G.I. JOE CONVENTION 2015 NEWS

This was a big weekend for me.  On its surface it would appear to have been a pretty standard Mike weekend.  Friday I had some drinks at Vanessa’s and we watched the first 4 episodes of Netflix’s new Daredevil series (which is great so far), Saturday night my buddy Guy came over and we had some drinks and watched a Stone Temple Pilots concert on TV, and today I’m just lounging around reading comic books and probably watching more Daredevil.  All of that was fine but what made this such a big weekend is what was happening many miles away in Springfield, Illinois.  The town of Springfield played host to this year’s G.I. Joe Convention.  I’ve never been to a Joe Con myself but when one is going on I never venture too far from my computer as want to hear all the latest news as it breaks. And boy oh boy was there some exciting news this year.GI-Joe-Convention-2015-Logo-Hisstank

There are many toy news sites out there reporting on Joe Con so I’m not going to rehash what’s already out there but I’d like to quickly tell you about the product that was shown and give my 2 cents on it.

First off there’s the 15 figure convention box set.  This is my fourth consecutive year purchasing a set.  I’ve been very pleased with the Con sets every year and I’m sure this one will be no different.  The theme this year is Tiger-Force (a sub-team of G.I. Joe where everyone wears tiger-striped uniforms) vs Destro’s Iron Grenadiers.  Attendees got to pick up their sets this weekend but sadly, as a non-attendee, my set won’t be mailed out to me until June. I’ll post individual reviews of all the figures once my set arrives. Besides the box set there are always additional figures available at the Con that nobody knows about until they arrive on site (like 2012’s Darklon and Annihilator) .  These figures can get very expensive on the secondary market so I secretly hoped there would be no good ones.  This years attendee exclusives included:

2015-Helicopter crew

Helicopter Crew: Alpine, Frostbite, SkyStriker

Iron Grenadiers Air Assault Two pack (repainted 2012 Annihilators)
Tiger Force Helicopter Crew Three Pack (Frostbite, Alpine, and Sky Striker)
Tiger Hawk Helicopter (a repainted Tomahawk)
Tiger Shark w/ Felino (a repainted Moccasin with a repainted Brazilian Dusty)
Tiger Sting w/ Sgt Katzenbogen (repainted Vamp with repainted Bazooka)
Iron Anvil Officer w/ Parachute (a repaint of the Iron Anvil figure included in the 15 figure box set)
Kre-O Six Pack (based on characters from the box set)

That’s a whole lot of exclusives.  Fortunately none of them are on my “must-have” list.  It would be nice to get Felino and Sky Striker since those are characters I don’t already own but the one exclusive I would most like is Frostbite.  The original Frostbite came out in 1985 and he was a Joe I quite liked.  He’s presently the oldest vintage Joe figure who hasn’t gotten a modern-era remake.  He got a figure in 2009 but it looks nothing like the original so it hardly counts.  This Con exclusive finally gives us the bearded Frostbite that fans have been waiting for.  The only reason I haven’t shelled out $150 for him on ebay already is that this figure is based on his 1988 Tiger Force version 2.  It’s almost a certainty that the Club will later rerelease this figure in the 1985 white outfit which is the version I would prefer anyway so I’ll hold out for that.

The next big news came from Hasbro.  They revealed their continuing 50th anniversary releases for summer 2015. Here’s what’s coming:

2015-SDCC-Crimson-Strike-1024x328SDCC EXCLUSIVES (Available: July 2015)
G.I. JOE CRIMSON STRIKE: Features the Cobra Scythe jet (Skystriker repaint) and the G.I. Joe Chimera (HISS tank repaint). Includes Grunt, Steeler, A.V.A.C. & Alley Viper Office.
G.I. JOE DESERT DUEL:  Features the F.O.E. Striker (A.W.E. Striker) and the Cobra Basilisk (Snow Cat repaint). Includes Night Fox, Chuckles, Elite Horseman and Cobra Air Trooper.
TOYS “R” US EXCLUSIVES (Available: August 2015)
G.I. JOE DESERT DUEL: Features the F.O. E. Striker and the Cobra Basilisk. Includes Chuckles and the Elite Horseman.
G.I. JOE SILENT STRIKE: Features the G.I. Joe Skystriker, and the H.I.S.S. Tank. Includes Ace, Sightline, H.I.S.S. Gunner and Driver.
G.I. JOE 3-PACKS 2015-Sneak-Attack-3pk-1024x417
Chase for the MASS Device: Includes Duke, Cobra Commander, and Cobra Trooper.
Sneak Attack: Includes Bazooka, Firefly, and Dusty.
Vanishing Act: Includes Torpedo, Hit & Run, and Zartan.
Rock Rampage: Includes Alpine, Rock Viper, and Cobra Shock Trooper.
G.I. JOE 2-PACKS 
Marine Devastation: Includes Gung-Ho vs. Cobra Shadow Guard.
Hunt For Cobra Commander: Includes Shipwreck vs. Cobra Commander.
Classic Clash: Includes Spirit Iron-Knife vs. Storm Shadow.
Troop Build-Up: Includes Steel Brigade vs. Iron Grenadier.
Swamp Steam: Includes Blowtorch vs. Croc Master.

2015-Marine-DevastationThat’s a pretty impressive line up for a toy-line that seemed pretty much dead in the water again. Hopefully this push at retail can bring some attention back to the brand.  I’m excited about these toys and I’ll buy pretty much all of them but I would have liked to have seen some actual “new” product. Almost all of Hasbro’s summer figures and vehicles are repaints of stuff we already have and some of them are just straight re-issues. I’m most excited about the new Gung-Ho.; it was shown by Hasbro as a concept figure a few years back and we’re finally getting it.

B.A.T. and Old Snake

B.A.T. and Old Snake

Some other items of note from the Con is that G.I. Joe Kre-O is not dead and that more news on that line is coming and also the Transformers’ Collector’s Club revealed that they will release 3 G.I. Joe crossover toys this year; Marissa Fairborne (the daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye) A Stealth B.A.T. ( a repainted drone Soundwave) and Old Snake (Cobra Commander’s alter ego from his one-time cameo appearance in the Transformers cartoon).  I’m pretty excited about Old Snake.

And finally, the last bit of big news from the Con was the Collector’s Club panel where they revealed their 2016 plans.  I’m very excited about next years Club figures.

2015-pythona

 

The free  figure that you get for being a Club member in 2016 is none other than Pythona.  Many fans like myself have been wanting this figure ever since she first appeared and played a key role in the 1987 animated Joe movie. There has never been a figure of this character and I could not be more pleased with this announcement.

2015-HeartwrencherAnother upcoming figure I’m excited about is Heartwrencher.  She was a female Dreadnok character that was introduced in the Joe comics published by Devil’s Due before IDW took over the license.  I imagine she’ll be made using many of the same parts used for Zarana and Zanya.  I’m fine with that but hopefully she gets a brand new head sculpt.  I love me some punk rock biker chicks so she’ll be a welcome addition to the collection.

And then there’s the 12 figure line-up for the Club’s Figure Subscription Service 4.0.  I think this may be the best line-up yet.

 

2015-BarricadeFirst up is Barricade.  This is a character I’m not very familiar with.  The first Barricade figure came out in 1992 after I had quit collecting Joes as a kid.  Second and third versions came out in 1993 and 2004.  I don’t have any of them.  But he’s a character we haven’t seen in the modern-era yet and he looks like Robocop with his helmet on so I’m looking forward to this guy.

2015-BillyNext up is Billy.  This is another figure that is long overdue.  Billy is the son of Cobra Commander.  he was introduced in the Joe comics as an adolescent back in the 80s.  Over the years he studied with Storm Shadow to become a martial arts master and a key character to the Joe mythology.  He was nearly killed by Scrap Iron at one point and he lost an eye and a leg.  I hope the upcoming figure has an eye patch and a prosthetic.

2015-BullhornThen there’s Bullhorn.  A Native American Joe first included in the 1990 series of figures.  I didn’t have that figure when I was a kid but my little brother did and I inherited it from him when he grew out of it.  Bullhorn is a unique looking character with a unique specialty, he’s the Joe team’s intervention specialist.  I don’t know a ton about this guy but he’s another character appearing in the modern style for the first time and I’ll be happy to have him.

2015-InterrogatorNext up is Interrogator.  The aptly named Cobra interrogator. He first showed up in ’91 and then again in ’93.  I never got my first version of him until 2006’s version 3.  He’s a great looking character with a classic Cobra vibe.  They could’ve easily made him a new version of Cobra Commander instead of a new character but I’m glad they didn’t. I think this is one of the coolest looking “name” Cobra characters and I bet he’ll look amazing in the modern style.

2015-LawAnd then there’s Law & Order.  This is the first character of the seven I’ve talked about thus far of whom we already have a modern-era figure. As a guy that prefers new characters over countless repaints I’d say thats pretty awesome. But as far as repaints go Law is a character that I’m glad to see re-done.  I loved the original Law figure from 1987 which is why I was very disappointed with the 2009 modern version of the character which took all of his iconic design elements and threw them out the window.  The 2011 figure was a big improvement but it still didn’t fee like Law to me. Both figures were too drab.  I want a classically colored Law with a red shirt and a blue vest and I think that’s what we’re gonna get. 2015-Inferno bat

Then there’s the Cobra Inferno BAT.  The first Inferno BAT was an online exclusive figure released in 2003.  It was a translucent orange version of the 1991 BAT figure. It was a neat looking figure but not one I ever bothered to seek out.  I doubt the club will create new parts for this figure.  They’ll likely just take the existing modern BAT figure and cast it in translucent orange plastic. It’s a relatively simple repaint but I think it will look fantastic. I already have multiple BAT variations and a clear orange one will look great with the others.

2015-nunchuckNext up is Nunchuck. The Club could go one of two ways with this.  In the 90s Nunchuck wore a traditional looking ninja outfit with a green and black striped camo pattern.  In the 2000s he wore baggy pants, bare feet and body paint.  I don’t have any real fondness for this character one way or the other though I think I would prefer the masked ninja version.  This is another character who has never been done in the modern-era and I think he’ll look good displayed with his fellow Ninja Force members who have been slowly trickling out.2015-nightcreeper4

Then there’s the Night Creeper Ice Ninja.  I just reviewed 1990’s Night Creeper version 1 earlier this week.  And then I reviewed the horribly re-designed version 3.  Well Hasbro corrected their design flub on the Cobra ninja and went back to the original look for 1998’s version 4.  That version was included in an arctic themed pack so it was painted all white and blue. I really liked the arctic design so I’m glad to hear its making a return in the modern-era.

2015-PathfinderThe Joe team’s Jungle Assault Specialist comes next.  Pathfinder was first released in 1990.  I didn’t own that figure as a kid but I have it now and I really like it.  It has a good paint deco, some cool accessories (a weed whacker) and lots of personality.  Pathfinder hasn’t been seen since 2001 so it’s good to see him get a modern-era update.

2015-JammerThe next FSS 4.0 inclusion is the one figure I’m not very excited about, Jammer.  The original 1984 Jammer was a European variant of the 1982 Stalker figure.  All Palitoy did to differentiate him from Hasbro’s Stalker was paint his hat red and paint a red logo on his chest.  Most times I’m thrilled when the Club gives us these international repaints like Bombardier or Quarrel but in this case the figure just wasn’t different enough.  I’m hoping the Club surprises me here but my expectations are low.

2015-OutbackThen there’s Tiger Force Outback.  The Joe team’s Survival Training Instructor never made it onto Tiger Force in America but in 1990 a Tiger Force Outback was produced in the UK.  That figure is sought after by collector’s because of a couple of unique design elements.  He has an over-the-top orange shirt with a roaring tiger’s face on it and for some reason they gave him white hair.  it’s a drastic change from the gingery Outback we all know and love.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the Club reimagines this look on a modern era figure.

2015-SneakpeekAnd last, but certainly not least, is Tiger Force Sneak Peak.  SP is one of my favorite Joes.  I have been patiently waiting for a Sneak Peak update since version 1 came out in 1987.  He got a Night Force repaint in ’88 that I never knew about because it was a store exclusive and the only other version of him out there is a UK Tiger Force repaint from ’91.  There hasn’t been a Sneak Peak since. I’m so happy to finally be able to add him to my modern-era collection.  I would prefer to be getting an ’87 inspired red and grey Sneak Peak but the Tiger Force outfit looks pretty cool too and I know it will eventually lead to a v1 repaint at some point down the road.

So that’s what you can expect in 2015 and 2016.  I hope you found as much to get excited about as I did. Yo Joe.

 

 

NIGHT CREEPER v.3 (1994)

Joe-Night Creeper v3 fullG. I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

In my last post I reviewed 1990’s Night Creeper version 1; a pretty rad figure.  What a difference three years can make.  This abomination is 1994’s Night Creeper version 3.

Night Creeper was the last ninja to be added to the G.I. Joe toyline while it was still intended to primarily be a military brand.  1991 was ninja free (except for a new version of Snake Eyes) but the ninja s**t hit the fan in 1992 and 1993 with the introduction of the sub-team Ninja Force.  Not only were new ninjas like Slice, Dice, and Banzai added to the line-up but established characters like Firefly, Scarlett, and Zartan became full-blown ninjas as well.  (92/93 also featured the following sub-teams: Mega Marines, Drug Elimination Force,  Star Brigade, Street Fighters, Eco-Warriors and Dino-Figthers…the days of the modern military man were over).

I had stopped collecting Joes by that point but my little brother Brian was just getting started collecting so I was aware of what was going on.  I didn’t like the over-abundance of ninjas.  I felt it diminished the uniqueness of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and watered down the brand’s military theme.  Plus the ninja figures featured “real ninja action” which meant they karate chopped when you pressed their legs together or kicked when you lifted their arm or something like that.  Generally I hate built-in play features.  It was a kitschy novelty for toylines like DC’s Super Powers Collection but it doesn’t belong in G.I. Joes in my opinion.Joe-Night Creeper v3 back

The Night Creeper got a weird redesign in 1993.  He went from High-Tech Ninja to Battlestar Gallactica reject.  The body was really dull and lacking in detail and the head looked completely alien.  He would have looked more at home displayed with my Micro-Nauts figures than with my Joes.  The blue and purple paint deco was ugly and his baby blue weapons were also pretty lame.  On top of all that Night Creeper version 2 had a useless”Banzai Bash” attack.

But just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse Hasbro re-released Night Creeper version 2 one year later in a god-awful pink and milky-clear color scheme.   The reason for the translucency is because the figure was now part of a group of Shadow-Ninjas that had a color change feature, allowing them to turn “invisible” when put in warm water.  This figure is ugly as f**k.  It’s the perfect storm of a horrible sculpt and the worse color palette I can imagine. It’s far worse than the Bushido Shadow Ninja I reviewed a while back.

Joe-Night Creeper v3 face

I don’t remember where I got this god-forsaken figure.  I don’t think it was Brian’s because all of the fingers and thumbs are broken off and we Hyland boys took better care of our toys than that.  At some point though this thing found its way into my collection.  I can’t find a single redeeming quality about it.  This may be the worst toy I own.  0 out of 10.

NIGHT CREEPER v1 (1990)

Joe-Night Creeper v1 fullG. I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

It’s not often that I get requests for reviews on my site but when I do I try to oblige promptly.  A regular reader asked me to review a Night Creeper figure a while back and it kinda slipped my mind.  He reminded me the other day and so I thought I’d better do it next before I forget again.  My first instinct was to grab one of my two modern-era Night Creepers (versions 11 or 12) because they’re displayed on a shelf right next to my computer desk.  But I’ve been reviewing lots of modern-era figures lately so I decided to go old school today and review the Night Creeper that started it all; 1990’s version 1.

1990 was the year I quit collecting G.I. Joe figures as a kid.  I ‘d been collecting since the Real American Hero (RAH) line launched in 1982 when I was just 4 years old.  In 1990 I was 12 and both my brother Doug and I only got one Joe figure each that year.  He got the Iron Grenadier frogman, Undertow, and I got the Joe Shoreline Defender, Rampart.  I remember thinking that the Night Creeper was a pretty cool looking figure but we had decided to quit collecting that year and thats what we did. I can’t recall why we quit so suddenly.  It’s not like we had lost interest in playing with toys because I remember having many battles with Rampart playing a crucial role.  Whatever the reason, after 8 years of working towards a complete collection, we threw in the towel and I did not acquire a Night Creeper.  My little brother Brian did get one though and I’m pretty sure that I eventually got his.  There are presently two in my collection and I think the broken one was Brian’s.   The other one came to me in last summer’s EPIC HAUL.Joe-Night Creeper v1 face

Not only had I quit collecting Joe figures by 1990 but Doug and I had stopped collecting G.I. Joe comics as well.  The Night Creepers appeared in the comics quite a few times, first appearing in issue 107 that year, but Doug and I stopped buying at issue 100 so I never read any of those Night Creeper stories until years later. They also appeared in the Joe cartoon produced by DIC but Doug and I stopped watching Joe cartoons after Sunbow’s series wrapped with the 1987 animated movie. In the case of the cartoon though I don’t think the DIC episodes ever aired in my area.  I never found out about them until several years later.

For all of those reasons I don’t have the same nostalgic ties to the Night Creeper that I do with most Joe figures produced before 1990.  None the less, it’s a really cool figure and I’m glad I have him now.

Joe-Night Creeper v1 backThe Night Creepers are a syndicate of High-Tech Ninjas who work under contract for Cobra.  They were nameless faceless troopers much like the Cobra blue-shirts with the exception of their leader, who was first released as an individual figure in 1993.

The design of the original Creeper is quite unique and cool.  It’s got a narrow visor to cover the eyes, kind of like Cyclops from the X-Men, and an Arabian keffiyeh  wrapped around his head.  There are 3 armour plates on the torso which look like they’d be effective against some weapons but would still allow for lots of mobility. And then there’s the color scheme.  This purple outfit makes about as much sense for a ninja as the Alley Viper’s bright orange uniform did as urban camouflage. The Night Creeper is painted in two different shades of purple with shimmery silver highlights and he’s got a pair of pants that wouldn’t help him blend in anywhere.  Perhaps they wear this to show off just how stealthy they are.  You gotta figure if a guy can break into a building an assassinate someone in this attire without being seen then he’s gotta be good.

For accessories the Night Creeper came with a purple backpack which can hold a sword on it’s side, 2 weirdly jagged swords, and a crossbow.  I don’t have either of the swords with mine.

I really like this toy and I’m sure that if I owned it as a kid this guy would’ve kicked a lot of ass.  I think the look translated quite well into a modern-era figure too as you can see in the pic below.   Night Creeper version 1 came out just before the Joe line got bogged down with ninjas and gimmicks.  Later versions of this character weren’t so lucky.  I also own 1994’s version 3 and it is an atrocity.  Perhaps I’ll share that one with you next.  8 out of 10.Joe-Night Creeper v1 compare

POWERGLIDE (2015)

TF-Powerglide fullTRANSFORMERS: COMBINER WARS

 

When I was a kid some of my favorite Transformers were the smallest and simplest ones. For example, my favorite all-time Transformer is Gears, as is evidenced by my multiple reviews of him (review 1, review 2, review 3). Cosmos, Cliffjumper, Huffer, and Windcharger were also favorites of mine. My brother Doug’s favorite minis were Bumblebee, Warpath, Seaspray, and Powerglide. The reason that all those characters were so pint-sized and cute when compared to larger figures like Starscream and Optimus Prime is because they were originally part of a completely different Japanese toyline. The mini vehicles were from a line called Micro Change while the larger figures were originally Diaclones.TF-Powerglide minis

 

 

One thing I found very appealing about the mini  figures was that they were so easy to transform. Two or three quick flips would take you from vehicle mode to robot mode and back again. A negative side effect to those simple transformations however was that the figures were not very posable. Most Transformers weren’t very flexible back in the day but the little ones were particularly rigid. The original 1985 Powerglide is a good example. He was cursed with a dreadful case of uni-leg, that thing when your legs are fused together into a solid stump of plastic. At least he had elbow joints and a swivel neck which were extremely rare for an 80s Transformer toy his size. I still think the ‘85 Powerglide is a neat figure, it oozes nostalgia and it’s totally adorable, but it’s pretty far from what I would consider “cool”.

TF-Powerglide back

Hasbro released an updated Powerglide in 2008 and I considered picking it up because he’s one of those classic characters that I wanted a modern version of. They updated Seaspray around the same time. The problem with those figures is that, even though they were “cooler”, they were too far removed from the originals. Both were much larger and more detailed than their vintage counterparts but Powerglide wasn’t the right color and Seaspray’s face looked nothing like the original’s. I passed on both of them. I ended up paying a ridiculous price for an unofficial, third-party produced, Seaspray as a means to have a modern version of the character on my shelf that retained the classic look. I figured I’d have to do the same for Powerglide if I wanted an appropriately-sized, red and grey version of him in my modern Transformers collection. Multiple third-party companies produced awesome versions of Powerglide that met all my criteria but they were so damn expensive that I held off on buying any.

2008 Powerglide

2008 Powerglide

I’m glad I waited because Hasbro has finally produced an updated Powerglide of their own.  I think some of the third party ones were superior but this is a still a very good figure. It’s small, red and grey, and it has all of the iconic Powerglide design elements such as the nosecone shaped head and the upward pointing wings on the shoulders. The icing on the cake is that he’s fully articulated. Powerglide can finally kick.

Third Party Powerglide

Third Party Powerglide

This little fella is brand new and is included in wave 2 of the Combiner Wars series. I got Doug hooked on Transformers again for the first time in nearly 30 years when I showed him my wave 1 Combiner Wars figures. He bought up all of wave 1 a week or so ago and then began the hunt for wave 2. He emailed me on Tuesday to say he found wave 2 at the Walmart by his work. I made the trek over to Dartmouth as soon as I could but the wave 2 figures were completely gone by the time I got there with the exception of Powerglide.TF-Poweglide kick

Powerglide himself was never a member of a combiner team before and even now he doesn’t merge with anyone to form a larger robot but Hasbro has cleverly added a neat little gimmick to tie him into the popular subseries. Besides transforming into at jet he also has a third mode that makes him into a double barrelled shotgun that can be wielded by Superion or one of the other Combiner giants. The gun mode is pretty lackluster in design but I think it’s a cool option to have. My Powerglide will be displayed in his robot form anyway so his other modes don’t concern me too much. I will say that the airplane mode is quite nice and very reminiscent of the original.TF-Powerglide plane

 

 

This Powerglide isn’t perfect (I find his head too small) but it’s pretty darn good and for $12 who can complain. 7 out of 10.

My Powerglide collection

My Powerglide collection

MAGNETO (2012)

Marv-Magneto fullMARVEL UNIVERSE

When my brother Doug and I were kids we collected everything jointly. However, that doesn’t mean we shared our stuff in a “what’s mine is yours” kind of way. We clearly had our own things which we kept apart.  We each had our own toy boxes, lego bins, and figure drawers.  With comics we alphabetized our collections on separate bookshelves on opposite sides of the bedroom.  I collected books like Spider-Man and Silver Surfer and he collected books like the X-Men and Captain America.  We always read each other’s books before filing them away in our own respective collections.  So back in those days I was well versed in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe because Doug collected X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Excalibur, Wolverine and all the various mini-series’ that spun out of them.

Marv-Magneto art

But we haven’t lived together or had easy access to each others collections since I was in high school.  Thusly, I’ve been out of the X-Men loop for quite some time. I have a vague idea of what’s going on in the X-books  but every now and again something weird happens like “Jubilee becomes a vampire” or “Beast has a secondary mutation and turns into a cat” or “the original 5 teenage X-Men time travel from the past and now reside with their adult selves” and I have absolutely no idea how we got to that point.  The X-Men books have seemingly become such a continuity nightmare that I don’t think I could ever find the patience to dive back into them. There are only a half dozen X-Men movies and they can’t keep things straight so just imagine what the comic universe looks like after thousands of stories have been told. Yet, while I keep the modern X-Men at arm’s length I still think fondly of the X-Men comics of the late 1980s when I knew them well.

Marv-Magneto back

Back in the good ol’ days Sabretooth and Wolverine were meeting in battle for the first time, Cypher and Warlock of the New Mutants were two separate people, Psylocke was a sweet and innocent new addition to the Xavier school, Rusty and Skids were a happy couple, and Dazzler went from an outdated disco diva to my favorite Marvel mutant. Another thing I liked from those days was that Magneto was a good guy. He had been the X-Men’s primary villain since 1963 but by the time Doug and I started reading X-Men in 1986 he was the headmaster of Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters. He had stopped wearing his signature red tights and bucket helmet and made the switch to a much comfier looking baggy purple outfit with snazzy white boots.

version 1

version 1

This figure showcases Magneto in all his 1980s good guy glory.  It’s the third Magneto figure released as part of Hasbro’s 3 ¾” Marvel Universe line. The first Magneto was included in a Secret Wars themed 2-pack along with a black suited Spider-Man in 2009. It featured the master of magnetism in his iconic red tights and helmet. It was a good figure but not one I picked up because I hadn’t fully committed to collecting this toyline at that point. Plus I already had a black Spidey and didn’t feel the need to add a second one to my burgeoning MU collection.

An individually carded Magneto was released in 2011 which featured him in the dark purple and black uniform that he wears in the alternate reality known as the Ultimate Universe.  I would’ve been happy to add an Ultimate Magneto to my collection but Hasbro made an ill-conceived decision to paint his face grey to emulate the shadows cast by his helmet. It looked dumb and the figure was an easy pass.

Version 2

Version 2

This third Magneto was released in another comic themed 2-pack in 2012; this time with Captain America. As was the case with the first Magneto figure I didn’t want or need his pack mate but this time I didn’t let that stop me. I had fully committed to collecting this toyline by then, I wanted a Magneto, and this one was too good to pass up.

Not to say this is an amazing action figure necessarily but it does capture a moment in time that I care deeply about; the time when I first discovered the wonderful world of comics. The way characters were portrayed back then is how I still view them today so Magneto is still mainly a good guy in my mind; no matter what atrocities he’s committed since the 80s. So this purple blouse wearing Magneto with the feathered hair is my favorite version of the character even though he only sported this look for a short while in his long history.Marv-Magneto float

The figure itself is pretty good. I find the scrawnier figures like Spider-Man usually suck at this scale while the bulkier figures like the Hulk look great. Middle sized figures like Magneto here tend to fall somewhere in between the two quality-wise. The sculpt is good and the articulation is decent, meaning that there are plenty of joints as we’ve come to expect from this line and yet it can be difficult to pose him dynamically. The paint job is a little boring but that’s not the fault of Hasbro since this is a minimalistic costume by Marvel’s design.

The cape has some really nice sculpted folds and wrinkles but I find it a little too long. The fact that the cape hangs past his feet can make it difficult to stand him up at times but when you lean him against something you can use it to create the illusion that he’s using his magnetic powers to levitate which is kind of neat. 6 out of 10.

AXEHEAD (2014)

PR-Axehead fullPACIFIC RIM

There was some doubt for a while but a Pacific Rim sequel is officially happening in 2017 and I’m pretty excited by the prospect of it.  The first film had a lot of potential even if it fell short in a few places.  One area where the film really succeeded was in the creature designs.  The Kaiju featured a good blend of fantasy and believability; they were ugly and alien but inspired by real-world animals which grounded them in reality.  They shared similar characteristics so you could believe they all came from the same world and yet they all looked unique and had their own defining calling card.

My favorite Kaiju from the movie was Knifehead.  Unfortunately the wave 1 action figure of Knifehead is rather disappointing.  Thankfully, Neca improved their figure design significantly by the time they got around to my favorite Pacific Rim toy to date, wave 4’s Scunner.  In between the release of those two figures was wave 3’s Trespasser.PR-Axehead box

Trespasser was the first of Neca’s new and improved Kaiju.  It was bigger, more articulated, and featured a more elaborate paint job than the wave 1 and 2 figures.  I read on another blog that the reason for the change in size and style is because the toyline was originally going to be sold in Walmart stores but that deal fell through and Neca saw that as an opportunity to do the figures how they originally wanted to.  I don’t know if that’s true but I’m happy about the shift in direction whatever the reason may be.  Both Trespasser and Scunner are awesome figures, as is the wave 3 re-release of Knifehead; a figure I haven’t picked up yet.  Neca had really hit their stride with this line and I was  excited to see which Kaiju they would tackle next.

PR-Axehead face

I was rather surprised and disappointed when it was announced that the next Kaiju figure would be a repaint of Trespasser named Axehead.  It seemed like a good way to lose momentum on the hot selling toyline. I planned on skipping the underwhelming Axehead. I was much more excited when Neca announced they’d follow up Axehead with their largest Kaiju figure to date, the 18″ Otachi.

Now I’d love to get the Otachi figure but it retails online for around $70 which is more than double the price of previous figures.  Plus, there is speculation that Neca will release a winged version of Otachi down the road.  I only need 1 Otachi in my collection and if its going to cost me $70 I’d rather it be the winged version so I opted to wait for Neca’s next announcement before splurging.  Since I put the Otachi purchase on the backburner and I was still looking to scratch my Kaiju itch, I decided to give Axehead a second look.  I was  intrigued by the fact that he was being marketed as a brand new character.  Had this figure just been released as Trespasser version 2 I surely wouldn’t have bought it but new characters are always tempting.PR-Axehead compare

After some internal debate I came to the conclusion that the paint job was different enough to warrant picking him up after all.  Where Trespasser and the other Kaiju have been mostly grey with a few colorful highlights Axehead is colorful throughout.  It’s almost hard to tell if he’s black with a green wash or green with a black wash but I’m leaning more towards the former.  I think the figure was molded in the same gray plastic as the others but a green paint wash was liberally applied so that his skin tone is quite a bit different.  His underbelly has an aqua blue hue and instead of stark lines of color as we’ve seen in the past Axehead has yellow dots dabbed on his chest neck and shoulders.  It’s an odd paint deco but all-in-all it works pretty well.

PR-Axehead hands

Paint job aside I was surprised to discover that this wasn’t just a straight repaint of Trespasser.  There are actually several differences in the figure  construction:

1. Axehead has boney spiked protrusions on his knees that Trespasser doesn’t;

2.  Axehead only has 3 fingers on his small secondary arms while Trespasser has 4;

3. Axehead has the same hands as Scunner which look like they’d be useful for digging or swimming while Trespasser’s hands are open claws more equipped for fighting;PR-Axehead heads

4. Axehead has a much smaller shell on his back and one of the spiky protrusions is battle damaged;

5. And the heads are even different.

The heads look the same at a glance but on closer inspection you can see a number of subtle differences such as in the ridges over the eyes and in the structure of the axe.  Axehead is based on this creature’s concept designs where as Trespasser is based on the final product that appeared on screen.  It’s kind of a cool idea and I actually wouldn’t mind getting a few more concept figures.

broken jaw

broken jaw

 

I’m quite happy with Axehead (other than the fact that mine arrived with an unhinged jaw which refuses to snap back into place) and would definitely recommend you snag one if you don’t already have Trespasser.  Axehead isn’t essential if you do already own the Trespasser figure but there are enough differences between the two to distinguish them from one another if you are considering adding an extra monster to your shelf.  8 out of 10.PR-Axehead shells

 

HIT & RUN v.4 (2015)

Joe-Hit v4 fullG. I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 3.0

In my last review I looked at Alpine v.6. The Joe team’s primary mountain trooper came in the 4th shipment from the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s third Figure Subscription Service (FSS).  The figures ship out 2 at a time each month and Alpine’s shipping buddy was none other than the joe team’s secondary mountain trooper, Hit & Run.

The first Hit & Run figure was released in 1988 and it was a good one.  He had cool climbing accessories and a really unique paint job that featured green skin with black tiger stripes.  But no, he isn’t a half-man half-tiger character which is what Vanessa asked me when I showed her this figure.  Hit & Run just happens to take camouflage seriously.  I really liked that original figure but I never owned it, my brother Doug did.Joe-Hit v4 carded

I didn’t get my first Hit & Run figure until version 2 was released 21 years later in 2009.  The 2009 figure was included in a 7-pack called “Assault on Cobra Island”  which was the last gasp of the 25th anniversary line before the brand transitioned into the movie-based Rise of Cobra toyline.  I thought that Hit & Run was one of the better figures in the pack despite being made-up completely of re-used parts including Airborne’s head.  I still think that figure holds up pretty well so I saw no need for an updated version but some people did.

Hasbro first whetted Hit & Run fans’ appetite for a new & improved modern-era version of the character when they showed an unproduced prototype in a case of concept figures at the 2012 Joe Convention.  The case was full of cool new characters and much needed updates of existing characters but Hasbro made no promises that any of them would ever see the light of day.

Joe-Hit v4 back

Hasbro did eventually release a few of them, like Heat-Viper, in the tail-end of 2014 as part of their 50th anniversary line.  One of the concept case figures they haven’t produced is Hit & Run.

The Collector’s Club tried to appease fans desperate for an updated Hit & Run by including a Night Force version of him in their 2013 15-figure Convention Set.  It seemed like an odd choice because the other 5 Joes from the set were established as Night Force member in the late 90s but Hit & Run had never previously been associated with the nocturnal sub-team.  The Con Set figure was constructed well enough but the Club opted to not give him his signature face paint which I think was a bad idea.  Why remove a figure’s most iconic characteristic?  Especially when it made so much sense for him to keep it.  Maybe if it was an arctic or aquatic version of the character I would understand but this was a NIGHT OPS version.  Some black and grey camo would’ve been awesome but the Club dropped the ball on that one. I was so underwhelmed by that figure that I haven’t bothered to review it yet.Joe-Hit v4 climb

Not long after the Convention Set came out the Club announced that they’d be including re-decoed versions of those Night Force figures in their upcoming FSS 3.0, this time painted in classic v.1 colors.  When the first images of the upcoming FSS Hit & Run were revealed fans were shocked to see even the Club’s 1988-inspired version, in all it’s green and black striped glory, was still devoid of the iconic face paint.  This was an unforgivable faux pas.  Fans cried foul and surprisingly the Club listened.  The result is this figure.

Hit & Run version 4 is the exact same build as 2013’s version 3 but it has a spiffy vintage paint job. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do because I think this figure is WAY better than it’s predecessor.  I couldn’t appreciate this figure in the Night Force colors but now I see what a well put together toy this is.  All of the parts used to build it are from 2011 or later and in general those parts are far superior to those used from 2007-2009; when Hasbro was still working out the kinks of the modern construction.  I still like my 2009 Hit & Run but it looks pretty meek when standing next to this figure.  This Hit & Run is bigger, buffer, grittier, and more detailed.  The costume is loaded with pouches, wrinkles and removable weapons.  Even the helmet and goggles are light years better than the ones from 2009.Joe-Hit v4 stubble

Hit & Run got  his very own unique head sculpt in 2013.  It was nice that he was no longer just a green clone of Airborne but I didn’t really like the 2013 head.  The shape seemed off and it reminded me of Josh Brolin.  But I think that same head  looks great now that its been painted green and given some stripes.  The best thing about the green face paint is that it looks like it’s actual green face paint.  The 1988 and 2009 versions of Hit & Run basically had green skin; the head and bare arms were molded in green plastic.  He could’ve been mistaken for a skinny relative of the Hulk.  This new version’s head and arms  was molded in flesh colored plastic and then the green paint was lightly applied so the flesh tone shows through.  It looks much more realistic and pretty damn cool.

Another thing I like about this paint job is the stubble on his face.  He’s got a bunch of black dots peppering the lower half of his face to give the impression that maybe he’s been out in the woods for a few days.  The dots are applied extremely uniformly which does not look very true to life (more like stubble from an old comic book when everything was colored with dots) but I still think it looks neat.  You really only notice the cartoonishness of it when you get up close.

2013 & 2015

2013 & 2015

For accessories Hit & Run has a display base, a helmet with removable goggles, 2 pistols and a knife that can be holstered on his body, a rifle, a pick axe, and a couple of grappling hooks with rope.

The Club surprises me yet again.  This figure rules.  9 out of 10.

2013, 2015, & 2009

2013, 2015, & 2009

ALPINE v.6 (2015)

Joe-Alpine v6 fullG. I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRITION SERVICE 3.0

This afternoon my 4th FSS 3.0 shipment arrived.  The Collector’s Club never tells us what order the figures are being shipped out in because they want it to be a surprise at the mailbox.  Most American club members seem to get their shipments within a couple of days of each other but I live in Eastern Canada so it takes about 2 weeks longer for mine to arrive.  Therefore the surprise is always spoiled for me by posts on the various Joe sites I visit regularly.  Approximately 2 weeks ago I found out which 2 figures would be included in the 4th shipment, Alpine and Hit & Run.

Based on the images I’d seen online both looked like they’d be decent figures but this was a duo I wasn’t too excited about.  I prefer to add new characters to my Joe ranks rather than constant reissues of characters I already have.  Of the 12 known figures included in the FSS 3.0 only half of them are new characters who hadn’t yet been released in the modern era, like Vypra and Slice.  The other 6 are updated versions of characters I  already own modern-era style figures of.   At least in the case of Spearhead, Repeater, Muskrat, and Psyche Out they were updated versions that put the characters in their iconic version 1 outfits.Joe-Alpine v6 carded

With Alpine and Hit & Run I already have modern-era figures of them in their iconic version 1 outfits.  The new FSS Alpine presents the character in his less well known new-sculpt era outfit and the new FSS Hit & Run is just an “improved” version of the Hit & Run we got in 2009, a figure which I was content with.  So neither of these 2015 updates were figures that I felt I really needed in my collection.  But as per usual the Club has left me pleasantly surprised.

The Hit & Run is quite nice but I’ll talk about him in a future post.  Today I’m gonna take a look at Alpine version 6.

The first Alpine figure was released in 1985.  He was the Joe team’s mountain trooper and he came with some pretty cool climbing gear.  He was featured heavily in the G.I. Joe cartoon so he quickly felt like an integral member of the team. I imagine he’s a favourite of many Joe fans.  I had the original figure and really enjoyed playing with him as he scaled the mountain that was my bunk bed.

Joe-Alpine v6 back

Alpine got a bit of a make over in 2004 when version 2 was released during the new-sculpt era.  The new-sculpt version traded in his jacket and goggles for shorts and a full beard.  I didn’t love the new look but I didn’t mind it.  It seemed a little too casual an outfit for combat but it wasn’t a bad figure.  My least favourite change was probably the color scheme.  He went from wearing sensible green and brown to garish yellow and red.  Hasbro must’ve agreed that the new colors weren’t working for him because they re-released the figure twice more that same year in variations of green and brown.

When the first modern-era version of Alpine was released in 2008 the figure was based on Mr. Pine’s original 1985 appearance: brown pants, white T-shirt, green jacket, goggles, moustache.  It was a fine update of the original so I would’ve been fine if we never got another Alpine after that.

2015 vs 2004

2015 vs 2004

 

Unfortunately that figure was pretty hard to find and many fans missed out on it.  So there was demand out there for another modern-era Alpine figure.  The Club answered the call and released this figure.

Alpine version 6 is based on Alpine version 3, one of the green and brown repaints of the yellow and red version 2.  However, the Club has made some good choices to make this figure more closely resemble the most iconic version of Alpine.  Instead of a full beard and a ball cap this version has a moustache and a hat with goggles.  I actually think it looks pretty great overall and when I compare it to the 2008 figure I liked so much I think I might prefer this one.

The full body (with the exception of the lower arms and hands) is borrowed from the 2013 Kwinn figure which works exceptionally well here.  It’s well detailed, well articulated and well proportioned.  The head is a brand new sculpted piece from Boss Fight Studios.  I was a little iffy on it at first but the head has grown on me over the past couple of hours.  I like that he’s smiling and there’s a ton of great sculpted detail in the hat.  The colors are classic Alpine and they compliment each other nicely.  Plus there are plenty of little paint apps throughout, such as the socks, watch, and shirt logo, which break-up the earth tones.Joe-Alpine v6 climb

For accessories Alpine v6 includes a display base, a pick axe, a backpack which holds the axe, a grappling hook with rope, and a couple of guns.  They’re all nice pieces and the guns even have painted stocks which is always appreciated.

The Club’s annual 15-figure Convention Set is going on sale soon and I’m not as thrilled with the contents as I have been in past years.  Skipping it has crossed my mind because those sets ain’t cheap.  But figures like this which surpass my expectations are the reason why I’m going to shell out my cash when the time comes.  9 out of 10.

2008 vs 2015

2008 vs 2015

 

MUSKRAT v.5 (2015)

Joe-Muskrat v5 fullG.I. JOE: FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE 3.0

The first modern-era Muskat figure was included in the Collector Club’s 2013 Convention Set. The theme of the set was Night Force so all 6 of the set’s Joe figures were wearing their darker Night Force colors.  I was glad to finally be getting updated versions of Muskrat, Spearhead and the others but I would’ve preferred modern updates of them in their classic outfits as opposed to their nocturnal sub-team attire.  I soon got my wish because it was only a year or so later that the Club announced they’d be including version 1 repaints of those Convention Set Night Force figures as part of their third figure subscription service.  Three of the scheduled six FSS 3.0 shipments have arrived thus far and of those repainted characters I’ve already received and reviewed Repeater, Psyche Out, and Spearhead.  Next up is Muskrat who came with Slice in the second shipment.Joe-Muskrat v5 carded

The first Muskrat was released in 1988 and he was described as the Joe team’s swamp fighter.  It was actually a specialty that made sense given how many of the Joe team’s enemies hang out in the swamps such as the Dreadnoks and Croc Master.  As practical as he may have been I simply wasn’t a big fan of Muskrat.  He fell into that category of indifference for me.  Maybe if I had owned the original figure instead of my brother I would’ve developed more of a fondness for the character.

The version 1 Muskrat was dressed all in green so he could blend into the murk and he carried a machete and a “swamp skimmer” boogie board with him to help him navigate through the swampy terrain.  His most iconic design feature was the floppy brimmed hat sculpted to his head.

In ’89 Muskrat version 1 got repainted in black and blue when he was added to the Night Force sub-team.  The 2013 Convention Set Muskrat was an homage to the ’89 Night Force version.  It was constructed using a Franken-Joed body with a brand new head sculpt and some new accessories.

Joe-Muskrat v5 backI suppose it was a decent update of Muskrat but I only gave the figure a 5 out of 10 in my 2013 review.  My problems with it were that I didn’t like the Night Force deco, the head sculpt didn’t say “Muskrat” to me, and I just don’t care much about the character in general.

This latest version (version 5) is the exact same build as the 2013 figure only it’s painted as an homage to the original 1988 green Muskrat.  It’s an improvement in my eyes because the colors are better but my issues with the head and the character remain.

I still find the character rather dull and that’s unlikely to change unless IDW starts putting a seriously cool spin on him in their comics like they did with Chuckles.  And the head sculpt is fine but it also comes across a little bland. Plus he’s too angry looking; I liked that the ’89 Muskrat looked so friendly.Joe-Muskrat v5 weapons

As for what works, the new paint deco is great.  I love the blueish green hue used on his pants, boots, vest and backpack.  It could almost be too much green but there are enough painted accessories throughout the figure to break the green up sufficiently.

Joe-Muskrat v5 trapped

 

This figure also has a leg up on it’s Night Force predecessor when it come to accessories.  Both versions have a hat, vest, display stand, shotgun, pistol with silencer, knife, and machete but this version also comes with a rifle, the Swamp Skimmer, and a bear trap.  I don’t know if a boogie board would really be of much use in a swamp but I’m glad to see it again.  This is Muskrat’s first time getting a steel trap accessory (I believe it first came with Pursuit of Cobra Recondo)  but it makes a lot of sense for him.  The trap is made using three separate pieces so it’s an impressive little add-on.

This is an okay figure and worth getting if you like Muskrat or are a completist like myself.  However the Night Force version was my least favorite figure of the 2013 Convention Set and this version is my least favorite FSS 3.0 offering so far.  6 out of 10.Joe-Muskrat v5 compare

 

THE SEANCE

UA-Seance fullUMBRELLA ACADEMY

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite was 6-issue mini-series published by Dark Horse Comics in 2007.  It was followed by another mini-series, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, in 2008.  Since then things have been pretty quite at the Academy.

I was initially drawn to the series because it was written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way (I’m a fan). I really enjoyed his writing on the series so I was disappointed that he didn’t produce any other comic work for a long time.  It wasn’t until 2013’s “The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” that we got another Way penned series.  More recently he wrote a Spider-Man one-shot for Marvel.

Umbrella Academy was about a group of 7 super powered individuals who were raised together as adopted siblings.  Some went on to becomes heroes, others became villains, and one of them was dead before we even got there.  I remember I enjoyed both series’ and I lent them out to friends a fair bit back when they first came out.  However, its been quite a few years since I’ve read them myself so I confess the details of the stories are a bit fuzzy in my mind;  perhaps I’ll give them another read soon.UA-Seance back

As good as the writing was I think it was primarily Gabriel Ba’s art that made the book feel special.  If a more traditional styled comic book artist had drawn the series I don’t think I would hold it in nearly as high regard.  Gabriel’s art (and Dave Stewarts’s colors) were captured beautifully in a set of 6 PVC figures released by Dark Horse in 2009 (the dead sibling wasn’t included).  The figures came in a clear umbrella-topped dome which was a pretty neat piece on its own.  I have previously reviewed 2 figures from the set; the White Violin, and my favorite UA character, Space Boy.  Today I’m taking a look at The Seance.

The Seance was the most goth emo character in a world full of goth emo characters.  He had his hair swept down over one side of his face, he wore a black trench coat, he chain smoked cigarettes, he had a ghostly white complexion, and he was always moody.  He also had the words “Hello” and “Good-bye” tattooed on the palms of his hands; I can’t recall if there was any significance to that.  His super powers were the ability to levitate and talk to the dead so long as he didn’t have shoes on.

UA-Seance face

 

The Seance was not one of my favorite characters from the series however this figure is a very nice rendition of him.  The sculpting, and even more so the paint work on these UA figures really make them look like they just stepped off of the page.  I’ve seen lots of bad shadowing painted on figures but the shadowing on these toys is brilliant.  My over saturated camera shots don’t do the paint apps justice.UA-Seance package

 

 

I really like the pose chosen for this figure.  He’s standing with his shoulders back, a cigarette in hand, and his jacket flowing behind him.  It shows off all the good design elements of this character.  Unfortunately it also draws attention to what I would consider a major design flaw, that big white diaper he’s wearing.  I know it’s standard practice for super heroes to wear their underwear over their tights but these shorts are too big and too white for the Seance to pull this look off. Superman he is not.

There’s a lot to like here, its one of the nicer figures in the set but since I’m not a big fan of the character, and because he’s wearing a diaper, he loses some serious points.  5 out of 10.UA-Seance art

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