Make the Madness Stop!
Editorial by Phillip Donnelly
I have a confession to make. I hate "new sculpts." Don't get me wrong, I like the toys just fine! (Well, most of them anyway. I still harbor an unnatural contempt for the Night Creeper mold.) No, the problem I have is with the name. "New sculpt" is as laughably out of date as the term "modernism" is for art. (Don't even get me started on post-modernism! Four years of college, and I still have no clue what it is!)
It has been suggested on the forums that we follow the lead of Transformers and My Little Pony - naming different styles Generation 1, Generation 2, etc. After much thought, I find myself agreeing on this point.
The 3 3/4" G.I. Joe line has three distinct sculpting styles, at the moment designated "vintage," "new sculpt," and "25th Anniversary." Well, the new sculpts are no longer new, and the 25th Anniversary was last year. We need names that are more generic, and less time-specific. Will it lead to confusion? Hopefully not, but probably so.
First Generation figures are those figures which are now called vintage. Any figure from 1982-1994 qualifies, as they are, by and large, the same construction, the Lunartix aliens and Deep Six notwithstanding. Same plastic, same metal rivets. But as the molds are reused even until today, the sculpting style does not change. Therefore, the figures from the 2008 G.I. Joe Convention set would still qualify as First Generation figures. Even Horror Show, with half the figure an original sculpt, would qualify as First Generation. Remember, we're going by sculpting style, here, not date of release.
Second Generation figures would be those "new sculpt" figures that debuted with the GvC line up until the DTC figures. A new style of sculpting, with plastic rivets. Some of these figures had more articulation than others, some had weird proportions. I think the operative word for these toys would be "inconsistent." Regardless, They are a discrete sculpting style that is easily recognizable upon viewing. Again, as these naming conventions are not assigned to a particular year, this year's Club-exclusive Cobra Commander would qualify as a Second Generation sculpt.
The 25th Anniversary figures and their ilk would be the Third Generation figures. New construction style, different sculpting standards.
Of course, there are instances where sculpting styles are mixed on a figure - the Zartan morphing into Hawk and the female Cobra Trooper figures come to mind. I think that in such instances, a simple majority rule should be employed. As only one part in each of these figures comes from a Second Generation Sculpt, the majority of the figure is First Generation. Hence, it should be referred to as a First Generation sculpt. Thankfully, we've not encountered figures that use half of one type and half of another.
But what of this year's Comic Con Cobra Commander? This figure doesn't even use a body from the G.I. Joe toyline. How do I classify him? I'm not sure I have an answer to that yet. It certainly wouldn't fit with any of the pre-existing naming conventions. Perhaps it just needs to be noted that he does not follow the model. Perhaps the discussion is moot, as people will just refer to him as an Indy mold.
Now, should this method of naming affect the numbering system of the figures? I dont think so. Separating the figures out into a different order based on their sculpting style would affect the flow of information. Snake Eyes has been released in different sculpting styles in the same year. Separating them based on style, one would lose the information of the order in which these figures were released.
Our numbering system as it currently exists is flawed, to be sure. It's hard to remember which Snake Eyes is version 27 or which is 38. I myself would be pleased if the numbering reset each year. Let's take Snake Eyes as an example, again.
But what's this? There's two more figures in my numbering order? That would be the McDonald's Happy Meal toy of Snake Eyes. Of course, including the McDonald's figures throws off the sculpting style naming scheme. Not quite Generation 2, yet not exactly numerous enough to warrant a Generation 3 naming. Maybe Second Generation Derivative?
Also note the inclusion of the Built to Rule Snake Eyes figure as well.
The fact is that these are action figures, maybe with not quite as much action as Joe fans are used to, produced by McDonald's, yes, but under license from Hasbro. They are legitimate G.I. Joes, not bootlegs or knock-offs. They deserve to be recognized as such. This also goes for the keychain figures from Fun4All.
Note that the CLASSIFIED figure does not disrupt the numbering order. Here, we would continue the numbering method regardless of name change. A much simpler, cleaner numbering order would emerge. As an example, let's take the worst offender in this regard: Hawk
Of course, renumbering every figure in our extensive archives is a Herculean task that makes me break out into a cold sweat every time I think about it. Still, it's a possible solution to an ugly, ongoing issue.
The preceding was an editorial based solely on the author's opinion, and not that of YoJoe! as a whole.