Small update

YoJoe people! First of all, I hope everyone and your loved ones are safe. Over here in Belgium, we’re gearing up towards a lockdown. Schools are closed, stores are closed during the weekend (for now) and restaurants & pubs are closed. I have the luck that I can work from home, but some people are facing economical unemployment. The measures are set to last until April, 3 at least. But I believe we’re going to get an extension on that and even more measures to contain the spread of the covid-19 virus.

Life’s been very busy and so the time to spend on the blog has been sparse. I’ve been writing a bit here and there, but not enough to release a new post. I’m hoping that by saving time on my commute, I’ll have some more time in the coming weeks. I have been following the Joe news on the interwebs though and man, are there good times coming. Let’s hope that the pandemic doesn’t throw the planning too much. But with the new 6″ line and the retro line somewhat announced, we’ll be seeing a lot of Joe in the future. On that note, I’ve been able to purchase the 6″ Snake-Eyes figure. The price was steeper than it is across the big sea, but still fairly acceptable and I couldn’t not buy. Now I have to play the waiting game. Currently, the delivery date is somewhere around April, 30.

In the mean time, I have been able to find some smaller additions to the ever-growing collection. And by smaller, I mean smallest. The world’s smallest to be exact. Take a look below and check out tiny Duke, Roadblock and Snake-Eyes.

Too small for you? I thought ahead and got some close ups.

The card art on the back is from the ARAH #1 cover, and even this small, still looks awesome.

As I mentioned before, I have ordered a 6″ Snake-Eyes. I can’t wait for it to arrive, so I can show off all my carded Snake-Eyes figures. I’ll have the World’s Smallest, the 6″ and the Gentle Giant version. It appears I’ll have to find a regular 3 3/4″ version of the guy to have a complete set 😊 Feel free to contact me when you have one to spare.

Until next time, we’ll be taking up the Impel Trading Cards again. For now, stay safe, keep collecting and YoJoe!

A deceptive act

The title of this story is the same as that of an ugly French MPV, it can also refer to techniques to by-pass network security devices or to avoid government mandate through specious means. Here though, it’s one Joe that is showing off his survival skills, his evasive skills and his cunning. It’s time to tackle the Impel Trading Card #88, featuring the cover art for the Special Missions story #6.

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The story starts in the middle of a story really and shows us an injured Snow-Job with Quick Kick and Stalker, all cornered in a Borovian alley. The Borovian military, under the leadership of Colonel Ratnikov, soon realize that there was a 4th man on the team and that he isn’t accounted for. Outback has slipped in the sewer – ordered by Stalker to seek help and report back to the Joes what really happened while the other Joes are sent to rot in a gulag prison.

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Outback is able to make it to the edge of town by using a compass and a Michelin guide. Luckily, some intersections have name plates. Meanwhile the colonel has deduced that Outback must have escaped through the sewers and he orders a truckload of fuel to be dumped into the sewers. Outback is sort of warned by a plague of rats screeching past him, but because of the stench in the sewer, he can’t smell the fuel. After it’s been lit, he realizes what is going on and is able to escape through a manhole, clinging to the bottom of a passing streetcar.

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He makes it to a local market and steals some clothes to disguise himself. He cuts a deal with a chicken farmer to buy his truck and sets off for the border.

Colonel Ratnikov has closed off the border and is still looking for Outback. They too come across the market and are able to convince the farmer to help find Outback. On his way to the border, Outback passes a hitchhiker and he thinks that it might be better to have a companion since the military will be looking for him, traveling as a duo might be a good camouflage. The guy soon pulls a gun on Outback, but Outback outsmarts him and unarms him.

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Colonel Ratnikov is still giving pursuit from a helicopter, bringing along the chicken farmer. They spot the crashed truck and set down. The man in the cabin is still alive, but they conclude that it isn’t Outback. One of the soldiers discovers a trail of blood, leading to a figure laying face down in the snow. As they get close, they discover that it’s just clothes, filled with snow and the dead chicken Outback bought from the farmer. Outback jumps out from hiding and catches them off guard. He takes Ratnikov’s uniform and instructs the pilot to fly on his orders after destroying the onboard radio and compass. Before he jumps  out, he orders them to turn around and stay above the clouds. Colonel Ratnikov orders the pilot to take the helicopter down through the clouds and find themselves on the wrong side of the border and get shot to pieces in no time. The border guards capture Outback and he seems relieved and asks to speak to the American Consul.

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Great story, that’s my short review. My longer review is that I didn’t get it at first. The first time I read this story was in a Dutch Special Missions Omnibus (TPB) that collected several Special Missions. Sure, the banner on top of the splash page did say that the story was a continuation of what happened in Marvel issue #61, but we didn’t get those over here and this was in a time before eBay and before I even got internet. How was I to know what had happened and more importantly, what was going to happen with Snow-Job, Quick Kick and Stalker. It took years before I finally got my hands on the complete run of Marvel comics and I could read the whole story. Talk about a frustrating time. All I could do in the meantime, was search for more comics (all they had around here were the Dutch translations of the Special Missions) and re-read them over and over again without getting the full story.

 

SM_06_troopersLet’s get back to the card. It shows the cover of the story, I presume drawn by Herb Trimpe. The rest of the creative team is also the same as before, with Larry Hama on script. The scene on the cover does not really show what happens in the book, but it’s a cool looking scene. Outback hiding, partially covered in snow, under a ledge where Col. Ratnikov, flanked by some very mean looking soldiers, is looking for him.

SM_06_eyesThe eyes of the first soldier especially are terrifying.

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The back of the card depicts Outback the way he appears in the comic book, disguised with a cap and pipe. This leads me to another thing, I only knew Outback from the Tiger Force figure we got here in Belgium, the only version I have of Outback to this day. He had white hair and a white beard. My thoughts were that the colorist made an error, but it remained constant throughout the story, so I didn’t know what was what. I later learned that Outback got 10 figure releases (not including the Tiger Force one we got), and all of them were ginger – safe for the 2016 Collector’s Club homage to the Tiger Force figure. Thank you internet 🙂 Some versions were a little strange though, the 1993 Eco-Warriors line has him wearing a cap and the 2014 head sculpt had a beanie and headphones. Slow down hipster. Read more about Outback on the post I wrote a while ago when we were discussing the Impel Trading Card #69 dedicated to him.

That’s it for this week. I’m going to go through my boxes and try and find that damned little flashlight. Next time we will look at card #89, unless I pull the old switcheroo…

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Showdown

Well, it’s time to put out the cards on the table with this post that brings matters to a head or acts as a conclusion or point of decision. The title could also refer to a game for the blind and visually impaired, which in a way does relate to the story. The blindness that is. There are also numerous movies sharing this title, dating back as far as 1942, as well as television shows and episodes, records and songs. But enough about those things, let’s get cracking with the Impel Trading Card #87, featuring the cover for the Special Missions issue #5, Showdown. Spoiler alert, the moral of the story is a teeny tiny bit in your face, like BIG time.

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The story kicks off with a Cobra ground crew inspecting a Night Raven. A member of the rescue crew is looking into the cockpit and questioning why a crowbar is included in such a high tech plane. A maintenance officer explains that when the canopy would not open for some reason, the breakout tool can be used to bust the canopy and allow the pilot to escape. At that moment, the Strato-Viper appears and bullies both crews away from his plane. He will be taking off to recon a Florida Air Force Base.

The Joes have spotted the recon flight and are sending Slip-Stream and Ace up to greet him. And annoy him. Their orders are to only fire when fired upon first. On the way to their planes, they meet the ground and rescue crew they hooked up with the night before. The maintenance crew had been repairing the Conquest all night and one of the men couldn’t visit his kid in the hospital because of the overtime he put in. Slip-Stream tells him everything is fine with his kid and gives a toy (Transformer!).

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Now, I’m not a huge Transformer connaisseur, but I do know that this fellow is Megatron and he turns into a tank or a gun… Not a fighter plane. I guess Larry and the team weren’t that big of Transformers fans themselves.

I’m not sure what to make of this to be honest. Later on in the story, the Joes encounter the Transformers, so either that is out of continuity or they’ve created toys based on the giant robots that try to destroy them… I think that it’s just a pop-culture reference that needed to be put into the comic by the marketing people over at Hasbro. Seeing the wrong name and transforming ability, Larry didn’t think about it and just added it in to keep them from giving him a hard time about it.

 

 

The Joes take to the sky and find the Night Raven. Ace inverts the SkyStriker and taunts the Strato-Viper, who gets pissed off quite quickly.

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He fires a missile at Ace’s SkyStriker and pops a flare so that Slip-Stream in the Conquest behind him is blinded. Ace is hit and has to eject. He lands in the water and the rescue crew is scrambling to pick him up asap.

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It takes a few moments for Slip-Stream to regain his vision and by this time, the Night Raven is behind him. He shoots out a flare of his own and runs an evasive maneuver, but that stalls his engine. The Strato-Viper sees the Conquest spiraling down and flies away. Slip-Stream remains calm and collected and doesn’t pass out. Just in time, he gets the engine running again.

 

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Meanwhile, the Night Raven is having some electronic issues caused by the Conquest’s flare. The Strato-Viper is getting all worked up about it and is so distracted that he doesn’t notice Slip-Stream coming up from behind. Slip-Stream opens fire and damages the Night Raven enough to send it going down. The Strato-Viper tries to eject, but the canopy doesn’t open, not even with the manual release. He’s able to crash land on the water, but the breakout tool is missing, so he can’t break the canopy open.

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The Cobra rescue crews are airborne, but they refuse to fly at full speed. The Strato-Viper’s abusive behavior towards them shoots back like a boomerang. The plane is slowly sinking with him still aboard and locked in.

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Slip-Stream flies past Ace to make sure he is fine. The rescue crew soon picks him up. Ace didn’t even have the time to test out his shark repellent spray (another pop-culture reference). When they arrive at the Joe base in Florida, Slip-Stream gives a Top Gun style victory roll to dedicate the victory to the ground crew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elsewhere above the ocean, the Cobra rescue crew arrives just as the tailfin of the Night Raven slips below the surface. No sign of the Strato-Viper. Instead of trying to locate him, they just discuss the fact that they really should have given the canopy some maintenance, but that the pilot should have been able to break out. One of the crew casually shows the breakout tool he swiped from the plane before the Strato-Viper took off. They throw it into the ocean and head back for Cobra Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I always knew that G.I.Joe was all about good versus bad, but this story lays it on THICK. As Matthew 7:12 teaches the believers, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”. The good do good, the bad don’t do much… And not much good, would you believe it. The difference between the Cobra pilot and the Joe duo couldn’t be more clear as well. Where the Strato-Viper abuses his crew, the Joes are friends with their ground and maintenance crew. Naturally, this reflects in the response from the crews when they actually have to go out and rescue their respective pilot. It’s all very simple and sickeningly obvious that it might as well be a Disney movie.

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The card itselfs depicts the cover from the issue as usual. It’s a fiery cover where it would appear the Joes aren’t faring to well against Cobra. Yes, there are actual Cobra in this Special Mission. We haven’t seen them in the flesh since issue #1. The cover art was done by Mike Zeck and John R. Beatty. The book itself had a script by Larry Hama and art by Herb Trimpe. The wonderteam of the Special Missions.

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The back of the card shows the Strato-Viper. The figure, yes, just one official release, came on the shelves with the 1986 series and was boxed with the Night Raven. There was a mail-order campaign in 1989 and another one in 1992 where you could get a Strato-Viper without the plane as part of – respectively – the Special Missions Driver mail-away and the Cobra Patrol Unit mail-away.

I actually do have the Night Raven, with a Strato-Viper, though I didn’t as a child. It was one of the first big toys I really wanted as an adult collector. By that time, I still hadn’t read the English comics, but I did know of the Strato-Viper because one of the cartoons (In the Presence of Mine Enemies) was released over here, dubbed in Dutch, on VHS. I must have watched that tape hundreds of times, and I still have it in my collection. In this story, like you don’t know, Slip-Stream is able to shoot down another Night Raven, but his X-30 is destroyed as well. Both pilots land on an island that harbors one of Dr. Mindbender’s labs. It’s a great story, that has a happy end for the good guys, although no-one ever saw that female Strato-Viper ever again… Speaking of the Night Raven though, the plane got a second life as part of the Sky Patrol. That huge beast looks awesome in chrome. I have mine still mint in the bags and in the box, but the old tape has loosened over the years and so I’ve been able to take a look at the shiny parts. The small reconnaissance craft was also given another chance as part of the G.I.Joe Crusader Space Shuttle. Come to think of it, I own that one too. I guess you could say I’m a fan of the Night Raven/Sky Raven/Crusader. In honesty, I always wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid. I was devastated when it turned out I had to wear glasses and that meant I would never have been able to become a fighter pilot. I lived close to the local airport (mostly cargo and some smaller planes back then), and so I always had a fascination for them. It’s only natural that I like collecting them as Joe vehicles. So I still treasure all my planes from both Joe and Cobra. And since we’re not getting some new planes (so far, and with the 6″ line, it’s doubtful any vehicles will be released), I’m looking at other lines to score new planes. I have the True Heroes C-130 and the Beast Bomber, and would you believe it, The Corps has a new plane out now, the Sky Strike.

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A very good looking plane if I do say so myself. The only issue is that I can’t get my hands on it. So if you happen to live in the UK (or Australia, it would appear they have it at the other end of the world too), and would like to help a fellow collector out. Let me know! We can make a deal! Contact me through the contact form, over on Twitter or via mail (bjorn@europeanjoes.com).

That’s it for now, join me back next time when we take on … you’ve guessed it, #88. There a story there, so do come back. Don’t miss out on it, no need to evade. Get it. I’m going now. But seriously, it’s a great story. #hypebuilding

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Is it too late to have some cheer?

A while back I found out that the boys from G.I. Joburg have created a Christmas sweater in G.I.Joe/Cobra theme. As a collector of not only the toys and comics, but also everything remotely connected to Joe, I had to check it out.

It took some time to get my order in. I still don’t really know what was going wrong, but a (very) long story short, with the help of Paul and the people over at Teespring, I was able to place an order. Then the waiting could begin… After all the delay, I didn’t expect to get the sweater in time for this Christmas. It arrived here just after New Year, so I guess I can still wear it, no?

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What would an internationally bought item post be without a good rant about the Belgian Postal Services? Not one of me. That’s right. So here we go (again – sorry for the people who have heard this before… over and over again). I was at work when the postman came by, so he put a notice in the mailbox stating that I could go and pick up my package in a Post Office nearby. And I should bring $40 if I wanted to take it home with me. Now, I’ve said this before, I don’t mind paying taxes, it’s the way capitalism works after all, but they charge me $25 for the ‘service’ of getting the package cleared through customs.  I’m not saying they don’t do something, but they can’t tell me exactly what they do. They just say they perform ‘formalities’. I pay the bill they shove down my throat without having another option whatsoever. A little bit of explanation as to what I’m paying for would be welcome.

Well, enough about that. I’m sure that you’ve heard it all before or maybe even had the unpleasant experience yourself. Feel free to read back some of the previous blog posts, I’m sure you’ll come across a rant about shipping costs sooner or later. Seriously though, shipping is killing the international market for collectors, especially when prices are also going up. Another example for you, I’ve been looking into getting the IDW Michael Golden’s G.I. Joe Yearbook: Artist’s Edition Portfolio Variant. I’ve found it on the official IDW webpage for $40, which is okay I guess, but the shipping would be a whopping $113.79. That would make a total of over $150 and then again I’d have to pay $25 formalities and another $44 on taxes. Insane if you ask me.

As I’m writing this, news has leaked about the upcoming 6″ line. I’m hopeful we’ll be getting something over here in Europe as well. I’m not completely sold on the scale, I guess growing up with up with the 3.75″ figures, they’d always be my first choice. I’m not saying I wouldn’t buy any in 6″. I just want to see it first before I start burning through my wallet (again).

That’s it for now. Check out the G.I.Joburg shop on Teespring for more great designs and I’ll see you next time when we will be getting back on track with the Impel Trading Cards (we’re at #87).

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

2020 a.k.a. the best Joe year this century?

Well, another year has come and gone so I guess it’s time to look back at 2019 and forward into 2020. To be honest, I haven’t been able to put as much time into the blog as I would have hoped at the beginning of last year. The first half of 2019, post were fairly regular, but the second half of the year I has less time to spend on the blog. Overall, the blog didn’t do bad last year. We got almost 30% more visitors and over 17% more page views and all this without any advertisements. We started the year with building an army and we made it through the Impel Trading Cards from #75 to #86. I hope you all did enjoy the posts and will be back for what’s to come.

We will be getting back on track with the Impel Trading Cards, continuing where we left off with the Special Missions’ cover themed cards. I can say now, that some really good stories are still coming. Off course, I’ll drop some random post in now and again to show off some new gear, book, comic or toy or whatever I feel like sharing and is remotely connected to G.I.Joe.

Now as for 2020, I’m hopeful that we will get a good new movie focusing on Snake Eyes. The man already has 68 figure releases, so this year will be memorable when figure 69 is dropped. And then probably some other versions as well, getting his total well above 70. I’m also hoping that we’ll get the new toys over here as well, though I still have a lot of vintage Joe to collect, so I’ll be busy either way. And besides, the world has gotten smaller over the years, so if the shipping costs aren’t skyrocketing, I’ll be a happy shopper across the globe.

As for the blog, I’m organizing and planning my time so I will have one evening each week to do some writing. I still have an idea for a story that I’d like to get out on the web someday (maybe even in print if there is interest), so that will be taking of too this year and of course writing blog posts. Related to that, I’m in the market for a new laptop/tablet hybrid for my writing as well. A Remarkable looks great, but in my opinion is overpriced. Same goes for Apple, although the new iPads are better affordable now. I’m kind off locked into Microsoft though (I work for a Certified Gold Partner) and have been using their programs for years now. I’m using OneNote to prepare the blog posts and do some research. For my story – it’s to early to call it a novel(la) – I went ahead and got a license for Scrivener. I had looked at the program a while back, but had been putting it off because I didn’t have the time to write. I pulled the trigger on getting it, thinking that on some level, having the license will give me more incentive to really start writing. I’m currently still working on my 8 year old HP Elitebook 8760w. I’ve used this one for work first and then later for personal use. It may be a laptop in name, but due to the size and weight, it’s not that practical. So, I’m looking at the new Surface Pro as my next personal laptop/hybrid.

Well, now that is out of the way. Let’s focus back on G.I.Joe. 2020 will be a good year. I’m pretty sure of that. The club may be gone (for now?), but the community is very much alive and kicking with Facebook groups, podcasts, YouTube and I hope this blog as well.

Let me end by thanking all of you for your support and views, likes and messages. I hope you and your family, friends and loved ones have a wonderful year, filled with happiness, good health, love, friendship and G.I.Joe!

YoJoe and Happy Collecting!