And that’s a wrap. It always feels like the annual convention reviews are a sprint, with coordinating all of the images, the Photoshopping, the organizing and the page layouts, and then by the time the whirlwind week is over, there’s a feeling of some sort of satisfaction.
I have to be honest, though, I didn’t feel a whole lot of satisfaction with this one. Ultimately, most of the figures and vehicles felt underserved and overpriced, which is unfortunate.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the Collectors Club is able to put together these figures for a fanbase that has no other outlet currently, but in looking back even to just 2015 the blatant and obvious degradation of quality is a shame. There were some highlights last year with Sky Patrol, several of them in fact, but this year everything felt pretty run-of-the-mill with very few exciting surprises. I felt there was a handful of serviceable figures that did the source material right, but there really was nothing that surprised, impressed, or blew me away. Perhaps I’m asking too much given the limited tooling supplies and resources available, but when the Club is asking nearly $1,000 for a set of exclusives, I gotta say, I expect more.
Anyway… the last three reviews can be viewed below:
In 1987 Maverick piloted the Vector, a brand new, pseudo-futuristic jet as an addition to the G.I. Joe air arsenal which was even featured a few times in the G.I. Joe comics. Fast forward several years and even though he’s dead, he gets an upgrade to a new variation of the Conquest, this time marked the X-36 instead of the typical X-30 moniker.
Fans got pretty excited when they saw the artwork for this potential upgraded plane in the convention comic with the wing format looking remarkably like the COBRA Hurricane. But alas, when the actual physical items were revealed, it was a Conquest repaint, a new deco for the newly molded 25th Anniversary Conquest.
The new version of the Conquest originally released several years ago was a marketable improvement over the ’86 original. The fins stayed in far better as well as the missiles, though beyond those structural improvements, the plane looked much the same. This one does as well. The swept wing design of the Conquest looks nicely futuristic, although the shape of the plane is so iconic for G.I. Joe that it’s tough to see it as anything other than a Conquest with a different paint scheme.
That being said they did a decent job mirroring the paint scheme of the Vector, and it matches Maverick pretty well, too. I like the fact that the decal work is all applied with paint apps rather than actual stickers. The vehicle is a pretty fun addition to the growing convention air force and makes for a neat foil for the Sky Serpent. I’m not sure it’s worth the cost that it requires to acquire one, but on its own merits it works.
G.I. Joe Conquest X-36
The familiar design of the Conquest with a pretty nice updated Vector-specific paint scheme gives us a BattleForce: 2000 aircraft that works relatively well. The clean white with blue trim is a nice combination and it’s an appealing looking vehicle, though a bit of a tough sell at convention exclusive prices.
The Collectors Club seems to have a thing for jet packs, huh? Last year they released two 5-Packs of JUMP repaints, and then this year, the B.A.T.s have their own “rocket packs” they can use to launch airborne salvos at their BattleForce: 2000 enemies.
This rocket pack is the retooled version that we got as part of the Rise of COBRA line as a Target exclusive several years back, and I have to admit I don’t truly understand the idea behind this particular vehicle. G.I. Joe released small form factor “jet packs” in 1982 in the form of the JUMP, so I’m a bit curious why five years later in 1987 the jet pack was somehow larger and more cumbersome than it was in ’82. Heck the ’87 jet pack even looked more clumsy than the Claw which was mostly the same exact thing a few years earlier.
I’ve never been a big fan of the design of this particular rocket pack, it’s basically a large square thing with teeny wings and four top-mounted cannons which isn’t all that streamlined or aerodynamic.
In the capacity of this convention set, though, it’s actually not too bad. I could see COBRA strapping B.A.T.s to this massive, fuel-loaded rocket pack and just basically throwing them headlong into G.I. Joe enemies with no concern for their well-being.
The color scheme works as well, being mostly black with the right hints of orange and green to match the aesthetic of the B.A.T.s within this convention set. I do like the colors, and I get the idea, but this doesn’t feel like an item that’s a critical piece of the set.
COBRA B.A.T. Rocket Packs
It always struck me as odd that we got some really small, streamlined jetpacks in 1982/83 when the Real American Hero line first launched, then four years later we got these that appeared to be a step backwards in streamlined engineering. I’ve never really loved the ’87 jet pack, though it actually works a bit better for a fully-encased B.A.T. autonomous drone/weapon type of system than its original purpose. Design wise its boxy and clunky, but there’s some fun to be had and I like how they matched up the colors.
Back in 1987 the BattleForce: 2000 subline wasn’t just about figures, but was also about vehicles. The whole “Future Fortress” concept has never been a big focus of fan attention (and honestly, it probably doesn’t deserve to be) but BattleForce: 2000 was very much about their vehicles as well as the characters themselves.
For that reason it was pretty critical that vehicles play a role in the convention set, and the Club accomplished that by releasing a 2-pack of Polar Battle Bear snowmobiles repainted in the old Marauder colors and calling them “Marauder Snowmobiles”.
Not sure how I feel about this whole thing.
First and foremost, there really is nothing about the Polar Battle Bear that looks “futuristic”. It was first released in 1983 and although this version is the updated modern era retooling, it still maintains the same dated look and feel. The Marauder was originally Dodger’s vehicle, and was actually a pretty neat two-part motorcycle/tank with some interesting playability. None of that playability really exists in this modern interpretation. The color scheme is nicely applied and does look reminiscent of the older Marauder vehicle but the base vehicle here is very vanilla and doesn’t at all bring up a feeling of state-of-the-art future warfare.
I’m also not entirely sure why the Club felt it necessary to package two of them together at a steep price. Ultimately I see very little redeeming qualities with this particular choice of vehicles, much less two of them and it kind of feels like they were tossed in there because we’re swiftly running out of ideas and tooling to work with.
The Polar Battle Bear isn’t all that exciting or interesting and doesn’t feel like the right vehicle for BattleForce: 2000. I get what they were going for and this was probably about as good as they could do with the limited tooling available, but it still doesn’t work all that well.
Now this was a very pleasant surprise. As one of the biggest G.I. Joe: Renegades fans on the planet, I long for more opportunities for Renegades toys of any kind and the Black Dragon helicopter was one of my favorite vehicles in recent years. Yes, compared to how it was utilized on the show it was far too small, but it was sleek, had an awesome design, and some pretty fun play features at that.
This version of the Black Dragon is colored in a lighter COBRA blue and red and named the Sky Serpent. It’s not often we get truly new concepts as convention vehicles, and I’m glad to see this one, it’s a great looking aircraft and it looks pretty awesome in blue.
Like the original, the Sky Serpent has great swing-back wings with rotating VTOL rotors, an opening canopy and a button mechanism that opens bomb bays on the bottom and drops bombs. The play features aren’t super advanced, but they are fun. While many folks complain about the size of the vehicle as well, I actually enjoy it as it makes it easier to handle and fly around one-handed. It’s a solidly built vehicle with a fantastic design aesthetic and great looking paint applications. I really like it, and I like that the Club has at least somewhat developed a battle foil for the Conquest. I can see the Conquest and the Sky Serpent in a pitched dogfight (although the lack of air-to-air missiles might hurt the Sky Serpent’s chances a little).
Laser Viper Officer
This one was another surprise from the Convention. Not based on any real pre-existing character (though the color scheme seems somewhat Shadow-Viper like from the 2002 Real American Hero Collection) the Laser Viper Officer was released as a pseudo pilot for the Sky Serpent, and honestly he is an amazing looking figure.
The great Laser Viper parts build combined with this really cool dark blue and red paint scheme gives us an excellent addition to the COBRA roster, and a nice new commander for the Laser Viper corps. I’m a bit conflicted as I would have loved to have seen some inspiration from the 2001 Laser Viper (based on the 1991 Sci-Fi) though taking some of the aesthetics from the Shadow Viper makes a certain amount of sense as well, I suppose, even if the Shadow Viper was an Astro Viper, not a Laser Viper.
How many times can I type the word “Viper” in this review?
At any rate, while this figure isn’t one I would have expected, I find myself really enjoying the build and colors. His crazy laser gun (from the Rise of COBRA Sgt. Flash figure, I believe) is neat as well.
As mentioned, this figure comes with a removable helmet and huge laser gun, as well as technically coming with the Sky Serpent as well. Not a ton of accessories, but pretty good ones nonetheless.
I’m leery about buying vehicles these days, mostly because I don’t really have the space for them, but the Sky Serpent is a pretty awesome little COBRA aircraft, and the Laser Viper Officer is one heck of a cool looking pilot to boot. Greatly overshadowed by most of the BattleForce: 2000 elements, this little cadre of Laser Vipers has been a real pleasure to check out in hand and I think will end up commanding some serious interest down the road.
Sky Serpent w/ Laser Viper Officer
Vehicle Paint Deco
Vehicle Play Features
Figure Paint Deco
A great updated Black Dragon with a rocking new paint scheme and a new COBRA field commander both mix together to give us a pretty neat addition to the 2017 G.I. Joe Convention set. These vehicles aren’t cheap, but in this case, it’s a fun looking piece with a great looking pilot and may be worth trying to track down.