G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – 250 Issues

A guest post by Skinny

Milestone.

It is a word that you don’t hear used a lot any more. That is because they just don’t happen too much any more. Our lives today are fast, We don’t follow Ferris Bueller’s advice to stop and look around. We also don’t put our hair in a mohawk in the shower. What I mean is, life is even faster and we can only take things in chunks. Anything long lasting is intimidating. G.I.Joe from day one continues to be something that was built to last. An exception.

It all began in 1982 when Hasbro visited the Marvel Offices and sought out a creator to bring their re-envisioned version of G.I.Joe to life. Chosen by elimination, Larry Hama took what could have been a side project and infused it with real storytelling.

The late Herb Trimpe, a veteran at Marvel comics, brought his art to the table. Jim Shooter, Todd McFarlane, Rod Whigham, Ron Wagner, Andrew Wildman, Michael Goldman, Mike Zeck, Mike Vosburg and most recently S.L. Gallant, Brian Shearer, J. Brown and Netho Diaz among countless others all contributed to the success and look of G.I.Joe.

250 issues. It has run from 1982 to 1994 and then again in 2010 picking up exactly where they left off in 1994. There were a few half issues in there expanding the stories from the sidelines, but the official 250th issue comes out today.

We have seen new characters, beloved comic only characters, the deaths of characters, the rebirths of characters, minds reprogrammed, cat fights, towns taken over, civil war, alien robots, disguises, close calls, patriotism, imposters, flashbacks, characters seeing the light, ninjas, detailed locales based on reality, a little bit of advice, military jargon, comical moments, and even one issue used as the basis for a movie about a giant asteroid hurtling toward Earth. It is the golden boy and Mom’s apple pie vs Orson Welles in a hood. It is the many faces of diversity both physical and of character.

The characters as Larry has admitted in several interviews are based on the people he knows so he can keep track of them. This provides a wonderful consistency and is the main reason no one can ever really nail down the character’s essences like he can. It would be like you trying to write about someone else’s uncle. You could get some things right but there would be something missing. I would love to meet the practical joker Airtight is based on he/she must be a wild one.

G.I.Joe is centered around the life of a stand out main character, who cannot talk. Imagine creating this tragic tale of a man who expresses himself in other ways besides speech. It is indeed a tragic tale.  G.I. Joe, says Hama, is Junior woodchucks with guns. G.I. Joe takes us all around the world and back in time. G.I.Joe is different things to different people. Hama himself says it best however.

“They don’t understand the intrinsic fantasy. G.I.Joe isn’t a military fantasy, it’s not a war book, it’s a fantasy about loyalty and camaraderie. Which to a ten year old kid is an extremely powerful fantasy because every ten year old kid has been betrayed. Obviously. The idea of best friends that never let you down and will stand up for you; if you are in trouble they will come and get you. That’s a powerful fantasy and its also a fantasy of doing the right thing and having integrity without looking for the reward and about duty, and old fashioned things like that… that to a kid represents order and it’s very comforting.” (Larry Hama YoutubeInterview by Roy Turner 2018)

To center a comic around that theme, and not just make it a toy comic, pushed it into the pantheon of comics that last into the hundreds of issues. Iconic comics.

Milestones.

 

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The state of GeneralsJoes – 2018

Hey, all.  So what’s new?

If you’re a regular visitor to GeneralsJoes, you’re probably thinking that a lot of stuff is new, I just haven’t been talking about it.  And yeah, you’d be right.

Why is that?  Honestly, I don’t really have an answer.  I think it’s a lot of things. 

After holding the torch of the G.I. Joe fandom for near twenty years, I think I’ve gotten a little tired.  I’ve posted hundreds of reviews over twenty years, thousands of news stories, and seen many of the same themes come and go.  Popularity swings from one extreme to the other, but a solid core of devoted, motivated fans who love the brand and want to continue to see it evolve.

One thing social media has done is provided an outlet for many of those motivated fans to continue expressing their feelings of the brand at large and as things have become more social media driven, I’ve felt like a place like GeneralsJoes hasn’t had a very large role in that.  Mostly my own fault, but it is the truth.

Also I can’t help but say that my own motivation has been somewhat lacking.  As many of you are aware I’ve begun focusing a lot of time and energy on my career as an independent author, an endeavor I’ve found to be exceedingly rewarding and unbelievably enjoyable.  Unfortunately as a husband and father with a 50 hour a week job, I only have so much time outside of daily life to contribute to what are essentially “hobbies” at this point.  Posting new FSS reviews or writing 20,000 words on a new novel?  The novel is going to win out at this point.  I need to do what’s best for my own self worth and my own reward system.

Lots of you will say it’s a lack of news or interest that’s driving the site into relative silence, but I can promise you that’s not the point.  My site begun in 1998 when we were getting maybe 15 new figures a year (and then none in 1999).  My site has  survived the Direct to Consumer doldrums, the disintegration of one of my favorite brands, Sigma 6, the rise and fall of the G.I. Joe film franchise, and GeneralsJoes was right there the whole time.  It didn’t go anywhere, and it’s still not going anywhere.  I’m never going to abandon this site, I’m never going to abandon the G.I. Joe brand,  I just have only so much time to go around, and for the moment that time is being spent on other endeavors.  I truly hope everyone reading this understands.

That being said, if there is anyone reading this who wants to assist in keeping the heartbeat of GeneralsJoes alive, please drop me line (justin AT generalsjoes.com).  I hate to see the site dwindling into obscurity, I desperately want to keep it active and keep it relevant, but there’s only so much I can do personally, and as I said, for my own mental well-being and self-reward, I really want to continue to focus on being an author.

Who knows, if my author career takes off to the point where I can do that for a day job, then that changes my whole landscape.  I don’t see that happening for a while (if ever).

That being said, there are rumors that the next G.I. Joe film will be landing in early 2020.  Along with that will likely be a new action figure line.  The G.I. Joe Collectors Club is officially winding down with their last convention in Chattanooga this coming year.  The good news is that there are so many fans of the brand still keeping the fires lit, and trust me when I say I’m doing the same thing, I’m just doing it a bit more quietly than some others.  That may change in 2018, but I can’t promise anything at this point.

Until then, keep hitting The Full Force, 3D Joes, YoJoe, JoeBattleLines, HissTank, and so many other online G.I. Joe fandoms who are doing a much better job keeping the torch lit than I am.

Like I said, I’m not going anywhere, and if anyone wants to help keep the light on, please drop me a line.  Time will tell how things look going into 2018.

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Some interesting licensing angles in the works for the G.I. Joe brand

While I think many of us wait patiently for news of the upcoming Hasbro Cinematic Universe so we can set expectations for new retail G.I. Joe figures, a few licensees have emerged with potential G.I. Joe related items in various stages of conception and production.

Perhaps most unusual is news from Dynamic Attractions (revealed via Skinny on Twitter) who is apparently planning a new full-blown amusement park attraction and framing it around the G.I. Joe brand.  They speak about it in depth in this YouTube video and even show some brief video (including a look at very COBRA-themed set design and a vehicle that looks more than a little like a four-seat VAMP):

Dubbed an “All-Terrain Dark Ride” this was announced at IAAPA 2017 (The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) and even included some promotional opportunities.

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Along with this information, Pop Culture Shock Collectibles has also announced they have acquired rights to produce some G.I. Joe product as well.  Most well known for their lines of statues, we’ll have to see what they have in store and how it compares (or compliments) the existing work of Prime 1 Studio.

“PCS Collectibles is pleased to announce we have now secured a licensing agreement with Hasbro Inc. We are excited about the opportunity to team with Hasbro in creating collectibles based on characters from properties like TRANSFORMERS, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, G.I. JOE and MY LITTLE PONY to name a few. Stay tuned for further details!

G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, and MY LITTLE PONY are trademarks of Hasbro. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is a trademark of Wizards of the Coast LLC.”

As always, time will tell how this all shakes out.  Stay tuned!

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Hasbro Pulse goes behind the scenes with Missile Command Center

The Hasbro Pulse website has posted a pretty awesome behind the scenes talk with G.I. Joe product designer Bobby Vala, which explores some of the thought and work that went into the ComicCon exclusive Missile Command Center!  This is some great insight and has some awesome pictures showing some of the different steps Vala took to get to the awesome finished product so many Joe fans were grateful to finally receive after decades of lusting after the original online.

Check out the Hasbro Pulse article right here and huge props to Hasbro, our buddy Fred from JoeBattleLines and Bobby Vala for sharing some of the trade secrets with us.  Great stuff!

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Joe DeClassified Booth at the Edmonton Expo was beyond awesome

This past weekend was the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo, which featured a terrific appearance by the fine folks at JoeDeClassified.

They posted a wealth of amazing art and pre-production items, and provided some images for folks to check out, even those of us who couldn’t attend.

Check out all of the images over on the JoeDeClassified Facebook Page, I’ve mirrored just a couple of them below.

G.I. Joe comics from IDW Publishing are at a crossroads

I’ve been going back and forth on this for a long time now, but after the events of the last twenty-four hours, I think it’s time that I make a decision.

GeneralsJoes will no longer be covering or providing coverage of IDW Publishing’s G.I. Joe comics until something can be done about writer Aubrey Sitterson.

From a personal perspective, I can respect his devotion to his political beliefs.  Hell, to be totally honest, I share some of those beliefs.  But over the past several months, Mr. Sitterson has systematically worked through social media to generate a sense of ill-will for the majority of the G.I. Joe fan base, and I’ve reached a point where I just don’t want to discuss it or give it any exposure any more.

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It started in the G.I. Joe: Discussion Facebook group where some members were talking about a particular G.I. Joe cover, which caused Mr. Sitterson to get exceptionally hostile towards the fans to the point where he posted an image of himself giving the middle finger with a blatant image of the president blowing his own brains out on a t-shirt.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Donald Trump (an issue I will NOT be discussing further so don’t bother asking) but the gesture struck me as being completely out of line for a creator who is attempting to engage with the fan base.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, when one of the admins stepped in, Mr. Sitterson fell back to his personal social media platform and proceeded to accuse the entire group of being homophobes and racists, a complete and total misrepresentation of the facts.  He has used this same tactic with a recent exchange regarding folks expressing sympathy and emotion for the events of September 11th.

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Since then he has continuously posted virulent and aggressive posts through social media while at the same time promoting G.I. Joe, and over the past several weeks I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with how closely linked the G.I. Joe brand has become with his own mode of online commentary.  Mr. Sitterson has spent a lot of time in the wrestling world, and he certainly seems to be working to generate heat, hoping that this heat will spill over into sales and attention for the G.I. Joe comics.  Unfortunately, sales continue to falter and I see disgusted fans by the dozens unsubscribing or expressing their distaste for the way the current writer is handling himself.

G.I. Joe, at this moment, strikes me as a brand in crisis.  I strongly believe any curator of that brand in a professional capacity needs to express himself in a professional manner.  Mr. Sitterson has not been doing that for a very, very long time, and eventually his agenda is going to drive away what few hardcore fans the G.I. Joe brand has left.

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Believe me, I am about as far from the “hardcore G.I. Joe military RULEZ” crowd as you can get.  I have plenty of room in my love for the brand to accept the more eccentric and outlandish stories.  That’s a huge part of what has made G.I. Joe what it is today.  In another life I would enjoy and appreciate the outlandish nature of what Sitterson is trying to accomplish, but his aggressive belligerence makes it impossible to do so.

What I cannot do is accept the fact that one of the brand’s creative members seems to feel a need to work so hard to ostracize the fans who have supported this brand for decades.  His recent tweet about September 11th was poorly worded and borderline offensive, and when folks have called him on it, his response was (and I quote):

“But as a guy who stood in the streets of lower Manhattan, where he lived, and watched it all unfold: F*ck you.”

Is that really the brand ambassador that we all want at the head of the ship?  Also, did he forget that the events of 9/11 not only impacted New York, but Washington, DC, Pennsylvania and thousands of people who lost family members aboard the aircraft that crashed into the two towers?

From a personal perspective I will no longer be buying IDW Publishing’s main G.I. Joe title.  I’ve been purchasing every single G.I. Joe comic since 1984.  It took until 2017 to get me to stop, but I have finally been worn down to the point of just not being able to support it anymore.

Mr. Sitterson has complete and total freedom of speech and as I’ve already said, I fully respect his opinion and his intense desire to share that opinion regardless of what others may think.  It’s an admirable trait.

However, in this case, I think he is actively damaging a brand that cannot withstand the continued punishment, and the best interests of IDW Publishing’s G.I. Joe universe do not necessarily align with his.  For that reason, I’m expressing my own freedom in not promoting or commercially supporting IDW Publishing’s endeavors with the G.I. Joe universe.  It’s unfortunate, and honestly I’m sure my little voice in this big, huge world doesn’t mean much, but I’ve gotta do what I feel is right.

First ever HasCon impresses, surprises, and satisfies

First and foremost… for some of the best coverage of HasCon you MUST check out the following two places:

Both Christopher and Carson went above and beyond documenting the experience in video and image form, and have a lot better detail there than I’m providing below.  This is just my own take on the experience.

On paper, it looked like kind of a crazy idea.  The coordination, the early mornings, the blood, sweat, and tears.

Oh, I’m not talking about HasCon itself.  I’m talking about my plans for HasCon weekend.  Deciding to forego the VIP treatment this year (going by some peer reactions, this was a significant lack of judgement on my part) I elected instead to make HasCon a day trip.  Grab a ticket, cruise down to Rhode Island for the day, have some fun.

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(Image courtesy of the 3DJoes Facebook Page)

Then they decided to bring James White from the New England Patriots, and my daughter caught wind of it, and those plans went out the window.  She had to see him on Sunday, and I had to see my friends on Saturday, so I decided on back-to-back road trips of nearly 3 hours each way.

I don’t regret one second of it.  If anything, I regret not bringing my second daughter along for the ride.

As we near the end of Fun Publication’s license for the G.I. Joe Convention (with Botcon already come and gone) Hasbro had elected to take over some of the convention reigns themselves, putting together a combination con involving all of their various brands.  HasCon as it was dubbed was immediately greeted by mixed reactions (my own included).  But as more and more of my friends expressed their interest in attending, I decided I’d go along for the ride.

(Images Courtesy of the 3DJoes Facebook Page)

Next year, it’s VIP all the way.

While I missed Friday, from everything I heard, the G.I. Joe panels were informative, interesting, and fun, a deep, introspective dive into the history of the world’s first action figure.  Certainly a lot of the discussion focused on the Real American Hero side of things, Hasbro pulled out all of the stops with actually recreating some of the old prototype vehicles and restoring many items for display.  Alan Hassenfeld himself was on site during the dinner to give a rousing speech, with the always present and always enthusiastic Derryl DePriest carrying the torch as well.  By all accounts they were both fantastic.  If you missed Friday like I did, you absolutely must go check The Full Force on Facebook, as the stalwart Chris McLeod managed to capture the majority of it on video.

I showed up on Saturday, shortly before noon, and the place was slamming.  It was wall-to-wall people waiting in line for autographs by David Ortiz, or playing along with a DJ, having a blast in the HasCade, or enjoying the G.I. Joe history lesson courtesy of Dan Klingensmith and an entire cadre of design legends from the hallowed halls of Hasbro.  I gravitated towards the G.I. Joe display of course and ran into some great friends there from 3D Joes and the Flag Points podcast, Dan K. himself, as well as members of the G.I. Joe Discussion Group on Facebook.  Less than thirty minutes into my arrival and it was like old homes day, especially for this old man who had missed the past two JoeCons in a row.

After chatting the guys up for a few minutes, I was swept into the main exhibit hall which was simply astounding.  Every single Hasbro brand was represented there from Transformers to Nerf to My Little Pony and Magic: The Gathering.  Disney Princesses, Star Wars, the whole ball of wax.

Well, except for G.I. Joe, which maintained its position on guard outside the front door.  If anything, though its placement gave it more visibility, not less.

Each section of boys toys goodness was crammed with new and old toys, fantastic, elaborate diorama displays and a bunch of great Hasbro designers to talk with.  I was able to play catch up with John Warden (though I kept missing Bobby Vala in the Marvel booth) and the enthusiasm with which they talked about their craft and the product lines they work on was infectious.  Moving from booth to booth (dodging the 15 foot tall Bumblebee dancing around) was an experience in glorious sensory overload.  HasCon is like JoeCon + Botcon x 10 squared.  It was really amazing.

(Video Courtesy of The Full Force Facebook Page)

But the audience was manageable.  It was large, but not TOO LARGE if you get my meaning.  Things rarely got to San Diego ComicCon shoulder-to-shoulder level, but on Saturday there was a constant stream and presence of people, but it never quite reached overwhelming status.

As a collector, though, once you pulled yourself away from the Boys Toys alley, things got even cooler, especially for those of us parents in the room.  Sprawling out throughout the rest of the exhibit hall was booths upon booths of fun, colorful, interactive demonstrations of Hasbro’s core brands.  Stuff like My Little Pony (full make up stations), Littlest Pet Shop (you could customize your own pet, or win free pets by spinning a hamster wheel), Baby Alive (changing stations, feeding stations, the whole nine yards), Nerf (shooting ranges and Dude Perfect trick shots), and even a Troll section where you could get your hair done up like one of those crazy plastic dolls that actually have names and a mythology now.

I’m so old.

There were kids and families.  Everywhere.  Just as it should be.  Boys and girls of all ages being exposed to Hasbro brands, discovering just how cool the various Nerf weapons or the latest Beyblades were.  Getting smacked in the face with a whipped cream pie or sprayed by a toilet (don’t ask)…  it was a tradeshow, a family fun day, and a full blown fan convention all wrapped up in a single package.

And it all worked.

Upon my return trip on Sunday, with my 12 year old in tow (who was thrilled to meet and get her picture taken with James White) the crowds were smaller and more scattered, making the floor more manageable.  She was able to play at the various game stations and although she was ‘way too old, dad’ for Baby Alive or My Little Pony, she eagerly traveled the floor with her little passport to collect all the stamps and get her free water bottle.  She customized her own Littlest Pet Shop and won a couple of free ones to bring home to her sister.  All that plus enough free Play-Doh to choke a stable of horses.

Sure, there were hiccups as there always are the first year around, but overall the experience was exceptionally smooth.  Busy, but not packed.  Lots to do and see, but not sensory overload.  Just enough great stuff happening at regular intervals, but not so much that you felt like you were going to miss something.

I’m not sure HasCon will become a regular thing, I can’t even imagine the coordination it took to bring it all together.  But I hope it does.  And if it does, I’ll be there next year.  I may even bring the whole family.

Dan, Derryl, the G.I. Joe legends, and everyone involved deserves some serious props for what it took to pull this off.  Yes, the best part (as always) was seeing all my friends and hanging with great people, but the Convention itself was a blast, and something I can see myself attending every year, and even better, something I can bring the family to as well.

Great success and congrats to all.

It’s a Full Force extravaganza – Series 4 episode 3 …with Zombie Lab!

More great G.I. Joe news than you can shake a stick at!  The Full Force is online with their latest episode (Series 4, Episode 3 to be precise) and they are unraveling the latest news from San Diego ComicCon as well as an exclusive interview with the folks behind the latest awesome action figure Kickstarter – Zombie Lab!  Myself and Boss Fight’s Dave Proctor join Chris to talk to Andy and Alex and get the skinny behind the action figure Kickstarter going on right now!

Lots of great content to digest with this one from lots of awesome contributors including G.I. Joe artist Adam Riches, collector supreme Troy McKie and those awesome dudes from across the pond Dave Tree and Eddie Inman.  Of course Chris does a great job running the show as always.

Check out The Full Force on Facebook for show notes and other great stuff, and the podcast episode can be accessed from Podbean, or embedded below.

FUUULLL FOOOOOOORRRCE!!

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In hand images and guest review – ComicCon Cobra Missile Command Center

 

Noted author James Kavanaugh, Jr. is back with GeneralsJoes for an awesome early sneak peek at the COBRA Missile Command Center ComicCon exclusive!

This thing took all of us by surprise and James goes in depth with the good, the bad, and the awesome little details.

Check the review out right here (or the link below) and once again, huge thanks to James for pinch hitting this spectacular reviews.  Great stuff!

And hey, if you want to thank James for his help with these reviews, hit up RAHCGuide and buy some of his awesome G.I. Joe reference guides!

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GeneralsJoes Guest Review – ComicCon Missile Command Center

Hi all, I’m back again.  I must be a glutton for punishment.  It’s either that or Justin in getting lazy.  Probably all three.  You read that correctly.  It’s that time of the year and we’re all a buzz about the new reveals and great exclusives at San Diego Comic Con.  I just wrapped up the Revolution crossover set review yesterday and now I’m onto the G.I. Joe-specific Missile Command Center.  I was at Joe Con during the i09.com reveal and this set took us by a pleasant surprise!  I was also close enough to see the set in the case, take it in as much as I could at con, and knew it was going to be a great piece.  FYI, I run around like Joe Con like a lunatic (or maybe I should replace “like” with “as”) and don’t really experience the new product until I get home so we basically have the same view.  Besides, if I really did take the view, I would be there for hours and in everyone’s way.  Well, more than normal.

So yeah, the MCC (I’m not typing Missile Command Center every time, though I could c ‘n p), let’s rap.  Nostalgia seems to be the strong, underlying current of many of our major brands and this set was a healthy dose straight down the hatch!  To recap, this set was a vintage, store exclusive that consisted of every Cobra The Enemy action figure produce at the time (all three) and a cardboard missile command playset.  Cardboard playsets seemed to be an easy exclusive to produce and were well received growing up.  Well received, that is, if knew the store sold it.  But who didn’t?  One of the greatest childhood memories for children of the 80s and before was staring for days at the toy catalogs of major retail chains.  We circled over and over the ones we wanted and checked off the ones we had.  And, on the other side of the coin, the fragile cardboard rarely survived the sands of time, thus creating a very desirable adult collectable piece.  You know this reviewer is always going to give you the straight talk (not what the internet falsely says 60s Iron Man gives) and say G.I. Joe is currently an “Emerging Challenger Brand,” which means a few things, but for this set means primarily adult collectors.  This notion of adult collectors being the focal point can only be reaffirmed by a trip to Joe Con.  And, like I said in the previous Revolution, I self-identify as a G.I. Joe-specific collector so this is my wheelhouse.

Packaging

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I do own a vintage MCC but I do not own one in package.  A google search can show you the differences but I don’t know the size comparison.   Your google search will agree with my point that this thing is almost indistinguishable!  I briefly wondered if this set would be considered 25th style or something similar and it’s close but not really.  I am dubbing it “hyper-vintage.”  I don’t care if it sticks or not, (I actually do, I’m sensitive like that) but I do think this set goes even further to gives us the nostalgic feel than even the 25th set out to do.  One can obviously recognize the 4” styled Cobra in the upper left tunnel but, other than that, any change requires some advanced insight of the vintage set.  Pawn Stars will have to call in their expert to confirm.  Derry DePriest introduced this set at Joe Con while systematically introducing the name Bobby Vala to the fans as the new guy on the Joe brand.  I will be crediting him for his awesome work throughout this interview and will start by saying his attention to detail is intense and his desire to recreate a nostalgic purity is so intense, weathering affects were even applied to the outer box.  Holding it really makes you feel like you’ve found a legitimate holy grail at the flea market.*  And for an MSRP of $50.  No coming home with a loose “Frankensteined” Lightfoot/Scoop, two dirty Sneak Peeks, and a gold Steel Brigade thigh for $50, we hit the jack pot!

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*Designer’s note:  I notice while absorbing the packaging and taking in the “weathering” application, the UPC is starch white (I’m confident for easy scanner readability if this was ever brought to retail).  This is by no means a knock, just a fun facet of the process.  We truly live in a digital era.

Action Figures

So, start with easy part.  The set comes with three characters, Cobra Commander, Cobra Officer, and “Cobra” Trooper.  These three characters laid the foundation for the terrorist cell…, err, enemy camp and have remained at the forefront of the Cobra The Enemy antagonist since.  And, reiterate what was stated before,  they were in the vintage set.  It is this reviewer’s opinion that early “A Real American Hero” is gaining an a bit of an uptick in popularity and these figures capitalize on this resurgence.  But let’s further state the obvious and say we live in a 4” G.I. Joe world and the new, sans O-ring, style reigns supreme.  All three of these action figures utilize tooling we’ve seen from the 25th Anniversary series up until the 50th (“50”) series.  However, these action figures each hold their vintage counterparts to a higher level of accountability and further dial in the “vintage accuracy” to a level not yet seen.

Cobra

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No, I didn’t forget the word “Trooper” in the title, this is an homage to his 1982 naming convention (on both the card back and file card).  Children of the 80s didn’t need everything spelled out for them, we read between the lines that this was the trooper.  This is the classic go-to for that nostalgia kick.  As a guy who’s dabbled in nostalgic card backs, it really boils down to the minutest details.  The action figure’s core derives from The Pursuit of Cobra series and, hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  It does, however, modify the legs to showcase the sleeker elements of the 1982 figures but including the pockets and slightly eccentric (for combat) boots.  The blue is even a richer, deeper blue that hasn’t been seen since 1982.  This blue output further convinces me the team was striving for accuracy.  Oh, and to nail down my point, the gloves are blue.  It. really. is. the .little. things.

Cobra Officer

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Cobra Officer follows much of what I said about the Cobra Trooper…, er…., I mean Cobra.  The blue is the same deep, rich blue and finds its foundation in the same The Pursuit of Cobra Cobra Trooper but takes his own steps to pull from his vintage roots.  The legs are a slightly different, yet just as sleek, configuration that more accurately tackles the vintage legs.  He is armed with a recently tooled AK-47 and has his respected silver emblem.  Honestly, when it boils down to it, what’s good about the Cobra is good about the Cobra Officer.

Cobra Commander

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The Enemy Leader rounds out the set’s trifecta.  He utilizes the “Ultimate” version’s foundation from Retaliation but is then modified with the 25th torso so he can put his laser pistol on his back.  The blue on him is a richer blue and, again, much more vintage accurate.  The biggest nod to the vintage Cobra Commander is the early logo commonly known as the Mic…, err, famous rodent that is very protective of it’s IP.  Don’t pick up what I’m laying down?  Here’s your internet search homework. Trust me, this is a hot little nod.  Again, little things (I’m think I’m going to say that a lot with this set).

To round it out, these core/founding members of Cobra have been regular occurrences in the A Real American Hero and, more specifically, the last ten years.   Oh yeah, it’s the ten year anniversary of the 25th Anniversary line that started this size off, I wonder if Hasbro new this?  Ok, squirrel, back on topic it’s very hard to impress the 1982 Cobra Commander, Cobra (Trooper) and Cobra Officer onto a guy who’s archived ten or more of these and this set passes the test.  If someone would’ve described just the idea of these three figures in a sentence or two, I would’ve been apprehensive; but, believe it or not, I like to be proven wrong.  It was really great to get back to G.I. Joe’s foundation and wouldn’t mind seeing some more strategic approaches to 1982-83.

Missile Command Center

To give a quick history lesson for anyone who’s not familiar, the A Real American Hero was originally designed to be a vehicle line but the action figures stole the show.  I always say we took that little tag line “collect them all” a little too literally.  However, in this case, I think the Missile Command Center is the star of the show.  Whether it’s nostalgia or rarity, reintroducing the MCC was a great idea and, without being in the boardroom, seems like a perfect product to surprise SDCC, appeal to that market, easy to produce (Bobby might disagree), and hit a specific price point.  This armchair wannabe toy designer is going to dub it brilliant!  These cardboard sets were always great for kids.  I’m forty years old, so I’ll try not to sound like I’m telling the kids to get off the lawn when I say I think we were drawn more towards assembly, cut out pieces that were, looking back, lower tech.  I wasn’t a model builder but I think that we’re the last generation actively embraced that (I’m not deeming the hobby dead but I recognize it is past its hayday.  Not hatin’, just statin’) and this set gave me that feeling.  I’ll be honest, it’s been so long since I put a cardboard set together, I was a little rusty. 

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The original set was ingeniously designed and very dynamic, considering it’s simply a few pieces of flat cardboard.  Once assembled, it really forms an intriguing piece.  It’s so simple, yet so intricate and so fun.  Whether you own one or not, I’m sure avid fans are all too familiar with the piece and probably have the image burned into their monitors due to extensive projection (do monitors still do that?).    Oh, and this set takes the piece one step further.  Like I said, Joe Con for me is like a whirlwind, I didn’t notice that all the art was recreated.   I thought it was a simple scan, clean-up, and then produce.  That’s not the case.  Bobby took the time to recreate every minute detail.  Both of Maxim Bady’s tag lines came to mind (look him up, I think he’s hilarious).  Everything is so crisp and yet the art and color palette makes you think this the vintage art.  I’ll say this, if you prefer the “imperfect” / hand drawn art by Ron Rudat, (the seemingly future-tech used on Castle Gray Skull, other card board sets, and other Heavy Metal inspired art), I think you’ll look at Bobby’s art and see it as your child mind thought you saw in the 80s.  It wasn’t when I put the two together that I could really pick them both apart.  Well, besides the decade of dust I had to remove and the now 35 years of cardboard aging that time has applied to my vintage one.   Real quick, I couldn’t find my vintage chairs.  I’m pretty sure I put them someplace where they wouldn’t’ be damage and that was seriously around the time I started the R.A.H.C. Guide (late 2005).  There’s a reason why I don’t showcase my collection, you can see a pile of tubs at Walmart anytime you like.

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So, we have nostalgia, check.  We have a contemporary update, check.  And we have a great pricepoint, check.  Some few points of interest and need to knows.  This is cardboard.  No, I’m not giving you sass.  Well, I am, but I really want to clarify you might want to think out putting yours together and study the blueprints if you do. This is especially important if you’re a picky collector like me.  Start by cutting the bags open, not trying to save them.  The bags are durable but will stretch when trying to simply remove the tape.  Failure to acknowledge this might close the plastic in on the cardboard and damage the cardboard.  Second, the tabs are meant to hold this thing together.  Not another “duh” moment, I say this because I am treating this piece like a one way street.  My tabs did bow, bend, and split when I inserted them.  It’s not a knock on the product, it’s just how cardboard is compared to the demand that’s being placed upon it.  However, most important, the “U” shaped console is very thing at the points where the center angles into the sides.  It almost seems like it’s supposed to fold there but it is not.  My impetuousness suffered some very slight folding but whatever.  Half way into assembling this thing, it reminded me that it is cardboard and not meant to last.  Cue “Dust in the Wind.”  These imperfections are not noticeable unless I point them out but I can’t help but notice every little detail on things once I analyze them.  Ask my shrink, he hears about it every Thursday.  Just kidding.  He dropped me as a client year ago.  If you are pickier than me, my condolences.  But seriously, you might just want to admire it flat and from afar.  I will, however, strongly encourage you to not only buy one but to just dive in and put it together. 

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I am not engineer-minded, though not engineering inept, it might help to start a conversation with the fans and figure out ways to refine the process and simultaneously reinforce the piece if you want to increase durability.  At this point, you’re asking cardboard not to be cardboard and I don’t know what to tell you about that.  However, I am extremely confident our fandom has the talent and the solution and, at this point, you’re asking this shirtless jungle reviewer to go on a mission in the arctic.  I’m not Gung-Ho (that’s not what she said).

File Card holder

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Have I mentioned it’s all about the little things recently?  Because, if not, it is.  This set even includes the foldable file card holder, meant to hold all original thirteen file cards.  This piece was originally in the vintage set so itz ghottztah be in this recreation.  This piece makes a great little knickknack to put on your desk or to round out your Joe area.  An interesting not, the file card holder has the vintage card art on it, not the 25th art.  Or, if it has 25th art, the thumbnails are so small, you can’t tell.  A quick interesting point of interest, the “Bazooka Soldier” is labeled the “Rocket Launcher Soldier.”  I wonder why that is. 

And if you think I forgot to mention the red back file cards, you’re crazy.  RED BACK FILE CARDS!!  We Joe collectors love our red backs.  I recently contributed to a fan project that wanted a file card and the group wouldn’t move past the file card being red back.  And why would they??  It’s just another simple, yet essential, aspect of the set that puts a nice cherry on a superb sundae.   The file cards are meticulously designed to emulate the originals, yet utilize the 25th card art and have a few missing details no longer used by Hasbro proper (flag points).  But c’mon, are we going to cut our red backs?  I think that’s a shunning from the hobby.  I don’t know, I’ll have to check the bylaws. 

Conclusion

If you haven’t been picking up on my enthusiasm towards this set, then you’ve been simply looking at the pictures.  I don’t blame you; I don’t read Justin’s commentary either.  And I’m totally a tl;dr reviewer.   If you’ve always wanted a MCC or wanted an nice crisp one than this is you set.  If you can’t get enough of the Cobra Command, this is your set.  If you already have a nice MCC…, well…,  forget you.  Just kidding.  You might want to put your vintage one in a hermetically sealed case and display this recreation.  I am confident you will get the same level of enjoyment.   I know you get four stars for showing up in a review around here so I don’t know how to rate this.  I tend to think you’re either in or you’re out so this one’s in*.

*Yes, guys who archive toys are biased because we own everything anyway, leave it be.

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If you are near Dayton, OH, I will be at the Ohio Toy and Comic Show and will have these exclusives there to view.  Find me or check out the What’s On Joe Mind? panel, I stand in for Justin (someone has to draw the short straw).  I have always enjoyed the SDCC sets more than most and this one keeps that spark alive.