G.I. Joe Convention 2014 - Zombie Initiative
Once upon a time I chopped these convention reviews up into a few large chunks, and attempted to give each piece its due within the framework of whether it was a "Boxed Set" item, vehicle, or something else. Last year, this method became quite unwieldy, so I decided to start individualizing the reviews, and while it presents quite a bit more work to me up front, I think from an organizational perpsective it allows me to give each piece its fair shake, and gives the reader a more informed idea of what I think of each individual piece. Convention items are priced to the point where many folks have to pick and choose what they want, so to that end, I think the single shot reviews help some decisions. At least I hope so.
This section of the review covers the entirety of the "Zombie Initiative" theme in general, while you can click individual links above to check out each element of this 2014 Convention extraveganza.
As someone who has a deep appreciation for the unheralded 90's era of G.I. Joe lore, I was quite excited to learn that the Eco Warriors would play a role in this year's set, and tying that in with the whole Compound Z and Zombie phenomenon seemed to make sense as well, considering the Toxo-Zombie was an existing vintage figure from that same late year generation of A Real American Hero. As cool an idea as I thought it was, I'm quite pleased to say that the Collectors Club took it a few steps further, and not only gave us some great Eco Warriors (now known as E.C.O. Force) and Zombie Hunters, and even pulled in some new elements (with Clutch and Ice Storm), also managing to tap the Ninja Force resources, too. While this methodology left some fans cold, who wondered exactly how or why all of these characters ended up together, I didn't have a problem with that idea.
I think we all know at this point that most G.I. Joe product for the foreseeable future (the small 50th Anniversary line notwithstanding) is probably going to come from the Collectors' Club. To that end, they have a lot of bases to cover and want to try and get collectors some different era's of G.I. Joe, and everyone has their favorites. They also need to try and tie these things into a story. I spoke with David Lane at the Convention about the inclusion of TJBang and Outback, and the exclusion of characters like Deep Six and Barbecue, and he mentioned that these decisions made sense within the scope of a "zombie outbreak" story. Does E.C.O. Force need an underwater trooper or a firefighter to fend off zombies? Perhaps not.
Granted I think the story could be twisted to include whomever they want to include, but hey, now they have some fodder for future FSS entries, I suppose.
At any rate, even with the different character choices, the Collectors Club made some firm decisions about color pallets (along with the capable minds and hands of Boss Fight Studio) and even with characters like Outback, TJBang, and Steel Brigade Commander, managed to tie those colors together. Blues, yellows, and greens run throughout the G.I. Joe side of the house in the boxed set, and it creates a sense of cohesion, even when the characters are somewhat scattered. And heck, when the execution is as spectacular as TJBang was, it's tough to argue with that thought process.
Speaking of blues and yellows, the Club gave fans a terrific Convention Attendee exclusive this year in the form of the E.C.O. Striker, a repainted G.I. Joe: Retaliation AWE Striker, which looks simply fantastic. The colors are expertly replicated and the fact that it's based off of a newer use of the AWE Striker tooling, it adds some better elements than a straight AWE Striker clone. Plus the large grappling hook launcher looks more like the squirt gun of old. Along with the colors there are some fantastic tampo's with the E.C.O. Force logo, and the G.I. Joe team looks perfect riding this beast into battle.
Without diving too deeply into the individual characters, I think the Club hit all of the bases with color choices, character selections, and the overall delivery of the set. We have a great mix of classic characters, touching the Eco Warriors, but also pulling from other areas of Real American Hero, and the Club manages to also give us some classic Cobra Lab technicians as well as a Sludge Viper, even if it didn't quite come in the form we might have preferred. As each figure was revealed, I found myself being quite pleased, but it wasn't until I had everything all together that I realized just how great and how cohesive the entirety of this boxed set was, and how nicely the Club managed to tap into that 90's aesthetic, yet still inject some great realistic military and tone down the colors just enough to not be obnoxious, yet still be extremely appealing. Click the links above for the full individual reviews.