I’ve seen the sentiment in several places since the last figure reveal, and I share it myself. In many cases, the G.I. Joe Convention set really shows itself once its displayed as a whole. Individually, sometimes certain design elements don’t mesh, but once everything is shown together, the cohesiveness helps.
So does that hold true here?
It does, to a point. But for my money, I don’t want figures that only look good as a group, I want great individual figures as well, so there needs to be some balance.
The Collectors Club started the reveal with Wreckage, which already feels like so long ago, an Ultimate Firefly repaint colored like the canceled Sabretooth, which has only been seen in catalog images. It was a no-brainer for inclusion, and there’s a fantastic base figure under that new coat of paint, so it’s tough to find many faults with this one.
This figure, not so much. Dial Tone, unfortunately, is pretty much a wreck, design-wise. That 25th Anniversary torso with the random shoulder pad just doesn’t work in 2015, and the stark break of tiger stripes and brown uniform doesn’t look like anything that would really exist in real life. The Club used the template of the Toys “R” Us Tiger Force Dial Tone, but eliminated its most interesting deco choice (the UK themed orange and blue) and the result is unexciting. Plus, they’ve taken a character that Hasbro didn’t care enough about to produce in its first four years of 25th Anniversary figures and released him three separate times since 2011.
Conceptually, I see where the Club was going here, using their own exclusive Undertow as a base figure, and the color matching works pretty well. There are pretty modern parts here that work well together at they do resemble the source material nicely. I can’t help but feel like we just got this figure as a 50th Anniversary Eel, though, just a few months ago, which does dilute the excitement of this figure a bit. I think one thing is clear, the existence of this figure proves that one of the FSS 4.0 figures will be a standard deco 1990 Undertow. I’m very okay with that from a figure perspective, though not a big fan of army builders at subscription figure prices.
I know why they did this, and I can understand the appeal, but I think it will only serve to frustrate some fans. I can only imagine the Collectors Club is revisiting Tiger Force here because fans want to complete their Tiger Force teams that were woefully unrepresented in the 25th Anniversary, with only Duke and Flint to show for it (no Wild Bill doesn’t count). Those fans want Tiger Force updates that resemble figures they bought on shelves, not figures that have only appeared in sales catalogs. From an interest perspective, I like the choice, but I could see this causing some frustration when fans realize down the road that the only vintage Tiger Force figure they’re missing is a retail release Recondo because when the Club had the opportunity, they did the unproduced version. Along with that, the unproduced Recondo so closely mirrors Tiger Force Flint that they almost look like the same figure, which is a bit disappointing, especially considering Tiger Force Flint retailed for around six bucks.
I already feel like I’m trending a bit negative, and I don’t mean to, but that sense will continue with this figure as well, I’m afraid. It’s 2015, and figures that were produced from parts in 2007 look very, very dated. The technology and the techniques have changed a lot in the past eight years, and in many cases, we really need to leave the past behind us. If the Club was determined to do a female Undertow, more power to them, but why couldn’t this be an opportunity to revisit City Strike Scarlett? I know we got those parts with Jinx in the FSS, but why not use them again, this time with the rebreather that’s never been produced? Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity, and the figure we got just does not measure up to more recent releases. Any figure built from parts from the 25th Anniversary Scarlett just feels weak, flat sculpted, and almost like an antique compared to newer items, and for a near premium price, I’d expect a bit more.
This is a choice that makes perfect sense. I’ll admit, I’m extremely surprised that only a single figure in this boxed set is a true vintage update. Part of me actually likes that, I’m a fan of new and different, but I’m just not sure the Club’s changes were drastic improvements. For Lifeline they stick with the standard formula, and it works. Lifeline has a base figure is truly fantastic, and they managed to include all his gear as well. Very difficult to see this figure as anything but a great success.
Now we’re talking. These figures are reasons why I get the Convention sets. The 1994 Viper is an all-time favorite figure of mine, and I’d say the 2005 Iron Anvil might be one of my favorite convention figures ever. Do I think we need a modern update only 10 years later? Probably not, but when its executed this damn well, I can get over it. The new head sculpt is fantastic, the modern parts work together really nicely, and this is one hell of a great looking Grenadier paratrooper. He’s a near flawless compliment to some of the figures we got in the 2012 Convention set, and is just different enough from the o-ring versions that he feels like an exciting new addition to Destro’s army.
Great stuff, and I’m glad we’re getting multiples of this one.
I want to love Big Brawler, I really do. Anyone who was camped out on JoeCustoms as much as I was back in the day grew very attached to the mysterious Big Brawler and he gained a cult following among the fandom. The Club is certainly aware of this following (notice that this figure comes complete with his Brawlin’ Sword!) and felt it was necessary to work him into the convention set in a deco based off his Toys “R” Us 6-Pack version, but even more so, his 12” Valor Vs. Venom version. I’m not a huge fan of the Red Dog head, and I think simply using Retaliation Roadblock parts would have been sufficient to represent the imposing stature of this character. I love that the Club went this way, I just wish the end product had been a bit better (though in the Club’s defense, I certainly can’t come up with a better head sculpt right off the top of my head).
Oh, baby. Yet another example of what I love about these Convention sets. Stalker manages to take several different homages and work them together into a single gorgeous offering. The newly sculpted head is terrific, complete with removable beret, and the multi-part base inspiration of the Toys “R” Us 6-Pack Stalker and the 12” Hall of Fame Stalker work together seamlessly, integrating him into Tiger Force with near perfection. I love the parts choice, I love the webgear, and the tiger-stripe pants is just the right amount of colorful outlandish. Really nice looking update here.
When we got Darklon and Voltar a few years ago, it only made sense that somewhere down the line, the Collectors Club would get us a Metalhead, and here he is, for better or worse.
I think the overall build is pretty good. He’s got modern parts offering very nice sculpted detail and range of motion, but unfortunately the Snake Eyes webgear leaves too many wide open spaces revealing the scrawny parts below. I totally understand why it was chosen, it’s about as close to the vintage look as we can get with modern parts, but I think this would have been a great opportunity to think outside the box and update his look. Metalhead isn’t one of those characters that needs to remain devoutly like his vintage version, so why not twist things up a bit. I think it would have made a world of difference, especially considering how stellar the head sculpt here is. When I get this figure I’ll probably try changing up the webgear somewhat myself, just to see what other options might work. That is one of the great things about these new figures…a look can be changed pretty easily.
So this guy begs the question…do we really need him again? Like the Iron Anvil, I was a big fan of General Mayhem in 2005 because he was a great new character and new figure. His Gnawgahyde head fused with the Long Range helmet was a perfect blend of bad ass and kooky G.I. Joe aesthetic, but the WORMS base figure just put him totally over the edge. This was officially a new character to inject into Destro’s ranks. That was a big part of his appeal.
For this update, that appeal is gone. Mayhem is no longer a “new character” he now just represents another update of an older version.
However, that doesn’t mean the execution of this figure is somehow slighted. Quite the opposite. The new head (underneath what looks to be Retaliation Lift Ticket’s helmet) is spectacular, and that new jacket with “fruit salad” on the chest? Oooooh man. That could be used for SO MUCH. Hello FSS, bring us some General Flagg, General Austin, WORMS, Admiral Lattimer… wow. So many opportunities there.
General Mayhem is a great looking figure, and I’m definitely excited about those parts.
So at the end of the day, how do I feel? Individually, my opinions are decidedly mixed. There are a couple of home runs, but there are a few disappointments as well. Tiger Force isn’t my favorite sub-team to begin with, and as much as I love the Iron Grenadiers, we just got them in a Con set three years ago. The Club seems like they’ve tried to pull from many different inspirations, which I do like, it’s just that the end result in many cases here seems a bit mish-mashed and unfocused. Sometimes when you try to do too much at once with a single figure, it ends up trying to do too many things.
I will say, viewed as a single cohesive group, these do make for two really nicely combined teams. There are some striking differences (Recondo looks drastically out of place to my eyes) but by and large, the entire team shot is cohesive and impactful in its overall look. I know that’s a big priority in the Club’s eyes, so in that case, their mission was successful, but I won’t lie, there are some different choices I would have made.
In spite of all of this, I’m very excited to see what’s in store for the attendee exclusive and other Convention items. There are still many different sources of potential cool Tiger Force and Iron Grenadier items that we could be due for in Springfield. I’m looking forward to it.
As an added bonus, if you include Tiger Force Airtight and Shipwreck from the FSS, they actually fit into the group shot amazingly well, too.