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G.I. Joe Fan Roundtable Recap

It seems like lately my life has not allowed me the time to participate as heavily in the G.I. Joe community as I’d like. It’s been a long time since I could help out with the Full Force podcast (sorry, Chris and Pat!) and even longer since I produced regular content for GeneralsJoes.

For that reason I was pretty ecstatic that I actually had some free time that coincided with a Hasbro G.I. Joe Fan Roundtable and was able to dial in. As always, Emily, Lenny, Dustin and the others were incredibly gracious and accommodating to our litany of questions, most of which seemed to revolve around the HasLab HISS Tank (for good reason).

If you want to watch the video of the Roundtable in its entirety, Chris from The Full Force Podcast has it on his YouTube channel. I’ve also broken down some of the highlights below.

We started the conversation with Chris asking about the lack of a developmental update from the last live stream, in which Emily and Lenny typically reveal the names of a couple characters in the development pipeline. After some back and forth, Lenny revealed those two names: Ripper and Firefly!

In my mind, the inclusion of Firefly represents the Hasbro design team’s focus on vintage inspiration, as the COBRA Island Firefly was a pretty significant modern overhaul (and was somewhat limited by Target exclusivity). For the record, I did ask if Firefly would be neon green and was gently told no, though they were sure to elaborate saying that “nothing is off the table” and actually specifically identified Battle Corps Beachhead as a personal favorite. Never say never! To see my thoughts on the COBRA Island Firefly, check out my review!

Many of the questions throughout the conversations orbited around the hugely successful HISS Tank HasLab, talking about how HasLab has its own dedicated team, separate from the design team which makes things a bit more efficient (though Lenny did do the design work on the HISS Driver). From a design perspective they focused a lot of attention on the “real world aspect” of the vehicle, adding small details like the side mounted ladders and additional “greeble” to fill in some of the empty spaces. There was confirmation that (at this point anyway) there are no plans for tiers above the fourth stretch goal, though obviously the speed and level of funding might alter those plans. They also designed the HISS around a larger base figure to ensure that the vast majority of figures could fit. Lenny indicated that Roadblock, Gung Ho, figures of that sized “buck” should be able to fit, and that the HISS Driver was also one of those somewhat larger base figures. Speaking of size, Emily was sure to share a comparison photo–

Another interesting point of the conversation was the delicate balance between product and cost, finding the right middle ground where collectors feel like they’re getting a premium product while it still being at least moderately affordable. They also kept troop builders in mind, though admitted doing so might be cost prohibitive for some. It was interesting to hear also that their first iteration of the HISS was too elaborate and expensive to consider as the final product.

They were also quick to point out that it’s not just about price, but also about providing something that can comfortably exist in our homes. Emily jokingly made reference to a USS Flagg saying that it would be close to 20 feet long and 5 feet high which simply isn’t a realistic expectation for people own and display.

Lenny also mentioned that they’re not really focused on “budget items” they would rather build something right for a little extra money than push through substandard product just to meet a price point. G.I. Joe has always focused it’s attention on quality and ingenuity and Classified is taking up that mantle.

One thing that I specifically wanted to ask unrelated to the HasLab was about the Classified aesthetic and how it’s shifted since it’s inception from a more modern tech-based look to something more beholden to the vintage designs. Lenny confirmed that this was a conscious choice and while at first he indicated it was more related to the arrival of the 40th Anniversary of A Real American Hero in 2022, he did admit that we should be expecting a similar approach going forward. With each figure they plan on looking at their designs and making subtle modern updates where it makes sense, but by and large the beginning template will reflect a vintage inspiration. While I understand this approach and it seems to be working for them, I’ll be whining until I get my GIJoe.Com Storm Shadow I’ve been dying for since the line started.

I also prodded them a bit about an ongoing “narrative” for G.I. Joe: Classified and was told that’s not really in the works at the moment beyond some snippets on packaging as well as the diorama photos that they use to promote each release. Those are the only current plans for story elements based on this new Classified universe, which isn’t necessarily a surprise, though as a writer myself, story is very important to me so this was at least a bit disappointing to hear.

Last but not least there was (obviously) some conversations around the release cadence of figures this year and the fact that there was this huge gap in US distribution. Emily confirmed that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, though there are still pretty significant supply chain challenges. While she wasn’t sure if anything would get back to “normal” any time soon (what the heck is normal?) she did specify that going forward, we should not anticipate the large, six month gap we saw in 2022 from a release perspective. Already figures that were supposed to hit in April are slated to hit in the next few months and if anyone is like me, they just got a barrage of email notifications this past week about Spirit, Storm Shadow, Croc Master and COBRA Officer.

Now– about those Target exclusive Tiger Force and Python Patrol figures…

Once again, I want to give Emily, Lenny, Dustin and the whole Hasbro team a huge thanks for including myself and a plethora of other fans to participate in this roundtable. It’s been a while since I’ve been on one, but it was great to get a chance to participate again and to feel the emotion in the virtual room in the wake of the HasLab success and being on the precipice of a G.I. Joe: Classified resurgence! Yo Joe!

G.I. Joe on track to reclaim its glory

G.I. Joe on track to reclaim its glory

I’ve been a G.I. Joe fan for a very long time– in fact I’ve been a fan since day one of the Real American Hero brand launch four decades ago this year. And when I’m not reflecting on how damn old I am, I’m thinking about the ebbs and flows G.I. Joe has gone through within those forty years and I can’t help but think we may be on the cusp of the next thrilling resurgence of our favorite modern military army man.

Ignoring the fact that the latest mass media launch was a mixed bag, everything surrounding G.I. Joe from a collector perspective appears to be coming up Millhouse. The launch of G.I. Joe: Classified, by all accounts, has drawn the attention of an entirely new generation of fans, who grew up or matured alongside Marvel Legends and have an affinity for the 6″ scale. In spite of some rampant distribution and supply chain issues, I see far more excitement throughout social media for G.I. Joe at large than I’ve seen in a very long time, most of it centered around a renewed focus on classic aesthetics for the latest six inch figures.

While there are times I’d prefer to see something new and different, it’s tough to argue with a successful formula and based on collector reaction to each and every announcement, I’d say the Hasbro design team has their finger on the pulse of what the collectors want.

That’s not to say things are perfect– the constant stream of supply chain and logistical issues has impacted release schedules and has forced Hasbro into a slightly different mechanism for character reveals and announcements. Mixing in some digital renders alongside actual product shots and pre-orders has gone a long way toward increasing the frequency of fan interactions and keeping engagement going, even with dramatic, extended lull between product releases. We can only hope things get better as time goes on, though there seems to be little concrete evidence that things will actually improve any time soon.

In the midst of all this resurgence in G.I. Joe attention, we have the latest HasLab product– a G.I. Joe: Classified COBRA HISS, which looks at the classic, venerable COBRA vehicle and reimagines it at the Classified six inch scale. The cat was released from the bag on this one a little early, and I’ll admit, I was a bit concerned that perhaps that might deflate the balloon a little bit. As it turned out, my fears were wholly invalid because not only did the G.I. Joe: Classified HISS sprint out of the gate, and not only did it fund in less than twelve hours, but it was the fastest HasLab project to reach its funding goal ever.

By all accounts, even this early in the process, the G.I. Joe: Classified HISS has to be considered a resounding success and that success may, quite possibly, set a standard for future G.I. Joe items, both at retail and through the HasLab crowd funding system.

Although I’ve been a fan of the brand for forty years, it’s tough to argue that throughout a lot of that time, G.I. Joe played a bit of a second fiddle to its compatriots like Star Wars and Marvel Legends. But it seems like, with each passing moment, thanks in part to G.I. Joe: Classified, the brand is once again establishing itself as a cornerstone of the collector market and is poised to reignite fan fever not just now, but in the years to come.

I am one hundred percent here for it.

Check out the G.I. Joe: Classified COBRA HISS HasLab Project Here

Hasbro PulseCon 2021 is HERE!

Hasbro PulseCon 2021 is HERE!

Yes, I know technically it started yesterday, but as G.I. Joe fans we all know the good stuff is coming today! At 11:00am eastern this morning, you’re going to want to scream over to the Hasbro PulseCon page and check out the livestream– who knows you might even see some familiar faces.

Just this past week, I actually received a fantastic surprise in the mail as Hasbro sent along a great PulseCon fan package, which was, no doubt, the absolute highlight of my week! Any time I get toys in the mail I’m happy– but FREE toys? Dopamine-city…

Yeah… fan-freaking-tastic!

This box was chock-full of all sorts of fantastic Hasbro goodies– from Star Wars to Marvel Legends to Ghostbusters and Power Rangers– it was a great reminder of just how many fun collector-geared toy lines Hasbro is working on right now. I gotta tell you, the new Fortnite stuff looks really, really fun!

Of course, there were a couple of highlights in this box… first, as a huge Beast Wars fan, getting the PulseCon exclusive Ravage absolutely blew my mind! This is a figure I’ve been waiting for for nearly 25 years. I still remember watching this sequence on television when it first aired, my mouth hanging open as I realized Beast Wars actually took place in the G1 continuity… mind– blown.

But I think we all know what I was REALLY waiting for in this box– I wasn’t sure he’d be in there, but imagine how ecstatic I was to see him. That’s right — Master of Disguise ZARTAN.

Based on the spectacular Classified Zartan tooling, the Master of Disguise version is like Zartan on steroids. Spare Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow heads, plus masks for Gung Ho, Soft Master, Hard Master and a fun Skull– very, very cool. But of course, I think we’ll agree the neatest touch is the actual COLOR CHANGE SKIN. This requires exposure to cold temperatures to work instead of sunlight, but the effect is the same. Purely awesome.

The packaging is amazing as well.

Once again, I cannot thank Hasbro enough for this amazing gift box. As I write this, we are in countdown mode, with a little more than an hour left until the G.I. Joe stream on PulseCon 2021— I hope I’ll see you there!
GeneralsJoes Reviews Snake Eyes (G.I. Joe: Origins) Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow!

GeneralsJoes Reviews Snake Eyes (G.I. Joe: Origins) Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow!

It seems only appropriate that on a week where we saw the release of two new trailers and a behind-the-scenes featurette that I’d also get my hands on two G.I. Joe: Classified figures straight from the Snake Eyes movie!

I know fandom opinions are a bit mixed on the movie aesthetic, check out my G.I. Joe: Classified Review page to see my thoughts on Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from the Snake Eyes (G.I. Joe: Origins) movie!

I know folks have been waiting on a few other reviews, too… I should have more coming of Flint, Lady Jaye, Major Bludd and my first ever review of G.I. Joe Retro figures! Keep posted!

Hasbro Fan Fest April 9th, 2021 – Are you ready?

First and foremost, it’s always a great day when you get a free package from Hasbro in the mail. Huge thanks to the folks at Hasbro for sending along this great gift box of free product!

As awesome as this stuff is, though, to me, the best gift of all is going to be seeing what Hasbro has to share April 9th. They’ve promised that Snake Eyes himself, Henry Golding will be in the house to share some exciting news about the Snake Eyes film, and we’re more or less guaranteed to get our first look at Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins movie figures!

Recently it’s also been revealed that Major Bludd, one of the most anticipated figures in the Classified line, may be revealed this week as well, but will likely be revealed as a Target: COBRA Island exclusive.

I will, of course, be celebrating Fan Fest with my good friends at The Full Force Podcast, so make sure you’re following them over on Facebook and subscribing to their YouTube channel to get our opinion on the sure-to-be-exciting reveals to come.

Meanwhile, check out some of the really fun contents of this awesome Gift Box.

Thanks, Hasbro, now I’ve fallen in love with Power Rangers Lightning and Star Wars Black Mandalorian figures. You get me. You really get me.

Star Wars Black Bo Katan

Yes this figure is just as amazing as Katie Sackhoff herself. Two pistols, removable helmet (with flip-down scope!) and a removable jetpack… SOLD.

Marvel Legends House of M Cyclops

Love the vintage feel of this Cyclops and the energy beam? Chef’s kiss.

Power Rangers Lightning Dino Thunder Blue Ranger

I have never ever in my life cared about Power Rangers until this very moment. I was absolutely shocked at just how damn fun this figure is. The accessories are great, articulation is spectacular. I don’t have a clue what Dino Thunder is, but I’m for it!

Transformers: Kingdom Paleotrex

I’ll admit– while I’ve dug deep into Kingdom figures mostly out of a love for Beast Wars, I hadn’t sampled this one yet. It’s really neat! The transformation gimmick involves taking the dang thing apart and putting it back together– differently. I really dig how the dinosaur ends up strangely larger than the robot. What kind of sorcery is this?

G.I. Joe: Classified Zartan

What else do I need to say that I didn’t already say in my review. BEST CLASSIFIED FIGURE EVER.

At least until Major Bludd comes out.

G.I. Joe: Classified Review Page Updates

G.I. Joe: Classified Review Page Updates

For folks who have been following along on my social media pages, you know that I’ve been working my way through the Classified review backlog a bit. I’m happy to say I’m (more or less) caught up. No I haven’t reviewed Profit Director Destro, Arctic Storm Shadow or Snake Supreme COBRA Commander yet, but I’m not sure I’ll get those done or not. I love ’em, just– gotta prioritize, you know?

At this point, I’ve added Zartan, COBRA Infantry, Firefly and COBRA Viper to the G.I. Joe: Classified Review Page. If you haven’t checked them yet, now’s your chance!