Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots and RID Spychangers

Robot Hot Wheels: Transformers Go-Bots, Spychangers, and Beyond

Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars always seem to do good business. Those tiny, free-rolling little 1:64 scale cars are everywhere and I assume they always have been. Hot Wheels and other assorted cars are some of the first toys I remember having as a kid. They’re cheap and they’re sold at grocery stores, drug stores, toy stores, and basically any retail location you can think of. They’re a perfect impulse buy toy for just about any kid.

They’re popular with adults, though, too. If you know anyone who’s worked as a retail cashier, they will tell you that they absolutely dread having a “Hot Wheels guy” come through their checkout line. These dudes sometimes yell at cashiers for even touching their toy car’s packaging or putting them in a bag too roughly. They’re dead serious about tiny toy cars.

Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots and RID Spychangers

I’m not sure how well Hot Wheels were selling in 1995, but Hasbro obviously wanted to eat at least some of Mattel’s lunch. Hot Wheels appeal to kids, serious adult collectors, and basically everyone else. So Hasbro wanted a piece of the pie.

In 1995, Hasbro released the Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots sub-line– an assortment of 1:64 cars, done in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox style, with through-axle construction that made them compatible with most Hot Wheels race tracks and accessories. They also transformed into cute little robots.

They were a pretty obscure and forgotten part of Transformers G2 until the Japanese Car Robots toy line came along, which was imported to the West as Robots in Disguise in 2001.

The original Go-Bots molds became the Spychangers for RID, which is how most people remember these fun little toys.

Today we’re going to take a look at every single Go-Bots and Spychangers mold and explore exactly what makes these cheap, simple toys so much fun. That’s right– this is another big post. So fasten your seatbelt (or don’t, I’m not a cop), pour some wine into a Diet Coke can, and get ready for a long, twisty ride.

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Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign

Minicon Mania: Fun with Weird Japanese Exclusive Transformers Minicons

Hello again, everyone!

If you know me, you know I absolutely adore action figure accessories. If I can get tons of accessories for a given toy line, then it becomes one of my favorites.

That’s one of the main reasons why I love LEGO, GI Joe, and MOTU so much. With LEGO, you’ve always been able to buy minifigure and accessory packs and you can deck out your little people any way you want. With GI Joe, I’m obsessed with the old Battle Gear packs and the contents of 90s weapons trees. MOTU has also historically featured accessory packs with extra armor and weapons, and I hope MOTU Origins gets there some day– as-is, though, those figures are very customizable and fun. They can use armor and accessories from most past MOTU lines, as well.

If I had any fashion sense and ever drank water instead of Steel Reserve, I’d probably be a doll collector since dolls have it Made in the Shade when it comes to accessories.

But you know who else sometimes gets accessory packs? That’s right, it’s The Transformers!

The War for Cybertron Trilogy absolutely spoiled us with separately-sold gun robots, shield robots, ramp robots, robots who you could dismember and turn into guns and shields, and skeleton dinosaur robots who turned into abstract-nightmare-murder-tools to outfit your other Transformers. And WFC wasn’t the first line that delighted me in such a way, either. 

Today I’m covering some very strange Japanese exclusive Minicons that had their origins in a fairly obscure and unpopular Transformers sub-line, were re-made in Japan to promote another toy line entirely, and are totally compatible with what came before them and what came after them.

Let’s take a look at some Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Minicons! 

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My Top 10 Toys of 2021

Contrary to what some people may believe, I do buy some modern toys. I didn’t buy too many toys in general this year, though. But since I bought at least 10, I thought we could close the year out by looking at some of my favorites.

I ripped this idea off of my friend Drac. I saw him do one and had to do my own.

My list won’t be as varied as his, since basically the only modern toy lines I collect are either MOTU or Transformers related. I also like Spin Master’s Batman line quite a bit, but none of those toys quite made this list.

There’s also no GI Joe on this list because I didn’t buy any of Hasbro’s newer GI Joe stuff this year. That blue HISS looks kind of fun, though.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

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Top 5 Modern Era GI Joe Figures

My Top 5 Favorite Modern Era GI Joe Figures

Hi everyone. It’s been a bit since I’ve written something, so I thought I’d do something easy. Of course whenever I set out to do something easy, it always ends up being a ton of work and taking way longer than I anticipated.

I’m kind of in the process of selling my Modern Era GI Joe collection, so I thought I’d spend some more time with them before they go. That’s where I got the idea for this post. I also thought that maybe if I spent some more time with them then I’d want to keep them. That didn’t end up being the case. I did not have fun taking photos and posing figures for this post.

Still, I have to give Modern Era GI Joe figures some credit. Despite being fussy and fiddly, they are important to me. When the 25th Anniversary line hit in 2007, those figures ended up getting me back into GI Joe in a big way. I still loved my o-ring-style figures and never sold them off or got rid of them, but the 25th Anniversary line made me feel like a kid again. Over the years of collecting Modern Era Joe stuff, though, I realized the modern style’s limitations and turned back to o-ring figures.

As my friend RTG of Attica Gazette once said, “they’re generally good action figures, but they’re not generally good GI Joes.” And I agree. Despite the enhanced articulation, the range of motion is often bad. Accessories fall off and fall out of hands easily. You can’t just plunk them down on the table and expect them to stand up.

But still, they have their good points. And in this post I’m going to talk about 5 figures I’ll probably keep even when the rest make their way into someone else’s collection.

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Every GI Joe Toy Line, Correctly Ranked

Every GI Joe Toy Line, Correctly Ranked

Today I’m ranking every GI Joe toy line. Well, within reason. There are some criteria or I’d go absolutely insane. 

Here are my (admittedly very loose and arbitrary criteria):

  1. The toy line was made by Hasbro itself (so no Hot Toys, Sideshow, Super7, or my beloved KRE-O)
  2. The toy line is related to the ARAH iteration of GI Joe (so no OG 12” Joes, Adventure Team, etc)
  3. No Fast Action Battlers, Micro Force, Combat Heroes, etc– I’d go crazy trying to catalog all of those weird side lines from the Modern Era 
  4. I’m not listing 3.75” and 12” figures from these lines separately, with one exception 

That’s it! I’m sure I’m still missing something and I probably screwed up some of the dates. But I promise I did a good bit of research and tried my best. 

Also, I have Very Good Taste in everything, but this is just my list. I’m sure yours would be different. But probably not that different! 

This is already going to be too wordy, so let’s just get to it, shall we?

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Photo by Attica Gazette

Pictures of GI Joes: 90s Edition

(Editor’s Note: Today’s photos come from the one and only RTG of Attica Gazette. He generously provided me with these beautiful photos of 1990s GI Joe figures so that I might share them with you. RTG is one of the world’s best GI Joe photographers, and also one of the world’s best toy photographers in general. Not only that, but he’s been my friend for around 13 years now. I am grateful and honored to publish these pictures on my little website.)

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Dan Sartain

Remembering Dan Sartain

My friend Dan Sartain passed away yesterday. Dan was a remarkable and versatile musician, known as much for snarling garage punk and cool, detached synth pop as he was for the rockabilly-adjacent blues punk he used to make his name. His records were released by labels like One Little Independent and Swami. He toured the world with acts big and small. He collaborated with Jane Wiedlin, Richie Ramone, DJ Bonebrake, and many other legendary artists. 

Dan was also a fan of GI Joe, Transformers, Star Trek, and horror movies. That’s how I met him. We were internet friends before I ever met him in person. He was a kind, gracious soul who was always generous with his time and wisdom. Since some of my readers might know him, too, I wanted to remember him in this space. 

You can donate to his family’s GoFundMe for funeral expenses and building a trust for his daughter here

You can also find the majority of Dan’s vast catalog of work on his Bandcamp page here

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GI Joe Weapons Trees

GI Joe Weapons Trees Were Good, Actually

GI Joe Weapons Trees

Thank you for attending my TED Talk.

In 1993 and 1994, many GI Joe figures came with “weapons trees,” which were multiple, reused weapons from earlier figures attached to a plastic sprue. They were all molded in one color, and very often made no sense for the character they were packed with. This often meant your brand new figure would be brandishing Rock Viper’s oversized sniper rifle in dark purple or neon green– hardly the “realistic” weaponry GI Joe fans of the 1980s (and early 90s!) expected to come with their military action figures. 

But I’m here to tell you that these weapons trees were just as much of a blessing as they were a curse. Even if you’re currently balling up your fists and loading up photos of 1985 Snake Eyes to remind yourself of the “Good Ol’ Days” right now because the very thought that weapons trees might be somehow positive makes your brain vomit a little bit, just bear with me. 

Because, once upon a time, I hated them, too. That’s right– as an unabashed fan of 1990s GI Joe, even I wasn’t always on board with weapons trees. As I became an adult and began collecting ARAH-style Joes again, though, I realized how much I actually used those weapons as a kid, and how valuable they really were to me. 

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1991 Cobra night vulture

1991: The Year Cobra Broke (a Tribute) – Cobra Convergence 3

Within the last week, I finished collecting the 1991 Cobra roster. I almost have the GI Joe side complete, too– I just need that pesky Cloudburst!

While not every figure I have is complete or perfect, 1991 is the only GI Joe year I’ve set out to complete so far. That’s because it’s easily my favorite GI Joe lineup. As a kid, I had a few figures from 1988 and 1989, and even one from 1987. I had a good amount of the 1990 roster, and those figures were excellent, but it was a year full of all new characters. As a kid, I wanted the characters from the Sunbow cartoon and the animated movie.

1991 fulfilled that desire. It gave us Cobra Commander, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Zap, Grunt, Falcon, Rock n Roll, Major Bludd, Flint, Low-Light, Dusty, Mercer, and Sci-Fi. It also gave us fantastic new characters like Heavy Duty, Cesspool, Interrogator, Big Ben, Red Star, and Ozone. The accessories were still good and still specifically made for each character.

To me, it’s the best Joe year of all time. I was only 6 or 7 when I got most of the 91 figures I had as a kid, but it was my first real chance to have versions of the characters I knew. And the accessories were a bit less confusing to a kid than the complicated setups from 1990.

But, in this quick feature, I want to talk about the 1991 Cobra roster. I’m more into the Joe side than the Cobra side, but this month it special– it’s Cobra Convergence 3!

YouTube toy reviewer Hooded Cobra Commander 788 spearheads Cobra Convergence every year, and this time he’s asked bloggers, photographers, and other creators to contribute.

So, this is my humble entry. Let’s take a look at why 1991 was just as much of a banner year for Cobra as it was for GI Joe.

Continue reading “1991: The Year Cobra Broke (a Tribute) – Cobra Convergence 3”