JoeCon 2011 Recap – The Final Countdown

So I think I’ve covered nearly every element of JoeCon 2011 over the past few days.  New Hasbro reveals, the Renegades panel, and even the slideshow from the Hasbro archives, yet I feel like I’m missing a “wrap up” post.  Just something to say JoeCon 2011 is done, so what’s next?

Joecon 2011 is done.  So what’s next?

I know everyone gets excited over the new figure reveals, and I’m certainly no different.  Some of these new toys look amazing.  I love that G.I. Joe is using so many great pop culture elements, and by far the best aspect of this is it’s really starting to cross collector boundaries.

What do I mean by that?  Well, it a degree, I think G.I. Joe has a pretty specific narrow collector base.  You find a lot of Joe collectors that also happen to buy Transformers, Masters of the Universe, or Marvel toys, but by and large, from my experience, it doesn’t necessarily work in reverse.  That seems to be changing.

As I traversed the internet trying to dig up convention news, I kept running across folks who aren’t normally Joe fans, and these collectors are all extremely intrigued by what they’re seeing, and eager to check out some G.I. Joe figures, possibly for the first time.  A fellow toy blogger and reviewer Poe Ghostal even remarked on his site that he has never once collected G.I. Joe, even as someone in the hobby for as long as he has been.  Yet the new reveals at JoeCon are starting to convert him.

This is good.  This is really good.  If G.I. Joe as a brand is going to thrive, it needs to start appealing to some of that demographic.  Lord knows the retailers don’t appear to be putting their full support or emphasis behind the brand, so perhaps it is time for Joe to narrow its focus.  Really look into becoming that high end collector brand at a normal MSRP price.  Draw in the fringe toy collector who gets a figure, becomes interested in it, and decides to buy more.  This is a big part of the reason why I’m so disappointed about Renegades being pushed aside.  Anyone who knows marketing knows that a big draw for the toyline is for collectors (or kids) to buy everyone they see on TV.  Time and time again I hear fans who are looking specifically for the cast of characters in their favorite cartoon or movie, and are willing to buy figures they might not have normally purchased just to “fill that hole”.

Where’s the incentive for that without an ongoing cartoon?  Are those fringe collectors really going to care about a fairly generic looking Scarlett, without the Renegades cartoon for her to be attached to.  Don’t get me wrong, Scarlett is an amazing figure, but to the non-Joe collector, it’s just another Scarlett.  Figures like the Zombie-Viper appeal because of the crazy accessories, wild appearance and pop culture appeal.  Without a supporting form of media, the Renegades figures don’t have that.  G.I. Joe fans are loving them and all over them (myself included) but I really think the failure to put some faith behind the Renegades series will impact Hasbro’s pocketbook, which only looks bad for G.I. Joe as a brand.

Let’s face it, none of us knows what’s coming in 2012, and frankly I think most of us aren’t particularly looking forward to finding out.  Perhaps we’ll all be surprised, and I hope we will, but Paramount is going to have to convince me.

Good news came out of the Convention in the form of the Collectors’ Club subscription service.  I think this has the potential to be very cool.  Yes, price is a consideration, but with some low production runs and reasonable costs, the opportunity to finally get some figures that weren’t originally going to see the light of day is fantastic.  We can all come up with a handful of awesome figures that got killed before their time, and this is a great opportunity for the Club and for us.

So beyond this editorial, I don’t have a lot more to report about JoeCon.  Along with new figures there were so many other cool things to see over the weekend, that I feel bad for folks who have never been able to experience it.  It’s not just news, it’s not just a new batch of toys, there is so much more.  I’ll link to some places to hop around below, but please just trust me, if you think JoeCon is just a “Toy Show” you’re doing yourself and the Con a disservice.  It really is a three day experience with fellow fans, the creators, the new toys, the voice actors, and many of the folks who had a hand in this amazing property over the past three decades.  As a G.I. Joe fan do yourself a favor and at least try to make it to one of these.  I took the chance in 2003, and I’ve only missed 2 Cons since.

Check out the links below for some other cool elements of this year’s JoeCon:

This is just a small sampling of the fun had by all.  I’ll plan on seeing all of you there next year!