Toy Fair 2009 – G.I. Joe going forward

The last few days have been a whirlwind, and I’ve been trying to get up as much coverage and pictures as possible, and I’m still digging through notebooks for information as its needed.  Keep in mind when viewing the scores of Rise of COBRA product that this is  Hasbro’s main focus for 2009, and it should be.  With a 170 million dollar budget, this is a very critical point in the G.I. Joe brand, and this could either skyrocket it into the public conscious or it could negatively impact the brand for a long time.  Anyone who wants G.I. Joe as a whole to be successful should hope that the film does well, even if it’s not your cup of tea.  Heck, the film isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m going to support it and I’ll be crossing my fingers that it makes a profit and maybe enough of a profit to give G.I. Joe the current “street cred” that Transformers now has.  I have a feeling it will be an uphill battle.

Keep in mind also that items like the Attack on COBRA Island 7-Packs are a direct result of Hasbro’s interaction with the fans and a strong desire on their part to give us at least some of what we’re asking for.  I know it’s easy to write off Hasbro as having no fan loyalty, not caring what we want, etc…  but can that really be true?  The retailers are all moving on.  They’re prepping for the movie line and they want to move forward, and Hasbro has to move forward with them.  But instead of just writing off the items they promised us, they found us a way to get them.

The marketing folks who answer the Q & A’s went out on a limb a few months ago.  They didn’t have to tell us about Mindbender, Recondo, Chuckles, or any of that.  But they did.  They valued collectors enough that they went ahead and made a commitment to us that they were going to give us characters that we wanted and figures that filled holes in our collection before moving on.  But things happen, and sometimes plans change.  Sometimes it’s the retailers, sometimes it’s the direction of the line, and sometimes it’s even the global economy, but whatever the reason, plans sometimes change, and plans DID change, and like it or not, the next phase of G.I. Joe is “Rise of COBRA”.  Hasbro could have easily moved on, shoved the Anniversary in the background and focused all attention on the remainder of 2009.

Instead, they honored their commitment.  Instead of devoting 100% of resources to 2009, they dug back into 1989, ’88, ’87, ’86…all the way back to 1984 and pulled out some winners that they knew the fandom was clamoring for and the fandom would appreciate.  They know retailers won’t attach themselves to these retro figures, so they’re making them online exclusives.  They know costs prohibit single-carding these figures and selling them individually at a high price point, so they’re multi-packing them and getting them to us at a more affordible cost.  Let’s face it, single-carded figures these days are retailing for eight bucks.  The Hostile Environment 7-Packs were $25.  So instead of potentially coughing up well over a hundred bucks for these fourteen figures, we’ll be able to get them for more affordible prices…and let’s face it, they’re almost all characters we’ve been demanding anyway.

These photos weren’t very flattering…there’s a lot of gear missing, and the figures are somewhat roughed up, but the final releases will impress EVERYone.  Trust me when I say these guys will get the gear you want and every one of them will fill a necessarily hole in your vintage collection.  And they’re a very good way to “close the door” at least temporarilly, on the Anniversary line and the vintage homages, because let’s face it, in order to survive, G.I. Joe has to move forward, not be stuck in the past.

It’s time.  It’s time to move on, at least for a year.  It’s time to turn the page.  You never know, you might even like the next chapter better than you thought.

  • That was perfectly said Justin. I have been trying to explain this for a while now, but some just are not getting it. But I think you said it just right. Thanks.

  • Amen!

  • Preach on!!

  • Peaches

    “the film isn’t really my cup of tea, but I’m going to support” And that’s whats wrong what the collector community. No matter how companies screw up, there will always be fanboys supporting them, and buying toys and repaints that they really don’t want.

  • There’s a difference between “support” and “blindly follow”. All I’m saying is I’m not firmly attached to the past and I’m not going to automatically write off a new mythology because it doesn’t exactly resemble the old mythology. Trust me, if I don’t like the stuff, I won’t be buying it. There is a ton of Anniversary stuff I haven’t touched and will never touch, and there will be a healthy amount of movie stuff that will get the same response. But I’m at least going to give it a chance to impress or disappoint, not just dismiss it before I ever even get it in hand.

  • Scrap Iron

    So, what exactly do you want from people Justin? If you’re not saying Joe fans have to buy the toys to “support the movie” what are you asking? That we look at the stuff on the shelf when it comes out? Sure, why not.

    Since I don’t plan to boycott the toy aisle for the duration, it’s not like I have a choice. I looked at Sigma 6 after all. Didn’t feel motivated to buy a thing. But I looked. Is that sufficient “support?”

  • All I’m asking is that people give it a chance. There are people completely writing off the movie after seeing 30 seconds of footage. There are people writing off the toys as “garbage” before they ever see them up close or get them in hand. Just give it a fair shake before you flush it.

    I’m “supporting” the line by keeping an open mind and putting some faith in the Hasbro designers to produce a toy that I will enjoy. I won’t know for sure if I like it until I actually get it in hand. If I don’t like it, I won’t buy it. But I see people all over the web white-washing the movie toys as “Garbage” based on fuzzy pictures and the fact that Duke isn’t wearing tan and green.

    And I’m not just talking about the movie stuff here. I’m also talking about these COBRA Island 7-Packs. I see fans bitching about pricing before they even know what the price is going to be. I see fans throwing insults about the line and bitching that these are in 7-packs instead of single packs without having a clue exactly how much work was involved in getting these figures produced to begin with.

    Did you read my entire article above? It was mostly about the 7-packs, not even about the movie stuff. And I said I was going to support it, I never attempted to insinuate that I “wanted anything” from the Joe fans. They have a right to support whatever the heck they want. All I ever ask is that the toy (or movie) is given a fair shake before just lambasting it with negativity and insults.

  • Scrap Iron

    I did read the article Justin. And I have no problem with the 7-packs. As you yourself said, I appreciate that Hasbro found some way to get a few more classic figures out to us — which they promised — before the line had to switch over to the movie stuff.

    As you might recall, that’s why I was down on Matt Trakker. Because he took up a slot that could and SHOULD have gone to a more deserving classic GI Joe character before the movie stuff took over. As we knew it was going to out of necessity.

    As for keeping an open mind. It depends on how you define it. As I said, love or hate the movie, unless you plan to totally boycott the toy aisles, you’re going to run into this stuff, and get a good look at it. If it’s cool, if it grabs you, you might buy it to use with your classic stuff.

    I myself have my eye on a few of the movie figures that I think will make excellent custom fodder. Especially Scarlett and the Baroness, because all of their Anniversary figures suck. I may swap heads, but the bodies look worlds better then the hunchbacked, bowlegged freaks we’ve gotten so far.

    I think that’s pretty open minded. I don’t mean to insinuate anything. But like everyone who’s defended the movie, you seem more upset that fans aren’t as enthusiastic about it as you’d like them to be, then about the actual quality of what we’ve seen of the movie.

    Maybe it’s just a matter of faith Justin. I applaud those fans who still have enough faith to give Hasbro, the movie and Resolute the benefit of a doubt, and believe that it will all be good. Even to the point of believing that the classic stuff will return in another year or so, without a lick of evidence.

    I can’t do that anymore. The hiatus, Sigma 6, DTC’s failure, that fact that we STILL haven’t gotten classic comic characters like Billy, Kwinn and Dr. Venom, and likely won’t ever. Well, it’s all killed that faith in me.

    Yeah, maybe the film will surprise us. Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

  • I think it’s been hard for a lot of people to move on after the 25th anniversary product so closely replicated the past. People get very emotional about things from a happy childhood and want little change from that perfect memory. I recall the new direction and comic books from 2002 being very exciting to me because my vision of G.I. Joe includes a future-forward for the Team.

    What’s hard about the movie for me is that it’s a micro-universe, an alternate reality outside the history and the future as things have been written. So to embrace and love the movie product and story you must accept a closed book for a while with no sequels on what we HAD. A fresh start can be good, but just like Star Trek we approach it with some trepidation.

    I do see a limited future for Classic Marvel, little future at all for DDP and a good future for the Movie and, if all goes well, a bright spot for Resolute to develop. The rest is all in how the money rolls around at this point. At the very least we could see the G.I. Joe Collector Club become an outlet offering more 25th anniversary (and beyond!) styled merchandise.

    Re-tooled vehicles, playsets and figures are costly, but the market may be there for collectors in some limited sense. If The Rise Of COBRA does as well as the X-Men films (which are in the same league IMHO), then chances are very good that all of us will be happy for a long time to come.

    BTW, I still want an ARBCO 18-wheeler with a HISS Tank and COBRA crew and Fast Draw. ;)