2020 was a pretty terrible year, all things considered. At one point in 2019 I was talking to friend of the blog, Paint-Wipes about things falling apart, but 2019 is looking like JFK’s New Frontier at this point. So in addition to pandemic, and social upheaval, that we’ve all seen too much about, there was some bogus (and not s0-bogus) G.I. Joe stuff as well!
G.I. Joe was what the early 2000s Joe Community would describe a Dial Tone repaint, “Back in a big way!”. The 6 inch Classified series was an interesting example of what modern action figure collecting has become. G.I. Joe for the most part has often been a fairly benign hobby, that was easy to collect. Nothing was really ever super difficult to find, so it was likely a very rude awakening to walk into the Six Inch Collector’s market, a gene pool with far too many sharks. Six Inch collectors tend to be a far different breed, than the average G.I. Joe collector. These guys often are collecting the scale, rather than the line (I think that might be partially due to things like Comics being one large universe, rather than loosely connected brands).
What was insane about this, is situations like the Target Exclusive COBRA ISLAND sub-line, which featured a lot of fan favourites, done up in a way that was absolutely impossible to obtain the figures. Target’s online ordering system was easily exploitable by scalpers using bots. Which leads to some serious questions about how fucked up toy collecting in the modern day has become. G.I. Joe was going to be hit exceptionally hard by this, as it’s a known small time collecting fanbase, who to get this stuff are willing to overpay.
Whenever there is a attempt at reviving G.I. Joe at a retail level, there’s often a year or so of it being a success. This success isn’t the same style of success something like Transformers sees, as with G.I. Joe this is often a case of demand being greater than supply, but the demand isn’t entirely G.I. Joe collectors. With G.I. Joe, it’s a toyline that has name recognition, and a few characters that hit a lot of the “badass” tropes. It’s not something that can maintain long term interest, because as cool as Snake Eyes is, he’s such a goddamn humourless character, yet also isn’t endearing enough to rise above how one-note he can be perceived as.
To be perfectly honest, in order to make Snake Eyes a truly marketable to mainstream audiences character, Rob Liefeld realized he needed to take him and add the cool aspects of Wolverine, and the smart-assed character of early 90s Bart Simpson.
Figure Swapping also made a big return. I understand how shitty it is, but it’s one of those things that in some aspects reminds me of graffiti. There’s people that put a lot of effort into sort of matching whatever there swapping, while there’s also people that don’t. I kind of view it as some people spray painting a mural on a wall, and some people spray painting a swastika.
There was also the incredible disappointment with the “RETRO LINE”. When I heard there was a chance for a retro line, I was excited. I’d seen G1 Transformers re-issues, I’d seen that Hasbro was even doing faithful reissues of The Real Ghostbusters toyline, so the thoughts of scooping up some 84 Roadblocks, 83 Cobra Commanders, and whatever else, was really appealing to me. When I saw that it was reissues of Pursuit of COBRA figures that had already been reissued for the 50th Anniversary, I was pretty dismayed. On the other hand, I did wind up with a fairly good A.W.E. Striker
One of the most bogus aspects of the “RETRO LINE” is the fact Hasbro would go to the extent of creating a completely new F.A.N.G., yet wouldn’t reverse engineer a new 1984 Zartan? C’mon!
While I don’t have any desire to collect the Classified figures, I am actually kind of disappointed that it’s been pretty ridiculous so far, specifically with the availability failings of the Target exclusives, that’s mainly because I have collecting friends who genuinely like the figures, and I’d like for them to be having a good time. Part of the reason for this, is 2020 was pretty bogus for me in real life. A lot of things really didn’t work out to well for me, so it’s been very nice to have a hobby I can escape into, and to have some actual social interactions with people.
I also was really hoping that the people who got into G.I. Joe via the 25th/Modern Era figures, would stop collecting vintage stuff and enjoy the modern stylings of the six inch line, and give the Vintage collecting market a little bit of breathing room. The last 4 or so years have been pretty terrible as a vintage collector.
However the G.I. Joe hobby wasn’t entirely dreadful this year.
The Black Major released some excellent stuff, including some really nice repaints of the EEL, the 1985 Snake Eyes mold was done up in a ton of very usable designs, and it was nice treat to see a new take on the Mortal/Invasor design (with bonus, Firefly and COBRA Officer appearances). The Black Major also showed some very cool possibilities for the first TBM Black Major COBRA Soldier mold, that I’m looking forward to owning.
One cool thing this year, was some people I respect a great deal involved me with their G.I. Joe content:
At some point I drank a 700 ml bottle of Pepsi and talked to Plastic Battles late at night (Super late at night, in his timezone!)
I also was interviewed by G.I. Joe. NL about action figure photography!
Also make sure to check out stuff by people on the G.I. Joe web I like!
On twitter, follow Sintechness, he likes Jeru the Damaja and G.I. Joe https://twitter.com/Sintechness
Dr. Venom on Twitter posts lots of great Comic Scans (He also likes the New Jersey Devils!) https://twitter.com/doc_venom
General Liederkranz also posts his great photos on twitter and Instagram https://twitter.com/GLiederkranz
Colin Henderson, a fellow Canadian (though he’s an Oilers Fan, which used to be bad, but the Flames are kinda full of low-end characters lately!) now writes good stories about his G.I. Joe experiences as a kid. They’re always a lot of fun to read
As always there’s the standards (with my favourite 2020 article being linked!)
Nekoman’s Viper Pit:
Mike’s Forgotten Figures
The Dragon Fortress
Other good places include:
In the end, hopefully 2021 is better for everybody, and their loved ones! Here’s some more content of my new favourite actor, Osita Iheme (He’s 38 years old!)