Consumer’s Distributing

Canada is a strange and backwards country, and even until the mid 1990s, you could go to a lousy store, fill out an order form with a dull pencil, wait in line and proceed to be told “Out of Stock”. That was the experience that was Consumer’s Distributing!

Despite being a lousy store, it had catalogues with pictures of toys in them, and while they weren’t as good as Europe’s catalog photos, they’re better than what you’d expect! They carried the G.I. Joe line, and when you went and tried to get Storm Shadow or anyone actually cool, they’d be out of stock, and you’d often get told “We still have Baroness”

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Check out the description of Zandar, it’s “Zartan’s Brother”. Dude didn’t even get named!

Also of note, is the fact that the rare as hell, and twice as expensive COBRA MOTORIZED TANK, was actually a dud, and wound up being discounted for less than 10 bucks! I feel that would be a vehicle far more common, if Consumers wasn’t a horrible place. I have never once seen one of those tanks, and I’m a Canadian who has been actively looking for one locally for twenty years.

Finally, it’s an often forgotten factoid, that Storm Shadow shipped for longer than most G.I. Joe figures, as he’s still a focal point, despite it being only 1986 figures. Really shows the popularity the white Ninja had in the 80s.

Oddly enough I live about three blocks away from an old Consumers Distributing building. In fact I still refer to it as “Consumers”. It’s now some Italian supermarket, and before that was an abandoned building for like 10-12 years.

 

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Differences Between TBM Troopers

I’ve mentioned it, Nekoman’s mentioned it, there’s two different COBRA Trooper molds used by The Black Major. One from the early days, 2009-2011ish, and one from 2014 to the present.

First Mold:  Foot and backpack holes that don’t fit normal foot stands or backpacks. There’s less of a “club foot” appearance. 82-83 markings

Based on legs, mold resembles 2000s era Night Watch figure

Available in: Blue (Red or Silver logo), Crimson (Cobra or Red Shadow), Arctic, Black (Light Grey Webgear or Dark Grey Webgear/Face Mask), Jungle Camo, Urban Camo, Desert Camo (Red or Black logo), Tan (Desert Scorpion or Red Logo), Blue (Red Mask and web gear. Different shade of blue), Stinger Grey, Night Viper Green (Outrider Memorial Figure)

Second Mold: Club foot, backpacks and battle stands fit the figure. Generally have inverted rivets, and tell-tale paint app in the centre of the garrotte on right arm. Arms don’t always sit flush with the torso (Think 1984 Recondo or 1989 Night Viper). 2016+ markings

Feet are more reminiscent of the 1982 COBRA Trooper

The second mold appears to be the same or based off of the first Mold used for factory custom Troopers 

Available in: Blue, Python, Orange, Olive Drab, Grey, Neon Green, Pink & Purple, Action Force Hunter homage, Black with Red web gear, Tiger, Firefly, Soldado, possibly others, with various variations of logos and highlights.

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Toes seem pointed inwards on the second mold

 

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Wider backpack hole, goes into the Webgear sculpting.

 

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Holes in the bottom of the feet are different shape and size.

Second Mold is on the left hand side in the images.

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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1997 COBRA Commander

 

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The 1983 COBRA Commander mold is a classic. It’s a well done sculpt with enough trappings to it, that the supreme leader of COBRA Command doesn’t look like a chump, but it also is utilitarian enough that it could’ve been used for non-COBRA Commander figures without detracting from COBRA Commander. So the fact the mold wasn’t used on the 1997 figure, like the original prototypes had shown, is a real disappointment.

The 1987 Battle Armor COBRA Commander mold is a dynamic new take on the character, probably too much so, as in the comic book, and also most fans, it usually represents the idea of Fred VII, the Crimson Guard who became COBRA Commander’s imposter. It’s not really a bad figure, but it’s unfortunately not all that compatible with the majority of COBRA High Command figures that aren’t dressed up like some form of Animal, or S&M Strongman. However that’s just a fact of life of being a figure in a toyline that went on for 12 years.

I don’t know why the mold choices were changed, as the 1983 CC mold had been in Hasbro’s possession since day 1, and never actually stopped being produced, considering you could get the Hooded Cobra Commander for 10 years. The majority of the 1997 figures had just prior been the bulk of the Funskool G.I. Joe line, so maybe the 1987 Cobra Commander, which had also been a part of that was just an easier mold to use. We can’t accuse Hasbro/Kenner of never being lazy. However, despite the mold change, an actually interesting take on the mold was created!

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From the colours used on this figure, being compared to the prototype, it looks like they just took the proposed scheme, and placed it on the new sculpt, with a few changes to match details on the 1987 figure. Considering how different from the original figure that is, I think it’s pretty cool they did that, especially for a 1997 release, where a lot of the colouring is interesting, but I wouldn’t say they took too many legitimate risks. To me a lot of 1997 figures look like they were designed by people who had an understanding of both stereotypical Military colouring, classic G.I. Joe design tropes, and an inability to dress themselves in real life.

I must say, that had the classic molds been found for the figures, it would’ve been nice to see the 1997 CC retain these colours, it would’ve also been really cool to see the 1983 Destro in the 1997 Destro scheme! Now that’s a Factory Custom someone needs to make!

There’s a charm to the 1997 figures, as they’re in a way the first “grown up” take on g.i. joe a real american Hero toys. There’s some very cringeworthy figures or aspects of figures and some were far too clever for their own good. However they were taken seriously, and there was an earnest attempt to provide refreshed takes on classic figures, without separating them too much from the 1980s figures. if you look at them, they’re done up in away that they’re almost joyless. The figures are all dark, there aren’t any cutesy nods with them, it’s all real serious i think that provides a semi-endearing quality to the figures as with the well known fan participation in the line you can tell a lot of these designs were done with “doing GI Joe the right way in mind. in a way that makes the missing molds and such kind of funny because it unravelled what people were trying to accomplish, and provided a couple of interesting and as close to a “fun” figure the 1997  line actually had Basically the 1997 Joes were the teenager that took themselves too seriously, without realizing how ridiculous the whole thing was, timeframe of the Real American Hero.

This COBRA Commander mold, has some very nice details, with enough ambiguity to the purpose, was it to prevent people from knowing he was a Reptilian? Or was it to hide a mechanic impersonating the big bad. While I had previously stated that the 1987 Sculpt, isn’t a great fit for the more classic design takes on COBRA High Command figures, that came either pre- or post the figure’s original release, this 1997 version, with it’s deep blues is a better fit with classic 82-86 era COBRAs. It’s amazing what a change of colour palette can do. The figure itself is not actually in the classic COBRA Blue, but it’s closer than some other attempts over the years.

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Is this a great COBRA Commander? No, it’s probably not even really a good one, but it’s unique, especially for a mold that had 3 almost identical ideas being portrayed by it. So while I’m not sure if this is a figure I’d say is better than the 1987 figure, it’s definitely the best use of it otherwise, and probably my favourite use of the mold.

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Case Assortments Of The 80s

Recently in a comment, The Amazing A-Man mentioned a thing about 80s Tiger Force case allotments. Now this isn’t groundbreaking news, but there were trade magazines back in the 80s that actually gave a breakdown for that kind of stuff!

 

1983:

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Ever wonder why Major Bludd, Tripwire and Torpedo all showed up at the same time, late in the 83 comic run? There figures all came out in the second assortment! The two assortments were of 10 figures each, but came in cases of 48, which indicates some figures were short packed. Who were the short packed ones? I dunno, it’d be neat to know.

 

1984:

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It’s easy to see why the new characters were separated the way they were. Roadblock, Baroness, Firefly, and Storm Shadow all seem more in line with the 83 designs, than the figures in the second assortment. The new figures in the second assortment, aside from Recondo, also share the distinction of all having rubberized accessories. I’d wager a guess that Duke is in the first assortment, and Rip Cord is in the second. Again they are cases of 48, but this time it’s divided by 16 figures. So it was likely 3 per case.

Zartan was obviously a well publicized figure, too. He gets his own page, and was sold at 24 per case. So despite being a vehicle driver, he should probably be amongst the most common 1984 figures. Though it would be interesting to see how long he was being produced, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t produced for long for the 1985 production year.

Also, it’s interesting that there was slight changes between the 83 and 84 assortments, regarding already released figures, as Doc and Major Bludd were swapped! Destro was probably moved over just to balance things out.

Tiger Force:

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This is the original prototype Tiger Force team, so there might’ve been some funny business with case breakdown, but originally it was going to be 6 single figures (vs. 7 of the actual release!), and still a 48 figure case. Originally it would’ve been 8 of each figure, which seems kind of insane, but I guess since Tiger Force was only available for 1 year, it would’ve probably done up in a production run that would’ve been more than 50% of a regular 2 year release window. Also the 87 and 88 runs were probably produced in high volume, just based on sales expectations from prior years like 85-86.

Also the Rip Cord, Firefly and Recondo are nice looking figures! I wonder if the picture used on Yo Joe! is still that really grainy jpeg where everything looks brown!

 

Slaughter’s Marauders:

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The figures for Slaughter’s Marauders were available in a case of 24. Which probably shows how poorly the line had did in 1987 and 1988 vs. expectations. Or perhaps the Brazilian production of the figures couldn’t have been done in the numbers Hong Kong was doing. I’d say it was probably in the middle, because everyone has a story about seeing Crystal Ball somewhere in the 1990s.

 

I’m sure there’s more information, as well as more examples of these for other years and mainline stuff, around somewhere, I only kept the images that had any real interest to me. However one of the issues with G.I. Joe fandom, is you’ve got all these people claiming they’re writing articles or books, so this kind of information isn’t disseminated, yet these books and articles haven’t and will never be written.

 

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Tiger Force Flint

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Of all the Tiger Force figures, I’ve found that Flint is the least common. I’m not really sure if that’s just my experience or not, but he’s a figure I hadn’t seen until last week. Flint’s a popular character, which is why I’ve always been surprised by that, Tiger Force Duke is a common figure, and he’s just as popular as Flint. Whenever I come across a figure for the very first time, I find it can make the figure seem far more impressive than it actually is. With Flint here, I know how good a figure he actually is, but this colouring has at least allowed me to have a fresh viewing of the figure, as it’s not the same 35 year old colour scheme I’m used to.

Flint is popular for a reason, not only was he the 1985 character that was given the big push by Hasbro, he was also one hell of a good figure. The design of the figure takes a lot of design cues from the previous years (Suspender style web gear, etc.) puts a twist on them so they’re uniquely Flint. 

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The colouring on this figure is really something, for years my opinion on the figure was based off the 20 year old scan on Yo Joe! where the torso looks far ruddier than the brown it actually is. The forest green used for his legs was definitely a Hasbro favourite in the late 80s, which is good to see, because it’s a very nice colour. Almost a Hasbro take on the popular Estrela shade of green. Owning this figure, also really changed my stance on how Tiger Force would constantly change guys hair colour. I think it might have only been Duke and Frostbite that had that happen! While the colouring isn’t as nice as the original Flint, it did bring out some aspects of the sculpt I’d never noticed, including the “US” on the belt buckle, and his airborne pin on his chest. I also hadn’t realized the badge on his beret actually had some sculpted detail on it.

This Flint’s going to be susceptible to elbow cracks, based on his release year. I don’t know how true the story is, but some guy on a message board, once claimed that the elbow pieces were a part Hasbro farmed out to another company, which in a way makes sense, since they’re all the same (outside of 1983 Destro), and that in the 87 and 88 years they’d switched suppliers. Again I don’t know how accurate a story about some guy’s neighbour in the late 1980s is, but it makes sense.

I use Flint as one of the Joe teams more clandestine operatives. The line in his filecard about rescuing missions gave me the idea that he was one of the baddest Joes on the block. The head sculpt has a steely look to it, and any dude who’s walking around with a short barrel shotgun is gonna be as rough as they come. The discrepancy of him being a Warrant Officer and an E-6 can also be explained away by him being lost in the beaurcratic shuffle, intentionally. So it’s nice to have a second version of the mold, in still somewhat reasonable colours, especially since more Tiger Force variations have become available over the years.

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On a note that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual figure, the Tiger Force Flint artwork was modified from the original, in order to put a neckerchief on Flint. It’s a strange thing to modify, since it makes the art look even less like the figure! I wonder if other small detail changes were made on the reused artwork in the sub team era!

 

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He Can Often Be Seen Driving The G.I. Joe Brawler

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