Monthly Archives: January 2016

MTF-DOC CUSTOM

MTF-Doc full2MARAUDER TASK FORCE

A couple of posts back I reviewed Hasbro’s 2008 Doc figure which was only the second ever Doc figure; the original was released in 1983.  I really like the 1983 figure so when the 25th anniversary line kicked-off in 2007 I was hoping for a modern-era version of Doc that would live up to my lofty expectations.  Sadly the 2008 figure fell short in a couple of areas such as its lanky body, its pea-sized head and some shoddy construction (Duke arms).

Last year Marauder “Gun Runners” Inc., a company known for making unique G.I. Joe sized weapons and accessories,  launched their own series of customizable action figures known as the Marauder Task Force (MTF).  The line consisted of a single military style body available in 8 different colours and a slew of swappable pieces.  I backed the kickstarter campaign that funded the project by pre-ordering all 8 varieties.   When they finally arrived in the mail I decided to display my figures in their  full colour uniforms (a solid red guy, a solid green guy, etc.) with a few tweaks here and there.  I previously reviewed the all-green field-ops trooper.MTF-Doc back

Shortly after Marauder Inc. successfully funded their initial action figure project they announced a second campaign called MTF: Valkyries consisting of  a variety of female figures.  I backed that one too and pre-ordered all the figures.  I’m still waiting on the female figures but also included in the second series were 5 new colour variations of the original MTF male.  Since they didn’t require any new molds Marauder Inc. was able to ship out the new males shortly after Valkyries was successfully funded.  When mine arrived I again decided to display each of the figures in their solid colour uniforms (solid brown, solid orange etc.).

In the time between the two campaigns Marauder also added additional accessories to their catalogue such as african-american, hispanic, and bearded heads and goggles. All the parts are available for individual purchase on their website right down to the pockets and knife sheaths. With such a wide variety of parts available I began to see the customizing possibilities.  Not only could I build original characters but perhaps I could improve on some of Hasbro’s underwhelming releases.  The first figure that came to mind was Doc.  With he and 4 other potential custom ideas in mind I placed an order for all the parts I thought I’d need.  To my surprise those parts arrived this past Friday, a mere 10 days after I placed the order which is pretty crazy because usually stuff takes forever to arrive here in Canada.

MTF-Doc compare

There isn’t an MTF body in the exact shade I needed to reproduce Doc’s tan uniform but I figured the new brown body would be close enough.  I also ordered the clean shaven african-american head, the green-lensed goggles which would serve as his trademark green glasses, a tan helmet, tan webgear, a white scarf to replicate Doc’s white undershirt, and a series of red and white pouches to spruce up his uniform. I eagerly assembled my figure  just as I had envisioned him and the end result was…meh.MTF-Doc goggles

In the case of Doc I would say my attempt at a custom was a failure.  It’s not a bad looking figure but I don’t see Doc when I look at it.  For one thing he looks too combat-ready.  The goggles are clearly not sunglasses and the helmet doesn’t fit great when they’re on his head.  The scarf looked out of place and nothing like an undershirt so I subsequently removed it.  The lack of red crosses on the shirt detracts from the concept and the red and wite pouches don’t make up for them the way I hoped they would.

MTF-Doc face

Lastly the face doesn’t look like Doc to me.  Not that Doc has any defining facial characteristics that are absent here, other than the glasses, but I just don’t see him in this face.  This is the only unmasked head Marauder Inc. has available on its site and they have it in multiple skin tones and with different hair colours.  I’ve had 5 or 6 caucasian variations of this head in my collection for months now (blonde, brunette, ginger, etc) and I guess it’s hard for me to see it as a black guy now.  I think this Doc will require a new head sculpt before I can see him as a true individual.  Though even if this was a unique head sculpt the skin tone is too light for Doc anyway.

I will consider this figure a work in progress and as Marauder releases new pieces I will continue to improve it.  Perhaps a solid tan body or a side satchel  would help.  Maybe actual glasses instead of goggles or darker skin would make the difference. I’m a little disappointed that this custom didn’t match what I saw in my mind’s eye when i ordered the parts but it was fun to attempt anyway.  If you don’t own any of these figures yet you need to get some.  I’ll share my others customs soon.  7 out of 10.MTF-Doc scene

 

SNAKE EYES (2015) JUMBO 12″

Joe-Snake Eyes jumbo fullG. I. JOE

When the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero toy line launched in 1982 I was 4 years old. I can’t say with certainty who my first G.I. Joe figure was (I might’ve gotten 2 or 3 at the same time for Christmas or something) but Snake Eyes was one of my firsts if not THE first.  Of the 16 figures released that year I got 4 of them (Snake Eyes, Stalker, Short-Fuze, and Cobra Trooper) and my brother Doug, who is 2 years older, got the other 12.  Six year old Doug clearly had more toy collecting clout than I did back in 1982 so I don’t know how I ended up with the coolest figure of the bunch.  There was no doubt from day 1 that Snake Eyes was the star of G.I. Joe and that’s pretty impressive for a for a figure with zero paint applications and a character that never spoke in the cartoons or comics.

1982 carded Snake Eyes

1982 carded Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes is most well known for being the Joe team’s resident ninja but back in ’82 that was only a facet of who he was.  The masked mystery man was primarily the Joe team’s commando and a hand-to-hand combat instructor second.  The file card on the back of his blister card described him as follows:

“Snake Eyes is proficient in 12 different unarmed fighting systems (Karate, Kung-Fu, Jujitsu) and is highly skilled in the use of edged weapons. Has received extensive training in mountaineering, underwater demolitions, jungle, desert and arctic survival, and some form of holistic medicine. Qualified Expert: All NATO and Warsaw pact small arms.”

The man could do it all.

I loved that original Snake Eyes figure.  It was simple (just a solid black figure with an uzi and a pack of explosives) but it was perfect.  I played the hell out of that toy and as a result he took on some battle damage. I was quite distraught when I broke both of Snake Eyes’ thumbs off.  That kind of thing happened a lot back then because of the stiff type of plastic used.  Crotches used to snap off frequently too but thankfully my ’82 Snake Eyes never experienced that.

My original 1982 Snake Eyes

My original 1982 Snake Eyes

Losing two thumbs meant Snake Eyes couldn’t brandish his trademark uzi and that was unacceptable.  Fortunately I had a dad willing to play surgeon and he replaced Snake Eyes’ damaged limbs with a set of arms borrowed from a sacrificial Cobra Commander.  He painted them black with model paint and when he was done you could barely tell the difference.  To this day my Snake Eyes has hints of blue showing through on his sleeves.  Some might see that as a detriment to the figure but I like the fact that I’d be able to identify MY Snake Eyes in a sea of Snake Eyes figures.  I also like remembering how dad used to do that kind of thing.  He kept a tobacco can full of spare figure parts just in case of emergencies such as this.

My birthday was last weekend on January 17.  I turned 38.  A bunch of friends joined me out for drinks on Friday night and I spent Sunday with my family.  Doug got me a notable gift that day which I will share with in a future post. On the Saturday between Vanessa took me out birthday present shopping.  She set out to spoil me so she plotted a course to all the local comic book stores and Toys R Us (did I mention i just turned 38). Our first (and as it turned out only) stop was Giant Robot Comics in Dartmouth.  That store is packed with tons of cool stuff at reasonable prices like Transformers and DC super heroes but I wanted to get something special for my special day and I had something in mind.Joe-Snake Eyes jumbo back

The last time I was there (boxing day) I saw that they had a decent selection of Gentle Giant’s jumbo reproduction figures.  GG has been making jumbo reproductions of vintage Star Wars figures for years.  You might recall that Doug got me their Walrus Man a while back.  Well in 2015 GG launched a Jumbo line of 1982 G.I. Joe reproductions.  It would be cool if they eventually got around to making all 16 of the original figures (a Cobra trooper would be pretty sweet) but as of now they’ve produced five: Rock N Roll, Stalker, Zap, Grunt, and Snake Eyes.  Any of them would have made an excellent addition to my collection but Snake Eyes is obviously the crown jewel of the bunch.  That was evidenced by the fact that he was $50 more expensive than all the other figures.

I was hoping he would only be $100 like the rest so the inflated price had me second guessing my selection.  Vanessa shrugged off the $150 price tag and placed Snake Eyes in my hands.  Another guy in the store was cursing himself for not buying it himself once he saw me walking to the counter with it.  Tough luck dude, get a Vanessa of your own. Jumbo Snake Eyes is mine.Joe-Snake Eyes jumbo close

Vanessa bought me an amazing 12″ Snake Eyes figure a couple years ago.  That Hot Toys figure was intricately detailed and lifelike in appearance.  This 12″ Snake Eyes is also awesome but for completely different reasons.  It’s the opposite of intricately detailed and lifelike.  It’s blatantly a giant f**king toy; an oversized exact reproduction of the 1982 figure. The sculpt is basic, the articulation is limited (no swivel-arm battle grip), and the accessories are few.  It looks absolutely killer and gives me a whole new appreciation for the original figure.  The sculpted detail on the weapons is especially impressive when blown up to this scale.

The card art is reproduced beautifully too though the card itself isn’t quite as accurate as the figure.  If the packaging had been blown up proportionately this thing would be huge.  The card is sized perfectly so that it’s reminiscent of the original without being obnoxious and impossible to display.

This thing oozes nostalgia and it makes me feel like a kid again.  I absolutely love it.  10 out of 10.

a normal sized carded Joe vs Jumbo Snake Eyes

a normal sized carded Joe vs Jumbo Snake Eyes

LIFELINE v.8 (2015)

Joe-Lifeline v8 fullG. I. JOE

In my last post I reviewed the G.I. Joe team’s first medic, Doc from 1983.  Today I’m going to take a look at the second Joe in the medical bay.

The first Lifeline was released in 1986 and he quickly became a star in my Joe universe.  Due to his non-combat role Doc didn’t see as much action as other figures but I allowed Lifeline to branch out from his primary specialty because I liked the figure so much. His red and white uniform was so bright and bold that he looked like candy and his smiling face was welcoming.  How could you not want to play with him?  I’m such a fan of that first Lifeline figure that I gave him one of the coveted spots on my “mike’s collection” banner at the top of this page.

Joe-Lifeline v8 v2

1988 Tiger Force LifeLine. pic from yojoe.com

The ’86 Lifeline figure was repainted in Tiger Force colours in 1988.  My brother Doug and I were still basically completists back then, trying to buy one of everything, but neither of us bothered with Tiger Force Lifeline.  Looking back I’m not sure why I didn’t seek him out.  I bought the Tiger Force versions of Tripwire and Roadblock that year and they’re both characters I like less than Lifeline. Maybe he was hard to find or maybe I just thought the original was so great that he couldn’t be topped.  Whatever the reason I wish I had one now.  I think the uniform looks pretty cool in mustard yellow and olive green.

Lifeline got additional “Real American Hero” O-ring style updates in 1994, 2002, 2004, and 2010.

Joe-Lifeline v8 backEdwin “Lifeline” Steen finally got a modern-era update in 2011 as part of the “30th anniversary” branded toyline.  Most fans agree that the 30th anniversary figures are some of the best modern-era figures ever released.  Hasbro really seemed to have upped their game at that point.  Lifeline v.7 was an excellent figure with a bunch of new pieces and a slew of awesome medical accessories.  The red and white paint scheme was just as bold as the original and he had a removable helmet which was pretty neat.  I was probably a little more critical of that figure than most fans because of my fondness for the original.  It’s not perfect but its pretty damn good.  I still prefer the rounder happier face of the ’86 figure but the 2011 figure was about as good a modern update as you could’ve hoped for.

For their 2015 Convention box set the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club went with a theme of Tiger Force vs Destro’s Iron Grenadiers.  I haven’t gotten around to reviewing any of the Grenadiers yet but I have previously reviewed Sabretooth and Stalker from the Tiger Force side.  The set also included this Tiger Force repaint of the 2011 Lifeline which serves as a recreation of the 1988 figure.Joe-Lifeline v8 hair

Lifeline 2015 is the exact same build as Lifeline 2011; they share all the same parts.  The only difference is in the paint job but that alone is a pretty drastic change.  Like the ’88 version, Lifeline v.8 has traded in his red and whites for green pants and a yellow striped shirt.  His boots, helmet, shades and accessories have also changed colour.  These hues are brighter than those of the 1988 figure and I don’t think thats a good thing.  This figure’s colours are pretty garish. I actually think this shirt is a bigger fashion faux-pas than Stalker’s tiger-striped pants.  The ’88 figure’s paint job was duller and more realistic looking.  I understand why the Collector’s Club went with the brighter colours (they wanted him to match the other modern-era Tiger Force figures) but I think this figure would have been better served by toning things down a bit. That said, I don’t hate the colours.  They’ve grown on me over time and he does look good when displayed with his Tiger Force teammates.

Lifeline came with a bunch of cool accessories: a stretcher, a briefcase, a slew of medical supplies that can be stored inside of it like an IV bag, a breathing mask, and a hypodermic needle and he has a knife and a pistol that can be holstered and sheathed on his legs.   Most of my accessories are boxed up so I lifted a pic from GeneralsJoes.com to show you.Joe-Lifeline v8 acessories

This is a pretty cool figure but if you’re only going to have one modern-era Lifeline in your collection go with version 7.  7 out of 10.Joe-Lifeline v8 compare

DOC v.2 (2008)

Joe-Doc v1 fullG. I. JOE

Doc was the G.I. Joe team’s first medic.  The original Doc figure was released in 1983, the second year of the Real American Hero (RAH) toyline. I always liked Doc but since he wasn’t a combat figure he didn’t see much action in my bedroom floor battles.  When I look back at my old Joe figures now though Doc is one of my absolute favourites.  The 1983 figure is perfect in its simplicity.  The tan uniform has a very old-school vibe about it.  It looks like a toy my dad could’ve played with when he was a kid.  Doc never got an update later in the RAH line and he never got a new-sculpt figure in the early 2000s either.  Since the ’83 original was the only Doc figure ever released I felt the character was long overdue for an upgrade by the time the modern-era of Joe figures kicked off in 2007.

This second version of Doc was released in 2008 but it was never available in stores.  The only way you could get him was through a mail away offer called “Operation: Rescue Doc”.  You had to collect proof of purchase stickers from 6 specific action figure 2-packs and mail them to Hasbro along with $4.95.  I bought all the 2-packs but I wasn’t eligible to rescue Doc because I live in Canada so I had to turn to the dreaded secondary market that is ebay.  I can’t recall what I paid for Doc but it was certainly more than $4.95.  I actually don’t think the price was too bad, maybe around $30, but I would’ve paid whatever was necessary in order to get him.  Doc is too important a character, at least to me,  to not have in my modern G.I. Joe collection.Joe-Doc v2 back

I’m very glad this figure didn’t cost me an arm and a leg though because it kind of sucks.  I hate when Hasbro screws up any character but it especially pisses me off when they mess up one of my favourites who isn’t likely to get another update for quite some time. Doc v.2 was created using the torso, arms, waist, and upper legs of Duke v.23, one of the very first modern-era figures released in 2007.  Those parts haven’t aged well but truthfully they weren’t  good to begin with.  Duke’s arms were reused multiple times in the early years of the modern era and they became the bane of many collector’s existence.  The dreaded Duke arms suck because the bare lower arms are a separate piece from the rolled up sleeve they’re connected to and every time you try to bend the elbow the bare arm comes off.  Overall I find the Duke body to be too lean and the newly sculpted legs only add to the lankiness.   I could probably forgive the body issues if the newly sculpted head was a success but I really dislike this head too.

The head is tiny; it’s like a little pea head.  The fact that it has sculpted sunglasses doesn’t help because it amplifies how close together the eyes are.  It may not look too bad to you in these pictures but when displayed with other Joes it’s immediately evident that this guy’s head has been shrunk.   What really sucks is Hasbro reused this head on another one of my favourite characters, Short-Fuze, later that year.Joe-Doc v2 compare

All is not lost. There are a couple of redeeming qualities about this figure.  I think the colour choices are great.  The tan is a bit darker than the original but it looks realistic and appropriately drab.  It has a few dabs of red and white paint that indicate this guy is a doctor and he even has some colour on his helmet which the original lacked.  His accessories are also pretty good.  He has a flare launcher and a stretcher like the original but he also has a flare gun that can be holstered on his leg and a satchel.

This isn’t the best Doc figure but it’s done an adequate job of filling the Doc requirement on my shelf for almost 8 years now.  I’m hoping to be able to relieve him of duty soon.  I just placed a parts order from Marauder Gun Runners the other day and I hope the pieces I ordered will allow me to build a superior Doc.  If you’re not familiar with Marauder you need to check them out.  They used to just make and sell G.I. Joe sized weapons and accessories but last year they branched out into their own figures.  Check out my review of one of them here.  I ordered the tan body and helmet, african-american head, green goggles, and some white and red pouches which I hope will come together to make an excellent Doc.  I’ll share pics when my order arrives in a few weeks.  Until then, Doc gets a 6 out of 10.Joe-Doc v2 medic

 

 

DRAGSTOR (2015)

MOTUC-Dragstor fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

On the 15th of every month Mattel releases a new Masters of the Universe (MOTU) Classics figure which is  available only on their website. November 2015’s figure was Dragstor. The release of Dragstor was kind of a big deal to MOTU fans.  Not because he’s so awesome or anything like that but because he was the last character from the vintage toyline that hadn’t yet been released in the Classics format.  Dragstor completes the mission that Mattel and the Four Horsemen set out to accomplish way back in 2008.  Several times over the years there were rumblings that Classics was going to get cancelled and the vintage line-up would never be completed but as 2015 wrapped up that lofty goal was finally realized. But not only did Mattel release updated versions of all 73 vintage figures they also added over 100 other characters to the mix plus vehicles and play sets.  I never imagined when I bought my first Classics figure (Hordak) that my collection would one day grow to the size it is today.MOTUC-Dragstor head

So, Dragstor’s place in history aside, how is the figure?

It’s okay.

The original Dragstor was released in 1986 and neither my brother Doug or I owned him.  King Hiss was the only figure I got that year.  Our interest in the line had waned by then for some reason. Since I never owned the toy and Dragstor never appeared in either the He-Man or She-Ra cartoons I have zero nostalgic attachment to him.

1986 Dragstor

1986 Dragstor

 

Every vintage MOTU figure had a unique gimmick.  Dragstor’s shtick was that he was half-man/half-car.  All Dragstor had to do to go from man to car was lay face-down.  There was a spinning wheel on his torso and a plastic ripcord that you yanked through his backpack  to send him careening across your kitchen floor.   Many of the MOTU gimmicks were kind of goofy but Dragstor’s seemed especially lame.  He was like a Transformer that didn’t transform.  I never had the chance to play with him as a kid but I don’t imagine my He-Man action figure would have taken this a-hole seriously as he scooted around the carpet on his belly. MOTUC-Dragstor back

 

As silly as the vintage action feature was I really wish this Classics figure had it too.  I don’t care that the Classics version doesn’t have a ripcord but it sure as hell should have a spinning wheel.  Dragstor is all about the wheel on his chest.  That’s his whole thing.  This Classics figure only has a static sculpted half wheel which is attached to his removable armour.  Every time I look at this figure I want  to spin the wheel and it drives me nuts that I can’t.

MOTUC-Dragstor tire

The look of the character is decent enough but I always found it lacked the wow-factor of other MOTU villains like Trap-Jaw or Mantenna.  Love it or hate it this new Classics figure does a very good job of re-creating the vintage look.  All the key design elements are there like the metal plates on the legs, the red boots, the orange gloves, the engine backpack, the exhaust pipes on the chest, the gas mask, the helmet, and of course the wheel (static as it may be).  I actually quite like the overall look.  Sure he’s not as striking as Mer-Man or Modulok but he has a mysterious x-factor about him since we can’t see his entire face.  His grey skin and orange eyes give the impression that he’s reptilian and monstrous under there.

Dragstor’s accessories are pretty cool. He’s a member of the Evil Horde so he comes with a cross bow like all the other guys do. However, he has a uniquely sculpted crossbow that looks like its made out of car parts which is much more appropriate than the standard bone crossbow that came with the vintage figure.  Also, in place of the old ripcord (which wasn’t really a playable accessory) Dragstor now has a whip with a blade on the end.  Looks pretty brutal.

This is a faithful recreation of the vintage toy and I’m pleased to finally own a Dragstor figure.  I only wish that damn wheel spun.  7 out of 10MOTUC-Dragstor driveMOTUC-Dragstor art

 

SAGA GORILLA/ GARRISON G

BS-Gorilla fullBEAST SAGA

Time sure does fly.  I can’t believe it was 2012 when Takara launched their Beast Saga toyline. It was an unofficial continuation of their 80s toyline, Battle Beasts, which was one of my favourite lines when I was a kid.  All of my other 80s favourites like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and He-Man were revived in the early 2000s and I was really hoping Battle Beasts would eventually come back as well.  It required another decade of waiting but the Beasts finally returned and I couldn’t have been happier.  Long time readers may recall how excited I was about receiving my first shipment of Beast Saga figures back in September 2012.  Additional waves of figures quickly followed and it seemed as though Beast Saga was off to a great start and would be around for years to come.  Sadly it ended just as quickly as it began.  The line only lasted about a year before it vanished.BS-Gorilla card

There was never any official announcement of the line’s demise (that I know of, I can’t read Japanese) so I have held out hope that more figures might eventually come.  At this point though that seems very unlikely.  I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the 39 figures I do have.

Saga Gorilla (or Garrison G as I think he’s officially called) was part of series 2.  Like all BS figures he came with a sword, a shield, a couple of dice, and a game card.  I never bothered to figure out how the gaming aspect of these figures work so the dice and card are useless to me.  Both his sword and shield are pretty basic solid grey accessories.BS-Gorilla back

 

The figure itself is pretty awesome.  He has a realistic looking Gorilla head (with some mechanical enhancements) atop a bulky body with large arms and squat legs.  The proportions actually work quite well here which wasn’t always the case with these figures.  Gorilla has sculpted fur on all of his exposed areas and his face has a life-like neutral expression.  The armour lacks much in the way of detail  but it looks good regardless.  It’s very blocky which adds to his husky appearance.  I really like the colour of his armour.  It’s a drab brown with olive green shoulder pads.  It looks very militaristic and not at all flashy. This is a no-nonsense monkey.

In my early Beast Saga reviews I assigned the characters allegiance to either Saga Lion (the good guys) or Saga Shark (the bad guys) and I gave them a back story.  Now that some time has passed and my excitement has cooled I totally forget which side of the battle I placed Saga Gorilla on.BS-Gorilla animated

My first thought would be to make him a villain based on his dark colours but he looks way too calm to be evil.  I can see him as a general for Saga Lion fighting the good fight and keeping a level head even in the most chaotic of situations.

I love these Beast Saga figures and I highly recommend anyone pick them up.  They’re getting harder to find so you should do it soon. 9 out of 10.

BS-Gorilla duoBS-Gorilla compare

CHUCKLES v.5 (2015)

Joe-Chuckles v5 fullG. I. JOE: 50th ANNIVERSARY

I recently posted my “top 15 action figures of 2015” list.  I got a lot of great toys this year that didn’t quite make the cut.  Chuckles here probably would have been number 16.

According to his file card Chuckles’ Primary Military Specialty is Criminal Investigations. It describes him as being “undercover for so long that nobody is really sure who he actually works for. He is so conscientious about keeping up his cover that he’ll volunteer for missions that nobody else want to go on.”

The first Chuckles figure was released in 1987. My brother Doug owned it. I didn’t mind not having it in my personal collection because I didn’t care for that figure.  It wasn’t even the fact that he was wearing a floral pattern Hawaiian shirt that bothered me, it was the face sculpt.

1987 Chuckles

1987 Chuckles

He had huge bags under his eyes which made him look incredibly tired and old.  I also wasn’t a fan of the swirl in the front of his hair. His portrayal in the Joe cartoon didn’t help to endear him to me. His first and only animated appearance was in the ’87 animated movie as a new recruit alongside Jinx, Law, Big Lob, and Tunnel Rat. Chuckles was drawn as a muscle bound oaf and he didn’t have a single line of dialogue. His most memorable scene came during a training montage when he ripped a missile off of a downed vehicle hurled it overhead at an enemy tank.  He did appear in the Joe comic published by Marvel a few times but he didn’t leave much of an impression on me then either.Joe-Chuckles v5 cartoon

When the G.I. Joe toy line was revived in 2002 after a decade of near dormancy it was my first opportunity to collect many of the Joe and Cobra characters that Doug had as a kid. I got my first versions of marquee characters like Duke, Destro, and Zartan during the new-sculpt years. Some lesser known characters like Chuckles didn’t make the cut for the updated toyline. The Joe team seemingly replaced him with a new undercover operative named Agent Faces. The Collector’s Club released a new Chuckles figure in 2007 just as that era and the O-Ring construction was being phased out. It was nothing special and wasn’t worth the premium Club price.

Joe-Chuckles v5 back

The Modern Era of G.I. Joe kicked off in 2007 and many vintage characters got updates in the new non-O-Ring construction style. The initial 25th anniversary line flourished for two years before being replaced with the movie-based Rise of Cobra line. A modern-era Chuckles was added to the anniversary series in ’09 as part of the Attack on Cobra Island box set just before the changeover to movie toys. I was pleased to get Chuckles because I wanted to collect modern versions of all the vintage characters but the figure itself was underwhelming. From the neck-down the figure was made up of reused pieces and the result was not great. It was lanky and had awkward wrists. I that find the mid-torso joint found on modern-era figures doesn’t usually detract from the look of the figures but in this case it did. Chuckles flowing silk shirt looked odd with a seam running horizontally through the middle. At least the outfit matched the original quite well, flowers and all.

The thing I liked least about the 2009 Chuckles figure was the head sculpt. It looked nothing like the tired vintage head but I didn’t see it as an improvement. The curly hair and the smug grin did nothing to make the update cooler than the original. I would’ve rather had an update of the saggy-eyed swirly haired ’87 face because at least then there would be some consistency.

2015 vs 2009

2015 vs 2009

The Collector’s Club released a Night Force version of Chuckles in 2013 that consisted of the smug ’09 head on a new body made up of Viper, Law, Snake Eyes and Duke parts. It was an improvement over the 2009 figure but since it still had the same head I wasn’t impressed so I never bothered with it.

I wouldn’t have minded that the only Chuckles in my collection was the mediocre 2009 figure if the character had never evolved beyond the mute meathead featured in the cartoon. However,  in the past 10 years Chuckles has been featured prominently in comics produced by both Devil’s Due and IDW. His portrayal in the Devil’s Due books made me think that Chuckles was kind of cool for the first time ever but it was the IDW Joe books that really put Chuckles on the map.

Chuckles from "COBRA"

Chuckles from “COBRA”

When IDW obtained the license to produce G.I. Joe comics they launched three titles: a core Joe book, an Origins book that told untold tales, and a Cobra book that focused on the enemy. The Cobra series starred Chuckles who was tasked with infiltrating the Cobra organization as an undercover operative. The Cobra series was fantastic. Not only was Chuckles written with depth but artist Antonio Fuso made him look more like Daniel Craig than any of those goofy action figures.  That series turned Chuckles into a fan favourite and I think every Joe fan (myself included) wanted a Chuckles figure that did the character justice after reading it.

It took a while but I think we finally have a cool Chuckles figure.  Version 5 was released in 2015 as part of the 50th anniversary series.  He came packaged with an updated AWE striker (now called F.O.E. striker) a Cobra Elite Horseman and a Cobra Basilisk. I’m generally not a fan of being forced to buy vehicles in order to get figures I want but both vehicles in the set are pretty cool.

Chuckles v5 is made up of Shipwreck’s arms and torso and Snake Eyes’ legs.  I’m still not a fan of the seam through the middle of the shirt but otherwise the body is quite good.  It’s well proportioned and there are lots of nice sculpted details like wrinkles in the fabric.  The head is a brand new piece and I love it.  He has short cropped hair and a stern stare.  No swirl and no saggy eyes. This is a Chuckles that means business.Joe-Chuckles v5 leg

The accessories included with this figure are top notch.  He has a knife that can be sheathed on his boot and a pistol with removable silencer both of which can be holstered on his leg.  He has a two-toned rifle that matches the color the of his pants and he has a machine gun with a tripod.  I love the shoulder harness that fits around both arms.  It doesn’t hinder his movement or look too busy and it sits naturally.  Lastly he has a nifty neck scarf that I boxed up before I took my pictures.

The last thing I need to mention is the paint job.  I love the earthy colour palette of this figure.  It’s true to Chuckles’ style but its a vast improvement over the original.  The shirt is still patterned but it isn’t nearly as flamboyant.  I also like the skin tone.  This is a desert Chuckles and it looks like he actually has a tan, brilliant.  Some people don’t like the intense eyes but I quite like them.  There’s very little to complain about here.  A great figure. 9 out of 10Joe-Chuckles v5 awe

RODAN (2015)

Rodan fullGODZILLA

My last toy purchase of 2015.

When I went to Strange Adventures on December 31 to grab my weekly stack of comics I intended to take advantage of their 25% off sale and buy myself an action figure. It was a toss-up between two figures I’ve been debating on picking up for a few weeks now: Marvel Legends Blizzard or DST’s Oogie Boogie from A Nightmare Before Christmas (NBX).

Rodan-BlizzardBlizzard is a D-list Marvel villain that I first encountered very early on into my comic collecting hobby and so I’ve always held him in a higher regard than I probably should. His costume design is simple but eye-catching. I blatantly ripped it off in my youth when I created a supervillain character named Icicle. Blizzard is exactly the kind of character I love to get in action figure form. The reason I hadn’t already purchased him was because A) I already have a decent Blizzard figure that was produced by Toy Biz in the 90s, B) I’m trying not to get completely roped into collecting Marvel Legends because I’ve invested so much time and money into collecting the smaller scale Marvel Universe figures, and C) this particular Blizzard figure’s physique is a little wonky.Rodan-Oogie

The Oogie Boogie is a fantastic looking figure with lots of fine sculpted details in his burlap skin.  Ten or Fifteen years ago I would’ve scooped it up immediately.  The thing is, my enthusiasm for NBX has waned significantly in the past decade. To be fair, it’s actually my enthusiasm for Tim Burton that has waned but as a result all of his past projects that I once held dear have been affected by my former favorite director’s fall from grace. I own a lot of NBX toys and collectibles but none of it is on display anymore so I had a hard time justifying spending $35 on a toy that’s likely to immediately end up in storage.  Oogie is one of my favorite characters from the film though and I used to really want a good figure of him and so I consider buying him almost every week.

Rodan backWhen I got to the comic shop I looked the two candidates over. Which would it be? I had them both in hand but decided to browse a bit longer while I made my final decision. It was then that I noticed a toy way up on top of one of the bookshelves, a toy I hadn’t seen there before; Rodan. I don’t know if it had been up there for months and I just never noticed it or if it was brand new but my decision had been made regardless. Blizzard and Oogie stayed behind and Rodan came home with me as my final toy purchase of 2015.

To be completely honest I’m not sure if this Rodan would be classified as a toy because it’s actually a piggy bank. His body is hollow and there’s a coin slot on his spine. However, he’s an awkward shape that I don’t think would hold much money. Plus, I don’t see any obvious way to get coins out of him. His head and body are separate pieces so I’m guessing the head pops off in order to retrieve coins but I’m not sure.   I don’t want to risk breaking it to find out.  However due to the swivelling head, which counts as articulation, I think it’s safe to classify Rodan as an action figure.Rodan movie 1

If you’re not familiar with Rodan he’s one of Godzilla’s buddies. He first appeared in his very own movie in 1956 but has since gone on to be featured in a multitude of Godzilla movies and other Godzilla media. Occasionally he’s an enemy to the King of Monsters but more often than not he’s an ally.

Rodan is a Pteradactyl-like monster with birdish features and a large wing span. Honestly, I always found him to be kind of goofy looking and I never thought he would stand a chance against Godzilla in a fight. Despite the fact that he’s one of my least favourite Toho Studios monsters I have a soft spot for them all and I’m happy to add one of the most recognized and iconic  kaiju to my collection.

Rodan fight

Years ago I acquired big hollow figures of Godzilla, MechaGodzilla, and Gigan produced by Bandai. I was hoping all of the monsters would be released eventually but the line seemed to end after only one wave.  This Rodan is not from the same line (it was produced by DST) but the scale seems to be about right so he fits in just fine with my other figures.

The sculpting and paint work are both pretty simplistic but are exactly as they need to be.  I’m glad DST went with Rodan’s later more dinosaur like appearance over his original big bird design.  This thing will look pretty great hanging from my ceiling.  7 out of 10.