It begins! GeneralsJoes unloads first reviews of 2017 Force of Battle Convention Set

I both love and hate this every year…

Reviewing the convention sets is always a challenge because there is so much to cover and I try to get them done as quickly as I can.  Obviously some years are quicker than others. :)

However, part of me really enjoys the feeling of diving into the whole set all at once, touching each figure again, checking them with each other, reliving the joy of acquisition.  So today I begin posting the reviews of the 2017 Force of Battle G.I. Joe Convention set, mostly thanks to the wonderful James Kavanaugh, Jr. who was kind enough to assist.  We went above and beyond the call of duty, so everyone go to RAHCGuide.com RIGHT NOW and buy some of his books, wouldya?

For the first installment, I’m covering three  BattleForce: 2000 figures:

You can hit up each review individually, or keep watching the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page to see them updated on a daily basis until they’re done.

Enjoy!

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G.I. Joe Convention 2017 “Force of Battle” Review

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

bf-2000-group-03

Two years in a row that I’ve been unable to attend JoeCon and I’m starting to question what my life has become… even though I missed hanging out with some of my best friends in the world down in Orlando, Florida, the immortal James Kavanaugh, Jr. has stepped up in a huge way and assisted me with product so I could still get this review done and out to folks.  I can’t thank him enough for his help and support, and to show him some love, check out his G.I. Joe guides at RAHCGuide.com.

So… BattleForce:2000.  I’ll be honest, even in the vintage era the BattleForce:2000 concept never really grabbed me.  In general I love the idea of the near future soldier, and it was some of those elements that really drew me into the 1990’s era of G.I. Joe, but the execution of BattleForce:2000 back in 1987 didn’t really appeal to me.  I loved Dodger and Blocker was a fun figure, but many of the rest were just too far out there from a design perspective and ended up feeling a little chunky and not as fun.

That being said, you can’t argue with their importance in G.I. Joe lore, and they represent a chunk of characters from 1987 – 89 that fans have been asking for.

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The Collectors Club brings us BattleForce:2000 but also works in some new renditions of the COBRA  Battle Android Troopers to flesh out the set, an idea that was met with mixed reviews (myself included).  Hasbro has been relatively relentless releasing B.A.T.’s ever since their first retail release in 2008, it’s difficult to see a need for yet another edition of the COBRA android, even with a head more resembling the v2 version from 1991.  Not just the idea of the B.A.T. itself, but the huge amount of troopers in the box set generated some questions and concerns among the community, especially when you think about the cost of the set and the perceived collectible value of the figures within.

So with a concept that I’m not wild with against a squad of COBRA’s that don’t bring a whole lot of new things to the table…what would my reaction be once I got these in hand?

Let’s say I didn’t really have high hopes, but let’s dig into the set itself and see how it all shaped out.

G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Blocker

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

blocker-01 blocker-02

Blocker holds the dubious distinction of being my favorite vintage BattleForce: 2000 figure, narrowly eclipsing Dodger.  Dodger is my favorite character, but Blocker was always my favorite figure.

The modern version?  Not so much.

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Don’t get me wrong, Blocker isn’t a bad figure, he’s got some redeeming qualities, but he doesn’t stand above and beyond the crowd.  A lot of that is do to his head sculpt.  Where the vintage Blocker had a great look with a lot of personality, this version has the same soft sculpt issues as Avalanche, but the worst issue is the paint on the face with the cross-eyed, vacant stare.  I’m not sure if this is a persistent problem on all Blockers, but it certainly was with mine.  The hat itself fits nicely and there is a bit more detail on the face (better than Avalanche, not as good as Blaster) so it’s not terrible, but the eyes do take away from the overall look of the figure.

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From a parts perspective, Blocker is great from the waist up.  A good selection of modern parts gives him a slender, well-articulated look, and I always applaud the use of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper vest.  One of my favorite accessories.  Unfortunately, below the waist, the figure suffers from the use of those horrid armored legs from Snake Eyes that look awful and restrict ankle movement.  I have no idea why these legs continue to be used, as I think any benefit to vintage resemblance is completely eliminated by the way they look and move.  I am not a fan of these legs at all.

The Club did a good job with paint applications on the figure, nicely mirroring the dark gray and brown camouflage, and you can immediately tell this is Blocker.  The head is unique, the colors work and overall the figure doesn’t look terrible, he just no longer sits as one of my favorites.

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And of course the other remaining issue is the lack of a visor on his hat which is a real shame.  It seems redundant to continue complaining about these additional face pieces that the Club didn’t include with these new heads, but I’m doing it anyway.  Humor me.

Accessories

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Blocker follows the formula we’ve seen, including a reproduction of his vintage weapon as well as a more modern one, this time being a great shotgun that he holds exceedingly well.  I’m a big fan of this weapon and love its inclusion here (much moreso than his vintage weapon which I’m not a big fan of).

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Blocker is good, but not great, mostly due to his head sculpt, lack of a visor, and use of the lower legs.  There is potential there, but it feels like some potential lost.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Blaster

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

blaster-01 blaster-02

An interesting thing has happened with the release of the BattleForce: 2000 convention set… I’ve been somewhat forced to go back and look at the original figures and I’ve been somewhat surprised about the realization that BattleForce: 2000 as a concept, something that never worked for me with the vintage aesthetic, is a lot more appealing in their modern forms.

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Blaster is a perfect example of this.  While I appreciated what they were going for back in 1987 with the cool futuristic battle helmet, the thick torso armor and padded legs, the figure looked a little off, as did most of the Battleforce: 2000 figures back in the day.  Rather than look bulky and imposing like the majority of the 90’s figures did, they looked mostly chubby and clunky.

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That problem has been mostly resolved with these modern figures, especially in Blaster’s case.  While the majority of the new head sculpts for the convention figures look soft and lack crisp features, Blaster seems to be the best of the bunch.  His helmet looks great and has some cool sculpted detail throughout, and the face actually looks like a real person, not a facsimile of one. The choice of relatively modern parts gives him a streamlined, yet reinforced look and feel, but he has some really great articulation in spite of that.  Unlike the vintage figure, he manages to look futuristic and well equipped without being overstuffed and mal-proportioned.

Interestingly, my favorite part of this figure are his legs.  They use a combination of two different legs for the uppers and lowers, yet they fit together seamlessly and look great, but also look nicely different and don’t immediately resemble already existing parts.  A nice combination.

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Like the vintage figure, Blaster is a nice green shade throughout with some pretty interesting camouflage placement on the chest and legs, with hints of blue trim.  He matches the vintage figure fairly well, but makes improvements in some key areas, which is appreciated.  The removable holster is definitely a cool element as well.

It would have been nice if the figure had come with a removable mask as the vintage version did, those seem to be some key pieces of all of these BattleForce: 2000 figures that were neglected in pretty much every case, which is a shame.  Investing in tooling for a new head, you’d think masks and mouthpieces could be accommodated for as well.  Personally I’d rather have had the masks or microphones over the reproduced vintage guns (since most of them are somewhat ludicrous) but the Club elected to go the other way.

Accessories

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Blaster isn’t loaded with gear.  He comes with his stand, a reproduction of his vintage weapon and a machine gun that I believe was originally released with the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper.  A small selection of weapons, but one that makes sense, and while the Club is releasing the vintage weapons with these figures, I’m glad they’ve also elected to include other weaponry as well that feels a bit more functional and less ornamental.

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Blaster is probably one of my favorite figures in the boxed set.  He’s got good colors, great articulation and a decent parts selection all combining together into a fun figure that is a decent update (and actually even an upgrade) to the original.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Avalanche

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

avalanche-01 avalanche-02

Avalanche epitomizes everything that I didn’t really like about BattleForce: 2000 back in the 80’s.  His helmet is strangely shaped and doesn’t make much sense, his uniform attempts to look armored and padded, but just kind of looks fat, and his weapon is a bizarre radar dish on a block of metal that doesn’t manage to look especially futuristic or even very interesting.  Combine that with the fact that I’ve never loved arctic figures to begin with, and I didn’t find a whole lot to love about Avalanche back in the day.

I don’t find a whole lot to love about this one either.

avalanche-03

While I like the use of Retaliation Firefly’s torso and the way they combined armored pieces on the right shoulder, the rest of the figure feels relatively blah.  His slender legs and knee-high metal boots are an interesting contrast and provide some great range of motion, but the use of 25th Anniversary Iron Grenadier Destro arms completely kills any sense of decent articulation with this figure.  Elbows that only bend at a 45 degree angle should really be banned from all future use, no matter how accurate they might look to the source material.  Aesthetically they are intriguing, but functionally they disappoint, preventing the figure from carrying any weapon in a realistic way.

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Like several of the other BattleForce team members, Avalanche gets a new head sculpt, but I gotta tell you, it’s not real pretty.  The head bleeds into the helmet and ends up looking pretty uncomfortable for poor Avalanche.  Sculpt wise, the face is smooth and flat and unfeatured and just does not do the figure any justice whatsoever.

Using the vintage figure as a template, Avalance is mostly white with assorted brown camouflage and the paint scheme is fine, though again, nothing too special.

Accessories

avalanche-acc-01

Like the other BattleForce members, Avalanche comes with a reproduction of his vintage weapon as well as a modern weapon as well, and I actually really love the sniper rifle he comes with.  It’s a great choice.  The radar dish weapon, not so much.  Also, it would have been great if his microphone could have been sculpted and tooled alongside the helmet, but the Club elected not to do so, apparently.  Avalanche also comes with a removable knife for a sheath on his left thigh.

avalanche-04

Avalanche was never my favorite BattleForce: 2000 figure and he remains my not favorite one today.  The head sculpt is soft and not up to spec for what I expect from a modern G.I. Joe figure.  Not the best foot forward here.


3DJoes Cribs Episode 01 – Snackbar Ranch

Our buddy Carson over at 3DJoes has just released the premier episode of 3DJoes Cribs which takes a look at the home of Admiral Josh Snackbar and his nicely displayed toy room.

The video is really well produced and edited and was a very fun watch!  You should check it out on YouTube, and don’t forget to hit up 3DJoes.com for their fantastic  take at the history of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

3DJoes-Cribs

Marauder reveals mind-blowing prototype images for their Kickstarter

Holy wow.

So we’re reaching the zenith of the most recent Marauder Task Force Kickstarter, this one for the revolutionary new Exo-Suit and military K-9, also wrapped up with Contract Ops and the just announced Agency Ops stretch goals (dudes in business suits fer cryin’ out loud!)

There are only three short days left and there is still a some room to grow, especially for folks looking for Agency Ops figures.  The stretch goal for business suits stands at $172,000, which is nearly $40,000 above where things currently stand, so if you’re as fired up about those figures as I am, let’s pony up and make that happen.

Meanwhile, to stoke the fire and excite the fans, Marauder has posted images of full prototypes of both the K-9 AND the Exo-Suit and… well…  WOW.  I won’t lie, the Exo-Suit is my main draw to this Kickstarter, and I am in looooooove with what I see here.  Boss Fight Studio continues to push the envelope for design and I’m thrilled that they’re working alongside Marauder on these new installments.  Articulation, amazing design, these things have it all.

Check out all of the fantastic prototype images below and let’s all come together and make Agency Ops (and more) a reality!  Support the Kickstarter today, only THREE DAYS LEFT.

Good heavens just look at those images.  I think I’m in love.

Toys “R” Us announces bankruptcy proceedings – the end of an era?

I was eleven years old when I first set foot in Toys “R” Us.  Back then, in the 80’s going to Toys “R” Us wasn’t a shopping trip, it was a pilgrimage.  These days, with millions of toys at your fingertips it’s easy to forget the feeling of walking into that mammoth store, stacked floor to ceiling with nothing but toys.

Imagine being an eleven year old kid, an absolute action figure and toy freak, and going to your first Toys “R” Us.  Action figures were in aisle 7c back then, somehow I knew that, I have no idea how, and I swiftly navigated my way through stacks of diagonal bicycles, frantically looking at the aisle signs, looking for those two precious characters.

It was a life changing moment for young me.

For the whole trip down to the store, I had dreamed of what I would find, and recently becoming enamored with the Silverhawks animated series, I desperately hoped beyond hope that this mythical toy mecca would have them.

They did.

I walked out with a handful of chrome, plasticy goodness (long since sold, I’m afraid to say) and my post-Toys “R” Us life would never be the same.

The retail toy giant announced that they officially filed Chapter 11 yesterday, in hopes for another restructuring and delaying of debts so that they might find a way to continue to survive.  But with this being their second attempt at restructuring in the face of retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon, one must wonder just how much longer they have left, and then the kid in me dies just a little bit inside.

toys-r-us-logo

I can, more or less, go to Toys “R” Us any time I want to now.  It’s an hour drive, but I’m an adult with a car.  It doesn’t quite mean the same thing to me now as it did back then, but I still remember the look on each of my daughters’ faces the first time they set foot in those hallowed halls.  The feeling that generations of children might never experience that same feeling makes me sad.

toys-r-us

Let’s all hope that this announcement prolongs the toy giant’s life and doesn’t lead to yet another downturn in the recently failing brick and mortar retail market.