2004 Comic packs - a musing (Part 1.)

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  1. #1

    2004 Comic packs - a musing (Part 1.)

    Hi fellow Joe collectors! This is the first of a series of retrospective blog posts I plan on writing, looking back over the past 30+ years of A Real American Hero themed figures, vehicles, and etc. Retro-Joe if you will.

    So, 2004. This was a really erratic year. We had very cartoon-y disproportionate sculpts, bright colors, humans turning to animals, Venomus Maximus. It's just...it was a really bad year to be a collector back then. Were you "new sculpt" or "ARAH O-Ring" collector? Factions formed. Gangs of wild children roamed the streets at night...well...it wasn't that bad, but still, I fell into the latter category. ARAH O-Rings.

    I've always preferred the G.I.Joe of my youth. The O-Ring, a standard buck and stringent engineering guidelines guaranteed a cohesiveness across figures. A wonderful uniformity that made a collection a collection. But, 2002-2006 is commonly called the "New Sculpt" era. A nomenclature I disagree with, but what are you gonna do? Anyway, the figures were defined by those new-sculpt figures, but did you realize that 70 - that's right, 70 - ARAH style figures were released in 2004? Sure, that's throwing in an additional 17 or so from the club, but still, that's a TON of product. Surprisingly, all of it, except for today's topic of comic packs, were retailer exclusives.

    Which brings me to comic packs. I first recall seeing these in early '04. Retailers were out soliciting and those solicitation images were leaked quickly onto the web. The first pack was a Cobra Command set of the Commander himself, Baroness and a Cobra Trooper. Here is the solicitation image:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Notice some differences? Yeah, me too. First off, the head on the Baroness is larger than what was produced / released at retail. This was a running theme / complaint in the comic packs. New head sculpts were tiny compared to the bodies. Which was the inverse of the complaint that ARAH era heads were too big. Can't make anyone happy, can we? The small head was paired with over-sized and milky glasses. It made for a very unflattering first appearance version of the Baroness, which was used one final time in 2005's Imperial Procession set. Thankfully, only one last time. Otherwise, this was a mediocre attempt at a Baroness from the comic book.

    Cobra Commander fared much better in this set. A great hooded head sculpt, and the use of the 1992 Talking Battle Commanders figure. But they used the same back half of the torso that was used in 2000, the flat back that accommodated the huge talking backpack from '92. Minor gripe, as the 1993 Battle Corps version had a complete torso. But really, this was a perfect version of Cobra Commander and one of my all time favorites.

    Now, the Cobra Trooper. There's some controversy here. Originally, the plan was to use the newly sculpted 2004 Toys "R" Us exclusive Cobra Infantry Forces Trooper. But, rumor at the time stated that the tooling for the figure was damaged, destroyed, or otherwise unavailable. Permanently. So, instead, we received the vintage 1983 v1.5 tooling, with different/mish-mash arms. A fair compromise, but now the Trooper's head was too large in comparison to the rest of the assortment. That catch-.22 again.

    As for the set, as a whole, it's terrific. The included comic is a beautiful reprint of A Real American Hero #1 from Marvel, but omits part of that issue, the short-story/comic, "Hot Potato" which until recently, could only be found in the original issue #1 from 1982.

    Next post, we will take a look at comic pack #2 and the first-ever Kwinn the Eskimo figure!

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  3. #2
    I love those Toys "R" Us Exclusive Infantry Troopers so much. The fact that the tooling was supposedly lost for those figures was a travesty for the old o-ring style. So many other Cobra Troopers would have benefited from them.
    Managing Editor YoJoe.com
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  4. #3
    I am now trying to complete the oring run from 97 and up. Orings are still the best!
    Curchs vintage toy paradise
    http://stores.ebay.com/CURCHS-VINTAG...ARADISE?_rdc=1

    Vehicle/Playset/Parts/Box/Blueprints Want List:
    http://forums.yojoe.com/wanted/84793...tml#post520554

    Figure/Parts/File Card Want List:
    http://forums.yojoe.com/wanted/83034...want-list.html

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  6. #4
    The comic packs are nice, I would like to find a few more (like the flagg one, the vance wingfield issue one, the red ninja one, and maybe flint, etc). Looking forward to the next post.

  7. #5
    I had heard that the reason they made the Toys R Us 6-pack version head was because the original sculpts were lost. I actually heard once that it had been on a ship that sunk at sea! Then in their hunt to find the Toys R Us sculpt to use for this version of the Trooper they found the original filed away as "Python Officer". Doh! Any fan could of told them that was the last time it had been used.
    ~Pit-Viper~

  8. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Pit Viper View Post
    I had heard that the reason they made the Toys R Us 6-pack version head was because the original sculpts were lost. I actually heard once that it had been on a ship that sunk at sea! Then in their hunt to find the Toys R Us sculpt to use for this version of the Trooper they found the original filed away as "Python Officer". Doh! Any fan could of told them that was the last time it had been used.
    Um...the 2004 infantry pack used 100% new tooling, not just the head (of which, two versions were proposed, with and without removable helmets). The 2004 comic pack #1 used vintage 1983 tooling, as the brand new infantry tools were suddenly unavailable. Why were they unavailable? We don't know.

    As for the Python Officer bit? Too many rumors and speculation from around that time. Just like the legend of midnight Chinese figures.

  9. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by RedClaw View Post
    Um...the 2004 infantry pack used 100% new tooling, not just the head (of which, two versions were proposed, with and without removable helmets). The 2004 comic pack #1 used vintage 1983 tooling, as the brand new infantry tools were suddenly unavailable. Why were they unavailable? We don't know.

    As for the Python Officer bit? Too many rumors and speculation from around that time. Just like the legend of midnight Chinese figures.
    Since the tooling was new I take it they used a torso from an original Trooper as the prototype to build the tooling? If they were going through the trouble of building new tooling it would have been nice to see them take the time to sculpt a new torso. That way it could have been much more detailed than that low detail '82 body and they could have given it a ball-neck joint.

  10. #8
    Guess it depends on what you mean by "brand new" as the torso and legs were original and the arms were from Thunder.
    ~Pit-Viper~

  11. #9
    I misread your thread title as "2004 Comic packs - a musical (Part 1.)"

    It will take me a moment to refresh myself and settle into this thread with adjusted expectations.
    Last edited by '86 Digital Fire; 02-17-2013 at 07:25 AM.

  12. #10
    Uh oh. Now that I've read it, the musical idea has germinated.

    BARONESS: "My head's too small? Too small, it was too big. With these foggy glasses, I can't see a thing. Won't someone please, please tell the factory, they're screwing up this batch and it's less than satisfactory..."

    COBRA COMMANDER: "My back is flat? Why is my back flat? I'm not a Talking Battle Commander, I can't work with that."
    BARONESS: "It's not so bad, you can't see it from the front. What's lacking to me, is a battery."
    COBRA COMMANDER: "Why thank you Baroness, you flatter me,
    But I wouldn't yell "Cobra!" or go "Rattatat-tat!", it doesn't matter to me worth a Scottish spat, I'd only use my battery to call you fat."

    COBRA TROOPER: "My head is fat. Why is my head fat? I had a skinny face then they lost my head, and you should know I wish I was dead."
    COBRA COMMANDER: "You do look dead, Trooper."
    COBRA TROOPER: "Why thank you, Commander. But I don't wanna be a recolored corpse for your army of goons, let's shoot some hoops and watch Looney Tunes."
    COBRA COMMANDER: "I don't think so, Trooper, I'm not in the mood. I'm just going to sing out my tune. We're blue and we've got the blues. Because our heads are wonky."
    COBRA TROOPER: "Heads are wonky."
    COBRA COMMANDER: "Heads are wonky."
    BARONESS: "Heaaaads aaaaare wonnnnkyyyyyyy..."

    Yes, I know. I need help.
    Last edited by '86 Digital Fire; 02-17-2013 at 04:45 PM.

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