Showing posts with label GIJoe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GIJoe. Show all posts

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1992's Firefly lives up to his namesake.

It was the summer of 1992. My parents and I were making the trek to Berlin, Maryland for a long weekend of cooking out and fishing with my uncle and his family. He wasn't technically an uncle, but one of those people that had been friends with my parents so long, he was practically family. My "uncle" had a son that was a few years older than me, but he never acted like he was too old or too cool to play with action figures. So I loaded up a bunch of my G.I. Joes, expecting to spend the weekend fishing and playing with toys until my fingers bled.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas Mood Table

For some reason, I'm really having a rough time getting into the holiday spirit this year. Maybe it's because we're pretty much broke, or perhaps it's stress from worrying about family and work. Whatever the reasons, I was finding that I had to force the happy feelings the past couple of weeks. Today, I decided to take back my holiday cheer. I was determined to find a way to bring those feelings of joy back to the surface, but I couldn't figure out how. Then it hit me, I needed a mood table.

I wish I could make the claim that I invented the concept of a mood table, but I believe that honor goes to Matt from Dinosaur Dracula. Humble as he may be, his Halloween Mood tables are something to behold, and I'm sure they could put anybody in the Halloween spirit. I decided to take that concept and apply it to the Christmas season. I did a quick search, but I couldn't find any examples of  Christmas Mood Tables. Does that mean I'm the first?

It actually took several tries before I got everything arranged just so. It's still not quite perfect, since I'd love to add some more colorful objects, but I think it's looking pretty great right now. Let's have a closer look, shall we?

This little Santa toy was once filled with candy. Now he just appears to be filled with fear. That's what happens when you tell Bob the Zombie Viper he's on the naughty list. It's not his fault he did all those nasty things. He's really not such a bad guy, he just smells that way.

I have to admit, after reexamining the photo, it's quite possible he's just trying to get away from Timber. Santa needs to realize, just because the wolves at the North Pole are friendly, doesn't mean the ones down here will be as amicable.

This is what I like to call the "treat corner" of the table. Up front we have Gingerbread M&M's, Gingerbread Peeps, and Rudolph gummies. Obi Wan Kenobi looks like he really wants an M&M, but I'm sure he thinks this is some kind of test. Just eat one already Ben. I promise they won't make you go to the dark side.

My, aren't we a happy looking Santa Claus. I can't help it, every time I look at this guy, I can't keep myself from grinning. Unfortunately, I have to make sure he stays turned off. Otherwise, the slightest touch on his belly sends him into a hysterical fit, and he'll knock everything off the table. Oh Ticklish Santa, you bring so much joy and so much aggravation at the same time..I'm not sure if you can tell, but Ticklish Santa is also sitting on several of my favorite Christmas Movies. Now I'm realizing I probably should have stored the discs in a binder, because I'll have to take part of the display down to get to the movies. Crap.

At the top of the mountain, we have the lair of Stunt Claus. Or is it Santa Zombie? Zombie Claus? I guess I should have established that at his creation. Either way, he has plenty of friends, with Wampa, unfortunate skeleton, and a couple of snowmen to keep him company. What are his plans for the Christmas season? Nothing too evil I hope...

Here we see Iron man putting the finishing touches on the tree. He actually came up with a formula to determine which decorations should go where. The result is the most precisely decorated tree in history. Behind him you can see more of our Christmas movies, and next to those you can barely see a Christmas Sing-a-ma-jig. It's just watching, waiting for the perfect moment to jump from behind the tree and sing "Jingle Bells" at somebody.

High up in the tree, Snake Eyes is keeping watch, just in case any of Cobra's secret elves try to come in and sabotage the lights. He may not seem like the Christmas-y type, but oh boy..does he ever get pissed when someone tries to mess with the tree lights.

It seems the Storm Trooper got a little confused, and mistook Dodger from Oliver and Company for his Tauntaun. "No wonder they lost the war", muttered a bewildered Rebel Trooper under his breath.

It seems like wherever you go, there will always be somebody causing trouble. Knowing Mumm-Ra, this is all his doing. Or, I could be wrong, and it's all part of a snowball fight gone bad. Either way, this is probably going to end badly for Cobra Commander, unless he's smart enough to run away from this one.

I have to admit, after I finished the table, I was definitely feeling more of the ol' Christmas spirit. It's almost like those twinkling little lights burned through whatever fog that was keeping me from getting into the holiday. So, if you're feeling down in the dumps, or just can't get into the swing of things this year,just do what I did. Arrange a bunch of random Christmas items on a table top, and watch your aggravations just dissolve away. Oh, and if you do put together a Christmas Mood Table, I'd love to see it.

Have a happy rest of November!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Man Cave 2.0

So this doesn't really have much to do with Halloween, but I think I'm going to consider the countdown officially over for this year. I missed out on too much, and it's too late to catch up. I still have several things to post about before the month is over though. It'll certainly be more than enough to fill the next 7 days before All Hallow's Eve. I was hoping Chelsea would be able to keep up the posts while I was gone, but she was occupied by a little project over the past few days.

I'm sure you've all seen photos of my well worn desk, and remember me mentioning that I didn't really display my meager collection. Well, Chelsea took care of both of those problems while I was gone.

This used to be a knife display case from a hardware store, but Chelsea took the inserts out, and left the shelves. Then she used some adhesive backed LED lights, and stuck them to the bottoms of the top two shelves. She managed to get all my stuff in here, and I think it looks great.

Next, she made some awesome little shadow boxes. I'm not sure why Chewie is using a lightsaber though. I guess he decided to become a Jedi too.

All of my carry knives are easily accessible now. I've had that magnetic knife strip for a couple years now, so it's great she finally put it to some use. The table will work great for when I need to set up my sharpening stones, which are held in the tool box sitting on that shelf there. It'll also work well for my Halloween mood table next year.

There were a couple of unnecessary doors that we took down and stored out in the garage. We had been talking about turning them into tables or desks, but never got around to it. It seems Chelsea was feeling extra crafty, and built me a new desk top. It works great, and actually gives me more room for the random stuff I manage to accumulate. I think it looks better than that old, worn out desktop that was on there before.

Here's my classic gaming corner. Unfortunately, I don't have any classic systems hooked up at the moment, but that's easily remedied. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I even own any classic systems..hmm. The bean bag looking thing is a Big Joe chair from Wal-Mart. It is one of the most comfortable bean filled pieces of furniture I've ever seen. I could see myself falling asleep in the middle of a round of Super Mario Bros.

Heh..get it?

Chelsea decorated all of the outlets like this. I'm amazed at all the different kinds of duct tape they're coming out with these days. This one appears to portray some urban squid creatures spraying graffiti all over the place. Damn squids, they're getting more rowdy every day.

The last little touch was a set of Transformers curtains. It may not be old school Transformers, but I think they still help bring the room together. I'm not sure if you noticed, but Chelsea also repainted the entire room, so it doesn't look like I'm sitting in a dungeon anymore. It should make it a little easier to light my next video, which will be coming up soon.

So there you have it. Several more reasons why I think I have the greatest girlfriend in the world. Sorry guys, but I've got you beat.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reminiscing about Roses.

Many years ago, Roses used to be a store on the same level of Target or Wal-Mart. There are no malls on the Eastern Shore, and it was at least an hour's drive to the closest one. So, unless you wanted to make the drive to Virginia Beach or Salisbury, Roses was it. Frankly, I never felt like I was missing out on anything. I could find everything that interested me under one roof. My store carried, GIJoe, Transformers, Masters of the Universe, LEGO, Super Powers, just about every awesome 80's toy line that I can remember.  It's funny to me now, but making the drive from Bayford to Onley was always exciting for me. It was a trip that we made just about every week, and it couldn't have taken more than half an hour, but it still felt like a little adventure. Knowing that I wasn't going to leave the store empty handed only added to the excitement, and  it was a rare occasion that I didn't spend my allowance on something in Roses. 

I spent a lot of time hanging around Roses, but the toy section and electronics were the only two places I remember. I can tell you within a few inches just where the video game cases were, but housewares? Not a clue. I'm sure I went to other parts of the store, but to me they were only delaying my trips down the toy aisles. The great thing about Roses' toy section was that I almost always had it to myself. It didn't seem to matter what time of the day it was, I was often the only kid in the aisle. Looking back, I'm probably lucky I was never kidnapped, since the toy aisles were in the back of the store, right next to the fire exit. Anyone trying to run off with me would have had a hell of a time, since my parents taught me to never talk to strangers, and to kick, bite and scream if someone ever tried to take me. Roses really did have an impressive toy section, and the ones you see at Target and Wal-Mart really pale in comparison. There were 8 aisles of toys, split up on either side of the main aisle. I'd say it was a pretty even split between the girls' and boys' toys. 

Last week, we were out and about, and made a stop at the ol Roses. I was bored, so I decided to take a few shots while I was there, to try and give folks a clearer picture of how things were set up. 

These two aisles used to hold every toy that I loved. The shelf to your left was home to Super Powers, and Masters of the Universe figures and vehicles. . The shelf to the right was the GIJoe section, and it's where I spent most of my allowances. Every inch of those shelves were packed with figures, accessories, and vehicles. It's where I first spotted and fell in love with the GIJoe Mobile Command Center. It took a lot of begging and pleading, but I was able to talk my dad into getting that one for me. Then he got to spend the rest of the night trying to put it together. That aisle would eventually become home to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. 

The back aisle was home to mostly sporting equipment and Power Wheels, not much different than it is now. There was a small section of coloring books there, and I didn't realize it until later, but they also carried multi-packs of comic books back here as well. The aisle on the left was home to Transformers, GoBots, pretty much all of the robotic toys. During one of their many change-overs, the GIJoes were moved to that aisle as well, and all of the figures were hung up on the section at the end. 

There's mostly just children's books and toys there now, but I remember when it was a great place to be a child. I bought many GIJoe figures from that little section, for the low price of $2.99 ($3.12 with tax). See that? I bought so many of them, that price is forever engraved in my psyche. I used to love the seclusion of this little corner in the store. It rarely saw much traffic, and it was a nice, quiet place to hang out and read filecards when you were trying to figure out which figure to buy.  I guess that seclusion also made it a great place for some kidnapping, but as far as I know, every kid that went back here made it out alive. 

It took a few years, but Roses eventually started going downhill. I think I noticed it in the early 90's, when they started carrying more knockoff toys, and what name brand stuff they did have was several years old. Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures that looked more like their cartoon counterparts? They must have hung around on the pegs for 3 or 4 years after they came out. The only toys that were regularly stocked were the GIJoes, but even that stopped eventually. By the time I entered high school, they mostly stocked the kinds of toys you'd find in dollar stores. 

Roses hasn't changed much since the days of its decline. It's mostly a discount store, and they seem to carry items that have been clearanced out of other big chains. It's mostly junk, though I've been lucky enough to find some gems hidden amongst all the cheap crap.

These two Young Justice action figures at $5.00 each, for example. I remember seeing them in Target for quite a bit more. Unfortunately, these are the only two they had left. That's the problem with these types of stores. Their selection is very limited, so you probably won't be able to build a collection here. Most of the time, they'll only have one figure out of the entire line, so unless you want to army build with Batman, you're going to be out of luck.

I used to be crazy about some Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. I never really cared about the tracks or the playsets, I just loved playing with the cars. My dad sometimes worked as a tow truck driver, so that used to be one of my favorite things to pretend. I also loved the Hot Wheels Bigfoot Champions line, which allowed you to customize the monster truck with different sized tires. I'd spend hours lining up my cars and having Bigfoot run them all over, then I'd change the tires and have him drive though a (pretend) mud pit. This Hot Wheels Custom Motors set looks like it could keep me occupied for hours, even today. It looks like it would push all those monster truck, race car, and war machine buttons.

The more I look at this photo, the more I'm tempted to go back and pick up this Matchbox Jurassic Chopper Mega Rig. There is just so much going on in this picture, I don't really know what to make of it. There is so much awesome on the front of this box, I don't see how a kid could want or need anything else. You get enough parts for over 25 different vehicles, two figures, firing missiles, and a dinosaur with chomping action. The box advertises "Infinite ways to play and build!", and I'm willing to take them up on that challenge. The best part about these Mega Rigs, is that all of their parts interchange. Theoretically, you could combine them all into one giant Mega Dino Hunting Undersea Aerial Machine. Man, what am I doing still sitting here? I need to go buy that one now, before someone else snatches it up. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

I'm drawing a Blanka.

The early 90's were a strange time for GIJoe. We had neon colored Marines, Joes in mech suits fighting in space, and brightly colored ninjas with spring action features. I may have found something to like in the different lines under the GIJoe umbrella, but it was easy to see that Hasbro was grasping at straws trying to find something, anything that kids would buy. It was that desperation that led Hasbro to combine two different properties that had absolutely nothing to do with each other. It was a move that may have led to the untimely (or overdue, depending on who you talk to) death of the GIJoe toy line in the 90's.

Hasbro actually released two series of Street Fighter figures. The first was the Street Fighter 2 subset, released in 1993. It featured the original fighters from the games in action figure form. Some of them used original molds, while others featured parts from other GI Joe figures with newly sculpted heads. These actually featured GIJoe markings on the packaging, leading many to consider them cousins to the main line. The second line featuring the world fighters premiered in 1994. It was based on the newly released movie and didn't mention GIJoe anywhere on their packaging. They were considered a completely separate line, much like the Mortal Kombat figures released the following year. The Street Fighter movie crashed and burned at the theater, and I'm pretty sure these figures did as well. I remember seeing the movie line hanging on pegs years after they'd been released.

My Blanka was part of a trade with John from The Clawful Punch. He was one of my favorites from the Street Fighter line, though I think I originally owned the blue version that came with the Beast Blaster. I remember most of my play sessions with blue Blanka consisting of him going on a one man rampage against both GIJoe and Cobra. It always took the combined might of both armies to finally bring him down. That sounds an awful lot like most of the Incredible Hulk comics I read, so I guess having the green version would be more fitting. This version reuses the entire Road Pig body, with a newly sculpted head. It's appropriately bulky, fitting for a character that spent all of his time living in the jungle and street fighting.

Like the other GIJoe figures of the 90's, Blanka came with his weapons attached to a plastic tree. He also came with a ridiculously large missile launcher. There's one thing I can say about Hasbro in the 90's; those GIJoe missile launchers had quite a bit of power for their size. This one will launch rockets almost all the way across my office. I made the mistake of hitting the trigger while it was pointed at my face, and it left a red mark on my forehead for a couple of days. Consider it lesson learned, don't point missile launchers at your face.

It's perfectly acceptable to point them at Cobra though.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

GIJoe and the Menace in the Wilderness!

First things first. After staring at the cover for at least 23 minutes, I decree, that now and forever, I will write G.I. Joe as GIJoe. I'm tired of all those periods and spaces and kids with their loud music..Sorry, got off track there. I loved GIJoe figures and vehicles. They were my favorite toys as a kid, and they remain one of my favorites today. Still, one of my favorite things about GIJoe were the mail order flyers (fliers?) they included in some of their figures and vehicles. I've talked about how I only ever ordered from one of the inserts, but that didn't stop me from looking at these things over and over, until they literally fell apart. This insert, along with Terrifying Lasers of Destruction,were the last two released for the original line. I have to admit, Terrifying Lasers definitely has the cooler items for sale (Serpentor's Chariot!), but that's not to say Menace in the Wilderness didn't contain anything interesting. Let's have a peek inside:

Right away, we have the GIJoe international team. Counter-clockwise from the upper right we have Big Bear representing Russia, Budo repping Japan, and Big Ben for Great Britain. I'm assuming Spirit is supposed to be representing the good ol' USA, since he's Native American. I think. These guys are all repaints of figures that appeared earlier in the line. I actually owned the original Big Ben and Big Bear, and preferred them to the versions offered here. These guys don't look terrible though. Compared to some of the other figures Hasbro was selling in 1993, the figures here are pretty subdued.

Now we're talking, vehicles! One thing that always bothered me about the WOLF was that gun above the canopy. It's like Cobra was 99% done with the design, when they realized it didn't have any guns. "Just put one on top, it's worked before!" yells Cobra Commander. The Techno Vipers don't care, they never actually have to drive this stuff. They figure, "What the hell..let's add some skipedoes too". Oh, you didn't notice those sitting above the missiles, looking all innocent? Yeah, they're torpedoes..for the snow. I tell ya, those Cobra Engineers were geniuses.

Standing next to the WOLF, is the Cobra Ninja Viper. Or is it "a Ninja Viper". I never figured out if Cobra only had one, or if there were legions of Ninja Vipers creeping through the halls of the Terror-Drome. He was just a repaint of the original Storm Shadow, and I have to admit the color works. It always seemed ridiculous to have a ninja running around in a bright white uniform, especially since the good guy ninja wore black.

I actually preferred the original General Hawk to the one offered here. Sure, this one had a backpack that made noise, but the original had a kick-ass jetpack. With missiles! Also, this Hawk suffers from the 90's neon paint scheme that I love to hate. On the other hand, the Deep Six offered here is one of the best versions of that figure. He looks like he's ready to go exploring on the bottom of the ocean, or into outer space if you're willing to stretch your imagination a bit. That gun he's holding originally came with Toxo-Viper, though I have no clue what kind of weapon it's supposed to be.

The Hovercraft is one vehicle I always wanted, but could never manage to find. If I had been smart, I would have ordered it from here. I liked most of the GIJoe vehicles, but I always preferred the ones that were based on real things, or at least looked more realistic. None looked more real than the Hovercraft. Oddly enough, the insert doesn't refer to it by it's real name, Killer W.H.A.L.E. (Warrior: Hovering Assault Launching Envoy). This thing was loaded to the gills with weapons, from the machine guns on the sides, to the missile launchers in the back. It also had room for close to a dozen figures, as well as a one-man sled that could be launched from the front for those quick escapes.

I never really cared about having a set of personalized dog tags, but damn I wanted that collector's kit. Part of it was wanting an actual case for my figures, and part of it was wanting to know who the mystery figure was. Thanks to the power of the interwebs, I found out it was the hooded version of Cobra Commander. Man, I really should have ordered that kit. That version of Cobra Commander was always my favorite.

Lastly, we have the order form. Originally, you were required to use Flag Points if you wanted to order from one of the inserts. Toward the end of the line though, I noticed that using Flag Points was now an option, one that would save you a few bucks on a couple of the items. I'm guessing Hasbro realized kids probably weren't saving the flag points anymore, but they still had all this unsold stock to sell. Even without the Flag Points, there are some good deals to be had. Unfortunately, this offer expired nearly 20 years ago. Oh god, now I'm definitely feeling old.

I have to admit, I'm very tempted to fill this thing out and send it in. Anybody else curious to see what happens?
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