Walmart


It’s time once again kiddies to head into the dank and mysterious underworld filled with plastic movie toys and 5 points of articulation. Yes, that’s right, it’s time for another… TALES FROM THE TOY AISLE!

This week we’re headed to the local Walmart in search of something interesting. Will Walmart house any ancient discoveries or perhaps unveil a new product to us? Don’t hold your breath!

Walmart Man of Steel
Right as soon as we enter, there are tons of Man of Steel toys to look at. It doesn’t look like the box office success of this movie is going to translate into toy sales. Part of the problem of making a more “adult” Superman movie, I suppose.

Walmart Exclusive
Walmart is the place to go for these 3 3/4 Superman figures from Mattel. They even have exclusives that light up. Some of those look pretty neat. I really like that “Powers of Krypton” logo the best.

Superman doll
They even pulled out the old Wrestling Buddy format and made a Superman version. Sadly, these Mattel buddies are very undersized. Continue reading


GI Joe Adventure Team
Land Adventurer
12 Inch Scale
By: Hasbro
$9.99

Back in December of 2006, Hasbro teamed up with Hot Topic to release a reproduction of the classic Adventure Team Land Adventurer. A year later, they also released a full set of repro Adventure Team figures to Walmart. As you may recall, the Adventure Team was all the rage in the 1970’s and it saw GI Joe reinvented as more than just an army man.


In my opinion, there’s no difference between the Hot Topic and the Walmart reproduction Land Adventurers. Some folks say there is a difference. But I can’t tell the difference, myself. Basically if you get one, it’s more or less the same as the other. If there are differences, they’re minor.


The Walmart repro Sea Adventurer was my first Adventure Team figure, but the Land Adventurer has come to join him. Can the Land Adventurer prove to be the best Adventure Team member around? Will he finally catch that pesky mummy? These answers and more if you read on!

Packaging:
Classic 12 inch GI Joes came in what has become known as the “coffin” box. It was named as such because the long cardboard box is just the right size to fit Joe inside. In that way, it resembles a coffin. The boxes themselves are also absolutely beautiful. Man have I come to appreciate these boxes over time.


There just isn’t anything on the shelves today with the type of pizzazz that the Don Stivers artwork has. This is a replica of the “Kung-Fu Grip” style packaging, which is slightly different than the original AT boxes.


The sides of the box feature artwork from some of the other sets that were available at the time. There’s a disclaimer at the bottom mentioning that these are only shown for historical depiction. Inside the Land Adventurer is placed in a plastic shell to help hold him into place. He also has a few twist ties locking him into the shell. The vintage figures were just loose in the box, but I think this shell/twist tie formula is MUCH better.

The shell itself is removable. The box is simply taped shut with two tape closures. The box itself is very nice, made of a firm cardboard stock. It’s the perfect place to store your Joes and it’s one of the few packages that is both collector friendly, but also useful. The retro Hasbro logos on the bottom are just icing on the cake.

Sculpt:
Even though the Adventure Team were new Joes in the 1970’s, they were built off of the base of the regular GI Joes of the 1960’s. These replicas follow suit and are built off of the 2003 reproduction molds that were made for the regular GI Joes. However, in essence, these are the same designs that GI Joe has had for decades.


Of all the Adventure Team reproductions, the Land Adventurer is right up at the top in terms of being the best. The Man of Action and the “black” Adventurer might be better, but the Land Adventurer is easily the most popular. His short flocking was popular with some collectors, as it offered a new twist on the figure and his hair color is a nice brown. He doesn’t have the issue that the Air and Sea Adventurers had, with their hair color being too bright.


Mind you, no AT Joe enthusiast would mistake this for a vintage figure, but that’s to his benefit. He greatly resembles the vintage figure, but seems modern in some respects as well.


The costume is a nice reproduction of the vintage and probably looks quite a bit like the original version. It’s just right for catching pygmy gorillas!


Something about this figure just works. I think the Adventure Team have a timeless charm.


This guy is sturdy too and ready made for backyard adventures. This is where a toy like the Adventure Team thrives. A kid with an imagination can have hours upon hours of fun with a simple toy like this.


And it’s great that these repro figures are so sturdy. The flocking may fall out a bit more than the originals, but I haven’t had too much issue myself.


He feels rugged and ready to play. Maybe not as much as the vintage Joes, but a heck of a lot more than most modern action figures.


This guy was made for the vast landscape known as the backyard…


Also he’s good at punching politicians!

Articulation:
Hasbro has barely modified Samuel Speers and Hubert O’Conner’s original GI Joe articulation model at all. The only difference here is the Kung-Fu grip, which I still think it amazing. Land Adventurer actually has more articulation than many of the new GI Joe figures on the shelves today.


Yes, that is the same picture from my Sea Adventurer review with the Land Adventurer’s head pasted on. So sue me!


This GI Joe can last a lifetime. Even if his inner string breaks, you can restring him and get his articulation back to working again.

Accessories:
When the GI Joe Adventure Team made the transition to Kung-Fu Grip, they came with a rifle. However the repro Adventure Team sort of serve as a “catch-all” version of the AT, so they include the more popular standard black shoulder-holster and pistol.


The original Adventure Team figures all came with a silver Lebling revolver with a black handle. And the AT repros also all come with that… EXCEPT the Land Adventurer. For some reason the Land Adventurer got a change in weapon.


He now carries a black Luger. Not of the Lex variety. Why the change? I can’t say. People just like it better that way. What? Oh right, nobody knows why Hasbro made this change, but I like it. Adds a little variety.


You also get all the removable clothes and a gray plastic AT dogtag with metal chain.


Value:
These guys originally went for $10 at Walmart and $15 at Hot Topic. Either way that’s an outstanding price. Today you can expect to pay anywhere from $25-$40 on the secondary market for the Land Adventurer. It’s a steep price, but this guy is worth it.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 10
Sculpting – 9
Paint – 8
Articulation – 9
Accessories – Holster, Gun
Value – 10
Overall – 9.5 out of 10


There’s really not much difference between the Adventure Team members or the repro figures. The differences are all in the hair color, face paint and outfits. Still each guy manages to have a lot of character and a personality all their own. The figures are top notch fun and I enjoy them a lot.


“THE MUMMY IS REAL!”

Big and little kids would enjoy these guys. Hopefully Hasbro brings the repros back out for another round when GI Joe celebrates another milestone birthday in just a couple of years.


GI Joe Adventure Team
Sea Adventurer
12 Inch Scale
By: Hasbro
$9.99

Just a scant four years ago in August 2007, Hasbro teamed up with Walmart to produce a run of exclusive reproduction GI Joe Adventure Team toys. The Adventure Team was a concept conceived in the 70’s to reimagine GI Joe as rescuers, explorers, adventurers and peace operatives against crime syndicates, instead of focusing on his past as a military man. The Adventure Team was for all intents and purposes still a part of the military, just now he was in a new sub sect that focused on adventure and wasn’t so easily identifiable with the years of turmoil in the Vietnam war.

Along with a new series of missions came some improvements to the figure itself. First and foremost, “life-like hair and beard”, which gave Joe a new look thanks to the wonders of flocking. A few years later, Joe would also get “Kung-Fu Grip” which would even further improve the figure. Hasbro and Walmart’s repro versions of the Adventure Team would honor the Kung-Fu grip versions, but in many ways was a catch-all reproduction of the Adventure Team as opposed to a specific replica of an era.


I did not grow up in the Adventure Team era of Joe. I just missed the 12 inch revolution and instead, GI Joe was a 3 3/4 inch powerhouse. I did however as a kid own one 12 inch Joe. It was the Target Hall of Fame Duke. As it turns out this was the first 12 inch Joe released in years, but at the time I don’t recall knowing that. Instead I simply wanted to try one out, after hearing about them from my Dad.

I owned Duke and one off-version character who was not a Joe, but was 12 inches. He had rubber arms, less articulation and a big eagle on his chest. Anyone know who that guy was? Anyway, Duke was particularly unimpressive to me. In fact it took me a few weeks to find out that his knees and elbows bent, because of the way they were engrained in the skin. It was pretty much my only foray into the 1/6 scale as a youngster.

My journey to the Adventure Team many years later, is a pretty complicated one. A few years back I was into the Sigma 6 GI Joe figures pretty heavily, right as the line died out. It featured an 8 inch version of the Adventure Team (though largely different in concept) and when Sigma 6 died, I wanted more accessories/figures for my 8 inch collection. This led me to Mego and Action Jackson, who was of course, a poor man’s version of GI Joe. Eventually I became frustrated that Action Jackson lacked many of the cool things that the GI Joe Adventure Team had, and so I was led right back to the Adventure Team. Full circle in a way, only this time it was the 12 inch incarnation.

The Walmart repro Sea Adventurer was my first Adventure Team figure. Can a reproduction 1970’s toy appeal to the sensibilities of a child who was baptized in Real American Hero lore? Let’s find out.

Packaging:
Classic 12 inch GI Joes came in what has become known as the “coffin” box. It was named as such because the long cardboard box is just the right size to fit Joe inside. In that way, it resembles a coffin.


Incredibly, despite being a Walmart exclusive, this box isn’t packed full of stickers or logos pronouncing it as such. Instead it keeps the classic Don Stivers artwork intact. The box is just absolutely beautiful. This is a replica of the “Kung-Fu Grip” style packaging, which is a little more zoomed in than the original boxes.


The sides of the box feature artwork from some of the other sets that were available at the time. These were not re-released (shame too) but it makes the box look really nice. There’s a disclaimer at the bottom mentioning that these are only shown for historical depiction.


Inside the Sea Adventurer is placed in a plastic shell to help hold him into place. He also has a few twist ties locking him into the shell. The shell itself is removable. The box is simply taped shut with two tape closures. Inside is a small form to join the GI Joe Collectors’ Club, a rare bit of synergy. The GI Joe Collector’s Club produces a variety of replica vintage Joe items, so it’s great that Hasbro included this. There could be fans that weren’t aware of the Club’s existence, picking up one of these items for nostalgia and would then be able to perhaps rekindle their interest.

The box itself is very nice, made of a firm cardboard stock. It’s the perfect place to store your Joes and it’s one of the few packages that is both collector friendly, but also useful. The retro Hasbro logos on the bottom are just icing on the cake.

Sculpt:
Even though the Adventure Team were new Joes in the 1970’s, they were built off of the base of the regular GI Joes of the 1960’s. These replicas follow suit and are built off of the 2003 reproduction molds that were made for the regular GI Joes. However, in essence, these are the same designs that GI Joe has had for decades.


If you’re a vintage Joe collector, the first thing you’ll notice is the flocking on these Walmart Joes is considerably different than the vintage Adventure Team. For starters, the original Adventure Team figures had longer flocking, making the guys seem a little shaggier than this short flock. The Sea Adventurer in particular stands out as well, because the vintage figure had a much more natural red hair, whereas these repros have a very bright orange hair. Even Dr. Benton Quest would be jealous of how orange this hair is.


Joe also has his trademark scar on his cheek. This was one of the early ways that Hasbro sought out to make sure that their GI Joe figure stood out in the toy aisles. They proclaimed “Only GI Joe is GI Joe”, to basically brainwash kids into not accepting anything less than the genuine article. Of course it also leads to a bizarre question of why every soldier has this same scar. Clearly GI Joe has an initiation process?


The flocking is definitely different than the vintage figure, but it gives these Walmart incarnations a specific look of their own. They very much feel like the Adventure Team, but also are different enough that you can have them be new additions to the crew. I feel like Hasbro found a good middle ground here.


The costume is an important part of a 1/6 scale figure and despite being very affordable versions of these characters, the soft goods clothes do not feel cheap. The Sea Adventurer has almost bell bottomed blue jeans that are made of a nice jean material, as well as a shirt that’s of equally quality fabric. There are some differences, including missing pockets, but there are some nice additions as well.


The sleeves have button snaps to help allow you to remove the shirt with ease. The pants and shirt likewise has snaps to open them. It’s a nice reproduction and Hasbro didn’t cheap out and use velcro.


Removing clothes may seem very “doll-like” to people from my generation, but Hasbro very much employed the “razors and blades” philosophy throughout the 60’s-70’s. Just as the 3 3/4 Joes were meant to sell you vehicles, so too were the 12 inch Joes designed to sell you outfits and vehicles. Just as you buy one razor, you then buy multiple blades.


So with a quick change of the outfit, your Sea Adventurer could be off to another realm for new adventures.

Articulation:
Despite very few changes from the original GI Joe figure, this Joe proves just how well Hasbro thought out their original articulation model. GI Joe does not have Barbie’s paltry articulation. Instead Joe has more articulation than many figures on the shelves today.


The Adventure Team figures have a ton of articulation and all of it is very useful. You can bend, twist and contort Joe into many different positions. The original GI Joes were referred to as America’s Movable Fighting Man… And you can see why.


Samuel Speers and Hubert O’Conner’s patented body is largely unchanged in this 2007 reproduction. That’s a damn good articulation design when it’s just as poseable and versatile today as it was in 1964!


He’s very easy to pose and ready to get down into battle. Of course, the articulation isn’t as tight and sturdy as some future models. That’s because he uses an inner “string” much like classic Megos.


I wasn’t aware of this until I had him in hand. This makes Joe very light, but he doesn’t seem floppy or anything to me. Of course this also means that Joe could fall apart with age. For the most part though, that seems to be the exception, not the rule. Even if he does come apart, he can be restrung. This makes Joe in many ways, an immortal toy.

Kung-Fu Grip:
One of the important additions to the 1974 lineup of Adventure Team toys was the Kung-Fu Grip. This had been invented by Palitoy (the UK GI Joe distributor) and was implemented over into the American line for the Adventure Team. There’s nothing particularly “Kung-Fu” about it. It’s a softer rubber hand that allows Joe to grip things. The Kung-Fu name seems to just be clever marketing, and of course it worked.


Original Joe Hands

GI Joe originally had an open hand made of hard plastic.


Nose Pickers

And a hand known as a “nose picker” because it’s seemingly in a position to pick his nose… Or to pinch someone. It’s really the only flaw in Speers’ and O’Conner’s original design.


Butt Pinchers?


Thankfully we got the Kung-Fu grip, which allows Joe to throw punches and to grab stuff. Walmart also was smart in choosing this version of the Adventure Team hands to reproduce. It’s easily the better of the two types of hands and also more popular.

Accessories:
Given that these guys were originally produced under the razor and blades mentality, did they come with anything? Yes, actually they did come with one basic accessory. Originally Adventure Team Joes came with a shoulder holster and a pistol. However when they made the transition to Kung-Fu Grip, they came with a rifle. The Walmart repros come with the shoulder holster and pistol… As I said above, these are sort of a amalgamation as opposed to a specific reproduction.


The pistol has a good sculpt, cast in a light gray, almost silver plastic. It has a bit of black paint on the handle, to add a touch of realism. It’s certainly not the best looking toy gun, but it’s not the worst either. It could be neon pink!


The clothes are all removable, as is the holster and boots. The holster is made of a soft rubber and has a rubber snap that allows you to remove it with little effort. As mentioned above, the clothes are a pretty nice quality. The AT logo on the shirt is a sticker, but seems to almost be stamped on. It could be peeled off I’m sure, but shows no signs of peeling off on it’s own.


Given that most Joes now come with a hard rubber boot, it’s interesting to note that these come with a cheap hard plastic boot. This is true to the originals, though. It’s just quite a bit different than what I’m accustomed to with newer 12 inch Joes. He also comes with a plastic AT dog tag on a metal bead chain. I didn’t take them off.

Value:
This is where my mind is blown. At $10, these were an incredible value upon their release. They were a huge hit by all accounts and sold quite well. The only issue, as per the norm, was that Walmart had wonky distribution of these Adventure Team repros. This means that some Walmarts never got them and others got them right about the time that Walmart was clearancing out their Christmas toys. I recall briefly seeing them in 2007 and not quite sure what they were, didn’t buy them.

I remember also going back to buy one to try out for $10 and they were wiped out. You can find these on the secondary market now, but they tend to go for much more than the original $10. I’ve seen them as low as $15 and as high as $30. I would love to see Hasbro re-re-release these bad boys and even at $15 or so, they’d be a great deal.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 10
Sculpting – 9
Paint – 8
Articulation – 9
Accessories – Holster, Gun
Value – 10
Overall – 9.5 out of 10


The original Adventure Team toys were a ton of fun for their time. In fact, they’re largely timeless. Kids today could still have fun with the simple concept of using your imagination to take Joe on wild adventures. I really love the concept. These are toys that are meant to be taken in the backyard and thrown around. They are meant to be PLAYED with and they can stand up to the abuse… You can’t put a price on that.

These reproductions aren’t as good as the originals, but they capture the spirit and offered a really affordable entry level into the GI Joe Adventure Team. If Hasbro was smart, they’d look into ways of offering these up again… Perhaps not just playing on nostalgia, but with an updated set of sensibilities to offer diversity in the toy aisles.


Freddy is back with another new Toy Run! This time his main squeeze Tania is along for the ride as they have an adventure in Walmart. Tania is there to point out some of the inconsistencies in the toy aisles. She gives a special female perspective that’s missing from many folks toy adventures. Enjoy!


An all new Fred’s Toy Run with a look at Walmart’s post holiday clearance! DCUC Wave 14 for only $11! DCUC 5 Packs on super saving discount! Plus plenty of other toy goodness from Star Wars, Iron Man and much more. Get a scoop fresh from the battlefield known as the toy aisle! It’s the last Fred’s Toy Run of 2010!