G.I. Joe Convention 2016 Cobra Black Vulture

AirborneAirwaveAltitudeDrop ZoneSkydive
Static LineAir DevilBlack VultureFlying ScorpionNight Vulture
Sky CreeperCloudburstSkymateHeli-ViperAir Raid
FreefallSky SweeperSkystrikerHydra w/ Aero ViperJUMP Jet Packs
Con Set Recap

cobra-black-vulture-01 cobra-black-vulture-02

Could the Collectors Club have worked this out any more perfectly? Really, it’s almost as if it were meant to be.

When I first discovered the online G.I. Joe community in the late 1990’s, YoJoe became my home away from home as it did for nearly everyone. The website and the mailing list quickly drew me in and what completely fascinated me was this concept of foreign figures that I had absolutely no idea even existed.

cobra-black-vulture-14

Back in my childhood days, I was the resident G.I. Joe expert. If my friends wanted to sell their Joes, they called me. If they found a pile of discarded weapons and didn’t know who they went with, they called me. I knew it all. But when I discovered this whole world of South American (and European for that matter) G.I. Joe and COBRA characters that I didn’t know about, I was instantly captivated, and especially captivated by Abutre
Negro and Escorpaio Voador. We’ll talk more about Flying Scorpion later, but what was so intriguing about these figures was that in Brazil, they actually mixed and matched some parts and created this whole new person. They weren’t just paint variations or the same characters with different file names, these were completely new creations and I loved that.

I have no doubt these guys have been on top of many collector surveys for many years now, and considering Black Vulture was a Sky Patrol figure down in Brazil, including him here lines up perfectly.

cobra-black-vulture-22

Not to mention the fact that one of the COBRA Air Commandos is Night Vulture, and this character’s name translates as Black Vulture. Again, it’s almost like it was meant to be.

So not only did the Club make a genius call with the character, but the execution is spectacular. His head is from the Renegades COBRA Trooper, which works pretty well, and they went with one of the Rise of COBRA Accelerator Suits for the torso, with the paint applied just right to approximate the look of the raised COBRA logo on the chest. Beyond that distinct pattern of red, the rest of the figure is a striking contrast of black and silver, all applied to expertly developed parts. G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes arms are great, and I always support the use of Pursuit of COBRA Beachhead legs. The filecard developed writes Black Vulture as some kind of next generation computer hacker, so the technology strapped to the leg makes sense as well. From head to toe, Black Vulture is terrific. If I had any complaints it would be that the black and silver color scheme doesn’t necessarily jive with the Night Vulture, who this guy is supposed to be the leader of, but to be honest, I’m thrilled that they just maintained the classic color scheme rather than try to work in purple or orange somewhere that would look way out of place.

cobra-black-vulture-05

If I had to dig around for a complaint, it would just be that the sloped back of the torso does keep the jetpack from sliding down the post all the way, which can cause it to fall off somewhat easily.  This is a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but it should be noted.

Accessories

cobra-black-vulture-acc

The Club hit a home run with pretty much every accessory compliment for the COBRA A.D.D.E.R.S. and Black Vulture is no exception. He has that wonderful jetpack that was initially released with the Pursuit of COBRA Skydive, a nice, different look from the wingsuits of the other Air Commandos.The color scheme of this jetpack matches him very nicely and he has the winged COBRA logo on each wing.

Along with the jetpack and removable bombs he’s got a great, jagged blade knife and machine gun which he can hold to perfection.

cobra-black-vulture-03

Black Vulture was an early infatuation of mine when I discovered the online International world of G.I. Joe and I’m thrilled that the Collectors Club has given him a modern update. Not just a modern update, but a fantastic modern update. Excellent all around.

To check out a video review of the COBRA ADDERS half of the Convention set, watch below!


GeneralsJoes Kicks Off the 2016 Sky Patrol Convention Set Reviews!

Doing these Con Set reviews is always a bit of a mixed blessing.  I generally love the convention sets, but at the same time I’m still trying to do nearly 20 reviews simultaneously which is exhausting.  I’ve lost track of how many hours I spend each year putting these together, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks, right?

Wait… I don’t get paid for this crap?

Ah, well.  Good thing I enjoy it, eh?  So, the 2016 “Project: Downfall” Convention Set hit my hands a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been spending nearly all of my free time behind a camera, behind Photoshop, or behind Microsoft Word writing up the reviews!  Today I am starting the week of right, with SIX, count ’em SIX of the reviews hitting today alone!  The entirety of Sky Patrol is being reviewed today with the rest of the set sprinkling out throughout the week.

Start your Monday off right and check out the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page, or just click the link below.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed putting them together!

collage

G.I. Joe Convention 2016 “Project Downfall” Review

AirborneAirwaveAltitudeDrop ZoneSkydive
Static LineAir DevilBlack VultureFlying ScorpionNight Vulture
Sky CreeperCloudburstSkymateHeli-ViperAir Raid
FreefallSky SweeperSkystrikerHydra w/ Aero ViperJUMP Jet Packs
Con Set Recap

It’s with quite a few mixed feelings that I tackle the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention set this year, mainly because this year was one of the few years that I haven’t been able to make the show, and believe it or not, quite a bit of my joy and embracing of a particular year’s convention set is a direct result of feeding off my peers and sharing thoughts and opinions with them throughout the weekend.  You might think that a more segregated, impartial look after the fact represents a more accurate review, but I’m not sure.  In many ways, collecting and fandom is about how the target of your fandom brings people together and creates bonds (at least it should be, anyway) and that, in my opinion, must be a factor of any review of collector oriented product.

sky-patrol-group-07

However, even though I did lack that person-to-person contact this year that I’ve had in years past, I’ve had a few weeks to share opinions with many of my friends and peers, and by and large this Convention set appears to be very well received.  I agree with this opinion, for the most part.

Standing back and looking at the set as a whole, it’s amazing to see just how many of my own personal high points are hit all at once.  I’m a big fan of Sky Patrol, using them as a liaison of sorts to my offshoot “Renegades” team in my dio-stories.  Along with that, I’ve always loved the crazy 90s greatness of the Air Commandos, and we have plenty of that mixed in here, too.  As if that wasn’t enough, by far, two of my favorite foreign character variants are also included here in the form of Black Vulture and Flying Scorpion, two very intriguing combinations that were only available as exclusives in Brazil before now.

cobra-adders-group-02

As I go through all of the figures in the set (and yes, vehicles, too) I’ve been quite pleased at the more modern selection of parts and the intricacies of much of the deco.  There are some decisions that I’m not a huge fan of (no removable helmets on the new heads? Booooo), but as a whole this set seems to pay homage to the classics, while also bringing plenty of new stuff to the table, which is about all you can hope for as a modern collector.

Not everything is a home run, of course, but there’s a lot to enjoy here, and putting this complex, elaborate review together has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, as it is every year.  I hope you enjoy it.

G.I. Joe Convention 2016 Skydive

AirborneAirwaveAltitudeDrop ZoneSkydive
Static LineAir DevilBlack VultureFlying ScorpionNight Vulture
Sky CreeperCloudburstSkymateHeli-ViperAir Raid
FreefallSky SweeperSkystrikerHydra w/ Aero ViperJUMP Jet Packs
Con Set Recap

sky-patrol-skydive-01 sky-patrol-skydive-02

Ahh, Skydive. You mean, mustachioed SOB…

One look at Skydive back in the day and you immediately wanted to eat all your vegetables and do your homework, he just had that kind of a-hole dad look to him with his close-cropped hair and tightly manicured lip fuzz. Still, it was a head sculpt that had a ton of character, and even on top of a really bizarre figure like the COBRA Gyro-Viper he looked like he was on top of his stuff.

sky-patrol-skydive-13

This new version manages to take what was great about the classic version and make it even better, with some interesting twists along the way.

Essentially the modern Skydive is 25th Anniversary Mutt’s head on the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Data-Viper’s body from the neck down. Thick, padded uniform, amazing articulation, and a really great overall figure gives you a look and feel of a flight suit. Heck, the Retalition Lift Ticket’s already wearing it as one. The great thing about the Data Viper parts, too, is that with the right paint, the trim work jumps off the blue background
of the uniform and almost ties together as the classic version did with those strange hoses and ports of the original Skydive.

sky-patrol-skydive-10

Even though there are no new parts here, the parts were obviously chosen with a specific look in mind and they work eminently well. Silver trim on the torso, and the white colored padding are both nice and bright and break up the royal blue underneath very well.

I admit to being a little surprised that the Mutt head works as well as it does. With the brown hair, moustache, and especially with the silver helmet on, you can barely tell it’s Mutt (or Bazooka for that matter).

Accessories

sky-patrol-skydive-acc

Like Drop Zone, Skydive comes with the really fun Rise of COBRA jetpack done up in a great blue/silver color scheme. He’s got Agent Mouse’s tactical helmet, which is fantastic, as well as goggles that can slide over the helmet to replicate his vintage look, or even pull down over his eyes for added realism. Finishing off his gear is a military assault rifle. His accessory compliment is pretty much perfect, with the right balance of offensive
weapons and accessories that work well off his vintage version.

sky-patrol-skydive-04

Skydive is fantastic. Yes, Data Viper has become a defacto standard for modern figures, the same way Shock Trooper and Snake Eyes were before him, but when the base figure is that good, it’s very difficult to complain. The paint work is nearly perfect, the parts choices work to near excellence, and the accessories are just right. This is a very well done update and an excellent addition to your modern era officer corps.

Check out the video review for the Sky Patrol half of the boxed set below!


G.I. Joe Convention 2016 Altitude

AirborneAirwaveAltitudeDrop ZoneSkydive
Static LineAir DevilBlack VultureFlying ScorpionNight Vulture
Sky CreeperCloudburstSkymateHeli-ViperAir Raid
FreefallSky SweeperSkystrikerHydra w/ Aero ViperJUMP Jet Packs
Con Set Recap

sky-patrol-altitude-01 sky-patrol-altitude-02

In what appeared to be a trend back in the 80s and 90s, Altitude was a Native American member of the G.I. Joe team, and like both Spirit and Airborne (Talltree, not Six), he was written in the filecard as having some sort of mysterious six sense. This trend was also carried forward to Dart, another Native American Tracker who became a stalwart during the new sculpt era. As a kid, these characters were awesome to me. For whatever reason I really loved the “near superhuman” aspects of G.I. Joe. They never really went full board over to comic book ridiculousness, but you had guys like Storm Shadow who could scale walls (according to his filecard), Zartan who had this mysterious enhanced strength and disguise abilities, and these trackers, who seemed to have extremely sensitive senses and abilities. That was cool in my 10 year old world.

sky-patrol-altitude-13

This Altitude update might use the classic as a bare bones inspiration, but really takes the figure in some new places, even though it uses all existing parts. While many of the Sky Patrol characters were repaints of COBRA vehicle drivers, Altitude was a repaint of Slipstream, the Conquest pilot, who never really got a highly accurate modern update. Sure, he was produced, but not really as a direct update to the original, with some
healthy liberties taken. Big kudos to the designer of this version of Altitude, as they aschew the idea of just repainting whatever was done for the 25th Anniversary Slipstream and instead go in a whole new direction. Altitude is a mix of Pursuit of COBRA parts, leveraging Duke and Firefly for most of it, with the head from the Slaughters Marauders Mercer. This is a great touch, giving Altitude his classic flat top and angry grimace. A
very interesting choice of head, and with the different flesh tone, it works perfectly.

The other parts are fantastic as well, chock full of character, nicely developed sculpting, and great articulation. I’ll never grow tired of Firefly’s legs, although they come off as a little bit skinny sometimes.

sky-patrol-altitude-09

The color balance here is very nicely done, using the original brown and green colors, but interspersing those colors on the more modern parts where it makes sense. Gold and silver compliments are spread throughout the torso and legs, and look…well… pretty spectacular. I really love how the silver trim and gold base balance off of each other on the torso armor. Like Airborne, Altitude has Lift Ticket’s arms and they work surprisingly
well.

Accessories

sky-patrol-altitude-acc

Altitude’s weapons are the definition of bare bones, as he also comes with the standard military backpack rather than a jetpack. His weapon is an updated version of the COBRA Viper machine gun that came with the 50th Anniversary Danger at the Docks set, and he also comes with a knife, helmet and face shield to attempt to mimic the look of the vintage version. The weapons are fine, but honestly nothing extraordinary.

sky-patrol-altitude-04

Altitude is another solid update to the original figure. He looks familiar, but has enough interesting new elements to stand apart from the classic. I love the reuse of Mercer’s head and the perfect interweaving of Pursuit of Cobra parts, creating texture, paint breaks, and an overall great aesthetic.

Check out the video review for the Sky Patrol half of the boxed set below!


G.I. Joe Convention 2016 Airwave

AirborneAirwaveAltitudeDrop ZoneSkydive
Static LineAir DevilBlack VultureFlying ScorpionNight Vulture
Sky CreeperCloudburstSkymateHeli-ViperAir Raid
FreefallSky SweeperSkystrikerHydra w/ Aero ViperJUMP Jet Packs
Con Set Recap

sky-patrol-airwave-01 sky-patrol-airwave-02

In the days of the original Sky Patrol, Airwave was not my favorite, to be honest. I never liked the Motor Viper figure all that much anyway, and the parts didn’t do Airwave any favors. Sort of skinny arms and a weirdly over-designed uniform left me pretty cool and indifferent. I’m happy to say any potential issues with the vintage Motor Viper were rectified with the modern update in a big way.

Where the original Airwave was scrawny and unexciting, this update is packed with detail, bulk, and an interesting parts build. Like the original, he wears the Motor Viper vest, but in this case that vest is covering Pursuit of COBRA Skydive parts which give the figure a nice heft and design flair that the original lacked in my view.

sky-patrol-airwave-07

Using the vintage Airwave as a template, this figure is colored in various shades of brown with camouflage, all set off with the right amount of silver trim and it all works really nicely. The figure looks like a modern update to Airwave, but has enough new twists to still feel unique and apart from simply being a new version of the original. This is a great way to do an update.

Accessories

sky-patrol-airwave-acc-01

Like Airborne, Airwave is one of the figures that does not come with a jetpack and in fact, his backpack is just like Airborne’s. He also comes with an assault rifle (though a different one than the other figure), a pistol, a version of Firefly’s walkie talkie (which makes sense for an audio specialist, I suppose) and the same helmet that came with Pursuit of COBRA Ashiko. All of the accessories work nicely for the figure, and while this newer helmet isn’t quite as nice as the vintage version, it works okay.

sky-patrol-airwave-04

Airwave is another great Sky Patrol member, and is in fact, not just an homage to the original, but a drastic improvement to it, which doesn’t happen every day. Nice work!

Check out the video review for the Sky Patrol half of the boxed set below!


G.I. Joe Convention 2016 Airborne

AirborneAirwaveAltitudeDrop ZoneSkydive
Static LineAir DevilBlack VultureFlying ScorpionNight Vulture
Sky CreeperCloudburstSkymateHeli-ViperAir Raid
FreefallSky SweeperSkystrikerHydra w/ Aero ViperJUMP Jet Packs
Con Set Recap

sky-patrol-airborne-01 sky-patrol-airborne-02

Here in 2016 copyright trickery with character names is a common occurrence, though one that Hasbro usually resolves with a “SGT”, “CAPT”, or “AUTOBOT” precursor. Or they just throw the code name in quotes within the character’s file name. Back in 1990, though, characters with similar names (or the same name as the case may be) seemed pretty strange. That was definitely the case with me when Sky Patrol debuted and my favorite figure in the subteam happened to share a codename with a pretty familiar character from 1983.

But this clearly wasn’t Franklin Talltree.

Poor Franklin seems to be in the midst of these kinds of weird naming issues. First, this Sky Patrol name steal, then, with the 2016 convention set, a new “Air Raid” comes along, which stole the name from the previous Rise of Cobra “Air Raid” who happened to be named…

Franklin Talltree.

Talk about an identity crisis.

sky-patrol-airborne-16

Anyway. For this modern update to the venerable Sgt. Six (as I called him in my own little G.I. Joe stories) we get a pretty spectacular looking combination of really interesting parts. A brand new head sculpt tops the figure, though as what will be a running complaint throughout, I would have thought a removable helmet could have been squeezed in here somewhere. Evident from the first glance at the head (and a fact that the Collectors Club
even backed up) they designed this head with some future use cases in mind (namely Scoop) but honestly, I would have appreciated it far more if they could have worked out the helmet actually coming off.

Beyond that minor complaint, this figure hits all the right notes. Retaliation Firefly’s torso, 25th Anniversary Lift Ticket’s arms, and Shock Trooper’s legs all form a very nice base for the figure, looking unique and interesting. Several different textures are used, but blend nicely, looking reminiscent of the vintage version, but with plenty of modern twists. Articulation is excellent, and the look of the figure is, well…among the best of this year’s Convention set, to be sure.

sky-patrol-airborne-11

Airborne’s paint scheme is pretty spectacular as well. With very tightly applied urban camouflage, he has the same spirit of the 1990 version, but applied to the figure in a much cleaner, more modern way, giving us an update to Airborne that is terrific all around. His colors are immediately evocative of the previous version of the figure, but far from repetitive.

Accessories

sky-patrol-airborne-acc-01

The Collectors Club, for whatever reason, split the Sky Patrol figures so three of them come with jet packs and three of them do not. Airborne is one of the latter, coming with a military backpack instead of the cooler looking jetpack, but still nicely equipped. He also has an assault rifle, knife, satchel (totally not a man purse) and the shoulder harness comes off as well.

sky-patrol-airborne-03

Airborne is very nice. Great parts combinations, a nice looking new head sculpt, and immaculately developed camouflage all come together to form a great update to the classic Sky Patrol character. Great start to this thing.

Check out the video review for the Sky Patrol half of the boxed set below!


GeneralsJoes G.I. Joe Convention 2016 Video Reviews

The written reviews are on their way!  We stand at about 90% complete and hope to launch very early next week.

While you wait, Chris from The Full Force and I worked together to get some video reviews done to take a quick peek at the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention boxed set!  These videos have been broken up into two parts, one looking at the Sky Patrol members, with the other digging into the COBRA A.D.D.E.R.S.!

Head on over to my YouTube channel to check them out, or they are also embedded below.  Full written reviews are on the horizon, expect them very soon!

sky-patrol-group-09

Metric ton of 2016 G.I. Joe Convention Images on YoJoe.com

I know most of the attention at JoeCon focuses on the Hasbro booth and Club exclusives, but the truth is there is a ton of stuff that goes on at JoeCon beyond just the fancy new toys.

Phil from YoJoe.com went above and beyond this year as he always does taking images, organizing them and posting them in the always awesome YoJoe Photo Galleries.  Custom and Diorama contest photos, Cosplay, and yes plenty of images of new toys, too.

Check out the YoJoe Photo Gallery, there’s some awesome stuff to look at there.

08-GIJoeCon-2016-Cobra-Officer

Official Press Images for newly announced Hasbro G.I. Joe Product

With the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention now over, Hasbro has released some official press images for upcoming product, which provides a nice clear look at how these figures are expected to look once we get them in our greedy little mitts in November.

Check out all these press images below.