Thursday, February 21, 2013

#251 G.I. JOE – TIGER FORCE (EUROPEAN RELEASES I): DUKE, LIFELINE, ROADBLOCK and TRIPWIRE (1988)




“Tiger Force is a special command from G.I.Joe, trained to carry on the most difficult missions. Tiger Force is formed by the best men and most sophisticated vehicles from G.I.Joe”

Anyone that heard that story would immediately fall in love with these few figures released in the years 1987 and 1988. I did, these were my favourite figures, and among most collectors, figures like Outback, Tunnel Rat or Hit & Run are also among the top favourites.
American Tiger Force Logo

In addition to be the best men and the ones that participated in the most difficult missions, some of the Tiger Force figures are also among the most expensive figures in the collection. From the 10 figures that I will present in this and the next two entries, 6 are European exclusives, what means that American collectors as well as other collectors worldwide need these figures and bid high for them. In this first entry, however, I will only show the 4 figures that were available everywhere (or almost, see next entry #252).

But first I want to talk further about Tiger Force… I don’t know where does the idea come from. As a kid, whenever I noticed that a new wave of my favourite toyline was out, I felt happy for the new figures that I could have in my collection, but also sad for all those figures that I wouldn’t be able to find anymore. With the second Spanish wave, I was very disappointed, because I never got Lifeline, or Outback or many others, so when the third Spanish wave was released I felt relieved to see these two figures again, and I bought them as quickly as I could. Outback was a birthday present from my aunt (I can still remember the toy shop in which I bought it, how the figure was shown in the shop window and what I was doing before). 

For Hasbro, it was probably just the chance to reuse some casts, and saving on manufacturing costs by simply repainting old figures. As said before, Tiger Force members were the G.I.Joe elite, so it makes sense that the characters/ casts are already known for kids. In Spain, however, some members were unknown to us: Duke and Tripwire (and later Sneak Peak) hadn’t been released before. Roadblock had, but in a different version (v2).

The next catalogue is a promotional leaflet released in Spain to promote the 1st Tiger Force "wave". First the whole catalogue (two sides), then the single pages (6) in a bigger format, so you can appretiate better the details.





 

And now let’s go for some lists: these are the tiger force members and vehicles with their years of issue.

1988 FIGURES:

1988 VEHICLES:
  • Tiger Cat (with Pilot Frostbite)
  • Tiger Fly (with Pilot Wild Bill)
  • Tiger Paw
  • Tiger Shark
  • Tiger Rat (with Pilot Skystriker) (US & Canada only)

1989 FIGURES:

1989 VEHICLES:
  • Tiger Sting
  • Tiger Fish
 
There were more Tiger force figures released, for example:
  • Brazilian exclusives “Força Tigre” Ar Puro (Pure Air), Marujo (Sailor), Felino (Feline) and Duque (Duke with long sleeves) from 1990
  • Funskool’s Lifeline is considered by many to be part of the Tiger Force, a kind of variant of the TF Lifeline released worldwide.
  • Chinese Flint from 1994, completely different from 1988’ Flint
  • Tiger Force Box (exclusive to Toys’r’Us) from 2003 that included: Sgt. Stalker, Big Brawler, Dial-Tone, Wreckage and Agent Jinx.
  • Dreadnock Rampage Box from 2004 (Convention exclusive) that included Beachhead, Hardtop and Mutt plus a few Dreadnocks.
  •  I think in modern series “25th” some more figures have been released, but since they’re “too recent”, I don’t have any interest in them and not much information either.
American Tiger Force assortment, note the differences between these and the European releases in the leaflet above.
Among all these figures I will focus only in the ten figures that were available in Europe single carded. That excludes the pilots that came with Tiger Force vehicles, the 3 American exclusive figures, international variants and exclusive figures and exclusive boxes or recent figures. Vehicles are also out of the scope of this review. I might show more figures and vehicles some other time.




Carded Tripwire (Spanish release) - Note the orange background exclusive to European Tiger Force (american version of the artworks are different).
The first tiger Force figures ever released were 6, they were highlighted in the card with a orange background, while all other figures had black background. Maybe this made children think that these 6 figures were somehow "better" or "more exclusive" than the others, and contributed to the success of the line. The artwork on the card was slightly different from the rest of the line, since the pictures were surrounded with a different pattern, that looked like small lightnings. The Tiger Force logo was also present on them. The filecards were in some cases colored orange, although other cards kept the original grey background.

Duke (v2)


Duke is the leader of this group of skilled men. The original figure was released in 1983, and this re-release is very similar to the original figure in terms of uniform colours. It was a bit disappointing when you realized that the neck articulation was not like the rest of the figures (ball-neck), and could only move from one side to the other. As a kid, I was happy for finally having this character in my collection. The original figure was not released in Spain. Duke is a character that appeared in all comic books and TV chapters, and he was one of the most important joes, because he was one of the leaders, or at least, that was my impression as a kid.


The figure came with a brown helmet, black binoculars, black machine gun and green backpack






Tiger Force Duke - Spanish Filecard (Duque)

Lifeline (v2)



The doctor of the group is the figure that changed more from its first version to this one. Originally, Lifeline wore a red overall with white details, but now it wears green trousers and a "tiger" yellow shirt. the two versions look completely different. It was one of the most appealing figures from the 1986´s assortment, and I was glad that it was reedited so I could buy it.



The figure came with a black backpack, a green case, a black gas mask and a black gun. The case could open as in the last picture, revealing some oxygen tanks on the inside.
Tiger Force Lifeline - Spanish Filecard (Doc)

Roadblock (v3)


Roadblock was also a usual character in the TV-series and comic books, so it was another interesting figure to have, specially if you didn´t have the earlier version from 1986. This figure is made from a different cast, the same used in the first version from 1984, and again it has some details that reveal that it is an old figure, for example, the proportions are slightly worse than in the other figures, or at least, I find it has a big head, and thin arms.




 The figure came with a yellow helmet, a green backpack (2 parts), a black machine gun and a black tripod (that could be attached to the backpack).

Tiger Force Roadblock - Spanish Filecard

Tiger Force Roadblock - European Card Artwork

Tripwire (v2)
 

This figure was also unreleased in Spain, and when it came out it was the one I always wanted to have. The figure is simple, without many details, but has great accessories, and brings a new concept into the game. Original figure was released in different shades of green, so the new decoration in dark brown and tiger yellow was not specially "revolutionary".








The figure came with a grey backpack, three grey mines that could be attached to the backpack and a grey mine detector.


Tiger Force Tripwire - Spanish Filecard (Cable)
Article continues HERE.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: DUKE, LIFELINE, ROADBLOCK and TRIPWIRE
  • Alternate Names: DUQUE, DOC, ROADBLOCK and CABLE (Spain)
  • Toy Line: G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero
  • Year: 1988
  • Company: Hasbro (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 11 cms or 3,75’’ 

As a BONUS, I'd like to include two pictures of a custom figure I have used in the picture with Lifeline:


This custom, "Gearbox", was made by myself and is intended to be an ambulance driver:
The parts I used are:
  • Head: Dodger v1
  • Torso and Arms: Bullhorn v1
  • Waist and Legs: Psyche-Out v1
I even created a filecard for it. I leave it here (in Spanish):


Some other time, I'd like to talk about customizing action figures.

6 comments:

  1. A mi me encantan sobre todo los vehículos por razones muy sencillas: me encanta la pintura de tigre y me encantan los vehículos pintados con fauces, suma 2 más 2 jajaja Y yo pensando que su único vehículo aéreo era el yigerfly y resulta que hay un rattler :O

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  2. Uh, ese Rattler debe ser una maravilla, yo no lo he visto nunca (el "normal" tampoco), y vale una fortuna. Lástima que no vaya a hablar de vehículos, si llego a saber que eso es lo que a tí te mola, me hubiera preocupado de fotografiar también los vehículos... lo dejo para la próxima. Se reeditó recientemente en la línea moderna de G.I.Joe, en un molde nuevo, aunque bastante parecido al original. Ese Rattler ahora mismo debe andar baratito.

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  3. When TF Sneak Peak was released here (Ireland) i never saw one with the footloose rifle. Maybe the mold broke/was lost/unavailable. Or Hasbro Europe decided the scope and torch on it was a better fit for Sneak Peak. Wouldn't be the last time accessories were changed... much of the 1993 line (1991 in US) had accessories swapped out for missile launchers/shared accessories.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Steve! Many thanks for your comment

      I never saw any Sneak Peak TF with Footloose´s rifle, maybe it is one of those hoaxes that spread over the internet: somebody once said, some Sneak Peak were sold with FL´s rifle, and then that information arrived to yojoe.com and now it is taken as a fact. We will probably never know unless somebody has a factory sealed carded figure with the FL´s rifle inside. If the figure was only released with Night Viper rifle, the reasons could actually be many. As you point out, the casts might have been damaged, lost or destroyed, or the accesory was considered to be very fragile (the strap would break, sooner or later) and was replaced by a similar one (although with a more strurdy strap), or NV´s rifle was considered to be more suitable.

      Up to this point, I agree with you, but I don´t think this case is comparable to the European releases from 1993. Those changes were intentionally done to make the figures more attractive for children, and expand the gameplay with some "shooting practice".

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  4. Tiger Force came from NATO's TIGER MEETS, where planes were painted in Tiger Colors. There was a US army platoon-sized unit in the Vietnam War called "Tiger Force", but as they were associated with war crimes, it's probably not the association Hasbro wanted.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, thank you for the comment! I will search more information about all that, so I can learn and maybe use that knowledge next time I write about Tiger Force.

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