LAND ADVENTURER v.1 (2010)
The G.I. Joe Collector’s Club has existed for several years now but I’ve only been a member for the past two. I was never sure if it was worth my cash before. Monthly newsletters didn’t interest me and their free sign-up figures had failed to impress. It wasn’t until they started their figure subscription service (FSS) that I finally fell in line. Now that I’m a member I can definitely say that it is worth your money if you’re planning on collecting all of their exclusive figures. Since joining two years ago I’ve gotten two free sign-up figures (Footloose and Iceberg), early access to their 15 figure convention sets (Iron Grenadiers and Night Force), and access to their annual 13 figure subscription service. Yes, all of that can get very expensive but if you were to try and track down those 58 exclusive figures on the secondary market you’d easily pay twice as much. Aside from the figures you also get the monthly newsletters which, while not mind-blowing, do provide a nice dose of light entertainment. Another benefit of signing up is that you get discounted prices at the club’s online store. The store doesn’t have a whole lot of product available but it’s where all of the overstock ends up after the FSS and conventions wrap up.
The year before I signed up with the club they released 4 sets of Adventure Team inspired goodness. For those of you not familiar with the Adventure Team, they were basically the last of the original 12” Joe dolls. G.I. Joe was originally conceived as a military toy in the 60s where you would purchase one doll and then you bought multiple outfits to dress him in, kind of like a Barbie. At a time when the military wasn’t so popular (Vietnam) Hasbro rebranded Joe as an adventurer more akin to Indiana Jones. He explored Mayan temples, fought with tigers, and discovered ancient artifacts. That all sounds pretty cool to me but that was before my time. I was born in 1978 and first discovered G.I. Joe in 1982 when the line was reimagined as a collection of 4” figures and vehicles under the banner “Real American Hero”. Joe was now the name of the entire team, not just a single character. I didn’t learn of Joe’s 12” origins until years later. Now, thanks to the internet, documentaries, and magazines I’m quite well versed in the early days of Joe despite being 20 years too young to have experienced it myself.
Back in 1989 I remember thinking that it was pretty cool when Larry Hama, the writer of Marvel’s Joe comic, introduced General Joe Colton into the Real American Hero universe. Colton represented the original Joe; the 12” doll from the 60s. At first he was brought in as a minor character but over the years he’s become a major part of the RAH mythos, currently commanding the team in the IDW comics, and even being portrayed by Bruce Willis in the latest live-action movie.
Of the 4 Adventure Team sets released by the Club, the one featuring the brown haired, bearded soldier dressed all in green was a must-have. The package read “Adventure Team Commander”, not Joe Colton, but I knew that it was him. The Colton pack was the only one of the sets to feature 2 figures while the other 3 featured one figure and a vehicle. The figure packaged with Colton was Dr. Venom, a classic character created by Hama for the comics, who had never been made into a figure before. I viewed them as essential to my collection. I scooped up Joe on the secondary market and Vanessa got me Dr. Venom as a gift.
I always intended to purchase the other 3 Adventure Team sets eventually but just hadn’t gotten around to it. When I joined the club I noticed that all 3 sets were still available in the store. Only the Colton/Venom set was sold out so I obviously wasn’t the only one who felt it held priority over the other sets. Knowing that the sets were available to me at the discounted club price whenever I wanted them was comforting and so I put off purchasing them for quite some time. There was always something else popping up that required my toy-collecting dollars.
Well a couple of weeks ago I got an email from the Club stating that these items were marked down for a summer sale and I decided that now was the time to finally snag them. I ordered all 3 sets and within a week and a half they were at my door.
Each set came in a small box that was designed to look like a wooden crate. I’m not sure if this design was based on the packaging from the 70s but it’s pretty cool regardless. Inside the boxes were the loose vehicles and the carded figures. The figures are displayed on awesome looking retro cards with painted art. I’ve kept both my Joe Colton and Dr. Venom on their cards for display because they’re just so cool looking. I may do the same with one or two of these figures as well but I had to open at least one to review and for that I nominated the “Land Adventurer”.
Seeing all of the figures together I was surprised to see that, other than the paint jobs, they are all exactly the same. The figures are made of the exact same body parts, they all have removable vests as their webgear and they all have identical weapons: a backpack, a rifle, and a pistol. I assumed that each figure would be somewhat unique beyond the color scheme but i was wrong. The Air Adventurer is blonde and the Sea Adventurer is a ginger so they look like unique characters. The Land Adventurer looks similar enough to the Adventure Team Commander (both have brown hair) that they could be the same guy in different outfits, that’s why I opted to open him up. No reason to have too Colton’s trapped in their plastic bubbles. Where the Commander was decked out in solid green the Land Adventurer has a crazy full-body camo outfit. It’s actually a very nice representation of his 12″ 70s counterpart. The body construction used for the Adventure Team isn’t great when compared to some of Hasbro’s more recent product but I think they’re awesome anyway. The “plainness” add to their vintage look so much so that these really seem to be 70s figures shrunk down in size.
I especially like the head sculpt. The hair is textured in such a way that it almost looks flocked. The face has a very neutral expression which also seems to harken back to the original. Each Adventurer has the same scar on his cheek so I assume that must be an initiation thing. If you’re a Joe collector who hasn’t pulled the trigger on these figures yet I highly recommend you do so. They might even still be on sale, go check it out. 8 out of 10.