better Steel Brigade repaints that have been created.  Not everyone will share that opinion, though.  Some may find this guy overdone.  And, the tone of green isn't everyone's color of choice.  But, it's a vibrant, attractive figure that really works well in a collection.  

2023 Steel Brigade Ranger, Black Major, Factory Custom, 2017 Starduster, 1998 Thunderwing, 1984 Slugger

2023 Steel Brigade Ranger, Black Major, Factory Custom, 2001 Night Rhino, 2005 Convention Gung Ho, 2010 Convention Flint

2023 Black Major Steel Brigade Ranger, Ninja Ku, Plastirama, Argentina, Ninja Black

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

1988 Hardball - Random Photos of the Day

Baseball is my favorite sport.  I got hooked in 1987 and haven't really looked back.  It's great to have a game on in the background since you don't really need to pay all that much attention to the entire game and can pop in and out as action dictates.  I attended my first ever MLB game on 8/5/1988.  I know this because 8/8/88 (35 years ago today!) was supposed to be the first ever night game at Wrigley field in Chicago and I saw the first game of the series with the Phillies who would have been their opponent that night.  But, mother nature intervened and the game was rained out.  Regardless, I've been a fan, now, for more than 35 years.  

All of this lead to the fact that when I first saw Hardball, I had to buy him.  Despite the fact that I was too old to be buying toys, I felt that Hardball was a necessary purchase.  And, he became one of only three 1988 figures that we owned that actually belonged to me.  I didn't use him for long, though.  Shortly after his acquisition, I packed all my Joe figures away in a red Lego storage container that I hid in my closet.  My youngest brother would break in, occasionally, and remove various figures.  But, most of my Joes stayed in this container until 1999.

Over the years, I've seen a few Hardball customs that were done in various team colors of Major League teams.  I've never seen someone who has done a full set of teams, though.  But, his look does lend him to repaint if you are a baseball fan.  If you're not a fan, though, there's not much to do with the mold.  Some of his parts were used in the convention era.  But, we never got a full repaint of the character.  And, that's too bad.  An away jersey Hardball would have been a nice update to have.

I'm a fan of Hardball.  While he's not overdone, his mold is full of little details that make him interesting.  The long sleeve tee shirt under the jersey makes sense for Hardball given his design theme.  The cap on his head is actually the right size and looks better than many of his contemporaries who had sculpted hats.  And, he's one of the rare figures (maybe the only one!) who wears a baseball cap.  His legs feature enough sculpting to be interesting without being overdone.  Sadly, the white on his shirt tends to discolor and I've found mine yellowing in recent years.  Some of the pics below are from just 5 years ago: and the figure was still white.  It sucks.  But, at least Hardballs aren't expensive or desirable.  So, I should just update my figure one of these days.

Anyways, enough rambling.  Here's some photos I've taken of Hardball over the years.  He's a fun figure to have around and works well as a background player.  But, I've enjoyed many of the photos where he's the main subject, too.

1988 Hardball, Tiger Force Bazooka

1988 Hardball

1988 Hardball

1988 Skidmark, Hardball, Muskrat, Swampmasher

Saturday, August 5, 2023

1985 Lady Jaye - Around The Web

There's not much to say about the 1985 Lady Jaye.  She's an iconic character whose figure simply didn't match up with her appearance in the cartoon.  Despite that, she's a fan favorite and there's just tons of content out there featuring the figure.  Her brighter colors make for a good match with many other releases from 1984 through 1987.  Because of that, you see her in photos with a variety of different figures.  Though, even today, her most popular appearance is with Flint.  

There's a long list of content here and there's good stuff all the way through.  So, please scroll through them all and enjoy!

1985 Lady Jaye Profile

1985 Lady Jaye by atticagazette

1985 Lady Jaye by steelbrigade

1985 Lady Jaye by docsewage

1985 Lady Jaye by gijoe_pty

1985 Lady Jaye by matemylar

1985 Lady Jaye by 334inch_figures

1985 Lady Jaye by viper_space

1985 Lady Jaye by murphs_action_figures

1985 Lady Jaye by actionfigurefotos

1985 Lady Jaye by evilface

1985 Lady Jaye by gijoe_pty

1985 Lady Jaye by total_geekdom

1985 Lady Jaye by viperspace

1985 Lady Jaye by ronnie_trickshot

1985 Lady Jaye by krakencapers

1985 Lady Jaye by gi_joeisthere

1985 Lady Jaye by gijoe_pty

1985 Lady Jaye by atticagazette

1985 Lady Jaye by dreadnokdread

1985 Lady Jaye by silentinterlude

1985 Lady Jaye, 2022 Snake Eyes, 1985 Flint, Hasbro Pulse

1985 Lady Jaye, 1990 Updraft, Retaliator

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

1997 Scarlett - Random Photos of the Day

In 1997, the Stars and Stripes set was derided by the emerging collector community.  The plastic was weird, the colors didn't quite made sense and, some of the mold choices were downright bizarre.  In later years, we came to learn why some of the molds were chosen.  And, the softer plastic has now been in use far longer than the harder plastic from the vintage Joe era.  The colors, though, have kind of taken on a new life.  Some of the figures in set in the set now include the 1997 colors as part of their secondary appearances.  The best example is the Scarlett figure from the set.

At the time, this Scarlett was about as far as you could get from any other Scarlett appearance.  International Joes weren't well known in 1997.  So, there was no real chance for the mold to appear as Glenda or Quarrel.  So, Hasbro went with a completely new color scheme, purple and orange.  These colors had proven complementary on various Cobra figures through the years.  So, Hasbro knew they would be visually appealing.  And, they worked very nicely with Scarlett.

I've always thought the 1982 Scarlett colors are bland.  Sure, they're a nice contrast from the rest of the original 13.  But, even when juxtaposed against the black Snake Eyes, the tans kind of wash out.  So, having a Scarlett in more vibrant colors was a nice change of pace.  Paired with her silent beau, the 1997 Scarlett is far more dynamic looking.  Sure, not everyone (or, really, anyone!) will agree with me.  But, I far prefer this look for Scarlett over her original color scheme.

The 1997 figure, though, was surpassed in 2003.  The Toy Fare Scarlett is a perfect blend of the 1982 and 1997 color schemes.  It keeps the purple jumpsuit.  But, brings back the whites and tans of the original release.  Now, the 2003 is my preferred Scarlett figure and appears in far too many photos around the site.  But, I do like pulling out the 1997 version just because you don't see her too often and she's a nice alternative to the 2003.

2018 Kickstart V2, Red Laser Army, Factory Custom, 1997 Scarlett, Bootleg

1997 Scarlett, 2022 Stalker, 2017 Cobra Soldado

1997 Scarlett, Destro

1997 Scarlett, 1982 VAMP