GeneralsJoes wraps up 2017 Convention Reviews

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:

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G.I. Joe Convention 2017 BattleForce: 2000 Conquest X36

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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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.

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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.

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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.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 COBRA B.A.T. Rocket Packs

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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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.

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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.

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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.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 BattleForce: 2000 Marauder Snowmobiles

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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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”.

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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.

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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.


GeneralsJoes Reviews 2017 Convention Laser Viper and Sky Serpent

Two more 2017 convention reviews under my belt today as we cover the Laser-Viper three pack as well as the COBRA Sky Serpent w/ Laser Viper Officer.

Peeled from the Concept Case, the Laser Viper has been a highly desirable figure from the fandom for a while… how does the final version measure up?

Check out the reviews below!

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G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Sky Serpent with Laser Viper Officer

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

Sky Serpent

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Now this was a very pleasant surprise.  As one of the biggest G.I. Joe: Renegades fans on the planet, I long for more opportunities for Renegades toys of any kind and the Black Dragon helicopter was one of my favorite vehicles in recent years.  Yes, compared to how it was utilized on the show it was far too small, but it was sleek, had an awesome design, and some pretty fun play features at that.

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This version of the Black Dragon is colored in a lighter COBRA blue and red and named the Sky Serpent.  It’s not often we get truly new concepts as convention vehicles, and I’m glad to see this one, it’s a great looking aircraft and it looks pretty awesome in blue.

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Like the original, the Sky Serpent has great swing-back wings with rotating VTOL rotors, an opening canopy and a button mechanism that opens bomb bays on the bottom and drops bombs.  The play features aren’t super advanced, but they are fun.  While many folks complain about the size of the vehicle as well, I actually enjoy it as it makes it easier to handle and fly around one-handed.  It’s a solidly built vehicle with a fantastic design aesthetic and great looking paint applications.  I really like it, and I like that the Club has at least somewhat developed a battle foil for the Conquest.  I can see the Conquest and the Sky Serpent in a pitched dogfight (although the lack of air-to-air missiles might hurt the Sky Serpent’s chances a little).

Laser Viper Officer

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This one was another surprise from the Convention.  Not based on any real pre-existing character (though the color scheme seems somewhat Shadow-Viper like from the 2002 Real American Hero Collection) the Laser Viper Officer was released as a pseudo pilot for the Sky Serpent, and honestly he is an amazing looking figure.

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The great Laser Viper parts build combined with this really cool dark blue and red paint scheme gives us an excellent addition to the COBRA roster, and a nice new commander for the Laser Viper corps.  I’m a bit conflicted as I would have loved to have seen some inspiration from the 2001 Laser Viper (based on the 1991 Sci-Fi) though taking some of the aesthetics from the Shadow Viper makes a certain amount of sense as well, I suppose, even if the Shadow Viper was an Astro Viper, not a Laser Viper.

How many times can I type the word “Viper” in this review?

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At any rate, while this figure isn’t one I would have expected, I find myself really enjoying the build and colors.  His crazy laser gun (from the Rise of COBRA Sgt. Flash figure, I believe) is neat as well.

Accessories

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As mentioned, this figure comes with a removable helmet and huge laser gun, as well as technically coming with the Sky Serpent as well.  Not a ton of accessories, but pretty good ones nonetheless.

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I’m leery about buying vehicles these days, mostly because I don’t really have the space for them, but the Sky Serpent is a pretty awesome little COBRA aircraft, and the Laser Viper Officer is one heck of a cool looking pilot to boot.  Greatly overshadowed by most of the  BattleForce: 2000 elements, this little cadre of Laser Vipers has been a real pleasure to check out in hand and I think will end up commanding some serious interest down the road.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Laser Viper

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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It seems like forever ago that we got our first glimpse of the now infamous Concept Case at JoeCon in 2012.  A showcase of canceled figures had G.I. Joe fans drooling and pressing their desperate faces to the glass all weekend long while dreaming of an alternate universe where these  toys might have actually existed.

Well, somewhere over the past five years, many of those figures have ended up seeing release.  One of the main holdouts from a fan-voted Top 10 list was Laser-Viper, and for the first time ever, at JoeCon 2017, fans everywhere (or at least fans in the greater Orlando, Florida area) got their chance to own them.

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The Collectors Club didn’t just release a Laser Viper either, they released a full blown trio of Laser Vipers, mostly mimicking the build from the concept case from so many years ago.

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G.I. Joe: Resolute Duke provides the torso, with 30th Anniversary Sci-Fi arms and what almost look to be Rise of COBRA legs.  The combination works really well, approximates the vintage (and concept case) look nicely and gives us a great update to the 1990 COBRA roster.  The parts are pretty next generation so the sculpting is great and the articulation works nicely.  Colors here are a bit more muted than they were for the concept case version, but they still work really well.  A combination of gray, blue and silver gives us just what we’re looking for in these updates to the COBRA laser specialists.

Accessories

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One thing we didn’t get that many fans wanted, though were the iconic Laser-Viper backpacks.  I can understand it to a degree, after all that’s quite a bit of new tooling that would likely be required to provide them to us, but it still would have been nice.  As it stands, they come with Sci-Fi’s laser rifle and backpack, a removable helmet, and plenty of awesomeness.

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Little by little we’re working our way through the most wanted concept case figures…at least the vintage rehashes.  Personally I would have loved to have seen some of the Pursuit of COBRA new concept ideas get moved forward, but I understand the fandom is much more adamant about the vintage updates, so that’s what the Club has been focusing on.  This Laser Viper does a great job as an update to the 1990 figure, and actually fleshes out some of the core troop builders for that year pretty effectively.  Thanks to the already released Range-Vipers, Night Creepers, Rock-Vipers, SAW-Vipers, we are now officially all caught up with 1990 COBRA Troopers.  Well, besides a standard color Undertow, I suppose.

Anyway, Laser Viper is a great figure and is one of the shining examples of this year’s selection of JoeCon exclusives.  Great stuff even without his laser backpack.


GeneralsJoes Reviews Backstop, Dee Jay and Corrosion

G.I. Joe Convention 2017 reviews continue today!  The boxed set is behind us, so now we’re moving on to some of the extra’s.  Today we’re looking at the parachute figure Backstop, and both figures from the “Ultimate Enemies” two-pack Dee Jay and COBRA Corrosion.

You can check out the latest reviews at the links below.

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G.I. Joe Convention 2017 COBRA Corrosion

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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Okay… this is what G.I. Joe Convention exclusives are all about.  It seems like ever since 2007 all we’ve been doing is wading perpetually through endless rehashes of vintage figures, combing the tiny, dark corners of G.I. Joe history to try and find something redeeming about isolated pockets of Real American Hero that we can mine for modern updates.

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As much as I love 1990, I still question the need for an updated Sub Zero, and in fact, even within the context of this convention set, I questioned the decision to resurrect DeeJay, especially at Collectors’ Club steep pricing.

A guy like this one, though?  COBRA Corrosion?  I’m all in favor of stuff like this.

Mostly because it explores a pocket of history that many domestic G.I. Joe collectors still haven’t properly explored and have no exposure to.  I was legitimately shocked at just how many fans, many of whom are long time G.I. Joe members of the online community, had no idea what the inspiration was behind COBRA Corrosion.  They had never come across Corrosao, the Brazilian repaint of DeeJay that belonged to Eco Force south of the border.

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But it occurred to me then that not all of these long time fans lived in a world where there were no domestic G.I. Joe releases.  At all.  Like anywhere.  No Collectors Club, no Toys “R” Us exclusives, no statues, no high end 12″ figures.  Not. A. Damn. Thing.

During times like that, fans gravitated towards things they hadn’t explored yet, like foreign figures.  So for the Club to dip into that well, as they so often do, is a much appreciated aspect of these Convention Sets, and with DeeJay a part of this set already, it just made so much sense for them to bring Corrosao to the table.

At the core, this figure is the same as DeeJay, using the same parts and the same head sculpt, with some color tweaks to better resemble the foreign original.  This all makes perfect sense, considering the figure was a DeeJay repaint back in the day.

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However, the Club does something interesting an gave Corrosao a different piece of chest armor, electing to go with the Nitro-Viper one rather than the Techno-Viper one that DeeJay had.  It changes things up a bit and gives him a little variety, which is a cool idea to establish him as a different character.  With the same modern parts allowing for the same great range of motion and sculpting as DeeJay, this figure feels like a win on all levels.  Even the colors are unique and fun.

Accessories

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Another place they changed some things up in comparison to DeeJay was with the accessories.  Marketed as a gas trooper, they included a grenade launcher with Corrosion (Hardball’s Grenade Launcher which caused a roar of celebration among Joe fans who have longed to explore yet another super obscure corner of previously unwanted G.I. Joe mythology) as well as a Rise of COBRA laser rifle.  The weapons selection is nice, and it’s cool to see Hardball’s grenade launcher again.

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COBRA Corrosion is another previously foreign exclusive that the Collectors Club is working into the more mainstream G.I. Joe universe, which is something I’m always a fan of.  Some of my favorite figures from last year’s set were Black Vulture and Flying Scorpion, I just love seeing these foreign figures in a domestic setting.  Nice job on this figure, and the ultimate enemies 2-pack as a whole.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Dee Jay

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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If you told me, twenty years ago, that eventually one of the most highly sought after G.I. Joe convention exclusives would be a version of DeeJay, I would have called you a damned liar.  DeeJay, quite frankly, was a horrendous vintage figure.  From his scrawny, weirdly shaped legs to his out of proportion super-muscled arms, to his squished-head helmet, and downright bizarre color pallet, he was one of those late 80’s figures that gave G.I. Joe a bad name.

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Granted, I think most of those figures that gave G.I. Joe a bad name get a bad rap, and don’t deserve the hate.  But DeeJay?  Damn, son, DeeJay deserves every single iota of that hate.  One of my least favorite figures ever.

So how exactly did the Club make him not only a desirable convention figure, but actually a pretty darn cool one at that?  Somehow they managed.

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DeeJay has a new head sculpt that looks much better than many of the others in the convention set I must say, even though his face does look a tiny bit squeezed.  The body parts are relatively modern, though the 25th Anniversary Iron Grenadier legs are somewhat older, they work amazingly well.  He uses the Retaliation Snake Eyes torso, which remains one of my favorite figures in the modern era and the gauntlets on his arms definitely retain a certain look of technical design as well.  All of the parts come together to build out a pretty nicely proportioned, great looking figure that retains some of the vintage look, but in a nice modern way.

The colors also use the vintage design as an homage, combining white and blue with a nice, rich green to give DeeJay some nice variety to his color pallet, and the color applications make a lot of sense, not just slapped together in various places, but applied with some thought and consideration to the texture of the figure in those places.

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All in all, a very nice update, surprising to me, considering DeeJay’s less than stellar source material.

Accessories

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DeeJay continues the trend of the other BattleForce: 2000 figures with a replica of his vintage weapon as well as a blue version of Dial Tone’s backpack, which calls back to the fact that he’s the BattleForce: 2000 communications specialist.

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This is a pretty great figure.  I’m certainly no fan of DeeJay, which goes right along with my feelings on BattleForce: 2000 as a whole, but I can’t argue that this update was very well done and gives us a character that perhaps we didn’t think we needed (especially since he’s a charred corpse in Trucial Abysma).