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.

McLeod-Hit-n-Run

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.

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

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:

bf-2000-group-07

 

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

gijcc-joecon2017-conquest-01

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-conquest-02

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-conquest-04

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

gijcc-joecon2017-rocketpack-01

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-rocketpack-07

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-rocketpack-09

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

gijcc-marauder-snowmobile-01

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”.

gijcc-marauder-snowmobile-11

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.

gijcc-marauder-snowmobile-06

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.


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

gijcc-joecon2017-skyserpent-01

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-skyserpent-11

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-skyserpent-13

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

gijcc-joecon2017-laser-viper-officer-01 gijcc-joecon2017-laser-viper-officer-02

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-laser-viper-officer-05

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?

gijcc-joecon2017-laser-viper-officer-07

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

gijcc-joecon2017-laser-viper-officer-acc-01

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-laser-viper-officer-04

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

gijcc-joecon2017-laserviper-01 gijcc-joecon2017-laserviper-02

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-laserviper-10

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-laserviper-06

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

gijcc-joecon2017-laserviper-acc-01

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.

gijcc-joecon2017-laserviper-04

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.

joecon-2017-corrasao-11