Monthly Archives: June 2017
Approximately 2 years ago I went down south for the first time. I visited Mexico for my best buddy Miguel’s wedding. While I was there I purchased a wood-carved hammerhead shark souvenir which I reviewed on this site. I hadn’t vacationed anywhere since until last month when Vanessa and I, along with Miguel, his wife Ashley, and our pal, Ryan, all spent a week in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
It was an excellent vacation. Other than some excessive rain the first day or two I have nothing to complain about. The resort was beautiful, the food was delicious, the company was great, and the drinks were constantly flowing. We spent the majority of our time either on the beach or in the pool (I won’t subject you to those pictures) which was extremely relaxing. A couple of years ago I never would’ve expected such a hot and lazy vacation to be up my alley but there really is something satisfying about having zero plans and never having to take out your wallet.
There wasn’t much in the way of souvenirs for sale on the resort that interested me. There were lots of hats, and t-shirts, and sunglasses…the usual. There was also loads of mama juana. If you’ve ever been to the Dominican I’m sure you’re familiar with mama juana because it’s frigin’ everywhere. The first time it was offered to me I was certain the guy was trying to sell me weed. It can be purchased as a dried herb or as a drink.
There were also plenty of wood carvings for sale in the various shops and kiosks. I considered buying a wooden car from a fast talking vendor named PJ but then I saw this great white shark and knew I had to get it instead. I have now officially started a wood shark collection. Anytime I see one from here on out I will buy it.
I won’t pretend to be a shark expert but this one appears to be a Great White and it seems to be perched on a pile of rocks which is a little strange. The carving is crude and there is no etching to associate it the Dominican (though PJ offered to do it at an additional cost) but it’s a charming trinket anyway.
The 6th and final shipment from the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s FSS 5.0 arrived a couple weeks ago. The last 2 figures were Raptor and Steel Raven and the surprise 13th figure was G. I Jane. Jane and Raven are both decent figures but Raptor is probably the highlight of the entire sub this year and maybe one of the best subscription figures to date.
The original Raptor was released in 1987. He was Cobra’s resident falconer and accountant. Obviously. He was a pretty odd looking character even amongst the other weird and wonderful Cobra soldiers. He was a shirtless dude wearing a bird cowl over his head, with real cloth wings, and a pet falcon that perched on his wrist. My brother Doug owned the original when we were kids. No later versions of Raptor were ever released so I never got a chance to acquire one for myself. Though I did eventually get my own version 1 Raptor (minus his accessories) courtesy of Eric in the Epic Haul of 2014.
This new version from the Club is the first Raptor released in 30 years and it was worth the wait. Raptor has a loyal fan base so this was a highly demanded figure that the Club really needed to nail, and honestly, I don’t think they could’ve done any better with this release. He’s largely made up of re-used parts from 2010’s Zartan version 20. I didn’t buy that figure at the time because I thought it looked like a poor man’s Raptor. I already had a perfectly fine Zartan figure (several of them) and I didn’t feel that I needed one dressed like a hobo and carrying a bird. I later wished I had bought it so I could display it as Raptor because I knew my chances of ever getting a real modern-era Raptor figure were slim to none and I desperately wanted to add him to my Cobra ranks. I never did get Zartan v.20 though because it got rather pricey on the secondary market quite quickly. I assume it’s because others had the same “pretend this is Raptor” idea as me.
Now I’m glad I never did get that Zartan figure because it makes this figure that much more unique looking in my collection. The head, torso, arms, and upper legs are all the same as Zartan v.20. The only body parts the club swapped out are the lower legs which they replaced with Destro v.22 legs. That Destro had weird claws on his boots for some reason (snow shoeing? rock climbing?) and they are perfect for giving Raptor the talons depicted on his card artwork. Even the original Raptor didn’t have talons like this. The Zartan hood has been replaced by the bird cowl from the vintage Raptor. A brand new cowl would have been nice but the vintage one still works and it definitely establishes that this is undoubtably Raptor.
For accessories Raptor comes with the bird and staff that Zartan inexplicably had in 2010. The bird even has a removable hood which is awesome though it’s an accessory just screaming to get lost as it sits rather loose. He also has a pistol that can be holstered in his belt and a whistle that hangs around his neck. The pièce de résistance is the re-imagined wing harness. Rather than give us a gimpy piece of cloth like the vintage figure had, the Club has brilliantly re-used the Jungle Viper’s ghillie suit rig. Seeing the articulated wings on Raptor you’d never know that they weren’t originally intended to be wings. They remind me of the wings the Vulture wears in Spider-Man comics. Needless to say, they’re much more threatening than the original’s beach towel.