Top 10 G.I. Joe Toys of 2015

The last couple of years as I sat down to write this up, I think ‘oh, this will be easy this year…there was barely any product’!

Then I go through all of my reviews over the past 12 months and realize that for a line that is supposedly on prolonged life support, we still got some GREAT stuff in 2015. Really great stuff.

Now, I migrated to a new review system in 2015, one that makes calculating review scores a bit more granular. But, I’ll be honest… I still went by the seat of my pants on this rundown, and looked at these figures from the perspective of a 100 mile view. It can be tough to write up a review “hot off the presses” right when I get a figure in hand, because honestly, that’s often when I’m in love the most. It can be tough to be impartial that close to the newness of that toy for the first time.

So I whittled down the list and ultimately looked at figures that I could step away from for a little while and gauge my appreciation.

The results are after the break.

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Top 10 G.I. Joe News Stories of 2015

At any given time throughout 2015 it felt like a pretty slow news year for G.I. Joe, but as always, when you stop and look back, suddenly things don’t look quite so small.

Granted G.I. Joe product at retail was pretty much focused to a singular burst in late summer as the 50th Anniversary exploded, then faded, even though we got Convention product and FSS figures earlier in the year. With all that being said, it still feels like there were plenty of “banner moments” in G.I. Joe news for the year that was.

News was breaking right up until the last moment, and I’m actually a bit worried that if I post this prior to December 31st I might end up missing something!

Click the “read more” link below to check out the full list!

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Kindle Worlds Fan Vote figures – let your voices be heard

One thing that has been abundantly clear throughout the process of the fan vote for the Kindle Worlds character to be made into a figure is that the G.I. Joe community is starved for new characters and there seems to be a lot of support towards getting all four of the Kindle Worlds figures made.

For obvious reasons, I think I speak for myself, Troy, and Jim when I say we are 110% behind this idea!

Bill has started a thread over on HISSTank.com about this topic and will be collecting information from folks who might want to send their support directly to Hasbro.  Please check the thread and let your voices be heard!

Bill has suggested collecting actual, physical letters since that tends to have more impact than Internet discussions, and I find it hard to disagree.  Bill has kindly offered up his mailing address to collect the letters, but for obvious reasons I won’t post it here.

If you need his address and cannot get on the HISSTank thread for whatever reason, please e-mail me at justin AT generalsjoes.com with the word “kindle” in the subject line and I’ll make sure we can get Bill’s address to you.

I can’t thank everyone for all their kind words and support throughout this process, and even though Whisper didn’t win, this has been a fun experience and I’ve appreciated getting to know the fellow Kindle World authors.

Thanks!

Who is Whisper, and where does she fit in the G.I. Joe world?

As the deadline for the Hasbro Pulse fan vote nears (tomorrow, November 9th) the question remains…which of these four characters will get the green light, and where do they fit in the G.I. Joe mythology.  The other three writers have done a great job jiving their creators with an overall timeline, but as I look towards the future, in the event that Whisper actually wins, I want to plan not just where she’s been, but where she will be going.

For anyone who follows my dio-stories, you know that “universe” more or less wrapped up this past year with Darkness Falls.  If Whisper wins the Fan Vote, I have already developed a follow up that Darkness Falls Dio-Story that I will be excited to launch!

The following contains spoilers to Darkness Falls, so if you haven’t read that yet, you may want to before continuing…

“Rescued” by COBRA from a South American fishing village after the entire village was massacred (see Marvel’s G.I. Joe #1), Whisper was brought in and raised by COBRA Commander as his own personal assassin.  Trained by the elite of COBRA operatives, Whisper learned martial arts, silenced weapons, sabotage, covert operations, and disguise by some of the most talented masters in the world.  Then employed those skills in sinister fashion for COBRA (as seen in The Price of Peace trilogy).

Time has passed…

The decades long battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra has more or less ended.  Casualties on both sides.  COBRA Commander as we know him is dead, as are Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.  Scarlett has retreated to the cabin in the Sierra Nevadas to raise her son Tommy and the world feels a little bit safer.

But the battle is not over.  Whisper has returned, and has returned to find her father dead and her support system decimated.  With only her blinding hate of G.I. Joe to guide and feed her, Whisper prepares for a massive campaign of revenge on former G.I. Joe leadership.  Meanwhile, the remnants of the COBRA organization have come together to form The Coil, a sinister underground devoted to furthering the COBRA cause.  But they may hit some resistance as a new and improved COBRA Commander comes on the scene…

I plan to use Whisper to kick start a new generation of G.I. Joe, focusing pretty strongly on the Pursuit of COBRA aesthetic.  While my old dio-story used a lot of those figures, this new universe will take that concept and run with it.

So, please consider voting for Whisper, and we can all experience this fun new world together!  You could also expect to see her show back up in my Kindle Worlds work as well.

Meanwhile, definitely check out all of the other creators behind their own Hasbro Fan Vote creations as well.  Lots of good stuff there.

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The Full Force Podcast interviews yours truly, plus some actually interesting guests, too…

When good friend Chris asked if I wanted to go on the Full Force podcast to discuss my latest non-G.I. Joe novel, The Fog of Dreams, I was pretty ecstatic.  For all of the work I put into developing the book, I’ve found precious few chances to talk about it, and it was an absolute blast.

I talked about the writing process, character building, and of course couldn’t help but dip into the G.I. Joe universe and also speak about my Kindle Worlds projects.  Thankfully, this episode of The Full Force actually has some credible people on as well, as they speak with Paddy Lennon and Brian Hickey of Total Retaliation fame, as well as caster/customizer extraordinaire RagingSpoon and Nichole.

It’s an action packed episode, so join Chris, Dave Tree, and Eddie Inman for a fantastic packed episode.  Then after you listen, please consider hopping over to Amazon.com and picking up The Fog of Dreams so you can see what the talk is all about.  It’s only $2.99 for Amazon Kindle and has a lot of appeal for G.I. Joe fans.

Take it away Full Force!

G.I. Joe Collectors Club reveals 2016 Incentive Pythona!

Ohh yeah… I’ve been waiting for this one ever since it was announced at JoeCon earlier this year. Finally, after 28 years, for the first time ever, we’re getting a Pythona action figure!

Cobra La is a polarizing element of the G.I. Joe mythology, but fans at large seem to be unified in the fact that Pythona was a necessary addition to their G.I. Joe collections. Well, the Collectors’ Club has officially filled that void, and filled it pretty darn nicely.

Featuring what looks to be a new head, new hands, and possibly a new cloak (or perhaps the comic pack Storm Shadow cloak), most of the heavy lifting is being done with very intricate and detailed paint applications.

I’m pretty surprised with how nice it looks. I had some concerns that without significant new tooling this figure couldn’t be done right, but based on the Photoshop mock up at least, those concerns were for naught. This is a great looking figure, and it will feel fantastic to finally have Pythona in my display.

Check out the image below, and keep watching GIJoeClub.com for all the details. If you want Pythona, make sure you’re a member of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club as of March 16th. You’re not gonna want to miss this one!

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Yours truly interviewed about Kindle Worlds on Hasbro Pulse

Hasbro unveiled their new “Hasbro Pulse” fan conduit website a short while ago and it’s already proven to be a source of some great information.

As of October 1st, however, it clearly jumped the shark, because they featured an interview with yours truly to talk about Kindle Worlds, the Wolf Squad, and other related G.I. Joe topics.

In all seriousness, I was quite honored to be asked to speak about my experiences with Kindle Worlds and how fun it was to explore Wolf Squad, and you can check out that interview right here.

While you’re there, be sure to check out all the great intel from Hasbro related to NYCC reveals for Transformers, Star Wars, My Little Pony and other excitement!

Hasbro Pulse looks to be a great conduit of some fandom information straight from the source.  Big thanks to the fine folks at Hasbro for talking with me and letting me share my experiences!

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GeneralsJoes Reviews 50th Anniversary Sneak Attack 3-Pack

I actually posted these reviews a while ago, but stupid me forgot to announce the reviews out on the main page.

Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page or the direct links below:

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G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Firefly

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I believe I may have specifically stated in my G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Firefly review that Hasbro could never produce another Firefly and I’d be happy.  While that might hold true, I can’t argue with the greatness of this Firefly update, and I’m glad that Hasbro elected to ignore my previous statement in that other review.

Granted, this figure pretty much is Ultimate Firefly with some minor additions, but those minor additions make a huge difference and make for a figure that is really cool, even though it’s 95% repaint.

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First of all, it helps that the figure they repainted was an excellent one.  Ultimate Firefly is widely regarded as one of the nicest figures Hasbro has produced, from the excellent sculpting and great articulation throughout.  Somehow Hasbro took the existing figure (which was already terrific) and made some minor additions to it that took it even further.

Great elbow articulation and added wrist motion are both awesome pieces of the existing Firefly mold, which allow him to hold weapons really nicely and achieve some impressive poses.  The sculpting in the figure is stellar, with the layered commando turtleneck and shirt, all pretty basic looks, but done so well on these figures.  The legs are where this Firefly seems a bit more evolved, however.  Rather than the Lifeline parts, we have what appears to be a new holster and knife sheath on the right leg and new pouches on the left. These small changes make a big difference, and I really like what they add to the figure.

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Looking at the paint scheme, it seems like Hasbro was almost trying to emulate the o-ring Firefly from 2005 without the red, which is essentially just his familiar camouflage pattern in reverse.  If I had any complaints about the Ultimate Firefly it would have been that his camouflage was too light, and the figure looks more gray than camouflage.  That’s not an issue here, where the camo is much more clearly defined by color, and it’s a really nice urban look.  He looks darker and more deeply camouflage, which is cool, even if he doesn’t directly match his original ’84 rendition.

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I have seen some images where Firefly’s lower limbs look dramatically different colors than his upper limbs, but I have to say the difference isn’t that striking in person.  I wouldn’t have even noticed it if others hadn’t pointed it out.  There is a bit of sloppiness to the camouflage paint, missing some of the crispness of some lines and making the camouflage pattern look somewhat imperfect.  Not a huge deal, but something worth mentioning.  Also, my figure has a significant paint flaw near the eye holes of the mask which shows a big blotch of flesh colored paint.  Another paint related QC issue that bears mentioning.  By and large, this second iteration of 50th Anniversary figures has considerably better QC than last year’s did, but there have been some rampaint paint issues that do bear mentioning.

Accessories

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Hasbro didn’t just stop with some additions on the figure itself, though, they added some terrific new accessories, too.  Firefly comes with what appears to be a brand new silenced sub machine gun and saboteur themed backpack (with a great knife sheath on it).  He’s got his familiar webgear, with the bombs glued on as they were with the Collectors Club Wreckage figure.  The backpack is really nicely detailed with intricate paint apps on the newly sculpted piece of equipment.  He also comes with the two knives for the sheaths, the same two mines that the Pursuit of Cobra version came with (one of which fits on the backpack).   There’s a pistol for his new holster on the right leg, too, the same pistol that’s come with many different figures at this point.

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I didn’t think it could get much better than Ultimate Firefly, and in truth, since this figure is just sort of an evolution of that one, it still hasn’t.  But as someone who isn’t so connected to the aesthetics of vintage characters, this new paint scheme is a nice look for the character, even if just a reversal of his original colors.  Even with a bit of sloppiness on the camouflage blobs and facemask, the figure looks good, and I really love the new additions.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Dusty

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First and foremost, I have to admit that it’s not often that I see a desert trooper decked out in blue and white camouflage.

That being said, that is really my only complaint about this figure, I find myself strangely loving almost every other single part of it.  It certainly helps that the base figure is one of my favorite G.I. Joe action figures of all time, the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Duke.  I’ve loved that figure since the first time I ever set fingers on it, and this version of Dusty mimics it in all the best ways, and in fact, some might say improves on it with updated arms that include expanded wrist articulation, while maintaining the same range of motion.

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For some reason I just love that combination of reactive armor and baggier jungle ops combat pants, and it helps that the articulation of the figure is spectacular.  Elbows and knees both have great range of motion, and simply by adding Dusty’s head on there, you can establish a whole new character.  No, it doesn’t make much sense to have Dusty in blue and white, but I’ve been pretty vocal in the past that I’m not huge on narrow-fit environmental operatives, so having a great character like Dusty available in color schemes beyond the traditional brown and tan of desert operations is totally cool with me.

Hasbro continues to do great with the “battle worn” Reactive Armor, showing streaks and worn metal throughout the torso in a pretty effective manor.  Dusty’s dark blue mixed with white/light blue camouflage does look a little strange and doesn’t fit much preconceived notions for me, but I find myself more than willing to overlook it because the figure is so good.

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I will say from a structure/plastic quality perspective, the right knee of my figure is exceptionally loose, which is a bummer.  I’m looking into buying a second, though, because I love the figure that much.  I have no idea if the loose knee is unique to mine, or if it’s a common theme.  Also, my Dusty had a nasty smudge of paint on his face, which I was able to scrape off, but it still didn’t look real good.

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Beyond those issues (which may be widespread QC related, or may just be specific to this particular figure) I love this figure a lot more than I ever envisioned.  Whether he’s fully equipped or just partially equipped, he is truly fantastic and a lot of fun to play with…errr… I mean display.

Accessories

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Really, really great accessories here, too.  He’s got the helmet/goggles and collar with cape from his Pursuit of Cobra version, which layer on some great detail and character work to a desert operative who may find himself exposed in the wilderness for a long period of time.  He also comes with the two machine guns from the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper, one of my favorite figures in recent memory, though I wish the weapons weren’t blue.  He can hold them fairly well, but not perfectly, especially the sniper rifle.

Dusty also comes with the great webgear from the PoC Duke figure, along with the pistol and machete.

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This figure is great.  Upon first glance I had no idea why they had chosen the paint scheme they did (and truthfully, I still don’t) but I can’t get over how much I love the figure formula underneath.  Sure, much of that credit should be given to previous sculptors and designers, but the choice to carry it forward was really good, and I’m surprised at how nicely it meshes with the PoC Dusty gear as well.  The result is a really great figure version of a good character that I’m happy to have in a non-desert specific paint scheme.