Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#254 GI JOE – TIGER FORCE (EUROPEAN RELEASES IV): TUNNEL RAT and HIT & RUN (1989)



TIGER FORCE UNPRODUCED FIGURES

Among the many catalogue and promotional images that were made to promote this figures, in some of them appeared other figures that were never released and some prototypes as well. In this entry, I’ll try to summarize all those figures, and at the end, I’ll present Tunnel Rat and Hit & Run, the last two Tiger Force figures.

One of the earliest promotional images we know is a diorama depicting 6 tiger force figures which were not the ones that Hasbro produced. Only three of these six were actually produced, but not in the same colours. Let’s check them one by one:

Preproduction Duke:
Quite similar to the released figures, the black stripes on its trousers are wider than the ones in the actual figure.

Picture taken from yojoe.com
Preproduction Dusty:
Almost identical to the released figure, just in slightly different colours.

Picture taken from yojoe.com
Preproduction Recondo:
This figure was produced and sold together with the vehicle “Tiger Fly”. The colours, however, are completely different to the ones show in this picture.

Picture taken from yojoe.com
Additionally, a second picture of the prototype figure appeared in the European catalogues.

Preproduction Lifeline:
The only difference here seem to be the black painted belt and black leg accessories, which were silver painted in the released figure. The stripes on the shirt are also different.

Picture taken from yojoe.com
Preproduction Ripcord:
This figure was never mass-produced.

Picture taken from yojoe.com

Preproduction Sabretooth:
This figure was never mass-produced. It is a repain of Firefly.

Picture taken from yojoe.com
Preproduction Thunder:
You need good sight to see this, but the figure inside (or the head at least) belongs to Thunder. In some British catalogues, the Tiger Rat was announced to include figure “Thunder”:

Picture taken from yojoe.com
None of this figures seem to have its corresponding weapons in its corresponding colours.

Preproduction Torpedo:
Again, this figure is difficult to see, but it could be the Tiger Force version of Torpedo. The figure was never mass-produced.


 

Preproduction Wild Bill:
This figure was intended to be the pilot of the Tiger Fly (what had been logical, since Wild Bill was the pilot of the Dragonfly), but at the very end it was replaced by Recondo, but none of the “Recondos” above.


 

Preproduction Outback:
This prototype appeared in European catalogues show a different t-shirt that the finally produced. The mouth of the tiger is not painted. Additionally, the camo pattern on trousers is different from the one in the produced figure. A couple of shades darker?.



Preproduction Psyche-Out:
This chest plate with the silver gadget is placed over a black harness in the preproduction sample, while the produced figure has a grey harness.



Those were the prototypes/unproduced figures, and now let's finish with the last two figures I wanted to show:


Tunnel Rat:

Similarly to the previous figure, Tunnel Rat was one of the best figures in 1987´s wave and now it was available again in completely different colors. The original release had black trousers and green shirt, but now it is quite a colorful figure in blue, red and orange. The story of my figure is quite cool, since I found the upper body at school and a friend of mine the lower body. Somebody brought the figure to school and it broke somehow and got lost. My friend gave me the lower half, and here it is!





The figure came with a big green backpack, two small green flashlights that could be attached to the backpack, a green pouch and a black rifle.

Hit & Run

Hit & Run is a extremely cool figure from 1987, re-released two years later for people who missed it back then. The color scheme is not like the original one, which had a very realistic camo uniform, but something a bit more fantastic in light blue and orange.

The figure came with a black rifle, a green knife, a two pieced bag, a hook, a handle (also working as a "reel") and a string putting these two together. These three parts were built in the bag, were there is also place for the knife. The accesories are exactly the same (even the colour) of the original Hit & Run v1 figure. I forgot to take pictures of the figure with its weapons, I’ll try to fix it as soon as possible.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: TUNNEL RAT and HIT & RUN
  • Alternate Names: TOPO and ACANTILADO (Spain)
  • Toy Line: G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Hasbro (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 11 cms or 3,75’’

Monday, February 25, 2013

#253 GI JOE – TIGER FORCE (EUROPEAN RELEASES III): BLIZZARD and SNEAK PEAK (1989)


The second wave of Tiger Force figures (released in Spain around 1992) comprised 6 figures: four of them were brand new: Blizzard, Sneak Peak, Tunnel Rat and Hit and Run; the other two were Psyche-Out and Outback. All of them are European exclusives, so most people forget the last two were part of the first TF wave, and refer to the Euro exclusive figures as the “2nd TF wave”.

This one above is the promotional picture that appeared in the “official” catalogue (the one that came with every vehicle). The figures are numbered 53 to 58 because the catalogue frame was decorated with miniatures of the card artwork of each figure.

 
The new figures were sold, as the previous ones, in blister packs with the characteristic artwork of the figures, but this time, the orange background was changed for black and orange rays. The backcard is more interesting in that wave because there were differences depending on the figures: 

  • The re-releases of Outback and Psyche-Out still included the old figure assortment (starting with Red Dog, Avalanche…) including the 6 “old” Tiger Force figures. As said in the previous article, re-releases can be identified by the grey filecard, instead of the yellow one in the first release.
  • Blizzard, Sneak Peak, Tunnel Rat and Hit & Run came with the brand new assortment (starting with Muskrat, Budo…) and included the six new tiger forces.
  • The rest of the figures in the new wave came with the new figure assortment, but the 6 “old” Tiger Force figures. The last two lines in the message in the orange box says: “SOON new TIGER FORCE characters. LOOK FOR THEM!”

Blizzard

The original figure was released in white in 1987, while this re-release in yellow came two years later. The yellow outfit doesn´t really fit a ski troop, but who cares? This one was also one of the people´s favorite 
figures in 1987 and had amazing accessories.




The figure came with a yellow helmet, a yellow gun, a yellow UZI, two black skies, two black snow shoes and a black backpack (three pieces, including two detachable handles).


The filecard is interesting, because there is an evident mistake in the text. Blizzard is supposed to be born in Leipzig, Austria, but Leipzig is in Germany. I guess you are already familiar with the fact that the toy line’s name was changed in Europe from “A Real American Hero” to “International Heroes”. Within this change, many figures were released in Europe with changed "file names" and “places of birth”, other examples are Psyche-Out: born in Munich, Mutt: born in London…

Tiger Force Blizzard - Spanish Filecard
Sneak Peak



The fourth new figure in the second TF wave was a new release of an older figure (from 1985), that I had never seen before, because Sneak Peak v1 was never released in Spain. It was the only one from these four that I bought at that time and I have it complete ever since. It came with a lot of accessories, and is very difficult to find complete because of the mouthpiece and the fragile hook on his waist were you hang the walkie-talkie. The original figure was almost completely grey, while this version is more colorful with light blue and orange parts.


Sneak Peak's original mouthpiece, VHTF!
The figure came with a black mouthpiece, a black rifle, a green three-pieced observation device, a black walkie-talkie that could be attached to his waist and black binoculars. The rifle was different depending on the country of release. In Spain, all figures were packed with a "Night Viper" model rifle while in other countries; it came with the "Footloose" rifle model. In the promotional pic above, the figure is depicted with the “night viper” rifle, which finally was not the one that came with my figure, and that got me thinking if that had been a factory error of my figure.

Tiger Force Sneak Peak - Spanish Filecard

Another interesting fact about this figure is that it is one of the few figures whose name identifies a living person. The original name is Owen S. King, who is the son of Stephen King. He was a great fan of this toy-line and his father wrote the filecard for Crystal Ball. In Spain the file name was changed to Ferny Falgas (!?).

Article continues HERE.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: BLIZZARD and SNEAK PEAK
  • Alternate Names: VENTISCA (Spain)
  • Toy Line: G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Hasbro (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 11 cms or 3,75’’

Saturday, February 23, 2013

#252 G.I. JOE – TIGER FORCE (EUROPEAN RELEASES II): OUTBACK and PSYCHE-OUT (1988)


To finish the first batch of Tiger Force figures, I will show Outback and Psyche-Out today. These two are "European Exclusive" figures; as we mentioned in the last entry, but we didn't specified what does this exactly mean: The "euro excl." figures were only available in: Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, with only one curious exception: Duke and Lifeline were not available in Germany, Sweden, Denmark or Finland. For some reason, these figures do not appear in catalogues and promotional leaflets. As a proof, I include the following two pictures:

German promotional leaflet

German catalogue included in vehicles (blueprints on the back)


It is very interesting to see that the figures Outback and Psyche-Out in the previous images are actually prototypes. If you know the figures, you'll probably notice that Outback’s T-shirt is slightly different from the released one: the mouth of the tiger is orange, while in produced figures, the mouth is black. The difference in Psyche-Out is more difficult to see: the harness in his chest has black background instead of grey. These same prototypes also appear in the catalogues for the rest of European countries, see for example, next picture.


Also interesting is that in the last picture, all figures are mirrored, while in the German edition they’re not.

A further difference about these two catalogue images is even more obvious: German catalogue depicts the figures WITHOUT weapons. The reason for this is that laws in Germany are very restrictive with violent games and toys, and it is forbidden to display weapons of any kind in toy packages. As a result of this, a lot of blister artwork had to be redone only for Germany (plus Sweden, Finland and Denmark, although I don’t know if in these countries weapons are allowed in toy packages).

And finally let's go to the figures:

Outback (v2)

The survivalist and jungle specialist is one of the most beloved figures in the whole collection. It was originally released in 1987, and it was the figure I always wanted to have, but for some reason, I never got. When the new 1988 wave came, the figure was available in this other decoration and I got it a a birthday present from my aunt. Now I am even gladder than then, because if I had to buy it now, I would need a lot of money for that. The two versions have similar camo trousers, but the t-shirt changes its color from one to the other.



 
The figure came with a brown backpack, a brown belt, a green torch that could be attached to his leg and a black rifle with strap. The torch in the picture above is not the original, but the one from Outback v1. In this version, the lamp of the torch should be painted white. The strap of the rifle (Hekler & Koch) is also broken, what is very common in this particular accesory.

Tiger Force Outback - Spanish Filecard (Jungla)
 
Psyche-Out (v2)

The expert in deceptive warfare was another figure from 1987 re-released one year later in a quite different outfit. While the original had a bright green jacket, the new one came in orange, giving a complete different aspect to the character. This figure is also an Euro exclusive figure, but it is not so popular as Outback, and that´s why its price is not so high today.


 
The figure came with a grey antenna attached to his head, a black pistol, two antennas (2 pieces each red/grey) that would fit his wrists, and a grey communications device with a red antenna (2 pieces)


Tiger Force Psyche-Out - Spanish Filecard (Psico)
The filecards of some european figures are available with yellow or grey background. The figures in the first batch (that's all I have shown until this point, released in 1988) were originally available in yellow. The following year, the four new TF figures plus Outback and Psyche-Out (re-releases) came with grey filecards. The filecard above is Psyche-Out, 2nd edition (1989).


Article continues HERE.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: OUTBACK and PSYCHE-OUT
  • Alternate Names: JUNGLA and PSICO (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’’

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.
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