If you’ve been following along with Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero book you’ve likely seen some of John Royle’s excellent cover work.
John has reached out to let me know that he’ll be attending the Isle of Wight Comic Convention on November 4th and 5th and he’ll be in Malta at their Comic Convention at the beginning of December. Information about the Isle of Wight ComicCon can be found on their Twitter Feed.
Keep following John on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest cover updates and check out his work on the new Dawn-themed Snake Eyes costume below.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to join Mike and Fred from Just Another G.I. Joe Show and talk about GeneralsJoes, my writing, and a bunch of other fun stuff. I had a great time and the latest episode (for anyone who missed it) is now up on YouTube.
There was some great conversation about G.I. Joe, doing G.I. Joe reviews, and my struggling author career, and I think many of you would dig it.
Everyone will remember where they were the day The Full Force dropped a six hour marathon podcast on unsuspecting toy fans everywhere. Stuffed to the gills with MASK intel back to front, this fantastic podcast features interviews with Brandon Easton (writer of IDW’s MASK comic), Doug Stone (the voice actor behind the MASK of Matt Trakker) and a metric ton of other MASK content (as well as the latest G.I. Joe news from yours truly).
In all seriousness, this is a great episode with lots of excellent toy insight and it’s one you do NOT want to miss. Check it out on Podbean or embedded below, and make sure you’re hitting up The Full Force on Facebook for all of the latest news and updates!
Anyone who has watched an animated series from the 80s and 90s has likely watched something Larry Houston had a hand in. An exceedingly prolific storyboard artist, director, and all around animation legend, Houston was directly involved in much of the Sunbow product, and most famously was the storyboard director for quite possibly the greatest three minutes in animated G.I. Joe history, the opening to 1987’s G.I. Joe: The Movie.
Mike and I sat down and talked all about his work on G.I. Joe as well as other landmark animated series of the time and he was a fantastic interview.
The Hasbro Pulse website has posted a pretty awesome behind the scenes talk with G.I. Joe product designer Bobby Vala, which explores some of the thought and work that went into the ComicCon exclusive Missile Command Center! This is some great insight and has some awesome pictures showing some of the different steps Vala took to get to the awesome finished product so many Joe fans were grateful to finally receive after decades of lusting after the original online.
Check out the Hasbro Pulse article right here and huge props to Hasbro, our buddy Fred from JoeBattleLines and Bobby Vala for sharing some of the trade secrets with us. Great stuff!
And that’s a wrap. It always feels like the annual convention reviews are a sprint, with coordinating all of the images, the Photoshopping, the organizing and the page layouts, and then by the time the whirlwind week is over, there’s a feeling of some sort of satisfaction.
I have to be honest, though, I didn’t feel a whole lot of satisfaction with this one. Ultimately, most of the figures and vehicles felt underserved and overpriced, which is unfortunate.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the Collectors Club is able to put together these figures for a fanbase that has no other outlet currently, but in looking back even to just 2015 the blatant and obvious degradation of quality is a shame. There were some highlights last year with Sky Patrol, several of them in fact, but this year everything felt pretty run-of-the-mill with very few exciting surprises. I felt there was a handful of serviceable figures that did the source material right, but there really was nothing that surprised, impressed, or blew me away. Perhaps I’m asking too much given the limited tooling supplies and resources available, but when the Club is asking nearly $1,000 for a set of exclusives, I gotta say, I expect more.
Anyway… the last three reviews can be viewed below:
In 1987 Maverick piloted the Vector, a brand new, pseudo-futuristic jet as an addition to the G.I. Joe air arsenal which was even featured a few times in the G.I. Joe comics. Fast forward several years and even though he’s dead, he gets an upgrade to a new variation of the Conquest, this time marked the X-36 instead of the typical X-30 moniker.
Fans got pretty excited when they saw the artwork for this potential upgraded plane in the convention comic with the wing format looking remarkably like the COBRA Hurricane. But alas, when the actual physical items were revealed, it was a Conquest repaint, a new deco for the newly molded 25th Anniversary Conquest.
The new version of the Conquest originally released several years ago was a marketable improvement over the ’86 original. The fins stayed in far better as well as the missiles, though beyond those structural improvements, the plane looked much the same. This one does as well. The swept wing design of the Conquest looks nicely futuristic, although the shape of the plane is so iconic for G.I. Joe that it’s tough to see it as anything other than a Conquest with a different paint scheme.
That being said they did a decent job mirroring the paint scheme of the Vector, and it matches Maverick pretty well, too. I like the fact that the decal work is all applied with paint apps rather than actual stickers. The vehicle is a pretty fun addition to the growing convention air force and makes for a neat foil for the Sky Serpent. I’m not sure it’s worth the cost that it requires to acquire one, but on its own merits it works.
The Collectors Club seems to have a thing for jet packs, huh? Last year they released two 5-Packs of JUMP repaints, and then this year, the B.A.T.s have their own “rocket packs” they can use to launch airborne salvos at their BattleForce: 2000 enemies.
This rocket pack is the retooled version that we got as part of the Rise of COBRA line as a Target exclusive several years back, and I have to admit I don’t truly understand the idea behind this particular vehicle. G.I. Joe released small form factor “jet packs” in 1982 in the form of the JUMP, so I’m a bit curious why five years later in 1987 the jet pack was somehow larger and more cumbersome than it was in ’82. Heck the ’87 jet pack even looked more clumsy than the Claw which was mostly the same exact thing a few years earlier.
I’ve never been a big fan of the design of this particular rocket pack, it’s basically a large square thing with teeny wings and four top-mounted cannons which isn’t all that streamlined or aerodynamic.
In the capacity of this convention set, though, it’s actually not too bad. I could see COBRA strapping B.A.T.s to this massive, fuel-loaded rocket pack and just basically throwing them headlong into G.I. Joe enemies with no concern for their well-being.
The color scheme works as well, being mostly black with the right hints of orange and green to match the aesthetic of the B.A.T.s within this convention set. I do like the colors, and I get the idea, but this doesn’t feel like an item that’s a critical piece of the set.
Back in 1987 the BattleForce: 2000 subline wasn’t just about figures, but was also about vehicles. The whole “Future Fortress” concept has never been a big focus of fan attention (and honestly, it probably doesn’t deserve to be) but BattleForce: 2000 was very much about their vehicles as well as the characters themselves.
For that reason it was pretty critical that vehicles play a role in the convention set, and the Club accomplished that by releasing a 2-pack of Polar Battle Bear snowmobiles repainted in the old Marauder colors and calling them “Marauder Snowmobiles”.
Not sure how I feel about this whole thing.
First and foremost, there really is nothing about the Polar Battle Bear that looks “futuristic”. It was first released in 1983 and although this version is the updated modern era retooling, it still maintains the same dated look and feel. The Marauder was originally Dodger’s vehicle, and was actually a pretty neat two-part motorcycle/tank with some interesting playability. None of that playability really exists in this modern interpretation. The color scheme is nicely applied and does look reminiscent of the older Marauder vehicle but the base vehicle here is very vanilla and doesn’t at all bring up a feeling of state-of-the-art future warfare.
I’m also not entirely sure why the Club felt it necessary to package two of them together at a steep price. Ultimately I see very little redeeming qualities with this particular choice of vehicles, much less two of them and it kind of feels like they were tossed in there because we’re swiftly running out of ideas and tooling to work with.