Thursday, July 13, 2017

One Year Ago

It's sometimes hard to believe that one year ago today, I had open heart surgery. I had a quadruple bypass. My chest was cut open and surgeons and nurses worked on my heart. My surgeon held my heart in his hands. It's still surreal and a bit mind boggling. 

Just a quick recap: my sister had a heart attack in June of 2015, with no damage but she needed a stent in an artery. During my yearly physical in February of 2016, my doctor believes that I should have a calcium scoring test which can determine if their are any blockage issues with arteries. After putting that off, I finally have the test done in June of 2016. Bad news, very high numbers indicating that I have some blockage issues. I get to a cardiologist on July 3rd and he recommends that I have a cardiac cath to determine the extent of blockage. So on July 11th, I have the cardiac cath. Good news: cardiac muscle is fine. Bad news: significant blockages, surgery needed. Soon, like in two days. Sure enough, on July 13th, I'm in surgery getting my chest cut open and arteries rerouted and reworked to improve blood flow and avoid one of those pesky heart attacks.
So now what? It's been a year. How has my life changed? For quite a few months after the surgery, of course, I was just simply in recovery, just healing and recovering. But now, one year later, I'm doing pretty dang well. A large part of the scar on my chest has faded as it has healed. The lower portion is still thick but it seems to be slowly fading. 

It's hard to say how well I've recovered physically. I think I'm doing quite well, but I do seem to wear out a little quicker after a lot of exertion, like mowing the lawn. But how much of that is a result of surgery or my own natural laziness to get any significant exercise? 

My biggest issue, to me, is that I didn't have any significant event prior to my surgery. Basically, I had preventative cardiac bypass with some pretty spectacular results. I had an ultrasound scan of my heart a few weeks ago and everything is pumping quite nicely. My heart seems to be doing its job very well. Eventually, in 10-15 years, I may need some additional work on my heart, maybe a stent or two put into the new arteries around my heart. 

Since I didn't have any prior events and everything seems to be fine, I find myself being a little lax on addressing the issues that got me into this situation in the first place. Am I eating better? More heart healthy foods? Yeah, well, not so much. Sometimes, but not as a rule or a new habit. I've grown accustomed to having a beer or two or three a little more often. I could really step up the exercise a bit more than I have. Honestly, I just need to stop putting my health on the back burner. I need to just stop being a lazy ass and take better care of myself.

I am and always will be a cardiac patient. I will always have the possibility of a cardiac event in my future. One day, I may need to go back under the surgeon's knife for new repairs. 

As I've said before... take care of your sh!t.

Friday, June 30, 2017

My Marauder Crew

Just a photo dump of my current Marauder crew.
Major Bludd - because Hasbro hasn't gotten him right yet.
One of Major Bludd's top team members.
Bludd Hounds?
Bludd Hound #2.
I finally found a use for the "Ripcord" head sculpt from RoC.
One of my first Marauder figures.
The addiction began then.
The other of my first Marauder figures.
What was this character from The Force Awakens?
I don't remember, but I liked the head sculpt enough to build the body with Marauder gear.
Orange Marauder gear because why the hell not?
Red and black because I said so.
This is actually the JoeCon 2017 Val exclusive, but not exactly because I swapped out different bits of gear. I like the green/black contrasts.
I believe that this is a new color palette for the male body. 
Whatever, I liked the figure enough to buy him at JoeCon.
"Shooter" - sort of. Inspired by the Shooter concept and much better than what Hasbro tried.
Rock n Roll - kinda'
I really like the shorter sleeves. 
The skin tones for the plastic are perfect.
Love the colors of the uniform!
Black Widow head on a Marauder body.
Nothing but love!

I've got to save up some $$$. The prepackaged sets from JoeCon were so loaded with gear that I have loads of it left. I need more bodies and more of the smaller bits! And more weapons! And more head sculpts! 
And more and more and more!!!

Doesn't Marauder just rock?
What are your thoughts?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Collector's Club Cobra Officers

When did the Club release these figures? Last year? I think so. They looked cool at the time, but I put off buying any - until I made plans to go to JoeCon 2017. These lethal ladies were available at the club store, so I added them to my order of Convention souvenirs. 
I'm quite pleased with these figures! This is a case where the Club definitely beat Hasbro in figure design. Well, Hasbro had to approve, so... Anyway, these figures are far superior to the female Cobra officer that they put out as a part of a three pack of figures from last year. A much better parts selection over what Hasbro had done.
The Club had released a three pack of female figures as part of one of their convention sets several years ago, back in the o-ring days. This modern update was a great nod to the those figures, even matching the hair colors.
Decent, but minimal accessories. The helmets don't fit great, but they're okay.
Okay, this next observation is a bit... odd. Especially when considering that these are just toys. The Club used the same upper torso that they used for Pythona, which worked well for her, but not so much for these ladies. These ladies are quite well endowed and actually quite vulnerable. Yes, as a guy, female breasts are quite lovely to behold, but these are a bit too big and unprotected. It almost appears that their shirts are either quite stretchy or have built in boob pockets.

With my recent purchase of Vals from Marauder and, well, comparing the, uh, let's say, the anatomical sculpt of the figures, there's a difference between realistic and comic portrayal of female anatomy.  Having grown up reading comics, these Cobra ladies mirror the basic look of the superhero female. 

Back when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, there were various spasms of nerd rage when Captain Phasma appeared and she didn't have female armor. In nerd speak, that means that her armor didn't have defined breasts. I found an article about how armor, if designed to enhance and not protect the female form, then it would leave the warrior very vulnerable to attack. The area between the breasts, if designed to have, uh, cleavage, would be a weak spot in the armor. Not so with Phasma's armor, or even the Marauder female gear.

I'm thinking of a future post covering female action figure breast sculpting. Is that just too weird? Am I just a sexist pig if I did a post comparing female head and torso sculpts? I think I actually commented on the Jinx figure's breasts back when I bought the SDCC figures.

In these days of acute cultural society, perhaps I shouldn't. But then again, who reads this silly ass blog anyway? What are your thoughts?

Big Lob - Collector's Club Figure 2017

Big Lob makes his move!

In the Club Store at JoeCon 2017, there was a supply of carded Big lob figures that quickly sold out before I even made it through the line! No worries, I knew I had my Club figure arriving in the mail soon enough.


Well, he didn't arrive while we were gone, but just a day later, that familiar small box arrived.
Big Lob! Now who the hell is Big Lob?
Big Lob was basically a one shot character who was in the animated GI Joe movie. He was a part of a group of new recruits called the Rawhides. They were under the gentle care of Beach Head. Every other Rawhide made it into plastic form, except for Big Lob. I'm sure there's a story out there somewhere as to why he didn't make it into production. Perhaps, like Pythona, he was planned for a second wave of movie related figures that didn't make it into production due to poor response to the movie. That's a discussion for another time.

I never really liked the character that much. Maybe because he didn't make it into action figure format, I just never connected with Big Lob. This actually is the second version of Big Lob. The Club made him as part of a Convention set or a Convention exclusive. (too lazy to look it up)

Despite my disinterest in the character, I'm really quite pleased with what the Club did for the build. They took the first Roadblock/Rock body from Retaliation, without the weird hand, and probably used the hands from the second Roadblock/Rock figure from a Retaliation three pack to complete the figure. The brand new head sculpt is really well done and captures Big Lob quite well.

No ankle joints or double jointed knees? So what? Not a huge deal. Good job by the Club and I'm looking forward to next year's membership figure, Rock n Roll version 2!

What's your thoughts on Big Lob? Yea or Nay?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Battleforce 2000 Display

Back at home and on display!

It didn't take me too long to get these guys out of the box and on display!


Lower shelves are of nearly all of my various FSS figures.
Limited display space right now but I'll take what I can get.

One day, I'll have a "Joe Room". One day...
How about you?
How do you display your toys?

Battleforce 2000 Cobra Forces

Time for a look at the Cobra side of the 2017 Convention set!

I'll start off with the bagged set of three Laser Vipers. These were sold as add-ons to the set at the Club store. Sadly, they were limited to one set per attendee package. I think even the Golden Ticket crew were limited to one set.
The build of the Laser Viper if simple and effective. The chest looks like it came from the Duke figure from the Resolute boxed set. I think those are Viper legs from a Rise of Cobra figure. Sci-Fi forearms to go with the Sci-Fi weapon system? the head seems to come from that MARS set of three figures from Rise of Cobra.
All of the parts work well together and the Laser Vipers turned out decent enough. Too bad, the Club couldn't reproduce the original back pack weapon system, but everything turned out pretty decent.
Corrosa/Corrosion - the other side of the Ultimate Enemies two pack from the Club. He's almost an exact duplicate of the Dee-Jay figure. Corrosa has the vest that originated with the Motor Viper, a smart move by the Club to differentiate Dee-Jay and Corrosa so they weren't exactly the same. I've got to give it up to the Club - they did a great job of duplicating the original silly ass figure!
The BAT leader - I'm partial to BATs anyway, so I like these guys! Basically, the Club used the original 25th BAT body with a new head sculpt. I think the figures turned out quite well. The colors are a bit strong, but in hand, they aren't that bad. But why so many orange BATs?
Same exact figure as the BAT leader, except in bright orange. The BATs also come with a blade attachment, but the plastic is a bit soft and floppy, so I opted to keep the sword blades in with extra bits of gear from the set.


BATs always look awesome in large groups! But eight of them? A bit late now, but perhaps the Club could have gone with four of these guys and four more, same mold, different color palette and different weapons . Blue and silver highlights? Laser BATs? Oh well...
The last item for this review is the "freebie" item. This is the exclusive item available to all attendees. The LAW mini playset that seemed to survive from the original line into the modern era. Is it a new mold? Not sure. Decent enough freebie, but not terribly exciting.

Are you sick to death of the 25th BAT mold? I'm not!
Bring on the BATs!

Battleforce 2000 review

Time for a closer look at the "Force of Battle 2000" GI Joe 2017 Convention set!

I'm pretty sure that I've stated in the past that I'm a fan of the original Battle Force 2000 from 1987. The introduction in the comics was innovative.
I've always liked the concept, but I've thought that the execution seemed a bit rushed. The figures just seemed a bit off and the vehicles were a bit clunky. Don't even talk about the "Future Fortress"!
The graphics of the box art are vibrant and colorful, very eye catching. The Club did a great job with their reuse of the original cart art for the artwork. The BATs thrown in each corner seem a bit off in their placement, but it works well enough.
Since this is my first convention set ever, I'll have to admit to being a bit like a silly kid when I first got the set in my hands. I wasn't really sure of what to expect with the size of the box, but it's a nice size, easily held and carried around.
File cards! So many file cards. Of course, one for each of the BF2000 members (FB2000?) and one each for each of the BATs.
Each figure had their own gear and stand separated in individual bags. There was some sort of issue with some of the weapons for three of the BF2000 troops and they may have arrived late and were included in a separate bag.


I think the people who bought an additional bagged convention set were initially missing those weapons, but the missing weapons arrived on the day after pickup.
Someone proposed that this is how the set should have been created. One less BAT and Dee-Jay in its place. Whatever. Dee-Jay was a next year addition to the team and the two pack with Corrosa was a cool idea.
My first JoeCon pin! Very cool! I saw an older collector while in line who had every pin of every show that he had been to, minus only maybe two. Very impressive collection!


Let's take a quick look at the Battle Force 2000 team. In random order...
Blaster - very cool execution. I'm not sure of the parts used, but I'm pretty sure the arms originated on a Storm Shadow figure? I know them best from the use with the Cobra Vipers. The new head sculpt is great. Very well done by the Club! Blaster would be 2nd of 7.
Avalanche - decent execution. Not quite as barrel chested as the original, but I think he works out just fine. I like the new head sculpt as well. If ranked, Avalanche sits at 4th out of the seven BF2000 figures.
Dodger - easily the best figure. So he doesn't have the mic like the original figure. Oh well. The build and color palette turned out great, a near perfect upgrade of the original. Dodger has always been my favorite BF2000 character and he remains in the top spot for this set. Number 1 of 7!
Knockdown - not a bad build, except... that silly ass decal on his chest meant to represent the canisters on the original figure. I do like the reuse of the Kwinn head sculpt. A lighter skin tone and new hair color and he's almost unrecognizable. The original figure was never very impressive to me, but I think the Club did a decent enough job redeeming him. Still he hits at #5 of 7.

Maverick - so close, but not quite there. To me, Maverick is the weakest of the set. Visually, he's not too bad, but there's a couple issues with him. His elbow joints are very loose and just swing freely. The build isn't terrible, but it isn't as strong as some of the other figures from the set. The Ace head sculpt reuse just kinda' works. Sorry, dude, you're 7th of 7.
Blocker - another great update by the Club! Except... Something's off about his face... No eyebrows! What the heck? A missed paint spray and he looks a bit odd. The build is solid and everything works together. He would have made 2nd out of 7, but those missing eyebrows... Sorry dude, 3rd of 7.
Blaster, Blocker, and Dodger have always been my top three BF2000 characters and figures.
Dee-Jay - decent? The original Dee-Jay was a seriously goofy figure. Not Ice Cream Soldier levels of goofiness, but pretty bad. I think the Club did a decent enough update of him, but he's never been a strong character to me. He's at 6th out of the seven BF2000 characters.
Backstop? Why is Backstop here? And why was the tank driver coming in via parachute? Picky, picky, picky. The head sculpt originated with the Static Line figure from last year's Sky Patrol set. Everybody predicted this move. Backstop was the "parachute drop" figure for the 2017 Convention. So what, he's got a parachute. The Club got him into a modern update! Deal with it! Backstop is a very strong build, well matched to his original figure despite not being able to remove his helmet. I'm not too crazy about those Resolute Duke legs, but they work well enough. He's got a bit of the thunder thighs situation going on.

Overall, I think from the GI Joe side of the convention set, everything turned out quite nicely. A few dings here and there, but I think the set turned out much nicer than had been expected.

I'm hoping that those folks who dissed the set based on the virtual mock ups and ragged on BF2000 initially enjoyed a nice serving crow-flavored humble pie once the set was revealed in hand by the attendees.

I'm looking forward to next year's set! Whatever it is! DEF vs Headman and Headhunters?

What are your thoughts of this set?

Next up a look at the Cobra side of this set.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

JoeCon 2017 Collectors Club Panel

The Club's panel always seems to be the highlight of the convention. Highlights are given, secrets are revealed. I settled in for a long session of panels on Saturday, starting with the Kindle Worlds panel, moving through Kirk's two panels, and finally the Club's panel.

A panel from Friday, involving the Club and the production of the comics and Club magazine, revealed an interesting bit of knowledge that a few Joe fans probably don't consider. GI Joe is Hasbro's property; they own it and they have a tight grip on it, regardless of the current retail status of the brand. 

Everything that the Club does with GI Joe has to be approved by Hasbro. The choices and directions they take in the comics and their selection of characters for all of the figures that they release. Sometimes, Hasbro offers input as to which character or characters to build. So the Club isn't just haphazardly making stuff up as they go along.

Additionally, the Club also has to deal with limitations imposed by what molds are available at the factories making the figures. That's another whole world that the average collector doesn't even consider.

For all of the shit that gets directed at the Club by alleged collectors and fans, I think they do a helluva' job on what they've produced over the past dozen plus years.

So here's a few highlights from the Club's presentation given by Brian Savage, Lanny Lathem, and David Lane.

The guys went over some of the pre-production work behind this year's Con set. They didn't have any of the original artwork to work with, although Derryl DePriest, current Hasbro executive, later remarked that he's got the original artwork. The had to do the best they could with some of the examples of original art from packages.
Six new head sculpts were need for the set - Avalanche, Blaster, Blocker, Dee-Jay, Dodger, and the BAT (only used nine times!).
Pretty cool to see the digital mock-ups for the head sculpts!
One of the deco sheets that the Club showed to highlight all of the colors and paint apps needed for the figures. I love this sort of behind the scenes information.
Nice to see the original Dodger next to the new Dodger. The Club did a damn fine job with BF2000, especially Dodger.
A teaser about an exclusive figure for later this year...
Female Drednok mechanic Heartwrencher to come with a "ground assault 4-WD". I don't recall where Heartwrencher originated, but she sounds interesting. I'm wondering what the Club has in store for the vehicle. The Ninja Combat Cruiser? Maybe.
Maybe the last Club Membership figure?
Based on version 2 of Rock n Roll! Hell yeah! New head sculpt planned or will they use the head sculpt from the unreleased "vault" figure from Hasbro?
So what else does the Club have in store for us?
Since the Club is introducing the Night Stalker leader in FSS 6.0, it makes sense that she needs some troops to lead. The Club will most likely use the same basic figure that they created for their 3-pack of female Cobra troopers and mold their uniforms in black, which is fine with me. A little ethnic diversity as well, since one of them will have brown skin.
So not only will there be an FSS 7.0, the plan is for FSS 8.0 to follow up right behind 7.0. With FSS 6.0 on the way, two more FSS sets sounds like a great way for the Club to wrap things up with their association with Hasbro.
They did a damn fine job with Raptor; I'm looking forward to see what they can do with this guy. There are plans for a brand new head sculpt.
Tomax in a suit will join his brother from FSS 5.0. Since Tomax is the mirror image of Xamot, he'll need a new head sculpt. The plan initially was for Tomax to come out in FSS 6.0, but factory issues had to push him back to FSS 7.0.
Apparently, Fairbanks is the running joke at the Club panel. 
Okay... "Pardon me boy..." as the clue? Some people couldn't figure it out? Seriously?
The last GI Joe Convention will be in Chattanooga, TN! Not too far for me to even commute like I did from Ormond Beach to Orlando. It's actually a few less miles. My wife is on board for us going next year. Hotels should be much cheaper than Orlando, so it would be cool to stay onsite!

One last GI Joe blast for the Club! I'll be there! Will you?