It feels like forever since I’ve been able to say this, but a new episode of the What’s on Joe Mind podcast is HERE.
Rescued from technical purgatory by our esteemed editor Gary, the 46th Special Edition focused on the fun of JoeCon 2015 in Springfield, Illinois! It’s a review of the excellent 2015 G.I. Joe Convention hot on the heels of the four day foray into G.I. Joe fun and nerdery.
Go check out this latest special edition on our Podbean page, or check it out embedded below.
Last year, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club strongly indicated that they would provide a hint to the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention set in the Diamond Solicitation of their convention comic.
Sure enough, in the comic, an ad for the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention appeared, complete with a tiger pattern on the background. As we all know, last year’s set had Tiger Force elements.
Fast forward to this year… the Diamond Solicitation of the JoeCon comic hit shops last week, and there is another G.I. Joe Convention advertisement… but the background is different:
That’s right, it’s the clear blue sky.
Now, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club never stated this year’s comic would contain a hint to the JoeCon set, but if we’re to go by previous years, they could be throwing us a bone here.
Could we be seeing Sky Patrol in 2016?
And if so, who would they be facing off against? The G.I. Joe newsletter has been featuring Action Force pretty heavily, but I’m not sure how Action Force dovetails with Sky Patrol (especially considering they’re both good guys).
Who knows, the whole thing could be a red herring, but it’s certainly going to make for some interesting speculation. Hopefully we’ll hear more details about the 2016 G.I. Joe Con set soon! Keep watching GeneralsJoes and GIJoeClub.co for the latest info.
All the way back in the mid 80s, during Season 3 of the Transformers animated series, the Sunbow writers made their clear link between the G.I. Joe and Transformers universes by introducing both Marissa Faireborn (daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye) and even more directly bringing forth the character of “Old Snake” a mysterious former terrorist who looked and sounded remarkably like COBRA Commander. Leveraging the whole idea of Synthoids only went to further that story.
Seems like forever that fans of both properties have been clamoring for some kind of official toyline joining the G.I. Joe and Transformers lines together. Certainly there have been some heavy homages over the years (including the Combiner Wars Viper figure just released last year) but this joint exclusive between the G.I. Joe Transformers Club and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club was the first time the joint effort was made somewhat official. Yes, there were ComicCon boxed sets (that were pretty awesome), but is the first real in Sunbow continuity attempt to make both universes gel.
Both this installment as well as the Marissa Faireborn/Afterbreaker pack use Season 3 of the animated series as a heavy influence.
Long before 80s nostalgia fans dreamed of ways for G.I. Joe and Transformers to co-exist, Sunbow tied the two universes together during Season 3 of the Transformers cartoon featuring the mysterious “Old Snake” an obvious connection to COBRA Commander. It only seems right that if the Collectors Club were to revisit a joint G.I. Joe/Transformers series that they start by building off of that old school connection.
Old Snake appeared back in the 80s as a man in a reflective mask with a hat and trenchcoat, with some easily identifiable COBRA Commander trademarks and just enough additional disguise to not be too obvious. The Collectors Club uses these trademarks in developing this figure.
COBRA Commander’s head with Rise of COBRA Storm Shadow torso/coat and arms give the figure the familiar face and trenchcoat. Underneath the coat they use Resolute Snake Eyes legs to represent a baggy pair of blue pants underneath. While the Rise of COBRA Storm Shadow jacket does restrict movement quite a bit, due to the nature of its design, the elbow joints and knee joints are nicely poseable and utilize some relatively modern parts.
The color scheme is gray throughout the coat and hat, with the pants a familiar blue, looking a lot like COBRA Commander’s original uniform from the 80s and from the Sunbow series.
There aren’t a ton of accessories here, with the RoC themed laser pistol (which fits in the holster) the backpack that originally came with Retaliation Lady Jaye, as well as a pair of Energon cubes. I will warn folks to be careful with the backpack. The straps are very thin, and one of mine snapped when trying to put it on Old Snake’s back.
The end result of the Old Snake figure is a pretty effective looking version of the classic future-COBRA Commander character that looks and moves the part.
I’ve always had a weird relationship with Transformers. I’ve never been especially attached to the familiar G1 aesthetic, mostly because I collected them as a kid and their restrictive movements always left me frustrated when attempting to “play” with them as a youngster. As a result, while I was captivated by Transformers for a short period of time, it was a hobby that went out of vogue around the same time as Transformers: The Movie killed off all my favorite classic characters. Hasbro’s marketing scheme backfired in that case, and instead of being inspired to buy a whole new cast of characters on store shelves, I merely retired my Transformers collection and moved on to other things.
However, in the 90s my Transformers love was reignited by Beast Wars and in the years since I’ve collected most Transformers that jived with their animated appearances. I didn’t do the Energon trilogy stuff, but I did collect Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime. Because of my interest in Transformers: Prime, I was already familiar with the figure that the Stealth B.A.T. is based off of, Transformers: Prime Soundwave. As a Transformer that uses a Predator type drone as an alt mode, it makes a lot of sense in the G.I. Joe aesthetic. The Soundwave figure doesn’t necessarily look a lot like classic fans view Soundwave, so there’s no conflict there with the classic G1 universe.
The size of the figures works well, too, because they are a little larger than your standard G.I. Joe figure, but not so large that they fall out of scale (or out of the price range) of the collectors who want to buy them. As with most of the recent Transformers offerings, articulation is pretty great here, too, with nice knee, hip, and elbow joints. Clearly the Club is using deco to translate this figure to a B.A.T. type android, using the familiar black and yellow paint scheme with a semi-translucent red face mask, as we often saw in the Sunbow animated series.
The transformation is relatively straight forward for an inexperienced rookie Transformers fan like me, and both modes work pretty well. The Predator-style drone looks like it would fit within the aesthetics of the modern G.I. Joe universe, and would be an effective COBRA weapon even in vehicle mode. I could see the Stealth B.A.T.s being used in vehicle mode as surveillance, then transforming and attacking in a devastating new way in robot mode.
The small detachable mini drone is a cool touch, too. With the original Soundwave figure it was basically a Transformers: Prime version of Laserbeak. Here it’s a separate spy drone component that adds a neat new element to the figure and is also a cool (if perhaps unintentional) throwback to the old school Night Raven.
At the end of the day, the two Stealth B.A.T. figures look like somewhat oversized attack robots that you might find in the G.I. Joe universe, and the paint scheme works as a B.A.T. type offensive weapon, too. It’s a nice combination of base figure and paint scheme and adds some interesting twists to the Old Snake pack.
These Stealth B.A.T.s manage to be a nice combination between Transformers design and G.I. Joe aesthetics and is a really nice marriage between the two in both robot mode and alt mode. It’s a fun and flexible toy that works as a bridge between two universes, but also is just a flat out fun G.I. Joe themed action figure as well.
All in all, there are some great vintage homages here as well as some great new elements. Something that appeals to many different crowds. This set is expensive, to be sure, but I’m finding it surprisingly enjoyable and a neat new take on the typical G.I. Joe stuff.
Do you like your peanut butter in your chocolate? Some do, some don’t, but whatever your preference, the G.I. Joe and Transformers Collectors Clubs have taken steps to offer exclusives linking together the universes of G.I. Joe and Transformers, and their first entry into that world is Marissa Faireborn w/ Afterbreaker.
Actually released earlier last year, I only got the opportunity to pick this figure up a month or so ago, and am now getting around to the review. You can check out the review on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club review page, or the direct link below.
Along with the Old Snake/Stealth B.A.T.s 3-Pack, the Collectors Club sparks that G.I. Joe and Transformers connection with Marissa Faireborn, member of Earth Defense Command, and daughter of Flint and Lady Jaye. Pulled from her Transformers Season 3 animated appearance, this figure takes some great queues from that old school Sunbow look and brings in Afterbreaker (formerly Afterburner) member of the Technobots and her partner during some of her Season 3 adventures.
Along with Old Snake, Marissa Faireborn and the Earth Defense Command made that tenuous connection between the G.I. Joe and Transformers universes much less tenuous in the Sunbow days. As the daughter of Lady Jaye and Flint, Marissa was a direct correlation between the G.I. Joe universe of the 80s and the Transformers universe of the post-2005 third Season of the animated series.
As a pseudo futuristic story (taking place after the events in Transformers: The Movie) Season 3 had the opportunity to sort of continue that Sunbow universe that was started in years previous. As you can see from the video above, too, Marissa Faireborn was a pretty important character throughout much of the third season of the animated series, appearing in several separate episodes.
Like Old Snake, Marissa Fairborne uses purely existing parts, with the Cover Girl/Sparta head, Resolute Scarlett/FSS Jinx torso and arms, and Rise of COBRA Cover Girl legs. These are relatively modern parts and as such the articulation and sculpting look good, although like FSS Jinx, the neck does seem a little longer than correct human proportions might dictate. Also, my figure did have a little smudge of worn off paint on the nose, which is a bit disappointing, but not a huge deal.
Her paint scheme is pretty appealing, actually, leveraging the white and blue color scheme from her original appearance. She’s got a very neat and well applied EFD logo on her right shoulder as well. You don’t see many white figures these days, so the color really does stand out nicely.
Looking at accessories, she comes with the JUMP jetpack in silver, with an ammunition hose connected to Arctic Destro’s freeze gun. The weapon looks fantastic as a more futuristic “laser” gun, I like that quite a bit. Unfortunately due to the long, sweeping hair, the jetpack and head position combination can be challenging, and if you want to move her head, you kind of have to reposition the jetpack to do it, which can be a bit of a pain. Marissa Faireborn also comes with a small laser pistol, a silver repaint of the Iron Grenadier laser pistol, too, finishing off her somewhat future oriented arsenal.
When doing some research on Marissa Faireborn, I was pretty surprised (and impressed) to see just how many times she appeared throughout the third season of Transformers. I hadn’t realized what a key player she was, and I’m glad to see her in action figure form. She most closely resembles her look from “The Killing Jar” I believe, eschewing the skirted look from Five Faces of Darkness.
Not knowing much about the Transformers angle on this particular set, I wasn’t sure where Afterbreaker fit in, but apparently the character (previously known as Afterburner) accompanied Marissa Faireborn on a hunt for reknowned smuggler Dirk Manus during the episode “Money is Everything” during the third season of the Transformers series.. As one of the Technobots, he was a gestalt combiner in the original toyline, but for obvious reasons is presented here as a non-transforming version of the character colored as a futuristic orange motorcycle, which fits the original toy and animation model pretty nicely.
Unfortunately, the motorcycle itself leaves a little to be desired. Based off the G.I. Joe: Retaliation motorcycle that Firefly came with, the vehicle is more or less a thick block of plastic with a launching third wheel. It’s a sturdy and playable toy that has some nice detailing in places, but is far from the high standard that G.I. Joe vehicles have achieved in recent years. That being said, to fall within the price point that the Club wanted to offer, I’m not sure if there were many alternatives here.
The variable orange color scheme looks pretty nice, and is relatively reminiscent of Afterburner (Breaker’s) vintage styling. I know there have been some vocal complaints out there regarding the lack of a transforming companion for Faireborn, but considering how much that would have likely raised the price, I can see where the Club was coming from here. There are options for transforming motorcycles out there, but not many of them are really in the G.I. Joe scale.
While Afterbreaker himself isn’t necessarily a highlight of the set, the combination of the two is cool enough, and I like the tie in to the Sunbow continuity. Marissa Faireborn herself has a great 80s aesthetic, and her animation consistent accessories (she flew a jetpack in the Five Faces of Darkness episode) are a really nice touch.
I wasn’t anticipating being a huge fan of this set, but I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. Ultimately I prefer the Old Snake pack, but this one has its own fun elements as well.
I continue to play catch up from 2015 today, this time covering one of the membership incentives from last year, the Wave Crusher w/ Sub Viper! Using a great figure from 2001, the Collectors Club continues to pay homage to previously untouched corners of G.I. Joe history and does a pretty bang up job of it as well.
One of the most overlooked parts of G.I. Joe history is the Real American Hero Collection, a short run of mostly re-used parts that went from 2000 – 2001 and heralded the “next stage” in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Introducing some new characters while revisiting plenty of classics, all in the familiar o-ring style, it was the RAHC that put GeneralsJoes on the map and truly reignited my love for G.I. Joe. I’m glad to see the Collectors Club examining that crucial part of G.I. Joe history.
One of the more unsung releases of the early 2000’s in my mind was the Wave Crusher w/ Sub Viper. Not because of the Wave Crusher necessarily, in my mind, one SHARC repaint is more or less like another, but the Sub Viper was a very cool figure, and an excellent update using the old school Sludge Viper tooling.
Interestingly, the Club did a version of the Sludge Viper in 2014 (though they named him Repulsor) yet when they developed the updated Sub Viper, they used a different parts formula entirely. I’m actually okay with that, as I think this Sub Viper looks more like an underwater operations specialist and manages to look a lot like the classic Sub Viper, too.
There are no new parts here. He’s got the head (and helmet) of the Rise of COBRA Aero-Viper, the torso of Barbecue, arms of Techno-Viper, and the legs of Rise of COBRA Snake Eyes. They are relatively recent parts with some excellent sculpting and great range of motion, which I always enjoy seeing.
Where this figure really excels, though, is in the color scheme. The blue base uniform is bright and vibrant just like the original, standing out amongst the darker and duller COBRA Troopers. The silver trim throughout the figure is striking, a very stark and almost chrome finish that looks excellent and is quite eye catching. The combination of colors is quite different than most other figures we’ve ever seen, and is a great update to the 2001 original figure. The thing I liked most about that figure was its paint scheme, too.
For accessories, Sub Viper comes with a knife, underwater machine gun, flippers, and a pair of mines to plant on unsuspecting G.I. Joe watercraft. This makes him much more than just a glorified SHARC pilot, which I love. This figure is a lot of fun.
On the other hand, the Wave Crusher itself just manages to be pretty much any other SHARC repaint. I really enjoy the spirit of the SHARC. A vehicle that’s a combination of submarine and aircraft is a really neat concept, and the flip-up cannons provides some fun play value.
Unfortunately, while the SHARC was innovative in 1984, it’s received countless repaints and re-releases over the years, and at this point, there’s little to remain excited about. Even utilizing some new tooling for the 25th Anniversary line left us with a vehicle that’s more or less the same as its always been. I do like the shade of blue here, which matches the Sub Viper (but does not match the 2001 vehicle). The applied decals are a nice touch, and the Club has managed to give this a very “COBRA” feel. I’m glad they elected to match the Sub Viper colors, but in the end, this is still the SHARC, a vehicle that I enjoyed over 30 years ago, but offers little in the way of newness now.
At the end of the day, I love the figure, don’t much care for the vehicle. If the Club could find a way to release the figure at a better price without the vehicle, I’d probably grab a handful. As it is, I’m happy with one, but won’t seek out many more.
It would certainly seem as if 2015 kind of got away from me when it comes to my G.I. Joe reviews… I managed to stay on top of the 50th Anniversary releases fairly well, but several of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club releases lagged a bit behind.
Interesting that now that I’m tackling them, we’re dealing with the distinct possibility that the G.I. Joe Collectors Club as we know it (as well as the G.I. Joe Convention) may be coming to an end after 2016. A real shame to be losing them as a resource as I dive into several of their really fun exclusives from 2015. I truly hope Hasbro has some kind of plans post GIJCC to bring the G.I. Joe brand to collectors, as I believe we’ve been the driving force in keeping the brand alive over the past several years. That will be considerably more difficult with an annual convention gathering or a Collectors Club offering exclusive toys geared towards us.
I will be cautiously optimistic that Hasbro recognizes our value and isn’t going to just leave the collectors who have been supporting the brand for over 50 years high and dry, but I suppose time will tell.
On that note, you can check out my review of the Arctic Dr. Mindbender at the link below, or on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page. Hopefully we still have many years of exclusives like this to look forward to.
I find it strange to admit that there are a number of things I’m really not crazy about in the G.I. Joe world that everyone else seems to love… two of the highest items on that list are arctic figures and the character of Dr. Mindbender. That being said, you’d think that a figure of an Arctic Dr. Mindbender would fall down pretty far on my list of desired items, and I would have agreed. But once I got my hands on the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club’s rendition of this figure, I immediately fell in love.
Well…fell in ‘big like’ might be more accurate. I don’t quite LOVE the figure, but I like it quite a bit, thank you very much.
For this particular figure, the Club worked with Boss Fight Studio to add a newly sculpted head and fur collar in order to accentuate the newness of the figure, and it works really well. The first Mindbender was a part of the Defense of COBRA Island 7-Pack, and as such was sculpted in the aesthetic of the times, which looks a bit dated compared to more modern offerings. He was certainly due for an updated head sculpt, and he got one heck of a nice one here, looking as if it was pulled straight from Sunbow concept art.
The fur collar also adds nice variety to the figure, which is otherwise a mixture of the canceled Arctic COBRA Commander (with mostly comprised of Renegades COBRA Commander arms and legs). The combination gives us a figure with a terrific arctic look (that happens to be pretty animation accurate) as well as maintaining at least some level of decent articulation.
With the long coat, the legs are still pretty limited, but the arms at least have significantly unrestricted elbow movement, which was one of the major detractions of the Arctic COBRA Commander tooling (which was used for a Convention Iron Grenadier a few years back).
Using the animation as a template, Mindbender is done up in a really nice purple and black paint scheme, following the queues from the vintage version, and you end up with a very nice looking figure that slides pretty seamlessly into any arctic environment, yet also looks unique and very true to Mindbender’s aesthetic.
Dr. Mindbender comes with a nice number of accessories, with a familiar pistol as well as his trademark “mind bending” device (stun rod w/ generator), and also comes with the black hose and a repainted version of Sci-Fi’s backpack. He also has a great COBRA-themed laptop and arctic display stand.
The accessories all fit the character well, and the inclusion of Sci-Fi’s backpack is a nice one, too, as it retains a nice technical look while not being immediately identifiable as belonging to someone else.
Anyone who has been reading my reviews knows that I geek out over media-centric figures, and I love that this version of Mindbender is a true Sunbow homage. It’s also pretty cool that the Club has been using him heavily throughout the comic. While I wouldn’t have thought an arctic version of COBRA’s lead scientist would be appealing to me, the reality is this is a very fun figure that suits the good doctor remarkably well. Kudos on this one.