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Oh, no!  Gary has joined Justin’s site too?!  Run for the hills!!

ACTUALLY, I am here to help a buddy out by occasionally adding content.  Whether it is talking about the current state-of-the-line, defending the Red Sox and bashing the Patsies (Go Colts!), I’m here to just add to the community.

It has been my observation that a solid number of the online fandom are new(er) collectors.  Whether they were vintage collectors from the 80’s who were lured back in with the Modern Era line, or just new collectors who simply started by picking up a figure at retail and got bit by the bug, many new fans have fired up the interwebs and have joined the online community.  If this is you, WELCOME my friends, you picked a heck of a time to get (back) into the hobby (and thank you for choosing GJ’s – shamless plug)!  I guess by comparison, I am one of those old foggies in the rocking chair as described by fellow GJ’s staffer Mike (I have Bulletman too!  :P).  Yikes, I just realized the other day that I remember when YoJoe launched…..geez, me-am-old!

So it has been a little over a week since the Rise of Cobra figures have launched.  While there were no lines of waiting fans chomping at the bit to break down the door at TRU (a’la Star Wars), it was still cool to see new product, full pegs and excited fans (mostly) for the first time in half a year.  It is hard to believe it was around six months or so since the last wave of Modern Era figures trickled into stores.  Way to make us wait Hasbro!  You guys sure know how to keep us all in suspense!  However, in the grand scheme of the 3.75″ line of Joes, to some of the older collectors, six months is NOTHING.  For new fans, this six month wait was your first official “hiatus”.  For us older fans, hiatus brings chills to the spine.  That was the exact word we heard in Minneapolis when Hasbro told us 3.75″ was no longer a retail focus and the era of DTC was launched.  H-I-A-T-U-S.  But it wasn’t the first time we’ve had one of these.  Going further into the past, just as a comparison:  How about the three year wait between the end of the line in ’94 to the limited TRU releases in ’97 and ’98?  How about the SEVEN year wait between the death of the Marvel comic to the relaunch by Devils Due and Image?  Keep this in mind and then ask yourself – Do I want the death of the line?  I mean we joke at it.  Heck, some people even mean it.  However, if there is one thing I have learned from the relaunch to the 25th/Mondern Era line, be careful of what you wish for.  We WANT – no, rather NEED this new line of product and the movie to succeed.

I fully respect the segment of the fandom who do not like this new incarnation of Joe.  I was like you at one time.  Can you believe that, ol’ General Hawk-in-Training Gary, co-cheerleader of the current line DIDN’T like something?!  Oh you bet I didn’t.  Step into the “way-back” machine and time travel to JoeCon New Orleans 2006.  I sat right in front of a prominent member of the Hasbro Joe Team and told him that I would NEVER-EVER give Sigma Six a chance.  I vividly remember him saying, “Come on, they are fun, give them a try.”  In my own shortsightedness, I stubbornly refused to budge.  For me, 3.75″ Joes non-anime looking figures were still the way to go.  I stubbornly dug in my heels and wished Sigma Six to simply go away.  I didn’t hate Sigma, it just wasn’t for me.  A couple of years later, Sigma died.  Now I know I was not the cause of the death, but apparently there were enough of like-minded people as myself who agreed (so don’t blame me Justin!).  In hindsight, it could have been a careless thing to do.  What IF Hasbro didn’t bring back the 3.75″ line again?  What IF Hasbro nixed the whole movie idea (if you remember, the movie concept gained major momentum circa 2004 despite several documented stalled attempts earlier)?  What IF, what IF, what IF?

After this, I began to think to myself, was this a wise choice?  Is wishing for the toy line to bomb wise?  I was just being stubborn and hard headed.  I probably wasn’t thinking my choices through to much.  Chances are today, if either the toys or movie fails (or both), WE are looking at another LONG hiatus before the line returns.  So when I say I respect your feelings on the issue, I can certainly put myself in your shoes.  I’ve been there-done that.  For angry fans, you are staring at the same scenario I faced in at the birth of the DTC era.  How DARE Hasbro tell me that MY line is dead and how DARE they force me to try something new?!

It is no secret that Hasbro wants to focus on the movie.Hasbro is undoubtedly staring at a substantial investment that they want a return on.  Naysayers may say they do not want the movie to succeed because it is a drastic departure from the Joe they grew up with, but in reality, everyone should rally up and want the line to succeed.  We should be happy to see tons of product, on and flying off, the shelves.  We should be happy to see the early movie reviews appear so positive.  We should be happy to see Joe licensed in so many creative ways.  It is a good time to be a fan!  Do not forget these days!

On a slightly humorous note, I’ve seen several members of the fandom that have decried the movie only to buy one or two of the movie toys and realize, “hey, these ain’t so bad!”  You guys know who you are!  All I can say is thanks.  My gut feeling (and if anyone knows my gut, it is substantial), is that there are many more closet naysayers who have picked up a figure or two but have not publically admitted it.  Gang, I will stress again, these toys are great.  Go ahead, compare these figures to what is out in retail today.  The Star Trek figures have horrible paint apps and have less points of articulation.  The Terminator toys have many of the same flaws and their vehicles are freakishly out-of-scale.  Poor Playmates – well, rather poor retailers who will be stuck with pegs of these while Joe is hopefully flying off the shelves.  We have it better than you think, that is for sure.

I think what I am trying to say is this: DO NOT do what I did when Sigma launched.  WELCOME the new fans we will gain with the movie!  ENCOURAGE them support the line in all forms – there is plenty of room.  DO NOT send the wrong message like I did with Sigma Six.  Give the new line a shot and you may be surprised at its quality and the fun you will have.