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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
(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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
*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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Good morning and happy ComicCon everyone!
No doubt, from a G.I. Joe perspective one of the most exciting things we learned about ComicCon this year was that Hasbro would be releasing a spectacular Revolutions Boxed Set featuring G.I. Joe scaled figures of several different characters throughout their properties, including MASK, Visionaries, Transformers, Rom, and Micronauts.
Well, good friend of GeneralsJoes and noted author James Kavanaugh, Jr. managed to get his handsome mitts on one of these Revolutions sets early and has been kind enough to put together an early review and look at the set!
You can find the review right here and eventually I’ll pop it up in one of the menus above, as soon as I can figure out where it belongs.
Humongous thanks to James for taking time out of his busy life to grab some pictures and do a fantastic write up of this great set. As an added bonus, here are some images of the COBRA Missile Command Center he sent along as well, featuring better looks at the COBRA’s within and filecards!
Hi, all! James “KuuKuuSon” Kavanaugh Jr. jumping in and I think this is my first review, at least first for GeneralsJoes.com. Justin, is that correct? Eh, he’s probably off hob-knobbing with all the other big shot toy reviewers.
Well, here I am, off to the good stuff (the review if you’ve listened to too much What’s on Joe Mind? and thought other ideas). I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the Hasbro/IDW San Diego Comic Con 2017 Revolution crossover set and, let me tell you, this. set. is. AMAZING! If you’re out of the loop or kept your heads in your vintage Marvel Joe comics, IDW has merged their existing G.I. Joe and Transformers universes together and brought in the new classics Action Man, ROM, Micronauts ,and MASK (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) to take action and adventure to new levels. Children are notorious for mixing their various toy lines in their play (admit it, at least tried it) and this premise really helps to bring back that feeling.
At this point, I’ll clarify by saying I self-identify as G.I. Joe guy through ‘n through, though I own a copy of almost every Transformers comic and have picked up every IDW copy of every title listed above in the Revolution universe. I’ve always felt review readers should know where the reviewer is coming from as well as where I’ll be going in regards to my preferred brands and explain why my perspective may not nail other brands. I will say, seeing each brand come together certainly made me excited for everyone. I was born in 1977 in the United States to round out my perspective.
So is this a review of the set or biography? Why not both? (que the Old El Paso taco girl). I am laying the foundation of “me” because the undertone of this set will seem like the overtone by the end of the review and that undertone is nostalgia. At least half of this set hasn’t had much of a presence since the 80’s and it’s quite the welcome feeling. Of course I remember Joe and Transformers, I also loved watching MASK every day and the holograms on the Visionaries toyline were hypnotic. My age tells you I was a bit too young for Micronauts but caught up when they made a resurgence in the early 2000s. ROM was a new one to me but those I trust to have a well-rounded and educated understanding of comics were stoked to see his return. Apparently, in a pop culture sense, the comic surpassed the toy in many ways and developed a devout cult following. The final reason why I felt it was important to give a background on “me” is every 4” action figure in this set derives from 2007+ G.I. Joe tooling, which is almost like they designed the set to dangle in front of me. Eh, they would’ve had me anyway.
The set is $100 and I find that more than fair. I put current 4” action figures at $10 a piece MSRP and there are six of them so divide the $40 between a mid-sized Transformer and nine Micronaut figurines. You’re hard pressed to convince me that alone isn’t a win. What those figures consist of makes this set worth waaaaaay more than $100 as we’ll discuss in the review.
I thought I’d start with, from my perspective, the easy one and that’s Jetfire. I had the original Jetfire as a child so I’m biased towards him. This one, however, is way more dynamic. He is currently in more of the forefront (of a flashback) in IDW’s current story but a great character to speak for his brand. When this set was announced, I was made aware that this mold has some fan demand to it, so I’m glad they’re able to have another chance to obtain him. He’s a pretty straight forward Transformer. The modern designs are structural masterpieces and almost puzzle–like. My age also reminded me of the old adage, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” and that refers to my transforming skillz. It took me a minute but I chalk that up to quality design. I have every bit of confidence I could’ve tossed it to a kid and they would’ve transformed him as fast as a Rubix Cube champs works his cube. The paint apps are solid, the plastic is durable, and the quality is fine. I’ll take this time to clarify that, when it comes to action figures like this and we know this is a rare figure rerelease, I am more than confident there are better reviews of the toy out there and I would be doing the toy a disservice by expanding beyond the pictures.
I’ll get the “bad” out of the way for you and clarify/state the obvious that all nine Micronauts are unmovable figurines. However, I’m not going to say that’s a bad thing. Micronauts are what their name implies (you’re going to have to educate yourself if you don’t know what I’m getting at) and they are just that. I think the figurines are the perfect size for everyone to play with as is and within the crossover experience. Plus they’re nine of them. Reading the Micronauts comics, I find the designs to arguably be the most dynamic and perfect fusion of vintage foundation with innovative redesigns. And that is a huge compliment from me as someone who thinks tweaking nostalgia can be a very slippery slope for vendor and customer. I liked and agreed when I read the comment online about a potential figure/game combo coming from these figures. They could certainly work as table top pieces. The plastic is decent, slightly bendy, yet able to stand with little falling (something I’ve noticed to be a problem with cheaper figurines). And to wrap this portion of the review up as a bad/good/bad clarification sandwich, I can take a step back see this set as a whole and dub the approach as using “strategic tooling” to hit a specific price point. The review will round out this comment but, for now, I’m confident nine Micronauts fit in with six 4” figures and a decent Transformer guides the Micronauts into a figurine format and that’s fine the moment you have them in hand. Micronauts forged the 1:18th scale action figure phenomenon, so I’m confident we’ll see larger and movable Micronauts in the near future.
Onto the first of the six 4” action figures and I thought, once again, I’d start with an easy one. Matt Trakker is easy for a “Joe guy” because we received Matt Trakker in 2008 and he was deemed a member of G.I. Joe. The 2008 Matt Trakker suggests that the crossover universe was on Hasbro’s mind as far back as them and only helped us out now. This version reuses previously seen G.I. Joe body tooling and accessories and, the parts choice more accurately reflects the stylized approach IDW is taking. The reds are richer and the greys are darker. This figure seems to really punch. Side note, I understand the output of the 2008 version, he is a product of the tooling available at the time whereas the Revolution Matt Trakker had the advantage of a much larger tooling catalog. Neither is better than the other. Speaking of difference, yes, there is one very noticeable difference, the IDW version is no longer a blonde, white male but a black male. I need to make a point to confirm this but I am confident the change derives from a certain team we all know already had a blonde, white leader. Seemingly unrelated, early super hero costumes’ simple and bright tropes derive from easy recognition on the reader’s part. I’m sure Duke will be interacting with Matt Trakker in the storyline and these minor tweaks will help move the story along for the audience. This assumption doesn’t wash over the point that diversity has been actively addressed in all facets of modern society and sited as an important component of the shared universe going forward. I think it’s safe to assume we will be seeing more gender and ethnicity changes in the future if we haven’t already. Outside of that, the head sculpt is simply stunning! This very charming head sculpt will certainly be appealing for expert customizers and LBC’s alike. Yes, I can admit an action figure is handsome.
Another handsome chap in plastic form is Action Man. If you’re unaware, Action Man was a direct cousin to the G.I. Joe 12” line and has been seeing a resurgence across the pond. I seem to recall Action Man specifically hitting US shelves at a certain point but I’ve always been a 4” fanatic (except for MOTU, that’s another story). Action Man in the Revolution set looks like he’s peeled right off the comic pages. The body is familiar tooling but the blue with orange striping really makes Action Man pop. Orange has been made a staple of Action Man’s color palette and the combination makes him look ready for action. I think you have to say action as much as possible whenever you’re having a conversation about Action Man. His accessories are also familiar and the plastic and paint quality is the same for all the 4’ figures. I am a bit of a stickler for paints and this entire set checks all my boxes (a big plus in my book). The win for this figure is of course the head sculpt. Another dashing head that has a slight comic/cartoon tinge, but a head sculpt works with the paint scheme. His hair is tussled, his smirk is brazen, he’s a young James Bond ready to do the impossible mission and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Like I said, when IDW first announced the shared universe, ROM was a new concept to me. Also, like I said, if my cadre of “experts” says it’s a go, I’ll give it a shot. And (while I’m adding conditions) since the comic overshadowed the toy, ROM moved away from a blocky robot and gained a blocky/humanoid hybrid esthetic. The designer accurately chose Battle Armor Cobra Commander’s legs to set the ground work and gave him muscular arms to bridge the gap. FYI, ROM is a humanoid encased in the robotic armor and sworn to fight the Dire Wraiths, having an element of humanity in the character is important. The chest and head sculpt (as well as his iconic blaster) are all new. Plus he’s shiny. Kid James liked shiny. I’m going to leave for a bit and stare at the shiny. Just kidding (or am I? You’ll never know when this was stopped and resumed). These parts are great and very accurately reflect the ROM seen in the comic books.
The Dire Wraith also captures the pages of the ROM comic. Dire Wraiths are aliens that kill humans and assume their form, typically assuming roles of those in powerful positions. So, the underlying tone of the comic is you never know who is a Dire Wraith until they reveal their true form. This figure in particular represents the point in the story when Doc is revealed to be a Dire Wraith. Oh, did I spoil it for you? Well, the bad news is you were spoiled the moment you looked at the figure because the satchel and body motif tells you exactly who it is…er, was… The arms are from the infamous Zombie Viper and do a great job to bridge the comic character to action figure form given the grand scheme of the set(see my budget comment in the Micronauts write-up). The arms are great, the paint apps help punch up the tentacles and the darker approach to Doc’s uniform helps punch the Dire Wraith blue while darkening the overall tone of the villain. The money on this piece is again the head sculpt. This head wonderfully portrays the Cheshire grin that is the staple of a Dire Wraith. They are an arrogant villain set on dominating Earth and ROM is intent on wiping that smile of their evil faces.
This figure should’ve been last but, if you’ve read everything so far (my apologies), you’ve probably figured out my progression. Why did I just waste your time there? Because Visionaries are not yet in the IDW universe, nor do they have an active comic nor any press release announcing any plans. Leoric certainly took us by surprise. And, if you like Visionaries, he looks great! Again, I leave the parts knowledge to the gang at joecustoms.com and other experts but, as far as I can tell, looks great. The overall military (with a tinge of ninja) motif in G.I. Joe doesn’t leave much for sword and sorcery tooling, but the legs look great. Besides, Visionaries had a bit of a modern take to them anyway. Much like ROM, the big pay day is the chest, head, and helmet. The head is fantastic and the helmet and body totally nailed his vintage look. Did I say pay day? Because this figure is money. If the new parts weren’t enough, the staff is new and, along with his chest, have holograms in them! I’ll be honest, that was my immediate concern when I first saw the press release and it is indeed a lot more holographic than the pictures assume. They aren’t as holographic as the original (or how holograph stickers tend to look) but I have a feeling that it falls under my budget/price point commentary undertone in this review. The blues are striking and accurately reflect the vintage toy and give it the 80s feel.
So that’s all the new concept, some of which haven’t been seen since the 80s. Everyone discussed above is enough to put this set on the “must have” list. So why did I save the G.I. Joe last? Biased, of course. Yes and no. This Joe isn’t just any Joe, it’s Roadblock. Oh, huh… No, not huh, this isn’t just any Roadblock, this is the cancelled Renegades Roadblock head, chest, and overall build. So, backstory, Renegades was a G.I. Joe cartoon in 2011 that, for reasons that are too long to write in an already long review, left Roadblock stuck in the “unreleased” queue. The only member of the main G.I. Joe Renegades cast to be unreleased. And, it’s argued that the cartoon Roadblock had the most personality out of the entire main cast. This figure also had a second failing in 2012 when a Retaliation movie four pack was cancelled, a pack he was a member of. Word that the figure was waiting in the wings has left collectors waiting in the wings for a future release and, after six years, the time has finally arrived!! I need to ask around, but I am confident this is also his intended Renegades deco pattern. It’s not exactly in sync with the comic palette but who cares!? Long awaited Renegades Roadblock trumps crossover Roadblock any day. This figure is so great, I am confident a more comic accurate version will sell just as well. But back to the figure at hand, if the pictures don’t paint the picture, this Roadblock fits with the Renegades figures seamlessly! I can’t say enough great things about this figure. The weapons assortment appears to be the Pursuit of Cobra’s “Jungle” Duke but, again, who cares? It was probably the set from his internal SKU number and there are plenty of “Ma Dueces” out there in weapons bins to load him up as you see fit. The body is one we’ve seen a few times by now but it great to see it in its originally intended form. Finally receiving this figure is as significant as finally receiving the characters above. Big “KuuKuu” points (non refundable and I wouldn’t suggest you eat them) to Hasbro for providing us with this one.
So, if you’re still awake and reading, here we are. Like I’ve eluded throughout the review, the set sells itself. I hope these pictures satisfy those who can’t wait to see and obtain this set. I’ll confess that mild mannered James is a bit helpless without his heavily artillery used for the Rank & File guides and I’m going to milk this “first review evah” crutch as long as I can. If you picked up on my whimsical approach to this revue, it’s because this set did indeed make me feel like a kid again. Archiving is probably the most “adult” think one can do with his toys (no, I’m not trying to convince myself I’m doing anything actually adult with my toys, though I probably should) and not very fun in the moment (first world toy guide problems). It’s more of a delayed gratification. From start to finish, this set was all about fun. It was great to see these characters receive action figure form once again and the only way to accurately review them was to have fun with them. And, like I said, I am a G.I. Joe guy (mostly dictated by my wallet fyi) so getting a chance to transform a Transformer and pit my various toys against each other was a great thrill. The Ohio weather isn’t polite to talk about, but being outside with my toys play working will be a highlight for this summer. I will be curious to see the overall reception of this set as well as what the results will bring in the future. Joe Con told us something is changing for Joe and something can only change for every other property in this set beyond G.I. Joe. But don’t wait for the future, live in the moment with this set and get it however you can. This set jazzed me enough before I even received it to start the page layout for an upcoming guide. Yeah, it’s not much but I thought this could at least double as an insight into where I start and where I’ll finish. I am currently hashing out where these crossover action figures in the grand scheme of archiving but, again, I can’t stress enough that this set allows you to put all the “where does this belong in my ‘Joeverse’” malarkey and have fun. Fun and action. And action fun.
Last weekend, former Fun Publications employee Pete Sinclair held his first ever Transformers convention, Pete’s Robot Con. As a part of the show, he revealed a slideshow featuring some pretty cool Transformers exclusives that unfortunately did not make it through the release process before Hasbro neglected to renew their license.
Other items revealed at the show include customs of three proposed additions to the G.I. Joe/Transformers figure line, pulled from the Only Human cartoon episodes. These figures were set to include Springer and Ultra Magnus in human form (using some pretty cool G.I. Joe recipes, especially Ultra Magnus) as well as Victor Drath.
Check out some of the mirrored images below and thanks to HISSTank for the info.