Year after year it feels like the G.I. Joe Convention becomes less about toys and more about friends and community, and this year was no different. Heck, I spent 36 hours crammed in a car with other people as part of the weekend festivities!
Looking back on the weekend, there are 10 key moments that I feel really captured JoeCon 2015 for me.
10 – Friendships and memories.
If I was being honest, this would be top of the list, but I think it kind of goes without saying, and deserves to be talked about first. Anyone who goes to JoeCon realizes pretty quickly that this annual gathering isn’t just about new toys and nerding out, it’s also about friendships. Memories. And appreciating those short moments where you get to come together and appreciate each other’s company. From my 36 hour round trip voyage with several of my closest friends to the 6 hour wake to celebrate Gary Head’s life… those are the moments that I hold most close during these trips. Those are the moments that make JoeCon what it is. Everything else you may see down this list is all gravy.
09 – Kokomo Toys
Most Joefans are at least familiar with Kokomo Toys, and for the first time ever, I was able to walk through those hallowed grounds. Sure, it took us a little off the beaten path towards Springfield, but it was worth every minute of extended travel. The sheer amoung of vintage product is mind blowing to see in person, and anyone who hasn’t yet visited this fantastic toy store in Kokomo, Indiana, you’re truly missing out. Do what you can do to check this place out. You will not regret it!
08 – Hasbro reveals Gung Ho
Due to Mark Weber’s interview with the G.I. Joe Collectors Club, most of us were aware that Hasbro would be showing SOMETHING, but we weren’t quite sure what. Hasbro’s presentation showed a nice selection of new product coming to Toys “R” Us this fall, but far and away what led the pack was the fact that concept case Gung Ho was finally seeing retail release! There was an audible cheer from the audience when this was revealed, and while I actually think I might like the FOE Striker w/ Chuckles more personally, I can’t argue that Gung Ho was desperate for a new version, and this did the Marine proud.
07 – Convention Exclusive Reveals
Generally I arrive at the Con on Wednesdays to pick up my Golden Ticket package and bury myself in the Convention comic to get an idea of what other exclusives might be on the horizon. This time around, I was on the road with my friends making the trek into Springfield when the comic was picked up. The joy in the car as we passed my phone around, looking at the comic art and the list was incredible. It was such a great moment to share with my friends as we cruised down towards JoeCon. First seeing the comic art for Bazooka, the Tiger Sting, Tiger Shark, Tiger Hawk, Skystriker, Frostbite, and Alpine, then digging into the list within the comic to try and determine which three characters might appear in that Helicopter Three Pack. It was a ton of fun that I was fortunate to share with my friends.
06 – Boss Fight Studio
Erik, Dave, and Fred from Boss Fight Studio made an impressive showing at the Convention this year, bringing a case full of early samples, including the infamous Skeleton! Along with their own Vitruvian HACKS product, they brought artwork for Eagle Force and Captain Action, wowing many fans in attendance with some brand new reveals, including Stryker, Jr. and Fireball. Throughout the entire weekend, there was a crowd gathered around their small booth, clamoring for information and sneak peeks.
05 – Robo JoeFans
Sure, the product reveals are always interesting, but it’s the people that make JoeCon what it is. One of our convention regulars, Thomas O’Mahoney unfortunately couldn’t make JoeCon this year due to working in Japan, but he didn’t let that stop him. Like him, Nathan Aveyard, who made his first long trip from Australia last year, couldn’t make it either. Resourceful JoeFan Ben didn’t let any of that stop us, however. Renting a telepresence robot, both Tom and Nathan sprang up throughout the Convention weekend, rolling around on wheels, and talking to friends and fellow fans. At one point, Tom even had a prolonged conversation with a young kid in a booth, talking about the joys of G.I. Joe. He even spent some time with Derryl DePriest.
Gotta love technology.
04 – Kindle Worlds Panel
I’m a bit biased about this because of my work with Kindle Worlds and my Price of Peace Trilogy, but this panel was a very important part of JoeCon 2015. Hearing the support and respect that Derryl and Hasbro have for those of us who have worked hard to develop fiction for the brand made a huge difference to me, and was extremely motivating. The announcement that a Kindle Worlds character would be introduced into the 2016 G.I. Joe line absolutely blew us all away, and was a highlight of this year’s show, for sure.
03 – Billy announced as part of FSS 4.0
Ever since his first appearance in G.I. Joe #10 fans have wondered when we might get our hands on a figure of Cobra Commander’s son Billy. Well, now we know. FSS 4.0 will be bringing the young ninja master to collections in 2015/2016. Great news and a welcome surprise!
02 – Pythona!
Fans have been clamoring for and screaming for this figure for YEARS. Heck, ever since her first animated appearance in 1987, and finally, the Collectors Club has come through. While they had no images to show, they made the announcement that the 2016 Membership Incentive figure would be… Pythona. Now, hopefully fans have set their expectations properly. The Club isn’t suddenly able to 100% tool up an entire figure, so this will have to be some kind of creative kit-bashing. Let’s see what they come up with.
01 – Hasbro announces Gary Head tribute Sightline action figure
When Derryl DePriest and Mark Weber announced that the upcoming Sightline action figure would be named after Gary Goggles… well… it was emotional to say the least. The announcement received a standing ovation, as well it should have, and I saw more than a couple of my friends wiping their eyes dry.
Kudos to Hasbro and to Mr. DePriest who no doubt put some serious time into making this happen and playing their part to celebrate Gary’s legacy.
As you can see, even through some issues with registration, exclusive pricing, and other concerns, JoeCon remains one of the best weekends of the year and a time where true memories are built. I can’t express enough appreciation to all of my friends and all the new attendees who made this year’s trip so worthwhile. As it always is, JoeCon was amazing this year, and you all were the biggest reason why.