Listen up, Maggots!

Ha, I made you think this post was going to be about The Sarge, didn’t I? Well, guess again. It’s more about the listening and less about the larva. In this post I’ll take a look at my favorite Joe related podcasts and the gear I use to listen to them.

Let’s start with the gear I use. I got an HP 840 G3 issued from my employer. It’s a compact, yet powerful laptop that serves me well. I work with large Excel files, datasets and accounting software. And I’m lucky that I can listen to music or podcasts during work. So all things considered, the little laptop packs some serious punch because it can multi-task really well.

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I work for a company that is a Certified Microsoft Partner, so I steer clear from iTunes. I’ve used it before, but since I got my Spotify account, I rarely listen to music via other media (cd, mp3,…). You could argue that Spotify now has support for podcasts as well, but I’ve been using Grover Podcast for over a year now and it’s a small app with one purpose and it just works well. The interface is clean and simple, search for a podcast, subscribe and listen or create a playlist. Easy peasy. Get Grover podcast in the Microsoft Store and try for yourself.

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For 2 years, I had been using a Philips Bluetooth headset, but just 2 months after the warranty stopped, so did the headset. It wouldn’t connect to my computer anymore. So I started shopping for new headphones. I wanted a new set that had Noise Canceling this time around considering that there are now a lot more employees at the firm and the noise levels have been increasing a lot lately. I also didn’t want to put up a lot of money for them. I’d rather spend my money on Joes 😁. I had a free month of Amazon Prime (in Germany, we don’t have a localized Amazon here) and I started browsing. Last week, I stumbled upon the AUSDOM ANC-8 for just under €50. A steal if you ask me. I read and watched some reviews and decided to pull the trigger. The arrived – as promised – one day later and after charging them for about 2h, I was ready to try them out.

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For the money, these are the best ANC headphones out there. I can’t compare them to the likes of Bose or Sony, but compared to regular headphones, they are sublime. If you work at a large office with lots of open spaces, you know how noisy that can be. The buzzing of overhead fluorescent lights, people talking, the droning of the air conditioning,… All these noises in the background can be disturbing. The moment I put on the headphones, the sounds go silent. If you then turn on the ANC, it’s quiet. Very quiet. Until you start playing the music that is. The sound is very heavy with ANC off, but quite clear when you turn it on. They are over-ear headphones so that helps too, but they are not too heavy on your head and I can say that I can comfortably wear them for several hours without discomfort. I got my headphones from Amazon where I got the best price-fast delivery combination, but when you look online, you can find several sites that offer these great headphones.

Before we start with the podcasts, Let me state that nobody asked and/or paid or gave me something to write this. I just want to share my love for these podcasts and the Joe community as a whole. It’s us that keep the brand on life support, if we give up and pull the plug, it will probably all be over. Now, let’s get started on my favorite podcasts, in no particular order.

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First up is the only podcast where Joe talks about Joe – sometimes with an extra Joe, but always with an interesting guest – Joe on Joe! The shows discussing the Sunbow and DIC cartoons are always fun to listen to. Just try and get that intro out of your head for the rest of the day. Every guest on the show gets a choice to join the Cobra ranks or the Joe team and even receive a fitting codename. Joe’s comic book knowledge makes Wikipedia look like a Moleskine, still in it’s plastic cover. His Patreon-only episodes are dedicated to the comic books (I’m not a patreon yet, so I’ll have to judge them by every 5th episode that get’s released in the regular feed), and they are filled with details and bits of knowledge about the comics and the timeframe you just can’t put together yourself.

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Next up we have the Real American Headcast. They have a strong format of discussing one comic book and one episode of the Animated Series. With some banter before, in between and afterwards. They always make a point of working in the comments and likes from their listeners and truly involve the Joe community into each episode. Oh yeah, they do have a thing for The Mighty Kwinn… And frequently let Manfred Mann do their thing. Just so you know. And we all know what knowing is, right?

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GI Joburg is next. What can I say about these guys? They are a fun bunch to say the least. Be sure to check out their YouTube channel as well for hilarious video’s. Better strap in before you start listening, cause you might be in for a long ride. These global Joe fans tackle every issue with a great sense of humor and down-to-earthness. Their journey to Joecon last year is just one of the highlights from the shows.

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We end this list in and with The Full Force. The podcast presented by Christopher ‘I need to fill in a good nickname here’ McLeod, joined a lot by Justin ‘And another one here, how does he do it every time’ Bell. Give this show a listen if you want to keep up-to-date with all news surrounding our favorite brand and it’s manufacturer. They deliver the news even before the presses are starting! There may be a Full Force spy in the ranks of Hasbro feeding them information, or maybe they are just that good. Who’s to say?

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What’s a track list without a Bonus track you say? Not a very good one. So here it is. The Rap Viper himself has a very entertaining podcast called Weekend at Burgie’s. Lots of talk of nostalgia, vintage stuff and every episode something Joe sneaks in. And sneak is just snake spelled backwards, or is it? Have you bought your copy of the Welcome to Cobra Island CD yet? If not, hurry up and do it. Serpentor COMMANDS it! And while your at it, check out his other albums! They are AWESOME! I’m still hoping the Welcome to Cobra album will be released on vinyl someday. That artwork on a 12 inch would look awesome, I have an unused IKEA Gladsax laying around waiting for this 🙂

I hope you give these podcasts a try (if you haven’t done so already) and enjoy listening to the shenanigans of these awesome collectors, connoisseurs and just very cool people.

My interests aren’t limited to G.I.Joe, so I have about 50 other podcast I listen to. From Star Trek to Formula 1, from Xbox gaming to Ted Talks. A wide range of subjects and a lot of hours of good quality casting out there. If you need any tips on those, let me know and I can send the full list – which may contain some Dutch ones 🙂

Until next time!

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Relight my fire.

9 years after Dan Hardman and 5 years before Take That, the Joe team had a second man joining their ranks who can take the heat. – Spoiler Alert – Sorry for the Barbecue fans out there, we won’t be seeing him on these cards. The Viper is coming though 🙂

Now, let’s get to it with #71, Charbroil.

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I seemed to end up with a lot more Joes than Cobra’s when I was a kid. I guess I only saw good in the world 🙂 So when it came to battle, I was short on Cobra’s all the time. My solution… defecters and traitors. Okay, that’s not so good, but it did give me better fights. One of the guys that always sided with Cobra is Charbroil. First off, the guy is very ginger. And by very I mean unnaturally orange hair. And we all know, ginger kids have no soul, and knowing is half the battle. Just take a close look at his helmet. There is a Cobra insigna on it! Well, at least something that resembles it very closely. So I think (my completely unfounded theory here), that he was intended to be a Cobra all along, but somehow got switched sides during production.

In any case, there have been 6 figures released of Charbroil between 1988 and 2017. The second version was as a member of the night force and was just a complete repaint of the original. So was the 3rd version in 2004, this time as a member of the Anti-Venom Task Force. He did get a cool looking new helmet. Version 4 came in 2009 with the release of The Rise of Cobra toys. This version is plain and simple Barbecue, but Hasbro probably didn’t have the name trademarked anymore and so they just labeled him as the Joes’ other all-things-fire-related specialist. The next iteration dropped him back into the Night Force, this time for the 2013 Convention Exclusive Set. And finally, v6, was released in 2017 in the club’s FSS 5. The figure was a hommage to the original and looks very nice indeed. Underneath the helmet he wears a baklava. Which makes sense really since he is working with fire. And it hides his orange hair. Win-Win if there ever was one 🙂

Was he ever in a comic book or cartoon? I honestly can’t remember. If you can, let me know via a comment on this post or over on Twitter or Instagram.

The next post may come as a surprise, so be vigilant. And watch your back! And your front, you never know from where it may come. (It will 100% definitely be on the blog, so you know, just building the tension here).

Until next time. Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Flawless without loopholes!

We are back on track with the next installment of the G.I. Joe 1991 Impel Trading Cards. It’s undeniably and irrefutably time for #70 of the series, Mr. Kurt Schnurr, better known as Air-Tight (or Airtight).

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Airtight has always been a practical joker. Itching powder, whoopee cushions, plastic barf, everything you could ever think of and more. Those kind of bad jokes test the patience of his teammates to their very limits. He would probably have been thrown out long ago if it weren’t for the fact that he’s the only one who volunteers to suit up without hesitation for the missions that would make one’s skin crawl. Cobra unleashes more lethal concoctions everytime and the fact that any one of them could be so corrosive enough to eat through that suit of his never seem to bother him at all.

Airtight specializes in CBR (chemical, biological and radiological) science. In his childhood, his obsessions include testing his limits (he could hold his breath the longest) and collecting plastic dinosaurs.

There have been 4 figures released of Airtight. The first one in 1985, he came with a green backpack, a mile of hoses and a weapon that could be attached via the hoses on his backpack. The head had a non-removable helmet, it always reminds me of Copperhead’s head. It took 23 years for Airtight to get a second version! In 2008, this version had a removable visor and vest. 3 years later, v3 was released, albeit the figure is officially named Kurt “Airtight” Schnurr. I guess Hasbro was trying to show that the Joe’s were human first and super heroes second. This version came with a complete set of removable gear. Not just a helmet and vest, but there were 2 backpacks and 2 guns and 1 other type of high-tech equipment. Finally, v4 was released in 2013 as part of the Club’s FSS 2.0. It was basically the v3 repainted to let Airtight become a member of the Tiger Force. They also dropped some of the gear, but still a very cool looking member of the coolest sub-team.

In the Comic Books, Airtight was one of a group of potential new Joes being tested in the Nevada desert by Lady Jaye. During the course of the test it was revealed that he collected scorpions. When the group came under attack from Cobra, using new mutant plant spores, Airtight’s chemical knowledge proved essential, using battery acid to destroy the spores. He then made use of his scorpion collection to attack attack Destro and Mindbender. Later on, Airtight would be involved in several other missions, including the assault on Springfield. The best story he is involved in, comes from the Special Missions (naturally). It’s my favorite story really and long-time readers will already know which story I’m talking about. It’s #2, Words of Honor. In the story 2 teams of Joes are sent out across the globe. One team goes to South America to ‘protect’ a former head of poison gas research at the concentration camps from retaliation of the Mossad. The other team, which has Airtight as a member, is sent to Greenland to try and neutralize a downed plane that was carrying nerve gas. Seriously, my brief description doesn’t do the story justice. Go and (re-)read it. After you’ve read this post! There is a second Special Mission (#21) where Airtight plays a big part. Cobra has placed canisters with what is believed to be toxic gas in the sewers and a Joe team is going in to neutralize them, lead by Tunnelrat. In this issue Spearhead and Max are introduced. The gas turns out to be stink gas, a bitter veteran redeems himself by saving the Joes and Cobra’s scheme actually works for once… All in all, a very good story. Aren’t all the Special Missions just that?

Next time, we’ll turn up the heat and set the blogging world on fire!

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

 

Going Pro

Ok, don’t take the title of this post to literally. I’m still an amateur, but loving what I do. Our friends over at The Full Force Podcast pointed me to the new Ultra PRO collaboration with Hasbro and more particularly the official G.I.Joe and Cobra licensed products they will be releasing later this year. As a collector of all things G.I.Joe and trading cards, I naturally had to take a look at these and present them to you here. So let’s get into it.

First up are the sleeves. They are releasing 3 different versions, 1 Cobra themed and 2 Joe ones. Here’s the information from the Ultra PRO website.

Play at your next gaming session with confidence & style using these official G.I. Joe Deck Protector sleeves. Made with archival-safe, polypropylene, non-PVC film, Ultra PRO’s Deck Protector sleeves keep your valuable gaming and trading cards safe by providing a protective film layer around your card, keeping it from surface scratches and other wear & tear typically caused by game play. These sleeves are sized to fit standard cards with dimensions measuring 2.5″ x 3.5″. Made with Ultra PRO’s proprietary ChromaFusion technology, these sleeves offer improved seal strength, highly detailed artwork while minimizing delamination.

Official G.I. Joe Deck Protector sleeves protects your valuable trading cards.

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The first Joe Design features our beloved or hated (choose the blue or red pill) First Sergeant, Duke. The design is inspired by the 2008 figures that was released as part of the DVD Battles. Duke appeared in this set with the JUMP jet pack and the American flag. The look references the intro for G.I. Joe The Movie, where we see Duke in action.

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The second Joe Design shows Snake-Eyes and Timber. With over 160 characters to choose from, it’s probably only a coincidence that they ended up with Snake-Eyes. Ok, enough with the sarcasm. Snakes is the most popular Joe out there and this art is nice altough Timber does look a bit strange.

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And then we have the Cobra design. I have to say that this is my favorite design. Just plain and simple, the Cobra insignia in distressed red on a black backdrop. Simple, elegant and just so freaking awesome! 

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Next up are the boxes. These come in 2 designs.

Store and protect your favorite deck with this G.I. Joe PRO-100+ Deck Box, sized to fit 100 standard size (2.5″ x 3.5″) gaming cards double sleeved in Ultra PRO Deck Protector sleeves. Each box features detailed, full color artwork. This box is light, easy-to-carry and made with archival-safe, rigid polypropylene material. The self-locking lid design makes it easy to secure your deck, while thumb notch sections provide easy access to cards. Each box comes with one (1) deck divider with full color artwork.

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These are, well, in your face full color designs. For me, it’s a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I like the art, but it’s just not for me. I personally store my cards in a Ultra PRO collector’s album (binder) with 9-pocket pages. I guess these boxes are more for people that actively play with their cards and need to transport a deck rather than keeping a collection on hand.

The final piece of the collection is a playmat. Strangely enough, they only have a Cobra design for this one. The mat is a standard size measuring approximately 24″ wide by 13.5″ tall.

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This too, is for the players, not so much for the collectors, though I do think I’ll be getting me one of them. The design is – again – fairly simple, looking more like a beer label than an international terrorist organization. 

To conclude, I’d like to point out that all these products will come onto the market later this year. I’ve asked Ultra PRO for some more information (or a press kit), but I haven’t heard back from them in over 2 weeks, so I decided not to wait any longer and just get the post out there with the pictures I could find on their website. Safe to say that this post is in no way sponsored by Ultra PRO. As for prices, on the site I could find that the sleeves will cost $ 9.99 for a pack of 100. The boxes should sell for $ 4.99 and the mat will set you back $23.99. Maybe your local dealer can get you better prices. I don’t believe they will be available here in Belgium, so I’ll be most likely getting them on eBay or from an online store.

All things considered I quite like this set of Trading Card essentials. I find it a bit a odd that they have 2 Joe designs for the sleeves and then only a Cobra Playmat. But that won’t spoil the fun. My money will go to the Cobra sleeves and maybe the Playmat. I’m not a fan of Duke and the Snake-Eyes sleeves don’t do it for me either. The boxes are superfluous if you ask me and the design is to much.

That’s it for now, a bit of a different post, but straight up my alley don’t you agree. See you again soon.

 

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Darwin and the fittest

Many people credit Charles Darwin, but we have Herbert Spencer to thank for the phrase “Survival of the fittest”. This time we have the Impel Trading Card #69, the fittest man in the Joe team, Stuart Selkirk, better known as Outback.

The U.S. army’s Survival Manual says that Survival stands for the following:

S – Size up the situation

U – Undue haste makes waste

R – Remember where you are

V – Vanquish fear and panic

I – Improvise

V – Value living

A – Act like the natives

L – Learn basic skills

I guess that all of the above are skills and trades that every Joe knows by heart. They are the best of the best after all. Outback however is sporting this credo on his chest, so I guess he made a religion out of it and is probably the best of the best of the best.

There have been 11 figures released of Outback (or Stuart Selkirk). I’m including the figure known as Tiger Force Outback, since that was the only version I knew existed of the file until I started collecting as an adult.  The figures mostly stay true to the original.But the ’93 versions turn him into a bright colored construction worker (YMCA anyone?). And then there’s the 2008 figure that kinda makes him look like a badass ginger Jesus. This being said, I may need to see if I can still find one of these shirts. They do look cool.

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Talking of this shirt, Kate’s customs has made an awesome cosplay of Outback (gender-bender style). Check it out via https://www.facebook.com/KatesCustomsPropsCosplay/posts/work-in-progress-tiger-force-outback-so-excited-about-this-amazing-custom-shirt-/288973791658483/

In the Marvel comics,  Outback made his first appearance in #59, the issue also featured the new SLAM anti-aircraft artillery (my first tank!). Outback was out in the field to test some new gear. His report stated the equipment was junk that fell apart and the food was so bad it was inedible. 

Outback went on to play a major role in a story arc that stretched across issues #61 to #67, in which a team consisting of Outback, Snow Job, Stalker, and Quick Kick infiltrate the Soviet republic of Borovia on a rescue mission. As a kid, I had some of the Special Missions in a TPB (and translated in Dutch). One of the stories in there (Special Missions #6) tells the story of how Outback got back to the US after the rest of the team were sent to a labor camp. I read those 2 TPBs from back to front for years, not having access to the other comics. I never really got what it was all about until I bought the Marvel run. By then I already knew that Outback was one tough cookie. We’ll revisit this in a while when we discuss the Impel Trading Card #88.

I’ll finish here with a final pic. Not sure if Larry did use this as inspiration for Outback, but my guess would be yes…

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See you again next time. Take a deep breath and hold tight for the next Impel Trading Card.

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!