G.I. Joe Collectors' Club Exclusive Dial Tone
A funny thing has happened over the last four years.
When the 25th Anniversary line first made it's debut, while many collectors raised their hands in enthusiastic praise of Hasbro's decision to revisit the vintage days, my own personal opinion was one of slight disappointment. We had just received two great years of new concepts and a great reinvention of the brand with Sigma 6 (scale inequalities aside) this just seemed to be a huge conceptual step back, at least to me.
I quickly realized that I must be in the minority, as Joe collectors far and wide embraced the concept, eagerly grabbed up vintage carded reproductions of the classics, and lauded Hasbro for this decision. Nostaligia runs thick and deep throughout the toy collecting community. Who woulda thunk it?
Well, two years after it began, the 25th Anniversary line faded into the Rise of Cobra movie line, and while I really enjoyed the new concepts once again being introduced into the main line, part of me started to miss the vintage reproductions, and I started to notice those gaping holes in my display.
As always, I didn't care about card art that faithfully reproduced the vintage stuff, I really didn't care if the figure meticulously matched what we got three decades ago, but I began to appreciate the Anniversary line for what it was, and really hope we would see the idea revisited.
Well, Hasbro seems willing to revisit the idea, and has dipped into that well a number of times during the fantastic Pursuit of Cobra line, which has satisfied a large majority of the collecting base. But considering they're only releasing a limited number of main line figures, it would be tough for them to fill in all those holes...and thankfully, the Collectors' Club is stepping up to the plate.
For the first time, the Club is offering a new style figure as their Collectors' Club incentive figure, and in my opinion, they did a bang up job. I've read online numerous complaints about the placement of the bandolier, the inaccuracies of some of the tooling choices, but really, I don't have an issue with that. If we step back and look at the history of the Anniversary line, it was filled with webgear choices and tooling that was just pretty much "good enough", and I think Dial Tone fits that bill perfectly, and thus, fits in seamlessly with the rest of his Anniversary brethren (and... sistren???).
First and foremost, you have to notice the new head sculpt. Obviously taking inspiration from DT's Italian heritage, we get a very nicely sculpted head with a thick 80's moustache and perfectly sculpted beret. One look at the figure and you know right up front exactly who this is.
The bulk of the figure itself is a repaint of the 25th Anniversary Sgt. Airborne figure, which certainly garners no complaints from me, as he's one of my favorites in the Anniversary line. Sure, the Buzzer torso and webgear deviates from the vintage version, and places a strange shoulder pad jutting from his green shirt, but at this point, I think most of us have accepted these fun little quirks with the modern era updates, and as long as the general spirit of the homage is intact, the fans are satisfied. The spirit is definitely here, folks. I really like this figure.
Another complaint I've seen on the boards has to do with his skin color, and on this, I might have some agreement. I'm not entirely sure why the color of his skin is the way it is, other than to also pay homage to his European heritage, but considering his Convention figure doesn't have the same skin color, I'm not sure if it was purposeful or not. To me, it really doesn't detract, and frankly, I think having varying shades of skin color within the Joe roster is a good thing. It adds some ethnicity and variety to the group.
As we should expect, Dial Tone comes with his requisite accessories. The machine gun originally came with Dataframe in a comic pack a couple of years ago, and makes the transition here nicely. We also get his infamous communications backpack, which is reproduced exceedingly faithfully, and fits him very well. However, I must complain about the color of the accessories. The Collectors' Club seems like they really want to translate the spirit of the vintage figure perfectly, yet they change the color of his accessories to a muted "gun metal" gray? Why not just the light gray color pallet of the original? The Convention version of the figure came with the correctly colored accessories, so I really have no idea why they wouldn't include those with the incentive version, since that's the one most folks will really want to fill out their vintage collections. Seems like a very strange decision.
Ultimately, Dial Tone is not a perfect representation of the original 1986 figure, but quite frankly, what Anniversary figure ever was? I think it's still a very nice update, and it fits absolutely seamlessly into the '86 corps of characters, and I'm thrilled to get him in the collection. Back in 2007 I cringed at the idea of all of these figures representing their vintage versions, but I've learned to embrace the concept, and I look forward to seeing what the Club can do with these subscription figures that are in the pipeline.