I’ve known there was a G.I. Joe collector’s club for quite some time but I never paid much attention to it. They hosted the conventions which I had no real interest in traveling to and they put out a monthly newsletter which I had no real interest in reading. They also produced exclusive figures that were only sold either at the conventions and in limited numbers through their website. Initially the figures were kinda neat but they didn’t feel like anything I needed to own, especially for the inflated prices that came from making small runs of exclusive figures. But as the years went along their exclusive offerings kept getting cooler and cooler. Their 2006 convention set featured the first official release of Cobra Mortal along with 6 Coil Troopers (Serpentor’s soldiers) and 6 Skull Squadron Troopers (Major Bludd’s soldiers) . None of those character have been remade since so that set remains the only place to get any of them. And the 2007 set featured the first ever squad of female Cobra Troopers. The exclusive sets went from being simple repaints to must-have unique figures. Lucky for me, when the modern sculpt figures started coming out in 2007 all my focus shifted to this new style of G.I. Joe and the exclusive figures that I wanted so badly just a short while earlier didn’t seem so important anymore. Those old style O-ring Joes simply wouldn’t fit into my growing modern collection.
Getting in on the ground floor of this new era of Joe was both a blessing and a curse. Initially it was easy for me to collect all of the figures allowing me to have a complete collection. But then exclusives starting coming out at an alarming rate and I simply couldn’t keep up. There were the San Diego Comic-Con exclusives like Jinx, Zarana and Starscream. And then were the figures from the Collector Club convention sets like Cobra De Aco and Dr. Venom. Even more exclusive figures began popping up at random conventions like the Canadian Joe Convention in Toronto. It got to be impossible to have a complete collection…but that didn’t stop me from trying. One of the exclusive figures that skyrocketed in price faster than anyone expected was the 2011 Joe Club exclusive figure of fan favorite character Dial Tone. People who signed up for a Joe Club membership got Dial Tone as a free incentive figure. If I had known that the figure was going to increase in value so drastically I would’ve just paid the $75 membership fee at the start of the year. That way I would’ve got the figure for free and got 12 issues of the newsletter along with it.
I learned from my mistake though and when the Club announced that members would get a free Footloose figure for signing up in 2012 I shelled out my $75 right away. My assumption that the monthly newsletters would be nothing special were correct but it is nice to receive something in the mail each month. The free Footloose figure was quite nice and could’ve possibly made my top ten list if only I had more of a personal connection to the character. Footloose aside, my other major incentive for joining the Collector’s Club this year was that they announced that they would be offering a figure subscription service in 2012. The idea being that for an additional price of about $400, members would receive 13 exclusive figures in the mail over the course of the year. It sounded like a lot but it works out to about $30 a piece and that includes shipping which isn’t too shabby for an exclusive figure. So I paid my $400 bucks and waited. The club kept members up to date on the production of the figures which were delayed nearly an entire year from the original projected release date. Well the wait is finally over; yesterday my first two Figure Subscription Service (FSS) figures arrived in the mail.
The club has asked members not to spoil who the first 2 figures are. The release of Dice was already spoiled for me on another site so I feel comfortable revealing the figure here today. I feel most members probably have their figures in hand by now anyway. Since I haven’t seen anyone posting the identity of the second figure yet I won’t be the one to spoil it here but I shall review it soon so stay tuned.
The figures aren’t a total surprise as the Club had revealed the 12 figures (1 remains a secret) months ago. The surprise comes from not knowing the order in which the figures will ship. Not all of the FSS figures are must-haves but there were enough of them to warrant me dropping the 400 bones. Dice was one of those must-haves.
There has only ever been 1 other version of Dice released and that was back in 1992. I had quit collecting Joes by then but my little brother was still buying them. I never owned the original Dice but Brian did. By that time the Joe line was over run with ninjas like Bushido . The concept had really been beaten to death. Of all the new ninja characters introduced the only ones that I found kind of interesting were Slice and Dice. These guys were an odd looking pairing of evil ninjas. They paled around in the comics and their file cards described them as partners. Slice wore all red and had a fencing style mask. Dice had extremely yellow/orange skin with no explanation (racism?) and a strange purple outfit with an even stranger mask. It was an interesting figure. I’m not sure if I have that original toy in my collection or not as I did inherit most of Brian’s Joes when he grew out of them but I don’t recall seeing that figure around in recent years.
Slice reappeared in the new sculpt era with a new partner, Slash, but Dice never resurfaced…until now. And what a comeback. This figure is pretty awesome I must say. The Club really did a great job in constructing these figures. I’m sure there are some reused parts here but I don’t immediately recognize any of them. First off the sculpt does a great job of capturing the most memorable elements of the original design while adding some cool new details like the shoulder pads. His skin is not longer mutant orange and the purple used on his outfit is amazing. It really harkens back to the ’92 version and is much more vivid than any modern Joes released recently. He’s got an ax and a staff to replicate the weapons that the original came with but he also has 2 useless throwing stars and 2 awesome sets of ninja claws. The coolest accessory is his removable mask. I could be wrong but I think this is the first time we get to see Dice’s real face. The mask is made of a soft plastic that slides on and off very easily yet sits snugly on his head. He also comes with a standard Cobra display stand.
Each of the FSS figures comes sealed in a card with brand new artwork. It wasn’t easy for me to open this figure as it looked so awesome carded but knowing that I still have 11 more of these FSS figures coming I knew I wouldn’t have room to display them all sealed and so I opened him up. Neither Hasbro nor the the Club have given us a modern version of Dice’s partner Slice yet but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one released soon. In the meantime the fencing mask packaged with the G.I. Joe : Retaliation Red Ninja allows you to make an easy substitute. This figure is a great start to what I’m sure will be an amazing set of figures. Sign me up for the 2013 FSS. 9 out of 10.