I will admit it up front – I enjoy the seminars and panels, but they’re not necessarily always my priority. There are so many friends to catch up with and so many things to do, that sometimes panel attendance is sacrificed to make room for other things.
This year, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club (and, more importantly – the fans) really pulled out all the stops to put together some amazing panels, many of which made the trip worthwhile.
I’ll say this up front – if you didn’t make it to JoeCon, do not despair! The Full Force has the hook up for pretty much every single panel that happened at JoeCon. Hit up The Full Force Facebook Page to check them all out. The YoJoe.com Facebook page also has the majority of the panels available for viewing as well.
On Friday there were a number of panels, and Phil over at YoJoe did an AMAZING job chronicling them with images over on the YoJoe Facebook Page. Definitely go check that out.
Panels on Friday included ’95 and Beyond, which gave us a really fantastic look at what was planned for G.I. Joe’s future after its demise in 1994. We got some great perspective on art and concepts from Battle Corps Rangers, Star Brigade, Manimals, X-Soldiers and more, and as a huge fan of the 90’s, I was eating this up. Perhaps the best perspective came from Kirk Bozigian, who advised that their strategy in the 90’s was to combat any potential competition. They truly saw G.I. Joe as an “umbrella brand” of sorts, which could do battle with any other action figures on the shelves, whether it was Star Wars, Power Rangers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
We also got a great look at the history of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Comic with a look back at the ongoing storyline from its start, all the way up through present day. While I was a little put off that the Club neglected to mention the three-year Dio-Story that I wrote which appeared in the newsletter as a precursor to the actual comics, what the presentation contained was very informative and it was really interesting to see the way the comic evolved over the years.
Saturday is always full of panel-related excitement and this year was no different. By far the highlight of the Saturday line up was Behind the Scenes of G.I. Joe’s first Micro Movie, which was simply amazing. Never before seen behind the scenes footage of the 90s commercials with captivating perspective from Kirk Bozigian and flawless presentation by Carson from 3DJoes. I will remember this panel for a very, very long time. Thankfully Carson also posted it up on his 3DJoes YouTube Page.
This panel was simply amazing. Every single minute was filled with joyous nostalgia and some awesome nuggets of information (when Kirk was brought back to the Joe line in the late 80’s it was because Hasbro was concerned that sales of Real American Hero had dropped to EIGHTY-NINE MILLION DOLLARS). Yes, DROPPED to 89 million. Kirk was able, with the help of these landmark live action commercials, bring sales back up closer to 120 million dollars, numbers that are, frankly, staggering to me considering the landscape of today’s action figure world.
Seeing Wren Roberts and all of the other live action contributors jumping around through awesome sets, riding shotgun on a life sized Battle Wagon, with COBRA Commander screeching into the camera while squeezing slime was just way too cool, and I can’t give Carson and Kirk enough props for bringing that to the masses. Pure gold.
Saturday was also filled with panels about the Adventure Team, Classic Collection 12″ figures as well as some terrific insider knowledge on vehicle prototyping and design work. In the afternoon, I also joined Bill, Don, Jim and Derryl in the Kindle Worlds panel, talking about being a G.I. Joe author and how that has changed my life, allowing me to dovetail my love for G.I. Joe with being an independent author and creator.
Day two of JoeCon was a whirlwind as it always is, running from one event to another, trying to consume as much raw energy as possible, and this year really did not disappoint in that regard.
The third day of JoeCon in any given year is like day two, only with two less hours to cram it all in. Again, this year was the same deal. There were a handful of great panels to round off the final convention, including IDW artist extraordinaire Adam Riches talking about his artistic endeavors, and WOJM co-host (and cosplay wizard) Joe Colton talking about the beauty of G.I. Joe cosplay. There was also a 12″ oriented panel and of course… the already infamous “Last Panel”.
The last panel. Saved for the end of the final day of JoeCon, Brian, Dave and Lanny hosted one final panel that was a mixture of everything. They launched the panel by announcing some new figures they hope to release before the end of the year (you can see my recap of that information here) which elicited a terrific response from a certain British person in attendance. Plus – TIGER FORCE HIT & RUN. BOOSH.
But perhaps the most impactful moment of the entire weekend came in that final hour when Brian went through a presentation of every single JoeCon from start to finish, showing cascading images of attendees, which brought back some really terrific memories. He also brought up some long time attendees to speak to the crowd, which included two of my co-hosts from What’s on Joe Mind, as well as folks from the 12″ and 4″ crowd.
It was an emotional moment for sure, an emotional moment that built upon a weekend full of them. You can check out the full video of the last panel at both The Full Force Facebook Page and YoJoe on Facebook (Part 01, Part 02, and Part 03) as well.
I’ll be honest – there have been times at JoeCon when the panels didn’t necessarily “wow” me. A lot of it is information I’ve heard before. But this year, the presenters really killed it and provided a wealth of terrific content that added both knowledge and emotion to the entire JoeCon experience.
As I’m writing this from a hotel room in Roanoke, Virginia, running on about 10 hours of sleep over three nights, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts together as I decompress from another three days of JoeCon whirlwind. Add that to the fact that there’s some emotional residue from this being the final JoeCon and this is an incredibly difficult recap to write.
I’d like to say that this year I performed some social experiment (rather than the fact that I just didn’t have the funds) but I made a conscious decision this year to go to JoeCon for the specific purpose of enjoying the people and enjoying the content. I purposefully did not buy a boxed set nor any exclusives, not only because money is a little sketchy at the moment, but also because I was determined to enjoy JoeCon without the hassle of waiting in lines or the stress of trying to budget $1,000 for toys I don’t necessarily need. That left the event a bit more “pure” where I could focus just on the people and the event itself, and I have to be honest – it was the right decision (for me).
One recurring theme throughout this final JoeCon was that these events are supposed to be about “people, not plastic” yet routinely, every year, it seems the acquisition of collectible figures is the primary goal for many in attendance. So much so that they risk knocking over children in order to get a rare figure. The despicable nature of that specific act aside, not feeling committed to buying things went a very long way towards making this whole event far more enjoyable, at least for me.
But at its core, this was still being billed as “The Final JoeCon” which automatically made it a significant event in G.I. Joe history. Counting what has come before it’s been over twenty years since there was no G.I. Joe convention held every year and when you plan your yearly schedule around an event like this, its loss will leave a void.
Over the next few days I hope to break down the different elements of this final JoeCon and explore what made it memorable, and use this as a forum for decompressing and understanding where G.I. Joe was in 2003 compared to where it stands now.
The years 2002 and 2003 felt like the beginning of a bright era of G.I. Joe history. Joe Vs. Cobra had morphed into o-rings (plus we were getting classic figures via Toys “R” Us), we were fully immersed in a new Devils’ Due comic, and life certainly looked to be good. Now, things don’t feel quiet as rosey.
But in spite of that, for one extended weekend at least, G.I. Joe fever was in full effect and the brand we all love was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
So another whirlwind weekend at JoeCon has come and gone, and as many folks have likely noticed, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time reporting news from this last JoeCon (mostly for my own sanity).
However, there were some exciting announcements at the “Last Panel” today that I wanted to touch on because I’ve seen some folks who are a little confused about how it all works.
1) The previously announced Night Stalker 3-Pack is still being released in the 4th quarter this year, with three different ethnically diverse head sculpts, using the same builds as the GIJCC female COBRA Troopers
2) There is a new Ninja Force Zartan w/ motorcycle exclusive coming out, which Dave Lane specifically mentioned should make the choice for the 13th figure in FSS 8 more evident. From the looks of it, Zartan will be using the same head sculpt as the Con set’s Sgt. Smasher.
3) Along with these, Hasbro and the Club have worked out a way to release a special “Final Twelve” assortment. While these will be 12 figures like the FSS, this is NOT an FSS. The figures will be packaged in two-packs in similar themes, and available for standard pre-order, then shipped in FSS-style boxes. The Final Twelve 2-Packs are as follows:
Slaughter Marauder’s Barbecue and Low Light
Modern style figures with the classic Marauder’s paint apps to blend with the Con set
“Black Spider” Rendezvous Adventure Team vs. Coils O’Doom
Another Adventure Team figure (since the past ones sold so well) along with a brand new Coil character (with ties to Crimson Asp) who is inspired by a character spoken about on the “Regular Joes” podcast
Sonic Fighter Dodger vs Sonic Fighter Viper
Dodger and COBRA Viper in Sonic Fighter deco
Sonic Fighter Falcon vs Sonic Fighter Road Pig
Falcon and Road Pig in Sonic Fighter deco
Euro Tiger Force Hit & Run (AWESOME!) and Euro Tiger Force Psyche Out (Fetal position Christopher McLeod not included)
Modern style figures in the vintage UK exclusive Tiger Force deco’s
Euro Tiger Force Tunnel Rat and Euro Tiger Force Blizzard
Modern style figures in the vintage UK exclusive Tiger Force deco’s
I know I’ve been pretty clear in the past that I’m not especially enamored with constant vintage revisitations, but I have to admit, one final burst to fill in a few slots in the vintage line is a pretty cool idea, and I am THRILLED to get one last Hit & Run figure, especially in this awesome paint scheme. This was a really nice surprise for that last panel, and I’m glad they did it, and especially happy for Chris McLeod from The Full Force, because I know how much he loves those UK Tiger Force figures.
Speaking of The Full Force, be sure you’re checking their Facebook page as they have been live streaming and posting videos straight from JoeCon. FUUUULLL FOOOORCE!!
Consider these unconfirmed as no images have surfaced yet, but according to Colt Blue on HissTank.com, two more exclusives have been mentioned (though no product images are yet available).
Laser Viper 3 Pack
BattleForce: 2000 Polar Battle Bear Snowmobile
Again, no real details on these yet, though one would imagine the Laser Vipers are based on the unreleased Concept Case renditions, while the Battle Bear might be worked up in silver to jive with the old school BattleForce: 2000 look and feel.
We’ve got boots on the ground and will get more details via the JoeCon comic as soon as they’re available!
Can it be here again already? The annual gathering of G.I. Joe fans, this year down in Orlando, Florida is here again with the 2017 International G.I. Joe Collectors Convention!
Unfortunately I will not be in attendance this year due to some poorly scheduled previous family commitments, but that won’t stop me from laying down coverage as usual. I’ve reached out to several “boots on the ground” in Florida who will be helping throw some intel our way so we can all stay informed together.
As usual, Wednesday night is Golden Ticket pick up night, which means a bunch of folks will be getting their boxed set tonight, which includes the convention comic! Typically within the convention comic will be a list of the show exclusives and those same show exclusives normally appear in the pages of the comic as well, so by the end of the evening we should at least have an idea what to expect for Convention exclusives.
This is always a very fun time as a G.I. Joe fan, and I’m upset that I won’t be in the middle of it, but I will be enjoying it vicariously through all of my good friends down there.
Buckle up, hopefully some fun stuff to come over the next several days!