The GeeksverseFrom the Fan’s Desk | Looking at Hasbro’s 50th Anniversary G.I. Joe Line

From the Fan’s Desk | Looking at Hasbro’s 50th Anniversary G.I. Joe Line
Published on Monday, March 10, 2014 by
2014 marks G.I. Joe‘s 50th anniversary, and while many fans weren’t expecting much from Hasbro given the toy line’s fortunes of late, the company surprised us with its announcement of a limited wave of hastily assembled product commemorating the event.

I was one of those fans who wasn’t expecting anything special coming this year from Hasbro despite 2014 being the 50th anniversary of the original 1:6 (12 inch) scale G.I. Joe figure. Nothing in the 1:18 (3 ¾ inch) scale—my preferred action figure scale—at least. Additionally, there were those supposedly in the know who were saying that there was nothing going on in the current Joe line. Many of the people that had been working on G.I. Joe figures these past several years were either let go or had moved on to other projects. I figured if Hasbro were to give us any 1:18 scale product to celebrate the anniversary, it would either be Adventure Team-themed or something along the lines of the Action Pilot, Action Soldier, Action Sailor, and Action Marine figures Hasbro released in 1994 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original G.I. Joe.

About two weeks before Toy Fair, the Associated Press published an article talking about the 50th anniversary of G.I. Joe claiming that Hasbro would announce its 50th anniversary plans at this year’s Toy Fair, but the announcement, such as it was, was met with some skepticism in the G.I. Joe fan community. Lo and behold, images of new G.I. Joe product were indeed revealed to the public during Toy Fair week. It looked to me like a number of the images were hastily-thrown together digital mock-ups—a few looked like rushed Photoshop recolors of previously-released figures. The character assortment also seemed somewhat random: There were re-releases of select figures from the (poorly distributed at retail) Pursuit of Cobra and Retaliation toylines. There were figures from the mythical Concept Case (at the last couple of JoeCons, Hasbro has made a tradition of exhibiting a display case full of concept figures that have been proposed over the years but never went into production—these cases became the dreams of many fans). There was a figure that no one was really demanding to be reissued as far as I could tell, a figure that has been released twice before, first in 2009 and again in 2011. There was also another figure from 2009 making a return appearance practically unaltered.

All in all, it was an odd assortment that just screamed that it was thrown together at the last minute. And none of it said “celebrating the 50th anniversary.” Sure, there was a 50th anniversary logo shown at Toy Fair but there was nothing commemorative about the designs of the releases themselves. Whereas the 2007 toyline that memorialized the 25th anniversary of the launch of the 1:18 scale A Real American Hero figures and 2011’s 30th anniversary toyline featured new versions of 1980s designs, this year’s 50th anniversary figures and vehicles don’t feature any notable callbacks to the year and decade it is supposedly celebrating.

That being said, this 50th anniversary line has a bunch of stuff that I want. I like the 2-pack and 3-pack ideas and the re-use of previously released figures should keep the costs down on both the production and consumer ends and will also mean a quick turnaround from design to production.

As much as this line is composed mostly of repaints and re-releases of old figures, I have to hand it to Hasbro. With a fanbase starved of any new G.I. Joe figures at retail, this announcement, despite the odd character and design choices, has collectors excited again and personally, I plan on picking up multiples of each set.

Below is my breakdown of the 1:18 G.I. Joe sets Hasbro announced at Toy Fair, and how many I plan on buying of each set:

“Arctic Ambush” set: Snow Job versus Arctic B.A.T.

SnowJob-ArcticBAT50th

This is a set that I really don’t have much interest in. I’m not the biggest B.A.T. fan in the Joe-fandom and I really don’t see the need for an arctic paint job in my Cobra forces. I already got this Snow Job in the Pursuit of Cobra line, but I can see why it was included for this release because not many people were able to get it due to the abysmal retail distribution of the Pursuit of Cobra figures. I’ll probably pick this up anyways because I could end up displaying the B.A.T. with my Cobra arctic forces, but I won’t be getting multiple sets.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 1

“Heated Battle” set: Blowtorch versus H.E.A.T. Viper

Blowtorch-HEATViper50th

This set really highlights the cost-saving/quick turnaround nature of this line. The H.E.A.T. Viper was revealed in the Concept Case at the 2011 JoeCon and was met with instant fan approval. But to pair it with Blowtorch? Die-hard fans are going to want to “troop build” this set for the H.E.A.T. Viper but the inclusion of Blowtorch, previously released in 2009 and again in 2011 will annoy many of them. The pictures show no discernible change from the 2011 release sculpt and paint-wise, and that only had minor paint detailing to recommend it over the 2009 figure. Blowtorch was obviously included to help keep the costs down. I’m hoping that Hasbro throws the fans a bone and at least changes up the colors of the figure to the green/tan concept version revealed at JoeCon 2011. But if they don’t, then I have no interest in this as the H.E.A.T. Viper is one of my least-liked designs.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 0 (if the figures hit retail as shown); 1-2 (if Blowtorch comes in the green/tan  Concept Case colors, and if the packaging is good enough to keep the figures “mint-on-card”)

“Night Marksmen” set: Lowlight versus Night-Viper

Lowlight-NightViper50th

This set contains two figures that didn’t get a wide release at retail, Low-Light in the Pursuit of Cobra line and the Night-Viper from the last wave of Retaliation-branded figures. Both are figures in high demand and commanding big money on the secondary market. The only difference is that this Night-Viper is red and black as opposed to the green and black Retaliation version. I lucked out at retail and have five Night-Vipers, as well as picking up Lowlight during Pursuit of Cobra‘s retail lifespan. But I can see myself using this red Night-Viper as a squad leader for my green Night-Vipers. Thanks Hasbro for the red Night-Viper.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 1

“Social Clash” set: Lady Jaye versus Baroness

LadyJaye-Baroness50th

Like the “Heated Battle” set, this is another set with a figure from the mythical Concept Case (I theorize that the concept case figures we are getting are the ones that were closest to going to production) and paired with an obvious cost-saving throw-in. This Baroness was released in 2009 as part of a 25th anniversary set. It’s a good Baroness figure, but most fans who would even be remotely interested in Hasbro’s 50th anniversary releases probably already have one. If this line were less hastily and arbitrarily put together, it would have made more sense (and Hasbro probably would have done it) to have included the recent San Diego Comic Con-exclusive Baroness, which featured a new sculpt, one that many fansare saying is the best one yet. SDCC exclusives don’t get produced in high quantities, so it’s a rare figure. Why not put that one in this set? The Lady Jaye figure is based on a Concept Case design and was recently released in different colors as an exclusive figure for the 2013 G.I. Joe Convention. But again, it was a figure made in low quantities.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 1 (just because of the cool Lady Jaye figure in vintage deco)

“The Eagle’s Edge” set: Leatherneck and Hawk versus Destro

Leatherneck-Destro-Hawk50th

This set is a good one. In Leatherneck and Destro we have two Concept Case figures (with “ultimate” versions of their vintage designs) and with Hawk, we have another Pursuit of Cobra figure that is in high demand due to poor retail distribution at the time of its roll-out. I already have the Hawk figure, but it’s a great figure with some nice parts and accessories that can be used to cobble together custom figures. Leatherneck and Destro are great figures that I can’t wait to have.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 1

“The Viper’s Pit” set: Beachhead versus Cobra Trooper and Viper

Beachhead-Cobra-Viper50th

Now we’re talking. This is where most of my money will go. A real troop builder set. The Cobra Trooper is one that’s been previously released, in both the Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary lines, but it’s better than the 25th Anniversary figure and I’m troop building the hell out of it. The Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary Cobra Trooper figure goes for around 20-25 dollars on EBay right now. It’s expensive to troop build. So this pack is an answer to my prayers. And it contains another figure that I wouldn’t mind having a small squad of in the form of the Viper. Yeah, not it’s standard colors, but that’s okay with me as I really like this deco. Beachhead, well not having a great selection of parts to use, is another Concept Case figure that I want. I’m just not sure what I’ll do with the multiple Beachheads.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 4-6, if not more

“Battle Below Zero” set: Arctic Snake Eyes with the Skyhawk versus Ice-Viper with the Wolf

ArcticSnakeEyes-IceViper50th

Another set that will be taking a lot of money from me. The Skyhawk is my favorite G.I. Joe aircraft and the 25th anniversary version was a phenomenal improvement over the original release from 1984 (I currently have 3 and want more). The Snake Eyes is based on 2010’s Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes figure, but painted in what was the originally planned black color scheme, instead of the off-purple that we actually got (pre-production samples of the black Desert Battle Snake Eyes figure have occasionally surfaced on eBay). The arctic colors on the Skyhawk are great, although I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with the multiple Snake Eyes. The Cobra Wolf is a popular vehicle. It appears this is a re-release of the vintage 1980s toy created using the original tooling (much like the 30th anniversary Skystriker, which helped keep costs down). The Ice-Viper is a very nice figure, “professionally kitbashed” from parts used in previously released figures.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 3-6

“Danger At The Docks” set: Flint with the Vamp MK II versus Cobra Eel with the Night Landing Craft

Flint-Eel50thA

Flint-Eel50thB

The Night Landing Craft (albeit with a different Eel) was supposed to come out as part of the Retaliation line and packaged samples actually made it out to last year’s San Diego Comic Con. It never came out. Now it appears it will. The black-and-red Eel is from the Concept Case, as is Flint. This set has some confusion associated with it. There were two decos shown (of all 4 pieces) at Toy Fair and it seems that one deco will be debuting at SDCC this year as an exclusive and another will be released at retail, although it’s not clear at this point which set will end up being released where. Either way I’ll be getting multiples of both sets. I really love the “United Nations Flint” (as fans are calling the blue deco version) and the digital camo on the VAMP is great. The concept case version of Flint was the number one requested figure, so it’ll be great to get that.

Number of sets I’ll be buying: 3-6, multiples of both versions

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