You know you’ve made it when they call you cargo…

According to the dictionary, our featured Joe’s nickname means, the part of a vehicle’s load, especially an aircraft’s, from which revenue is derived. Still, not the worst codename in the team, Hit and Run anyone? Anyway, here’s Impel Trading Card #63, Payload.

While Snake-Eyes is throwing knives at a giant wheel that has Scarlett bound to it and standing on top of Blind Master’s shoulders who himself is balancing on a large ball while juggling with working chainsaws, Payload is in a space fight with Fred VII over some spy satellites. I guess it was one of the few times Cobra actually scored a win. They destroyed the spy satellites – so they couldn’t pick up on the Terror Dromes –  and crippled the Joe’s Defiant space shuttle.

There have been 5 figures released bearing the Payload name. The first one released in 1987 with the massive Defiant Space Vehicle Complex. v2 was a repaint of that first figure and came with the 1989 Crusader Space Shuttle. The next 3 figures were released in quick succession, in 1993 and 1994, as part of the Star Brigade subteam. All 3 being just a repaint of the same mold (used before as the Eco-Warriors’ Barbecue figure).

Next time we’re going back into the deep… a dive down memory lane to January 22 of this year as well 🙂

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Hadleyville,PA or the Bayou?

We’re not going to talk about some Japanese car manufacturer taking over an American car factory, but about the Joe’s first real Marine, Ettienne R. LaFitte, better known as Gung-Ho.

Shown here in his dress blues, is actually also how I first got to know the figure. I hadn’t read any of the comics or seen the cartoons when I started collecting (okay, back in the day it was called playing) with Joes. So I had no idea how Gung-Ho looked like in his more regular Joe outfit. I have to say, he scrubs up nice 🙂 With the pornstache, bald head, bare chest, … I can’t help but think of The Village People. Y-M-C-A, it’s fun to — ok, let’s not go there.

In the comics, Gung-Ho is part of the backup team in Alaska when Cobra’s new specialist (Destro) first appears. He is later assigned to the guard detail on Cobra Commander, eventually getting injured at the hands of Storm Shadow, leading to the discovery of Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow sharing the same tattoo.

Between 1983 and 2015, 21 figures of Gung-Ho (or Gung Ho) have been released. Surprisingly, most of these show him wearing a shirt. The first figure of Gung-Ho I had, was the dress blue version of 1987. In my younger self’s headcanon, he was some sort of Army Brass, a high ranking officer coming down to inspect the Joes. I have a few of the later iterations now and I have to say, he’s not my favorite Joe, but I suppose it’s admirable that he runs around bare-chested a lot, dropping that huge USMC tattoo on his chest in your face.

In the cartoons, Gung-Ho is always there, fighting for freedom over land and air. But mostly, showing off… see below. Or talking to his gun as if its a child.

That’s all for now. Next time, we’ll aim for the moon and end up somewhere in space.

Until then, Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Might as well…

I get up, and nothing gets me down You got it tough. I’ve seen the toughest around And I know, baby, just how you feel You’ve got to roll with the punches to get to what’s real.

Welcome back! I’ve been recovering from a back injury and haven’t had the time nor longing to write some. But I’m getting better now and so here we are again with a new post.

In the last 2 posts, we tackled the Original Joe team and the 2 Cobra infantry soldiers. This time around we take a look at the 1982 vehicles, displayed on the Impel Trading Cards #54 through #60. As with most of the original figures, I don’t have a lot of these in my collection. Let’s jump right into it, with #54 the J.U.M.P. Jet-pack. The J.U.M.P. Jet-pack, giving your Joes wings since 1982. And probably some very serious burns and loss of legs… I definitely can see the charm of being able to fly to do recon or even attack the enemy. But this just isn’t practical. Not alone the safety issues (these people are professional soldiers, they can handle the heat), but the maximum range is only 10 miles and with a top speed of 210 MPH, this means about 3 minutes of flight time… (I know I’m ignoring acceleration, elevation and well, physics really, but it’s G.I.Joe, they’re above all that). The toy was released in 1982 without a figure – smart marketing if you ask me. That way you should buy multiple Jet-packs for all your Joes 🙂 The next year, Grand-Slam was included in the package. He was depicted with the J.U.M.P. Jet-pack on card #50. The J.U.M.P. Jet-pack was used in the cartoons and the movie. Just wanted to mention this to link to the intro on Youtube again… Gotta love that intro.

Now on to #55, the R.A.M. The box art for the RAM  shows a green shirt driving wearing a helmet with a microphone. One might think it was Breaker, but there’s no beard. The card art here shows some beard but then the helmet doesn’t have a microphone. Clearly, any Joe can handle the RAM. In 2008 the RAM was renamed RAM Cycle and was released with Cpl. Breaker together with a Cobra Flight Pod (that’s the official name, I always thought that Trouble Bubble was actually its name) with a Tele-Viper. I don’t know where exactly, but I remember seeing Lady Jaye driving the RAM. So let me leave the RAM with a little homage to that. Next up is #56, the FLAK. The FLAK is actually one of the 1982 toys I have in my collection. I bought a bunch of comics and figures from a fellow collector and to my surprise, a FLAK was included as a gift. It’s the 2008 version, but this one has the same colors as the 1982 original. It’s a realistic looking cannon, that can be manned by any greenshirt. I see it as a base camp toy. A defense weapon that is fixed on a base, ready to shoot at incoming Rattlers or Fangs. The FLAK was renamed F.L.A.K. Cannon in 2009, cause you know, it’s a cannon. People probably didn’t get that at first. In 2013, the Night F.L.A.K. was as part of the Collector’s Club Convention Exclusives. I have to say, it looks good in black. Moving on to #57, the V.A.M.P. In 1984, the V.A.M.P. Mark II was released, just 2 years after the Mark I. The Trading Card goes on about how good the Mark II is but the image clearly shows the Mark I from 1982. The V.A.M.P. was released with Clutch. This is probably one of the most used vehicle designs over the years, but I only have one in my collection and that’s the 2014 Danger at the docks version. Technically you could argue I have 2, question is, is the Tiger Sting a V.A.M.P. or a Stinger? Because of the whole story around the Tiger Force and it using vehicles they “recovered” from Cobra, I’ll go with a Stinger and so I only have one V.A.M.P. Not much more to say, I like the vehicle. It’s one of the more realistic vehicles in the Joe motor pool. I’m gonna have to get more of them, loose that is. #58 gives us the HAL. Ah, the HAL… Very effective if you use it to drop on a big robot. Other than that, not the best of Joe weapons. The HAL was released with Grand-Slam, being the popular figure he is, he was then released with the JUMP jetpack for its second release. Again, a more realistic looking vehicle, but fairly simple and a lot like the FLAK, more a toy to use at your base, not something you want to drag up a flight of castle stairs to use as a lockpick. Only to leave it there when the whole building blows… I guess cost efficiency was not something the Joes brass were thinking about. Moving on to #59, the MMS. G.I. Joe was way ahead of their time, already talking of MMS in 1982, when cell phones weren’t even invented yet. The Mobile Missile System is useful, and sort of realistic – again, this is a constant for the early vehicles. Somehow it just doesn’t seem as attractive a toy as say a VAMP or RAM. It did come with the leader of the gang, Gen. Hawk, so I guess they used that feature to promote this toy. Don’t think they would have sold a lot without the free figure incentive. I’m facing a bit of a dilemma. I like it when toys are somewhat realistic. On the other hand, I do love some of the wacky vehicles the Joe line produced. Vehicles like the MMS here are realistic looking and could even work in real life (probably), but still I’m not looking to add it to my collection. If you happen to have a Cobra BUGG, I’d instantly buy it (at a reasonable price). Mixed feelings. Hard to put to words too. I don’t dislike them and they’ll probably end up in my collection someday, but just when I happen to come across them, I won’t go searching for them. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen these in stores here, and didn’t see them until I read the comics when I was a teenager. Out of sight, out of mind… But always looking 🙂

The final vehicle for today is without a doubt the most impressive one of the lot, the M.O.B.A.T.
The M.O.B.A.T. is about as real as you can get to an actual military vehicle. On top of that, the toy actually moved on its own. This tank is a BEAST. With a 130mm anti-armor cannon as the primary weapon,  secondary weapon is the .50 caliber machine gun with 1,500 rounds of ammunition. The MOBAT is powered by two gas turbine engines (the toy by batteries :-)) and can reach 60mph on an open road and 45mph driving cross-country. It can submerge in water for up to an hour due to retractable snorkels and air-tight hatches.

I really like the M.O.B.A.T. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find over here, but I was lucky to score an Action Force Battle Tank, which is basically the same vehicle, but with a different color scheme. Seriously, just look at how cool this thing is, even in a pretty old commercial, still looks better than 90% of the toy commercials they’re airing now.

Well, that’s all for now. Next time, we’ll go where the people aren’t (according to Ariel that is).

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!

Cannon Fodder

Welcome back to the blog! This week’s post will be shorter than the last one 🙂 If you haven’t read the previous post on the Original Joe Team, do so now and then get back here to read all about the 1991 Impel Trading Cards #51 and #52 which we had to skip to add General Hawk to the team post.

We’re starting this one off with #51, the Cobra Viper.

The figure portrayed here does differ from the Viper figures. This figure is the Cobra (soldier) released in 1982 alongside the 13 original Joes and the Cobra Officer. CC was also available, but at first only through mail-in. The Viper (the figure with the cool looking visor helmet) was released in 1986. I guess that by 1991 (when the Impel Cards were released), the Vipers were commonly known as Cobra’s Infantry.

The Vipers are the Cobra Greenshirts. Bottom of the hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fearless. They are the ones that charge forward while CC is yelling ‘COBRA, Retreat!’. They are mercenaries, hired help, and if they have any doubts, they’ll probably end up being strapped to the Brainwave Scanner for attitude rearrangement.

They are just generic troopers. Only one guy ever stepped up. Scarface. He was actually a Cobra Courier, but who’s saying that is better than a Viper?

As I may have mentioned in the previous post, I don’t have a lot of the 1982 figures and so I don’t have a Viper in my collection. I’m not much of an army builder myself. One of each is my motto! But I do see the attraction some people may have to build armies of these Vipers. Losing armies, but still armies 🙂

There are 29 (before you freak about that number, Snake Eyes has 70+ figures) figures released. Most of them in the distinctive Cobra blue with red sigil, but some have other colors. Still, the Cobra Royal Blue is a beautiful color and I prefer that to the other color schemes.

#52 is the Cobra Officer. An evolved Cobra Viper to put it in Pokémon terms.

In the army of the blind, the soldier with one eye is the general. The best of the worst. Cobra’s forces have never been very successful. A lack of competent leadership? Perhaps. I blame the middle-management. The Cobra Officers are just incompetent to belay and execute the delicate and precise winning strategies that Cobra Commander concocts.

There have been 12 different figures of the Cobra Officer. Considering the 29 different Vipers we had, it’s safe to say that Officers have a better chance of survival than the Vipers do.

In the cartoons, both of these figures are like Stormtroopers. Sure, they see the enemy. They know how to fire a (laser) gun. They just don’t think of putting 1 and 2 together. No wonder that Dr. Mindbender started working on the B.A.T.’s as Cobra’s foot soldiers. They are even more expendable…

That’s it for now. Next time we’ll listen to some Van Halen.

Happy collecting and YoJoe!

Open wide!

Hold on to your dentures and prepare to have your minds bent like never before. This post will showcase our beloved orthodontist, evil genius (ahem), proficient in genetics, cloning, engineering and all things science, you name it, he can do it! The Impel Trading Card # 37, presents Dr. Mindbender.

Dr. Mindbender was brought into the Cobra fold to replace the departed Dr. Venom. He introduced us to the B.A.T.s and his 6-pack in Marvel comic # 44. Personally I can’t begin to think what Larry Hama was thinking when he created this figure with a pornstache, monocle, no shirt, suspenders and a purple cape. Would be funny if he based it on his personal dentist. Funny and a bit creepy maybe. During his time with Cobra, he switches side more than once, serving Cobra Commander, Serpentor and even Fred VII. He dies of botulism when he is buried with several other traitors when Cobra Commander (the real deal) rises back to power. Eventually Dr. Mindbender was cloned and served Cobra Commander again.

After Dr. Venom’s demise, a gap within Cobra needed to be filled and I must admit that Dr. Mindbender sure did just that. As Cobras chief scientist, he was crucial to all kinds of wacky schemes Cobra Commander released in the world. He made several additions to the Brainwave Scanner and created the B.A.T.s. His greatest achievement however is the creation of Serpentor, based on the DNA of several of the world’s greatest warriors and a little bit of Storm Shadow baked in him. Together with Destro, he searched and raided the tombs of men like Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Julius Ceasar, count Dracula and some others. I’m sure that it wouldn’t be considered politically correct to have mentioned Hitler, but face it, Dr. Mindbender would have put some of that madman into Serpentor.

The same story is used in the animated series, where Mindbender creates Serpentor because he feels Cobra desperately needs a leader that inspires courage in its troops. Safe to say, Cobra “Retreat” Commander is lacking a bit here.

In Spy Troops, he created new and improved B.A.T.’s and has begun research on the Venom Troopers. When the Cobra base gets destroyed, he loses his research. Said research is rebuilt and in Valor vs Venom, Mindbender turns General Hawk into Venomous Maximus, a creature so powerful he quickly seizes power of Cobra with the help of Overkill. (Rehashing a story I believe this is called…). Venomous Maximus received his own Trading Card in the 2004 Wizards set G.I. Joe vs Cobra (actually he was packed with the DVD/VHS – remember that kids? – and was not sold seperately).

See what I did here, another Trading Card. This series will eventually make it to the blog when I have been able to complete the set. If you can help me get the final missing cards, check out my needs list! Eternal gratitude will be upon thee.

In the Riso of Cobra movie, we get to see Dr. Mindbender with a full set of glasses and a shirt on. He locks himself up in his lab, together with the man who would become Cobra Commander, when the lab is getting bombed. He passes his knowledge to Rex (the brother of the Baroness) and so the whole nano-mites story and Cobra begins. The actor portraying Dr. Mindbender is the same one that played Beni Gabor in The Mummy (the 1999 movie, aka the good one). His character is described as a lying, cheating, obsequious, arrogant, greedy, cunning, cowardly, deceptive, avaricious, sycophantic, manipulative, subservient, and thoroughly unpleasant little man. Perfect for Cobra 🙂

As far as the action figures go, Dr. Mindbender has seen 7 incarnations. The first one from 1986, is the iconic look from the comics. Bare chested with a cape showing the Cobra sigil and monocle. In 1993 (the crazy 90’s), Mindbender got bright yellow pants and a shirt. The 3rd and 4th version from 2002 and 2003 show him with an open shirt and some very serious cleavage. V5 of 2004 teleports the doc into the 21st century, giving him sharp spectacles and a lab coat. Version 6 of 2009 was released as part of the Defense of Cobra Island set and brought the old look of the cape wearing, bare-chested maniac back. And finally, in 2015, the Collector’s Club released an Arctic version of the Doctor, sporting a purple coat with white fur lining.

I was a bit surprised when I noticed that I actually have most of these figures in my collection. I’m only missing the 93 and 09 version. The doc doesn’t come to mind when I think of my favorite characters, but the more I think about it, the more I like the guy. The fact that he is still a character in the comics is great (although technically he is a clone) and he’s still Cobra’s main science guy. Not too shabby for an orthodontist turned crazy.

That’s all for now, join me next time when we take on a classic American space western drama television show… wait that’s not right. Damn you Google! Anyway, until next time!

Happy Collecting and YoJoe!