RAHC - A Guide to Second Generation O-Ring G.I. Joe Action Figures

Well, that's a mouthful.

I've been an avid internet user for going on... 14 years now. I've been at this for a while, been deeply involved in the online G.I. Joe community for a while, and when you really look at it, nearly every resource you need for action figures is pretty much at your keyboard.

But I'll be damned if I don't get a certain rush opening up an actual book and looking at the pages inside, all littered with images of G.I. Joe figures and vehicles. Bring on the tablets, the iPads, bring on the digital revolution, there's something about flipping those paper pages. And you know, it sure as hell helps when the book is designed and crafted as nicely as this one.

A little more than a year ago, James Kavanaugh, Jr. approached me about writing a forward for a new book he was developing. The book was going to focus on the "lost years" of G.I. Joe, which falls between 1997 and 2007. Immediately the idea appealed to me, because these years were really right in my wheelhouse. I joined the online community in 1998, and have really seen it grow and evolve over these years, and I experienced all of the paint wipe and new sculpt madness for the past decade, and it always fascinates me how toy design techniques and improve and grow new heights in such a short period of time.

By now we know about Mark Bellomo's fantastic "Ultimate Guide to G.I. Joe" book, but nobody has tackled the "new sculpt" era, which issued in the Real American Hero's rebirth in the late 20th, early 21st Century. In fact, as disturbed as I am to recognize this, many of the Joe fandom seems to brush aside this era and not pay it much attention. To do so is doing yourself a huge disservice. Certainly, the construction and sculpting techniques now can't even possibly compare to what we got even a handful of years ago, but the eclectic designs, the fascinating backstories, and the rich selection of product and characters in unheralded in all of G.I. Joe's past iterations.

I'm not sure people realize just what the sheer number of figures released in those 10 years was. It's truly astounding. I can't imagine the amount of work Kavanaugh put into this book, but I'll tell you the effort shows.

A self-published book, it retains the quality and gloss of any typical coffee table book you'll find out there. The cover immediately grabs you with an awesome selection of some of the most varied G.I. Joe figures scattered around the landscape. The layout of the action figure archive pages is terrific, with some decently sized figure images, vibrant backgrounds, and a terrific layout of the accessories that come with each figure.

The book is divided up into sections covering the Real American Hero Collection, G.I. Joe vs. Cobra, Spy Troops, Valor Vs. Venom, Direct to Consumer, JoeCon Exclusives, and even the short-lived building block "Built To Rule" sets. It is a totally comprehensive and in depth look at the rich 10 year history of that terrific era of G.I. Joe. I absolutely love the fact that James apparently cares enough about this era to devote this much time and attention to it...because I really think it is deserving of a lot of praise that it often does not get for bringing Joe into the 21st Century.

Along with the figure pages, the book covers vehicles and playsets, and each one is approached with the same level of care and attention to detail, showing a rough parts breakdown (but not getting too involved with the intricacies). Within the pages are assorted notes and tidbits with a lot of great information about the specific product being paid attention to on that page. It's the little things that are the most interesting, such as within the DTC section, figures that could come apart and attach to pegs or holes in other figures and vehicles are marked with a specific tag for easy identification.

But really what deserves the attention in this book are what James has done with the accessories. Good lord, the accessories. He has broken down every single individual weapon and tagged it with an identification number that can be tracked back to the figure it comes with. That's right, every figure in the book has a specific tag label that matches one of the thousands of weapons featured in the back of the book for easy gun identification, and easy reference for completing these figures. Speaking as someone who collected the line during this time frame... holy crap. That must have been a job and a half, but it makes the book even more valuable than it might have been originally.

I don't care if you consider yourself a vintage "purist". I don't care if you're only interested in the 25th anniversary format figures. If you are a G.I. Joe fan, you NEED this book. So many folks have never explored this era of G.I. Joe, and so many fans would love a lot of what they did during that time frame. The toys weren't perfect, but I'll be damned if they weren't a hell of a lot of fun, and James manages to capture that vibrant, careless style and put it down on paper. A labor of love indeed.

The first copies of this awesome book will be on sale at the G.I. Joe Convention starting tonight in Orlando, Florida! Track down James and buy one of these volumes. He put in a ton of effort, and deserves the utmost praise for bringing such a great reference to the fandom at large.

The book is $40.00, and if you're not at JoeCon, it will be available for sale afterwards. Keep your eyes on RAHCGuide.com for all of the details. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.