This has been a sad week for the G.I. Joe community. The end of an era for G.I. Joe is upon us my friends. In what has been long-rumored, Fun Publications (a.k.a. Fun Pub) posted a statement (via their Facebook Page) this past week–that all but puts the nail in the coffin for the company’s alliance with Hasbro, and in effect, their Transformers and G.I. Joe club memberships. Sent out by Brian from Fun Pub on Monday…
Some are remaining slightly optimistic that there is still hope and could get further clarification later this year at either BotCon or JoeCon. Time will only tell, but sadly, I believe this latest statement from Fun Pub IS their official announcement.
Twenty years. That is a long time. For years, Joe fans were able to attend something that not even TMNT, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, He-man, or many more countless franchises that were popular back in the 1980’s when we were kids could boast. An annual G.I. Joe convention where one could buy Con Sets and attendee exclusives that never would have seen the light of day from Hasbro. That isn’t even including the annual subscription service and renewal figures. Had it not been for the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club, we wouldn’t have that Oktober Guard set, or modern Tiger Force and Night force figures in our display.
Not to mention, the fantastic home run reveals of new modern A Real American Hero (ARAH) figures such as Psyche Out, Repeater, and Muskrat, just to name a few. How about the renewal figures such as Dialtone, Footloose, and 2016’s Pythona? These figures never got a release with the 25th Anniversary retail line and as far as I am concerned, the club was a miracle for collectors that gave us figures that we truly desired. What a shame. I will even miss the monthly magazines. Always felt a cool connection to G.I. Joe (A brand that I possibly love even more than Star Wars since my childhood) when my monthly magazine arrived.
Was nice to take a look at upcoming figure previews, editorials, and even the comic strip which always gave the spotlight to upcoming characters that would be getting shipped through their Figure Subscription Service (FSS) service. For the record, I have only been a member since 2009/2010. Which was the following year after the Club got hacked and many members had their credit card info stolen. Some were not just upset over the breach itself, but also the Club’s response to it. Add skyrocketing exclusive prices to the growing list of problems, and the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club (GIJCC) was no longer an option for many fans who were not willing to drop $30 plus dollars on a 4-inch figure. To be fair, even companies such as Sony and Target have been the victims of Internet credit card hacking. As for the Clubs response? I have heard different reports from the Club being apologetic to a pretty much “it happened, so get over it”.
What I would describe as both fortunate and unfortunate (due to how expensive JoeCon was), I was able to attend my very first JoeCon last year in Springfield, IL. I have been to many conventions. Some huge and some small. To be honest, JoeCon ranks up their as one of my favorites…ever. From hanging out in line and talking shop with fellow Joe fans on Thursday night; to grabbing my huge brown box of Club store attendee exclusives; to hanging out in the hotel lobby and having great G.I. Joe cartoon discussions. Or just sitting in on panels and watching the Joe films by fans; getting autographs from Sunbow voice actors; to hitting the JoeCon floor with a very deflated wallet in my back pocket. What made JoeCon so great for me on a personal level was meeting some friends that I have known for years, but never met in person. Until JoeCon that is. One of my closest friends in the Joe community was able to hang out at the local restaurant and have some hot wings and relax and talk G.I. Joe. Was a great week that I will remember forever. Sadly, this year’s final JoeCon was not in the cards for me due to timing as Fun Pub moved the event to June and was a bit of a deal breaker for me.
(Video courtesy of YouTube user, Patches Of Pride)
There is some silver lining here. Fact is, Hasbro still has plans for the brand moving past 2017. Perhaps they are scrubbing “G.I. Joe 3” for more of a true reboot? Maybe a new cartoon series? It is hard to say, especially considering the last two films and the G.I. Joe: Renegades cartoon series. While both films were a box office success, they weren’t exactly nominated for any Oscars. The Renegades cartoon series was a critical success, but for reasons that did not mainly center around ratings–was cancelled after one season. So who knows what Hasbro will, or won’t do.
Which brings us full circle with the G.I. Joe Collectors’ Club. They were there for us. They created a place for fans to gather and celebrate the brand, share excitement over new product, and keep G.I. Joe a consistent part of our lives. Fortunately, we still have this year’s JoeCon to look forward to. One last ride for fans to collect the new con set and Club Store exclusives. Personally I have a lot riding on their final FSS 5 coming later in 2016–2017, as it will be the last chance for us to add that modern ARAH Crystal Ball, Raptor, Blizzard, Ambush, Rock ‘n Roll V2, ’89 Arctic Stalker, and others to our collections. A sad week indeed.