Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Day

The snow we got last night and this morning provided me with an occasion to open the Ice Viper figure I packed away after buying it four or five months ago. I took it and a H.I.S.S. out front for some photos this morning:

Ice Viper - The Rise Of Cobra
Not everyone had as much fun in the snow as we did. In fact, someone seems to have lost something rather important.

Darby had plenty of fun, though. She went out to play in the yard a few times, and we took a walk around the neighborhood so she could run around several other yards, too.

Darby's Snow Day
Here she is patrolling the backyard and checking out the snow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Changes To eBay Fees Coming This Spring

Read the announcement here. Personally, I like the new fee structure for auction-style listings. I already start most of mine at 99¢, and the .25% Final Value Fee increase for items that sell for $25 or less is a good trade-off, because I'll only have to pay it if the item sells. I'm sure I'll feel differently when I sell items that end over the $25 mark, but what are you going to do? No other site offers you the exposure eBay does.

That won't stop the usual chorus of bitching and whining that accompanies every change to eBay policy ever, though. People on OAI web sites are already claiming they'll take their ball and go home. Rather than waste time repeating myself, I'll just refer you to what I said back in August of 2008.

Via @terrordrome

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Zartan: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Bonus

While I enjoyed G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra more than a lot of fans, there were definitely things I believe should have been handled differently. The movie was not without its flaws, and there were certainly shortcomings in the way the source material was interpreted, but I'm likely in the minority in believing they got more right than wrong. Having said that, one aspect of the film I thoroughly enjoyed was Arnold Vosloo's portrayal of Zartan. I felt like they nailed this character from top to bottom. Sure, I would have loved to see him in his cowl, but that wasn't nearly as important to me as his characterization, which I felt came very close to perfect. My only problem was that Hasbro neglected to release an undisguised figure in their movie line, choosing instead to release two versions in G.I. JOE MP uniforms.

I passed on the single-carded release over and over after the launch of the line, and only purchased one when I decided to use the body for my Law & Order. Not only was I unenthusiastic about the disguised figure, but I wasn't fond of the hair color. The Toys R Us Trooper five-pack that was released late last year, however, corrected that second problem with darker hair, so I decided to fill in the gap left by Hasbro.

Zartan - The Rise Of Cobra
This figure is simply the Zartan head from Toys R Us G.I. JOE five-pack on the body of the Duke figure (sans the leg harness) from the same retailer's Cobra five-pack (25th Anniversary Snake-Eyes torso, 25th Gung-Ho legs, and Modern Era Airborne arms), armed with the M.A.R.S. Industries Officer's knife from the same Cobra five-pack.

Zartan: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Bonus

Friday, January 22, 2010

Night Stalkers: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part V

If there's one thing the 25th Anniversary and Modern Era G.I. JOE lines needed, aside from specific characters on my personal list of wants, it's more females. The original five-packs released in 2007 included Scarlett and the Baroness. Since then, Hasbro has released only one additional female character, Lady Jaye, followed by two more versions of Scarlett, three more Baroness figures, and two more Lady Jaye figures. Cover Girl, Jinx, and Zarana are still waiting for their turns.

With the launch of The Rise Of Cobra line, Cover Girl finally got some love, but this was based on the likeness of Karolina Kurkova, not the Courtney Krieger we all remember from 1983. It also brought the introduction of a brand new character, Agent Helix, which was definitely a welcome addition. I'm always down for new female characters in the property. Reusing her head sculpt, Hasbro released a 2009 version of Dialtone. This wasn't the Jack Morelli Dial-Tone from '86, but Jill Morelli, a female comm specialist using a nearly identical code name. The movie line also included two versions each of Rachel Nichols' Scarlett and Sienna Miller's Baroness.

Just like Marlon Wayans and Saïd Taghmaoui became my unmasked Iron Grenadiers, I had something other than Scarlett and the Baroness in mind for these movie figures. With no female army builders available for Cobra, and no hint of any being part of Hasbro's plans for the future, these releases presented an opportunity. I was a big fan of one element of the 2007 G.I. JOE Convention exclusive set, so I set out to create a 25th/Modern-style update to the concept.

I already had a Scarlett head from the body I used to create my ROC/DDP-style Jinx, and I bought the "Paris Pursuit" Baroness figure with the intention of using her for something other than Baroness. I wasn't sure exactly what I would do with her at the time, but it was a great figure, so I was certain to come up with something. After picking up the Toys R Us five-pack with Dialtone, I decided to grab two more "Paris Pursuit" Baroness figures and a Cover Girl. With a brunette, a blonde, and a redhead, I now had all the necessary ingredients for a set of Night Stalkers.

Night Stalkers
Looking at the different ways I've incorporated The Rise Of Cobra toys into my 25th collection, this group is easily my favorite. Maybe it's a good thing for me that Hasbro hasn't produced any female army builders in Cobra uniforms, because I might spend myself into the poorhouse if they did. I had already bought the 2009 G.I. JOE five-pack (with Snake-Eyes, Flint, Lady Jaye, Shipwreck, and Hawk) to create my Female Viper Officer, and I would have painted several more if that version of Lady Jaye had seen a single-carded release. For now, though, the Night Stalkers will serve under the Baroness and bring a little diversity to the workplace on Cobra Island.

Brunette Night Stalker
The Brunette Night Stalker is simply the "Paris Pursuit" Baroness body with a Dialtone head (originally used for Agent Helix), armed with two of Baroness' guns.

Redhead Night Stalker
The Redhead Night Stalker uses the head from the "Desert Ambush" Scarlett, and she is armed with one of Baroness' guns.

Blonde Night Stalker
The Blonde Night Stalker has Cover Girl's head and silver pistols. Cover Girl's head sits too low on the neck if you push it all the way down, but it's very easy to position it for a proper look, and it stays in place perfectly. For whatever reason, this head sculpt looks much better to me on this body than it did with the ROC JOE uniform. Maybe it's her facial expression; perhaps it's more fitting for a Cobra operative.

I'll post a bonus installment tomorrow with something different, a way to add something to your movie collection that Hasbro neglected to release.

Night Stalkers: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part V

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Unmasked Grenadiers: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part IV

While I don't mind admitting that I enjoyed the movie interpretations of the characters, the Marlon Wayans Rip Cord and Saïd Taghmaoui Breaker had no place in my display of classic characters. With Hasbro's habit of reusing head sculpts in the 25th Anniversary and Modern lines, though, the best thing about actor likenesses was the introduction of more unique heads that I could use with my 25th figures (starring Channing Tatum as "Cobra Science Officer"). I bought The Rise Of Cobra Breaker and Rip Cord figures back in July for just this reason, although I did buy another Rip Cord for my movie display after seeing it at the theater. With these new heads, I decided to unmask Destro's personal troops, the Iron Grenadiers.

Unmasked Iron Grenadiers
I wanted to include the IGs in my display, but without the helmets, to serve as a personal security team for Destro. The two on the right use the Flash and comic two-pack Hawk heads from the Firefly vs. G.I. JOE Troopers five pack; the two on the left use the ROC Breaker and Rip Cord heads.

Iron Grenadier Officer
This is my Iron Grenadier Officer, using the figure and stand from the Toys R Us three-pack, and carrying the M.A.R.S. case from the "Attack On The G.I. JOE PIT" Baroness figure.

Iron Grenadier
Here's the Saïd Taghmaoui Iron Grenadier, using the figure from the comic book two-pack. I knew I had to do something about those red pistols, so after taking these photos, all four IGs have been equipped with MAC-10s from Marauder Gun-Runners.

Even though they weren't going to replace the '80s versions of Rip Cord and Breaker, their likenesses are still getting put to good use in my collection. We'll take a look at the female characters of the line tomorrow.

Unmasked Grenadiers: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part IV

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Law & Order: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part III

One The Rise Of Cobra update to an off-screen character that I really liked was the release of Law & Order in the Toys R Us five-pack. The only problem, though, was that he was in a desert-specific uniform. I know the desert troops appeal to some people, but I have no interest in them at all. That's always been the case, too. I never even cared for Dusty as a kid. I was eager to add Law & Order to my collection, but I had to use another body.

Enter the single-carded Zartan figure from Wave 1 Collection 2 of the movie line. I passed on this figure before and after seeing the movie. I really enjoyed the character in the flick, but I didn't want a "disguised" version of Zartan (more on that later this week). Once I saw that Law was using the same body, but repainted with the desert camo scheme, I finally had a reason to buy one. This is simply Law's head (originally used for Dusty), helmet, and baton with the Zartan body. For me, the grey camo pattern makes for a much better MP figure in general. If he's going to be stationed at The PIT, he can save the desert gear until it's relocated to Utah.

Law & Order
G.I. JOE figures with animals have always been a big hit with me, so I dug Law & Order back in the '80s. I always thought the original figure looked goofy, though. It doesn't happen often, but I prefer this over a straight 25th-style release of the character.

Law & Order: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part III

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cobra Science Officer: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part II

One of the best movie figures from the G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra line was Rex "The Doctor" Lewis, and I immediately decided I'd need a duplicate for my non-movie display when I first saw images of the toy. What I didn't know at the time was that a second version, a white coat variant, would be available later. Once that was revealed, I knew it was the one I wanted. Even a mad scientist like Dr. Mindbender needs someone to assist him in the lab with his research and experiments, so providing him with a lackey was the first idea that came to mind for this figure. It wouldn't do to stick with the Rex head, however, as that's too movie-specific for my tastes. This is one of those bodies with a shorter neck, though, so some heads would sit much too low on the figure.

Duke to the rescue!

Cobra Science Officer
Since there won't be any movie versions of Duke in my classics display, this ended up being a great match. It's just the white coat version of Rex with the Duke head from the Toys R Us Cobra ROC five-pack (originally used for the v33 "Desert Ambush" Duke figure). The final result is my Cobra Science Officer, ready to help Mindbender with his next sinister creation, and complete with a normal, non-Freddy-looking head. This body would also be great for a modern Dr. Venom custom, but with an exclusive figure coming soon from the G.I. JOE Collectors' Club, I'll wait for that and hope for a more classic look for our dearly departed Dr. Venom.

Cobra Science Officer: Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra Part II

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra: Security Squad

I'll start by saying I'm a big fan of many items from Hasbro's The Rise Of Cobra line. There are great vehicles like the new Night Raven, the Cobra Gunship, the Steel Crusher A.P.V., and the Dragonhawk helicopter. I was happy to add some of the figures to my collection, as well. Night Adder is an instant classic and one of the coolest new characters introduced to the brand in years. Paris Pursuit Snake-Eyes, the PIT Commando, Rex "The Doctor" Lewis, and Flash were favorites, too. Don't forget the ROC repaints of the Night Creeper and Strato-Viper.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that most of the figures just don't fit in too well with the classic characters of the Modern/25th Anniversary line. Or they don't mesh right out of the package, anyway. A little mixing and matching can go a long way, though, and that will be my focus for the next few days. None of these will require any paint or tools. With a few simple tweaks like head swaps and gear exchanges, even the movie line's peg warming army builders (not-so-affectionately dubbed the "Turtle Vipers" by many G.I. JOE collectors) can work their way into a classic Cobra display. I'll start with those guys, and we'll see how cool these figures look under their "turtle" shells.

Cobra Security 1
This first figure is a Neo-Viper from the Wal-Mart-exclusive Heetseek Missile System mini battle station. I simply removed the "turtle" chest armor, replaced the head with the blonde "Breaker" head from the Toys R Us Firefly vs. G.I. JOE Troopers five-pack, and armed him with a rifle from the PIT Commando figure.

Cobra Security 2
The second figure is the Neo-Viper from the Target-exclusive Serpent Armor set. Once again, I removed the chest armor, swapped his head out for a Serpentor head, and armed him with a PIT Commando rifle.

Cobra Security 3
The third figure is the Neo-Viper from the Toys R Us Cobra ROC five-pack. Same rifle, same head and armor removal, and this time he gets a Footloose head from the Toys R Us G.I. JOE ROC five-pack.

Cobra Security 4
The fourth figure is just the M.A.R.S. Industries Officer from the Toys R Us Cobra ROC five-pack, sans the Resolute Cobra Trooper helmet. The Duke-in-disguise figure from that same set even came with the rifle I used for everyone else, so he gets the same weapon as his teammates.

Cobra Security Squad
What I ended up with is a new Cobra Security Squad, all without breaking out a screwdriver, a brush, or even a non-Hasbro weapon. In my mind, they're private contractors (think Blackwater) who patrol Cobra Island and report to Night Adder. In keeping with the snake theme, I'm thinking of referring to them as Lancehead Company.

Getting More From The Rise Of Cobra: Security Squad