Monthly Archives: August 2016
I’m really trying to finish posting all my reviews of the figures from this year’s Joe Con set but I’m going to take a brief interlude because there’s a non-convention Joe that I really want to talk about. The final package from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club FSS 4.0 arrived the other day and it contained the final two known figures, Tiger Force Sneak Peek and Outback, plus the mystery 13th figure. I’m pretty happy with the mystery figure but that’s not who I’m going to review today. Tonight I want to talk about Sneak Peek.
The original Sneak Peek figure was released in 1987. He was the Joe team’s advanced recon and radio telecommunications expert. His file card described him as a legend with patience, endurance and guts, which made him sound pretty cool. However, the actual figure was not all that cool and the original artwork depicting him on the blister card was even less cool. Most Joes were drawn with intense scowls but Sneak Peek had a confused man-baby face. The figure itself didn’t look overly young but his face was rounder than most. His uniform was rather bland in color and kind of frumpy with all the padding. He had knee-high laceless boots which didn’t exactly look combat ready and then of course there were his accessories. He had a pretty decent looking rifle but beyond that he had a walking talkie, binoculars, and a giant periscope. They were all relevant to his military specialties but not as badass as a knife or a pistol might have been. Having said all that, you might expect that I wasn’t a fan of ’87 Sneak Peek but that’s not the case. For some reason I loved this guy.
I paired Sneak Peek up with fellow Class of ’87 recruit, Crazylegs. The two of them were best buddies and they worked very well together. I’m not sure why I decided they belonged together, perhaps because they both had red and grey uniforms, but they made for one of the most effective Joe duos on my roster. I didn’t make them ridiculously strong like I did Shockwave or complete hams like I did BattleForce 2000, they were just good soldiers. When the modern-era of Joe figures kicked off in 2007 both of them were high on my want list, in part because they were completely absent from the new-sculpt years of the early 2000s. In fact neither had been redone since their 1988 Night Force repaints (which were Toys R Us exclusives back in the day that I never even knew about). It took a while but Hasbro eventually produced a modern-era Crazylegs in 2011 as part of their “Pursuit of Cobra” series. After that I waited anxiously for a modern-era Sneak Peek that never came…until now!
Hasbro never delivered but thankfully the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club put together their own version to close out their 4th annual FSS. Only they didn’t use the ’87 original for inspiration as I had been hoping for nor did they recreate the 1988 Night Force version 2. So what did that leave them with? The 1991 Tiger Force version released exclusively in the United Kingdom. It wasn’t exactly a surprise given that the Club likes to recreate foreign exclusives plus they seem to love Tiger Force; which was the theme of their 2015 Con Set.
I would’ve much preferred a red and grey Sneak Peak but the Club has already announced that an 87-inspired version will appear in next year’s FSS 5.0. While it’s nice to know that I won’t have to wait long to get a classically attired Sneak Peek the downside of that announcement is that it almost immediately negates this figure. At least I thought it would. When the v.1 remake arrives next year it will no doubt become my default Sneak Peek but I like this figure more than I thought I would; far too much to simply box it up or relegate it to the back of the shelf.
I’ve seen lukewarm reviews of this figure on a few other sites so perhaps I’m letting my love of the character cloud my judgement but I really like it. I didn’t think I’d be pleased with a Sneak Peek made up completely of reused parts but gosh darn it this really works for me. He’s got the same Cobra Shock Trooper legs as the Airborne I reviewed the other day, a Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes v.54 torso, Shock Trooper arms, and a 2008 Airborne head. The padded look of the original uniform is recreated using a Scrap-Iron vest and the collar of Beachhead v.17. It doesn’t make for a perfect recreation of the classic uniform but it’s close enough and I actually think it’s an improvement. The combat boots look much better than the knee-high slip-ons.
I’d always prefer a unique head sculpt to a recycled one but the Airborne head and helmet combo work very well to recreate the look of the original. As a result, Sneak Peek finally looks fit; no more big round head. He’s got a removable helmet for the first time and he looks good under there. This head’s been used a few times before but it usually looks different (it was green when it was Hit & Run and moustached when it was Footloose) so I don’t immediately associate it with any one character.
The paint job on this figure is nice and relatively faithful to the 1991 deco. I must say that I’m quite pleased to see, after thirty years of buying Tiger Force figures, somebody finally painted one in tiger colors. How is it the Hasbro designers never painted a single Tiger Force figure orange?
For accessories S.P. has a dispaly base, a rifle, a radio, binoculars, and a newly sculpted periscope. I never understood the periscope. Do soldiers actually use these things in the battlefield? If they did at one point I’m sure they don’t anymore. Even in 1987 this thing look antiquated. However, he wouldn’t be Sneak Peek without it so I’m glad it’s here plus it’s much better than the vintage one was. This one has handles so he can carry it and it even has some silver paint deco. Some might say I’m easy to please but I think this is a home run from the Club. 9 out of 10.
It’s time to review yet another 2016 Joe Con exclusive figure. However, this one was not included in the 15-figure box set like all the others I’ve been reviewing lately. This first-ever modern-era Heli-Viper was sold in 3-packs exclusively to Con attendees. Unlike the box set, the Heli-Vipers and other individual con exclusives could not be pre-ordered online in advance by non-attendees. Every year the Club produces a handful of figures and vehicles that are not revealed to anyone until the Convention actually begins. The sales floor mystery items would make attending in person pretty exciting I imagine but they’re a real bummer to non-attendees like myself. Even though I spend hundreds of dollars every year to sign up for the Club’s figure subscription service and to purchase their Con Set there’s still a half dozen figures that I can’t get my hands on unless I’m willing to pay crazy secondary market prices. 2014’s Freestyle is a much desired Con figure that I’ll likely never own (she sells for over $200 now) and last year’s Tiger Force Frostbite is also too rich for my blood at $80.
Fortunately the prices tend to be a little more reasonable when it comes to the army builder packs. Since they come in groups of 3 there’s more supply to meet demand. People tend to sell the trios for between $100 and $150 and the individuals for $40 to $50. I bought this Heli-Viper from a dude online for $40 and I’m comfortable with that.
The original Heli-Viper was released in 1992. I never had one and wasn’t even aware of him. He’s one of those late era Joes I only became familiar with after I got back into collecting Joes as a young adult with the help of the internet. The Heli-Viper was made up of Night-Viper’s torso and legs, Techno-Viper’s arms, and Snow Serpent’s head. I’m fine with the build from the neck down but the Snow Serpent head is too recognizable to reuse. Cobra’s first Arctic Trooper was released in 1985 and it has long been a fan favorite. All I see when I look at Heli-Viper is a purple Snow Serpent with a helicopter. Hasbro really should have sculpted a new head or reused something more generic. And about that purple, the paint job on the ’92 Heli-Viper was ungodly. There was way too much red and purple and those hues did not compliment each other at all.
The Club’s recreation of the Heli-Viper stays quite true to the original, which I usually appreciate, but it’s to the detriment of this figure. Heli-Viper v.2 is burdened with the same issues that sullied version 1. He’s too red, too purple, and too Snow Serpent. The other problem this guy has is his unwieldy helicopter pack. Instead of using the more compact helicopter gear we got with Annihilator and Matt Tracker we get the humongous pack that originally came with Cobra Commander v.53. It’s way too big so I just know I’m going to be standing this guy up on my shelf over and over again. Top heavy toys can be the bane of a collector’s existence.
His other accessories are a display base, a pistol that can be holstered on his webgear, a machine gun, and two useless grenades.
This is a relatively weak figure but it’s not horrible. The modern-era Snow Serpent head is such a cool piece that it elevates this otherwise ugly figure. I’d rather he had a unique head but since he doesn’t I do like how this paint job exposes the details of the sculpt better than the all black face of the Snow Serpent. I’m glad I managed to add one of these guys to my collection but I definitely didn’t need 3 of them. 6 out of 10.
The last few months have brought a steady stream of new Marvel Legends releases. I just purchased Rogue and Havok from the latest X-Men wave when a week later another Spider-Man wave hits. I still haven’t come across the recent Captain America wave and the Dr. Strange series is right around the corner. Hasbro is relentless with these things and they’ve clearly got their hooks in me because, yet again, I purchased an entire wave in a single outing. Doing so saves me from hunting down individual figures for months but man does it ever hurt the wallet.
The newest Spider-Man wave consists of Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Silk, Hobgoblin, another Spider-Girl, and Electro. Plus they all came with parts to build a Space Knight Venom. It’s a solid wave but I find myself asking “Didn’t I just buy a Spider-Man/Spider-Girl/Hobgoblin/Venom?” Yes. Yes I did. Multiple times.
Since the other characters in the wave are all a little over-exposed I’ve decided to take a look at Electro first.
Electro is a classic Spidey villain who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man issue issue 9 published in 1964 and he’s been a thorn in Web-Head’s side ever since. Originally he wore a green costume with yellow lighting bolts running up and down the arms and legs and a crazy mask I can only describe as a lightening star. It was the kind of over-the-top design that could only work in comic books. Electro has made some alterations and ditched the mask in recent years but elements of the original costume remain. Electro first shed the mask in a 2009 storyline called “The Gauntlet” in which many of Spidey’s classic villains received power upgrades to make them feel like real threats again since many had been relegated to punchlines for years. Electro’s increased electrical powers came with a newly scarred face; a burn mark with the same star pattern as his mask.
This action figure is the first time that Electro’s modern look has been translated into action figure form. I was dead set against the change at first but the gritty artwork of Paul Azaceta eased me into it. Over the years the bald look has grown on me. As much as I like the original, I must admit that it was hard to take Electro seriously in that mask. The shaved head and scarred face provides a more street-level, less theatrical look that makes Electro more menacing.
I already have Classic Electro figures from the 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe and 5″ 90s Spider-Man toy lines so it’s refreshing to get a new take on the character for this 6″ figure. The head sculpt is very well done and perfectly adapts the comic book look without directly homaging any artist in particular. He’s got a furrowed brow and gritted teeth. He looks pissed off and scary. He has solid metallic blue eyes that reflect light to give the look of beady white pupils. It’s a very effective paint job that make his eyes seem to follow you around the room.
The body is the same one we’ve seen a few times already for characters like Spider-Man. It’s lean and muscular. At first I thought it was a little too lean for Electro but he’s never really been a bulky bad guy so I concluded that it actually works quite well. It’s got loads of articulation that allows for many poses. The paint job is relatively simple but looks crisp and vibrant. The black pants is not something we’re used to seeing but as with the head I’m glad to get something a little more contemporary.
My only gripe about this figure is the hands. He has powered-up blue electric hands which would be fine if he had swappable regular gloved hands but he doesn’t. Many poses look odd with the blue tendril fingers. Some Legends figures get up to three pairs of alternate hands so I can’t imagine why Hasbro didn’t provide one extra pair with Electro. Complaints aside the translucent hands are kind of neat looking.
Thankfully he does come with one accessory (besides the build-a-figure Venom piece), an alternative head sporting the star mask. If you want a classic Electro this head gets you pretty close. It’s features a beautiful sculpt and I think it’s sized just right. The smirk looks more mischievous then it does angry and I like that. Ditko-era Electro shouldn’t be too scary. It’s awesome to have the masked option but I’m going to display mine with the modern look. The hands knock this figure down a peg but its still a solid 7 out of 10.
Next up for review is the Joe team’s demolitions expert and avionic mechanic, Static Line. The original Static-Line figure was released in 1990 along with the rest of Sky Patrol. It featured a brand new African-American head sculpt (complete with flattop) on a repainted Backstop body. It was a nice looking figure but I never owned one.
Since I never played with Static-Line as a kid, and he never appeared in the Sunbow animated series, and I’m pretty sure he never appeared in the Marvel comic, I have no nostalgic ties to the character. However, when the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club announced they’d be doing a Sky Patrol set for the 2016 Convention I was pretty excited by the prospect of a modern-era Static-Line. I was sure they’d throw together his body using existing pieces but a new head seemed like a must. I was sure that there weren’t any existing heads that could replicate SL’s epic 90s ‘do. Sure enough, we got a new head sculpt but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Rather than give us a new head with a flattop and a removable helmet the Club sculpted a new head with a helmet permanently attached; just as they did with Airborne. I would’ve preferred a removable helmet but that might have resulted in some oversized headgear so I’m satisfied with the Club’s approach. It’a very unique head sculpt which I appreciate. It has a long protruding jaw line and an open visor which isn’t exactly faithful to the original toy but very true to the original card art. I’m confident the Club won’t be reusing this head anytime soon because it’s so specific to the character.
Interesting sidenote, the free figure for Con attendees this year was a new character named Air Raid who happened to be a black guy with a flattop. Rather than sculpt a new head for him though the Club just repainted a Resolute Duke head with dark skin and black hair. It totally changes the look of the face and would have actually made an excellent helmet-less Static-Line head.
The rest of the Static-Line figure is made up of a Beachhead torso, Cobra Trooper arms, and Duke legs. He’s a little lanky but for the most part it works. It’s a very close approximation of the original 1990 look. The sleek blue, silver, and white paint scheme really ties it together and sells it as Static-Line.
For accessories he comes with a metallic silver display base, a shoulder holster, a knife, a satchel, a submachine gun, and a glider backpack. The glider pack has manually retractable wings and looks pretty sharp. I believe it was first released with Rise of Cobra General Hawk.
This is a solid figure with good paint, good accessories, a newly tooled head, and is true to the original. What more could you want. It’s definitely one of my favorites from this year’s set. 8 out of 10.
Interesting sidenote #2. I had no idea what “Static Line” meant so I looked it up: In parachuting, a static line is a cord attached at one end to the aircraft and at the other end to the top of the jumper’s ‘D-Bag’ (Deployment Bag, into which the canopy is packed). Now you know…
Recently I’ve reviewed two of the Cobra characters from the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention Set. Today, I’ll be taking my first look at a Joe from the set.
The first Airborne figure was released in 1983. The file card found on the back of his packaging provided that the Joe team’s helicopter assault trooper was a Navaho and his real name was Franklin Talltree. Most Joe fans probably falsely remember Spirit as the Joe team’s first Native American member (since he was rife with stereotypical imagery and was featured prominently in the animated series) but Airborne pre-dated him by a year. As you might expect, Airborne v.1 had black hair and a dark complexion. Which is why it seemed so odd that Airborne v.2, released in 1990, was a light skinned blonde guy. I’m not sure why Hasbro reused the code name but the v.2 file card reveals that blondie was in fact a different guy. His real name was Robert Six, a parachute assembler/battlefield medic and a member of the Joe sub-team, Sky Patrol. The code name was rightfully returned to Franklin Talltree for Airborne v.3, released in 2003, and he’s held onto it ever since.
I never owned the 1990 Airborne so I have no history with that character. In fact I have no history or particular fondness for any of the Sky Patrol characters, but I kept an open mind when the Collector’s Club announced the aerial sub-team would be the theme of their 2016 15-figure convention set. I felt that many of the characters had potential however Robert Six was probably the member of the team that I was least looking forward to getting in the modern-era style . The only reason being, I disliked that he hijacked the code name of a beloved veteran Joe from my youth. While it was actually my brother Doug that owned the original ’83 Airborne toy when we were kids I always thought he was a great action figure and character.
As it turns out, my distaste for Robert Six has been quelled. I still don’t like that he borrowed his code name from another Joe but Robert “Airborne” Six version 2 turned out to be a pretty great figure.
The 1990 Robert Six featured a brand new head on a repainted 1986 Lift-Ticket body. The Club could’ve done the same thing here, sculpted a new head and placed it on the existing modern-era Lift-Ticket body but they didn’t. Instead they cobbled together Lift-Ticket v.2’s arms and Firefly v.25’s torso with the legs of 2011’s Cobra Shock Trooper. I’m glad they did as this figure looks way better than it would have had they just repainted Lift-Ticket from the neck down. The parts look contemporary, they fit together nicely, and they’re well proportioned. The only issue would be a pencil thin neck but thankfully it’s mostly hidden by the raised collar.
The Club splurged for a new head sculpt which is always nice. It’s a nice looking head with an attached helmet and goggles. It’s a bit of a shame that that the helmet isn’t removable but had they went that route the helmet probably would’ve ended up looking too big. There’s speculation that this head will be used for the recently announced FSS 5.0 Scoop figure but I could also see it being used for a modern-era Lightfoot (fingers crossed).
The paint job on this figure is true to the original but better. I love the digital camo pattern on the pants and sleeves. Airborne came with a metallic silver display stand, a medic satchel, a parachute-style backpack, a knife, and a machine gun. All good stuff. Airborne is probably my favorite Joe in the set but Static Line (who I’ll review next) offers some stiff competition. 8 out of 10.
Retro “re-creations” of 80s toys that never existed became popular a year or two ago courtesy of a company called Funko. They most famously produce those Pop! vinyl figures you see everywhere but they also make a line of 3/4″ figures with 5-points of articulation called ReAction Figures. I’m a big fan of both lines. My Pop! collection is now more than 30 deep and I’ve picked up ReAction versions of the Rocketeer, the Invisible Man, the Boondock Saints, the Crow, Scarface, JAWS, and more. They’re great little toys that harken back to a simpler time. Unfortunately, the line seems to have come to an end as I haven’t heard any news of upcoming releases for months.
However, that didn’t stop Super7, a San Francisco based company from getting in on the action. They started out publishing a magazine about toys then later morphed into a toy and apparel company. I only became aware of them this past year when images of their vintage “Star Wars” style Masters of the Universe figures began appearing online. The set consisted of 4 figures: He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, and Mer-Man. They looked exactly like Funko’s ReAction figures with 5 points of articulation, simple sculpts, and eye-catching character-specific packaging.
I’m a big Masters of the Universe fan as evidenced by my near complete collection of Mattel’s MOTU Classics figures, my handful of vintage figures, my near complete 200X line, and my complete run of mini-figures. So naturally I was tempted to order all of the Super7 figures when they went up for pre-order at BigBadToyStore. The price wasn’t unreasonable at $15 a pop but common sense stepped in and stopped me before I placed them all in my cart. I assumed this was an indie project produced in very limited numbers so the possibility of a wave 2 was low. But I had to ask myself, “what if there is a wave 2?” Would I buy them all too? then wave 3 and wave 4 etc. In my opinion the CLASSICS versions of these characters are the definitive versions. They have great sculpting and articulation, they’re bright, big and fun, and they have great accessories. So if my Classics collection provides me with the perfect set of MOTU toys why would I set myself on a path to buy them all again in an inferior (albeit fun and nostalgic) format? I decided I only needed one of the figures to satisfy my itch and that of course had to be Mer-Man since he’s always been my favorite.
Though for some reason BBTS was only selling He-Man and Skeletor as individuals. Mer-Man was only available as part of the set of four for $60. I stood my ground and did not place an order for any of them. That was a few months ago. Then last week my local comic shop, Strange Adventures, got them in. They were priced at $30 a piece which was painful but honestly, given the US to Canadian conversion rate and the shipping, that’s close to what I would’ve paid to order one from BBTS anyway had they been selling him individually.
This is a very cool little figure. The intentionally simple sculpting is well done and very reminiscent of the original 1982 Mer-Man figure. The colors are a very good match too. He even has a little replica of his vintage sword which always looked like a cob of corn to me. The true highlight of this figure is the original illustration by Jason Edmiston on the blister card so I’m happy to see that he’s been credited on the back. I usually open my toys but this guy is getting tacked onto the wall as is so that I can continue to enjoy the complete packaging. This is not a must-have for your MOTU collection but it is pretty neat. If you have a favorite character and a couple bucks to spare maybe you should pick one up. Wave 2 with Trap Jaw, Tri-Klops, Sorceress, and Man-At-Arms was just announced. 7 out of 10.