GeneralsJoes Reviews 50th Anniversary Croc Master & Blowtorch

While I admit to not being all that excited about the unreleased concept art Blowtorch and Python Patrol Croc Master, I’m glad to see that many collectors who desired those two figures are being satisfied.

Do a pair of new paint deco’s make up for any shortcomings from 25th Anniversary era figure builds?  Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page or click the links below to see for yourself!

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G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Croc Master

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There can be a lot of similarities found between my feelings for Croc Master and for Blowtorch as expressed above.  Croc Master was a somewhat mediocre 25th Anniversary figure (at least in my opinion) who suffered a bit from the aesthetic of the times.  I can only picture what a Pursuit of Cobra or 30th Anniversary Croc Master would look like and tear up a little.  He’s one of my favorite more obscure characters, and I’m just not sure that 25th Anniversary version does him justice.

He’s not a terrible figure by any means, I’d just love for him to be larger and more imposing.

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All that being said, he was a figure that was never particularly difficult to find, and I believe was even on clearance, yet he was re-released in the exact same color scheme in the Pursuit of Cobra line (the same series as Blowtorch) for an unknown reason.  Then, infamously, like Blowtorch was slated for the Pursuit of Cobra line in a Python Patrol themed repaint, but never made it to retail.

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Hasbro fixes that error by releasing both he and Blowtorch in this two pack and while fans are likely excited (these two were in hot demand for a while) I don’t feel particularly inspired.  The Croc Master figure uses all of the same parts as the 25th Anniversary version, which does have some unique touches like the bite marks on the arms and the great head sculpt with removable mouthpiece.  This new version in the red and gray Python Patrol paint scheme does look pretty cool (although it stands out a bit since all modern era Python Patrol repaints have been in the vintage yellow/gray/green style and not the red style).  Purely from a color standpoint, I do like this new paint scheme, I just wish it was applied over some newer, more detailed parts and pieces.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the color scheme for this Croc Master figure.  The red is a great, dark shade, and actually does link up nicely to some of the red trim throughout other Python Patrol figures.  The deco on the legs is nearly a perfect match for some other figures as well, and in a group shot situation, Croc Master blends far better with the overall team than I thought he might initially.

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Accessories

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Croc Master comes with some familiar gear including the croc, cobra, whip, capture net, and shotgun, as well as the case that contained a couple more snakes in the Rise of Cobra line.  They are some good accessories, but like Blowtorch, nothing we haven’t seen before and nothing that blows my socks off.

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From a collectiblity standpoint, I know what the draw was for this two pack, and I definitely understand why Hasbro did what it did.  However, as someone who has no real love for the original versions of these figures, I have no special desire to see them repainted either.  I never truly understood the fascination for the Pursuit of Cobra repaints, and suspect if they had hit retail as intended, they likely would have been the last to sell out.  Their unreleased status was their biggest draw.  It will be interesting to see the retail response to these now that they join the common “released” cast of characters.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Blowtorch

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When I reviewed Spirit from the Classic Clash 2-Pack I made reference to the fact that while I wasn’t in love with the 25th Anniversary version of the figure, the accessories almost made up for it.  I kind of feel the same way about Blowtorch, though his accessories aren’t quite as cool.

Blowtorch is one of those frustrating figures to me.  He has a great sculpt with some good colors and very nice accessories, but has a few limiting factors to me, most of which are his elbow joints.  When this figure was first made a number of years ago they hadn’t quite perfected the bulky cloth sculpt while maintaining great articulation.  As a result, Blowtorch’s thick padded uniform ends up restricting his elbow movement far too much for my liking.  I have some room for forgiveness for a lot of aesthetic choices like that, however when a guy whose specialty is essentially his flamethrower weapon can’t even hold said weapon, that’s a bit of a turn off.  Because of the elbows he cannot even hold the flamethrower two-handed, so I have a hard time finding some love for the figure.

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However, there are some things to love about this version of Blowtorch.

I know most folks reading this are aware of the homage to Gary Head with the Sightline figure, and that’s a terrific aspect of this series of 50th Anniversary releases.  What some folks may not know, though, is that Gary’s relationship with legendary sculptor Bill Merklein revealed some early concept art for Blowtorch, including a piece showing him in this green and gray color scheme.  There was a lot of fandom clamor for a version of Blowtorch in that color scheme, so in a way, I consider this figure also an homage to Gary, and I’m glad it’s out there for that reason.  Not only that, but as much as the color scheme for Blowtorch does make sense from a flamethrower perspective, seeing the figure in a darker color shade is enjoyable as well.  Add that in with the whole throwback to the canceled Pursuit of Cobra figures, and there are some things to appreciate here.

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From head to toe this is just a repaint of the 25th Anniversary Blowtorch…that fact alone is a bit off putting when you consider that the original 25th Anniversary Blowtorch was never that much of an in demand figure, and for some reason we got the figure re-released in the Pursuit of Cobra (almost exactly the same) and then re-released again last year in the 50th Anniversary line.  Now we have him for a fourth time, although at least this figure has a drastically different paint scheme.  As I said, I understand the temptation to do this figure, I just hope we can now consider Blowtorch retired for a long while.

Accessories

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The G.I. Joe flamethrower comes with his typical accessories, including the helmet, oxygen mask, flamethrower, backpack, oxygen tank, assault rifle, and two mines.  They’re all repurposed accessories from the Pursuit of Cobra/50th Anniversary versions, and while it’s nice to get some of the gear in slightly different colors, there isn’t much really new and exciting here.

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It’s difficult for me to rationalize the decision to release yet another version of a somewhat mediocre 25th Anniversary figure, but with the fandom demand for the canceled Pursuit of Cobra repaints, I can see why Hasbro would want to lean that direction.  That being said, from a personal perspective I don’t have a lot of love for another Blowtorch repaint, even as an homage to a canceled vintage version.

GeneralsJoes Reviews 50th Anniversary “Silent Strike” Boxed Set

Lots of folks have been asking when I’m going to get the 50th Anniversary reviews under way… consider today the day!

First and foremost I’m tackling the Silent Strike boxed set featuring the Skystriker w/ Capt. Ace & Sightline vs. the COBRA HISS w/ HISS Driver and HISS Gunner.

This set is available right now from Big Bad Toy Store, and was one of my most anticipated 50th Anniversary items. So did it live up to expectations?

Find out on my 50th Anniversary Review Page, or click the links below directly.

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G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Silent Strike HISS w/ HISS Driver and HISS Gunner

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The “battle in a box” concept is alive and well with Hasbro’s new G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary line, and that concept works really nicely with this large boxed set.  One of the most anticipated entries in this year’s release, the Silent Strike set has something for everyone, featuring two timeless vehicles, army builders, a new character, and an interesting new twist with Wolf Squad.

I found myself really enjoying the G.I. Joe parts of Silent Strike…but the COBRA parts?  Well, I wasn’t quite as fired up about those, for a variety of reasons.

COBRA HISS

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When it comes to landmark COBRA vehicles, the HISS Tank leads the way as being one of the most identifiable.  That makes it somewhat interesting that for this round of the 50th Anniversary, we were actually exposed to the G.I. Joe CHIMERA before we got our hands on the actual COBRA HISS.  Though I think some folks would argue whether or not this version of the venerable COBRA High Speed Sentry really is the familiar, distinct HISS Tank.  It does, after all, more resemble the Eco Warriors Septic Tank from a color scheme perspective.

I don’t have a huge issue with Hasbro going this way with the new HISS.  After all, we’ve seen black HISS Tanks, blue HISS Tanks, red HISS Tanks, even brown and green HISS Tanks, pretty much all colors and styles over the past 7 or 8 years.  We haven’t, however, seen an orange HISS since the 90s (well, unless you count the Collectors’ Club Convention exclusive from a couple of years ago).  Considering many fans have latched onto the Hazard Vipers as a part of COBRA’s place in the Zombie apocalypse, perhaps it makes a certain amount of sense to work one of these new technically advanced HISS Tanks into the Hazard Viper corps.

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The base vehicle is the same HISS as we’ve been seeing since 1984, which is fine, although not especially new or different.  Like the CHIMERA, the turret is a nicely new tooled rail gun system, which manages to retain the classic look and feel, but add some new twists, something that HISS turret upgrades have pretty much failed to do since the 1989 HISS II.  For that reason alone, this update to the timeless vehicle has something to appreciate.  The rail gun system is extremely easy to detach and re-attach to a vintage or 25th Anniversary HISS as well, so you can equip your classic black tanks with these great gun upgrades whenever you want.

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As mentioned the deco leans heavily towards the Eco Warrior orange template, with some nicely applied paint and decals bringing the vehicle to life.  I’ve never been one to shrink away from bright colors, so the orange doesn’t bother me a whole lot (though I can’t help but think the vehicle might have looked better in a nice dark COBRA blue, a color I’m not sure the original HISS has ever appeared in).

COBRA HISS Driver & HISS Gunner

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I’m not quite sure how to rationalize this pair, but I am reviewing them as a pair just because they’re so similar in design.

From a build standpoint, they’re both designed to mimic the Pursuit of Cobra rendition of the COBRA HISS Driver, only the gunner utilizes Night Viper’s legs rather than the Battle Armor COBRA Commander.  And yes, I’m labelling him the gunner simply because if we look at the HISS Driver as a straight repaint of the existing HISS Driver, it only makes sense for the one that has a slightly different build to be the new Trooper character.  Some confusion has been generated by press photos and such, but in my mind, it only makes sense to look at it this way.  Not to mention the actual box itself as the name lined up with the figure build in a pretty clear way.

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The figures use the 25th Anniversary HISS Driver head with the Battle Armor COBRA Commander torso and arms.  As mentioned, the gunner has the Night Viper legs.  The build is okay, I guess.  To be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of it in the Pursuit of Cobra days (it seemed like one of the few design missteps in those formative years) and it doesn’t really light my fire here either.  I mean, it’s okay, but in a set where I was heaping loads of praise on Ace for being able to exist as a vehicle pilot as well as an awesome individual figure, it’s only fair to point out that the HISS Driver and Gunner don’t really measure up the same way.

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Both figures are mostly orange, and while I don’t mind the colors necessarily, I’m not a big fan of the way they’re applied.  There aren’t many detail breaks here, just a huge swath of orange, with random bits of metallic gray/silver and black.  No particular rhyme or reason to the way the colors are applied.  That holds true for both figures, even with the different legs of the gunner.  As I said previously, I don’t shy away from bright colors, I just want the colors to make sense, and in some places here they really don’t.  Some additional paint apps on the armor pieces or in other trim locations would definitely help.  I think we all realize much of the production here was on a shoestring budget, so it’s understandable that the paint applications suffer here and there…and frankly, if they’re going to cut paint apps anywhere, I’d prefer it’s on figures where they’re covered by armor, or where they’re going to be stuck in a vehicle anyway.

Accessories

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HISS Gunner Accessories

Both the Driver and the Gunner come with mostly the same gear load out.  The silver vest (that originally came with Pilot Destro), a pistol, and a laser-type weapon.  The Gunner comes with a larger pulse rifle that originally came with Rise of COBRA Baroness while the Driver comes with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes weapon.

The gear is fine, if somewhat unremarkable.  I love the pistols, though the tight trigger guard prevents some really nice holding and trigger firing poses.

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Out of the entire Silent Strike set, the two HISS Troopers are definitely the low light.  I do like the fact that Hasbro has finally thought to provide us with an actual gunner for the HISS Tank, but the build is pretty blah and I’m not a fan of the color concepts or paint applications.

 

While I pretty much love the G.I. Joe side of this boxed set, the COBRA side overall leaves me somewhat cold.  I enjoyed the G.I. Joe CHIMERA more than I thought I would, but it does make me feel a bit like the HISS here is a “been there, done that”.  I think some more effective COBRA themed colors would have helped.  The HISS Driver and Gunner also don’t do it any favors.  The set overall is worth a purchase simply because of the great G.I. Joe gear (and folks who haven’t gotten the ComicCon set will get their first exposure to the great new rail guns for the HISS) but I could think of some changes on the COBRA side I would have much preferred.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Silent Strike Skystriker w/ Sightline & Capt Ace

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It was a moment at JoeCon that I’m not likely to forget any time soon.  The Hasbro round table as regularly been the highlight of many a JoeCon, mostly due to the product reveals and exciting announcements, and while the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention was no different, it was the context of those announcements that really brought the good feelings to the surface.

While the 50th Anniversary product was a highlight, to be sure, the source of so much praise was the reveal of the new character Sightline and the fact that he was being developed as an homage to G.I. Joe fanatic Gary “Goggles” Head who passed away suddenly early this year.  Using Gary Goggles as his file name, Sightline was slotted into the Silent Strike boxed set, working alongside Captain Ace as his forward observer and recon expert.  As if that wasn’t enough, the figure design was slated to come with goggles.  It all seemed to come together perfectly, and the raucus audience let Hasbro know how they felt during the reveal.

Like I said, a great moment.


(Video Courtesy of Dave and Duvall and Toy World Order)

The only thing left to see would be whether the execution of the Silent Strike boxed set would live up to its conceptual development, and I’m happy to say, I believe it does.

I had some mixed reactions with the Crimson Strike ComicCon set, but from end-to-end I find myself really enjoying Silent Strike.

SKYSTRIKER

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I asked the question during the ComicCon version of this set review, about whether or not we really needed another Skystriker.  The answer to that question is obviously a “no”, but it’s tough to argue that point when they execute it as well as the Crimson Scythe was executed, and frankly, the vehicle in this set is pretty darn nice as well.

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Sure, there’s not a whole lot of outside the box thinking or ingenuity here, this is essentially a “stealth” Skystriker, the familiar F-14 Tomcat in a darker gray, almost black paint scheme.  It’s the same version of the plane that we’ve gotten several times since its 2011 debut, and there’s not a whole lot to complain about, really.  The newly tooled structure of the plane is great, the “swing-wings” work well, and the missiles have been greatly improved since it’s debut, staying hooked onto their mounts on the plane far better than they have previously.

I’m not sure exactly how they achieved the effect, but the gray on the Skystriker has an almost metallic or reflective quality, which is a pretty neat design aesthetic.  I don’t know if it’s marblized or not, but it comes across looking really “shiney” which is a nice separation from just a traditional dark gray color.

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Sure, the plane is still just a single seater, but I maintain that this isn’t a huge issue, as you can’t really clearly see inside when the vehicle is on display, and if you want to “play with it” as a double seater, just use a little imagination, it’s not a huge deal.  This version of the famous assault plane is a lot more solid and durable feeling than its predecessor, and I must admit I really do like the darker color scheme here.  The canopy is a very nice diversion from the original, too, with some great red highlights.

One of my favorite elements of the Skystriker is probably the great new Wolf themed logo on the rear fin.  It also matches a patch that can be found on Ace’s arm as well.

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As I said, this isn’t an extremely clever or unusual concept for a Skystriker update, but it looks very cool, which helps.

CAPTAIN ACE

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One of the most unheralded figures in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary line was the version of Ace that came with the original Skystriker.  Using a fantastic mix of modern parts, that version of Ace existed as a great pilot figure, but also a very cool figure altogether.  Both him and the ComicCon COBRA Commander based on him are great examples of how a vehicle driver can be designed as a great driver without sacrificing the basic qualities of a good figure.

The 50th Anniversary update to Captain Ace retains the same parts formula as that one, but done in the now well known “Wolf Squad” color scheme of dark gray with some subtle red highlights, which works really nicely as a flight suit, but also as part of the Wolf Squad ground team.  It’s a combination of unusual individual parts that make up a really solid final figure that has great articulation as well as a fantastic looking somewhat futuristic flight suit.  This version of Ace maintains all of that and I really love the colors as well.  Interestingly, Hasbro balances the gray with a reflective “gun metal” type of paint scheme that just compliments each other so well and looks fantastic.  It ties Ace into the Wolf Squad, but also gives him a very technical look, which works well.  I love how the reflective gray colors on Ace’s uniform trim matches the same reflective gray look on the attack plane.  It ties them both together really well and is a nice effect on its own to boot.

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Another link to the aircraft is the Wolf Squad logo on Ace’s arm, which is pretty tiny, but it’s definitely there.

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The Wolf Squad aesthetic has evolved into something very cool, and I hope Hasbro leverages that going forward.

Accessories

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Captain Ace comes with some familiar gear, some of the same stuff as previous versions of the figure came with.  He has the flight vest that the original figure came with, as well as the leg harness from Para-Viper.  The flight helmet is straight from the Pursuit of COBRA Skydive, which is a change from the previous Ace figure, but still works nicely.  He also has a small submachine gun and the pistol that slides neatly into his ankle holster.

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I really love the evolution of some of these pilot figures.  Both Ace and the G.I. Joe: Retaliation version of Lift Ticket have evolved past being drivers and into really excellent looking military themed updates, who can exist behind the control stick, or behind a machine gun.  This new version of Ace is no different, and I’m excited to have him.

SIGHTLINE

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For as much as G.I. Joe has been based off of existing vintage concepts for many of the modern releases, in my mind the bread and butter is with new characters.  It’s what really helped the line push on through its original 12 year run, and for many folks, it’s what continues to interest long time fans.  As a figure, Sightline works quite well.  For the most part, he uses the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Duke template (though the armored torso is from Retaliation Duke version 1, not the Ultimate version) only in a great digital camouflage urban deco instead of desert.  He uses the alternate head that came with that figure, and even though, from the surface, the figure looks identical, the camouflage paint scheme does wonders to differentiate him.  Heck, the Ultimate Duke figure is a fantastic figure anyway, so tough to complain about him being the base.

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He’s one of those great toys that has a pretty bulky armored uniform, but still maintains significantly great articulation, with elbows and knees that move quite well.  I’ll admit, though, as time goes on, I have less love for the rocker ankles, and they feel a little weird on this figure as well.

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So, take one of the greatest figures from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation line, give it a terrific urban camouflage paint scheme, and base his new character identity on a good friend who passed away?  Yeah, that’s a good formula for success in my eyes.

Accessories

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Sightline comes with a sniper rifle, the Duke vest, a laptop, pistol, knife, and shovel.  I’m going to assume the inclusion of the shovel wasn’t meant as an homage (Gary Head unfortunately passed away due to heart failure from shoveling snow) and was merely an accessory that made sense for the character’s specialty.  The sniper rifle and laptop are both terrific accessories, and I love the idea of Gary Head’s character having a computer within reach at all times.  The knife and pistol fit the holster and sheath and I really like those base weapons anyway.

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Yes, this figure was a highlight for collectors, and in many ways the end result meets our lofty expectations.  It’s a great figure based on a great friend, and I’m glad to have him in hand.

Looking at the G.I. Joe side of the Silent Strike set, I’m extremely happy with how this all came together.  Although the Skystriker is on the verge of overuse (heck, some might argue it crossed that line a while ago), I do like this new paint scheme.  Both Ace and Sightline are highlights of this second run of 50th Anniversary figures, and the core of the Wolf Squad concept is done amazingly well in this boxed set.  Thumbs way up on this side of the fence.

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New press images for upcoming Loyal Subjects G.I. Joe items

Over on the Official Loyal Subjects Facebook group, a great selection of new press images has been revealed for upcoming G.I. Joe product and it looks insanely cool.  A great mixture of vinyl style and articulation (with removable accessories to boot!) this looks like a pretty huge step forward in the vinyl figure concept.

They also showed images of the FANG (with rotating copter blades) and the Watchtower (with rotating gun and movable spotlight).  These mini accessories can actually fit the figures!  Pretty crazy looking stuff.

Check out the images below, and keep watching TheLoyalSubjects.com and the Loyal Subjects Facebook Group for the latest info!  Also, the NerdRAHtio podcast posted an interview with Loyal Subjects designer Joe Allard recently, you should absolutely check that out, too.

SMALLJOES.COM – Hundreds of new GI JOE vintage items, new Marvel, and more

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been having an enjoyable summer. We’ve been staying busy here, getting new product ready for you. See below for some of our newest additions.

It’s free GI JOE comic book time again! From now through the end of September, for every $25 in merchandise ordered you will receive a free, random GI JOE comic book (our choice). To qualify, your order must contain at least one GI JOE-branded item.

Small Joes buys GI JOE, 1:18 scale military, and other collections. If you are thinking about selling please contact them through the customer service form on the website.

Small Joes has recently added over 600 vintage GI JOE figures and vehicles 1982 – 1994. 99% of their listings in the vintage category are complete and in excellent condition (any exceptions noted on product page).

Small Joes have a complete in-stock selection of all Marvel Universe 4″ and Marvel Legends 6″ action figures released in 2015. This includes the Avengers, Ant-Man, and Spider-Man lines. You can purchase figures individually, or save $ and purchase by the assortment set.

Small Joes has added several new 1:6 scale military action figures. Dragon In Dream (DiD) U.S. Navy SEAL CNSWG-4 22nd SBT (Special Boat Team), “Weimy” as appeared in the movie Act of Valor. Also, U.S. Army Pilot / Air Crew by Soldier Story and U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team by DAM Toy. These are all ultra-high quality collectibles with intricately detailed real cloth uniforms and gear.

Small Joes’ APEX Action Figure Display Case is in-stock! The case includes three parts: a crystal clear poly-styrene base, a stand, and cover. The cover fits snugly around the base to keep out unwanted dust. The stand is designed to fit neatly inside of the case and to maximize space for display of 3 3/4″ – 4″ (roughly 1:18 scale) action figures, or other figurines and collectibles of similar size. Made 100% in the U.S.A. The popular APEX Tiered Display Stand is currently out of stock but Small Joes is taking pre-orders now for a late September delivery.

Small Joes also have in the Clearance Aisle a lot of cool stuff at low prices. GI JOE Retaliation, Indiana Jones, Marvel 4″ figures, GI JOE t-shirts, Gears of War 3 4″ figures, 1:6 scale figures, and much much more!

 

Incredible G.I. Joe: Battleground art featured on Instagram

I think most of us can agree that by far the best part about the mobile card battle game G.I. Joe: Battleground was the artwork, right?

Well, if you enjoyed that part of the game like I did, you’re going to want to head on over to Jarreau Wimberly’s Instagram page, as he’s revealing his artwork for the game at gorgeous high resolution. Some of these pieces are just spectacular.

There are over 50 of them already, and he’s revealing more every day!

Check out his Instagram Page here and revel in the beauty of your favorite characters in his awesome artistic style.

Thanks to Twitziller for the heads up as always.

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Solicitations for IDW Publishing G.I. Joe titles November, 2015

IDW Publishing has released their solicitation information for November, 2015, including TWO issues of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero! This is a great thing for us RAH fans.

COBRA World Order kicks off, check out the solicit info below.

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G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #219: COBRA WORLD ORDER Part 1
Larry Hama (w) • S L Gallant (a) • Francesco Francavilla (c)
As suspicious Cobra activity flares up around the globe, Hawk leads a strike team to try and get to the bottom of the sinister organization’s latest plot. But the deeper G.I. Joe digs, the more chilling Cobra’s master plan becomes…
FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #219: COBRA WORLD ORDER Part 1—Toy Cover Subscription Variant
Larry Hama (w) • S L Gallant (a) • Adam Riches (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Bullet points:
· COBRA WORLD ORDER begins—G.I. Joe beware!

GI_Joe-RAH220-cov-MOCKONLY

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #220: COBRA WORLD ORDER Part 2
Larry Hama (w) • S L Gallant (a) • Francesco Francavilla (c)
Once G.I. Joe uncovers more about Cobra’s sinister plot, the villainous organization goes to ground and consolidates its forces. Cobra’s Master Plan is set to begin and G.I. Joe will not be prepared for the epic scale of the coming caranage!
FC • 32 pages • $3.99

GI_Joe-RAH220-covSUB-MOCKONLY

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #220: COBRA WORLD ORDER Part 2— Toy Cover Subscription Variant
Larry Hama (w) • S L Gallant (a) • Adam Riches (c)
FC • 32 pages • $3.99

Bullet points:
· COBRA WORLD ORDER heats up!