The Final JoeCon Recap 02 – The Panels

I will admit it up front – I enjoy the seminars and panels, but they’re not necessarily always my priority.  There are so many friends to catch up with and so many things to do, that sometimes panel attendance is sacrificed to make room for other things.

This year, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club (and, more importantly – the fans) really pulled out all the stops to put together some amazing panels, many of which made the trip worthwhile.

I’ll say this up front – if you didn’t make it to JoeCon, do not despair!  The Full Force has the hook up for pretty much every single panel that happened at JoeCon.  Hit up The Full Force Facebook Page to check them all out.  The YoJoe.com Facebook page also has the majority of the panels available for viewing as well.

On Friday there were a number of panels, and Phil over at YoJoe did an AMAZING job chronicling them with images over on the YoJoe Facebook Page.  Definitely go check that out.

The Full Force and YoJoe both have full video recaps of the majority of the panels as well.

Day 01

Panels on Friday included ’95 and Beyond, which gave us a really fantastic look at what was planned for G.I. Joe’s future after its demise in 1994.  We got some great perspective on art and concepts from Battle Corps Rangers, Star Brigade, Manimals, X-Soldiers and more, and as a huge fan of the 90’s, I was eating this up.  Perhaps the best perspective came from Kirk Bozigian, who advised that their strategy in the 90’s was to combat any potential competition.  They truly saw G.I. Joe as an “umbrella brand” of sorts, which could do battle with any other action figures on the shelves, whether it was Star Wars, Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

We also got a great look at the history of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Comic with a look back at the ongoing storyline from its start, all the way up through present day.  While I was a little put off that the Club neglected to mention the three-year Dio-Story that I wrote which appeared in the newsletter as a precursor to the actual comics, what the presentation contained was very informative and it was really interesting to see the way the comic evolved over the years.

Day 02

As they did with Day 1, YoJoe.com came through in a big way, with a full allotment of images from the second day of JoeCon panels.  Video recaps are also available on both The Full Force and YoJoe.

Saturday is always full of panel-related excitement and this year was no different.  By far the highlight of the Saturday line up was Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe’s first Micro Movie, which was simply amazing.  Never before seen behind the scenes footage of the 90s commercials with captivating perspective from Kirk Bozigian and flawless presentation by Carson from 3DJoes.  I will remember this panel for a very, very long time.  Thankfully Carson also posted it up on his 3DJoes YouTube Page.

This panel was simply amazing.  Every single minute was filled with joyous nostalgia and some awesome nuggets of information (when Kirk was brought back to the Joe line in the late 80’s it was because Hasbro was concerned that sales of Real American Hero had dropped to EIGHTY-NINE MILLION DOLLARS).  Yes, DROPPED to 89 million.  Kirk was able, with the help of these landmark live action commercials, bring sales back up closer to 120 million dollars, numbers that are, frankly, staggering to me considering the landscape of today’s action figure world.

Seeing Wren Roberts and all of the other live action contributors jumping around through awesome sets, riding shotgun on a life sized Battle Wagon, with COBRA Commander screeching into the camera while squeezing slime was just way too cool, and I can’t give Carson and Kirk enough props for bringing that to the masses.  Pure gold.

Saturday was also filled with panels about the Adventure Team, Classic Collection 12″ figures as well as some terrific insider knowledge on vehicle prototyping and design work.  In the afternoon, I also joined Bill, Don, Jim and Derryl in the Kindle Worlds panel, talking about being a G.I. Joe author and how that has changed my life, allowing me to dovetail my love for G.I. Joe with being an independent author and creator.

Kindle-Worlds

Day two of JoeCon was a whirlwind as it always is, running from one event to another, trying to consume as much raw energy as possible, and this year really did not disappoint in that regard.

Day 03

(As always, check out the video recaps on The Full Force and YoJoe)

The third day of JoeCon in any given year is like day two, only with two less hours to cram it all in.  Again, this year was the same deal.  There were a handful of great panels to round off the final convention, including IDW artist extraordinaire Adam Riches talking about his artistic endeavors, and WOJM co-host (and cosplay wizard)  Joe Colton talking about the beauty of G.I. Joe cosplay.  There was also a 12″ oriented panel and of course… the already infamous “Last Panel”.

The last panel.  Saved for the end of the final day of JoeCon, Brian, Dave and Lanny hosted one final panel that was a mixture of everything.  They launched the panel by announcing some new figures they hope to release before the end of the year (you can see my recap of that information here) which elicited a terrific response from a certain British person in attendance.  Plus – TIGER  FORCE HIT & RUN.  BOOSH.

But perhaps the most impactful moment of the entire weekend came in that final hour when Brian went through a presentation of every single JoeCon from start to finish, showing cascading images of attendees, which brought back some really terrific memories.  He also brought up some long time attendees to speak to the crowd, which included two of my co-hosts from What’s on Joe Mind, as well as folks from the 12″ and 4″ crowd.

It was an emotional moment for sure, an emotional moment that built upon a weekend full of them.  You can check out the full video of the last panel at both The Full Force Facebook Page and YoJoe on Facebook (Part 01, Part 02, and Part 03) as well.

I’ll  be honest  – there have been times at JoeCon when the panels didn’t necessarily “wow” me.  A lot of it is information I’ve heard before.  But this year, the presenters really killed it and provided a wealth of terrific content that added both knowledge and emotion to the entire JoeCon experience.

Truly fantastic.

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The Final JoeCon Recap 01 – The Lead Up

As I’m writing this from a hotel room in Roanoke, Virginia, running on about 10 hours of sleep over three nights, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts together as I decompress from another three days of JoeCon whirlwind.  Add that to the fact that there’s some emotional residue from this being the final JoeCon and this is an incredibly difficult recap to write.

I’d like to say that this year I performed some social experiment (rather than the fact that I just didn’t have the funds) but I made a conscious decision this year to go to JoeCon for the specific purpose of enjoying the people and enjoying the content.  I purposefully did not buy a boxed set nor any exclusives, not only because money is a little sketchy at the moment, but also because I was determined to enjoy JoeCon without the hassle of waiting in lines or the stress of trying to budget $1,000 for toys I don’t necessarily need.  That left the event a bit more “pure” where I could focus just on the people and the event itself, and I have to be honest – it was the right decision (for me).

One recurring theme throughout this final JoeCon was that these events are supposed to be about “people, not plastic” yet routinely, every year, it seems the acquisition of collectible figures is the primary goal for many in attendance.  So much so that they risk knocking over children in order to get a rare figure.  The despicable nature of that specific act aside, not feeling committed to buying things went a very long way towards making this whole event far more enjoyable, at least for me.

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Image courtesy of JoeCustoms.com!

But at its core, this was still being billed as “The Final JoeCon” which automatically made it a significant event in G.I. Joe history.  Counting what has come before it’s been over twenty years since there was no G.I. Joe convention held every year and when you plan your yearly schedule around an event like this, its loss will leave a void.

Over the next few days I hope to break down the different elements of this final JoeCon and explore what made it memorable, and use this as a forum for decompressing and understanding where G.I. Joe was in 2003 compared to where it stands now.

The years 2002 and 2003 felt like the beginning of a bright era of G.I. Joe history.  Joe Vs. Cobra had morphed into o-rings (plus we were getting classic figures via Toys “R” Us), we were fully immersed in a new Devils’ Due comic, and life certainly looked to be good.  Now, things don’t feel quiet as rosey.

But in spite of that, for one extended weekend at least, G.I. Joe fever was in full effect and the brand we all love was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe’s First Micro-Movie is on YouTube

I’ve been going to JoeCon for a long time.  My first visit was in San Francisco in 2003, and I’ve been going, more or less, ever since (besides three or so shows that I missed along the way).

The panels and panelists all deserve a huge amount of credit for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to fans and provide information that isn’t always available elsewhere.  Every once in a while, too, a panel appears at JoeCon that completely changes my perspective and entertains me in a way that I haven’t been entertained recently.

JoeCon-2018-Behind-the-Scenes

The Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe’s first Micro Movie was one of those panels.  Carson from 3DJoes spent the entire panel with G.I. Joe marketing guru Kirk Bozigian, showcasing never before seen behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the 1990’s live action commercials, all interspersed with other information about the commercials, while making sure to show the actual commercials along the way as well.  The result was a panel chock-full of laughs, cheers, and a real appreciation for the work that went into making G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero the landmark, retail-altering brand it was back in the 80’s (and 90’s).

There was fantastic insight from Kirk Bozigian himself, unbelievable behind the scenes footage, and so much great stuff along the way.  I can’t give Carson enough props for what he worked hard to put together.  This was one hell of a way to celebrate JoeCon’s last harrah, and I truly hope there’s more to come.  Carson has put a terrific video up on YouTube.  You need to stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now.  It’s just incredible.

Clearing up some confusion – The “Final Twelve”

So another whirlwind weekend at JoeCon has come and gone, and as many folks have likely noticed, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time reporting news from this last JoeCon (mostly for my own sanity).

However, there were some exciting announcements at the “Last Panel” today that I wanted to touch on because I’ve seen some folks who are a little confused about how it all works.

1) The previously announced Night Stalker 3-Pack is still being released in the 4th quarter this year, with three different ethnically diverse head sculpts, using the same builds as the GIJCC female COBRA Troopers

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2) There is a new Ninja Force Zartan w/ motorcycle exclusive coming out, which Dave Lane specifically mentioned should make the choice for the 13th figure in FSS 8 more evident.  From the looks of it, Zartan will be using the same head sculpt as the Con set’s Sgt. Smasher.

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3) Along with these, Hasbro and the Club have worked out a way to release a special “Final Twelve” assortment.  While these will be 12 figures like the FSS, this is NOT an FSS.  The figures will be packaged in two-packs in similar themes, and available for standard pre-order, then shipped in FSS-style boxes.  The Final Twelve 2-Packs are as follows:

Slaughter Marauder’s Barbecue and Low Light

Modern style figures with the classic Marauder’s paint apps to blend with the Con set

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“Black Spider” Rendezvous Adventure Team vs. Coils O’Doom

Another Adventure Team figure (since the past ones sold so well) along with a brand new Coil character (with ties to Crimson Asp) who is inspired by a character spoken about on the “Regular Joes” podcast

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Sonic Fighter Dodger vs Sonic Fighter Viper

Dodger and COBRA Viper in Sonic Fighter deco

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Sonic Fighter Falcon vs Sonic Fighter Road Pig

Falcon and Road Pig in Sonic Fighter deco

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Euro Tiger Force Hit & Run (AWESOME!) and Euro Tiger Force Psyche Out (Fetal position Christopher McLeod not included)

Modern style figures in the vintage UK exclusive Tiger Force deco’s

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Euro Tiger Force Tunnel Rat and Euro Tiger Force Blizzard

Modern style figures in the vintage UK exclusive Tiger Force deco’s

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I know I’ve been pretty clear in the past that I’m not especially enamored with constant vintage revisitations, but I have to admit, one final burst to fill in a few slots in the vintage line is a pretty cool idea, and I am THRILLED to get one last Hit & Run figure, especially in this awesome paint scheme.  This was a really nice surprise for that last panel, and I’m glad they did it, and especially happy for Chris McLeod from The Full Force, because I know how much he loves those UK Tiger Force figures.

Speaking of The Full Force, be sure you’re checking their Facebook page as they have been live streaming and posting videos straight from JoeCon.  FUUUULLL FOOOORCE!!

Wait, what? It’s JoeCon time?

Never before has JoeCon weekend snuck up on me like it has this year.  It seemed like one minute it was months away, then suddenly I’m packing for a whirlwind 2,000 mile round trip car ride to Chattanooga.  Wow.

And yes, it’s true!  JoeCon officially kicks off tomorrow when the Golden Ticket holders can first pick up their boxed sets and get their comics, which invariably have some neat-o clues inside about potential convention exclusives.

I’ll be driving the long haul tomorrow so I can’t promise I’ll have 100% up to the minute news, but if I’m stopped and I get the intel quick I will certainly relay it.  Those dudes over at The Full Force will be ALL OVER IT I’m sure, too, so make sure you’re following their feed super close.

Meanwhile, if you’re attending JoeCon, snag me, stop me, say hi, I’ll be wandering around with a refreshed feeling of low stress enjoyment as I try to soak in every minute of this final convention without the typical rushing around of news reporting and exclusive hawking.  Also be sure to swing by the Kindle Worlds panel at 2:00pm on Saturday to hear myself, Bill Nedrow, Jim Beard, and Don Maue talk about the crazy rock star lives of G.I. Joe authorhood.  Good stuff.

This is always a fantastic, fun weekend, hopefully I’ll see some of you all there!

Until then…  I’m on to Chattanooga!

JoeCon-2018

Now available – The Joy of Joe (#1 New Release!)

As many of you readers are aware, recently I’ve been diverting my focus a bit more to my burgeoning independent author career, which has required more and more attention.  It’s always awesome when my interests can intersect, and thanks to Jim Beard and Bill Nedrow, I’ve been able to combine my two loves (publishing and action figures) into a new essay project – The Joy of Joe!

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that today’s fandom environment can be rife with hostility and toxicity for reasons that are completely alien to me.  I’m happy to say that the Joy of Joe is the absolute antithesis of that.  It’s a nostalgic and youthful look at the G.I. Joe brand and the awesome positive effects it’s had on our youth.  A collection of essays from some great contributors (including some names you will certainly recognize, including the co-creator of Marvel Comics characters Cable and Deadpool) really captures the fun innosense of what it was like growing up in the midst of the heyday of America’s Movable Fighting Man and Real American Hero.

As an added bonus, upon release yesterday it quickly became the #1 New Release in the Toy and Collectibles category which is a testament to the work that Jim and Bill put into this project.  Please grab a copy, if you’re reading this site, I know you’ll enjoy it.

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Amazon’s Kindle Worlds preparing to tell their last stories…

Unfortunate news circulating in some of the author communities today as Amazon is expected to announce today that they are sunsetting the Kindle Worlds platform.

Originally launched in 2013, Amazon’s Kindle Worlds was a unique collaboration between the online retail giant and several IP holders which allowed authors to write in different universes belonging to licensed properties.  As most of you know, one of those properties was G.I. Joe.

This hits me especially hard.  As many of you know, I am currently an independent author who has written and published several novels and novellas.  The first thing I ever published as a G.I. Joe trilogy for Kindle Worlds, and if not for that opportunity, I might never have become an author at all. 

Kindle Worlds, quite simply, changed my life.

I won’t tell you that I still make a lot of money off Kindle Worlds, I don’t, and honestly it’s never been that lucrative at all, it was one of those things I did because I loved it, and while I haven’t had much time lately to write more G.I. Joe content, I had a pretty cool twelve episode series in the works that I really thought was going to be neat.  Now, it may never see the light of day.

According to reports, the rights for the published work will be returned to the authors, however that’s more or less meaningless without the conduit to the IP holder allowing us to use their characters and their universes.  From what I’m hearing, some folks who own these Kindle Worlds properties are considering their own solutions that might allow authors to continue writing this work, but at this point, Hasbro has not made any official comment or determination.

So I guess, if you love G.I. Joe fiction and you’ve wanted to check out Kindle Worlds, you’d best do it now because you won’t have much longer.  Reports are saying that submitting new content will be denied after tomorrow (May 17th) and all published works will be taken down by July 16th.

I’m disappointed, of course, but also extremely thankful that the opportunity was  there to begin with.  Huge thanks to Hasbro, Derryl DePriest and others behind the G.I. Joe curtain, and to Amazon themselves for making this available and allowing some of us creatives a unique opportunity to play in their sandbox.

If you want to check out G.I. Joe at Kindle Worlds, do it soon.

Kindle-Worlds-GIJoe

 

The rumored letter going out to Kindle Worlds owners can be seen below:

As a valued member of the Kindle Worlds licensor community, we wanted to let you know that the Kindle Worlds program is closing. We will be notifying fan authors tomorrow, May 16th.
 
As of May 17th, Kindle Worlds will no longer be accepting new submissions. Previously published Kindle Worlds stories will no longer be available for sale on Amazon.com on or around July 16th. The Kindle Worlds website will be closed on August 29th; we ask that all Kindle Worlds participants update and validate their banking information, mailing address, and contact information by July 31, 2018 in order to facilitate a timely final royalty payment.
 
Your final royalty statement will include a proactive final payment for all remaining Kindle Unlimited borrows, including borrows that have not yet met the qualified borrow threshold. We plan to remove Kindle Worlds stories from Kindle Unlimited on May 16th.
 
Effective as of the date we remove each fan author’s work, we will revert the rights granted to us by that fan author. Our reversion letter to each applicable fan author will provide that such reversion is subject to the rights we granted to you in the Kindle Worlds License Agreement between you and us.
 
For five years, Kindle Worlds has been thriving, engaging writers and readers who enjoy writing in one another’s worlds, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done together. While we are closing Kindle Worlds, Amazon is constantly innovating on behalf of our authors and readers, and we look forward to continuing to do so.
 
We hope that 2018 and beyond bring wonderful things for you and your stories, and we appreciate your support over the years.
 
Warm wishes,
The Kindle Worlds team

 

 

Full Force Podcast continues to produce some fantastic G.I. Joe and related collectible content

Anyone who hasn’t been listening to the Full Force podcast is doing themselves a disservice.  They’ve been right on top of the latest G.I. Joe news and bringing some really fun stuff to the podcast world.

Just over the past few days, they’ve posted a couple of different news bursts, including a great interview with Hasbro designer Bobby Vala talking specifically about his work on the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club Figure Subscription Service 8.0 as well as other G.I. Joe oriented product.

Also, I joined Chris and Erik from Boss Fight Studio to talk about recent rumors surrounding G.I. Joe “Ever Vigilant” (if that is it’s real name).  Some good stuff and considering the relative dearth of G.I. Joe news, they manage to be relevant, entertaining, and just plain fun.

Make sure you’re staying well up to date on the Full Force Facebook Page, their YouTube Channel, and over at Podbean.com.

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Rumors emerge for next G.I. Joe motion picture – “Ever Vigilant”

An interesting report from the folks at That Hashtag Show tonight, who have reportedly gotten a look at an early script for the upcoming third G.I. Joe film, which they claim will be entitled “Ever Vigilant”.

Perhaps the most interesting element that they discuss is that the third film (at least at this stage in the script) is not being developed as a reboot, but instead as a true sequel to G.I. Joe: Retaliation with the hopes that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will reprise his role as Roadblock.

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I’m a bit mixed on this news personally.  Unlike many G.I. Joe fans, I actually didn’t hate G.I. Joe: Retaliation, I thought it was a far better film than The Rise of Cobra (though there were parts and pieces of that film that I enjoyed as well) and honestly, I think keeping The Rock involved in the brand could only mean good things for its exposure and potential box office revenue.  That being said, the events throughout the first two films have made it increasingly difficult for a true G.I. Joe vs. Cobra story to be told without some level of retconning or creative elimination of past events.  In that way, a reboot would almost be a better course of action.

Regardless of all this, That Hashtag Show gives us a neat run down of some potential characters that are slated to appear in the third film, at least according to this early script (which everyone should take with several grains of salt):

Tomax & Xamot – This doesn’t surprise me at all, actually.  There were earlier scripts of a follow up G.I. Joe film which featured the twins (and introduced the Dreadnoks) so it seems to make sense for them to finally make their appearance in a proper “Arbco” type of scenario.

What’s odder to me is the list of potential G.I. Joe characters:

  1. Daina Janack (yes from the Oktober Guard)
  2. Dr. Adele Burkhart
  3. Wild Bill
  4. Barbecue
  5. General Flagg
  6. Doc
  7. Keel-Haul

On the one hand it’s interesting to see them diving deep into G.I. Joe lore, but on the other hand, you have to wonder how many of these characters will be “in name only” and this kind of gets to the crux of the issue with doing a true sequel.  Considering the majority of the G.I. Joe roster died during the events of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, how limited will these film makers be in what characters they can use in this film?  And really, I love G.I. Joe, believe me, but do we really need a film that focuses on characters like Daina, Barbecue, and Keel-Haul?

Again, this is supposedly an early version of the script (and yes according to That Hashtag Show, it does plant the seeds for the Hasbro Combined Universe) so by no means should any of this be treated as gospel, but it is certainly fodder for some very interesting conversation going forward.  Be sure to check out That Hashtag Show for the full details.

More to come, I for one am pretty excited at the idea of talking about G.I. Joe films again, regardless of what shape they’re taking.  It’s always a lot of fun to speculate and the ramp up to a big Hollywood event keeps things exciting.

Stay tuned.

Greg “Blizzard” Natale – FSS 8.0

Okay I have another confession, I really like arctic themed figures.  Just wanted to get that off my chest.  With that said the Collectors Club gave us our first look at Greg “Blizzard” Natale today.  It looks like the figure is using the FSS Scoop head and parts from the cancelled RoC Arctic Threat Duke.  I really like the way this figure came together.  Once again the Club stayed true to the original color scheme of the ’88 version.  If I had to nitpick anything it would be the fact that the helmet is not removable.  It would have been nice to get a removable helmet with the figure like the original version but I still think the figure really works and will look great with the rest of the arctic themed figures.  Head over to the GI Joe Collectors Club and get signed up before the May 2nd deadline.

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G.I. JOE ARCTIC ATTACK SOLDIER
Code Name: GREG “BLIZZARD” NATALE
(Inspired by the 1988 action figure.)
Includes: removable arctic coat, sniper rifle, backpack,
skis x 2, ski poles x 2, boot cleats x 2, and figure stand.