Pictures Of G.I. Joes

84FFBlaster89FragDesertSteelBrigade2010COBRAGuard

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2021 Swamp Viper (The Black Major)

21SwampVipe

2021 had The Black Major return to a lot of earlier figures he had done. There’d been 4 or 5 years where the figures were later army builders like the EEL, Snow Serpent or Night Viper. I’m a predominately early 80s collector (Despite what a lot of my output online has been lately) and well, there’d been enough time between uses of the first Cobra Trooper mold, that I was really happy to see these figures return.

Copperhead had a very original colour scheme, that was fairly eye catching. It didn’t turn up in too many places (There was some similarities with some of the Dreadnok vehicles, but that was about it), so it’s one of the times where a Trooper classification under a named COBRA actually fits the bill. Copperhead isn’t very important in the scheme of things, and swamps were a fairly big part of G.I. Joe, especially in the 1980s, and the Water Moccasin wasn’t really treated as a unique entry.

This figure is very well done, the quality is much higher than most Black Major releases in the last 5 or so years, which was really good to see. The paint apps were crisp, and one place where the potential for failure was high, the light green on the thighs, lower legs and lower arms, was actually solidly and straightly applied. There’s a bit of a forcep head, but it’s not as noticeable as the Storm Shadow figures were. In addition to strong paint apps, there’s no loose joints, and the bicep swivels are a tad tight at first, but upon first move they don’t wind up becoming super loose. With it being the first TBM Soldier mold, which had more of a basis on 2004 era COBRA Trooper figures, there’s no jacked up, club foot on the figure either, so he stands straight.

The figure is cast in a fairly deep green, which a very close match to the Water Moccasin, and the majority of the highlights are a brighter green, that is muted enough to invoke Copperhead, but doesn’t quite cross over into neon. I know some of the other Factory Customs, like the EELs had a brighter base colour, that might have matched Copperhead better, but I’m glad this figure didn’t follow suit. Having them match the Water Moccasin is a more useful choice, as it gives that vehicle a crew, and doesn’t make this Swamp Viper beholden to Copperhead. In fact rather than these figures being beholden to Copperhead, I’ve almost found them to be figures I exclusively use with the Water Moccasin.

I know a lot of fans tend to view COBRA with traditional rank structures and such, though that’s something I’ve never really subscribed to. One thing I do see COBRA doing is training environmentally specific units, so COBRA having a batch of swamp fighters makes a lot of sense to me, especially when the swamps are a big part of COBRA Island, as well as the South Eastern United States, which COBRA was shown to operate in. I like it, because there’s some historical reasoning you can throw behind the figures, as well as the fact it’s a little more unique locale, than the typical jungle or arctic or urban settings that often become a place for G.I. Joe battles.

COBRA Troopers have a use, and they’re a mold I really like, so when I see a figure that fits into my collection, and also provides a new take, or provides something that it would be better at, than just a basic blue COBRA soldier, I’m glad to see it. This figure does that, and it also is different enough from the typical COBRA Trooper repaint, with the split coloured legs, that it’s interesting. Do I think every army builder needs to be done in this scheme? Not really, because the law of diminishing returns would hit almost immediately, but that doesn’t take away from this figure.

Of the 2021 COBRA Troopers I’ve wound up with, this is probably my favourite. A few of them I feel re-treaded too many already done ideas, but I can see the reasoning behind doing some of these figures, as a lot of people probably missed out on them. I don’t need to see another iteration of arctic or black and grey COBRA Troopers, but I’m not all that disappointed in that, because it allows me to be choosy.

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Pictures Of G.I. Joes

WhiteMortal89RecoilEnforcersThe Saboteur87-8887Avalanche

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2014 WOLF

Hasbro didn’t do much for Vintage construction collectors in the modern era. From 2007 on, the number of releases in the classic construction were pretty minimal, and by the dawning of the 2010s, they became non existent. Though, while there weren’t any figures being made (which was eased by Factory Customs), Hasbro did tend to slip in some pretty decent vehicles, that often times were quite compatible with vintage figures. By 2014, when it was established that G.I. Joe was for the most part, dead at retail, Hasbro actually put out a couple of vehicles that were damn close to being reissues of 80s releases. One of those was the COBRA WOLF I’m not really a fan of arctic figures and vehicles. I never have been, because it’s a pretty restricted environment, that is a pain to recreate in non-winter months, and not a lot of fun to be in, during the actual winter. Still, that’s never stopped Hasbro from making numerous high quality arctic pieces. One of the best ones is definitely the WOLF

1987 was a strange year for vehicles, as it was one of the only years that G.I. Joe and COBRA were even for releases. 1986 was the beginning of a shift in the Joe team’s motor pool becoming less grounded in reality. On one hand it made for some real fun toys, on the other they were definitely not the same as the Mauler or the VAMP. With COBRA, they’d always had some fairly outlandish vehicles, and in 1987 there stuff was weird, but not all that much weirder than it’d ever been. To be perfectly honest, the WOLF was no stranger than the HISS, a vehicle it obviously took some design cues from.

The WOLF features a fairly COBRAesque design. The twin guns and glass canopies harken back to the HISS. It’s also not a COBRA vehicle if it doesn’t feature LOTS OF RED MISSILES. However, unlike most COBRA armor, this one shows a little restraint and has the missile rack be hidden when not elevated (a fun play feature). It also has a pair of ski torpedos, which I have to say, are a better take on the concept than the ones included with the Snowcat. It’s nice for a COBRA vehicle to not be undergunned.

One of the nicest things about the WOLF is the shape of it. It’s got a nice sloping design, and the elevated rear of the vehicle looks pretty sharp. The twin glass canopies are cool, and it’s a nice change of pace from the driver and passenger style cockpits that had been the case with most vehicles. Of course, on my sample, the rear canopy is damn tight I can’t even get it open (and it developed a nice stress crack in storage), not sure if that was the case on the vintage version, or just shrinking plastic in the last 6 years. Oh well, I managed to fix it by shaving a slight bit of the front tabs.

This version of the WOLF, didn’t feature too many modifications, like some Modern Era vehicles did. It’s for the most part the same as the vintage vehicle, with changes to the foot pegs on the side skis. However, that change isn’t even too damning, because they left the pegs on the side of the actual WOLF, vintage sized. So you can work a way to have figures of both era hanging off the side. It’s not really a big deal to me, because I’ve never been a huge fan of figures on running boards. Honestly, I was mainly glad they didn’t change any of the cockpit area, because when they do that, it often makes the vintage figures not fit correctly.

The WOLF is a nice vehicle, and the fact that Hasbro had the mold for the entire repaint era, and didn’t bother doing anything with it, is a shame. The new sculpt era featured some of the worst designed and even worse looking vehicles, and I think we all would’ve benefitted from Hasbro not pissing away the budget on horrific things like that pick up truck with running board machine guns, or that boxy looking Humvee that launched a manned flying pod, but didn’t have doors that opened, and just doing things like repainting the WOLF.

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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Pictures Of G.I. Joes

84Mission4802716026_f9d4829478_oA Nice Little TownAirtight3

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1991 Heavy Duty

If there was a character who suffered because of the relaunch of G.I. Joe in 2002, it’s Heavy Duty. In 2002, he was a fairly obscure but solid 1991 figure, that had seen a repaint in 1998, but wasn’t thought of as much more than “A neon figure from the 90s”. However, due to either a lack of copyright ownership, or just overall incompetence, Hasbro decided to take the beloved Roadblock character, strip it of the personality, and rename it Heavy Duty. So what was once a a guy who launched rockets at Parasites, is now a guy with a .50 Cal machine gun.

The shoe-horning of Heavy Duty into the 2002 line up is interesting, as the rest of the Joes were the classics. Fan outcry about Roadblock had been known for a while, so it’s not like Hasbro could say they didn’t know, and Heavy Duty might’ve been tossed in, because he was named after an actual Hasbro employee. Cronyism, baby!

As a figure, the 1991 Heavy Duty is excellent. He’s from 1991, which might be the apex of G.I. Joe sculpting and design, and Heavy Duty showcases that very well. His design gives him personality, yet also doesn’t stray too far from classic G.I. Joe designs. The improvements in sculpting, though, are noticeable. Heavy Duty’s torso is awfully reminiscent of Buzzer, but unlike Buzzer the tears on where his sleeves used to be are much more pronounced. The lower body on Heavy Duty shows quite a bit of a Bazooka influence, I like this, because familiarity helped to maintain consistency in the line for a decade.

The figure is a beast, a lot of the 90s G.I. Joe figures were bulked up, however few were done with attention to detail of Heavy Duty. He’s got large upper arms, but his lower arms were bulked up too, and even have sculpted veins. It works quite well with the specialty, so I don’t mind it. It’s not like 1991 Dusty, who all of a sudden is so swole, he’s gonna wear a tank top in the damn desert.

Another place where the sculpting shows itself, is the “JOE” on both his hat and belt buckle. The branding might be overkill, but it looks good. I also like the backwards ball cap, since it’s never before seen, and despite how 90s EXTREME it is, it also works in conjunction with his accessories, can’t have the brim of his hat obstructing his oft-lost eye piece.

The colouring used on Heavy Duty, is quite eye-catching. The green on his hat and camouflage is bright, but not really all that much brighter than the green pouches on Grunt v1’s arms. Of course, this colouring was enough to get the figure dismissed as a neon monstrosity, but that’s a mindset that’s changed a lot in the last 20 years, as people are more tolerant of colour, I think the fact that G.I. Joe photography has improved, allows people to accept the visual aspect of colour, rather than “THIS DOESN’T LOOK REAL”.

Heavy Duty is a figure made by his accessories. He’s got one of the earliest spring-loaded missile launchers, which in 1991 were done more in line with being G.I. Joe accessories, rather than the 1993 things that looked like they could’ve come with any toyline. He’s got a backpack and frame, that the two launchers and a gun system attach to. The way they all attach is quite nice, as it gives a lot of heft, to an already solidly built figure. The backpack part of it is my favourite aspect, as it explains how a dude would be able to carry such a behemoth of a weapon.

Heavy Duty has a fairly inspired character, he’s a classical music fan. It’s something that follows the general stereotype breaking character trait, commonly seen in G.I. Joe. However the fact that Heavy Duty comes from the mean streets of Chicago, means I have to discard that character aspect and make him a guy who’s a fan of weirdo-outsider rocker, Wesley Willis. Every Heavy Duty related post I do, usually has the “Rock Over London, Rock On Chicago!” saying, that every Wesley Willis song ended with.

Heavy Duty never quite got the respect he deserved, as he’s amongst the top of the 1991 line up, and even featured a repaint that showed the quality of the mold, unfortunately he got saddled with being a Roadblock replacement, which was a death sentence, especially when Hasbro was killing off numerous potential characters (Outback, Salvo, Low Light, Shockwave and Ambush) in order to provide a couple of fans lifetime achievement vanity figures.

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Was Corrupted By Dreams Of Power

The Red Laser

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Pictures Of G.I. Joes

 

93SEFlash2RBIn The CanyonLeopardo

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2001 Laser Viper

 

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During the ARAHC era, Hasbro would occasionally show some gumption, and do a fairly interesting release. The 2001 releases fell into a couple of categories, there’d be the excellent stand in for the version 1 figure, the “cobbled together figure with a terrible new head” or the interesting repaint that provides something useful. So while there were figures like “Cross Fire” and “Leatherneck”, there’d also be figures like the 2001 Laser Viper.

I don’t think anyone actually ever used this figure as a “Laser Viper”. That figure already existed, with better accessories and a unique mold. Plus by 2001, the quality of the 1990 Army Builders was starting to be noticed (The 2000 Rock (Range) Viper really put a spotlight on those figures). This figure was definitely a basic COBRA Trooper to most, with the apex of that usage being the either the best or second best, Dio-Story ever told, G.I. Joe Warfare 2.  Honestly, there was no other way to use the figure, it was a good enough re-envisioning of the classic COBRA, with a 1990s sculpt. It wasn’t an extreme overhaul, it was just a solid figure that was new, but still familiar.

The 1990s definitely had a different sculpting style, but it wasn’t overly evident until 1993-1994, where things became far less detailed, not just paint apps wise. The sculpting became much less detailed, as things like clothing wrinkles started to drastically disappear, so while this figure is using the 1991 Sci Fi mold, it’s still a strong enough sculpt to not be out of place amongst glory days figures. In fact, the 1991 series wound up looking to be one of the strongest years for sculpting in G.I. Joe’s vintage run. This is partially due to the fact that the process had steadily improved over the first decade, but this was also the last year, that G.I. Joe still operated as G.I. Joe, without various sub teams beginning to dilute the line’s aesthetic template in an attempt to compete with everything else on the market.

This figure has the basic COBRA outfit of a blue jumpsuit, there’s a bit of torso armor, that works for the figure, providing them some semblance of protection. This is the kind of update that works well for the overall design, though in some ways it’s counterbalanced by the strange rings on the figure’s legs. I’ve never quite understood the purpose behind them, it’s a strange detail, though I guess in the context of laser warfare it might make sense as a electricity conductor or some such nonsense! I twas a very well coloured figure, too. It’s blue might be a tad light, but it gets the point across, and the red helps add something to the figure, while also going back to the earliest days of the line. This is also a figure, where the creases and folds in the sculpt, actually made it a perfect sculpt for the usage of PAINT WIPES. Now he looks like a guy in dirty clothes, rather than some figures like the 2000 Hawk who looks like he went for a dip in an oil slick.

The early days of the repaint era, Hasbro hadn’t really nailed down a COBRA blue that was a good match for the figures of the 80s. There were a few different shades of blue, but often times they were too bright or too grey to match the Trooper or the Tele-Viper. This Laser Viper falls into the “too bright” category, but at the same time, it’s actually a pretty close match for the 1983 COBRA Commander.

2001LaserViper copy

While the body of the figure is a straight Sci-Fi v2 repaint, the head is actually something surprisingly interesting. It appears to be a new sculpt, and in a way it is, but Hasbro actually took the Undertow head and modified it. It’s noticeable in the figures’ eyes. I remember questioning it on the Yo Joe! message board, probably 12 years ago, and it turns out Hasbro themselves told Yo Joe! that’s how it was made. Overall it’s actually a decent head, but the large ripples in the facemask, and the fact the underside part where the figure’s chin would be wasn’t painted, did kind of take it down more than a couple notches. The helmet is a very nice smooth sculpt, and the added COBRA emblem on the forehead is excellent. The ARAHC was excellent for the smallest of details, like COBRA figures getting sigils (particularly on the forehead, which was a cool place for it). Most Joe team members getting a US Flag was another example of the minutiae being paid attention to, almost in a way that detracted from the figure as attention likely could’ve been paid in places that required more.

In a way it’s a shame this figure didn’t receive some repaints. It probably would’ve helped having this figure replace one of the numerous Viper or Alley Viper repaints. It’s a solid sculpt, and while there were two versions of Sci Fi, it still had some life, and could’ve been a solid addition to numerous of the TRU packs, especially since it was a basic enough sculpt, that the 2000s Hasbro attitude of two paint apps is “good enough”, wouldn’t be such a disaster in comparison to figures like the Viper. Plus 2002 and 2003 were years where the yearning for a basic blue COBRA trooper was beginning to become more prevalent, and this could’ve been a good way to satiate demand, before doing the 2004 COBRA Infantry set.

 

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