About HQ icebreaker

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This is a very random bunch of thoughts based from my collecting of GIJOE: A real American hero figures and vehicles. Contained here are memories, experiences, recent thoughts, completely random thoughts, and other random things on top of that. While one company has made, and makes, our shared interests, we all add into that interest with our own creativity. You, the reader, will find many, many, excellent sites among the links to see what other GIJoe fans are doing, hit them up! For GIJOE stuff that is more random in topic, you'll find it here.


Out in the wild finds

Having a surprise day off I went over to the nearest next biggest city.  While I checked out some other things, I checked out Retro Distortion, a small shop with an assorted variety of toys.    This was my first time there.   I was there before the shop opened but I could see a Rolling Thunder on the front table on the inside of the store.   I was kind of excited to see it.  It was not unlike an experience I had back in the fall of 1998 here in the HQ's hometown where while walking by a downtown shop to see a Cobra Terrordrome in the front window on display (no, I didn't get the Terrordrome, spendy and missing some parts and no real home to bring it at the time. I had a Rolling Thunder that I got from that shop that had the Terrordrome but years later. )

And I can't remember exactly where my Rolling Thunder ended up going, here it is in late 2004 but I think it might have been gone in a trade as early as late 2005!

Today I had to pass on the Rolling Thunder.  As cool as it was to see one in person in this rural area, I just don't think it would do more than sit on a shelf like the one I had did.  Missing the recon car, one side yellow missile, bent antenna and missing chin gun..., at $165 it was way too much for me.  I didn't closely inspect it any further but suspected it matched the play wear on the various figures that surrounded it on the table.

Yes, I overpaid on these.  (I have a thing for small shops and hoped it helped some.)   These are all C65 with various spots of worn paint and loose joints.   But I was there and maybe some future customs or parts upgrade or something.   Still, G.I.Joes out in the wild here, something different.

I picked Gyro Viper since I could definitely use this Cobra pilot, the arms could use replacement but not a bad figure and at $7, it should work.
I have my original Night Creeper Leader that I opened myself but I thought getting this Night Creeper Leader would give me some potential painting opportunities that I would never have attempted on my original figure.   Night Creeper Leader also came with Zartan's (I believe) battle stand.   
I chose the 2008 Collectors Club Gristle to keep as my Gristle over the original one I had.   This is an example of two figures that both had strong qualities I liked when I chose to keep only one.   I still like the 1993 Gristle head more than the 2008 Convention figures head.   I was thinking a head swap, but some hair was worn off the back of the head that I didn't see.   This soft jointed figure was still high-priced at $10.
Dr. Mindbender is a one of those characters I couldn't see my Cobra Commander being able to trust or keep around.   That's why I didn't keep Dr. Mindbender in figure form.   I really like the design on this figure,though, and at $5 this one might be painted (I wouldn't have done this on the C85 one I had before).

Interesting to me is that the seller who brought these into the shop to be sold had the figures (like Gristle below) holding their spring-firing launchers.   These are things I usually put into a spot together rarely to be even look at.

Nothing on the accessory side that was a big score.   This is my first "Gristle" style launcher, however.   My first Gristle (1993) did not have any accessories.


late 1995

There's the new header for the HQ.     Except for the shell of the Stargate All Terrain Cruiser, all of that has been gone for several years.    The old header along with many images were blocked by 3rd party hosting source that I had put many pictures on, so I thought I would grab this scan and use it for awhile.

Not unlike the last entry that was looking at an old film picture, this picture of my old Headquarters is in the same sense.  Not only does it bring back memories of the cool stuff that I don't have any more but also brings back the challenges of reality and being happy with what I had.

On the reality side of the topic is that shelf underneath.  There were two of these small 3-1/2 foot high units that gave me three shelves plus the top, unless I stacked these.  But the potential of the shelves tipping over was too much for me to want to risk.    Of course, these were given to me, used, but that's what the resources for me were like in those days.   Had to get inventive with what was laying around was the mission for the day.

In the picture, the cardboard is supporting the Headquarters, it is almost a "PIT" set up when I was never thinking in those terms in those days.

Major Altitude almost looks really good on his way to the Sky Hawk that sits on top of the landing pad that is covering the jail.

I can only guess if I had any Cobras in the jail cell now, but I think I do as you can see my Crimson Guard Commander "army" and Firefly are after something...., and Pathfinder was taken out already.

To the right of Firefly hidden behind the Headquarters front wall protrusion it almost looks like the Ninja Force Night Creeper.   I am not certain it is but I am shocked that a figure that I really didn't love was used here.  But options were more limited and maybe I just really needed that sneaky ninja to lead the rest?

Dusty and Gung-ho are on the wall and the Badger is in the bay.    Above on the wall is a poster of an SR-71.

Good times.   

I haven't been able to re-capture any of this lately.  Not having hardly anywhere near what I had before does limit potential options but I just haven't been able to get that spark of a simple set up or a few minutes of creativity to just flow.

I could get more stuff but I would not want to get more stuff if it doesn't bring a strong amount of enjoyment?


Random thoughts from pictures.

I was looking for a picture of something I sold a few years back.    I took several pictures back in the day with the old 35mm film.  More recently, as I sold off most of my stuff I was taking pictures, too.

Well, I didn't find the picture I was looking for.   And in some ways I thought I was taking too many G.I.Joe pictures then but I actually wish I had done more now.

Two random pictures that were not in the spot with the rest of them I thought I would put up here.  

Coming up first is my G.I.Joe team in December of 1997.   This is a scan of the photo taken by my old point and shoot 35mm camera.  In those days, things were lean, but had been improving and I was in my second year of a technical school program.  The school was near what used to be the short lived Toys R Us in that area.     There was a Children's Palace store near that location but it had closed by early 1995 I think.    But that Toys R Us and having cash from working plus I think the K B toys was still in the mall, also in this area.   

So in this photo from December 1997 you can see I have the new Slugger .   I didn't open up the Gung-ho figure that was in this one.   I had a Battle Corps Gung-ho and that older '84 figure simply was going to replace him.   The Battle Corps Gung-ho didn't slide into the Slugger, either.   In the Slugger it looks like I chose Back Stop.   If I remember right, Back Stop was a Goodwill store find, and it was a few years to be until I even got a helmet for him.

What else is going on is you can see how I finally got that A.W.E. Striker and V.A.M.P. added to my collection.   Yes, that is the 1995 Stargate All Terrain Cruiser that I likely got on clearance in 1996.  The chassis of the single seat Stargate vehicle was replaced by my Eco-Striker chassis.   I wanted that A.W.E. Striker and swapping some parts back in the day resulted in a rather solid substitute for those years.   Of course I was still stuck with that spring fire rocket launcher, I just wanted the classic gun on top.

And then the V.A.M.P., which is of course the Street Fighter Street Striker.    I had a very well used '83 V.A.M.P. I bought from a person who had had a "collection sale" ad in a newspaper for.   This was before internet reached us on the lower end, I don't think I used the internet really until the fall of 1996.   No matter, but the old used V.A.M.P. I had for that short time was easily replaced by not just one, but TWO of the Street Strikers as I came across one on clearance likely after this photo.  I had one that I stickered to emulate the G.I.Joe V.A.M.P. and the other I kept sticker free.   In the photo I see some white looking rockets, maybe I put some W.H.A.L.E. rockets in it for the picture?  Eventually, the second one I traded or sold to VolleyDan for his most awesome V.A.M.P. collection.   (That is still a cool thing to see so many V.A.M.P.s like that to me)

Finally we come to the loaded A.P.C..    With a likely amount of 33 figures throughout the photo, this is likely most of all my G.I.Joe team figures at this point in time.   I remember when I bought the 1991 Snake Eyes that that figure had become my actual 50th total figure.   The two boxes in the photo were my storage boxes for figures.   The one on the left is looking full and is likely holding all my Cobra figures.   In the box to the right is most likely an '84 Deep Six, a loose-kneed worn '84 Cutter,  and then one might find an '86 Wet Suit replaced by a '91 Wet suit, and perhaps a '91 Hawk, while '86 Hawk was in the A.P.C.     Then again, I might have gotten that A-10 at this point and the new Hawk is in there somewhere.   The photo is fuzzy and hard to tell, but still some more figures in the boxes that were doubles of characters in the A.P.C..  You can find Dinohunter Low Light in the A.P.C., too, that was a favorite figure of mine for some time, so the play worn '86 Low Light is most definitely in the box.

Here's one of the groupings of things I was selling off somewhere between 2010 and 2012.  This is from my (more or less) point and shoot digital, and the date had to be reset every use so I regretfully didn't get more tight dates on the more modern photos.  Not that my old 35mm point and shoots date function works anymore, either, that battery is also most done.

I had already traded out my Street Fighter vehicles for the most part and as this point in my life I was making more decisions based on what kind of collector I was.   I had a variety of things at the "high point" of collecting, but I started to really narrow down on what I was and what I wasn't.   One of the things I wasn't was a Street Fighter collector.   Even though I think the Street Fighter G.I.Joe line would make a really excellent and rarer collection, it just wasn't "my" G.I.Joe, and so these figures were out.  And yes, even the Mortal Kombat "Budo" figure acquired at the 2005 convention, had to go.

I think the file cards and packaging are from figures that I had already sold off and discovered I still had them.   This happened as I really did have a lot of random stuff and I missed them.   

That's my original L.A.W. in the picture.  Even when I was really younger, and I didn't feel like setting up the whole '83 H.Q., the L.A.W. would often become a little base in itself.  There were much fewer figures in those days, too.    And then the Air Defense, I bought that one a very short time before selling it again.  I wanted to use earnings from what I sold to buy more focused things for my collection, the Air Defense sort of added to my Headquarters, but as I add more of these "base" ornaments, the more actual shelf real estate was almost needed.  And in the case of the Headquarters, if I went in the direction of the large sprawling base it was going to need some big space to really be cool.  And at that time we were renting and things were up in the air, so the entire "what kind of collector" I was question started to focus more on my collection becoming truly a mobile collection.

I didn't have the battlefield vehicles  very long, either.    The howitzer felt antique, the bomb disposal and weapons transport were interesting but rather limiting, and best suited to a "large base" set up.   The M.M.S., that's one I maybe should have kept, but as I started thinking of making my collection "mobile," I guess I don't know, would a mobile force stop and set up a rocket trailer when a vehicle or figure, already had a similar capability?   

So, that's kind of that for this bit of random.  You can see that Jurassic park figure and other random figure in the mix, too.   The Jurassic Park figure had hung around for years not doing anything when I bought the vehicle to "customize."  Neither lasted, but I hung onto it for too long.  I probably shouldn't have bought some things to begin with.


G.I.Joe Persuader

This is the first Persuader I have ever had in hand.    This tank never stood out to me when I was younger but I have been more interested in it as of late and thought it might fit good for my small mobile G.I.Joe team.

Looking at all the different vehicles in the old fold-out inserts back in the day, the Persuader never persuaded my interest.    Between the 1986 and 1988 catalogs, the 1987 vehicle selection, save for the Defiant and Mobile Command Center, had overall less appeal to me.   1986 had that still green, tan, white look on the vehicles and Cobra had Serpentor with the Terrordrome and the black Night Raven and STUN.    It seemed cohesive visually, I liked that uniformity.   I just didn't get that sense with 1987 even though I totally dig all the toys.

The Persuader is green and that was cool but the less angled design, something that one would expect on an armored military machine is broken up by the more sleek and sloped upper body.   And that is something that works really nice here on the Persuader, two elements that are blended.

The real turn off for me was the cannon.    Back in the day and even now I want that smooth tank barrel look for a tank.    And the square laser cannon really contrasted with previous years vehicles that had a much more traditional looking armament.   The yellow missiles didn't increase my interest in the vehicle.

I thought I would give this tank a try, though, as it has a nice size to it.  It's not an Equalizer size tank but it's not an Armadillo mini-tank either, and it transports more G.I.Joes than a M.O.B.A.T..   Plus I have been very intrigued about the independent suspension and wanted to play with this.   If you've read along here for awhile you may know that I really dig vehicles that have real rubber wheels and wheels that steer.   Suspension components on vehicles is another feature that I find to be an excellent detail that is often lost on toys.  I think some of the most simple added play features can be ones that allow real vehicle movements.   The Badger and A.W.E. Striker have these simple rear axle features, for example.

So when this particular Persuader came there was a little scent on it.   I couldn't place what it was, but it had to go.  I haven't given a G.I.Joe vehicle a bath in some time so disassembly was the first order of business.

The lower body is kind of neat, these are the things that I don't see on the internet when I'm attempting to investigate a vehicle I have never had.   In some ways I want a sort of A.P.C. or transport truck for my G.I.Joe team and with the top off the Persuader it felt like I was holding a ten-wheel truck that might have some nice custom potential.  


Proportion to the G.I.Joe figures is a key element for me to like a vehicle.   The V.A.M.P., for instance may be a little under-scaled, but to me this vehicle is sort of like the standard for that vehicle to figure ergonomic relationship.   Just comparing the width with the Persuader, makes the Persuader chassis seem like a very truck-like utility vehicle that doesn't out-size a regular vehicle (V.A.M.P.).

The vehicle seat heights are roughly the same height and so are the tow hooks.

With the body off the Persuader I can really start to see some proportional spread.     What would you estimate, a full 8-foot section supported by a triple axle drive system?    Depending on how you might imagine it, I see many possibilities of things being built on top of this frame.  

The front section of the lower body really makes the Persuader much shorter, the front double axle supporting mostly the driver and taking some weight distribution from the rear half.

The seat has that tank-like tightness.  In someways it is almost like a second layer of armored protection.

I have no plans to attempt a custom "truck" or A.P.C. build, but I have thought about doing this with the Eliminator, too.    Each of these vehicles have that front and center driver position with the potential for the creation of something on the rear deck.

Just playing with potential of the bottom of the Persuader was fun on its own.

Reassembled without weapons it is a sleek tank.

 Weapon range is another important feature to me on a vehicle.   The Persuaders turret rotates the full 360 degrees around in a smooth (but on this model some squeaks) motion.  I was really surprised at the elevation ability of the cannon!    The cannon also snapped into the turret solidly which was a nice surprise considering this is a 30 year old used toy.  

The smaller gun is only a side to side swinging gun.  I pretty much figured this from years of staring at pictures.   I would have rather have had a swivel top hatch for the drivers seat, something similar to the Warthog/ Night Rhino or the Slugger.   Maybe a potential custom thing in the future I can do.

The figure to vehicle relationship is an important thing to me but so is the inter-vehicle relationships.   An Attack Cruiser would stick out something wild in this picture below, but the Persuader, save for the laser cannon, fits in well.

Height-wise the turret sits right above the V.A.M.P. and the A.W.E. Striker reaches just a little higher overall.   Of course, I don't have the antenna on the A.W.E. Striker, and the Persuader would have some antenna apparently, if these were not cost cut from the original design.  Yet another thing in the future I may be able to add on myself.

And you if you follow here you know I really like tow hooks.   All these vehicles sit in somewhat similar widths.    The Desert Fox tow hook sits really low, however.   This low hook makes my G.I.Joe teams towing ability less... stay on and fun.   Eventually I may remove the Eliminator and V.A.M.P. from my collection but I want the ability to tow G.I.Joe weapons systems effectively.

The Persuader has an excellent tow hook.

The Persuader wheels seem like they are on the small size, but next to a figure they stand at mid-thigh level, much like perhaps a real life pick up truck would.

For many G.I.Joe vehicles, there was an almost standard missile or rocket mounting tab.   My 1983 Dragonfly rockets could somewhat fit on my 1991 Paralyzer's rocket box, for example.   When the vehicles made a departure from that style, or reversed it completely like the 1986 H.A.V.O.C.,  it somewhat made that vehicle seem more separated from the rest for some reason.

Just from pictures I knew I wasn't going to be impressed by the rockets, although, the ability to stagger them just slightly to exaggerate the flowing motion of the Persuaders body was cool.

Until I turned the turret for the first time with the rockets on and "bump."   I might be able to press the top rockets on tighter but the turret not clearing them was kind of surprising.  

Top two rockets on either side removed and I'm much happier, and I kind of like the look with just the two on each side.  It visually lightens up the larger, wider section of the body .

Without any real figure-interactive controls on the back of the cannon or in the turret I just feel like I want to replace it with something.
Head on, I would like to see an armament coming straight out of the turret, sort of in line with where the lower gun barrel sits now.

Various images from the Marvel comic that will help the imagination work.   Inspiration!


Return to Cobra-La?

I am not a big Cobra-La fan.   Back in the day when the old cartoon was in re-runs it seemed like the multi-part G.I.Joe: the movie kept repeating when I wanted to see just about any other episode. 

One of those things I wouldn't mind seeing is something along the lines of a return to Cobra-La.   I would like to see something original here and something that could tie-in an old "explanation" for the existence of Cobra-La that I had.   In this made-up background for Cobra-La, I had Cobra-La originating from an early, large, and secret Cobra project that few in Cobra's organization would even remember.   Almost like that almost typical "something went wrong" plot and it was all shut down and buried....., but little did they know what survived...    (cue creepy music and camera movement along dark abandoned hallways.....)

So longer story short, Cobra-La would be discovered as a creation by those survivors and the history of it made up by the time of G.I.Joe: the movie.   In my case of an imaginary what-if, Cobra Commander may have been telling the truth in that it is all lies.

The surviving Cobra-La hierarchy, such as Golobulus and Nemesis Enforcer, very much human looking, may have continued genetically-manipulated...everything... and even on themselves for survival needs, but the mental distortion of this might have created a made-up billions-of-years history.    Perhaps the Royal Guards were formerly humans who needed more to believe in than just being some kind of plant-based beings?

Perhaps the spores were originally an early Cobra idea, but abandoned due to being hard to control?

The end of the movie saw the destruction of Cobra-La under that ice dome.   That was sort of that, except for getting Cobra Commander from snake back to human.

The 1991 Impel card set made mention of the destruction of Cobra-La on the Honor Roll cards.
These cards consider the deaths of characters from the Marvel comic, too.  

The mention of those lost under the Cobra-La ice dome just leaves too much open ended and could be a return point.   After all, Firefly was dead, in the comic and on the card set, but ultimately did return.    Dr. Mindbender, too.

So what would a return of Cobra-La or return to Cobra-La look like?   

Would Cobra seek to retrieve something that was under the ice dome, perhaps in deeper levels not seen in G.I.Joe: the movie?   Perhaps Serpentor survived and more focused and deadly things have now evolved and are starting to creep out of the ice dome?

Maybe a good time for the Mega Marines to be dropped into that remote location by a Star Brigade shuttle?

What do you think?


Wish I was there!

It looks like a lot of fun at the G.I.Joe convention.  I only made the one; 12 years ago already!   Wow!

I just had to make a note to express a message of appreciation and thankfulness to the many people attending who are sharing and reporting on the experience of the 2017 Convention!

Wish I was there!



Bulletproof is back.   He's been back here for a couple months but still hasn't gotten my classic proper G.I.Joe imagination world of a collection introduction yet.   Even though my toys aren't getting and haven't gotten that  real "back in the day play" intensity for a long time, something that I liked to do at a point in life (that seems so long ago) was to have a sort of introduction battle for any new incoming toy.    Before that new figure got tossed into one of my evolving cardboard storage boxes or plastic drawer set ups, I would have a little welcome battle and would usually do that while setting up a little simple background-less diorama on whatever shelf was there.   Back when 35mm point and shoot film was the option, I might have taken a picture but more than likely not.    I stopped doing this when I was buying a little more in the mid-to-late 2000's and as I think about it more I spent more time sorting and digging through a lot of stuff, not even really setting anything out.   

I am going to try and start doing this again so I don't just feel like I'm buying stuff just to buy stuff.   Maybe I can bring back a little of that pointless made up fun from back in the day.

So way back then, until that "welcome to the storage box with the rest of the collection" battle I would keep that new figure set up on a shelf separate.   Bulletproof has been in that holding pattern for the last couple months.   Waiting to join my 28-member team as the replacement for one of them.

This is my second Bulletproof figure now.  The first one was sold away maybe in late 2011 but maybe as late as a final big sell in 2012.   Bulletproof was a part of one of my top favored made up sub-teams in my collection and was always always in the running for my final collection team picks.  And I didn't really have Bulletproof that long to begin with being added only a couple years before.

Some of the reason on why Bulletproof was cut was due to the file card giving him a high rank of O-4.   That was in the highest 10 ranks given to other figures in my collection.   Excluding pilots and astronauts, Bulletproof is not much farther below Hawk, Keel Haul, and Flagg (Battle Corps).  Sure Fire and Col. Courage are also in this area.     I wanted a well-rounded out rank and file and with only 28 G.I.Joes the officer level felt like it has to be very light compared to the rest.

Some of the reasons I was leaning to keep Bulletproof was more for that "other" source of recruitment for the G.I.Joe team.  Beyond just the armed services, Bulletproof is indicated to be a Federal Marshall and experience with the D.E.A. and was leader of the new D.E.F..  But that "other" source of recruitment was filled with Shockwave's Detroit S.W.A.T. background (as well as an "enlisted" rank on the file card) and I found aspects of other figures I wanted to include in my 28-member collection to rule out having two somewhat more similar figure character backgrounds .

As much as I really dug my security force and could have just kept that group of figures, I wanted to steer clear of having any one "sub team" or theme stand out or have matching uniforms.   Like, 21 figures would look unique, but seven having Tiger Force shirts would make them stand out more, rather than blend into a small highly trained special mission force.    D.E.F. figures are each fairly distinct, however,  and as much as I really like this "sub team" I wanted D.E.F. Cutter to represent the Coast Guard.   So, in some sense, it was a case of a D.E.F. figure vs. D.E.F. affiliated figure inclusion that swayed my decision to axe Bulletproof in my final collection trimming picks.

Another very strong aspect of the character/ figure of Bulletproof is his "vehicle specialty," the AH-74 Desert Apache.  Sure, any G.I.Joe *could* fly the Skystriker, but I wanted some basis or some real tidbit of information that would make something seem more real in my collection.   Another helicopter pilot in my collection is always a useful thing, especially if the figure has an excellent overall uniform that doesn't keep them looking like a pilot   (version 1 Ace, for example.)

So all-in-all, Bulletproof was always in that spot to keep as I was cutting all that stuff years ago, but ultimately cut.

But I think I might have made a mistake of keeping a character/ figure of strong familiarity where I think I might challenge my getting older imagination.  Bulletproof is still, in this A Real American Hero toy,  combined with Marvel comic appearances, a solid-based blank slate.   Not just a blank slate character, but one with a strong origin (more or less) that really wants that user-imagination to add more on top of.   So, that's part of why Bulletproof is back, to challenge imagination and even maybe lead my pretend team in this real modern world;  not just represent an '80's-'90's cross-section against  Cobra, but make this team very real modern.

And the figure is just plain interesting to me, always has been, like all of 4 D.E.F. figures.

Consider that in '92, there was more playful coloring, but the D.E.F. labeled figures did not have it.  In '92 and later, figure sizes were getting a little more beefy looking, but here Bulletproof doesn't seem far removed from a GI.Joe style that is almost 10 years older.  (this short fuze, with the exception of a custom testing Scrap-iron, may be the only swivel-head figure left in my possession)   Not pictured, but even the rifle and backpack that Bulletproof comes with could easily fit in style with the more delicately detailed '84 and '85 accessories than with the larger 1990 accessories for instance.

Certain details that listed out the accessories with fun names are gone.

That Member of the Patnership for a Drug-Free America is interesting, there may be toys doing stuff like this now, but what are they?

This mark-down to $.90 I just dig, no sticker, just someone wanting it out.   Do you think $.90 cents was the "break-even" point for whatever store sold this?   

Another side note for my reason for wanting this carded was to see what battle stand cavity the D.E.F. figure might have originally come with.    Some likely consider a battle stand just a battle stand.   I couldn't find the answer online, but years ago I sorted out my battle stands with cavity numbers.   Not that it was any matter but I was wondering if on the trivial side of things when I got a loose figure with a battle stand that was "complete" if the battle stand was THE battle stand that was originally included.
This is what was in this package, no cavity number. 

Helmet variations. I like removable helmets and I think this was from a Street Fighter Guile figure.

Bulletproofs teammate Shockwave's helmet.   (should I switch my teams Shockwave '88 for the '92 D.E.F.?)

Last of the greenshirt helmets that didn't make it into a sell-off box.