Review and photos by Phillip Donnelly
It's been a few weeks since Comic Con ended, so I thought it would be time to sit back and take stock of the news we got from it. Okay, we didn't get a whole lot with regards to G.I. Joe, but there's still some stuff worth mentioning!
Most of the Joe action was situated squarely in booth 3213, the Hasbro booth! They had an impressive diorama set up, as they always do, but this one was a little different - the decided to use the USS Flagg as a base.
Amusingly, this led to lots of people speculating that the Flagg would be coming in a re-release. Sadly, it was not to be, and Hasbro had to put up signs crushing people's hopes. In talking with the Hasbro representatives, I learned it would cost somewhere in the area of $650 if the Flagg were to go to retail today. And that's not even counting the modifications that would be necessarily to make the Flagg compliant with current toy safety standards.
The Hasbro displays themselves revealed surprisingly little. There were no new toy reveals, and there was actually less on display here that at this year's Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Convention. Kwinn was not on display, though he is still planned for release. And Data-Viper wasn't around, though this was to be expected. Some confusion arose about Data-Viper's fate, though. To set the record straight - no, he is not scheduled to come out at this time, however, when they put so much effort into something like developing Data-Viper, they would like to see him come out in some form in the future. Nothing concrete, here.
At least the freebies were fun! In addition to a nice if bland carabiner, you could snap up a Renegades poster and some Zarana proof cards. Sure, most were also available at JoeCon, but you can't complain about the price!
As we cross the aisle to booth 3329, we find ourselves in the chaos that is the HasbroToyShop line. Well, "chaos" isn't exactly fair - there is a method to the line-up. However, this method involves going upstairs to the Sails Pavilion to get a ticket that will allow entry into the line downstairs at the HasbroToyShop booth. If the line hasn't been cut off, you can find the end of the line (don't forget to check the back of the hall, segments of the line end up there!) and wait a few hours, hoping that by the time you get to the register, the items you want are still in stock!
Fortunately, I did get what I set out for - namely two Zaranas and a Starscream. Zarana has long been one of my favorite characters, mostly due to her prominence in Cobra's High Command during the latter half of the Marvel comic run. It's hard not to like a snarky biker babe who knows how to keep her clumsy troops in line! So finally getting an updated version (after we were teased with one way back in 2007!) is very much appreciated, even if she was a bit difficult to obtain and seems to have found a fondness for peroxide. The black "Cold Slither" deco variant is a bit interesting - I suppose it better represents the punk aesthetic now, but it's not really the Zarana I know. If they had kept the pink hair, it would probably be a different story. For now though, she remains an amusing oddity.
Starscream though, is another matter entirely. Here we have a Sky Striker decorated in the colors of a toy from another Hasbro line. And I love it! Sure some of the decals have clearance issues, but there's a lot of room for customization on the sheet, and almost as many Easter Eggs. And he comes with a unique looking Cobra Commander, and even Megatron! Amusingly, this Megatron better fits the storyline of the first Joe/TF crossover Megatron! The icing on the cake, of course, is the box art - an homage to the Marvel G.I. Joe & The Transformers mini-series, as the imaginary 5th issue cover!
And if you like seeing the concept art that goes into making the G.I. Joe toy line (as well as several other Hasbro properties), be sure to pick up volume 3 of the Hasbro Design Sketchbook!
So we've hit the biggest two booths, where to next? Well, the Shout! Factory booth has a neat postcard as a free giveaway. Ditto for the IDW booth. Sadly, there's no convention exclusive comic this year, but it's a great place to go to get caught up on the current issues. Lastly, head to booth 1929, otherwise known as Sideshow Collectibles! They've got a great display of their current offerings, including great looks at the upcoming Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes statues. The big news here is that the Baroness will soon be joining their statue line. Keep an eye out!
So we've covered the big spots in the exhibit hall, on to the panels! Well, only two panels of interest this year: IDW Comics' panel Thursday morning, as well as the Costuming Designers' panel on Saturday evening. The IDW panel shared some nice tidbits about their post-Cobra Civil War plans, as well as the possibility of another Transformers crossover. When asked about one in the Q&A section, the response was quick and to the point: "Good chance. Very, very good chance." About as close to a "yes" as you can get. For more on the panel, take a look at my (then) live coverage of it here.
The Costume Designers' panel was, to put it bluntly, a whole lot of nothing. I went because two people involved with the second movie were on there, but nothing was revealed about any upcoming designs. There was an illustration of the Baroness from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but that was it. Yes, there was an illustration of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in a military uniform, but checking the illustrator's credits, he also worked on Fast Five. And the illustration definitely reflects that. Take a look. The other illustration of military soldiers is likely also from Fast Five.
There's one more thing that was worth looking at - it's another HasbroToyShop exclusive, Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark. And why should you care? Because three years ago his body was reworked for another San Diego Comic Con set of exclusives: Cobra Commander (v33a) and (v33b). Yes, Toht was designed first! A neat little example of Hasbro's use of cross-pollinating toy lines.
Want to see more? Be sure to check out our San Diego Comic Con gallery! There are lots more pics of the Flagg diorama, the upcoming figures on display, cosplayers, and more!
Cobra Commander (v47)
G.I. Joe: Renegades poster
Hasbro Design Sketchbook vol. 3
Shout! Factory postcard
Starscream Sky Striker
Zarana proof cards
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Images from the collection of: Phillip Donnelly