2016 JoeCon After Action Report: Day 3
Greetings Joe Fans–
Before I get into the nitty gritty of Day 3, just a slight programming note. Digital cameras are wonderful things, however the batteries conked out just after the GIJCC panel and the computer I’m on doesn’t have a card reader. Therefore, there won’t be pictures…today. KansasBrother and I will be leaving fairly early in the day tomorrow, so there won’t be much I have to report from Day 4, so tomorrow will just be all the photos from Day 3. All right, without further prefacing, let’s get this one started.
Like yesterday, Day 3 started at the GIJCC information booth. While KansasBrother was inspecting his bagged set a little further, he noticed one of his Air Devils was missing his ankle holster. This prompted me to check mine, and I’m glad I did as it turns out, according to Dave Lane (who was manning the booth this morning), I apparently won the Air Devil lottery because all three of mine were missing their ankle holsters. They swapped out all three of mine and my brother’s Air Devil as well and we made our way back to the floor for a little shopping before the first Bozigian panel. The first thing I did was hit up the club store line to see if there were any Sky Sweepers left and mercifully, there were two still so I purchased that and, as a lark, I also asked if they still had some copies of this year’s lithograph. They did, so I purchased that as well. As of this afternoon, the only Sky Patrol souvenirs that haven’t sold out are the Skystriker and the Joe and Cobra JUMP sets. My brother snagged a few more loose, complete Joes and then we quickly swung back to our hotel to drop off my box set and lithograph.
The first panel we attended was G.I. Joe…In The Trenches with Kirk Bozigian and Larry Hama. It was very interesting listening to these two detail the early days of the Joe line, starting with the fact that Hasbro rejected it three times (once in 1980 and twice in 1981) before finally giving them the go-ahead in 1982. Larry talked about the fact that the reason he got the G.I. Joe comic book was because literally no one else wanted it. According to his story, the Marvel higher-ups talked to every single artist and editor before getting to his office at the end of the hall before he finally got the position. I think we can all agree that it was probably a very good thing that no one else wanted that job. I don’t think the comics would be the same without Larry’s involvement.
After that panel, it was time for the big one: the Joe brand panel. The first thing they addressed was the upcoming IDW Revolution event that’s going to cross over Transformers, G.I. Joe, and M.A.S.K. The crossover itself won’t last for more than a few months, but afterwards, it does establish that these properties all exist in the same fictional universe so, if a Transformer goes berserk at an Air Force base, there’s a chance it might be the Joes coming in to drive him off. The Hasbro team is really giving us some great stuff coming next year (likely around November this time instead of August). There are some filler two-packs, and I will pass along what Derryl DePriest said here. These reissues don’t take away any money at all from the tooling budget. It allows Hasbro to get the most bang for its buck out of the Joe brand while it’s in, by his own admission, a rather quiet time. Two-packs of note include the Heavy Duty and Stilleto (from the Pulse poll) and Duke and Tombstone (a newly created Cobra who is basically their answer to Duke–I’ll admit, I’m pretty stoked about Tombstone and it looked like DePriest and Brand Manager Mark Weber were too). Surprisingly, the Zombie Patrol two-pack also got the room pretty excited, despite being just a pair of Zombie Vipers. For three packs, Hasbro decided to do mix things up a little. Instead of the outnumbered concept they’ve used the last few years, this time, the three-packs are squads. The Cobra Legion pack has a new B.A.T., a S.A.W. Viper (with a build that looks different from the GIJCC version from the Nocturnal Fire Con Set), and…drumroll please…a female Cobra Officer. I happened to be sitting a few rows in front of the female Cobra Trooper cosplayers that were around, and they (along with the rest of the room) were pretty excited by that. On the Joe side, the Special Forces pack continues the Wolf Squad concept they introduced last year with Wolf Squad versions of Outback and Falcon, and, for the first time ever, a figure of Shooter, the missing original fourteenth Joe. The room went wild for Shooter, and honestly, so did I. I think that she was one of the best additions to the Joe mythos during the DDP years and I love that what was just a nod to the then-managing editor of Marvel at the time (Jim Shooter) has turned out to be such a great, if short-lived character. Then, things shifted gears a little. DePriest started talking about the brand’s future and nearly tipped his hand, a fact caught by KansasBrother but chalked up to as a simple goof by me, when he said something about seeing us all next year. DePriest talked about how amazing the Joe brand is thanks in large part to the fans that keep things alive via their membership in the GIJCC. Then, DePriest announced that Hasbro was continuing their relationship with Fun Publications until 2018 with the general idea that they need time to build HasCon into something like Joe Con/Bot Con, so why take the license away from them while they do it? I’ll admit, I thought the room went NUTS when Shooter was revealed, but the place absolutely erupted when that was announced. Brian Savage came on stage and apologized to all those he’d talked to leading up to Joe Con about the end of the GIJCC since this decision had literally been made less than two weeks ago, in part due to fan contact with Hasbro. So, ladies and gentlemen, we have a little more time with the GIJCC.
Following the Joe panel, my brother and I stayed for Kirk Bozigian’s second panel of the day about the changes and subteams that abounded in the 90s and the end of the Joe brand at the hands of the Kenner people that took it over following Hasbro’s buyout. It was interesting to hear Kirk talk about the less loved eras of Joes, and I agree with his defense. The toy market was changing and while the figures from 1990 on didn’t hold much appeal to those who were with the brand since 1982, with the rise of TMNT and Power Rangers, the Joe brand had to adapt and while not everything they tried was super successful, I will say as a kid that grew up on that era of Joes, I actually like Eco-Warriors and Star Brigade (done, according to Kirk as a pre-emptive strike when it sounded like Kenner was going to revive Star Wars). I even had the ability to ask a question and learned that Kirk’s favorite subteam of that era was surprisingly the Street Fighter figures. He said part of the impetus for it was he remembers one summer watching his son (who it sounds like is someone around my age, maybe a little younger) and nephews, dropping quarter after quarter into a Street Fighter II arcade machine and he realized there was something there. If you could use the game to get kids interested in action figures, it opened up a lot of opportunities. Hasbro wasn’t fully behind it initially, but after the first wave of figures (who relied heavily on Ninja Force bodies), Hasbro saw that money was to be made and that’s why you were able to get later figures like E. Honda and Dhalsim with newer bodies. My favorite anecdote from the panel, though, involved the Mega-Marines. After Hasbro bought out Kenner, there was a directive from above that Hasbro-based products should seek to find ways to synergize with some of the newly acquired Kenner-based lines. The design team was trying to figure out something to do, and someone half-seriously suggested finding a way to synergize Joe with Play-Doh, and the room liked the idea and thus “Moldable Bio-Armor” was born.
After thoroughly enjoying the Bozigian panel, KansasBrother and I headed back to the floor. I wanted to make sure to get shots of the new figures in the case for Joe A Day. While there, I had a chance to chat with Derryl DePriest (who apparently reads Joe A Day every now and then since he recognized the site name and my name when I asked if I could get a photo of him for the blog–holy crap, Hasbro knows about us, guys!) and he said he appreciates how much the online Joe community does to keep the Joe brand out in the public eye through sites like us. I also made it a point to chat with Mark Weber, mostly because he disclosed at the panel that he, too, is a huge Interrogator fan, but also to get a photo of him for the blog. Like Mr. DePriest, Mr. Weber had nice things to say about us and much like Mr. DePriest, he was also incredibly generous with his time and we spent quite a bit of time chatting.
Following a little elbow rubbing with Hasbro brass (who know my screen name and can at least recall what I write enough to say, yeah, you do good work–sorry, in case you can’t tell, I’m a little excited by that knowledge), I made my way over to the JoeDeclassified booth. While there, I met Mark Pennington, a Joe designer from 1986-1988. I chatted with him for a bit and followed him over to the other booth he was working and bought his Joe sketchbook and got him to do a nice sketch of Cutter for me on one of the blank pages. As I was heading out of the hall to meet back up with KansasBrother, I bumped into Gregg Berger and still had the Pennington sketch in my hand. Since he voice Cutter, I said “You have to see this” and he stopped, took a good long look at it and then, mind you, during his free time, offered to sign that piece for me as well. I couldn’t very well turn him down, so now my Cutter sketch is also autographed by Gregg Berger. I love the experience I get at Planet Comicon, but the fact that the Joelebrities actually spend a lot of time just wandering the floor is something I love about Joe Con and I know that couldn’t happen at PCC because their guests’ profiles are so much larger. I bumped into Kirk Bozigian and Adam Riches a few times on the floor too and they were super friendly, but I’m still impressed that Gregg Berger was nice enough to offer, without prompting, to sign my Cutter sketch since he thought it was a pretty neat piece.
Finishing off the day was the GIJCC panel. While Joe Con wasn’t a bummer by any means, the mood at the convention was noticably lifted following the Hasbro announcement and the GIJCC panel was a great source of information on upcoming products. They started by talking about the stuff we already knew about, like the upcoming Transformers/Joe crossover set. Of course, the main event was the reveal for the FSS V line up. FSS V is going to be reusing a lot of parts since the GIJCC didn’t think they’d have much time to put things together, but even with all the impending reuse, it’s going to be great. No photos were shown yet, since they don’t exist, but the list is Ambush (a likely source to reuse General Mayhem’s head), Charbroil (with a new, static helmet head instead of the unmaskable version that came in the Nocturnal Fire Con Set), an updated version of Darklon (something that me almost squeal in excitement), General Flagg (concerningly based on the second Battle Corps figure), the Battle Corps Viper, Salvo (an updated look more in line with PoC than a straight-up vintage update), Scoop (reusing Sky Patrol Airborne’s head), Raptor, Sneak Peek (in standard colors and hopefully with a changed up vest), Steel Raven (the female SKAR officer from the GIJCC comics), Xamot from the GIJCC Shattered Glass story (something I wasn’t wild about until David Lane noted that the design they used is a dead ringer for the suited look he had in the Sunbow cartoon), and Z-Force Gaucho. FSS V will be announced with photos soon and I’m looking forward to checking things out before making my final decision though with Raptor, Darklon, Battle Corps Viper, and Ambush, I think I know what I’m saving money for next.
After all that great news, the GIJCC really floored everyone by announcing when next year’s con will be (around this same time) and that they’ve already got things lined up for another trip back to Disney World. I’ll admit, I’m not as excited about this as the rest of the room was, but as Brian Savage said, part of it was that since they’ve done Disney a few times, they had ready connections down there so they could get things set up pretty quickly He intimated that room blocks would be available in the very near future, likely before we even start seeing what the theme is. After all that good news, KansasBrother and I returned to our hotel to relax before casino night and the awards banquet.
I admit, we didn’t stay for the awards since we were both a little tired and had a long drive back to South Dakota ahead of us, but I did try and burn through my casino voucher quickly. However, much like in 2009, that didn’t work out quite as planned. In 2009, I tried my hand at craps and ran the table out of chips after getting on a hot streak with my last five “dollar” chip. This time, I headed for the roulette wheel because I know that has some of the worst player odds in any casino. At KansasBrother’s prompting, I threw some of my chips on 34 (a number picked because that’s how old he turned last week and Joe Con was his belated birthday present) and that’s where the ball landed, meaning I went from having 100 “dollars” to 875 in a single spin. I did my best to lose as much as I could, but I still walked away from the table with 675 “dollars.” I knew from 2009 that basically anything under 1000 wasn’t going to do much at the auction, so I cashed out and kept my bidding ticket as a little souvenir of my first time on the roulette wheel. Man, if only I thought I’d have that kind of luck playing craps and roulette with real money.
Well, folks, that pretty much wraps up my coverage of Joe Con. On the docket for tomorrow, there are panels about Joe cosplay, the Declassified guys are talking about international variations and Larry Hama will be talking about the famous Silent Interlude. While I’m sure the Declassified guys will put on a great show, international variants aren’t something that interest me and Silent Interlude has been analyzed to death by everyone, including Larry Hama, so with the long drive ahead of us, it’s probably best to just head out. I hope you’ve enjoyed the After Action Reports this year, but don’t get used to them for next year since Joe Con is going down to Orlando and I likely won’t be making that trek.
KansasBrawler, signing off!