I figured this year’s GI Joe Con would be a kind of quiet one– Retaliation is already out in theaters, Renegades is looking like it won’t be back on The Hub, and we saw the entire 2013 Joe line at Toy Fair back in February. We didn’t even get the San Diego Comic Con reveal, which had been a staple of Hasbro’s Joe Con presentation in years past.
I was planning on going to the Con this year but a death in the family prevented me… after reading up on what happened this weekend I don’t feel I missed much. Yes, it would have been cool to see Hasbro’s new concept vault– the not planned for release gallery for this year included an amazing new Destro and Gung Ho, along with what would be welcome additions like Leatherneck and the Heat Viper. Last year’s concept vault lead to the release of upcoming figures like the amazing classic Cobra Commander, and I’m really hoping we see something similar come out of this year’s showcase. [CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS ON HISS TANK].
Much more impressive than Hasbro was the Joe Club’s own plans for the year. I’m very happy that the Club seems to have really evolved after learning from the fiasco of last year’s Oktober Guard Con exclusives. This year, we saw them move away from demanded core characters like the OG and back to a sub-team with this Convention’s Night Force set. On top of that, their on-site Con souvenirs, while continuing the Night Force theme, did NOT feature characters associated with Night Force in the vintage line– Lady Jaye, Steeler and Chuckles all look like cool new figures, but since none of them had 80s Night Force editions, they feel more ancillary than necessary, even for many die hard Joe collectors… that’s awesome! The best Con exclusive items are the ones whose exclusivity doesn’t feel like a slap in the face to those who do not attend, and each on-site item the Joe Club offered this year fits that bill. It’s a smart approach, and far more thoughtful to the fan base as a whole than we have seen from the Club in the past, so I call that a good thing.
Also a good thing is the second wave of the Figure Subscription Service… Starting as early as August, we will see another 12 figure subscription, which includes:
I think there’s more variety in this mix than the previous one, with everything from sub-teams and internationals, to welcome staples like Keel Haul, and even Google-worthy obscure picks like Bombadier. It’s diverse, and will help round out Tiger Force, Night Force and the Oktober Guard, while delivering another brand new villain in Eco Warriors enemy Cesspool. I do wish there was more of a female presence in this mix– especially after being wowed by the modern era Jinx– but if the Club keeps going with this concept I’m sure we’ll see more woman (and Cobras) soon enough.
Overall, it seemed like a quiet Con. There were some neat– but not crucial– Con Exclusives, and while there wasn’t much to report on the Hasbro front, the Club themselves really impressed me with their new, less standoffish approach. Not only are they producing great toys for Joe Collectors, it seems like for the first time ever they are truly considering fans with every decision they make. And that’s half the battle.