Frustration from the glut of merchandise clogging retail pegs and blocking the release of subsequent waves of highly-anticipated figures seemed to be the theme of 2011. When new G.I. Joe figures finally made their way into our collections, the countless accessories, innovations in articulation, and intricately-detailed sculpts made the class of 2011 among the best we’ve ever seen in the 25th Anniversary-style era. Hasbro surprised with the release of the Sky Striker as part of the 30th Anniversary line, disappointed with the cancellation of the G.I. Joe: Renegades animated series, and energized with the trailer for the live-action movie sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Not to be outdone, licensees such as IDW Publishing and Sideshow Collectibles continued to impress with their offerings of G.I. Joe merchandise, an indication of the strength of the G.I. Joe brand. In retrospect of 2011, A Real American Hero, Generals Joes and The Terror Drome team up to bring you the best of G.I. Joe 2011.
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|Edwin “Lifeline” Steen – “Hasbro took a character I didn’t really care about, loaded him with great accessories and sculpted detail, and he became an instant favorite.”– Justin, Generals Joes|
|Low-Light – “Hasbro took accessories to a new level in the 25th-style era with Low-Light. It’s what you
would have expected from Hasbro in the 1986 A Real American Hero line,
had the technology been there. The single bullet is just unreal.”– Rich, A Real American Hero
|Shadow Tracker – “When this figure first debuted at the 2009 JoeCon, I was in awe at how cool he looked. I couldn’t wait for it. But then the line was shuffled around and delayed a few months and I was honestly worried we wouldn’t see this figure released. But Hasbro finally did get it in our hands with an updated head sculpt that makes the figure even better looking. Also coupled with the fact it is a new character, this figure is full of win.”– Jason, The Terror Drome|
|Storm Shadow (G.I. Joe: Renegades) – “Already having created the ‘ultimate Snake Eyes’ in the Pursuit of Cobra line, Hasbro turns their attention to his sword brother Storm
Shadow and manages to not only make an ‘ultimate Storm Shadow’ but also make an
incredible Renegades version of the character as well. The fact that he
can hold all of his knives and throwing stars is an amazing bonus.”– Justin, Generals Joes
|Zombie-Viper – “A new and innovative character that latches onto a pop-culture trend (something vital to keep the license relevant) and at the same time feels as though it fits right into the G.I. Joe cannon.”– Rich, A Real American Hero|
BEST 3-3/4 INCH G.I. JOE VEHICLES OF 2011
|Black Dragon VTOL (G.I. Joe: Renegades) – “Though it fell a little short not being able to hold more than a pilot (in the G.I. Joe: Renegades cartoon it was a troop transport), it still manages to be at the top of my list. Some actually view this as an update to the vintage FANG II helicopter with some great gimmicks that give the VTOL play value, too. It doesn’t hurt that we also get one great looking pilot too, the Air-Viper. Even though the body is mostly existing tooling, the new head sculpt and paint apps help it shine as one the coolest pilots/drivers for Cobra so far.” – Jason, The Terror Drome|
|Sky Striker XP-21F – “Something I didn’t think we would be seeing any time soon, but turned
out to be a great update/re-release. Loved the Skystriker as a kid and
this update is just as fun. Also the updated Ace is an added bonus.” – Jason, The Terror Drome
|V.A.M.P. MK-II – “Great design from the Pursuit of Cobra version with better colors and an awesome driver.”– Justin, Generals Joes|
BEST LIMITED EDITION / EXCLUSIVE G.I. JOE ITEM OF 2011
|Zarana (San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive) – “It’s unfortunate that this figure was released as a convention exclusive, since Zarana plays a relatively significant role in the G.I. Joe universe–at times–and a lot of collectors have been asking for a figure of this character since the 25th Anniversary line. Hasbro did a fantastic job with crisp, clean paint lines especially on the makeup–from the eyeshadow to the lipstick–as well as transitioning the pink tights showing beneath the torn jeans.“- Rich, A Real American Hero|
BEST COLLECTOR-GRADE G.I. JOE ITEM OF 2011
|Cobra Viper Sixth-Scale Figure – “Sideshow Collectibles has done some amazing things with the G.I. Joe license and their sixth-scale figures have intricate detail the like of which we’ve yet to see in a 12-inch G.I. Joe format. The Cobra Viper is a prime example of how Sideshow has been able to interweave a futuristic military feel with the classic G.I. Joe look to produce a figure that is both true to its iconic form and believable enough to be part of a modern military unit.“- Rich, A Real American Hero|
BEST G.I. JOE COMIC / ANIMATED / FILM SERIES OF 2011
|Cobra (IDW Publishing) – “Hands down the best G.I. Joe media property in 2011. I honestly look forward to this series each, and every month. I love what writer Mike Costa is doing each time a new Cobra character shows up–I’m eager to see what approach he’s going to take with them. Like what he’s done with Tomax & Xamot, Croc Master, Crystal Ball, Serpentor and Big Boa is great, a lot of fun to read. He is writing THE G.I. Joe title/series that I have been waiting a long time for.”– Jason, The Terror Drome|
|G.I. Joe: Renegades – “Hasbro has often tried to shy away a bit from the
military angle of G.I. Joe in their animated series, but with Renegades they
found just the right formula for success. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but
it had started telling a great story and truly reinventing the G.I. Joe
mythology before Hasbro and The Hub unsummarily pulled the plug. The
entire atmosphere for G.I. Joe: Renegades was one of the highlights of my G.I.
Joe collecting life in recent years, and its absence will be sorely missed, no
matter how successful Retaliation is in my eyes.”– Justin, Generals Joes
Some may have thought that putting this list together was easy, but it wasn’t. There were a lot of great G.I. Joe items in 2011, including some amazing figures from the end of the Pursuit of Cobra line through to the 30th Anniversary line. Even though we narrowed our list down to a few select items, I’m sure we can say–in consensus–that based on what we got in 2011 (well aside from a few repaints, looking at you Croc Master and Blowtorch) it was a great year for G.I. Joe. We hope you enjoyed reading our retrospective; it was a lot of fun for the three of us to put together and maybe we changed your perspective on a figure or comic enough to check it out. We’ll see you again next year with a list of our favorite stuff from 2012, which is sure to be a huge year with G.I. Joe: Retaliation only a few months away.