What’s on Joe Mind Episode 102 is NOW ONLINE

THIS IS NOT A DRILL.  THIS IS NOT A TEST.

Yes, G.I. Joe fans, a new episode of the What’s on Joe Mind podcast is available and online at Podbean.com!

This one has been in the hopper for a long time, but hopefully it is worth the wait.  Some of the news isn’t necessarily timely, but I hope you’ll come join me, Gary, Mike, and NEW FOURTH CHAIR Joe Colton to kick off the G.I. Joe podcasting whirlwind!

Check out the show notes below and you can either hit up Podbean.com or listen to the embedded player below.

SHOW NOTES

This whole episode will speak for itself.  New 4th chair, Joe Colton officially joins the rotation!  Zack Hoffman and Brian Cummings join us to talk about JoeCon 2015 in our first ever double-interview.  None of this episode is timely – AT ALL, but we hope you enjoy it nevertheless.  We have two more shows in the “can” that we will be working on in the coming weeks.  So, something to look forward to.  In the meantime, help the #savegijoe campaign and sign the petition by going to www.savegijoe.org or https://www.change.org/p/hasbro-save-gi-joe.

Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding during our “hiatus.”  It has been a busy year-of-change for all of the hosts.
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Fun Pub BotCon recap – what does the future hold for JoeCon?

Botcon has come and gone, a couple of weeks back, and devoted G.I. Joe fans James Kavanaugh, Jr. and Patrick Stewart were there to not just get us some Transformers intel, but also give a little perspective on what’s coming for JoeCon and what the future may hold for Fun Pub and JoeCon.

James’ dialogue can be found in bold, with Patrick’s in standard font.

James: Hi all!  I am excited to write my first report for General’s Joes.  He must be desperate for contributors.  But I didn’t feel right flying solo on this mission and asked Pat Stewart to join the fun.  Pat did the full BotCon journey from Thursday to Sunday.  While Pat is hands down one of my go-to guys for a second opinion on G.I. Joe, it’s lesser known that his Transformers knowledge is valued as well.  I made a point to hit up BotCon 2016 because it was close and because of the closure. I thought it would be a nice change of pace to try and write a little more informal so maybe envision a scenario where we’re hanging out over coffee or maybe a beer.  If you’re envisioning hanging out over four or more beers, just light the seat next to you on fire. 

Patrick: James, I don’t drink coffee or beer.  Can we hang out while I just have some sweet tea?  This is seriously your first report for GeneralsJoes?  Well welcome to the cl—-wait a minute….I haven’t ever done a report for GeneralsJoes either.  And I don’t think this counts as it is more your report while I just toss in another view from time to time.

Wow, whoda thunk with this pairing, I would play the straight man? 

For simplicity sake, I refer to myself as a “Joe Collector” and I tried to take in the fun that is BotCon while also trying to “butt out” of “their” thing.  Fun fact for any Trans Fans or Crossover Collectors reading this, I have a pretty complete TF comic collection and try to stay hip.  Don’t let WOJM’s Gary Godsoe find out MTMTE is, in my opinion, the best comic out there.   One more fun fact, this was my third BotCon, I try to do any 80’s toy show within a few hours of me and BotCon was close.  Anyway… This write up is written with the facts and insight pertaining to BotCon.  Obviously, Joe Con and BotCon are owned by Fun Publications and I think it’s safe to assume that this year’s clubs’ procedures will be identical, but want to clarify that we won’t know exactly how Fun Pub will be handing the Joe Club until Joe Con (unless they choose to announce things sooner).  I do, however, think it’s safe to assume you, the reader, can extrapolate from my report and assume the next eight months will be the same for both.

Gary tends to come up a lot when Joe fans start talking Transformers.  I think by now we all know it’s because of his secret love for everything that has anything to do with shape-shifting robots.

While I definitely go much more in-depth with collecting Joes, I have also been a collector of Transformers from the beginning.  So while I was using the experience to prepare myself for what to expect in Loveland, I was also just there to take in the BotCon experience one more time.

So, prelude to BotCon, the Joe Club and TF Club were renewing their subscriptions until Dec 31, 2016.  They will not be valid Jan 1, 2017.  The club also sent out two different emails thanking the fans for their support.  See Gen Joe’s archives for details.  The club is known for their copy ‘n paste (I jest with love), so that told us something. 

Now, BotCon.  At 2:00 p.m., I arrived to make the 3: 00 p.m. BotCon Club panel.  Pete, Lanny, and Brian gave a retrospective of the club’s offerings from day one to now.  They left the TF FSS 3 and 4 images at home so I was not able to get the TF fans’ reaction to Serpent O.R. ( a personal curiosity).  They reaffirmed the trials and tribulations of a small business turning the 50 some odd total toys both clubs provide within a year’s time and repeated their overall love.  I’m not going to comment on the b.s./believability many fans have always had on this point but I will say they were somewhat teary.  I think this panel showed their love for the product as they did not have their “business-like tone” they typically have at shows.  The shows are a major part of their jobs after all.  This was my first inclination of the show’s overall tone and more on that later.

The club showed the BotCon FSS5 figures but for “us,” the big reveal was the Joe/TF cross over pack.  Justin covered the set but if it wasn’t said, the Cobra Commander is dark blue, the Megatron is translucent and emulating a hologram, and the Rat Bat is a REALLY.  BIG.  DEAL.  The mold was only released in Japan and the handful of Trans Fans I talked to said with certainty the set would sell out.  If they said the price, I did not catch it.  Oh, it’s a loose crossover so don’t get caught in the minutia.

This set is already a win.  For Joe fans who are not interested in the Transformers, I would bet that the offerings will have a solid resale value.  While the plethora of bootleg Ratbats have driven his price down, this one is a unique color scheme that many people will want.  If the comic-inspired Masterpiece Grimlock is any indication, this comic-inspired Masterpiece Ratbat should sell quickly.

The Club panel did give us these answers, starting with the big one:  All products must be sold and shipped by Dec 31, 2016.  If that doesn’t say finale, I don’t know what does.  Another big club answer clarified, if your membership expired in April and beyond, (past the March 31st deadline), you cannot renew your membership (by their contract with Hasbro) and thus, at this very moment, not sign up for TF FSS5 or buy other items.  This is an internal system error (maybe “complication” instead of error…I don’t think they ever planned for this) but there is a way to look up those who were members within the last year and something manual will be done to allow those to buy product.  They absolutely do not want to limit the number of customers.  So, if you are being a bum and only hearing you “not sign up for TF FSS5 or buy other items,” you are short sighted and could probably use some timeout in your life.  There will be a solution.  TF FSS’s come in all at once (for clarity, this should probably say “arrive to FunPub from China all at once”), each month takes only a few days to mail out.  There was no clear statement if they will ship them all out at once and a payment plan will still be available.  They will probably, at one point, ship them in larger groupings. 

Fun Pub owns the name BotCon.  It is just ambiguous enough to let slide.  After the non compete expires, they could do unofficial shows but experience has taught them it’s not worth the hassle without exclusive toys available to back it up.  Any more official 2019 plans will require a DeLorean, Libyan plutonium and a flux capacitor.   They did not say that.  If there was any doubt, they Officially announced Joe club stops at the end of the year unless something changes via Hasbro.  Fun Publications will not be involved.

So what’s up, why the split?  Hasbro simply decided to go in a different direction.  Hasbro even went so far as to put out an open letter to the fans that was readily available on various tables.  I did talk to the TF design team and, for those who want to go down memory lane, this year’s offerings are very retro.  Again, I came down with my Hot Rod (TF, not Piper) t shirt on but assumed the mantel of Joe Fan so I’m not going to go into action figure minutia.  Suffice to say, the team was only able to publicly say things next year will only go onward and upward.  They said they weren’t really aware of the details and, as of the show, the only ones in-the-know were the higher ups.  Don’t read into any of that more than what it is, the team was super cool, super fun, and, I get it, it is business and I’m coming in as a nerdy fan boy.  Time will tell. 

That was a Hot Rod t-shirt?  I thought you were following up the infamous Pythona costume with a Road Rage shirt.

For the guests, the show seemed to be a lot of fun.  I think, based on the above, they know the show isn’t over, just changed.  The show wasn’t even technically “BotCon” until FunPub started running the convention.  So, uh, what’s in a name?  I love the name BotCon for that show but we all know the spirit will carry forward and they are a very loyal, family-like group.  If you buy into that five steps of grief, they were all clearly in acceptance.  Like I alluded to earlier, the team was a lot more casual than they were at the thirteen Joe Cons I’ve so intimately attended.  The show apparently went real smooth so maybe it was easier to be nonchalant but I can’t help but think the transition played a role.  Don’t get me wrong, as far as I could tell, the business aspect was conducted appropriately; I felt it appropriate to try and convey the tone of this show in my informal writings.

The show had a slight carnival tone to it as well.  The costumes were huge (to reflect the notion of giant robots), the international presence was larger (the line does originate from Japan), and it was just a simple reminder that the property is more robust than Joe currently is.  In my opinion, I think Joe Fans are more unilaterally focused on the toys and then branch out into other IP while Trans Fans are more diverse.  One path is no better than the other, just fun insight.

Agreed.  While the bulk of Joe fans are focused on the toys, there is a much greater percentage of Transformers fans who are more focused upon the story and characters.  It is pretty common that people at the show are passionate about the comics and cartoons but really don’t buy the toys.  Because it has been a long time since I have been able to make it to BotCon, I was somewhat surprised that there was almost no presence of the movieverse designs.  The work I saw in Artists Alley seemed mostly inspired by G1, Animated, and the current IDW comics.  A fan of the Bay movies would have also been doing some digging on the showroom floor to find their figures as the bulk of the room was Masterpiece, Combiner Wars, G1, and Beast Wars.

At one point I felt very old.  I was in a small group of people and the ice breaker was to just tell about your first Transformer.  The youngest person in the group said his was a Fast Action Battler from the 2007 movie.  He looked to be about 13, so it seemed right but then he added that he had gotten it when he was four years old.  As we talked I was happy to hear how much that toy really inspired him to dig deeper into the characters and now he has a love of all sorts of Transformers.

If it’s any consolation, Pat, I’ve always felt you’re young at heart.

To wrap up the melancholy, Pete hosted an informal BotCon wrap up.  It was neat to see someone put on a panel that started as a diehard attendee to one of Fun Pub’s bigger shot callers for Transformers.  They shared memories and personal growths as this family of like minded individuals grew together over the twenty-two years of BotCon are transitioning into something undocumented.  I think I’m spoiled to have attended this because, in a sense, it will help me prepare for Joe Con’s Sunday when the proverbial doors close.

My Joe Fan role did take me to one interesting turn, Mark Weber was in attendance.  If there was ever a Hasbro employee to win the award for “Fastest to Become the ‘People’s Champ,’” it’s Mark Weber.  He was gracious enough to take pictures for the fans and answer questions about a property he is no longer working on.  But the big news to come out (and possibly the only reason why you read this) is that, when asked if he was attending Joe Con, he said his “official” response (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) is he is, Hasbro will have a booth, and fans will be either “pleased” or “excited,” (I don’t remember the exact word because BotCon and Joe Con Saturday nights are apparently very similar).  Suffice to say, the one was exuberance.  There is no way you could convince me that his statement insinuated zero product.  This does not say that it will be 1985 all over again either.  He left us in suspense for a reason. 

I think I was a little bit surprised at BotCon.  We had been told via club email, “Hasbro looks forward to sharing new plans for the Collector’s Club with you in the future” yet I am still wondering exactly what those plans may be.   I think many took this to mean that we would receive some kind of announcement during or on the heels of BotCon.  BotCon is over, some time has passed, and still the only official word I have seen was in the form of the memo to fans distributed at the show. It consists primarily of information we already knew while also stating that 2016 was the “last BotCon in its current format” and the statement “We look forward to sharing updates with you as our future plans evolve.” While the gesture was nice and the tone positive, we didn’t receive any new information.

The two most pressing questions Joe fans have when attending Joecon 2016 are “What is the future of the brand at retail?” and “What is the future of Joecon?” If BotCon is any indication, I think we need to be braced for the possibility that these two questions will be left unanswered as we head home with what will most likely be our last 15-figure set.

Plus the other yearly extras.

Fans who came on during the celebration that was the 25th line may not recall, but I feel that this simply puts us back in the driver’s seat. We are a passionate fan base and even if G.I.Joe is not at retail, that doesn’t mean G.I.Joe is dead.   I would encourage everyone to remain respectful in the way you voice your concerns.  We want to have Joes at retail and we want to have a great annual convention.  But with FunPub departing, they won’t have answers and to use a word from Hasbro’s statement, plans may still be “evolving.”  We need to do what we can to show Hasbro that our excitement for G.I.Joe is still very present and that we are ready to be a part of their brand-building future.

So that’s a “Joe Fan’s” report.  It was a lot of fun.  Two things I failed on, there was no good way to disrupt the causal tone to learn the future of Joe Con.   And, on the immediate front, what is the state of Heartwrencher and the Dreadnok 4×4.  Joe Con is only two months away and something tells me they’re going to go fast.  Let’s hope we get as good of news (as good of news as it’s going to get, given the situation) as BotCon got this weekend.  Sorry I this was so long, if we’ve talked, you know I ramble like this in person.  If the next chapter of TF cons is anything like this BotCon, I encourage those close to do it for a day.

The club mentioned at BotCon that two of the Transformers they had planned were cancelled due to the change in license.  I think it goes without saying that we should be cautiously optimistic regarding what time they have left for G.I. Joe.   I would have liked to have asked about those items as well, but the weekend was all for the Transformers fans and we will have our time in June.

Oh, and p.s. the really scoop from BotCon, Brian Savage now has a rockin’ Rikeresque beard!!

And here I thought he was preparing to join the Adventure Team.

Huge thanks to James and Patrick for taking so much time out of their busy schedule to do a BotCon/Fun Publications recap.  Lots of great information here, and stuff to look towards as JoeCon comes at us in June.

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Hasbro and Paramount confirm blockbuster line up for cinematic writer’s room

Press representatives from Hasbro and Paramount have sent along a press release confirming details of the writing room set up to launch the Hasbro Cinematic Universe! Check out the press release below.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES AND HASBRO TAP AWARD-WINNING GROUP OF WRITERS TO CREATE CROSS-PROPERTY FILM UNIVERSE

WRITERS ROOM LEAD BY OSCAR WINNER AKIVA GOLDSMAN WILL DEVELOP STORIES FOR HASBRO BRANDS G.I. JOE, MICRONAUTS, VISIONARIES, M.A.S.K. AND ROM

HOLLYWOOD, CA (April 21, 2016) – Paramount Pictures and Hasbro, Inc. today unveiled its top talent writers room which will have responsibility for developing Hasbro’s cross-property interconnected onscreen universe featuring the brands G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) and ROM. This group includes some of the most notable creative talent in Hollywood, including Academy Award WinnerAkiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), who will have responsibility for overseeing the writers room on behalf of Hasbro and Paramount as well as serving as Executive Producer for all of the films. Joining Goldsman will beLindsey Beer (Wizard of Oz, Kingkiller Chronicle), Pulitzer Prize WinnerMichael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay),Cheo Coker (Luke Cage, Ray Donovan), Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther, People vs. OJ), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), Jeff Pinkner (Lost, The Dark Tower), Nicole Riegel (Soldier Girls), Geneva Robertson (Atlantis, Tomb Raider) and Brian K Vaughan (Under the Dome, Lost).

Allspark Pictures, Hasbro’s film label, plans to produce films based on this cross-property universe, with Brian Goldner (Chairman, President and CEO, Hasbro) and Stephen Davis (Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, Hasbro) serving as Producers, and Josh Feldman (Co-Head of Storytelling, Hasbro) as Co-Executive Producer. Hasbro will also deploy in the room an unprecedented team of its top artists and designers to assist Goldsman and the writers to visualize this all-new cinematic universe.

“Paramount and Hasbro have partnered on many successful films in the past, including the ‘TRANSFORMERS’ and ‘G.I. JOE,’ franchises,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “Bringing together a writers room of this caliber is a bold step for our partnership, and one that we believe is critical for building these brands into new, successful franchises for the future.”

“Together with Paramount, we have assembled a team of incredibly talented creative minds and storytellers to continue to help tell the rich history and narrative behind this interconnected cinematic universe, and we are thrilled to be working with Akiva Goldsman again to guide this process,” said Brian Goldner. “We are also excited to partner with Paramount to produce the films, as we’ve had a strong and collaborative partnership since our first Transformers movie in 2007.”

The Paramount and Hasbro partnership is responsible for the worldwide blockbuster success of the “TRANSFORMERS” franchise, which has earned $3.8 billion to-date, and whose films, directed by Michael Bay, are amongst the highest grossing movies of all time; and the “G.I. JOE” franchise, which have earned more than $675 million worldwide.

# # #

About Paramount Pictures Corporation

Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Television, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.

ABOUT HASBRO

Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) is a global company committed to Creating the World’s Best Play Experiences, by leveraging its beloved brands, including LITTLEST PET SHOP, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, MONOPOLY, MY LITTLE PONY, NERF, PLAY-DOH and TRANSFORMERS, and premier partner brands. From toys and games, television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and lifestyle licensing, Hasbro fulfills the fundamental need for play and connection with children and families around the world. The Company’s Hasbro Studios and its film label, ALLSPARK PICTURES, create entertainment brand-driven storytelling across mediums, including television, film, digital and more. Through the company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy, Hasbro is helping to build a safe and sustainable world and to positively impact the lives of millions of children and families. Learn more at www.hasbro.com, and follow us on Twitter (@Hasbro & @HasbroNews) and Instagram (@Hasbro).

Just like that the Hasbro Cinematic Universe becomes legit

All it took was a single post by the Hollywood Reporter to change a lot of minds and boost a lot of outlooks.

Like anyone else, I was pretty flippant about Hasbro’s supposed commitment to a shared cinematic universe when it was announced back in February.  Instead of feeling like innovation, it just felt like “me, too” especially when you consider the extremely diverse properties they want to try and blend together into this shared universe.

Can anyone blame me, though?  Hasbro’s initial forays into licensed films were mediocre (though Transformers made a buttload of cash), and until they prove to me otherwise, those are what we have to go by.

But, I’ll tell you, when the word came down from Hollywood Reporter about exactly who was filling the chairs in the Hasbro writer’s room, I think a lot of minds were changed, myself included.

Far and away the three biggest names are Michael Chabon, Brian K. Vaughan, and Nicole Perlman.

Chabon has crafted a Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as well as about 1/3 of Spider-Man 2, which is arguably the best installment in that film’s mired history of mediocrity.

As for Vaughan, he’s just the writer for Saga, an Eisner winning comic often considered as one of the preeminent comic books of our current times, and has also worked on the television series Lost, Under the Dome, and wrote Y, The Last Man, a series which also won Eisner awards.

Along with these two, Nicole Perlman is a part of the team as well, the noted success story from Marvel’s Screenwriting program.  She co-wrote a little film you might have heard about called Guardians of the Galaxy, and is rumored to be currently working on Marvel’s live action Captain Marvel film.

These are three real heavyweights, and a demonstration of some real commitment on Hasbro’s part to craft an effective writing team.  However, there is a wealth of other great writers involved in this project as well.

  • John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (writers of Spider-Man: Homecoming)
  • Geneva Robertson
  • Cheo Coker (showrunner for upcoming Netflix Luke Cage series)
  • Lindsey Beer
  • Joe Robert Cole (writer of The People vs OJ Simpson and Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther film)
  • Jeff Pinkner
  • Nicole Riegel

This news comes as a very pleasant surprise as my initial reaction to this whole shared universe concept was that Hasbro was just trying to be a “hanger on” to this new fad, but an investment in the skillset of the people you see above shows me they are taking this seriously and leaning on some true writers to try and develop this universe.

For G.I. Joe fans and toy fans in general, I think this is a very good news, and this whole story just got a hell of a lot more interesting.  What’s really impressive is a layer of diversity among the writers, with input coming from many different areas, and that will hopefully help to craft a more cohesive, emotional, and successful world for our favorite Hasbro brands.

The first meeting is apparently Monday, along with Hasbro artists who will start drafting some character design as well.  Stay tuned, I sure as hell will be.

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Is the Hasbro shared universe starting sooner than we thought?

The stories emerged a while ago that Hasbro was developing their own cinematic shared universe as a way to develop their in house brands and further their entertainment strategy.  In fact, just before Toy Fair 2016, a shareholder presentation revealed this fact, and focused specifically on a potential cinematic universe featuring G.I. Joe, MASK, Visionaries, ROM, and Micronauts.  How these diverse properties will all blend together remains a question, but is it possible that this question may be answered sooner than some of us thought?

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’ve likely noticed that IDW Publishing has been promoting something called “Revolution”.  Nobody really seems to know what it’s about, but something is evidently in the works.

01-IDW-Revolution

Now today, from all over social media, various comic creators, writers, etc… are Tweeting about a creative summit to discuss this “Revolution”.  You can see a collection of these Tweets over at Bleeding Cool.

So, evidently, IDW is doing something interesting in advance of Free Comic Book Day and calling it “Revolution”.  Pretty innocuous, right?

Well, let’s connect some dots.  Not too long ago, IDW was rumored to be working on a MASK Comic Book.  IDW is already working on Micronauts and just recently announced the debut of a new ongoing ROM title.

Do you see where this is going?

Several of the creators traveling to this Revolution creative summit are creators who have been involved in some of these Hasbro properties, or are rumored to be involved.

Along with this, you have the apparent debut of a new Action Man (a European extension of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe), and his appearance is apparently in a Free Comic Book day special featuring ROM (which is happening right around this supposed “Revolution”).

As if this isn’t enough, there have been a swath of exclusive covers revealed, showcasing ROM cavorting with all sorts of different Hasbro themed characters.

So with all of this coming together, it seems possible that this “Revolution” might just feature the seeds of this big Hasbro shared universe.

Now, would Hasbro really utilize the IDW comics to kick off this grand scheme?  Honestly, I’m not convinced of that, but there are certainly a lot of coincidences here that lead me to believe we’ll be seeing some coalescence between brands, and that coalescence may begin with the comic pages before it graces the movie screen.

We’ll have to see what these events might mean for G.I. Joe, whether Real American Hero carries that torch, or if IDW might spin up another solo Joe book.

Or, who knows, I may just be full of complete crap.  As long as I get a cool MASK and Visionaries series to go along with it, I’m okay either way.

Hasbro files trademark for “HasCon” – Potential unified convention in the works?

It didn’t take long after Botcon drew to a close for a new trademark to be filed by Hasbro themselves for “HasCon”.  According to the United States Trademark Office, the trademark was registered for the following purpose:

“Organizing and conducting conventions, exhibitions, fan clubs and gatherings for entertainment purposes and in the fields of toys, animation, comic books, fantasy, gaming, popular culture, science fiction, television and film”

This would certainly lead us to believe that Hasbro may be gearing up for a more coalesced convention for all of their different brands going forward, though obviously no confirmations of this fact exist as of yet.

I took a screen capture from the United States Trademark Office, which you can see below, identifying the trademark, the purpose for the trademark, and the registrants themselves.  Let the speculation continue…

HasCon-Trademark

GeneralsJoes Reviews FSS 4.0 Jammer and Pathfinder

The latest installment of the Figure Subscription Service arrived a short while ago, and I’ve officially posted my reviews on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page.

Check out the direct links below!

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Pathfinder (Figure Subscription Service)

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I can’t quite explain why, but in my younger years, I couldn’t quite get my head around 1990.  Where the years leading up to then were a mixture of classic characters and new blood, the main line in 1990 was new blood soup-to-nuts.  Being someone that appreciates new characters now, I’m surprised that my younger self didn’t embrace that fact, but for some reason I didn’t.

It’s only now, over two decades later, that I recognize 1990 as perhaps being a “soft reboot” of sorts, giving us a whole series of new characters and taking play to a different level with many smaller, more intricate accessories making these figures unique.  Pretty much every single figure in that 1990 line came with elaborate and well detailed accessories that really enhanced the play value.  From Stretcher’s air sled to Bullhorn’s take-apart sniper rifle, not to mention Ambush’s camouflage tent and Topside’s backpack mortar launcher.  Pathfinder was no different, coming equipped with two hip-mounted heavy machine guns as well as a full blown weed whacker.  While parts and tooling restrictions made it so we couldn’t get the hip-guns with a modern release, I’m happy to say the updated Pathfinder is ready to go, weed whacker and all!

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The figure has Lifeline’s existing head sculpt, which matches the look of the original figure, and the removable hat does an okay job of replicating that look, too.  To copy the brim fold of the original figure, the hat is positioned in a way that doesn’t stay on the figure’s head very well.  Once I swapped the hat around it actually fit a lot better, though that small piece of vintage accuracy is lost.  I think I can live with that.

Pathfinder uses Kwinn’s torso and arms, which are a great choice, as they pretty accurately mimic the original, but are newer construction, offering very good range of motion.  If I have any complaints, the somewhat tight hand grip doesn’t fit the handle of the machine gun very well, but you can work with it.

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His legs are from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation era and also are excellently sculpted, with some great baggy effects, though the more I see these legs used, the more annoyed I get with the weird rocker ankles.  They end up pretty stiff and difficult to pose, and the footholes are becoming an increasing issue on existing battle stands.  This figure isn’t nearly as bad as the Night Creeper was with the last installment, but it can still be somewhat difficult to get him to stand.

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Paint deco is pretty fantastic.  Straight black on the upper body, and the camouflage pattern and colors on the legs are pretty close to spot on perfect.  Great articulation, effective parts choices, and the base figure for Pathfinder is excellent.

Accessories

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As we’re used to with the 1990 era Joe characters, Pathfinder comes pretty well equipped.  A couple of his accessories are pulled from the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Strike Duke, which I’m completely cool with, including his backpack and flashlight.  He has a great pistol for the holster at his hip, a gray colored heavy machine gun, inspired by the original’s hip mounted weapons.  His removable hat works moderately well, and the removable vest does as well.  The plastic is a bit stiff, which makes the vest a challenge to remove, but it’s not insurmountable and the end result is a figure that looks much more like his vintage counterpart.

Of course the focal point here is the weed whacker, and I’m happy to say it fits his hands well, looks pretty nice, and ends up being a cool finishing touch to the figure.  If given a choice between the hip-guns and the weed whacker, I probably would have chosen the hip-guns, but I can understand the Club not being able to retool a piece (or a belt) to make that work.

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All in all, Pathfinder is a very effective figure.  The paint work is really nicely done, and he’s got a good number of fun accessories.  A pretty great installment for the FSS 4.0.

Jammer (Figure Subscription Service)

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Any day we get a modern update to our favorite European special missions force is a good day, and I’m a pretty big fan of Jammer.  Even back in the 80s, Jammer was a barely repaint of the original Stalker, essentially a slightly different shade of color with the trusty Zed Force logo in red on his chest as well as a red beret.

When the Club revisited the whole Action Force/Red Shadows conflict in the Convention set in 2010, we saw another update to Jammer, this time using the Comic Pack Stalker formula (o-ring version).  Now, for this final iteration of the infamous Zed Force Communications Specialist we get much the same, though with some interesting twists.  His head sculpt is from the Convention Tiger Force Stalker, which is nice for folks who might not have that figure yet (and it certainly helps that the head sculpt kicks all sorts of ass).  The torso is from the 25th Anniversary, which is a bit of an oddchoice, in my mind, as it makes the figure look somewhat short and misproportioned, and the torso is visibly less detailed than the rest of the figure.  I understand why they made that choice, to tie him into the vintage “original 13” aesthetic, but I would have loved to have seen something a bit different.

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His legs are the updated “Original 13” legs that were seen with Attack on COBRA Island Zap and the discount store Duke, which is a cool enough choice and fits the theme.  His arms are more modern, large and baggy with the updated wrist joints, which is all well and good, except they somewhat add to the misproportioned look, making the figure look somewhat top heavy and creating a mis-match between the exceedingly wrinkled arms and smooth torso.  As much as I love the Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper arms, I can’t help but think they don’t jive 100% with the rest of the figure here.  I am glad to see the increased articulation, though perhaps if the Club had used the Shock Trooper torso, the flow would have been a little better.

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Where this figure does really shine, however, is with the paint applications.  The shade of green and black is fantastic and fits well with the Zed Force look and feel.  The “streak” pattern of the black camouflage is exceptionally well done, and I love the striking color of red in the logo and the beret.  Great to see the Union Jack on his right shoulder, too, which blends him well with Quarrel, Big Ben and Blades, who both had that distinct patch on their uniforms as well.  Great touch.

ACCESSORIES

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Jammer comes with a removable beret and the same chest strap that Zap and the Duke came with, which is a departure from the vintage version, who shared the same torso as Stalker with the double-strap webgear.  I don’t mind the change, as this webgear fits the contour of the chest well and is detailed nicely, however it also covers up a big chunk of the great Z logo on his chest, which is a bit unfortunate.  I have to admit, though, that older 25th Anniversary double strap webgear does look a little dated.

He’s got Dial Tone’s backpack, which fits the communications theme as well as a nice machine gun and two holsters.  A nice touch is that one holster contains the traditional pistol you’d expect, but the other holster holds a smaller mobile phone to fit in with the communications motif.  Unfortunately the peg on Dial Tone’s backpack is a little on the large side, and doesn’t fit real seamlessly into his back hole.  You can generally rotate it and get it to sink in, but I’d be concerned about wear and tear on the peg of the backpack long term.

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When it comes to a figure trying to resemble the original 13 look, generally I love using that Zap template.  It retains the vintage look but with slightly more modern sculpting, and I am in love with the twin holsters and removable pistols.  Unfortunately, while I completely applaud the choice to use more modern arms for the enhanced range of motion, it does look a little off compared to the rest of the figure in a way that my eyes can’t quite reconcile.

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Jammer has great accessories, I’m a big fan of the character, and the paint apps are pretty terrific as well.  Overall, I approve of the figure in most ways, I just wish the parts formula looked a little bit more consistent and uniform.

Creating G.I. Joe Volume 2 Kickstarter nearing the end!

The first volume of the Creating G.I. Joe book series funded a short while ago and there have been rave reviews about its contents.  Volume 2 promises even more great material, and it’s got only FOUR DAYS left to fund!

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