Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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He Dreams Strange Green Dreams

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2004 Storm Shadow

The G.I. Joe revival of the early 2000s began to sputter out by mid-late 2004. Hasbro peaked the line with the 2004 TRU COBRA Infantry 6-pack, and after that Hasbro’s ARAH offerings fell into a pit of mediocrity, where even things that should’ve been hits with collectors wound up being duds. An example of this is the COBRA Ninja 6-pack, which featured multiple highly sought after molds and army builders, yet it still fell flat.

When you look at the Ninja set, the Red Ninja is what should be the figure that’s top of the heap, unfortunately it’s a brittle piece of junk, and it made up a third of the set! There was also the two Vypras, which took a fairly bogus character and turned it into an army builder that now looks like a grimy Jinx that’s covered in wallpaper.

So the other two unique figures are a toss-up for the best of the set, there’s a black repaint of the v1 Storm Shadow mold, which is a fairly nice figure but doesn’t topple the set’s version of Storm Shadow, who is a very well done and original repaint of the 1988 figure.

The 1988 Storm Shadow mold is a pretty good action figure, it just happens to be the follow-up to perhaps the coolest G.I. Joe figure of the 1980s, Storm Shadow v1. It’s also a member of the G.I. Joe team, which is one of the strongest dividing lines for G.I. Joe fandom. So you’re left with a good figure, that is used very rarely.

This version of the 1988 mold, is cast in a very pale green, with brown highlights, and some black paint wipes. The colours on this figure aren’t typically used on G.I. Joe figures, but there’s a strong realism to them, and the details on this figure are painted in a better way than the 1988 original. It also is a COBRA figure, which can smooth over a lot of fan weariness on the mold. It’s funny though, there was finally a realistically coloured traditional construction version of Storm Shadow, that wasn’t a swivel neck mold, and nobody cared!

Part of the reason this set went over so badly, is the accessories to it sucked. It’s all early 90s Ninja Force weapons, a duffle bag and an M-16. None of these fit the era of the molds used in the set. What’s an even bigger downer is that the bow and claw that came with the 88 Stormy were modified and used in Ninja Force weapons trees! Arming this figure in this day and age is fairly easy, since the number of factory custom Storm Shadows have made the 84 Accessories commonplace and they work well with this figure, especially when paired up with the 88 Claw, which was included in black frequently enough that people can find it easily.

Not many people care about this figure (Shit, I didn’t even realize it was even the Storm Shadow character until I wrote this thing!), and it shouldn’t be anybody’s default Storm Shadow, however it’s a good action figure and probably deserves more use than

it actually receives.

 

 

 

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Fast Draw

Perhaps the strangest year for the G.I. Joe line, was 1987. From a design perspective, Hasbro managed to both progress and regress at the same time. Hasbro’s 1986 series was a major shake-up to G.I. Joe, as pretty much everything was updated, the logo became 3D, the card art had a digital explosion, and the figure sculpting began to be softer and rounder than previous years, the figures also began to be painted in much more vibrant colors.

1987’s figures still have the vibrant colors, but one step back, was the greens used tended to go back to drab of the 82-85 era, which was probably the best decision, as figures like Tunnel Rat, Falcon and today’s subject, Fast Draw would all be laughing stocks if they’d matched up with Hawk v2 and Leatherneck’s green.

Fast Draw is probably the definitive 1987 figure, everyone has him, nobody really cares about him, and looking at the G.I. Joe figures of that year, he’s the middle ground of the two styles they made figures in; “Realistic Green Figure” such as Falcon or Chuckles and “Guy With a Helmet and red highlights” such as Sneak Peek and Crazylegs.

Plus he has one of those god damn, breathing tubes that were so popular for the 1987 series.

Fast Draw is mainly notable because has a lot of accessories, though they’re not really all that good. The Rocket Launcher backpack is a cool idea, but isn’t executed well, since it’s not really big enough and the hose connectors are in a bad spot. The hand controls are kinda cool, but the accessory hose doesn’t attach to the backpack well.

Truthfully, these are accessories that would’ve benefitted from either an earlier release, when Hasbro was aware of their limitations, or a later release when they’d figured this kind of set-up out. I guess Fast Draw is the learning curve required for Hasbro to learn how to do things like Sub Zero’s accessories.

Most G.I. Joe things after 1984 aren’t really my cup of tea. I appreciate the rest of the line, but it’s not something I have any desire to own, though a figure like Fast Draw is a figure I like having around, as he’s still a well done action figure, and he’s possibly the plasticized epitome of late 80’s era where G.I. Joe is lost like lizard in the snow, as the quality is there, but the magic isn’t.

 

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Buzzer

The Dreadnoks are one of the most love or hate concepts in G.I. Joe. For such a high-concept idea, the Noks almost seemed like an excuse to throw references and homages to things that would otherwise be impossible to add to a children’s toyline of the early 1980s. Buzzer, for example, seems to have a lot of references to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Buzzer’s figure itself has the aviator sunglasses, male pattern baldness and what really puts it over the top, the sheriff’s badge on the torso, a reference to Thompson’s run for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado. His filecard (which, including the numerous edits happens to be my favorite filecard in the entire G.I. Joe line) mentions that Buzzer went to Australia to study the Biker gang phenomenon, a nod to Thompson’s 1966 book on the Hell’s Angels.

From a figure perspective, Buzzer is fairly well done, he’s got enough Biker cues such as the denim and lack of sleeves, and the little details are pretty cool, like his Skull And Cross-Bones belt buckle, he also has armor on his thighs, which based on his weapon of choice indicates he likely watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I know Buzzer’s face hasn’t always been the most well thought of, but his (along with Ripper’s) show the disastrous results of decadent Biker living. Not very many toyline’s had figures that looked strung-out!

Buzzer’s portrayal in Joe media wasn’t very good, as the Dreadnoks were nothing more than comic relief, but he’s got a great filecard! The whole idea of an intellectual who’d gone off the deep-end, hooked up with a group of Losers and Outsiders who’s now hell-bent on destruction, is great in my opinion. The final edit contains the line “–One year later– transformed into a vexated wanderer” which has always painted an image in my head, that I’ve never been able to capture a picture of Buzzer, that fits.

The Dreadnoks, are a hard idea to actually work into G.I. Joe. They’re great figures, but the unfortunate reality of biker’s is that, pushing drugs, running guns and pimping is not a particularly fun thing to play out in the world of 3 3/4 inch action figures. Even as a kid, they wound up in body guard roles for either Destro or Zartan. Though Buzzer did have one strange role in my collection when I was a teenager and not in possession of many G.I. Joe figures. I only had about 6 or 7 Cobra’s available to me, so Buzzer wound up leading a COBRA that consisted of 2 HISS Drivers, a Python Crimson Guard, Scrap Iron and a Hydro Viper. COBRACommand wasn’t particularly successful in those days.

 

 

 

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Convention Rip It

I wasn’t planning on writing this figure review, until the G.I. Joe club gave me the inspiration, via their latest fiasco; Sgt. Smasher. It’s nice to see that 10 years later, they’re still doing dumb things. Back in 2007, there was another fiasco, which was actually even more drawn out and stupid, though it did provide a couple of good action figures.

The 2007 Convention set, was a break from the traditional 12 army builders, and 3 characters. It was far more character driven, and the story behind it involved tanks or something. Anyways, the two add-ons were supposed to be two Mauler repaints, one as a Joe and the other as a COBRA. However the club said there were some “issues” with the production, but give us some cash and we’ll totally send them to you at a later date. They had the drivers in hand, so people would even get those up front!

Of course, the Maulers never materialized, I can’t remember what the excuse was, but it didn’t wash because Hasbro was going to release a Mauler repaint for Rise Of Cobra, except that movie and it’s related toyline were a dud. However, due to the lack of Maulers you’ve got two figures that are highly expensive and have some negative connotations to them. Steeler, the Joe Mauler driver and today’s figure, Rip-It version 2.

The HISS Driver mold is an oddity, it’s not detailed, it’s not realistic, it isn’t even all that cool looking, but at the end of the day it’s led to a fairly nice looking figure, that’s popular despite itself. This convention version, uses the Cobra Commander version 1 waist (where the hell had that been hiding for 10 years?) and the most intricate paint masks for the mold (His ‘hawk was painted, as were his epaulets).

This Figure is supposed to be the HISS Driver leader, Rip-It. While the idea of a named COBRA in charge of a specific troop class is kind of cool, the name sucks and the mold being the exact same as his troopers isn’t really unique enough, and it’s not a mold with the power to stand on the same level as figures such as The Baroness or COBRA Commander. So I just use it as the HISS Driver Commander. I also believe the named COBRA characters need to be somewhat irreplaceable. HISS Drivers, no matter the rank, is a position that’s likely to end in a fiery death.

It’s quite a well-done figure, as it’s capable of fitting in with the various versions of the HISS Tank, and both the HISS and HISS III versions of the mold have enough similarities to match this figure, while also looking as though they’re his underlings.

The way the release of this figure was handled, likely should’ve led to G.I. Joe fans holding the Collector’s Club too a harder degree of scrutiny, but it didn’t happen. I guess if you can get away with credibility blows like the Maulers, you’ll be able to survive weasel wording a foreign Slaughter being re-named as an obscure cartoon character from an episode Sgt. Slaughter wasn’t even in!

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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