Thursday, January 23, 2014

FSS 02: Lt. Falcon

My custom 1/6th version of Lt. Falcon
Lt. Falcon has always been one of my favorite GI Joe characters throughout the entire 50 year history of the brand. That first figure was so well done in terms of military realism. Now in regards to his appearance in the GI Joe animated movie - nope, I don't have to acknowledge that spin on the character. No thanks. And he's Duke's brother or step-brother or whatever? Nope, I don't want any part of that.

The original mold was reused a couple of times, especially as a part of the Night Force sub-team. Falcon's first appearance in the modern era was a disaster. Such an awful figure. He had those early Duke arms that just sucked and that head sculpt was just a wreck.

Somewhere along the way, Falcon was reintroduced as a part of the BBTS exclusive Slaughter's Marauders set. I don't know the history of the figure, but he turned out pretty decent. He wasn't in his traditional colors, but still looked pretty decent. Finally, a modern version of Falcon that I was pleased with.

As a connection to the 2013 Con set, Nocturnal Fire, the GI Joe Club included Falcon as a part of FSS 02. He looked to be a direct reuse of the BBTS version, just in the Night Force colors. This version of Falcon was one of the few reasons that made me jump on board for FSS 02. The results just rock. 
Falcon doesn't come equipped with a lot of gear, but he is adequately loaded up. He comes with the backpack that his first modern version came with, along with two types of shotguns. Falcon also has the Cobra officer web harness - the only weak point about the figure. It works well enough, I just don't like the sculpt, plus it just looks a little flimsy.
I believe that Boss Fight Studios did the work on many of the head sculpts for the BBTS set as well as many FSS figures. Excellent work as usual. Oddly enough, Falcon is back to having brown hair. His BBTS version had him with black hair. His hair color has changed on and off over the history of the figure. I suppose only his stylist knows for sure.
The backpack is a great addition to the figure. I've never really been fond of the way that Hasbro originally sculpted the knife holders on the backpacks, but it worked well enough for the toys.
The backpack opens up and you can pull out the radio. It's actually made up of three pieces, the antenna and the two-part body. Pretty cool!
Here's Night Force Falcon compared to Marauder Falcon. For the Marauder Falcon, I removed the lower portion of his jacket and that flimsy harness and replaced it with the web gear that came with Spirit from that set.
Both figures are exactly the same construction. I never realized that the torso is from Dusty and has that lower waist joint. The Club even did away with the lower portion of the jacket during design. I'm thinking that there may be enough differences in skin tone and, of course, hair color, that I may be able to get away with considering these guys as different characters. Maybe?
Here's Night Force Falcon in his final form. He's now geared up with Spirit's web gear. I think that the colors match just fine. Besides, who says that Falcon always has to use a shotgun? Can't he be well versed in the use of other weapons as well?

The Club really kicked ass with this figure. Straight up repaint with nothing new, but still a damn fine figure. Where else is a collector to go for new GI Joe product? Maybe we'll get an answer from Hasbro at Toy Fair in February.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FSS 02: Cesspool

Back in 1991, Hasbro tried to inject some life into the GI Joe line by introducing the Eco-Warriors. These brave soldiers, led by Flint, fought against the evil Cesspool and his Toxo and Sludge Vipers. Hasbro even dipped into the zombie pool for the Toxo-Zombie

Sub-groups have always been a part of the GI Joe line, ranging from Tiger Force to Night Force to Battleforce:2000 to Eco-Warriors to the DEF to Ninja Force and I'm sure there a few others that I'm forgetting. The GI Joe Club has been quite effective in integrating these sub-groups into their figures. With FSS 02, they've integrated Tiger Force, Night Force, and now, the Eco-Warriors.

I'm really impressed by the way that the Club has been working all of these figures in with each other. Night Force Falcon links back to last year's (2013) Con exclusive set featuring the Night Force, while Airtight and Shipwreck are members of Tiger Force. Two more offerings for FSS 02 include members of the Oktober Guard which link back to the 2012 Con exclusive set.

Cesspool connects the Zombie Vipers and the Hazard Vipers from the PoC and 30th lines to this year's (2014) Con set, Zombie Initiative. So how did the Club do on their interpretation of Cesspool?
Damn fine job!
Cesspool is some serious quality work from the Club. Based on the figure, it looks like the only new piece of tooling is the head. I think that the crew from Boss Fight Studios did the work for all of the new head sculpts for the Club. Awesome work!
Everything just works with the Club's interpretation of Cesspool. The loud colors work. The gold weapons and the helmet work well enough when compared to the original. No power chainsaw this time? No loss. The extra accessory really kicks ass!
I'm not sure yet where the torso comes from, but everything else is easily identifiable. The arms are from Airtight, the legs and helmet are from Sci-Fi, and the vest is from the Techno-Viper.
The back-pack comes from Barbecue and the larger weapon comes from Money-Bags Destro. I don't recall where that pistol-thing came from.
Speaking of Money-Bags Destro, check this out! A briefcase full o' cash! Every corrupt businessman needs some funds to bribe local officials. Same goes for the nut job Cesspool. This is such an awesome accessory. I'm so glad I was able to snag an extra Destro and now have two of the original money-filled suitcases.
Such a handsome man! Boss Fight did a helluva' job on that scar. It's a huge bloody scar with that dead, soul-less eye staring back at you. Is the head a little too small? Maybe. I don't care. 

The only complaint I have about this figure is pretty minor. The knees seem to be a bit loose and he tends to fall backwards. Not a huge deal.

This particular set of two figures from the Club is a win-win. Both figures, Cesspool and Falcon, are very well done. Even with just a new head and a mix of various parts, the Club just rocked it with Cesspool. 
How about Falcon? Stay tuned!

Blowtorch's Backpack

I'm sorry, but I really don't like any of the modern versions of Blowtorch. He's just kind of goofy looking. The head sculpt is odd, the figure doesn't really stand that well. The vest/chest piece just kind of sits there.

I even read Justin's review over on General's Joes before buying the figure. One star? Really? And I bought him anyway. I totally agree with the review as well.
But I do like the flame projection unit, despite the fact that the flamethrower has not been used since before 1978 because of the horrific nature of the injuries and casualties caused by the weapon. So why did Hasbro make Blowtorch in the first place? Because shooting a jet of flame as a weapon just sounds cool!

Besides, with Cobra's use of the undead as soldiers/weapons, some flame projection comes in handy for burning the infected. I've got a couple of the kick-ass Airtight figures from the 30th/PoC series of figures and figured that I would try out how Blowtorch's weapon would work on Airtight.

Looks pretty bad-ass. But I don't have a picture of Airtight wearing it right now! I'll add one later.

So this morning, I'm taking pictures of the new GI Joe Club FSS 02 figures - Lt. Falcon and Cesspool and I'm looking at the various figures that formed the base of Cesspool and I stumble across Blowtorch's gear.

And I accidentally knock it to the floor and a piece falls loose. What the hell? I broke it!
Nope, the piece that came off is removable! What the hell? Why? There's a little screen and some dials and gauges in there. That's a pretty damn cool bit of detailing that I only just discovered.

So I'm a little happier about Blowtorch, not much, but a little. And what about Cesspool and Lt. Falcon? Stay tuned, reviews coming shortly. Let's just say, the Club kicked ass on these guys!

**Pictures of Airtight w/ flame unit as promised. Not bad?

Budo Update

Just a minor update to my lazy custom of a more combat ready Budo. I don't recall where this sword back pack comes from, but it belongs to Budo now.
I think that it works so much better for Budo.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hey Hasbro! Pay Attention!

As someone who grew up playing with the original GI Joe back in the 60's and early 70's, I am absolutely stunned by the customizing skill on Oreobuilder's Blog.

He has been working on some exquisite customs of the classic GI Joe figures in 4" scale and they are amazing. 

I've been successful in making the transition from playing with the big Joe's as a kid to become a collector of the small Joe's as an adult. This is how to do a proper salute for the 50th Birthday of the grandfather of the entire action figure genre. I'm sure someone would have eventually worked up a boys' toys action figure, but Hasbro did it first.

GI Joe saved Hasbro's corporate ass, probably at least twice. I'd like to think that Hasbro has something in the works that is just slightly as awesome as Oreobuilder's work, but I doubt it. I don't know if Hasbro cares enough about GI Joe anymore.

Thankfully, there are folks out there in the GI Joe Collector/Fan community that keep GI Joe alive.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tollbooth Update

Just wanted to try something with Tollbooth's hands. He can be short, I just want better hands. First attempt. 

Damn, Tollbooth ain't that short. Look at him next to desert Duke. 

I found an extra Resolute Duke. Looks like these hands will do just fine!

FSS 2: Tollbooth Review

Remember that scene from "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie finally gets his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring that he has been waiting on for so long? He finally gets it and decodes his first message, only to find out that it's a "crummy commercial"? His response to that realization...

"Son of a bitch."

That was my response when I read a first review of the new Tollbooth figure from the GI Joe Club's FSS 2 collection. I then read a second review and was a little less stressed out. I have great fondness for Tollbooth and the bridge-layer for a peculiar reason. I'll have to unearth a little history for you.

I'm kind of an old guy, I've been around for a while. Well, I'm not ancient, but I was playing with the original GI Joe back when I was a kid. No, not the original 13 figures, the Big Guy! On and off throughout my life growing up, I've always collected and played with toys. My parents never told me that I needed to stop playing with toys and grow up. So I never did! Well, you know, I did grow up. Discovered girls, had various jobs, bought a car, that sort of stuff.

But I still collected toys. When Star Wars came out in 1977 and my older brother bought me the Early Bird Certificate, I was hooked as soon as those figures started showing up. Along comes 1982 and GI Joe returns and just dominates the toy aisle for nearly the next twelve years. In 1982, I was 19 years old when I bought my first 3 3/4" GI Joe figure. Been pretty much hooked ever since. 

In 1984, for Christmas, my girlfriend gets the Bridge-Layer for me for Christmas. Of course, I had to marry her! Well, not just that reason, but it certainly helped! So the Toss n' Cross and Tollbooth have always been a little more special to me because it was a gift from the woman who would become and still is my lovely wife.

Plus, the vehicle was very unique, very different, and I just really liked the character of Tollbooth. A simple sculpt, but such a cool character based on the file card. I just liked the guy!

I've also become a bit of a cheap-skate. I don't mind paying retail or a little more for a figure, but that first bunch of figures from the Club's first FSS offering, while cool, where just too damn expensive. And then along comes FSS 2. And Tollbooth and another fave, Keel Haul, are revealed. DAMMIT!!

So I did it; I signed up, knowing, hoping that I could sell off the figures that really didn't interest me that much and maybe almost zero out the cost of the ones that I wanted. Maybe... We'll see how that works out.

The Tollbooth reveal looked just fantastic. Sure, there were those crappy Shipwreck arms, but not a deal killer. Looking back at that original reveal, it really stands out that the legs are a bit off. The lower legs are definitely shorter than they should be when compared with the thighs. 

Tollbooth really turned out to be short. I mean, really short. Even shorter than some of the female figures.

So I tried out a quick custom using an extra Joe Colton figure. Not bad, not bad at all.

Why couldn't the Club use this body for Tollbooth? I suppose what really made me think more about the figure and the whole design process that the Club has to go through goes back to Episode 86 of "What's on Joe Mind?" The guys at WOJM talked to David Lane about the process that the Club has to go through in order to make a figure.

It doesn't really seem to be an easy process. The Club has a lot of hoops that they have to jump through in order to use the Hasbro molds. Hasbro seems willing to work with them, but it may not always be a smooth process.

Was it a shocking surprise to the Club that Tollbooth was going to turn out to be shorter than most figures? Probably not. They're doing the best that they can and, dammit, I'm going to be grateful for that.

Hell, Hasbro wasn't planning on revisiting the character, so many thanks to the Club for bringing him out. Besides, aren't real human beings quite different in their heights? Duh!

So, yeah, I'm a little disappointed, but I'll manage to survive. I'm just glad to have Tollbooth in the modern era and am looking forward to including him in more and more pictures in the future.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Display Space

I have my own space!! Well, sort of. We moved into a new-ish place in April of 2013. It's a bigger home with a mostly finished basement. There's an unfinished area that is primarily used for storage, but there is one section that serves as a decent work/display area. The walls are unfinished but it still works for me as my man-cave. 

There are three shelves that are in my primary display area. The top shelf is too high for a decent display, so it is primarily being used for vehicle storage. Right now, the top shelf serves as storage for my vintage Tomahawk and X-19 Phantom. There's also a PoC HISS tank up there. 

The second shelf is reserved for my 12" custom GI Joe troops. The third shelf is for my small Joe collection. Primarily figures, no vehicles. 

The bottom area is my "stage." This is my area for dioramas for photo purposes. It's a mess right now because I'm working on the small Joe display. 

Going back up to the top, you can see the Tomahawk. My two Budo figures are up there also. Cool figure, but just doesn't seem to fit into the military sensibilities to me. 

Let's swing down to the 1/6th Joe display. While these guys are far from the Sideshow/Hot Toys level of detailing, I'm pretty proud of them. In the early 2000's up through around 2005, I was pretty obsessed with recreating the real American Hero characters in the 1/6th scale format. Hasbro had started producing different head sculpts for their 1/6th line and began to really expand their different head sculpts with the Pearl Harbor, Historic figures, and later when they started making their own up-scaled small Joe characters. 

I had a pretty decent website that was a list of my figures and they each had a page set up similar to a file card. It was originally hosted on BellSouth servers and it was only a matter of time before it faded away. I really need to try to rebuild it over on my 1/6th blog, Original Flocking No Hair Rubs. Maybe one day, I'll get these guys back online.

While not quite accurate to their smaller versions, these guys were always good enough to me. Well, mostly. Some are just my interpretations based on the 1/6th gear that I had in stock.

Low-Light, here at the end, is one of my favorites. I had the blond head sculpt for a while and just randomly placed the gray watch cap on his head. Boom, that's Low-Light!

Moving down to the small Joe shelf, you can see how much space is already taken up by Cobra forces. The black NCC has been moved and everyone has slid over to their right to allow some more room for Joe figures. I only used a few of each of the troop builders and still don't have every type of specific Cobra troopers represented. No Eels or Snow Serpents and only a couple troops representing the RoC era. Not to hate on them, but they just don't really match the overall look. Although, the Elite and Desert Vipers were pretty dang cool looking!

Here you can see Joe figures being prepped for their place on the shelf. There's still more space given to Cobra troops, so I'll have to probably make some cuts as to who gets to be on display on the Joe side of the shelf.

These guys currently in this picture are definite inclusions to the display. Somehow, I have to justify Retaliation Roadblock and Resolute Roadblock being in the same display.

A closer look at the Cobra troops as we pass along the display. Cobra Commander over there on the left, IDW style, sort of his relaxed, back at headquarters look. His "woman" next to him. My new sort-of Pythona custom with Nemesis Enforcer's tentacles on her back just to see how that looks. Weirdness.

Various vipers, ninjas, and other odd-ball freaks populate the Cobra ranks.

If I had the space, I would could make an entire shelf devoted to Cobra forces, but I'm limited on space. I could probably add a shelf to this wall at a  later date to expand display areas, especially for my small Joe collection.

Stay tuned! I'm still working on the GI Joe section and I'll post again once that is complete!


I remember buying an Aurra Sing figure from the Star Wars Power of Force series many, many years ago. Silly me, thinking that she might have been worth something. Especially when the package just came apart in storage. I stumbled across the loose figure just a few days ago and wondered if I could do something with her head. Only one way to find out.

Here's her head mounted on the Resolute Baroness body. That monster of a head of the Baroness almost immediately went into the spare parts bin. Ugh!

So now I have this creepy pale-skinned female working for Cobra. I posted a picture on the GI Joe Community Facebook page and the first suggestion to an ID was that of Pythona. Yeah, it could work. Not necessarily from the Cobra-La story line, but something weird and odd that work. Maybe Dr. Mindbender created himself a companion?

Thanks, Otto, for the ID idea!

More new toys!

Over the past month or so, I've managed to pick up all of the missing wave 3.5 and 4.0 figures that I needed. The elusive Joe ninjas, Jinx and the Blind Master, as well as the Cobra Night Viper have been added to my collection. I'll focus on the bad guys first since they are usually the cooler looking figures. 

I picked up this Crimson Guard at a local Rite-Aid store. It's a damn shame that Rite-Aid is now my best source for GI Joe figures. This particular store is one of four in my area. Each of the other three has Rise of Cobra figures still hanging from the pegs and all at the Rite-Aid bargain price of $13.49. 

I remembered this one particular store and went by and was pleasantly surprised to find a Steel Brigade figure hanging there, just waiting for me. Even with the $13.49 price, I was still going to snag him. Fortunately, there was a Buy One, Get One Half Off sale, but there were no other Joe figures to be found. Luckily, the wonderful cashier sold me the figure for half price! Sweet!

The next time that I went to the same Rite-Aid, there were three new Retaliation figures just waiting for me!  A Crimson Guard, the new Cobra Commander, and the new Firefly. I had already picked up CC and Firefly from a sale at Hasbro Toy Shop and really didn't need them again. This time, the sale was Buy One, Get One Free! So I picked up the Crimson Guard and Cobra Commander. I'm planning on keeping this particular CC on the card. A rare occurrence for me to leave a figure in package, but he's a pretty cool figure.

The next time I went, the Firefly figure was still there, but now on sale for 50% off! Uh, okay, don't really need another, but I'm not passing up a GI Joe figure for $7.50! Future custom fodder, I suppose. So now the store was cleaned out and I just needed to wait and see who would be next to arrive.

Sure enough, three more figures were there waiting for me - Kwinn, Budo, and Snake Eyes w/ Timber. Already have two each of Kwinn and Budo and don't really need another Snake Eyes. Plus, no sale, so these figures will be there for a while. I'm not buying them.

With all that crap begin said, what do I think about this new version of the Crimson Guard? No big deal. I'm not really impressed. If I can find another, I'll be happy; otherwise, I'll be content with just this one. I'm just not overly impressed with the figure. I never have been. even way back to the original O-ring version. 

Now this guy is a really surprising find - the mythical Night Viper. I honestly thought that I would never find one of these guys. I picked him up at an Atlanta area Toys R Us; my local TRU sucks for carrying Joe figures.

Hasbro did a good job with the Night Viper. I know that he is largely a combination of parts, but they all work very well together. The tiny little head from the PoC Alley Viper works well with the Night Viper helmet. Can anyone get it off once it's on? I really like the sniper rifle as well. Always have liked it previously. Great design, but still a little wonky when trying the get a soldier to hold it. Thumbs up for Hasbro for this one!

I honestly wasn't very interested in picking up another version of Cobra Commander. Yeah, the colors seemed right, the accessories were cool, but did I really need another version of this guy? I bought him as a last minute addition to a Hasbro Toy Shop order. I needed to get over $50 to avoid shipping, so I ordered CC. Not bad! Well done, Hasbro!

Proportions are very well done, far surpassing the wobbly versions from the 25th line. Both the helmet and the cowl head look great on the body. My only complaint is the feet. I really don't like the rocker ankles for this figure; it really messes up his ability to stand. Plus, the holes in his feet aren't deep enough for a stand. Minor complaint.

Just check out that scowl under that mask! That's an awesome look!

Finally, I was able to pick up another elusive figure, the Retaliation Cobra Combat Ninja. Ninja this, ninja that - whatever. The dark ninja's get these guys swords. A straight reuse of the awesome Cobra Shocktrooper body with a new paint scheme and two new head sculpts. I'm currently at three of these guys and I'm okay with that amount. If I find anymore in the wild, I may pick one up, but I won't be manic for them like I was with the PoC Blueshirts, Cobra Viper, or the two versions of the Dollar General Cobra trooper. These guys are decent enough, but I'm just not really wild about them.

I was able to score two through my Hasbro Toy Shop deal and was lucky enough to find another in the wild.

Here's the initial head sculpt that comes with the figure. It's okay, but I'm not really very impressed with the sculpt.

The secondary head sculpt is pretty cool looking. Looks like a monocular helmet. It almost looks BAT-like. I haven't tried it on a BAT body yet to see how it works.

None of these figures really blow me away with their awesomeness. CC is close, but his weird feet ruin his chances of the number one slot. The CG is kind of boring, so he's dropped back in the standings. I suppose the Night Viper takes first place, Cobra Commander in second, Combat "Ninja" in third, and the Crimson Guard trails along in fourth place.

Coming soon - thoughts on Jinx and the Hard Master. I think the Hard Master figure has better acting skills than Rza!