I will admit it up front – I enjoy the seminars and panels, but they’re not necessarily always my priority. There are so many friends to catch up with and so many things to do, that sometimes panel attendance is sacrificed to make room for other things.
This year, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club (and, more importantly – the fans) really pulled out all the stops to put together some amazing panels, many of which made the trip worthwhile.
I’ll say this up front – if you didn’t make it to JoeCon, do not despair! The Full Force has the hook up for pretty much every single panel that happened at JoeCon. Hit up The Full Force Facebook Page to check them all out. The YoJoe.com Facebook page also has the majority of the panels available for viewing as well.
On Friday there were a number of panels, and Phil over at YoJoe did an AMAZING job chronicling them with images over on the YoJoe Facebook Page. Definitely go check that out.
Panels on Friday included ’95 and Beyond, which gave us a really fantastic look at what was planned for G.I. Joe’s future after its demise in 1994. We got some great perspective on art and concepts from Battle Corps Rangers, Star Brigade, Manimals, X-Soldiers and more, and as a huge fan of the 90’s, I was eating this up. Perhaps the best perspective came from Kirk Bozigian, who advised that their strategy in the 90’s was to combat any potential competition. They truly saw G.I. Joe as an “umbrella brand” of sorts, which could do battle with any other action figures on the shelves, whether it was Star Wars, Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
We also got a great look at the history of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Comic with a look back at the ongoing storyline from its start, all the way up through present day. While I was a little put off that the Club neglected to mention the three-year Dio-Story that I wrote which appeared in the newsletter as a precursor to the actual comics, what the presentation contained was very informative and it was really interesting to see the way the comic evolved over the years.
Saturday is always full of panel-related excitement and this year was no different. By far the highlight of the Saturday line up was Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe’s first Micro Movie, which was simply amazing. Never before seen behind the scenes footage of the 90s commercials with captivating perspective from Kirk Bozigian and flawless presentation by Carson from 3DJoes. I will remember this panel for a very, very long time. Thankfully Carson also posted it up on his 3DJoes YouTube Page.
This panel was simply amazing. Every single minute was filled with joyous nostalgia and some awesome nuggets of information (when Kirk was brought back to the Joe line in the late 80’s it was because Hasbro was concerned that sales of Real American Hero had dropped to EIGHTY-NINE MILLION DOLLARS). Yes, DROPPED to 89 million. Kirk was able, with the help of these landmark live action commercials, bring sales back up closer to 120 million dollars, numbers that are, frankly, staggering to me considering the landscape of today’s action figure world.
Seeing Wren Roberts and all of the other live action contributors jumping around through awesome sets, riding shotgun on a life sized Battle Wagon, with COBRA Commander screeching into the camera while squeezing slime was just way too cool, and I can’t give Carson and Kirk enough props for bringing that to the masses. Pure gold.
Saturday was also filled with panels about the Adventure Team, Classic Collection 12″ figures as well as some terrific insider knowledge on vehicle prototyping and design work. In the afternoon, I also joined Bill, Don, Jim and Derryl in the Kindle Worlds panel, talking about being a G.I. Joe author and how that has changed my life, allowing me to dovetail my love for G.I. Joe with being an independent author and creator.
Day two of JoeCon was a whirlwind as it always is, running from one event to another, trying to consume as much raw energy as possible, and this year really did not disappoint in that regard.
The third day of JoeCon in any given year is like day two, only with two less hours to cram it all in. Again, this year was the same deal. There were a handful of great panels to round off the final convention, including IDW artist extraordinaire Adam Riches talking about his artistic endeavors, and WOJM co-host (and cosplay wizard) Joe Colton talking about the beauty of G.I. Joe cosplay. There was also a 12″ oriented panel and of course… the already infamous “Last Panel”.
The last panel. Saved for the end of the final day of JoeCon, Brian, Dave and Lanny hosted one final panel that was a mixture of everything. They launched the panel by announcing some new figures they hope to release before the end of the year (you can see my recap of that information here) which elicited a terrific response from a certain British person in attendance. Plus – TIGER FORCE HIT & RUN. BOOSH.
But perhaps the most impactful moment of the entire weekend came in that final hour when Brian went through a presentation of every single JoeCon from start to finish, showing cascading images of attendees, which brought back some really terrific memories. He also brought up some long time attendees to speak to the crowd, which included two of my co-hosts from What’s on Joe Mind, as well as folks from the 12″ and 4″ crowd.
It was an emotional moment for sure, an emotional moment that built upon a weekend full of them. You can check out the full video of the last panel at both The Full Force Facebook Page and YoJoe on Facebook (Part 01, Part 02, and Part 03) as well.
I’ll be honest – there have been times at JoeCon when the panels didn’t necessarily “wow” me. A lot of it is information I’ve heard before. But this year, the presenters really killed it and provided a wealth of terrific content that added both knowledge and emotion to the entire JoeCon experience.
I’ve been going to JoeCon for a long time. My first visit was in San Francisco in 2003, and I’ve been going, more or less, ever since (besides three or so shows that I missed along the way).
The panels and panelists all deserve a huge amount of credit for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to fans and provide information that isn’t always available elsewhere. Every once in a while, too, a panel appears at JoeCon that completely changes my perspective and entertains me in a way that I haven’t been entertained recently.
The Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe’s first Micro Movie was one of those panels. Carson from 3DJoes spent the entire panel with G.I. Joe marketing guru Kirk Bozigian, showcasing never before seen behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the 1990’s live action commercials, all interspersed with other information about the commercials, while making sure to show the actual commercials along the way as well. The result was a panel chock-full of laughs, cheers, and a real appreciation for the work that went into making G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero the landmark, retail-altering brand it was back in the 80’s (and 90’s).
There was fantastic insight from Kirk Bozigian himself, unbelievable behind the scenes footage, and so much great stuff along the way. I can’t give Carson enough props for what he worked hard to put together. This was one hell of a way to celebrate JoeCon’s last harrah, and I truly hope there’s more to come. Carson has put a terrific video up on YouTube. You need to stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now. It’s just incredible.
Never before has JoeCon weekend snuck up on me like it has this year. It seemed like one minute it was months away, then suddenly I’m packing for a whirlwind 2,000 mile round trip car ride to Chattanooga. Wow.
And yes, it’s true! JoeCon officially kicks off tomorrow when the Golden Ticket holders can first pick up their boxed sets and get their comics, which invariably have some neat-o clues inside about potential convention exclusives.
I’ll be driving the long haul tomorrow so I can’t promise I’ll have 100% up to the minute news, but if I’m stopped and I get the intel quick I will certainly relay it. Those dudes over at The Full Force will be ALL OVER IT I’m sure, too, so make sure you’re following their feed super close.
Meanwhile, if you’re attending JoeCon, snag me, stop me, say hi, I’ll be wandering around with a refreshed feeling of low stress enjoyment as I try to soak in every minute of this final convention without the typical rushing around of news reporting and exclusive hawking. Also be sure to swing by the Kindle Worlds panel at 2:00pm on Saturday to hear myself, Bill Nedrow, Jim Beard, and Don Maue talk about the crazy rock star lives of G.I. Joe authorhood. Good stuff.
This is always a fantastic, fun weekend, hopefully I’ll see some of you all there!
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.