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LIVE! (almost): 2006 G.I.Joe Collectors' Convention

Report from the front-lines
(part 1)

By Matt Johnson

Photos from New Orleans! (updated 7/05/06!)

GI Joe Convention, New Orleans, LA
Friday, June 30, 2006
The G.I. Joe convention 2006 (Heroes Unite) is in FULL swing here in New Orleans... the 10th such convention hosted by Master Collector.  The apparent first big convention in New Orleans since Katrina hit, the con is getting a lot of press on the radio, and even around the bars here in the Big Easy.  For the people attending the con though, what’s the buzz?
Well, for those who haven’t seen it yet, the convention exclusive surprise figure this year was new version of the Nullifier Figure (www.yojoe.com/action/06/nullifier4.shtml) and this was the opening figure used in the ceremonial parachute drop this morning for the 17 story drop (wow!!  beats throwing the guy off mom and dad’s roof!). 
After the drop, one of the key events for the show was the Hasbro Roundtable.  This is a Q&A session that is a fan’s dream… the chance to pick the brains of the people creating G.I.Joe.  At the round table this year on behalf of Hasbro was Jonathan Berkowitz (Senior Brand Manager), Steve Bono (Sigma 6 design), Adam Pagano (Packaging Design), Neal Hoffman (Marketing), and Dwight Stall (3 3/4" design).  The big news this year for Hasbro is the 2.5” line of figures coming out this fall under the Sigma 6 umbrella which they’re titling their “Mission Scale” series.  The “Mission Scale” name comes from the fact that this line of figures and vehicles will include little “Mission Manuals” which give the buyer a storyline complete with maps and directives, adding to the fantasy elements found when playing with these toys.  The focus of the Mission Scale line is really around vehicles though.  By making “the best possible ‘little green Army man’” they can, Hasbro has found a way to make larger vehicles affordable and practical as toys while looking right with the figures.  There’s little debate that this line looks really hot, and according to Hasbro, it’s tested through the roof in focus groups, so this is their big push in 2006.
Where the debate lies however is in a 4th scale of G.I. Joe figures.  With the 12” line shelved for the time being, the 2006 convention is wrought with 3 3/4” collectors, many of whom want, well, more 3 3/4" figures.  The Sigma 6 ‘Commando Scale’ (8”) line has done VERY well for Hasbro, however you can’t make a large vehicle to scale for an 8” figure without it coming out the size of he classic U.S.S. Flagg, so this is where the Mission Scale line comes in.  While many collectors would like to see this line increased in scale enough to accommodate the 3 3/4" figures, others feel that these vehicles would either be too big, too expensive, or look too ridiculous for that scale figure.  Another point is that Sigma 6 is much more sci-fi than the refreshingly “realistic” 3 3/4" line, and that these vehicles, as cool as they are, have no place with this line of action figures.
Mission Scale Sigma 6 aside, what people really seem to want to see here is more 3 3/4” figures, and to their delight Hasbro brought along samples of the 2006 Wave 2 lot.  Rumor has it that the single pack figures (Airtight, Cobra Officer, Lt. Falcon, Munitia, Night Viper, and Outback) are already hitting shelves at some Toys R Us stores (the only non-on-line store to offer G.I. Joe’s DTC line), but this wasn’t confirmed here today.  The NEW figures unveiled here today are the two new 6-packs: the Cobra Viper Pit, a totally sweet army builder of Vipers slightly repainted but otherwise true to the originals, and the Plague Troopers vs. Steel Brigade set, featuring 6 all new figures, including Red Zone, the figure made to look like Luke Ellison who won the contest through FHM.
Unfortunately, to much disappointment here, there are no new vehicles slated for the 3 3/4" line for 2006.  Not due to any lack of interest on the part of Hasbro to make them, but due to the fact that the 3 3/4" line needs more support to justify the investment on their part.  What this means is that collectors who would like to see the line continue and grow again would be well off to do anything they can to help spread its popularity.  That’s not Hasbro talking, it’s me as a fan of the line itself.  Hasbro, through putting the DTC line on the shelves at Toys R Us again is hoping this will generate some renewed interest among new collectors, but every little bit helps folks.

Continued on page 2

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