Tuesday, March 19, 2024

1994 Star Brigade Sci Fi

1994 Star Brigade has long been one of my collecting focuses.  Back in 1999, when this site started, I was about the only person to talk about Star Brigade in any capacity beyond pure vitriolic hatred.  In the twenty five years since, though, collector attitudes about Star Brigade have softened.  And, more importantly, the low production numbers for the 1994 series have proven frustrating for collectors who attempt to finish their vintage Joe runs.  Nowadays, some 1994 Star Brigade figures will break triple digits.  Their oddity and scarcity driving an upswing in popularity.  Not all figures are caught up in that wave, though.  This 1994 Sci Fi remains relatively inexpensive for the modern collector.  But, that price is not indicative of the figure's quality as the 1994 Sci Fi features excellent sculpting, fun colors and a cadre of accessories that would have been fantastic for kids of the day.

There were two waves of 1994 Star Brigade figures.  The second wave, containing the Lunartix aliens, Countdown, Ozone and Effects saw the lower production run.  And, in the early days of Joe collecting, the aliens secured a morbid curiosity among collectors who would buy carded versions just to have due to the perceived rarity.  The first series, though, probably didn't see much of an increase in production run over the second wave.  But, it was generally held in low regard by Joe collectors of the late 1990's and early 2000's.  The figures in that wave, though, were excellent.  Blackstar, Cobra Commander, Duke, Spaceshot and this Sci Fi were all either entirely new or mostly newly sculpted parts.  Payload and Roadblock were repaints and carry over characters from the 1993 series.  But, they all combined into a visually distinctive wave of figures that showed a considerable investment by Hasbro as the Joe line was slowly diminishing at retail.

This Sci Fi might be the most impressive of the new, non alien, sculpts for the Star Brigade series.  (I'll accept arguments on this point, though.)  He features a textured space suit that is overlaid with an armored chest.  His head is surrounded by a collar that is a perfect fit for the figure's helmet.  It's a vast improvement of the idea that was introduced with the 1983 Ace figure.  The left arm has a sculpted hand cannon.  And, there's enough other details to provide the necessary heft to really view this figure as an astronaut.  

Around 1992 or so, Hasbro got wind that their competitor, Kenner, was looking to bring back their Star Wars line.  Joe had bested Star Wars before.  But, much of that could be contributed to the ending of the original trilogy as well as general retail fatigue.  The Joe team of the time wasn't too keen on being beaten in the marketplace they now dominated.  So, Star Brigade came to be.  If you look at Star Brigade, you see lots of Star Wars like elements.  Spaceshot is, basically, Han Solo.  This Sci Fi features a lot of elements borrowed from Boba Fett.  The most apparent is the arm mounted gatling cannon.  Aside from the absurdity of this weapon (where would the ammo be stored?!?) it's a fun callback to Fett.  The figure even has chest armor that is similar to Fett's.  Hasbro even introduced aliens as a way to broaden the scope and compete directly with the denizens of Jabba's Palace or the Cantina.

My main interaction with this figure only came as an adult collector.  I got hooked on 1994 Star Brigade early in my collecting days and quickly found carded versions of the entire set.  Back then, loose Star Brigade figures were nearly impossible to find.  But, as I was still paying well under $5 for a carded figures, it was worth it to just open up any extras I acquired.  (This is how I got Countdown and Ozone.)  I didn't get a loose Sci Fi until the early 2000's.  And, that version wasn't in great condition and only had the helmet.  Only recently have I picked up a high quality version of the 1994 Sci Fi.  And, he's great.  I don't really have a ton of ways to use the figure right now.  But, he's good to have around and I'll surely have him out flying a helicopter or something as the weather turns warmer.

Sci Fi's accessories are pretty good.  His helmet may be the best piece.  It's two fused pieces of plastic that give an hard grey top and back with a pinkish face shield that features triangular ridges that obscure Sci Fi's face but also give the helmet great depth.  His base weapon is a black version of Cold Front's pistol.  The large size, though, works in the space context, though.  Sci Fi's pack is an interesting contraption.  It's large and bulky.  It has two arms that provide additional gear.  One side is a sculpted gun that's reminiscent of the arms from Payload.  The other side is the spring loaded missile launcher.  The launcher has a peg that fits into the pack's side to prevent it from moving.  You can take the peg out and then move the launcher up and down.  The pack also has a hook sculpted to the top of it.  This hook was compatible with Sci Fi's remaining gear.  He also included a rope and two "weights" that were hooks to connect to toys, furniture or other items that would give Sci Fi a zip line feature.  The pack could slide across the rope.  Stupid little things like this were greatly appreciated by childhood me.  And, their inclusion is a fun reminder that the 1994 Joes were toys first that were meant to be enjoyed by kids.

This Sci Fi mold has some history.  Which is not common for sculpts that debuted in 1994.  While the figure's head was recycled from the 1991 and 1993 Sci Fi figures, the rest of the body was new.  For some reason, Sci Fi appeared in the Funskool line.  I'm not sure why he's be chosen over other newly sculpted 1994 figures.  But, the Funskool Sci Fi is very similar to the U.S. version.  There are some obscure and hard to find Funskool variants.  But, in general, they are all similar enough to this 1994 U.S. figure that only the most attentive collectors would really notice the difference in a photo or display.  I'd have loved to have seen a full rehash of the 1994 Star Brigade line in India.  But, getting Sci Fi, Countdown, TARGAT and Ozone was a nice bonus.  As a fun aside, Sci Fi's helmet was recolored and included with the Funskool Metal Head figure.  You wouldn't think this helmet would work on Metal Head.  But, it does.  Sadly, that Metal Head is hard to find today.  But, the helmet on, he works as a new Cobra Star Brigade member.

Gone are the days of cheap Sci Fi figures.  While you could easily get a carded version of this figure for $10 as recently as a decade ago, the general scarcity of the 1994 Star Brigade series has caught up with Sci Fi, too.  While he's not a $100 figure like Roadblock or Ozone, dealers routinely get $40-$50 for mint, loose and complete versions.  This seems odd since you can still buy carded figures in the $50-$60 range.  Left to his own devices, though, Sci Fi tends to top out around $25...leaving him one of the cheaper 1994 Star Brigade figures.  This is likely a function of the similar Funskool figure being so available and relatively cheap, too.  Collectors have options to get Sci Fi.  For $20, he's not a bad figure.  I love Star Brigade, so I tend to be overly enthusiastic about the figure quality.  But, if you want Sci Fi as the laser rifle trooper, the 1991 and even 1993 figures are better.  (Though, not really much cheaper.)  But, this Sci Fi shows much of what was possible with the Joe line in later years and the sculpting and colors really work to create a fun combat astronaut.  If you find value in that specialty, this is a figure for you.  If not, well, there's lots of other Sci Fis to fill your needs.

1994 Star Brigade Sci Fi, 1993 Mudbuster, Mega Marines Gung Ho

1994 Star Brigade Sci Fi, 1993 Mudbuster, Mega Marines Gung Ho

1994 Star Brigade Sci Fi

1994 Star Brigade Sci Fi, Action Soldier


  1. Pairing him with Mega Marines Gung-ho in that first picture really works, and stimulates my imagination to do something with a figure I otherwise dislike a lot.

    To me, this is the worst newly sculpted Star Brigade figure. His colors are horrible, but I find there's little to salvage from the sculpt underneath. The boots and chest armor in particular just look way too pulpy and weird for my tastes, and the asymmetrical arms don't do him any favors, either. I do like the helmet, but the rest of the figure looks like something an AI-generator would spit out.

    My disdain for this figure dates back to when I was a small child, often playing with my brother. He'd go for this one a lot and was always real fond of him. I liked stealing his helmet to put on Duke though.

  2. This Sci-fi figure is one I admittedly overlooked. I acquired the Funskool one back in 2002 at the same time I purchased a couple of Funskool Skystrikers and the figure never resonated with me so I never considered the original figure. Your review has certainly made me reconsider my view on the figure. The details in the mold are very nice and the colors while bright are not off-putting to me. Just a really nice detailed figure from the end of the line and just shows that the molds on these later figures were often very well detailed but get dismissed because of the colors. The accessories are also very cool and original during the weapon tree days at the end of the run.

    I can recall the end of the ARAH line and seeing the Star Brigade figures on store shelves. As a kid I was a fan of them - Cobra Blackstar was one of my favorite Cobra figures and was a pilot for me, I also have a very vivid memory of getting the Duke figure in 1995 - my grandparents bought him for me at a Hills department store. Had a few of the 93 figures as well. I certainly never had animosity or disliked the Star Bridge premise or subteam as a kid. I did hate the lunartix aliens concept though.

    As an adult collector it's a little frustrating to see the prices of some of these figures. Some of the 94 Star Brigade figures are on my list of final figures I would like to acquire and in a perfect world would like to buy them carded however Countdown, Roadblock, Space Shot and Techno-Viper all command ridiculous prices. I just like that the designs for these figures can be versatile enough for them to stand out as space troopers/astronauts but could also see Countdown, Roadblock or Payload in the cockpit of my Phantom x-19. The Roadblock figure looks like he is wearing a similar suit to an SR-71 pilot. I digress!

  3. The prices on the aftermarket really deter people from discovering the joys of these late figures

    1. I simply can not believe how Joe now has figures that are priced higher than vintage Star Wars. Aside from the late years and a few subsets, Joes exist in similar quantities. From a pop culture standpoint, I'd say a Luke Stormtrooper will hold a lot more future value than a Create a Cobra. But, what do I know?

    2. I really regret not filling in my collection a decade ago when prices were reasonable. I would love to get a lot of the later figures and its just not a good idea these days.