Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ice Ice Berg

The 1986 line of G.I.Joe will always be fondly remembered by collectors. For starters, it was the year that both Sgt. Slaughter and the Fridge joined the Joe ranks. But more importantly in my opinion, it was also the last line of Joes to be heavily featured in the much loved Sunbow produced cartoon, which also got cancelled that year. Given this, I find it ironic that at the end of the 25th anniversary toyline, many of the more popular 1986 joes were left without any modern updates.

To their credit, since he end of the 25th anniversary line, Hasbro has been slowly filling up the gaps in the 1986 line. We eventually got amazing updates to characters like Lifeline, Lowlight, Sci-Fi as well as Zartan’s missing siblings, Zandar & Zarana. And the G.I.Joe collectors club has been doing their part as well by releasing an updated Dial-Tone 2 years ago and this year finally giving us an update of the Joe snow trooper, Iceberg.

theirs VS mine
Now here’s the thing, maybe it's because of their limited resources, but despite their good intentions, the collector’s club hasn’t been really been able to match Hasbro when it comes to excellence of updates. They usually have to rely on rehashing and remixing existing parts in order to get the result that they want. Any new sculpting that they do is usually reserved for making new unique heads. Which is exactly what they gave us with Dialtone. Again, to be fair, it was a decent update and it did feature a new head sculpt. In the end though I decided to pass on it in favor of my own custom made Dial-tone which I felt was much better.

friends...lend me your ears!
With Iceberg, its even worse. While they did use some creativity in their Iceberg recipe, the end result was….less than spectacular, and for many downright horrible. Let’s start at the top. Instead of giving us a newly sculpted head, we got a retooled version of the original 1986 head, which although sports a more detailed paint job, is sorely lacking in details when compared to more modern head sculpts (he has NO ears!)

To replicate the furry collar of the original, they reused the furry collar of the Cobra Snow Serpent which is…ok, except for the fact that he now sports furry shoulder pads as well (which I’m debating on chopping off). To help soften this “change” they actually managed to retouch the original card art and add that new fur…but really…they’re not fooling anybody.

Spirit legs!
But the biggest offender has got to be the lower half of his body. One unique detail in the original Iceberg figure was that he had boots that sported some fur trim on the top. So the club turned to the only other existing Joe sculpt with with fur trimmed boots. Native American Tracker, Spirit. Now props to the club for thinking out of the box on this one but unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. Long story short, Spirit isn’t a cold climate operative so he sports some lean and tight fitting pants, which even when painted white will not fool anybody into thinking they keep one’s legs warm in cold weather. Poor Iceberg ends up looking deformed with a heavily coated top half and some very thin legs.

nice skirts!
Fortunately, there is an easy quick fix to sort of hide his thin legs. Another existing sculpted piece was a “skirt” that was used on past snow themed figures like Frostbite & Artic Snake Eyes. What makes this even more perfect is that BOTH figures share the same body sculpt which is again used for the new Iceberg. AND, while not so pronounced, the original Iceberg did indeed have a skirt as well…so it seemed like a no brainer. But in what seems like the biggest head scratcher of them all….ok so maybe they had to keep costs down…they left off this very obviously needed piece!

just me and my gun
Luckily, its not all bad….one major drawback that the original Iceberg had was that he came with just ONE accesorry…a long white rifle. That’s it. No snow shoes or skis….not even a backpack. This time around, they loaded him a whole lot more stuff. This new version now does sport a backpack, as well as a cool snowboard, a rocket launcher and a second gun. Now you may think that these are just random accessories thrown in, but actually, these were accessories of another version of Iceberg released back in 1993. So they do have some sort of basis for being included.

There is a happy ending to this story though. As soon as people started getting their Icebergs in the mail…pictures of quick fixes started coming up online. And as soon as I got mine, I set off to fixing up my iceberg as well.

First and foremost, he NEEDED that skirt piece…and lucky me, I just so happened to have an extra one lying around from an Arctic Snake Eyes that I cannibalized for another custom project. The only problem was that I had to match it to the light aqua blue of Iceberg’s top half, a task easier said than done. And after a number of failed attempts, decided to just repaint BOTH the upper body and the skirt to make them match, which turned out to be the right thing to do as the mixed color I came up with turned out to be a closer match to the original figure.

Now, with the new skirt in place, the legs didn’t look TOO think anymore, BUT I noticed one more detail in the legs that made me realize that they HAD to be replaced. Since they were originally sculpted for Spirit, a Native American Indian, the side stitching on the upper legs apparently sported some tassels which looked totally out of they HAD to go. Again, fortunately, I happen to have an EXTRA Storm Shadow that sported some thicker white upper legs which worked perfectly.

So there you have it, I finally have a modern version Iceberg that I am happy with. And my 86 line of Joes is ALMOST complete. Now if only Hasbro would hurry up and PLEASE release THIS improved version of Leatherneck soon….