Ten things I took away from the 2012 G.I. Joe Convention

And no, I’m not talking about bringing home toys.  I’m talking about intangible things.  Opinions, feelings, impressions, etc…

I felt quite lucky throughout the weekend to be able to spend quite a bit of time with various folks at the Convention.  Whether it was speaking with Lanny or Brian from the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club at the Golden Ticket dinner, or speaking to Hasbro at the Charity Casino Night dinner and on the sales floor.  I was left with a series of impressions, both good and bad, and I’m not certain folks who weren’t there could grasp that through the convention coverage.

While I always try to share the “feel” of the show through my reports, it’s not always possible, so I need to get a little bit more specific.  Click the Read the Rest of this Entry link below to get an idea of some things I came home feeling.

Ten Things I took Away from the 2012 GIJoeCon

10 – In spite of a terrible year leading up to the event, the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club continues to put on a very good show.  We all know about the credit card fiasco, which turned out to be the fault of the third party web hosting company that the Collectors’ Club used for their website.  The web form did not contain proper security measures, and certain patches were not installed within the application that cascaded into the security event, impacting Transformers and G.I. Joe fans worldwide.  The venue change hit them hard as well, and apparently was the result of their last venue selling the room out from under them while the Collectors’ Club was finalizing some other last-minute details.  Combine that with the movie date change, and you have a potential disaster on your hands.

Instead the Collectors’ Club seemed to gather their forces, circle their wagons, and if you didn’t know all of the behind-the-scenes stuff going on, you wouldn’t have noticed much difference.  Registration on Thursday night was a congested mess, but much of that was due to the flow of the registration line, which was not optimal due to the Club scrambling for a new venue.  Beyond that issue, the seminars were great, Hasbro was fantastic, and the Club staff continues to be courteous, professional, and capable.

9 – When toys get canceled, it sucks for everyone.  For someone like you and me who consume the goods, of course we hate it when toys get canceled.  We want Kwinn, we gotta have Kwinn, but we can’t have Kwinn.  Ugh.

But look at it from the perspective of a designer within Hasbro.  Some of these toys they have spent months on.  Balancing parts, weighing the budget, deciding if they can sacrifice a few paint apps here to get a new weapon there.  Sometimes it is a battle with marketing to get a figure on the slate, and continued economic battles straight up until the figure comes back from Asia in a semi-completed state.  Now imagine you spent all those months working on that particular figure, you get a finished sample and are just about ready to go into production…and it’s canceled.  How must that feel?  The way the Hasbro designers spoke about some of the items in the display case you could tell many of them were hurting just as much as we do (if not more).  Yes, it sucks that we can’t walk into Toys “R” Us and buy a G.I. Joe: Renegades Coyote, but imagine being the folks who spent 6 months designing the thing.  A real gut punch.

8 – The “movie toy” stigma will be vaporized in 2013.  As Wave 1 of G.I. Joe: Retaliation was revealed, then released, Joe fans began picking it apart immediately.  And frankly, it deserved it.  Articulation restrictions in the knees and ankles in the main line was bad enough, only to suffer through even more drastic reductions in the vehicle line.  Almost instantly fingers were pointed and the dreaded words were uttered… “of course it sucks, it’s a movie line.”  Somewhere along the way fans began accepting the fact that if toys were being released based on a film, those toys were automatically going to be bad.  No longer are companies ramping things up and trying to put their best foot forward when most of the world is watching, instead they are content to sit back and simply try to cash in.

That might be Mattel’s motto, but based on what we’ve seen at JoeCon, this is not how Hasbro is thinking.  Sure, Wave 1 isn’t the most glaring example of G.I. Joe design excellence, but simply step back and look at the offerings from Wave two and forward.  Snake Eyes, Roadblock, Wave 3 “Ultimate” Duke and Firefly.  Wave 3 “Cobra Combat Ninja” and Red Ninja?  Wave 4 Blind Master and Jinx, not to mention Joe Colton and Lady Jaye.  Yes, these are movie figures, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t excellent movie figures.  Duke and Roadblock could easily mesh into the Pursuit of Cobra line and fit perfectly with their level of detail, accessories, and overall design aesthetic.  Any fears I had of movie toys going forward into 2013 were obliterated.

7 – It’s time to stop thinking about 2012.  One of the most asked questions I’ve received since returning from JoeCon was “what about 2012”?  What are we going to see for the rest of this year?

Well, I’ve had a pretty firm stance on this since we heard about the movie delay, and that has not wavered.  There simply is not enough time in 2012 to produce anything for release in this year.  A certain window of time is necessary in order to get figures to retail, and with this suddenly compressed time frame, there is no valid way to get anything out into collector hands prior to next year.   So, everyone just has to suck it up and understand that 2012 releases are more or less over.  We may get some more Dollar General stuff here or there, but beyond that, we’re done this year.  Time to take stock, start saving your pennies, and prepare for the onslaught that 2013 will bring.

6 – Hasbro designers are quite simply the best in the business.  I promise I’m not just blowing smoke here.  Walking around the concept case, talking to John Warden, and just sitting back and watching Dave (the sculptor) and Erik (the painter) work, it hit me that these guys are quite simply the best in the industry.  Dave Proctor, the sculpting manager, was giving a sculpting demo throughout most of the weekend, where visitors could stop by his little booth and watch him work.  It was amazing.  This is the same guy who sculpted the 30th Anniversary Storm Shadow and the precision in which he worked at such a small scale was simply insane.

Take a look at the actor head sculpts in the line as well.  Hasbro did not use face scanning technology for that.  That is hand-sculpted.  Amazing stuff.  But without guys like John Warden or Erik Arana coming up with the conceptual stuff, Dave couldn’t work his magic.  It’s a real team effort, and watching them all work together on the whole Lawn-Viper project (which sold at the Charity auction Saturday night) was really amazing.  No matter what you might think about distribution, marketing, advertising, or the economics in general, I think we would all have a hard time arguing that the folks in the trenches aren’t the best at what they do.

5 – Some time, some where, Kwinn WILL BE released.  Joe fans have been hearing the song and dance for quite a while now, but even with that song and dance, I still get the vibe that Kwinn is simply waiting for a time and place.  The figure tooling is done, Derryl DePriest said at the round table that the figure would be released “if it’s the last thing I do”.  The What’s on Joe Mind crew also spoke to Marketing Director Joe Del Regno during a Special Edition podcast, and he more or less confirmed that Kwinn has a very good chance of being released.  Patience, Joe fans.  It’ll happen.

4 – In spite of what many would have you believe, 2013 has the makings of a great G.I. Joe year.  I know, I know…  “movie year”.  Well, in spite of the whole movie year connotations, looking at the release dates for product listed in the display cases, I think we’re going to have a pretty crazy 2013.  According to shelf tags, both Wave 1 and Wave 2 from G.I. Joe: Retaliation are slated to hit in February.  Wave 3 hits in March, Wave 4 in April.  So for three consecutive months we will be getting bombarded with product.  Waves 3 and 4 are both pretty large assortments as well, and are filled with some incredibly cool looking figures.

But the real question is… what’s next?  Hasbro did show us a Wave 5 Crimson Guard at the Convention, which of course means there are other figures slated for Wave 5 as well.  Besides, sometimes the new line branding hits retail in time for the fall reset in August, which could possibly mean we get a fifth wave between April and August, and then in August a whole new theme of the G.I. Joe brand could come rolling into retail.

Wow.  Anyone even the least bit disappointed by a lack of product in 2012 better just keep stashing that loose change away.  We’ll be getting our fill of great toys soon enough.  Not only that, but according to representatives at the Convention, retailers are exceedingly happy with the sales of Wave 1 from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and folks seem enthusiastic and confident that these feelings will catapult into next year.

3 – Dollar General Joes will get more plentiful.  At the Hasbro round table, a fan in the audience brought up the question of the Dollar Store figures to Derryl DePriest, and he was visibly upset.  He pointed to the very limited exclusivity of Dollar General stores and lamented the fact that they do not even have those stores in Rhode Island, and to date, Mr. DePriest has been unable to find these figures at retail, a fact which seemed to annoy him greatly.

He stated at the round table that he is taking a personal and vested interest in making certain that these toys see wider release, and felt like it was inevitable that they would become easier to find in the coming months.  Once again, patience!

2 – The G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club needs to think about weeding vehicles out of the Convention Exclusives.  Just my own personal preference of course, but $100 for an Indiana Jones truck that was seen at clearance for $12 a few months ago and $75 for a repainted Dragonhawk (which the Club was selling for $12 in 2010) just seems like too much of a financial hit for the customer, not to mention the Club.  It certainly appears as if the reserves of vehicle tooling might be running low, or if they’re not, producing such small numbers of them is prohibitively expensive.  Perhaps this year was an anomaly, but I felt no vested interest in owning either of the two vehicles.  This is not a hit against the Club necessarily…I thought both vehicles looked very nice and had the potential to be a lot of fun.  But those prices kinda sucked the fun right out of them.

1 – Fans need to get together, unify, and make sure our voices are heard.  I have heard and read all across the internet about how angry fans are with Hasbro for daring to show the mystical “Concept Case” at JoeCon.  How dare they show us items that may never be released?!

Bull.

This is our chance.   They did this for a reason.  They are showcasing some of their work that didn’t make production, but based on how many of those items were kit-bashed or only adjusted in minor ways, it certainly seems to me that it wouldn’t be difficult to get any of these figures in rotation.  Hasbro is looking to us for guidance.  Once again speaking to the What’s on Joe Mind podcast, Joe Del Regno revealed that Hasbro is in the beginning stages of setting up online polling through GIJoe.com.  They will be looking for fan input on which of those concept figures were your favorites and which you’d like to most see at retail.  Of course this isn’t a guarantee, but they are certainly feeding for input, and it is our job to give it to them.

Be vocal.  Be mature.  Be respectful.  But most importantly, make your voice heard.  Whether it’s snail mail direct to Hasbro corporate, or voting in online polls, it is our responsibility to tell Hasbro which figures we most want to see and put the ball in their court.  We can do this.

At some point over the next week or so, I hope to start polling here on GeneralsJoes, just looking to gather some initial data.  It is up to you as to whether or not you want to participate here or wait for Hasbro to get their polls online.  I can assure you, whoever votes here on GeneralsJoes, the results WILL get to the right place, I promise.  Let’s hit them from all directions and help shape the future of our favorite toyline!

As always, JoeCon was exhausting, stressful, and exhilarating.  Getting right down in the trenches with not only other fans, but with Hasbro themselves is an opportunity I cannot overstate.  With the movie being pushed back and retailers somewhat on the fence, we could potentially hold the future of the G.I. Joe line in our hands, and I hope that we can come together on this.  I can tell many of the fans at home were discouraged and upset that so few new items were shown and that the largest display on the floor was for product that isn’t slated for release.  But I had a sense of raging optimism on the showroom floor, and the Hasbro designers and marketers seemed to share that feeling.  G.I. Joe has many battles still to come, and it was really awesome being a JoeCon again this year, hopefully helping to launch that first salvo.

Who’s with me?

32 thoughts on “Ten things I took away from the 2012 G.I. Joe Convention

  1. Oh I’m with you Justin.

    Although in hand the Retaliation figures werent quite as disapointing as I had feared it was beginning to feel a little like an actual decline again, but after just one weekend its full throttle again.

    Yeah, I was upset by some of the UBER-awesome figures shown we may never get, but looking at what IS coming that we hadn’t seen before I was blown away. It’s like all of a sudden PoC/30th was back on, just with a Retaliation theme.

    I AM saving my dollars and look forward to the first half of next year, and now I have some faith that the second half may be even better.

    Back on track, Hasbro shines this JoeCon.

    From thinking it may be over to better than ever is quite the leap.

    Now if only we can convince them to release HEAT-Viper, Tele-Viper, Flint, Lady Jaye, Snow Serpent, Hit & Run, Stinger Driver, Cobra Officer, etc, etc, etc. There wasnt a single figure shown in that concept case I wouldnt buy.

  2. Oh, almost forgot.

    Here’s my vote to have those two sets (Ninjas and Zombies) as next years BBTS exclusives!!! Just kick-ass.

  3. I agree with most of the things you’ve said here Justin, and even the ones I don’t agree with (the club vehicles) are by personal preference. I think you’ve hit the main point, that we have to have patience, squarely on the head.

  4. I agree whole heartedly. the fact that hasbro even showed us the vault items is amazing, if we have the chance to shape the future of our toy line then sign me up. Personally i like army builders, and i saw quite a few that i could use a couple of :)

  5. excellent article, and i commend you for having a mature and intelligent but no less realistic perspective on things. refreshing to read after all the whining and hasbro-bashing from the uninformed and firmly self-centered.

  6. Seconded! I do wonder if Dice’s inclusion in the FSS would prevent him from being included in such a hypothetical online retailer exclusive, but it would be a great way for both lines to get out there.

  7. Thanks for offering some much due perspective on the situation as it now stands. Your coverage has been excellent and much appreciated and your insights are, as always welcome. Clearly, Hasbro and the Collector’s Club more than share our pain and have, within reason, our sympathies. Even still…

    No one was more screwed by a short-sighted and gun-shy Paramount than Hasbro, but let Marvel be a lesson to all property holders–if you want your property to be well-handled, you’ve got to do it yourself. Now, Hasbro may not be in a position (like Marvel) to establish their own film studio to ensure that their property is properly handled on screen, but they are not totally blameless for allowing their property to be so badly mishandled. They may be very proud of the fact that they had a PR rep on the set throughout the production, and he seems like a nice fella, but as far as I can see, his main contribution to the production was to introduce an inconsequential merchandising gimmick. Lesson to Hasbro: a big-budget studio tent-pole movie is great advertising for your product only if the movie is worth releasing…on time. Next time (if there is a next time), QC is as (if not more) important in the licensing department as it is in that factory in China.

    As for the Collector’s Club…

    Admittedly, I haven’t got much skin in this game, but it seems to me you’re cutting them an awful lot of slack. If you’re going to sell your wares to the public, you have an explicit obligation to ensure that the method of transaction is secure and reliable. The buck stops with you. Deflecting responsibility and claiming you’re as much a victim as the consumer is bullshit. You know who else uses third-party processors for transactions? Every retailer you ever bought a product from. The gas I put in my tank this afternoon was paid for through a third-party processor and you better believe that that third-party processor is not who I’m going to take issue with should my credit card start showing fraudulent charges. I’m glad they were able to show their faces in public and put on a good show, but they should, by all means, take any heat they may have been subjected to regarding this issue.

    Thanks again for your reporting and commentary. Exemplary as ever. just wanted to share my own thoughts. Thanks for the space.

  8. If only people would grab those Dreadnoks and Renegades we would increase the chance of even getting an online retailer exclusive. I need those ninjas!

  9. “I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words
    and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk.
    It does not require many words to speak the truth”

  10. This red and white boy is ready to fly with ya Justin. I’m excited about the fact that is very much interested in what we say and if we make our voices heard in the right way there can be great things on the horizon. Yo Joe!!!!

  11. All in all the future looks bright. 2012 isn’t a total waste either, we have seen a glimpse of whats to come, that should be enough to keep us going. all I can think about is that pretty soon I’m going to have that awesome comic accurate firefly in my hands, my favourite character done properly like the definitive S.E. or SS. That thought will get me thru the rest of this year, even if for me, the rest of 2012 is a figure-less year. Yo Joe!

  12. Thanks for this, Justin. Excellent reporting.

    And I agree about the reaction to the concept case. While it was no doubt frustrating, this idea that Hasbro just put it out there to rub it in our faces is preposterous.

  13. Between the two I think the FSS Dice is the better looking figure. Of course there’s no reason Hasbro has to include Dice in their set at all. They could easily invent a new character and change the colors while still using that same tooling. That way we can have both and not feel like one is more redundant than the other.

  14. Seeing that case and knowing that a large percentage of it was made from existing parts and very little modification if any has got me thinking. For a while fans have been asking Hasbro about doing a fans choice figure like they do for Star Wars and Marvel Universe but that has never come about for whatever reasons. Now that they’ve shown us these and have talked about putting polls on their website, what if they decided to take lesser known characters or versions of characters (Tiger Force, Battle Corps, Sky Patrol, etc) that we haven’t gotten yet that they know they can produce using existing tooling and offer up a pole based on that and let us pick which of those could be included in a future wave of product as a fans choice figure? Maybe that’s their intention with those figures in that case now, but it would be nice to broaden that idea a bit to include stuff that ISN’T in that case too.

  15. Great takeaway, Justin. I, for one, am excited about ALL the stuff they showed, including what we’re actually scheduled to get. And seeing a concept like The Raven’s Wing trooper and the Echo Squad guys (I love all the sub-factions, but Joe needs more than Ninjas!) set my heart and imagination into high-gear. I’m looking forward to see which figs will make it into the inevitable “Pursuit of Cobra” equivalent we get after the movie line. Because we WILL get some of that stuff, I almost guarantee.

  16. Not a problem. I can certainly understand where you’re coming from on the Club issues. I should have prefaced this entry by saying that the GIJCC did accept responsibility for the security issues and did apologize for everything that happened. It didn’t come across as a “Cop out” during the seminar, just an explanation of what happened.

  17. I agree completely! The Raven’s Wing is one of my favorite things that I saw at the Convention! The figure isn’t terrific necessarily, but the concept is very cool. I like the new and different direction.

  18. Exactly. In speaking with the designers as well, I get the impression that seeing that case was just as painful (if not more so) for them as it was for us.

  19. They should have some contact information on Hasbro.com. Or stay tuned, I’m working to get a polling and survey system together here shortly.

  20. I did cover that in the post about the G.I. Joe Collectors Club round table. The FSS is pretty much ready to roll, they just need to iron out some final technical issues before rolling it out.

  21. This! I’ve also seen quite a few which I could use a couple of that will find their way to the Netherlands when they would be released … Yo Joe!

  22. Are you serious? You keep saying you don´t like the concept of “Joe troop builders” like greenshirts or Steel Brigade…

  23. Well said Justin! Agree with nearly all of your points. I didn’t see any newly revealed Retaliation toys that weren’t fully articulated… a VERY good sign.

  24. Hey Justin if there was an 11th thing you took away would it have been the discussion of the Redecoed Crockmaster and Blowtorch? This was also brought up at the GI Joe Roundtable and while John Warden confirmed they were made, Derryl DePriest said if none of the people at the Con had seen them they must not have been distributed and that they would look into that.

  25. I really like the Arashikage Skeleton Guy. Also the Jason Voorhees figure.

    A lot of the others kind of got the “Meh. Saw that before.” reaction from me. They’re nice, but I don’t need a figure that looks the same as another version that was released a few years ago just because the articulation might be slightly improved. I don’t mind homage figures, so long as there’s been sufficient time between releases.

    I really think PoC did it best. They managed to capture the essence of the figures while modernizing them without duplicating a previous figure. Jungle Assault Duke? We’ve never seen a Duke like that before, but even seeing it for the first time you know it’s Duke.

    I was really looking forward to the movie and the later waves of the single-carded figures. Just the new look alone made them worth having. I think I’ll be absolutely rabid by the time these come out.

  26. Also I want that Night Landing Craft reissue! I got one from the 80’s, but it’s seen better days.

  27. Thank you for this article, this is what I wanted to hear from Joecon: Where are we and where are we headed.

    Any word on what will happen to the reduced articulation and lack of stands moving forward? Articulation on single carded figures didn’t seem to me like it was lacking much in the figures shown. What will happen with vehicle drivers? How does Hasbro feel about the reception of these and what do they plan to do about it? Figure stands I guess are off the table for the rest of the Retaliation line. I really wish they would at least have included them in the 3-packs. Personally, I’m not buying anything without a stand, since I display my figures, I don’t play with them. So thus far I will be skipping all of Retaliation except for the amazon exclusive pack (which did come with stands). I really hope they decide to include them once again in whichever line comes next or I may be out for good.

    Anyway… glad to hear your positive attitude towards the next year. Here’s to hoping it really turns out as good or better than it looks right now.

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