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Maltova is a chocolate drink marketed towards kids.  Funskool makes toys directed for the same market.  So, it was only natural that the two would team up for a cross promotion.  Funskool made some exclusive figures in the vein of the Calcium Sandoz figures that were either included with Maltova products or as a premium.  (Based on the ties on the packages, I lean towards them being attached to some product.)

I have no idea how many figures there might be.  Below are pics of a few of them.  Sadly, these figures have the same issues as other Funskool promotions in that they have crappy straight arms that make the otherwise exclusively terrible paint schemes less valuable for a loose collector.  But, for collectors in general, they are highly desirable and some will fetch stupidly high prices.  Each figure has a new code name included on the bio card.

Dial Tone (Navigator):

Here you have a 1994 Dial Tone torso and head that are colored similarly to the Funskool release of the figure.  It looks like he has Dodger legs.  But, I didn't look them up and am going from visual memory.  So, please offer corrections in the comments.



Cutter (Tracker):

This figure is one of the more interesting concoctions.  The figure uses the body of Cutter, but the Countdown head.  The coloring is reminiscent of both Cutter and the Funskool Grunt figure.  With swivel arms, this figure would simply be a must have.  It looks great and would be a perfect addition to either a Whale or Flagg crew.



Here's another oddball: a Quick Kick body with a Budo head.  The figure's name starts with Karate, but I can't see the rest.  I've never seen a Quick Kick custom using the Budo head and the design is kind of ingenious.  I'd easily buy this figure (if he had swivel arms) and I hate Quick Kick.  Sometimes, though, you strike gold.



Decoder:

The colors here are just iconic Funskool.  You have a Red Blocker head with an orange Psyche Out chest.  I'm not sure about the legs.  But, the whole ensemble is a great way to enjoy Funskool.



Croc Master (Snake Shadow):

This is probably the least interesting figure since it's a barely painted Croc Master.  Every other Croc Master release is better.  So, this figure would be an easy pass.



Budo (Scorpion):

Looks like Budo was a cheap mold to get into production.  This version isn't painted much at all, even though the colors of the base plastic are decent.  But, again, the production figures are better and this guy's value is as an oddity.



With all things Funskool, it's probable there are more variants out there.  But, all of these promotional figures are interesting looks at Funskool's attempts to entice new customers through other products.  Hasbro rarely did this in the Joe line.  But, they did go it.  And, Star Wars had an exclusive figure available with Fruit Loops cereal as recently as 1996.  So, there is ample precedent for such cross promotion. 

As a kid, my parents weren't too keen on tie ins if they were with brands that they did not, normally, buy.  But, I ate a ton of Fruit Loops in 1996 to get a couple of the Han Stormtroopers.  And, were even poorly articulated figures like these released as promotional items in the U.S., I'd most likely buy enough to get a full set.  But, that's what collectors do. 
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Originally, the 1997 series of figures was planned to include a repainted Breaker and a repainted 1983 Rock and Roll figure.  Handpainted samples were shown on the back of the Star and Stripes set.  But, the molds for those figures were "lost".  Hasbro resorted to some quick replacements and both characters were released in 1997 as repaints of the 1986 Roadblock body with different heads.  Somewhere along the way, though, there was a miscommunication.  Somehow, Rock and Roll was given black skin.  This may have been a holdover from the Roadblock color templates that were used.  But, a good amount of the mis-painted figures were packaged into Stars and Stripes sets and sold in Toys R Us stores across the country.

Today, this variant is rather tough to find and is worth a couple of hundred dollars.  But, in 1997, the figure was findable.  Anecdotally, collectors of the era estimated that about 1 in 30 Stars and Stripes sets had the variant.  As the production run for the set was believed to be around 30,000 sets, that would place 1,000 Rock and Roll variants into the collecting community.  Of course, that "back of the napkin" estimate could be wildly off.  But, the variant was quickly discovered by collectors of the time.  However, the figures weren't overly desirable and you could easily trade a spare 1997 Alley Viper straight up for one. 

The variant set that includes this Rock and Roll also contains a significant Breaker variant.  But, since it's just a color hue change, no one cares about it and it lacks the cachet and value of the Rock and Roll.  It was extremely rare for Hasbro to race change a figure mold in the US.  So, in the cases where it did occur (either intentionally or by accident) the resulting figures have found great collector interest.  You used to be able to find sealed Stars and Stripes sets with the variant figures in mislabeled online sales and could get deals.  But, it's been more than a decade since those dried up and this figure is now well known and accordingly priced in the community.  It's safe to say that almost all of the variants ended in collector hands due to the rapid identity and communication of the variant.  But, it's still one of the rarest and most significant retail variants in the history of the G.I. Joe line.


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In 2002, collectors were army builder crazy.  They were desperate for any new figure that could be army built in any capacity.  Early in that year, Hasbro repainted a 1994 Ice Cream Soldier and released him as a new Cobra named the Shock Viper.  But, that figure saw a truncated release and was only available online.  Collectors were only able to get three to six of that version.  Hasbro attempted to rectify this situation by releasing a different version of the Shock Viper to retail at the end of 2002.

At the 2002 convention, Hasbro showcased their planned Shock Viper that would debut at the end of 2002.  This version lacked the purple and red of the original and replaced it with a nice grey color.  Grey Cobras are pretty rare in the line.  So, seeing the figure was a visual treat.  You will note the copper highlights on the hand painted sample that carried over to to the production figure.

For some reason, though, this grey color scheme was abandoned.  It was replaced with a burnt orange Shock Viper that's odd and not all that useful.  He was only packed one per case upon his release, which helped to offset the poor design of the retail figure.  This grey sample would have been a far superior color scheme and one that collectors would hold in higher esteem today.  Hasbro never commented as to why the change occurred and the Shock Viper mold would not appear again until 2007 when it was used on the Lt. Clay Moore figure.  This grey Shock Viper would have been a cool addition to a later retail release.  But, it remains an interesting insight into some of the concepts that were planned but didn't make it to retail in the early 2000's.




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In 2005, the Iron Grenadiers concept was chosen as the theme for the convention exclusive figure set.  It turned into one of the most popular sets in convention history and remains one of the most popular releases nearly 15 years later.  One oddball in the set, though, was the Destro figure.  Instead of a classic Destro mold, the Destro figure used the 1992 figure's head and a 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal figure.  All of the figures in the set seemed to fit together except for this Destro.  But, in the zeal of the set's quality, the Destro was largely forgiven and collectors moved on.

However, as 2005 progressed, an unproduced prototype of a 1988 Destro figure started to appear in Asia. The first speculation, of course, was that collectors were finally going to see a good Destro in a Toys R Us 6 pack.  But, as those sets' days at retail were done, that was not the case.  The mystery figure was actually something different.

It seems, in their infinite wisdom, that the club stumbled across this Destro mold when looking for figures to release in the 2005 convention set.  Since they were so plugged into the 3 3/4" collector community, they decided that collectors hated this version of Destro and discarded it.  When the 2005 Destro figure was revealed, most collectors wondered why it wasn't the 1988 figure mold in the set.  Caught with their pants down in embarrassment at their lack of understanding the 3 3/4" collecting world, the club released the mold in 2006: but as Overlord.  Collectors never got a 1988 Destro repaint and the club was embroiled in another snafu that even a novice 3 3/4" collector could have avoided.

In retrospect, it's very unfortunate that this Destro never got reuse.  In 2005, Hasbro released a terrible repaint of the 1992 Destro in a comic pack.  It is a completely wasted release and is ignored by collectors today.  Had it been a 1988 mold repainted in 1983 style, though, it would be among the more favored repaints of that era.  Seeing this figure is reminder of how badly both Hasbro and club bungled the few vintage Joe repaints in the 2000's.  They got some right.  But, they missed on so many more.  This Destro is a perfect example of what might have been.  This mold in Iron Grenadier colors and with convention level paint masks would have made the 2005 convention set perfect.  A feat that was never accomplished.  But, it was not to be.


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2019's Rarities Month is going to be subdued.  I don't have as much to showcase since I've depleted my archives.  I've got a couple of fun items, though, and should have about 2 posts per week. 
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The 2003 BAT Pack was released with great fanfare.  But, the set landed with a thud at retail, though.  Collectors bought a lot.  But, there weren't enough collectors to absorb the stock.  There were some massive armies out there for a while, though.  The Inferno BAT was an afterthought to the standard BATs in the set.  But, years later, the figure has some cachet and can be fun to own.  I don't need too many of them.  Having a handful makes for a useful army.  Here's the best of the Inferno BAT from around the web.

Inferno BAT Profile

Inferno Bat by Ironman3719

Inferno BAT at JoeBattleLines.com

Inferno BAT at JoeADay.com

Inferno BAT at Half the Battle

Inferno BAT makes the Halloween List at Castle Geek Skull

Inferno BAT at GeneralsJoes.com


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Each year, I've looked back at underappreciated posts on this site.  2018 was a weird year in that traffic was constant for the first 6 months before it almost doubled over the summer.  Then, in the fourth quarter, it plummeted.  Supposedly, Google changed their algorithm around this time due to the demise of Google+ and it greatly affected the number of people who visited the site.  Things seem to have normalized, now.  But, the traffic patterns are interesting, nonetheless.

Below are the least popular posts of 2018 that I think deserve more love:

Mexican Lobotomaxx

Historically, foreign exclusive figures have been among the most popular profiles on my site.  Add in the fact that this was a monster whose write up was released on Halloween and you have a recipe for...failure?  Barely 200 people read this profile of a rather hard to find figure.  But, the fact that Lobotomaxx is an unpopular alien and his Mexican variant is barely a shading difference and you get a figure that didn't grab people's attention.



Rarities - Unproduced 2004 Desert Patrol Figures (Convention Prototypes)

Even Rarities month produces a dud every now and then.  When these figures were show at the 2004 Convention, the set looked like it wasn't great, but had some promise.  The final production figures, though, didn't hold up.  The excellent Ambush paint job you see here never saw the light of day and the resulting retail set faded into obscurity...just like this post.



1993 Flak Viper

Few collectors share my passion for neon 1990's army builders.  In 2017 and 2018, this figure fascinated me and I slowly built a little army of them.  Yet, the profile was super unpopular despite it being one of my personal favorites for the year.



2001 Pathfinder

With this guy, I get it.  It's a boring repaint of a character that no one remembers.  At least the original figure was distinctive.  This 2001 version was lost in the sea of olive drab banality that defined 2001.



2005 Iron Anvil

While these figures seem to be well like by collectors, they remain super cheap for convention army builders.  The profile got little attention: which is unfortunate for such a great mold that was finally painted in a proper manner.


So far, 2019 has been pretty solid.  We'll see what the rest of the year brings.  We should be in about the final 6 months of the Joe renaissance that's driven up prices.  That should take us into 2020.  If Hasbro gets the Snake Eyes movie going, that could change the landscape again: either for better or for worse.  But, I'll keep plugging along and hope you'll come along, too.  Thanks for the great year!
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Larry Hama loved Roadblock.  He was introduced in the comic with superhero level flair.  He then remained a mainstay of the comic plot for the remaining decade of Joe media.  As if this weren't enough, Roadblock was a staple of cartoon, too.  He was that rare character who crossed over into both mediums and was appreciated by fans of each.  He was also a favorite of Hasbro.  Just as his iconic 1984 mold disappeared from retail shelves, Hasbro released a newly sculpted 1986 figure.  This figure hung around until 1988 when the Tiger Force repaint of the 1984 was released.  Roadblock then, though, went on a bit of a hiatus and did not appear again until 1992.

Roadblock's return to retail in 1992, though, was extremely well done.  The new mold brought some heft to the character that had been missing in 1984 and only slightly improved in 1986.  For the generations of kids who had grown up in the '80's, this 1992 sculpt was a missed redo of a favorite character.  And, as collectors started to come of age, the 1992 Roadblock was one of the very few figures from that decade that were sought after.  Hasbro helped this along in the early 2000's when they got the mold back from India and repainted it for the 2004 Anti Venom set.  Gone were some of the more gaudy hues from the '90's and in was a palette of black, tan and deep green.  It was extremely rare for the 2000's era Hasbro to produce the best paint job on a figure.  But, with the Anti-Venom Roadblock, they succeeded.

Hasbro had planned a repaint of the 1984 Roadblock as part of the 1997 Toys R Us exclusive G.I. Joe assortments.  While all of the other replacements from the original hand painted samples could be explained away by "lost" molds, Roadblock's absence was odd.  While he was not replaced in that year's lineup, his 1986 sculpt did.  The parts were used for Breaker and Rock and Roll in the Stars and Stripes set.  But, then, those parts disappeared and the 1986 Roadblock was never repainted.  In 2001, the 1984 Roadblock returned to retail: renamed as a new character.  It was revealed the copyrights were an issue and may have been part of the 1997 snafu.  The 1984 mold was re-done several times: to the point of annoyance in the collecting world.  Finally, Hasbro got the 1992 mold back from Hasbro.  While I'm not too keen on Hasbro's handling of the molds returned from Funskool, they did right by Roadblock.  He was released twice, both times in a solid color scheme worthy of the character's importance.

When I talk about Joes of the 1980's, the memories are of childhood play.  For figures from the 1990's, it is of my re-entry into collectordom and the recollections are a mixture of childhood regret of not having some of the toys when I was a kid and adult happiness for finding a fulfilling past time.  My 2000's remembrances are of the acquisition of figures and the sentiment of the collecting community at the time of their releases.  Each era has value to me.  But, it also shows why many of the 2000's figures have faded with time.  They lack any real connection to me aside from the community aspect.  And, the community during that time was fun.  Sure, there was nonsense.  But, less than today and more guys got along since it wasn't a big competition like so many want to make collecting now. 

For this Roadblock, though, I have found uses.  I like Roadblock to appear in photos since he's a popular character.  The 1984 has its uses.  And, I no longer have the 1986, 1992 or 1993 figures in my collection.  So, the Anti-Venom Roadblock and the HAS Roadblock see a good amount of use in various photos and dios.  The colors are strong and the accessories are good.  That's about all you can ask of a decade old repaint.  But, that's also the extent of my involvement with the figure.  He had no great adventures.  I lack any anecdote about losing him somewhere or playing with him in a place that's long gone.  (I have no nostalgia for any homes I've sold other than my first.  If I liked them enough to stay, I'd still own them.)  In short, he's something cool that's there.  But, without his connection to my childhood toys, I'd have no reason to own him.  I'm happy I have him.  But, at the same time, I also realize that he's never going to be more than a box checked for some mythical collection goal.

I've talked about the Anti Venom Steel Brigade helmets before.  For characters that had a unique helmet, the common theme detracted from the figure.  But, for Roadblock, the helmets are less problematic.  The original figure release did not include a helmet.  So, the inclusion here doesn't replace something better.  The helmet, of course, doesn't fit on Roadblock's head.  So, it's value is minimal.  The rest of Roadblock's accessories are derived from the 1984 original.  He includes a black version of the 1984 .50 cal machine gun and stand.  I consider this Roadblock's iconic weapon.  So, its inclusion is a welcome one.  The figure also includes a black version of the 1984 backpack.  However, this is the modified version from earlier in the 2000's that lacks the peg for the tripod and has the ammo pack molded to back body instead of having it as a separate piece.  It's a downgrade from the original.  But, it also is less prone to breakage and loss.  The final piece is a black figure stand.  The fact that the Anti-Venom set included well thought out accessories seemed inconsequential at the time.  But, this proved to be the only Joe set that ever included gear that really matched the figures.

The 1992 Roadblock mold had an interesting life.  Originally, the 1992 figure was released with a spring loaded spinner and cool new machine gun.  However, the spinner mechanism broke easily and was "recalled".  Roadblock was then removed from later 1992 shipments.  However, in late 1992 or early 1993 the 1992 Roadblock paint scheme was re-released on 1993 cards.  This time, though, the figure included a weapons tree and the cool machine gun was gone.  Once this stock was cleared out, the mold was repainted in a neon 1993 color scheme and shipped for the rest of the year.  Hasbro sent the mold to India in the late 1990's where Funskool then released the figure in colors similar to the 1992 figure for many years.  The Funskool release brought back the "recalled" 1992 machine gun and gave collectors a chance to easily get it.  Hasbro got the mold back in 2003 when Funskool returned 18 molds to Hasbro.  They then released it in this Anti Venom set.  There are two different unproduced color schemes of the Anti Venom Roadblock: a light blue and a dark blue variant.  Both are now expensive and hard to find.  In 2005, Hasbro used the exact paint masks from the Anti Venom Roadblock for the HAS Roadblock.  The HAS set was terrible, but the Roadblock and Snake Eyes figures were useful.  The mold then disappeared and never appeared again.  There's lots of paint jobs of the figure for collectors to track down.  But, the mold probably had a couple of more uses in it if the line had continued for a few more years.

The Anti Venom set was actually relatively popular upon its release.  At the time, collectors generally ignored any set that didn't include army builders.  But, the Anti Venom set found some interest.  While the Urban Strike set was reduced to $15 at Toys R Us stores around the country, the contemporarily released Anti Venom set never saw such reductions.  While it hung around in stores through most of the rest of 2004, it did sell out.  By 2006 and 2007, loose figures from the set were selling for double retail: a feat not even achieved by many army builders of that era.  Now, too, the figures have gotten rather scarce.  It's actually kind of hard to find mint and complete versions of the characters from the set.  But, scarcity doesn't equal rarity and pretty much anyone who collected in 2004-2006 has this figure safely tucked away.

Still, though, a mint and complete version of this figure will run you between $15 and $30.  That's quite a lot for a mold that was repainted twice and was heavily concentrated in collector circles.  But, all Joe figures are pretty stupidly priced these days for things so common.  If you can find collections amassed during the early 2000's, this guy will be there.  And, that's probably your best way to get him cheap.  This version is easily the best paint job on the mold and is a worthy addition to any Roadblock collection.  With production numbers around 16,000, there's plenty of these guys out there.  You just have to have some patience to find one for a fair price.





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In 1997, a scalp kiosk at a flea market on the other side of town had some carded Joes from China.  He wanted way more than I wanted to pay for them.  But, I remember seeing the Flint figure and thinking what a cool weapon was included with him.  (I didn't realize it was the Headhunter shotgun at the time as I had never seen a Headhunter.)  Fortunately, the advent of Ebay proved the figures were actually very common.  So common that I could open a carded version and enjoy one of the cooler and better done foreign exclusive figures.  Here's the best of the Chinese Flint from around the web.

Chinese Flint Profile

Chinese Flint by flatline54

Chinese Flint by Stormer

Chinese Flint by specialmissionforce

Chinese Flint at JoeADay.com

Chinese Flint by flatline


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This Horrorshow figure is far from perfect.  But, for the time, it was about the best we could have expected from Hasbro.  I ended up selling off my original Horrorshow several years ago.  I didn't really miss him.  But then, I randomly found him, Stormavik and Stalker for a buck at a random flea market in Indianapolis.  I snatched him up and have come to realize in recent years how fortunate I was to come across that random find.  Now, Horrorshows are stupidly expensive.  And, if you're going to pay a premium, the flaws of this figure become far more apparent.  Here's the best of Horrorshow from around the web.

Horrorshow Profile

Comic Pack #7 at JoeBattleLines.com

Comic Pack #7 at 16bit.com

Oktober Guard at Icebreakers HQ

Horrorshow at OAFE.net

2004 G.I. Joe Convention Horrorshow Prototype at JoeBattleLines.com


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