G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Iron Anvil

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Up to this point, the original Iron Anvil from 2005 has remained probably my favorite Convention figure to date. It hit that perfect sweet spot of a great 90’s figure that desperately needed a new paint job, and perfectly executing that new paint job. Sure, in a perfect world, it would have remained with Cobra and been painted blue and red rather than black, gray, and red, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the end result was still pretty spectacular.

So obviously it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I awaited these new Iron Anvils… I’m happy to say at the end of the day, I’m quite pleased with the update.

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Boss Fight Studio brought their incredible skills to the table for the new head sculpt for Iron Anvil, and you can really tell. Along with the great head sculpt, the figure itself uses Retaliation Snake Eyes arms on a Shock Trooper body, with Pursuit of Cobra Firefly legs, a terrific combination of pieces, managing to blend sleek with strong, and the figure stands as one of the best in this 2015 Convention Set. I really love the Shock Trooper torso for pretty much everything, and the Ninja Duel Snake Eyes arms have fantastic articulation and detailing. Leveraging the color scheme from the original Iron Anvil allowed for a great looking update here, going with mostly black and red, and just the right hints of gray and gold for trim. This version of the Iron Anvil is modern, but more than that, the color breaks are done just right and he comes across as a significantly effective modernization.

Accessories

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The Pursuit of Cobra Alley-Viper vest provides the row of pouches that was unique to the ’94 Viper (and thus the Iron Anvil) and manages to be extremely successful doing so. Anvil also comes with the slim parachute pack, Annihilator submachine gun, and a great jagged knife, reminiscent of the Battle Corps original. The leg harness from a Para Viper polishes off the accessory compliment quite nicely.

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As an Iron Grenadier Paratrooper, the Iron Anvil works really well with these various accessories (not to mention the Iron Anvil Officer as the parachute figure), but even without the parachute equipment, he is really well developed as a modern special ops looking trooper, too.

All of the right pieces came together in 2005 to produce one of the finest G.I. Joe sets ever made, in my opinion. So many great elements, of which the Iron Anvil was only one small piece. I don’t feel as strongly about this set of course, but the Iron Anvil figure is a beautiful modern era action figure, and one I’m extremely excited to own. Great stuff.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 General Mayhem

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Just seeing this figure brings me back ten years… it seems like things were so much simpler back then. Not nearly as much convoluted history…no fierce dichotomy between o-ring purists and the modern era fans. Sure, there was a growing divide between “new sculpt” and “vintage” but by and large, anyone who loved the new sculpt also loved the vintage, and Conventions were a time to celebrate the legacy of the o-ring and see what cool stuff the Club could do with it.

It didn’t get much cooler than 2005.

One of my favorite army builders of all time as the ’94 Viper, and getting that figure in good colors was enough to sell me right there. Combine that with an awesome new Iron Grenadier using Night Viper parts… not to mention Mega Marines Gung Ho in better colors, PLUS a real live member of the Oktober Guard? Good stuff.

The Steel Brigade concept felt relatively fresh, with a new look at the idea as an International peace keeping force, and they introduced a new character by the name of General Mayhem. What a great set.

Flash forward ten years later and General Mayhem no longer feels quite so new, but his figure is still really nice.

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Like Metalhead, we have Boss Fight Studio to thank for the great new head sculpt here, with gorgeously sculpted mutton chops, certainly designed with love by one of the bearded wonders at BFS. A close look at the head reveals a ton of great little detail work, and I’m surprised that they were able to take a cobbled together Gnawgahyde and transform it into this work of art. The torso belongs to SDCC Destro/Joe Colton, with arms from Ultimate Cobra Commander and legs from Rise of Cobra Destro. It’s an strange combination of parts that gives us a really great looking update to the Russian Iron Grenadier field commander.

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Like most other figures in this set, the deco is black, red, gray, and a hint of gold, tributes to the Iron Grenadier faction. It’s not amazingly new or interesting, but exceptionally well executed.

Accessories

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The most critical point of discussion with the accessories is obviously the new vest. Boss Fight Studio designed and sculpted this new secondary along with the head, and all of a sudden provided a wealth of opportunity to the Collectors Club and customizers. A good basic dress uniform secondary had not really been available until now, and thanks to this one small addition, there are numerous possibilities down the road.

Along with this, General Mayhem comes with Retaliation Low Light’s flight helmet, which works remarkably well as a replacement for the Long Range helmet from the vintage days. He also has a submachine gun and rocket launcher.

There aren’t a lot of accessories here, but the ones that he comes with are pretty great and suit the character well.

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General Mayhem is great. I love getting new characters introduced to the mythology, and while this isn’t truly a new character at this point, he’s a great addition to the Iron Grenadier story, and it’s pretty cool getting him in modern format.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Metalhead

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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With Voltar and Darklon’s release in the convention set from a few years ago, Metalhead became the most wanted individual as part of the Iron Grenadier corps. So much so that a custom version offered at the New Jersey Collectors Convention became a highly desirable item on the secondary market. The Club enlisted the aid of Boss Fight Studio to design and sculpt the head, and I assume they did the build for the figure as well, and by and large it’s successful.

I think it could have been a bit better.

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When it comes to developing these modern updates, you must always walk a fine line between paying tribute to the vintage and trying something new, especially in the case of Metalhead, who has such a different and unique vintage appearance. You can sacrifice an homage to bring something new and different to the table, or pick an element from that classic figure to build around. We ended up with sort of a mixture of the two.

First and foremost, the head sculpt is just terrific. It has loads of character, from the mullet-like hairdo, to the crosshair etched goggles, and the grimace encased inside the crazed beard. Even if nothing else on the figure resembled the Iron Grenadier explosives expert, you’d know exactly who it is.

Using pretty slender arms was an interesting design element here, especially considering those ’90 era figures tend to be on the bulkier side. They tried to make up for it with the extra bulky Jungle Viper legs, which I actually really love for Metalhead. Deco is relatively straight forward, with the familiar black, red, gray, and just the slightest hint of gold.

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I’m not sold on the build. I realize that the Club (and Boss Fight) were going for some vintage elements with the strap patterns of Snake Eyes’ webgear, not to mention the knife sheath, but combining the extra large webgear with the extra slender torso and arms just makes for a somewhat odd combination. It’s almost as if the bulky webgear exentuates the skinny parts underneath (and vice versa) so it appears to be more drastic than it really is. At some point I’ll likely swap out the webgear as a test, because I really do love most of the figure, it’s just those parts together don’t jive really well in my eyes.

Accessories

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As I mentioned, he’s using the PoC Snake Eyes webgear, which is an awesome vest, even if a bit oversized in this case. He also comes with a knife for his sheath, the great Retaliation Cobra Commander laser gun, and the Pursuit of Cobra Duke missile launchers, which suit the character so perfectly it’s almost scary. I’m not one of those vintage devotees who won’t accept a Metalhead without rocket launchers attached at each thigh…I think what he comes with is pretty much perfect. The color matching of the rockets and the launcher/backpack is pretty flawless as well.

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There is a lot to love about this Metalhead. His new head sculpt is really perfect. The range of motion on his arms and legs is excellent. The deco is spot on, and I so much want this to be my favorite Convention figure ever. But that oversized webgear combined with the extra-scrawny torso and arms just makes for a weird combo. Thankfully webgear is easy to swap, and I’ll kick some stuff around to see if anything else grabs me. Beyond the issue with Metalhead looking a bit too skinny, most of the figure is great, and will look awesome among the other score of Iron Grenadiers.

Now we need some Nullifiers and TARGATs!


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Undertow

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Destro’s diver troops have had a convoluted history throughout the Real American Hero mythology. Emerging in 1990, somewhat separate from the majority of Destro’s troops, Undertow sort of became amalgamated with Cobra right off the bat, especially in the DiC animated series. Their colors never really matched typical Iron Grenadier colors (though to be fair, neither did Nullifier, TARGAT, or several others) and in fact, during G.I. Joe’s 2000 release, they became official Cobra underwater troopers.

When the Collectors Club reintroduced the Iron Grenadiers for the 2005 Convention Set, the Undertow was conspicuously absent…a fact that the Club rectified several years later, releasing him as their annual incentive figure in a great Iron Grenadier deco. When Undertow was announced as part of this year’s Convention set, many folks wondered which one it would be… the Iron Grenadier deco, or the 1990 deco?

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With Iron Anvils and General Mayhem in the set, the IG deco is the one that made the most sense, and honestly, it looks pretty nice, too. It’s fair to mention, however, that the 50th Anniversary Eel, released this summer, bears a pretty striking resemblance to this Undertow, but still, it’s nice to have another squad of Destro troopers in hand.

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Undertow uses Torpedo’s torso, Retaliation Snake Eyes upper arms, Torpedo lower arms, and Retailation Snake Eyes’ legs, all of which combine together to portray a decent wet suit look and feel. Mixing the more modern parts in there, though, offers better range of motion and sculpting than we saw originally. As I already mentioned, Undertow uses the Iron Grenadier paint scheme, a mixture of black, gray, and red with just a hint of gold, and it looks really nice, complimenting the rest of the Iron Grenadier corps quite well.

Accessories

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Undertow comes with the typical weapons allotment. The Cobra Eel Speargun along with Torpedo’s backpack, and the familiar facemask, trident, and underwater sled that they are so well known for. It’s a pretty great selection of weapons, and I love that the sled is included as well. Those miniature vehicles that came with certain figures are among my favorites in the line.

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Undertow is a pretty basic upgrade, but one that works well within the confines of the Convention Set. I have no doubt that we’ll eventually see a classically deco’d version either in the FSS or elsewhere, but this version will be a great placeholder until that happens.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Undertow Officer

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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This is something that I really don’t get.

The Collectors Club has proven in recent years that they understand the appeal of newer parts and whenever possible, they will go to the Pursuit of Cobra or newer well to get pieces that do not look dated and archaic next to other figures in the same set.

For that reason, I really don’t understand the choice for Undertow Officer here. I can see that if there’s a big demand for a vintage rehash, but the only way to do it right is to go old school… I can see the Club doing that. But this isn’t that. This is the Club developing a new character and seemingly purposefully choosing outdated and tired looking parts to satisfy their requirements for this character. Not a big fan.

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As it is, the 25th Anniversary Scarlett figure doesn’t belong on the same plane of existence as figures designed over the past few years. Her sculpt is soft and almost animated in nature, with clunky joints, and a weird architecture. Heck, I didn’t even like them using it for Quarrel in the first FSS, though I can understand why they did.

I really don’t understand them using it here.

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Yes, I know technically this isn’t the 25th Anniversary Scarlett, it’s the dive suit Baroness, but actually that’s almost worse. Along with the clugey base figure, this figure has permanently attached flippers and stubby arms, which ends up looking wholly out of place compared to its more recent compatriots. I mean seriously. Just standing this figure in a group of other Convention figures immediately places it in a different era…it barely looks like the same toy line. The existing Pilot Scarlett head sculpt and the dated body just do not look right among all these later generation peers, and even with a relatively nice Undertow-themed paint scheme to tie her into the other Iron Grenadier divers.

Accessories

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Undertow Officer comes with the same Undertow mask as her troopers, the Torpedo backpack, and the same webgear and laser gun that the original dive suit Baroness came with. The flippers are permanently attached to her feet, so I’m not sure those count as accessories, but she does come with the trident and golden barracuda of the original Undertows. Pretty basic accessory compliment here.

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Frankly, I’d be against Hasbro themselves using these parts if this figure was a ten dollar retail release, but as a Convention figure, which should come at premium quality for a premium price, I’m exceptionally disappointed in this one. I can’t really think of an excuse why a figure like this would make it into a convention set, and really hope that some care is taken to prevent it from happening again in the future.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Recondo

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WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Okay, this one surprised me.

Not being one of those fans who was desperate for modern updates to all vintage Tiger Force figures, I don’t have a personal attachment to seeing those designs updated, but I know a lot of folks do. When Recondo was listed in the Convention brochure, I figured it was a slam dunk that he’d appear with his familiar blue hat and gray/green color scheme that we’d all seen as a kid, piloting the Tiger Fly helicopter. Instead, the Collectors Club threw a hanging curve ball and gave us an unreleased version of Recondo, originally seen in the same pre-sales catalog as Sabretooth.

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It was an interesting choice. I can understand why it would upset some people, because many folks out there feel like they need all of those vintage versions updated. But on the flip side, going the unproduced route is a more intriguing move, because it’s something that hasn’t been done before. However, on the other hand, it just so happens that the unproduced Recondo is in a color scheme exceptionally similar to Tiger Force Flint, so in that way, Recondo seems somewhat uninspired.

At the end of the day, you can only really judge the figure by your own personal enjoyment of it, and Recondo excites me about as much as any Tiger Force figure does… which ain’t much.

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That being said, there are elements to enjoy here. Granted, the 25th Anniversary era head sculpt is pretty soft and dated when compared to its peers, but it’s Recondo, that much is inarguable. I love that the Club improved the arms, going with Kwinn rather than the bulbous Flint arms of the 25th Anniversary version. Recondo desperately needs those new arms, and these work amazingly well. Even though the color scheme so lock step in line with Flint, it is still pretty nice, with great shades of green, brown, and black, looking almost more jungle-like than Recondo’s original tan and light green. Purely on his own merits, the figure is fun.

Accessories

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I would imagine because of Wreckage’s weapon choice, this Recondo doesn’t come with his trademark shotgun, instead sporting the great wrapped sniper rifle that the Pursuit of Cobra version of the character came with. I approve. He also has his familiar backpack, removable boonie hat, and the truly bizarre jungle knife that Shadow Tracker originally came with. The knife was a really strange choice, but individually it doesn’t make or break the character. As we’ve seen since day one, the hat has some trouble staying on his head, but for display purposes, it works.

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Recondo was an early favorite character of mine that remained somewhat under utilized in the comics and cartoons, but every time he did appear, he made an impact. This figure takes the spirit of the character and does some interesting things with it, and I like that the Club went unproduced with the deco, even though to many folks it will feel like a missed opportunity. In actual execution, the figure is nice, poses well, and has some crisp paint applications. A decent enough update.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Dial Tone

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Dial Tone’s reveal gave us our first clue that perhaps the Collectors Club wasn’t going to just be diving back into the 80s to give us our Tiger Force inspiration…and it made me hopeful that this set might be a bit more interesting than I originally thought.

As I mentioned with Wreckage, Tiger Force was reconceived in 2003 as a Toys “R” Us multi pack, pulling inspiration from classic domestic Tiger Force as well as the much more exciting blue and orange International deco. Dial Tone was included in that multi-pack and was the beneficiary of some awesome updated colors. Going whole hog into the great blue and orange UK Tiger Force color scheme, Dial Tone was one of the most appealing figures in that Toys “R” Us set, and while the Collectors Club certainly seemed to be using that figure for inspiration, they stuck with the yellow and black, and unfortunately missed the boat considerably, at least in my opinion.

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The convention Dial Tone retains none of the striking flair of the Toys “R” Us set, borrowing its sense of style, but none of its color, much to its detriment.

Dial Tone here uses the same torso (with permanently affixed Buzzer webgear minus the skull buckle) and arms as the annual exclusive from several years ago. He does have some bulked up legs that add some mass to the figure, but essentially bears a striking resemblance to the same annual exclusive we got in mailboxes back then. I’m not a big fan of the torso and webgear choice, but I actually don’t mind the Airborne arms, they remain probably some of the best arms produced in the 25th Anniversary era, and the thicker legs keep the figure looking at least relatively modern.

However, Dial Tone struggles mightily when it comes to color scheme. The Collectors Club used the Toys “R” Us version as a template, but swapped the colors to more resemble the vintage style, and the brown is significantly duller than the blue original, and the yellow simply is not as striking or appealing as the orange was in 2003. I understand the Club’s desire to make the figure blend in more with the vintage aesthetic, but in this case I think Dial Tone suffers for this decision and the end result is a boring mish-mash of color and design elements.

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Combine this with the kneepads, which are trying to go for tiger stripe but end up just going zig-zag, and the figure just doesn’t do it for me. The Club managed to take a colorful and pleasant 2003 figure and turn it into a somewhat bland and generic 2015 Convention exclusive.

Accessories

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Dial Tone has his familiar communication backpack, this time in black, as well as his machine gun. Adding to that, he now comes with the familiar metal briefcase with folding computer screen and removable submachine gun that the Club has used quite frequently in recent years. This time around the case is done in a nice olive drab green, matching the Tiger Force aesthetics.

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I understand what the Collectors Club was trying to do, and I’m glad they looked for inspiration in other places than just the 80s rendition of Tiger Force. Unfortunately, Dial Tone’s design just didn’t translate well here, either in a conversion to modern parts, or with the deco changes. The result is a figure that just doesn’t look good, and ends up really standing out in a crowd.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Wreckage

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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For a brief moment in the late 80s, a G.I. Joe character named Sabretooth was conceived and proposed for release. Obviously existing trademarks with Marvel Comics put the kibosh on this character, who only truly existed as an image in a pre-sales catalog back then.

Fast forward many years, and Hasbro was revisiting G.I. Joe lore with an updated “Tiger Force” pack for Toys “R” Us…while they still couldn’t use the Sabretooth name, they wanted to bring the character forward, and thus, Wreckage was born. Using the same Firefly parts, but with a slightly tweaked color scheme, Wreckage was one of the highlights of that Toys “R” Us multi pack, even though his colors were a somewhat strange shade compared to the Sabretooth of old, and also compared to other figures within the same pack.

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Now, here we are, several years later again, and the Collectors Club is swapping things back around a bit. Using the Wreckage name from the Toys “R” Us pack, but going back to the unproduced Sabretooth color scheme, the Collectors Club has pulled together the best of both worlds. Heck, they even included a stand for “Sgt. Sabretooth”!

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Using Ultimate Firely as the logical base figure, Wreckage is essentially a modern version of the canceled Sabretooth and is a fantastic update. I have little to complain about when it comes to the Ultimate Firefly figure, and the deco here works really nicely. I like it because it’s a nice departure from the typical yellow/black/brown, giving us a great lighter green shade that suits the figure quite nicely. Because of the later generation parts, articulation and range of motion is terrific, and combined with the really nice color scheme, ends up giving us a great looking figure.

Accessories

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As a tribute to the pre-sales catalog image, Wreckage comes with Recondo’s shotgun as well as Firefly’s backpack, not to mention the pistol and knife for his holster and sheath. Unlike the original Firefly figure, this updated webgear as the demolitions glued into place, a change I actually prefer, to keep them from falling off with the slightest motion.

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When I first got back into the G.I. Joe collecting scene in the late 90s, Sabretooth was one of those mythical characters that drew a lot of interest from fans before the doors opened wide to the world of unproduced and foreign releases thanks to the Internet. He’s always remained a character of interest, and I love that the Club is revisiting him in more accurate and true fashion than the Toys “R” Us pack did in 2003. This is a great looking update, even if a fairly cookie cutter one.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Lifeline

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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How can you go wrong with a Lifeline repaint? One of the shining examples of what the 30th Anniversary did right, Lifeline was the epitome of great toy design with his release in 2012. While he borrowed parts from the Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes, the new bits that were added flowed seamlessly with the existing ones, and his head sculpt remains one of the cleanest and most versatile three years later. When this year’s Convention theme of Tiger Force was announced, it made perfect sense for the Club to revisit Tiger Force Lifeline, and they did so to perfection.

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I’ve never been a big fan of Tiger Force in general, mostly preferring the original versions of those characters to their brighter repaints. I know that back in the day Hasbro did this to get some of their most popular characters back into circulation, but aesthetically I never found the domestic vintage Tiger Force to be all that appealing. Honestly I much prefered the blue and orange themes of the UK exclusives. Those were always a much nicer splash of color and interest compared to the ones released in the United States. All that being said, I know there’s a wealth of Tiger Force fans out there who were clamoring for more characters from that subteam, and to that end, the Club was quite successful here. Lifeline retains the same parts as his 30th Anniversary version, but with faithfully reproduced Tiger Force deco, looking much like the vintage version in a modern era format. Color tones are spot on to the original the striping pattern is accurate, and although the lack of breaks on the pouches of the torso is a bit disconcerting, it remains accurate to the original, which is what most fans are looking for, I’d think.

Accessories

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Like the 30th Anniversary version, Lifeline comes loaded. He has his removable helmet, the stretcher, and his Rescue case along with all of the medical instruments crammed neatly inside. The IV is there along with the clear plastic tubing, the facemask, his hypodermic, knife, and pistol. A ton of gear with this figure, and the Club brings it all forward quite nicely.

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Lifeline is a terrific figure and is executed faithfully and well. Thematically, not my first choice, but I cannot argue with a job well done, and this one clearly was.


Top 10 Moments from the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention

Status

Year after year it feels like the G.I. Joe Convention becomes less about toys and more about friends and community, and this year was no different. Heck, I spent 36 hours crammed in a car with other people as part of the weekend festivities!

Looking back on the weekend, there are 10 key moments that I feel really captured JoeCon 2015 for me.

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