GeneralsJoes Toy Fair 2012 Coverage – Best of Show

With the whirlwind day that yesterday was, I didn’t have time to properly process all of the things that were shown during the presentation or down in the show room.  But I woke up very early this morning to dive back into the images from last night and try to wade through and choose my favorite pieces of this initial burst of G.I. Joe: Retaliation toys.  I’m going to include stuff we’ve already seen, just based on some new information or new details that were revealed through pictures I’ve taken over the past 18 hours or so.

This will be a basic Top Ten list, and I’ll try to write some snippets from each figure, some of which might be stuff you guys haven’t heard yet that was revealed during Toy Fair.  No promises, this is by the seat of my pants!

Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below for the details.

I know much of the discussion around the web has revolved around the articulation issues and complaints about Hasbro’s change of direction for the brand.  I agree that I do not like the articulation reduction either, in the main single figures, or in the vehicle drivers, but I can understand Hasbro’s perspective as they take a brand that has been struggling at retail for several years (since 2008 by all accounts) and try to revitalize it and push it forward.

I remember many similar complaints from Transformers fans over the years focusing on the vehicle and figure design concepts released for the movie and I still hear many complaints about quality control, but the fact remains, that in spite of fandom outrage, Hasbro made a concerted effort to relaunch the Transformers brand, and it quite simply not only changed the brand, but changed the global landscape of film and toy marketing.  Because of what they did with the Transformers movie toys, fans of that brand now have video games, cartoons, Generations based figures (over forty coming in 2013!) and many other reasons to be very, very happy.

Fans of that brand claimed that those cosmetic changes would impact toy sales negatively, too.  But they didn’t.

Am I guaranteeing that G.I. Joe: Retaliation will have the same effect?  No, not by a long shot.  It certainly won’t have the global impact that Transformers did, but I think it does have some potential to revitalize and re-energize a brand that has been somewhat stagnant, at least from a retail perspective.  Believe me, I would love nothing more than to have things continue static quo along the same lines as Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary.  Those have been the best Joe toys I’ve seen in many, many years, if not ever.  But the fact is, G.I. Joe cannot continue status quo, because it does not preform well enough at retail to carry itself for the next several years without some sort of thematic change.  Should that change require a shift in articulation?  No, in my opinion it shouldn’t, but I’m willing to give Hasbro the benefit of the doubt, at least for the moment.

Keep in mind that this “Top 10″ list is based on several factors.  First and foremost, how much I like the toy based on first glimpse, how well it looks like it’s designed, how it fits into the movie property, and just overall coolness.  This is “seat of the pants” way too early in the morning, so we’ll see how this goes.

10 – Joe Colton

So who doesn’t love a 3 3/4″ Bruce Willis figure?  Who doesn’t love a Bruce Willis figure looking like he could be a pretty basic military guy in a white t-shirt?  This head sculpt is eerily lifelike, insanely well done, and I just loving having a potential John McClane figure running around with the Joes.  Now, what drops this figure is the fact that he appears as if he might have a PoC Recondo torso, which is a bummer.  We’ll see how that goes.  Frankly, I thought the Marauder Bull ended up being able to wear that torso fairly well (it was his legs that bugged me) so perhaps it will be a non-issue.  Granted, if he had different tooling, he would have been higher on the list.

09 – Unmasked Firefly

I’m a sucker for movie accurate figures, and this is a good one.  He looks a lot like the Firefly we see skulking around that mysterious Cobra missile base in the trailer, and I really love the Ray Stevenson head sculpt.  The scars sculpted into it are very, very cool.  Hasbro also includes an alternate masked head, which is very much appreciated, too, and even in a woodland camouflage paint scheme, I think this Firefly works remarkably well.

According to Hasbro, he can sit on the sled he comes with and grip the handles, which activates a light up feature on the sled itself.

08 – Night Viper

I’ve read some complaints about this figure not being as cool as expected because it more resembles the Direct to Consumer Night-Viper.  Personally, I don’t have a huge problem with that.  I think the DTC Night Viper had some interesting design elements that translate pretty nicely to the modern style.  Now, of course, I would have been much more excited about a Night Viper that better resembled the old ’89 stand by, but as it stands this is a very cool update and a much appreciated addition to the Cobra Viper corps.  I’m excited to see Hasbro continue to dip into that well, even during a movie year.

07 – SDCC Exclusive Jinx Figures

Finally, a vintage style Jinx for my crappy vintage style Falcon to mac out on!  In all seriousness, I do think Jinx was a big hole in the line up from the 25th Anniversary, and I like that they have found a way to get her into collector hands.  On the show room floor, John Warden continued to discuss retailer perception of female figures not selling, so whether the fans like it or not, this is kind of what we’re going to have to deal with going forward.  Again, given a choice between getting Jinx as an SDCC Exclusive for extra money or not getting her at all, I’ll happily hand over the forty bones.  The figure itself looks amazingly well done, with a mixture of Renegades Storm Shadow parts and newly tooled female accoutrements.

06 – Crimson Guard

Another figure that’s somewhat based on the vintage look, but very nicely updated, in my mind.  Hasbro injected some very cool elements from the canceled G.I. Joe: Resolute Crimson Guard and ended up creating an elite soldier that looks a lot more combat ready than some other figures we’ve seen.  As cool as the 25th era Crimson Guard was, he had his share of articulation issues, and I think this figure looks like a very neat modern update that I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on.

05 – Zartan

Even with all of these new offerings cropping up throughout Toy Fair, I still fall back to Zartan as being one of my favorites of the line.  With his G.I. Joe: Renegades look and feel, some cool light-piping effects, and a very awesome modern renovation, I can’t help but love what I see here.  Hasbro has struggled with getting a proper Zartan back into the line for a while, but thanks to John Warden’s affinity for the character (Zartan is one of his favorites!) we’ve gotten a lot of great looking versions of him over the past few years.  This one is no different.

04 – Snake Eyes (Ninja Duel)

As I said above, I’m a sucker for movie themed and movie accurate figures, and this version of Snake Eyes is both.  We’ve seen Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: Retaliation in several different forms over the past month or so with the IDW comic, the t-shirt designs, and finally the movie trailers, and by all accounts, this figure perfectly captures that movie aesthetic.  Nice, sleek, layered body armor, those great gauntlets, that armored mask, and he’s got the full compliment of articulation to boot.  A great looking figure that will be my default G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes.

03 – Battle Kata Roadblock

Everything I said above about Snake Eyes can then be attributed to Roadblock.  His awesome movie accurate camouflage…that fantastic “Battle Kata” vest with all of those holsters and sheaths.  A fantastic Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson likeness in his head sculpt, and loaded with cool looking weapons and gear.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that this version of Roadblock has full articulation according to Hasbro designer John Warden.  Great looking movie accurate Roadblock figure!

02 – SDCC Exclusive Shockwave HISS

Wow.  Wow, wow, wow.  You know, I kinda thought the SDCC Starscream was a neat idea, though a bit contrived.  The best elements of that exclusive, though, was the plethora of Easter Eggs that Hasbro designers scattered throughout.  Well, not only is Shockwave one of my favorite Transformers characters, but holy crap did they load up with those Easter Eggs this time around!  According to Hasbro, Shockwave and Destro are brokering a financial arrangement where Destro sells him the designs for his Retaliation HISS Tank in exchange for cash.  Well, the first thing Shockwave does is assume the form of that HISS Tank and he looks BAD ASS.  That Shockwave-themed cannon on top, the translucent purple weapons…it’s all awesome.  But where this figure especially shines are with the tweaked Destro and Constructicon colored B.A.T. figure, both very awesome additions to an already interesting set.  Combine that with the terrific miniature Soundwave and the 3 3/4″ scale Energon Cubes?  Wow.  Great stuff here, and an awesome idea for an SDCC Exclusive.  Big thumbs up.

01 – Ghost Hawk II

Yes, for all of the complaining I do about vehicle driver articulation, I still came away from the show the most impressed about one of the vehicles.  And that vehicle is the Ghost Hawk II.  In person, this thing looks awesome.  It’s not huge, but it’s definitely big enough, and I didn’t come away underwhelmed as I often have with recent “large” vehicle offerings.  It seems like we’re getting a lot of plastic bang for our buck with this vehicle.  I originally thought it was perhaps a single-person quick action fighter at a pretty small scale, but the end result is a vehicle much larger than I thought it would be, with plenty of room for the pilot, and apparently with a “zipline” function that a second figure can ride up into the back.  Great wing design, awesome thruster position, and just a really fun, really cool looking jet.  While I found myself smiling and nodding approval at most of the stuff at Toy Fair, this thing made me open my eyes and grin from ear to ear.  I think this could be a very fun vehicle.

I can’t believe I didn’t even mention the Jinx (in yellow) and all of her great ninja weapons, any Storm Shadow figures, Lady Jaye, or even the awesome Beachhead or combat Snake Eyes from the 3 Packs.  I know commenting about the articulation is what most of us are going to do (and deservedly so), but I can’t help but notice there is still a lot to love in this line in 2012, and there are a ton of items I cannot wait to get my hands on.

Don’t forget to check out my other Toy Fair coverage for even more images and details from the Hasbro event this weekend.  It was a blast, look forward to being back here again next year.  A big thanks to all of the Hasbro PR folks and Hasbro reps who were in attendance for putting up with our badgering and putting out an awesome event as they always do.

Yo Joe!

  • Deliman1000

    Thanks Justin for getting all of this information to us!

  • Valo487

    Does the Joe Colton or the Firefly figure come with full articulation? I’ve looked at several photos but can’t tell for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the coverage Justin!

  • Flyingpygmalionfilms

    Justin, will the Zartan come in the press release maroon color or did they change it to the black and silver? I am guessing the black and silver is just for the prototype display (like how the renegades firefly toy had a white coat when first shown) but just wanted to make sure… also what is your thoughts on hasbro cutting that hole in the top of the hood for light to get through? Is it a cool enough feature to warrant the big hole?

  • Alexx

    I think I agree! All stuff that stood out to me (along with some others not mentioned). I’m really gona relent not being able to get that Shockwave HISS, but oh well. I highly doubt I’ll be off work AND have the time to be online at the right magical time to be able to order from Hasbro Toyshop on a friggin’ exclusive day. That ain’t gona happen.

    Anyway, the Crimson Guard and Night Viper took me by surprise! I like the Night Viper A LOT and I can’t wait for him. The Guard is cool, but I’ma wait for better pics of his helmet. Looks kinda squished at the moment, but I can’t see very well. Otherwise I like the parts they used, and it’s cool that his normal dress uniform is under the vest!

    Rock and Willis are of course – AWESOME. Can’t wait for those.

    Finally, Zartan is looking better and better with every pic. I love him! First Zartan I’ve completely liked all around. What a cool figure.

    Overall I’m gona have to push some other toys to the wayside because this new line is customization HEAVEN. Even better than RoC. I’m already seeing things I wana swap ‘n stuff like that. Very much looking forward to this line.

  • 788 Vs. Your Name Here

    great coverage General, thanks.

    im a sucker for multiple heads. im a sucker for any firefly figure. so theres a double purchase.

    im not a fan of bruce willis…period. that being said, i probably wont get that figure. however, that is one fantastic headsculpt.

    night viper looks great to me. possibly another duplicate purchase.

    surprised to see the siegie. not sure if i really need to drop $9 on another one though.

    im a sucker for zartan too. not sure about the light-piped heads though…nice concept but the pipe is kinda glaring on the top of the head. his head looks great though.

    love that snake eyes….ill bet ray park was very happy to see the mesh over most of his face.

    roadblock…”further in his training”….good lord i hope the movie isnt delving THAT far into the ninja mythos. let the ninjas do their thing with swords and silence while roadblock does his with bullets and whoopass. he does look good though and will look good on display….along with that 3pk ”apocalypse now” looking RB.

  • 788 Vs. Your Name Here

    Justin….any chance that you or anyone you know asked about the Arashikage symbol being plastered on everything?

  • Erik

    I would assume that’s a story element from the movie, especially based on what they’ve said about that Battle Kata Roadblock figure.

  • poddie

    Justin, much respect for your comments on the articulation. I do always look up to you for your positive spin on things. Yet you came out and said what Hasbro needs to hear… the articulation needs to stay. They can play with color schemes, theme, story, and character, but the articulation and quality is what sets Joe apart. They need to not screw that up.

    I was at least encouraged that nearly all of the new basic figure reveals from yesterday appear to have ankle articulation. Some of the ones that don’t have it are very disappointing to me (mainly CC and the first Roadblock revealed)… But I am really hoping that Hasbro realized the error of their ways (at least on ankle joints for basic figures) and corrected course a bit for wave 2 and up.

    I was also encouraged to see a bit better looking color scheme on the show’s Zartan… and I appreciate the light pipe feature. No ankles is brutal though… turns my stomach.

    I was really disappointed in the very cheap looking packaging… I can’t stand the “one card for all” packaging with not character specific artwork. This was another thing that really helped Joe stand out on the shelves and now it looks like an off-brand toy.

    And of course the vehicle drivers are an abomination. Though I don’t mind the lack of articulation there anywhere near as much as on the basic figures. Frankly, my interest level in all of these vehicles is very low anyway. The only one that looks neat to me is the Ninja Vamp, and that doesn’t seem to be at the show. And the Shockwave HISS looks awesome… I was mildly interested before, but those figures are absolutely KILLER. Too bad it will cost a fortune and be massively and purposely under-produced, as Hasbro always does with their Joe SDCC exclusives.

  • poddie

    Oh, one more thing. I would LOVE it if someone at the show could inspect and breakdown the articulation for us on each figure… I need to know which ones I should skip due to Hasbro’s articulation cuts, and it’s hard to tell from pictures in some cases. Thanks!

  • Dusty Ayers

    Does Zartan even have wrist articulation? Ugh. Moving on. There are things I’m psyched for and a lot that I’m not. It’s hard for me to compare this line to the stunning awesomeness of figs such as Life Line, Law & Order, and Sci Fi. As much as I hate to admit it if the sales of these figs leads to more of the Renegades/30th line then I hope it is widely successful. I just don’t want Hasbro to go the path of less POA.

    On a positive note I think the Ghost Hawk is awesome! The fact that it has the zipline feature is so cool. I always like the hoist feature in the Dragonfly, Tomahawk and Retaliator. It adds so much play value in my opinion. I think Jinx looks great as does LJ. It’s a bummer that Flint is underarticulated because he looks pretty cool, although his head looks a little big. I won’t be buying underarticulated figs.

    GH this is a great site. I think you did a fantastic job saying you don’t like the POA reduction while not screaming about it. I feel the same way.

  • Dusty Ayers

    Agree about RB. When I think of stealth the Rock running around with a sword does not come to mind. The Arashikage symbol plastered over everything is already tiresome and I don’t own any of the toys yet.

  • ndviper

    Well I’m not going to let the lack of ankle articulation deter me from buying some figures that still look awesome, like Cobra Commander for instance. Great looking figure, it sucks that the ankle articulation isn’t there but it won’t be a deal breaker. Most of this line looks pretty good. Certainly won’t be looking to get all of it but a lot of it. Really hope this line along with the movie becomes a hit with the kids. That’s what us collectors really need, because its obvious Hasbro thinks we can no longer carry the line, otherwise POC/ 30th style figs would keep going. Just isn’t enough of us. If they can get kids on board, maybe we can see the disappearing articulation return if the product starts to move and budget increases.

  • ero

    Any talk at all of a true ARAH Jinx down the road?

  • ero

    Also, Jinx is a 2-pack? Not single with variant?

  • Erik

    The fact that she’s an SDCC exclusive to begin with says no.

  • Gyre-Viper

    I’d disagree with you all night on that Firefly but I’ll let it go (for now). You obviously know how I feel about Night Viper being all DTC. So I’ll leave that be. I gotta say the Ghost Hawk is pretty exciting and as I’ve said before it’s the perfect counter to the VTOL for a good ol’ aerial battle. Jinx of course is the hotness. Still trying to get over what I’m assuming truly is a Zartan who can’t bend his feet. Because I really love that figure. But Constructicon BAT is by far the coolest repaint ever so that’s all I need to remain happy.

  • ero

    How do you figure?

  • James

    It must be very hard for Hasbro to gauge how much $$ POC made for them. Waves that never show up it is frustrating but I support the line 100%. The movie line will move us forward.

  • 788 Vs. Your Name Here

    i realize the questions are likely coming in at a very high rate……..so sorry, heres one more………………….stands……yay? or nay?

  • poddie

    Oh, crap! I forgot all about stands! Please don’t tell me they’re cheaping out on those too???

  • Anonymous

    I’m paying whatever just to get that Shockwave HISS. I get a neat BAT, another version of my second favorite COBRA character, Destro, but really, I’m buying this for Shockwave, even cooler is the in scale version of my favorite transformer, Soundwave. Top it all of with some sick energon cubes and this is the only absolute must have for me this year.

  • Hawkwinter

    Huh, that never crossed my mind. But yeah, no stands, no purchase. Period. I won`t even buy the new Vintage Star Wars because of that fact, only line in the whole Star Wars toyline not to have stands, complete rip-off.

  • Dusty Ayers

    I’ve never thought of stands as a deal breaker for me but I don’t think any of these guys come with them.

  • Dusty Ayers

    I agree. I want to like Zartan so much but with no ankle POA and I don’t think wrist POA I just can’t do it.

  • If you need a way to justify not liking something, such as an easily replaced figure stand, which used to be the benefit to small business suppliers until Hasbro took it from them, well who can stop you.

  • That is the first accessory load-out I have seen for the Shockwave tank, and NOW I regret not keeping the Starscream jet from the 2011 SDCC in my Hasbro cart at checkout. Just the Shockwave tank, with all that gear and figures is going to be HARD to turn down, but if you have the Starscream, well, then I envy you ;)

    With 4 Decepticons online, how far behind can the Autobots be?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks very much, Dusty!

  • Anonymous

    I do not believe stands come with any of the movie figures, no.

  • Anonymous

    It looked to me like there were no stands with the figures, even inside the packaging. Personally, this is far from a deal breaker to me. There are tons of great third party stands that are even better than the Hasbro produced ones, and I still have dozens of those floating around. I don’t need any more oversized, barely functional display stands that I don’t use for my figures.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry for the mis-typing. No, there will be a regular Jinx and variant both at SDCC, that was just a bad choice of words on my part.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty sure, with Hasbro’s insistance that female figures don’t sell well, we’re not going to get a classic Jinx that is only minorly different than the SDCC one. Personally, I think the SDCC version is good enough for me to work in my ’87 display. I mean, let’s face it, how many of the 25th or 30th Anniversary figures were exact piece-by-piece homages of the original? They’ve all been tweaked in their own ways.

  • Anonymous

    Probably too late for this at this point. The collector event is one day only, and that day was Saturday. There is extreme chaos with dozens of people taking pictures and asking questions all at once, within about a 90 minute window, so unfortunately there is simply not the time or space for this kind of detailed breakdown during the show.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the nice words. I can agree with everyone on their articulation thoughts. If the Joes didn’t have enhanced articulation in ’82 I would never have bought them. If they didn’t continually improve articulation in ’83 and then again in ’85 I probably wouldn’t have kept buying them all along. Heck, if they hadn’t expanded on the 25th Anniversary style and improved THAT articulation and range of motion for RoC and beyond, I might have been disgruntled, too. Hasbro has consistently elevated their construction and design, and seeing it go backwards is disappointing.

    I can understand their reasons for it, but it still isn’t something I like seeing.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, it is a story element from the movie. They mentioned something about Roadblock being trained by Snake Eyes in fighting techniques. I think really they’re just putting a very strong focus on the ninja elements for the toyline, I doubt we’ll see the Arashikage symbol plastered everywhere in the actual film.

  • Anonymous

    The hole in the hood doesn’t break my heart…it wasn’t that exceptionally noticable, and I think the light up eyes could be cool. I would bet the press photos probably reflect a more accurate paint scheme.

  • Anonymous

    Joe Colton is a mixture of PoC parts, so yes, he would have full articulation. Firefly definitely looks to have ankle and wrist articulation, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had the knees as well.

  • Hawkwinter

    The point is that it is another thing one HAS to buy just to enjoy the figure. With POC and 30th I believe there are four figures that can stand in a decent display pose without toppling over without a stand, so those stands are REALLY appreciated. And please show me where one can get stands from a third party even half as good as the ones Joe toys have come with for the last couple years and 25th before. All the ones I’ve seen are as ba sic as can be and just don’t look as good, nevermind that they do not have the names on them.

    So while it may not be a big deal to you, I’d appreciate it if you kept your snobby attitude about what I find important in the toys I collect to yourself. Just cause you don’t feel the same way doesn’t mean it is an irrelevant point to others. I’m an adult not a little kid so I display these figures and they look ten times cooler with a great display stand with their name on it, especially if it doesn’t have the prefix Codename: on it…lol

  • The Commander

    Thanks Justin for the great (and CLEAR) pics and updates. Is it confirmed that the (what I thought was) generic trooper is indeed Beachhead? Or is Beachhead the one from the 3-pack?

    Also, is the red ninja with the Slice-esque mask Slice or just a red ninja?

    Will the SDCC Jinx be sold like zarana’s (separate) or together (two-pack?)

  • Anonymous

    My pleasure, Marc, thanks for the nice words.

    1 – Beachhead is in the three-pack. The generic soldier is just a G.I. Joe Trooper

    2 – The Red Ninja is just a Red Ninja, no mention of Slice

    3 – The two Jinx’s will be sold separately like past SDCC Exclusives.

  • Dusty Ayers

    Yeah that wasn’t even close to my point. I said stands are not a deal breaker for me.

  • Dusty Ayers

    As much as I love Renegades/30th I hope that they aren’t the pinnacle of Joes. Up until now I think they are but I would love to see product the one ups those figs.

  • Yeah, I collected action figures before stands were included with them, and I’ll certainly continue buying them if those get dropped. If I really need stands for certain figures, the IDS stands from Maruader are much better than what Hasbro includes. Good grief.

  • I can take or leave Zartan. I’ll buy one because he’s my favorite character, but I’m still partial to the 25th Anniversary version. Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Roadblock, Ray Stevenson Firefly, Night-Viper, the new Crimson Guard, and the G.I. JOE Trooper are all very, very cool. The new Cobra Trooper, Red Ninja (single AND three-pack), Black Dragon Ninja, Bruce Willis, the Blind Master, and all three versions of Jinx are positively fantastic. There’s too much greatness to focus on very few negatives.

  • They’d probably have to re-tool a Mauler to do Warpath. The problem with the Autobots is that they ALREADY turn into (generally) non-military vehicles, so it’s hard to imagine them being in an alternate form like Shockwave.

    I could see the Ghost Hawk being used for one of the Aerialbots. Maybe if there’s still that medium-sized helicopter from the movie line kicking around they could use it for Springer?

  • Valo487

    I hope so, those were my two favorites of everything we saw. Thank you sir.

  • Erik

    She wouldn’t be one to begin with if they thought they could release her at retail.

  • I think you have to remember that Hasbro is obviously following the Transformers route: expand the line with cheaper movie-based figures, and then give the collectors what they want while keeping an expanded audience between movies.

    Of course, for this to work, the line has to sell to kids. Transformers has a much longer history of doing so since the heyday of both lines – Beast Wars and Armada were both genuine retail hits. GI Joe has nothing even close to that type of post-peak success in its back pocket.

  • The bit with Roadblock zip-lining down and firing his machine gun in what looks like a missile silo from the new trailer is almost certainly from the movie’s climax. I wouldn’t be worried.

  • Barbecue17

    Great coverage! Very easy to navigate and a great mix of commentary, information, and straight up pictures!