It is a GREAT time to be a Joe fan, ladies and gentlemen.
I am an admittedly fussy, cranky Joe fan that likes his Joes the way the 80s made them, so the six-inch Joe line really had to win me over from my less than stellar first opinions. Dumping the gold was step one. Those reissues of the initial bedazzled figures went a long way toward assuaging my complaints. But then more figures started popping up, and they were far closer to what I wanted. Beach Head was great. Zartan, Major Bludd…it was all heading in the direction I preferred.
The Amazon exclusive Roadblock was where it all turned around for me. That was what I wanted. Camo shirt, orangey pants, far better head, no big dumb tattoo…yeah, that was it. That was when I knew things were looking up. Then we got a look at Breaker and Barbeque, and hoo hoo me bucko that was what put the chili powder on the lizard’s ass, which is a regional expression. What region I cannot say, but somebody somewhere probably said it.
I am now firmly at a point where I no longer meet new Joe reveals with a feeling of trepidation, but with an eager eagerness, all decked out with eagerocity.
Mainly because Storm Shadow is just SO DAMN COOL and doesn’t have that ridiculous full arm sleeve. It might seem like I hate tattoos. I don’t. But they belong where they belong, and if they’re on a place they don’t belong, then I am a 1950s era father whose son just came home with the word “mom” on his arm.
I’m releasing the hounds. I believe that is the appropriate reaction there.
Let’s take a look at every reveal, starting with the one that hasn’t gone up for order yet. I think that’s a good thing, because I need to save up money for the amount I’m going to buy. I think “one batillion” is the right amount.
Bats were the coolest thing added to the Joes, because I’m a robot loving guy and these mindless automatons are the perfect homicidal bullet sponges. Or laser sponges if they’re in the cartoon. Either way, This figure features minimal updating. It’s mainly enhanced with some extra texturing and tech details. The alternate head means I can have a handful that look like they’ve been in the shit, and others that are pristine. Because I’m buying so damn many. When Super7 announced their Ultimate BAT I could only bunch up my forehead at the price and preorder two, which doesn’t feel like enough to terrorize my 7 inch Super7 Joes, but now my Hasbro Joes will have their own target practice to fight. I’m going to be rolling in BATs in 2022. It will make the single BAT I had as a kid writhe with jealousy.
Tiger force Outback
I’m a fan of the Tiger Force aesthetic, and while I didn’t count on Outback’s first figure being the Tiger Force version, at least we get a look at how the regular “Surivival” version will look, and also this should be the beginning of the entire sub-team. This means another Roadblock, who now makes up about 83 percent of the line, but I don’t care. The white hair and beard supplanting the usual redheadedness of Outback means you can use this as a totally different character if you want, or maybe he went gray quickly after some bad mojo. Who knows. It’s an all new body that is supposed to feel a bit beefier than Duke while not quite as large as Roadblock, so that will add some fun dimension to the team. As a bonus, the shin guards are on the way out. Say goodbye, overly protected tibias.
Python Patrol Viper
Much like with Tiger Force, I am also a fan of the Python Patrol aesthetic, difference being that I never had any Python Patrol figures as a kid. While the regular Viper colors are untouchable, the gray/yellow and red of this version really rubs up against each other in all the right ways. I’m not going to go crazy with the army building with these specialty teams (not that Target exclusivity makes army building too easy) but I’ve got two preordered, which feels like a good amount to backup the regular Vipers. Arbitrary? Your mother’s arbitrary!
Python Patrol BAT
Bat never had a Python Patrol version in the vintage line, so this is a new take and is making it out before the standard BAT. So the PP version will be our first time handling the BAT body. Once again I like the color scheme here, and adding in a lot more maroon on his torso really makes the figure jump out at you. The black in place of silver for his arms also gives him a more sinister edge, if that’s possible. Again, I only have two of him preordered, and despite the fact that I will drown myself in regular BATS, I feel like I might need more than two of this one, if the fates align.
So good. SO GOOD. So classic, with just minimal changes. While some didn’t, I liked the previous “Artic” Storm Shadow which was kind of a V3 Storm Shadow with a few differences. But I was waiting for a classic one, hoping they would change their minds on the one that we had only seen in art form. I just hated those tattoos so much, man. This one scratches every possible itch I could have had for Storm Shadow, then tosses itching powder down my pantaloons all over again. If they want to make that other version after this then go nuts, because this is what I’ve been wanting all along.
I was hoping that Spirit wouldn’t get the “Billy from predator” shorthand revision that seems to happen to him from time to time, and he didn’t. This does a very gentle revision, dumping some of the slight stereotypical elements (not that there were many to begin with) and keeping the blue shirt, the braids, the headband, the recognizable elements. It’s Spirit. It looks like Spirit. He doesn’t look like he’s about to say there’s something in the trees. Like I’ve talked about in one of my previous columns, I never had Spirit as a kid, so I’m looking forward to this one.
We wrap up this long-winded reaction with a dude who wears crocs, and not the unfortunate shoes that need to be banned from the galaxy. This dude wears a crocodile shirt, walks around with crocodiles, trains them, wrestles them, breeds them…basically the dude is really into his job, and he ain’t what you would call “right in the head.” Or maybe I’m being judgmental about the guy called Croc Master. Either way, the 1987 Cobras were fantastically bizarre, and Croc Master is the poster boy for that wackiness. Everything about him looks perfect, and the fact that he comes with an articulated crocodile makes him worth every penny of that deluxe pricing. I don’t have an articulated crocodile figure. I love a first-time thing. Croc Master is so damn perfect that it makes me need a Big Boa even sooner than I already did. I always have them linked in my head, not only as two 87 Joes, but because I think I got them both at the same time. Sure, there was no reason for them to team up, but tell that to them.
The GI Joe panel easily won what was a low-key Pulsecon. Everything shown was a home run. I’m kind of shocked, considering how bitter my initial reaction to the line was. But that’s in the past. If this is the direction of the future, then things are looking pretty damn cool.