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.
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:
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:
SDCC 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
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.
That’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.
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.
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.
Another 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.
First 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.
Next 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.
Then 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.
Next 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.
And 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.
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.
Next 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
Then 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.
And 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.