And What A Year That Was!

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!

What the fuck is this? Thanks to my homie Erick G. over at the Surveillance Port for the image!

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

Sintechness kills it all the time!

Dr. Venom on Twitter posts lots of great Comic Scans (He also likes the New Jersey Devils!)

General Liederkranz also posts his great photos on twitter and Instagram

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

Funskool GI Joe Tunnel Rat (1998) – Dragon Fortress Reviews

Other good places include:

The Surveillance Port

Mate Mylar

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!)

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6 Responses to And What A Year That Was!

  1. A-Man says:

    6-inch collectors are about scale. I watched a “review” about Classified where the youtuber said he wasn’t a big GI JOE fan…but the dude bought 5 Target Cobra Troopers. At least he opened them. Brick and mortar retail is a shark infested beach. No reason even go there.

    I saw 2 Classified figures at retail last year, Roadblock and Target Roadblock. Not too bothered, $20 a figure is too much money and I don’t really collect 6 inch anything. Like how they tricked people into buying a dumb motorcycle to get Baroness. And buying 3 Cobra Commanders.

    $25 FANG, but it’s all new with stupid exposed wiring. I never saw any of the “retro” at retail only saw the HISS last week. Out of sight, out of mind…saves me money, not that I like Modern style. Hasbro and scalpers saved me a lot on Star Wars this year, as well. It was probably good for me the retro weren’t really retro o-rings.

    I got unfollowed by Black Major’s account so many times that I lost track. No idea what that’s about. I still don’t under “Cobra Tiger Force”.

    Red Laser’s Army what happened? Another person China screwed over? Who was LETAL? Why did he only make those IG’s?

    And let’s talk about EAGLE FORCE kickstarter finally…lolz…

    YOJOE.COM is doooomed, all because well, someone sold it and they sold it to someone else. But it’s a tragedy. Not really. It’s a testament to the mediocrity that is online GI JOE fandom, with just a handful of good sites, a lot of derelicts and some long dead one. It’s amusing that a SAVE YOJOE,COM thread is on HIS STANK, when they were once rivals. But the Stank never evolved into anything but a news and once draconian-moderated-now-not-modded message boards.

    Larry Hama’s work was interrupted by the lockdowns, but he’s back to making boring GI JOE comics. It’s really not even worth reading free. All reboot attempts at GI JOE comics seem to fail quickly.

    My garage sale finds were light. Did not get anything GI JOE off ebay or anywhere else online. Probably the least amount of GI JOE product I’ve acquired in a long time. Just as well given my enthusiasm.

  2. paint-wipes says:

    The kid is really into Legos which means i get to brush through the action figure isle semi frequently, at the two targets in minneapolis we frequent i’ve only seen the penn station homeless guy roadblock and the duke with the powerwashing gun. saw exactly one retro hiss which nearly ended up on my desk at work, but i’ve got too much weird shit in there already and warren buffet showing up unannounced to the division offices is a very real possibility. My son is nearly 16 and has dipped his toes into online fandom and Lego people are just as batshit insane as GI Joe people (ever wanna see grown ass men freak out about the new road system?) but at least Lego makes attempts to take care of them, some of the more high end sets are really something else, seeing things like a remake of an old 90s pirate ship set into a shipwrecked pirate hangout makes me wonder what hasbro could crank out, but nobody cares about GI Joe, it hasn’t had a media presence in over a decade and now has to be both a niche hobby and a new bunch of SKUs for insane six inch collectors to hoard, doesn’t exactly strike me as a good time!

    I like black majors stuff but a lot of it is basically the equivalent of colored vinyl, does anyone really ACTUALLY need a night viper painted like a HEAT viper? he deserves a lot of credit for keeping the O ring alive but man some of that shit is head-scratching.

    that new FANG looks like a champ-mei release, without doing any research you could think it’s a reused JVC mold.

  3. Mike T. says:

    Hasbro’s releases were pretty underwhelming overall. I’m glad the retro figures weren’t ARAH Joes so I didn’t have to worry about them. I’ve seen the Hiss Tank 5 or 6 times, but never an AWE Striker. If I was only going to find one, that’s the one I wanted, I guess. The Fang looks terrible. I’m hoping we see a Joe companion vehicle that’s not the Armadillo or even the Skyhawk.

    My boys got into action figures this year. It’s damn near impossible to find the decent Star Wars figures they want, though. It was only though a little retail luck and some quick ordering on Amazon that I was able to get some Clones and such. I did get them a ton of the Spinmaster Batman line, though. The figs aren’t heard to find, are under $8 each and are really, really nicely done. They’re toys first and foremost. But, they are really fun toys.

    Factory custom stuff was hit or miss. I wasn’t a fan of the SNAKES and the Agent X and other deals where you get 4 torsos but 2 sets of legs weren’t my thing…especially for the price. He still makes a few top notch figures. But, at the price, I’m not buying a bunch of duds to get one cool release.

    The Joe community is as toxic as ever. I see guys going bonkers over a Facebook claim sale where prices are double Ebay. And, you still see the basic hoarders who try to pump up value of figures, even if they aren’t selling them. Every single figure is “rare” and you see guys claiming discolored figures are variants and then arguing to death that they have something special.

    The introduction of the 6″ figures just made it worse. Now, large groups are banning discussions of frustrations with the exclusives which, once again, means that the community simply won’t hold Hasbro accountable for their poor decisions. 6″ collectors are fickle, though, and they’ll quickly lose interest in Joe. Maybe the Snake Eyes movie will help. But, I expect that it will either be a streaming release that’s quickly forgotten or a box office bomb after they insist on theatrical release too soon.

    • A-Man says:

      I like folks still trying to say package errors are worth anything, when the only one that ever was in GI JOE, that I know of, was the Cobra card back Red Star from so long ago.

      I agree that most 6 inch collectors are fickle, I’ve said in the past that a 6 inch Joe line would peter out within a few years after the casual collectors buy only the core popular characters and move on. Right now the line is, I think, being deliberately undershipped to increase hype demand. Like as Masters of the Universe Origins goes wide release this year, suddenly all those hoarders and scalpers from 2020 will be returning their buys to walmart or desperately trying to say the NEW FOR 2020 text makes last’s years releases “RARE”.

  4. generalliederkranz says:

    Thanks for the shout out!

    I’ve totally skipped the 6″ and retro lines, and more than anything else, I’ve felt relief at not trying to visit a million retail stores during a pandemic just to buy figures that aren’t compatible with the o-ring line I’ve spent decades accumulating. But I’m really impressed by some of the photography the Classified line has generated. People are doing incredible things with them.

  5. mwnekoman says:

    I personally expect GI Joe prices to fall some in 2021 or ’22. Once the travel industry starts back up again, we’ll probably see a lot of Covid normies exit the hobby, which they only picked up as something to waste money on during the lock down (hence, the absurd amount noobie collectors floating about). I also expect the Snake Eyes movie to flop, though a lot of people will probably flood the market with vintage stuff hoping to cash-in on heightened interest. I personally feel the current vintage market is far too artificial to last, and is mainly being fueled by casual interest.

    6″ Joes don’t impress me. My brother got Duke out of curiosity, and that figure doesn’t feel very durable to me. I feel like the hips are going to snap every time I try to pose the legs. The chest-joint is very ugly too, and looks overly pronounced. They seem like a fad, and not something that will probably last very long.

    TBM did a lot more with that Snake Eyes mold than I would have ever expected! Those figures and the eels were certainly a highlight of last year, though I hope I’ll still be able to get a few more of the Eels.

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