First and foremost, a huge thanks to Russ Sheath who had the opportunity to attend MCM (London ComicCon) and check out the latest Hasbro news and intel live and in person. Russ kindly volunteered to get some face time with Emily and provide GeneralsJoes the unique opportunity to post that interview for the G.I. Joe audience!
Russ Sheath here reporting for Generals Joes, where I ventured to London for MCM-CON and the opportunity to sit down with the one and only Emily Bader, Hasbro’s Brand Manager for, amongst other things, GI JOE.
You will know Emily from Hasbro Pulse Con, numerous live streams. and as the face for all things GI JOE, coming from Hasbro.
Along with lead designer Lenny Panzika, Emily brings us the news and reveals for the entire GI JOE line. At MCM-CON’s Hasbro panel Emily has revealed that the UK’s own ‘Big Ben’ will be joining the Classified line and showed digital renderings of what the figure will look like. Emily also shared the first images of the previously revealed ‘Female Cobra Trooper 2 Pack’…and in a reveal that kept the JOE fans in the audience guessing….Emily teased something called… ‘Mole Rats’. Another name-only reveal was Shadow Tracker, the legendary COBRA hunter from the Pursuit of COBRA line, a potentially amazing addition to the Classified roster!
Fighting jet lag like a trooper, Emily took the time to sit down with Generals Joes to offer insights into the past, present and future of GI JOE Classified.
Russ Sheath (RS): I thought we’d start with a ‘state of the union’ official line from Hasbro. How’s the GI JOE brand doing?
Emily Bader (EB): From an official Hasbro perspective we are doing great. I really don’t think that anyone anticipated what the Classified series had the potential to become when it launched, back when we were were originally bringing GI JOE back to support the Snake Eyes movie. Classified has grown so far beyond that at this point. It helped that Classified is the first time that GI JOE has been available as a 6 inch line which gets people excited, but I’d say that the success of the Haslab HISS Tank is the embodiment of the state of GI JOE right now.
RS: I was excited to see the reveal of the female Cobra Trooper images at the GI JOE Classified panel today, which made me realise that GI JOE was pretty diverse as an 80s boys toys, in an era where there was maybe a single token female character in traditional ‘Boys toys’ lines. From a toy perspective the line has covered pretty much all of the female characters from the existing JOE catalogue of characters, how will you keep the line’s diversity moving forwards?
EB: When we sit down and plan the line for the year we look at what the gender and racial split is, we want to make sure everybody is being represented and can see themselves in GI JOE. Right now we are looking at what the era split is too, so how many 80s, 90s, or 2000s era characters we include in the line. So it’s really become a ‘beautiful mind’ exercise by Lenny and the team, which is really fun. One of the ways we will start sneaking more female characters into the line, is as we saw with the render reveal of the female cobra trooper two pack.
Cobra is an equal opportunities employer for the people they send into battle, so making sure we represent that is important to us. We are so lucky to be working on JOE and to be able to keep trying new things, the further the line goes the deeper dives we get to do. With the exception of the Snake Eyes movie line our figures aren’t screen accurate, they are an amalgamation of the different iterations that have been around for the last 30 or 40 years, and that’s one of the ways to make this a fun thing to do.
RS: Do you have more freedom with JOE than with other brands at Hasbro, perhaps to do things that’s are a bit out of left field?
EB: At Hasbro we have licensed brands such as Marvel, Star Wars etc. We then then have brands which we own and operate, such as GI JOE and Transformers. With Transformers there is so much entertainment that comes out and that we have to represent, but with GI JOE we get a lot more freedom to design the figures how we want and to say that we like different elements from Sunbow, from the Marvel comics, or from other different iterations, and combine them. We are in the process of working out the percentages of what can be kept retro for people to be happy, and then what needs to be upgraded to a modern interpretation so that it feels like a modern toy line while still having call backs to it roots. Those interpretations have been really helpful to us, as it allowed fans to say, for example, that the original Gung Ho camo pattern wasn’t working for them, so it allowed us to say that main line would become more of a modern era look, while the retro card back line would have more of an 80s accurate vibe. That has offered a nice distinction for us and has allowed Lenny to push the modern look a little bit further that he might have originally.
RS: One thing that interested me was the move away from the sci-fi orientated approach of the original releases from the Classified line and more towards a modern era look and feel. Can you talk to that? EB: It was an evolution of the brand. When you bring something back you never quite know where it’s going to go. Based on feedback the fans were excited, but it was a bit too much of a swing. Of the looks we had, we had retro, modern, and future, fans wanted us to pull things back from future to the retro and modern eras. Over the course of the line it’s all an evolution and it will continue to evolve and to be exciting. RS: We know the GI JOE comic book is no longer with IDW and there are plenty of rumours about where the comic might end up, with one being Robert Kirkman’s ‘Skybound’ entertainment at Image Comics, the home of The Walking Dead. Can you tell us whether a change of comic publisher might influence anything to do with the toy line?
EB: Hasbro PR Says I can’t comment, but I would be really excited to do that. We haven’t been part of those conversations, but I think that with any new iterations of things there is amazing potential.
RS: Let’s talk about the HISS Tank. I got the impression that the success of the project that the was a to everyone, not least Hasbro?
EB: We knew that the Haslab HISS Tank was going to do well and that it was the right choice to start Classified in Haslab, we knew that people would love it. What we didn’t anticipate was that it would be the fasted Haslab project ever, funding in 8 hours and 41 minutes. That caught us all off guard, especially as it was a different kind of offering for JOE fans. We knew there was an interest in vehicles but we didn’t know how far to push it, for example would the electronics or the characters be too much? We didn’t know how people feel about the offering in general. What we found was everybody really liked it and It’s been so nice to work on the project, and especially to have the fan sentiment. With the Haslab Skystriker we were getting feedback from fans saying ‘I don’t need this, I already have the one from 1983, and I have the figures. I am backing the Skystriker to show Hasbro that there is interest in GI JOE, we want you to evolve the brand, and that the thinking is that if I back the Skystriker it will get me a Classified Series Haslab in the future’. That worked and upper Hasbro saw that the Skystriker campaign did great, so let’s run another one for Classified. It’s an honour to have the fasting funding Haslab in GI JOE, especially given how many amazing Haslabs there have been, and how wonderfully they have been run.
RS: Does this mean we might see more Classified Haslab projects down the line?
EB: I feel that there is a relatively strong degree of confidence about that.
Again, huge thanks to Russ for giving me the privilege of posting this fantastic interview. An equally big thanks to Emily for her time and the honest transparency of her responses– always great to hear directly from the Hasbro team! Check out the gallery below of some of the images captured from the convention floor and of the panel recap itself.
I must say when I received this shipping notice last week it was the most pleasant of surprises! Seems like more often than not, the one place I pre-order from is typically the last place that actually sees stock arrive, but in this case, I guess I chose right!
Big Bad Toy Store came through with the early drop and I couldn’t be happier. Seems only appropriate I received them just as I was getting ready to write a review of Tomax and Xamot.
I will admit, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle this review at first, not wanting to be too repetitive as I ran down the pluses and minuses of each figure. So instead, I combined them into a single review, trying to showcase the various similarities, differences and the value of buying the twins in two separate packages versus a single two-pack.
Now, for as much as I generally push back against the strict adherence to vintage look and feel, I will admit — I got a little giddy having these figures in hand, what with the twins being some of my favorite characters and figures within the Real American Hero mythology.
Seems these days it’s almost impossible to tell what the release cadence of G.I. Joe: Classified figures are. While Stalker and the Crimson Twins aren’t due for domestic release for some time yet, I was able to get a hook up from a friend who got their hands on them early, then promptly canceled my outstanding pre-orders. The global supply chain has thrown things in a bit of an upheaval, but in spite of that I’ve seen a relatively consistent stream of Classified releases in 2022, especially over the past month or two.
By all accounts, things are just going to pick up, so hopefully you’re all glued to Hasbro PulseCon in October to see what the fine folks with the G.I. Joe team have up their sleeves.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at the simple, yet spectacular Stalker from the ninth wave (at least I think it’s the ninth wave) of G.I. Joe: Classified. Check out the review at the G.I. Joe: Classified Review Page or linked directly below.
Something a little different to tackle today. Along with a recent influx in G.I. Joe: Classified figures, I also received my SDCC Exclusive G.I. Joe: Ultimates B.A.T. from Super 7. I will admit, I mostly bought it out of a sense of curiosity about what to expect from the upcoming Ultimates line and I’ll admit up front — I’m a little mixed.
The aesthetic is great, there’s a ton of fantastic accessories, but a couple of minor points that keep it from reaching an upper echelon status.
Check out my full review at the link below and depending on how things go, I may or may not regularly review these figures.
It’s been a great couple of weeks here at the GeneralsJoes HQ with several new G.I. Joe figures either received or on the way. As a result, I’ll be posting reviews every single day this week!
We’re starting off the weeklong event with the SDCC/Hasbro Pulse exclusive Dr. Mindbender. A great, deluxe figure with somewhat limited availability, I was able to get my hands on one early, thanks to the fine folks at Robot Kingdom. I try not to overpay just to get stuff early too often, but every once in a while the bug bites me.
I absolutely love the fact that we got Tiger Force Outback before we got our standard deco Outback, both because it’s such a fun international variant, and it proves that nothing is really off the table when it comes to figures Hasbro might consider revisiting for the Classified line.
I’m really digging the fact that they’re focusing so strongly on Tiger Force and Python Patrol as this Target exclusive run– it makes a lot of sense. Folks who don’t care so much about repaints don’t have to track them down, and it allows Hasbro to re-invest tooling dollars in figure variations that make a lot of sense.
I will say, however, folks who are waiting for the standard deco of Outback are doing themselves a disservice– this figure is amazing. Check out my G.I. Joe: Classified Review page or access the review directly at the link below:
So I hesitate to call this a review, even though it kinda/sorta is a review. Recently I got my hands on the first four G.I. Joe: Classified Retro figures released as Wal-Mart exclusives. Beyond the mangled card backs, the figures have their own pluses and minuses, some, obviously with more pluses than others.
So while I didn’t do a full-blown review breakdown of each figure, I did post a single look at the four different figures, outlining their good points and bad points with a ton of images.
Although SDCC itself has been somewhat limited in recent years due to the COVID pandemic, it seems like an even longer time since ComicCon held any news of interest for G.I. Joe fans. Well, as the HasLab HISS Tank has dominated the news cycle and G.I. Joe: Classified continues to take the collecting world by storm, I suppose we should have known that would change in 2022.
But even if some of us suspected there’d be nuggets of news from San Diego, I’m not sure any of us were prepared for the sheer number of reveals of figures both in the design pipeline and nearing completion. The initial star of the show was, without a doubt, the HasLab HISS Tank, with a painted model front and center in the Hasbro G.I. Joe booth, drawing ooh’s and aah’s from several attendees.
As always, I have to give huge props to my buddy Chris at The Full Force who was right on top of every single nugget of news all weekend long. If you’re not following him on Facebook or YouTube, you’re missing out.
Most of the images you’ll see here come courtesy of HISSTank.com/ToyArk/TFW2005 who was there in force and took some of the best pictures of the show!
Emily and Lenny explained during the Hasbro panel that while the HISS Tank is not going to come with any blast effects, there will be blast effects elsewhere in the line and they will be 100% compatible with the tank.
As it stands, the HISSTank has well exceeded it’s funding goal and has moved past every stretch goal as well, surging toward a strong finish.
Along with a demo of the HISS Tank, Hasbro also announced two exciting pre-orders in the first days of SDCC. Dr. Mindbender and Sgt. Slaughter! While Sarge was available as a “fan channel” exclusive, meaning you could buy him online anywhere, Mindbender was a combined Hasbro Pulse/SDCC exclusive. Each morning, a limited allotment went up for pre-order. If you were at the show, you could grab a QR Code and use it to purchase the figure while a small amount of them were available for direct pre-order.
While this was all really exciting news, the fun stuff would happen on July 23rd, during the G.I. Joe panel. Anyone who has watched any of the Hasbro Pulse online events knows both Emily and Lenny, and as we’ve all come to expect, they brought some real energy to the gathering and revealed some fantastic stuff.
First, they started with a pair of “name only” reveals — Low Light and a COBRA Tele-Viper and Flight Pod. One would imagine that Low Light would be a close approximation of the ’86 version and will likely come with a sniper rifle. It would be really cool if, like the Pursuit of COBRA version, there was a case to go with it and the rifle could be disassembled to fit inside. I suppose time will tell.
After the name only reveals, Hasbro dropped the news about two more additions to their “Retro” series of Classified figures — Crimson Guard and Snake Eyes!
The Crimson Guard appears to have a brighter base red color and a more metallic looking face mask, and considering he’s an army builder, I think his addition really makes sense. As for Snake Eyes — well, he has a totally newly tooled head sculpt and a much more v1 accurate body design, so man– that one will also be very tough to turn away from!! Considering the current rumor is that Hasbro may finish the Retro line after these last two figures they went out on a high note!
Next, and perhaps the star of the show– Hasbro revealed the worst kept secret in G.I. Joe: Classified… the COBRA Emperor – SERPENTOR.
Thanks to some easter eggs on Mindbender’s art and some offhand comments from the design team during a few of the Pulse events, most fans knew this guy was coming– but it was a whole different thing seeing him in the “flesh” (or plastic, as the case may be). They revealed him during the panel, then had a test shot version of the figure (with his Air Chariot!) out on display.
It should be noted that Serpentor comes with two various hoods to mix and match for your favorite look.
Typically, during the Pulse online events, they’ll give us “pipeline” updates which reveals certain characters that are in the design stages, but not quite ready to show. Well, during the panel, they revealed a first look at digital sculpts for several of these figures, including Shipwreck, Torpedo, Rock n Roll and Copperhead! It should be noted these are very early images, but a fantastic look at some of the digital sculpts.
Of course, this wasn’t all of the G.I. Joe related news — there was Super 7’s excellent COBRA recruitment center and their pop-up store as well as the reveal of some great looking glow in the dark figures and the Marvel G.I. Joe #44 themed COBRA B.A.T. exclusive. Not to mention their display of G.I. Joe Ultimates wave 1, which is due to ship soon. SO MUCH G.I. Joe to soak in– it’s just incredible. As if all of this wasn’t enough — Mezco also revealed their upcoming Roadblock from their G.I. Joe licensed 1:12 line!
I have to say, it was almost overwhelming to see all of the news breaking loose over the weekend. I think we’d all assumed that a 6″ G.I. Joe line would do pretty well with collectors, but to see the absolute fever which has gripped G.I. Joe: Classified– it’s so fantastic to see.
The highlight of the weekend for me was probably the announcement of Low Light, even though we haven’t seen anything yet, just because he’s one of my all time favorite characters and I think is one of those figures that is ripe for a 6″ aesthetic overhaul. Even if Hasbro leans heavy on vintage (as we all know they will) there is still potential for some amazing things out of Low Light.
I really loved the Torpedo reveal as well — though seeing all the gear he comes with, I have no doubt he’ll be a “deluxe” figure at a higher price point, but likely worth every penny. He seems to be a great blend of vintage and modern, especially with the land-based SMG he comes packaged with. Rock n Roll is another fantastic addition, though I’ll admit, I was hoping he might come with a more current heavy machine gun instead of the old school M60. Though I’m certainly not a weapons aficionado, maybe that is a more current weapon that just resembles the old school classic. Someone educate me!
As for Serpentor — man he looks INSANE. I think I prefer the alternate hood to the vintage version, but the cape texture, the sculpted scales on the uniform and the sheer size of that air chariot– I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one– though I haven’t quite figured out how and where I’ll display him. Between the air chariot, the HISS Tank and the upcoming Flight Pod(s)– my shelves are gonna be in trouble.
All in all, it was a great weekend. Huge thanks to the “boots on the ground” folks who kept those images coming– big thanks to Chris at The Full Force for the constant stream of updates. And of course, Emily, Lenny and the whole Hasbro crew for bringing some great stuff to share with a wider audience in San Diego. Feels like we’re in the middle of a wild ride, and take it from me — you don’t want to take this for granted!! Enjoy it! Soak it in! Things are good in G.I. Joe land.