As new toys are developed, there are always more concepts than what finally hit the shelves. In hindsight, most have clearly obvious defects as to why they did not make the cut. Some are categorized on my mind as “the greatest toys that never made it to the shelf.” Others are just fun and you think “Darn – that would have been fun to play with.” The two items in today’s article are some of those. If you were at Toylanta this year – these were two of the sets mentioned in my panel.
During roughly ten years working with and for Hasbro, I had the opportunity for a short time to work on concepts for the GI Joe Accessory sets. Normally, these are all designed in Pawtucket but they were backed up and some of the work was sent to me. I had a blast designing these. The basic assignment was “build some concept models repurposing mostly existing tooling for the assigned price point.”
The other part of the assignment was to “Follow existing Joe figures when applicable.” That created a problem. While there have been some great sets designed to flank specific figures, like the great WWI Doughboy Battle Gear (with carrier pigeon), they were not available at the same time as their base figures. The issue is how the sets are sold and distributed. For the most part, all the main line Classic Collection GI Joes were designed in Cincinnati and all the store specials were designed in Pawtucket – until Hasbro closed the Cincy offices around 2002. Main line products have very specific plan-o-grams they must ship into with exact timing windows. Specials sometimes have specific windows but more often, the product sits in the warehouses until there is extra room on the shelves due to various factors. These include a new shipment of Joes selling through faster, the product near Joe selling through faster and selling seasons with faster sales turns – all which left holes on the shelves. Retailers like these special products as they carried higher profit margins but were subject to space availability. Therefore, due to the vagaries of timing, sets like the US Military Photographer Battle Gear did not appear on shelf until after Ernie Pyle had been redeployed on another assignment.
Due to this timing issue, the accessory sets had to be more generic as to which Joes they would fit with. Since the Adventures of Joe sold well and now we had the Adventure Team name back, we could create some AT sets.
Because of my decades of training and love of all 1/6th scale toys – most of the accessory concept models I designed (with cost sheets, decoration sheets and tooled parts identification) made it to the shelves. Just a few did not.
Okay – enough of the behind-the-scenes set up and onto the good stuff!
GI Joe Classic Collection Adventure Team Coils of Doom
This was influenced by the vintage sets like Green Danger, Fangs of the Cobra and of course, the vehicle set – Trapped in the Coils of Doom. All of these had the key piece being a big snake. We had a good snake from The Hall of Fame Swamp Fighter Mission Gear. At this point in Joe’s development, we were trying to get away from the chucky HOF and Action Man gear and try to make AT gear as detailed and accurate as our military Joes. Therefore, we used Joe’s modern military gear belt, canteen and ammo pack. To that, we added a good machete (the only real defense for a snake).
In trying to keep Joe from appearing to be a poacher, he used an odd weapon from the AM accessory sets with snap together parts. This way he had a weapon, which looked more like a hi-tech tranquilizer than a weapon that shoots bullets. In my mind, nothing says “jungle” more than one of my all-time favorite Vintage sets the Australian Jungle Fighter – so he needed an Aussie hat. My one disappointment was never being able to get the snake to look cool enough. I repainted it trying to look more like the very cool emerald tree boa, but it just kept looking like a hunk of plastic. Maybe that is why it was rejected.
GI Joe Classic Collection Adventure Team Jungle Contamination
There have been many movies dealing with an “outbreak” from monkey bites. In my mind, that was exactly the type of mission the AT would be send to stop. This had some nice accessories that were only used on AM and never made it to Joe. One part was a very cool hazmat style helmet. To augment this, we made a simple jumpsuit. The gun actually shot water to keep away from the whole “poacher bullets” thing (which Joe would never have done anyway even with a loaded gun). There was a half-buried drum of toxic waste from one of the Action Man Dr. X figures, which gave a reason for a contaminated monkey. Then we come to the monkey itself – I finally found a use for that diminutive Congo-esque simian that was supposed to be a pygmy gorilla.
Even though it did not ship, this adventure could easily be recreated in your own backyard with the bomb squad gear and pygmy gorilla. This way it could have some dignity as a monkey or a least a reason for a gorilla with such stunted growth.
What was your favorite Adventure Team Mission?