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!

  • teletran

    i think lowering the price would go a good way to getting more people into joes. i know my buying dropped a lot cause of the price hikes

  • “Lord knows the retailers don’t appear to be putting their full support or emphasis behind the brand.”

    Justin, I disagree because that’s not a fair statement. It’s not Target’s or Walmart’s fault Duke, Destro, Storm Shadow, and Snake Eyes are peg warming and no one is buying them. It’s not our collective faults either. After all, why should anyone (person or store) buy things they don’t want or know won’t sell? Is anyone surprised “snow” Destro was an abject failure at retail? Or how about the Ice Cutter? What would have sold better, new Maulers or more Snow Cats and AWE Strikers? My money would be in the aborted Maulers. It’s up to Hasbro to perform well for us, it’s not up to us perform for them. Maybe if Hasbro’s marketing showed more creativity by having NEW things instead of endless rehashes, sales would be better and this line wouldn’t be teetering on collapse every fiscal year…

  • I had the first question at the panel and it was basically inquiring about the future of Renegades in action figure form… and they said basically that they are committed to Renegades in toy form even if the show basically isn’t there to support it.

  • Chris, it’s a two-way street. Retailers request repeated shipments of core characters, that’s why EVERY SINGLE action figure line does it. It’s not just Joe.

    I don’t absolve Hasbro of any blame, but if you’re talking about too many Dukes, Snake Eyes, etc… there’s plenty of blame to be shared by retailers on that one, too.

    Mock ups from the Hasbro archives prove that the Mauler/Shredder were pretty far along in production. You know why they probably never came out? Retailers didn’t order them. Yes, Hasbro shares some blame for the situation post Rise of Cobra, I’ve never denied that, but to totally ignore the retailer’s role is not being honest.

    Gyre – I am very happy to hear that. I would love to be able to complete a Renegades team if only to remember that cool component of G.I. Joe history. Would be a pity to just get a dozen figures before moving on to another movie.

  • Black

    “Is anyone surprised “snow” Destro was an abject failure at retail? Or how about the Ice Cutter? What would have sold better, new Maulers or more Snow Cats and AWE Strikers? My money would be in the aborted Maulers.
    …Maybe if Hasbro’s marketing showed more creativity by having NEW things instead of endless rehashes, sales would be better and this line wouldn’t be teetering on collapse every fiscal year…”

    You stress NEW things instead of endless rehashes. W

  • Black

    comment cut-off

    What do you think Hasbro did last year? Arctic Destro was a new concept along with the ice-cutter.
    The items you would bet your money on would fall into the category of endless rehash. We have already seen maulers, snow cats, awe strikers and the Hasbro team has pushed the boundaries of creativity last year by giving us some of the most amazing Joe figures we have seen throughout the past three decades

    God forbid that with such amazing products they might have some misses, but they have given us one of the best years. T

  • @Justin, it is indeed a two way street, and I agree the fault is shared. However, usually by the third wave or so retailers realize core characters no longer sell, so they cut back and don’t order any more new stock, and the line starts to waver. Hasbro doesn’t. They will continue to reinvent the wheel over and over again, with always the same result. Been there done that several times already. It is the fault of Hasbro by not thinking far enough outside the box if they have to do Vomit Characters. Why not limit Snake Eyes to only one figure per year? Why not ditch the red and white for Storm Shadow’s coloration for something more tactical? Or why not make all the Dukes and Destros chase figures, and instead pack a few more troop builders per case?

    @Black, Destro wasn’t new. He’s mostly a repaint with a new vest and water gun. Total Rehash. True, the Mole Pod and Ice Cutter were actually new, so I’ll amend what I said earlier by saying we need new, SMART designs, not stupid ones destined to fail before the product even hit the shelves. The Mole Pod and Ice Cutter were universally mocked on most of the message boards. I think everyone knew those would fail. Hypothetically, what do you think the community would have embraced more? A Resolute HISS, or a Steel Crusher Hummer? A comic Cobra Transport copter, or the Cobra Gunship? A Cougar, or the rehashed Armadillo?

    Let’s face it guys, things aren’t exactly working how they should be. This line should not be last tier, this line should not be about the same ten characters, and things should not always hover an inch above cancellation. If the same maketing model is giving the same outcome—from VvV, DTC, S6, 25th, RoC, then that model needs to be changed. PoC has potential to course correct, as does the 30th, but if it doesn’t and things fail yet again, then we have no one to blame but Hasbro. Just my two cents worth.

  • Jester

    Werecat, Black is correct. According to YoJoe.com. the only “rehash” part of Arctic Destro is his head. Everything else was entirely newly made.

    http://www.yojoe.com/action/10/destro26.shtml

  • and originally Arctic Destro had an all new head sculpt as well which got scrapped.
    So he would have been COMPLETELY new.
    http://www.hisstank.com/gi-joe-news/around-the-site-11/gijoe-pursuit-of-cobra-prototype-in-hand-pics-8997/

  • teletran

    yeah, but it was STILL a destro figure, just in a different environment. how many destros have we gotten over the past few years? maybe thats what hes getting at? that spot couldve been used for a new character (or someone we havent had tons of) but instead we get yet another core character just in a different outfit. not really anything new

  • Jester

    I think that prototype Arctic Destro head ended up on the subsequent Mini-Gun Destro.

    And really, I think Arctic Destro might be the exception that proves the rule with regards to PoC’s character selection. Core characters in cool new environment-specific gear seems like a pretty effective strategy, generally speaking.

  • Black

    With star wars, you all do know that you get the same core trilogy characters over and over with some random cantina people peppered in.

    In comic packs, single packs, multi packs it’s the same Vader, Luke, Leia, Obi Wan, Solo, Fett, Anikin, Padme, Ashoka, Clones, droids….

    Those are the people the saga has been built on, the characters the KIDS WHO ACTUALLY BUY THE STUFF are familiar with.

    Every toy line has their core characters where a kid who has just seen renegades halfway in the season (for example) can rush to the store to buy their favorites rather than look at a stack of characters they have never seen or heard of.

    That’s why they keep releasing the same Duke, CC, Destro, Snakes, Stormie etc. Kids who have never heard of the line can pick up the Main Heroes and the main villains to start their collection.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________
    I was 11 when spy troops came out and the first figures(only figs available) I picked up was Minbender/dart, shippy/OVERKILL.I vaguely remembered some gijoe reruns
    I watched an eternity prior and for that reason only I bought them. I had a scientist and a robot along with 2 joes, one of them (dart) being a new guy- I think.

    The characters I was remembered most from the cartoon series was Duke and CC. The characters I wanted most was Duke and CC. To me, they were GIJOE, the big guys who would charge their respective troops into battle. They both came waves after the my original sets and I was most pleased when I managed to get my hands on them.
    __________________________End of personal joe history____________________________

    Now, they are released almost every other wave with the ninjas filling in waves they missed. Kids enjoy this because it’s not some crappy action attack feature or an overused re-hash. To them it’s their favorite characters waiting to be utilized to the full extent of their imagination.

    Hasbro might have gone a bit overboard with the roc figures, heavily focusing on characters that were seen in the film but you can understand why. When kids hit the toy aisle they are not looking for some random joe resurrected from 19-whenever, they will immediately look for the characters from the film. After they will start to move to more a wider variety of joes from different eras, different designs and different concepts different characters.

    Hasbro has a plan, one that collectors need to understand is bigger than them. They are not just trying to cater to us but also to the kids, kids who don’t buy to collect but buy to play.
    I give hasbro credit for what they are doing, really pushing the boundaries in what they make. And from a collecting perspective, they could push out all the repeat figs and rehashes they want as long as they continue to produce the AMAZING, AMAZING items POC has spawned.

  • Black

    The above is a bit kit-bashed but I hope the point still comes across.

  • @Jester, Both PoC Destros share the same body, so reverse rehash? ;)