Thoughts on GI Joe Con 2014

By bill - April 13, 2014

gi-joe-con-2014The underwhelming 50th Anniversary of GI Joe continues.

The 2014 GI Joe Convention went down this weekend in Dallas.  I didn’t end up going out, and honestly it looks like I didn’t miss much.  Hasbro opted not to attend either this year, which seems to confirm what many have said– GI Joe, as we have known it for the last six years, is over.

We’ll get the Toys R Us exclusives this summer, but it looks like those toys will be the end all, be all of the 50th Anniversary celebration from Hasbro.  It’s a shame, because these past years have been by and large a joy for Joe collectors (the high point of which was the still incredible Pursuit of Cobra series), and, well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see where Hasbro goes next with the property.

But to their credit, the GI Joe Collector’s Club still threw a big party for Joe’s 50th, with some cool exclusives spotlighting Joe Colton himself as well as an Eco Force vs. Zombies theme.  It made for some fun figures, all of which are currently going for obscene prices on eBay… I would love to own the Steel Brigade zombies 3-pack, but I’m not paying $200 for them.  Sorry scalpers.

With no Hasbro and no new releases to showcase, the Club had the only big news of the Con, with the reveal of the lineup of their third Figure Subscription series, as well as the 2014-15 Club exclusives.

Here’s the new FSS lineup, which is actually pretty solid:

  • Alpine v2
  • Bombstrike
  • Psyche Out (Original Colors)
  • Repeater (Original Colors)
  • Hit & Run (Concept Case Version)
  • Muskrat (Original Colors)
  • Spearhead (Original Colors)
  • Big Ben
  • Crimson Guard Immortal
  • Slice
  • Night Creeper Leader
  • Vypra

I like this.  It’s smart on the part of the Club to reuse the awesome designs by Boss Fight Studios from last year’s Night Force pack in their classic Real American Hero colors.  And we’ll see what appear to be a few of the concept case figures designed by Hasbro but never released.  It’s a good lineup, much stronger than series two, and with enough relevant figures that I think I’ll jump in once again.

The next club exclusive, however, doesn’t inspire much excitement– signing up for the Club membership over the next year will get you a Dr. Mindbender in arctic gear, and the opportunity to buy a Cobra repaint of the SHARC with a Sub-Viper.  That feels more in-line with what the Club has been doing for the past year.  Without having seen the design, it feels very underwhelming, as did some of the other Con exclusives this year.

It’s not that what the Club does is bad.  They’re clearly well versed in the expanded history of Joe lore, and they’ve enlisted some amazing designers at Boss Fight.  But the toys they sell are extremely limited production, and very, very expensive.  There comes a time when you can only overpay for so many figures before you begin to question what you’re doing.  I’d probably have passed on the Club prices for most of this year’s Con stuff, but I will absolutely be passing on the further inflated eBay prices now.

I do admire what the Club does, and in a year like this, they did a much better job of keeping the Joe flag flying than Hasbro, but as I said before, they need to stop being greedy and lazy.  As I get older, I don’t mind paying more than I should for something I really want, as long as it’s well made and smartly designed.  The new Figure Sub series sounds like it hits those marks, but a lot of what the Club is doing otherwise just doesn’t come close anymore.  Hopefully they learned from their mistakes this past year and will come back strong, with toys that are deserving of their high price tags.  If not, I’m curious if the Joe Club will wind up in the same place as Hasbro’s retail line…

Source: Hiss Tank

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