Retro Spins: 9 1/2 Weeks



9 1/2 Weeks wasn't exactly the kind of movies my parents let me watch in 1986. Nor would it probably have interested me anyway. As such, I don't think I missed out back in the day. I did try watching it in my teenage years, but much like what I thought from my youth, it didn't interest me anyway.

Micky Rourke (Pope of Greenwich Village) and Kim Basinger (Fool For Love) take you on an eroitic odyssey to the limits of sexual obsession in this steamy story of a love affair that breaks every sexual taboo. Director Adrian Lyne (Flashdance) creates "the most sexualized relationship in years" (Vanity Fair" in a lushly photographed rendition of secret fantasies and desires that come vividly to life on screen.

Set against the high-tech backdrop of Manhattan, 9 1/2 Weeks is the length of the affair between Elizabeth, a beautiful art dealer, and John, the man who becomes her lover and changes irrevocably the course of her life. After tantalizing initial encounter, John charts the course of their sensual journey together in a deadly serious game of sexual dominance, unlocking the door to hidden dreams, pain and ecstasy.

The highly-charged scenes evoke "responses toward sex in cinema that haven't been touched on for years" (Village Voice), underscored by a pulsing soundtrack featuring Grace Jones, the Eurythmics, Joe Cocker, Bryan Ferry and many others. 9 1/2 Weeks is a passionate and provocative look at love and obsession that is moving, thrilling, and sometimes shocking. - Back of the original VHS

Um...yeah...My parents definitely weren't letting me watch movies like that in 1986.

Sexy time movies aside, the soundtrack did pique my interest when I saw it in a dollar bin in Timonium (back in December 2017). With the likes of John Taylor, Corey Hart, Devo and Eurythmics all contributing, surely there was at least something a fan of 80's music could find to enjoy.

Well...I didn't necessarily hear anything I hated. Unfortunately, I also didn't hear anything that got added to any of my shuffle lists. The soundtrack was just...there. Neither good nor bad. Neither annoying nor interesting. Forty-one minutes of not having to sit in silence.

If I had to pick one stand out track, I suppose that would be Luba's Let It Go. I don't know if it was because it was the last song on the album, and I actually put some effort into trying to enjoy it, or if it was actually good. I suppose I'll listen to the song again in the near future, and see if it is a true winner, or just a fluke.

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Magic Magnetic Gotham City (Remco)



Magic Magnetic Gotham City
Remco
1966

These days, they just don't make play mats like they used to. Vintage ones have so much going on in terms of style, fun and play interaction. Be it a vinyl mat for the 4077, those generic, but always fun, city streets, or a magnetic Gotham City.

For the latter, you'd have to look to the 1966 Remco Magic Magnetic Gotham City. The set consisted of a magnetic Gotham City "map", which you could place cardboard buildings, a bat cave and various punch out characters. The set even contained vehicles, such as, planes and cars - One of which, was of course, was the Batmobile - All of which were set up on magnetic bases.

As for the characters, these featured the likes of Batman, Robin, Catwoman, The Penguin and The Joker. With them, you could create hours of fun as the stories in your head unfolded on the mat before you. Basic design, but hours of potential fun.

Unfortunately, this set is by no means easy to come by these days. They're very few and far between. A complete set can easily set you back close to two thousand dollars. It's by no means for the average collector.

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G.I. Joe Classified: Wave Three - Cobra Island (Target Exclusive)



I'm a little confused by the order of release that the G.I. Joe Classified series is being put out. The Cobra Island wave is technically wave three, which begs the question of, "Where is wave two?" According to sites such as Hasbro Pulse and Entertainment Earth, not shipping until November of 2020.

Whatever, right? I guess we'll take them as we get them...When we get them...If we get them...

Yes, I'm still talking about the elusive, and bane to many Joe collectors, the Target exclusive Cobra Island. Fortunately, for today's post, we're actually opening and looking at that set. That is with the exception of the vehicle / figure pack, which as of this writing, appears to be holding firm to the August 14th street date. I'll update this post with it if / when I get my hands on it. For now, we'll dive into the three basic assortment figures.

Unlike wave one, the Cobra Island figures came packed in their own individual cases of six, meaning when (if) Target starts to get these in abundance, statistically, they should be easier to find than some of the other figures. Mind you, I didn't get my hands on any full cases, nor would I have wanted them, so unlike my post on the original wave of figures, I won't be showing any photos of the cases.

With exception of the Cobra Island logo and insert behind the figures, the packaging is consistent with the series (to date).


The symbols return on the side of the packaging, and I've come to find out, this isn't just a clever design aspect. Each one actually has a specific meaning, and you can find those on the G.I. Joe Classified main site, or by clicking, "HERE". If you actually hover over the symbol on the site, it will pop up with an information blurb, as well as, show you the characters to date associated with them.

While it's a cool feature, I don't honestly see myself running to their site every time I buy a figure to compare notes. Of course, I say that here on my blog, while in the back of my mind I tell myself, "You probably will," as I'm typing this sentence.


I really like the artwork side of the packaging so far. I'm really enjoying how it's unique to each character.




The back of the package has been updated to now showcase a map of Cobra Island. Admittedly, there is a definite feel of something missing, and that something would be the file cards. This would have been the perfect place to not only include a box size file card, but incorporate all the definitions of those symbols noted above.


Alright, with packaging out of the way, let's dive into the individual figures.

In my original wave one post, I listed out some pros and cons for each figure. I think that's a format I'm going to step away from for future reviews of this series. I'll provide comments here and there where I'd like to, but I'm not going to lay it out in a bullet point presentation.

Beach Head, figure number 10 in the series, was definitely a must have for me. I never had the original 3 3/4 figure as a kid, and while I rectified that as an adult, he's always been one of my favorite characters in the line and original cartoon series.

From his unique quirk of not wearing deodorant, to his hard edge training style of his teammates, Beach Head stands out as not only one of the most unique characters on the Joe team, but one who often got explored through comics and cartoons.

Say what you will about his design, I love it. Hardened soldier, with a hint of mystery. Not to mention a slew of accessories.

Speaking of which, I'm admittedly not a fan of the solid green color scheme of the weapons. At the very least, I would have preferred them to be black. Of course, if I wanted to be super expectant, it would have been to have nice paint jobs, such as those on the weapons of Destro, Duke and the wave one Roadblock.

For a twenty dollar figure, is it really asking too much to have some thought put into the accessories? I don't think so. I think it's a perfectly reasonable request. I really hope that Hasbro doesn't lure us all in with the detail at first and then suddenly goes full on cheap for the remainder of the line. That would really be disappointing.


At a glance, there's no denying the design and paint job is spot on. This is Beach Head. No ifs, ands or buts. A lot of people have complained on how "simple" he looks, but really, that's how he was represented in the vintage line as well.


If I had one complaint about this figure, it would be that once again the peg hold seems flawed. While the backpack accessory fits in it, the slightest nudge seems to make it fall off. I'd really like to see Hasbro explore other options for these.


Once again, the figure gets its own unique look, while tying it to the Joe team with that common theme of the communication device on his right shoulder.


Beach Head comes with a nice assortment of weapons which include an assault rifle, pistol, knife, crossbow, backpack and hat. As I mentioned above, the color on the weapons doesn't work for me. It's ugly. There's enough green on the figure, and with them being the same color, they don't stand out. I'm also not a fan of the hat. I don't recall the character wearing one in the show, and the vintage figure doesn't have one either.

While I initially thought the crossbow was just the bottom section of Scarlett's two piece weapon, it's actually not. As for the pistol, it's just a green version of the one packed in with Duke.


If I had to make a wager, it would be that this next figure is going to be the first peg warmer in the line. When it was announced, nobody seemed excited that Hasbro was already releasing a second Roadblock. While I was initially among that group, I do see aspects in this figure that I like. Yes, it is 90% repaint, but it has some high points.

For starters, I do like the overall paint job of the shirt. From a standpoint of liking the G.I. Joe logo, it's fun to see it (somewhat) incorporated into the paint job. I also like that Hasbro bothered to put a little effort into it, and actually provide an all new head sculpt.

While I'm sure it will be a piece that many people will lose over the years, I do like the aspect of the removable glasses. I think it's all the more cool that the lenses are somewhat transparent, and you can see the figure's eyes through them.
It's a decent figure, but I still would have preferred someone else be released with this wave. Even now, it's the lowest costing one on secondary markets, as there seems there's very little demand for this one. Like I said above, I think he's going to inevitably become a peg warmer. It will be that figure that when you're looking at Target for wave eight you're saying, "Well, they have plenty of Roadblocks."


There's honestly not much more I can say about this figure, but I'll get into the accessories a bit more below.




If Hasbro was going to insist on creating a repaint (for the most part) already, then the least they could have done was created a new weapon for the character. Instead, they just slapped a new coat of paint on the one provided with the wave one version, removable magazine and all. It's just not exciting, and it's no wonder fans are already showing with their wallets their overall disapproval of this figure.


Last up in this exclusive assortment of the basic figures is the one that seemingly everybody wants. The army builder, Cobra Trooper. This one rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. How was Hasbro going to make one of the most popular troop building figures a Target exclusive. Fans are still not happy about how this figure is not only unavailable, but ridiculously priced on secondary markets. I don't blame them.

Out of the three figures, he was definitely the one I mostly was excited about. I mean, let's be honest, he looks cool. While I don't necessarily condone hoarding the figure, I can also see why everyone wants one (or ten). However, with that said, the figure is not without its flaws.

For starters, I'm not a fan of the goggles. They cover up all that wonderful detail in the eyes of the figure, and quite frankly, they just look silly with their serpent slits. I wanted to attach this to the top of the helmet, as shown in the Hasbro production photos, but I simply could not make this work. It was a tight squeeze, and I honestly felt like forcing the matter was only going to result in a broken strap. While I initially took a photo of the figure with them on, I eventually settled for dangling them around the chest knife sheath.

I'm also not a fan of the arm sash. I just don't think it was necessary. However, because I didn't want it to ultimately become a lost part, I ended up putting it on the figure. That in and of itself was a challenge of pulling and wiggling.

Lastly, I was disappointed that while there are peg holes to attach the two weapons to the back, it's a flawed feature. This is because the additional holster on the back of the vest, for the second pistol, gets in the way, making for a tight squeeze to get both larger weapons attached at the same time. I ended up settling for the sniper rifle being on his back and the assault rifle in its hand. However, ultimately, this was not how I wanted to display him.

Overall design wise to the sculpt and paint are awesome on this figure. Execution wise of the accessories, there are flaws which detract.


In looking at these photos of the figure, it really does need the helmet on. It looks rather silly without.




There were a tone of accessories included with the Cobra Trooper, and much like the other figures in this line, I was pleased to find that there was a place for everything.


And here they are all decked out.


I was glad to find a reason to hold onto that Deluxe Snake Eyes box. It makes a great backdrop for photos. You may have noticed it first in my Order Of Battle posts for the line.

It has some facets that can be nitpicked, or honestly directly complained about, but overall, this wave of figures was a solid addition to this series. It's fleshing out nicely, and I really hope that Hasbro can get its distribution issues in order to keep it going for some time.

At some point, I see myself needing to be a little more selective in the figures I buy. One, I don't have the capacity to really store 500 six inch figures, nor would I want to. Secondly, my tastes in the characters fall into that 1983 to 1989, maybe 1990 era. Beyond that time frame, I not only don't know who those people are, but have no real desire to own them.


Red Ninja comes to mind as the first one in this series that I will get from the case of wave two, but probably won't end up opening. Instead, it will go into my trade pile. This is a line I want to enjoy collecting, and one way to make that happiness dwindle fast is...Well, let me get another cheap shot in, screw up the whole distribution aspect, but what I was more so going to say was to force myself to buy figures I don't want just to have them all.

What about you? Are you going for the 100% club with this line? Have you already given up in light of the massive debacle the distribution has been? Or are you going to be selective, and pick only the characters you truly have a vested interest in?

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Order Of Battle: G.I. Joe Classified



This will be an ongoing post of my G.I. Joe Classified figures.

 Deluxe Snake Eyes
Obtained: August 4, 2020 (Ordered March 1, 2020)

 Roadblock
Obtained: July 30, 2020 (Ordered May 13, 2020)

 Snake Eyes
Obtained: July 30, 2020 (Ordered May 13, 2020)

 Destro
Obtained: July 30, 2020 (Ordered May 13, 2020)

 Duke
Obtained: July 30, 2020 (Ordered May 13, 2020)

Scarlett
Obtained: July 30, 2020 (Ordered May 13, 2020)
Beach Head
Sub-Series: Cobra Island
Obtained: August 1, 2020

Roadblock
Sub-Series: Cobra Island
Obtained: August 1, 2020

Cobra Trooper
Sub-Series: Cobra Island
Obtained: August 1, 2020

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Should You Have To Go To Eight Stores?




What is it about toys these days that make them so difficult to find in stores? Seriously, should one really have to make a day of going from location to location to find action figures? Now before you say, "Oh, this is just another rant," hear me out. This is actually not that at all.
 
When I found myself wanting to slam my head against a wall after what was turning into a vain attempt to obtain three figures and a vehicle / figure combo pack, the latter of which doesn't appear to be out yet, I decided I would spend my time while traveling making phone calls. Not to retail stores. Instead to two specific people.

The first was my mother. As the first person in my life to plant the toy bug, I had a question for her. Was it always this hard to find toys when she was shopping for birthdays and Christmas? Was she going from store to store, struggling to fulfill our wish lists?

For her, the answer was, "No." Any number of department stores, such as Sears, JC Penny, Montgomery Ward, and of course, Toys R' Us, always had an abundance of stock. She recalled the toy isles always filled to the rim, with no effort being involved beyond flipping through a couple pegs and finding one of each of an entire series of figures.

However, she also said that most of the time she didn't even have to waste her time with this, thanks to the annual Sears Wishbook and other Christmas catalogs. "Not once," she said that she ever ordered something that was back ordered or sold out. Stock was plentiful.

Mind you though, she was buying toys in an era where toy collecting, while I'm sure it existed, wasn't as large of a hobby as it has become since the early 90's. With that perspective, I made my second call. This time to my uncle.

Unlike my mother, my Uncle Skipper has been a collector for as long as I've known him. Stamps, coins, and baseball cards have been a lifetime passion of his. His perspective was not surprisingly very different from my mothers.

He regaled me with a tale of how around 1984 to 1985 it was relatively easy for him to walk into any card store or 7-11 and find pack after pack of baseball cards. However, he noticed around 1986 or 87 that things suddenly changed. The hobby boomed, and more and more people were trying to collect.  He specifically sited the 1986 Fleer Jordan rookie card, which quickly became a must have card.

Prices started to skyrocket, and product became rather rare. He recalled many trips to 7-11 at 4:00 AM to hunt down packs, telling me that if he didn't buy them when he saw them, he would never see them again because average buyers or dealers would swoop them all up, find the rare cards and take them to card shows or their stores.

This was an interesting story, because I honestly didn't expect it. In my mind, scalping was a thing that came about in the 90's when 80's children had a gnawing bug of nostalgia. It honestly never dawned on me that the presence of a secondary market had always been a predominant factor. It makes sense. How many sports cards and comic stores were around back then versus now? The only real difference is that with the aid of the internet and sites such as ebay, everyone can be a second hand dealer - Or scalper if you prefer.

Turns out this is not a new concept. It's with the aid of the internet, with exposure to people across the globe, versus the guy at your local shop, that the secondary market is so transparent as to just how many people are in the game of flipping. I suppose as long as collectibles exist, there will always be a group of people looking to exploit any hobby for profit. Toys have just become yet another means to that end for people looking to make a quick buck.

In that regard, perhaps the answer to the question is, "Yes." You really should have to go to eight stores to find three figures. Does it suck? Absolutely. However, I'd be lying if I said the eventual payoff wasn't a just reward - When it happens.


As a final thought to this article, I'm looking to build a network among the other bloggers who are actively collecting this line. Let's help each other out. If there's a figure you're looking for, tell me so I can keep an eye out for you. Please be prepared to reciprocate. The more people we get involved, the easier finding these figures will be for all of us. - Though before you ask, sorry, I was only able to find one duplicate from the Target wave today, and it is already claimed by someone.

The spirit of this is to not price gouge each other. Let's keep it retail (with applicable shipping). If you're interested in that, leave your name or blog site in the comment section. Feel free to also add your current want list.

I currently only have an additional Snake Eyes from the case of wave one I bought, and will have two Cobra Commanders and one Gung Ho from the case of wave two, when it arrives. I will keep looking in the wild for more of the Target exclusives to help others out.

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G.I. Joe Classified: Deluxe Snake Eyes



I love coming home to boxes on my stoop. Especially when it's a box I've been waiting an extended period for. I was super excited that Hasbro Pulse finally shipped this bad boy out. Admittedly, based on how things have been going with the line, I'm honestly surprised it even arrived.


I don't know what I was really expecting, but the first thing I took notice of was how massive the packaging for the Deluxe Snake Eyes figure is. At 14 X 11.5, it's probably the largest figure box I have ever personally had. No, I take that back, Nickelodeon's History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gets that award. Still, this box was large.







When I slid the slipcase off, I have to admit I had to take a moment and pause. The inner box is truly a work of art. The shiny layering with etched design is beautiful.





As someone who doesn't typically give boxes much thought, I'm honestly considering if this one is worth keeping, versus pitching it in the trash - As I often do with toy boxes. On one hand it seems a shame to do so, but on the other, at the end of the day, it's a box. What would I do with it beyond store it? To that end, what purpose would it ultimately serve?

Inside the package is a nice piece of artwork, which is essentially the design for the engraving on the box.


Underneath the artwork is the heart of the package, the figure and the additional accessories.


When compared to the retail version, ultimately there is value to the additional ten dollars you would have paid pre-ordering this figure from Hasbro Pulse. For starters, it comes with a slew of accessories, and mind you, these are just the ones packed in with the actual set. There are even more packed in with the figure.

 Deluxe Pack-In

The accessories in the photo above are all new, and while I initially thought they were designed specifically for the deluxe set, it appears to only be the staff that was - for now. The remaining weapons will all be packed in with the wave two, Red Ninja.


A nice added touch was this amazing looking display stand, which holds all of the above noted weapons.


When placed on the rack, while they do look nice, the overall design feels wobbly. In other words, I don't expect these weapons to stay in place long term, and I dread if this thing gets the slightest bump.


The best accessory, in my opinion, is the inclusion of Snake Eyes' signature Uzi. The suppressor, which was also included with the basic figure, not only fits on the pistol, but also the sub-machine gun.

Figure Pack-In

While they're a nice touch, the additional hands don't really excite me. Rather than sculpt a throwing star into the left hand, I would have preferred having just a loose star. The open palm karate chop of the other hand is relatively boring to me, serving little to no purpose. I went ahead and stuck them back in the box for safe keeping.

The packaging for the figure is in line with the basic assortment. However, rather than using color artwork, it's instead silver, and somewhat reflective. The only exception is the red text and clan symbol.




The numbering of the figure is denoted as 00, which makes this version officially the first in the series.




In terms of the figure, it's essentially the same one as packaged in the basic assortment, just with additional paint. Now that I have the figure in front of me, I honestly don't really like it all that much when compared to the basic assortment version. The only perk to the upgraded paint job is the silver visor, and it's a shame we had to buy a deluxe version just to get that aspect. For me, had the visor of the basic figure been silver, I wouldn't even see a reason to keep this figure.

I don't really have much more to say about the overall design that I haven't already said in my wave one review.






The shelf of G.I. Joe Classified is growing, and while I was annoyed that the Target exclusive wave was going to cause long term grief, things, while not ideal, are on the up and up with this line. Hopefully Hasbro (and any exclusive retailers) can right their course and save this series from sinking.


Until next time, here's a collector's hunting tip - Look under the shelves at your local stores. Yes, under. Physically lift the bottom shelf up. You may be surprised what you find hiding from other sneaky collectors and / or store employees who may have been short on cash.


For a look at wave one, as well as, a peak at the entire line as we know it to date, click HERE. Another fun page to check out is the official G.I. Joe Classified site. Specifically, take a look at the character tab. Hasbro has eluded that this page is where you can get a hint of figures that are coming in the series.

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