The Corps! Whispering Willie

The Corps! Whispering Willie (Version 1) Review

The Corps! Whispering Willie

(Editor’s Note: Today’s review comes from my good friend Cody, who you may recognize from our Whipsaw review. Cody is a fantastic photographer, action figure customizer, writer, and storyteller. You can find Cody’s work on Instagram.)

Article by Corps Commander Cody

The Corps! is one of my favorite toy lines of all time. While most others write them off as cheap imitations or, at worst, complete and inferior knockoffs, I think The Corps! is a worthy brand. They have continued to provide products with all the fun of GI Joe at reduced cost. In fact, they are still producing figures today- some of the non articulated ones are not to my taste, but they’re constantly on store shelves, unlike some brands I could mention. 

Even the biggest Joe Bro who says that every military figure that’s not a Joe is a Corps! figure may agree that the greatest “Lanyard” “Corpse” was Whispering Willie. They may not know his name, but they love his face. And brother, I do too.

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Black Major Urban Assault Trooper

Black Major Urban Assault Trooper (2017 Dirty South GI Joe Meetup Exclusive)

(Editor’s Note: The photos for today’s post come courtesy of CIAD, aka Erick, the owner and operator of SurveillancePort.com. Erick is a great writer and photographer, but he’s more than that. He’s a pillar of the online GI Joe community. He’s one of the kindest and most supportive people in the fandom, and he’s always reporting on the latest news, giving signal boosts to cool projects, and spotlighting deserving content creators. You can find Erick at his website, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook. Thanks, Erick!)

Since we’re on an Alley Viper kick, I thought we’d take a look at another one. I acquired my first original Hasbro 1989 Alley Viper in 2019 at JoeFest in Augusta, GA. In September of that same year, I grabbed another one at a toy shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

But those Alley Vipers weren’t my first experience with the 1989 mold. Sometime in late 2017 or early 2018, I acquired some factory custom Alley Vipers made by The Black Major. My first TBM AVs were the versions that homage the 1997 Rage box art/prototype Alley Viper– blue and black. 

There was another version I was interested in, though. Online photos made it look like an ‘inverted colors’ version of the 89 Alley Viper, using blue as its primary color and orange as its accent color. 

Those figures are the subject of today’s post– The Black Major Urban Assault Trooper, which started its life as a convention exclusive. 

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1997 GI Joe Alley Viper

1997 GI Joe Alley Viper Review

Today, we’re looking at my first Alley Viper. This is my actual childhood figure, who’s somehow still in really good shape. It’s a toy from a year that makes most GI Joe fans point their noses firmly skywards, but it’s one of my favorite years for the toy line. 

The 1997 GI Joe Alley Viper is the reason that the Alley Viper is one of my favorite Cobra troops (it comes in second, only behind the Astro Viper) and is probably one of the major reasons I’ve continued to love GI Joe for my entire life. 

Like all 1997 Joe figures, he’s a bit of an oddball. There are many reasons Serious Collectors don’t love this toy, but I don’t care about any of those things. This figure is one of my most cherished GI Joe possessions. So, of course I’m going to tell you all about that– but I’ll review the toy, as well. As much as I ever review a toy, anyway. 

You know what you’re getting into at this point. 

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1990 GI Joe Stretcher

1990 GI Joe Stretcher Review

Stretcher, the GI Joe team’s medical specialist from 1990, and I go back a long way. We go all the way back to 1990 in fact. My original Stretcher figure met a tragic end sometime around 1992, but he’s still a character and toy I have a deep connection to. 

This is a review I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but Stretcher is not an easy figure to find and complete. Luckily, I found a carded version at JoeFest 2019 in Augusta, GA. I opened him up about a week ago to bring you this review. 

Stretch out and relax. Let’s dig in. 

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1998 Transformers Beast Wars II Max-B

1998 Transformers Beast Wars II Max-B Review

1998 Transformers Beast Wars II Max-B

A couple weeks ago, I ran a Twitter poll asking my readers what they’d rather see for my next review– a “weird” Beast Wars toy or a Kenner-style DC toy. The BW figure won. Thanks to all 32 of you who voted. 

When it comes to “weird,” Beast Wars has plenty to choose from. It was a bizarre, high-concept toy line that took a ton of chances and commonly veered into what we might consider “abstract” or “avant-garde,” at least as far as action figures targeted at 7-12 year olds go. In that regard, it’s only rivaled by Hasbro’s Batman Beyond toy line. 

I really wanted to lean into the “weird” aspect, and it doesn’t get much weirder than Takara’s Cyborg Beasts figures. These Japanese exclusives took four deluxe Beast Wars molds (Cybershark, Dinobot, Waspinator, and K-9) and infused their beast modes with crazy robot augmentations. The general weirdness also carried over into robot mode. 

Consider today’s subject, 1998 Transformers Beast Wars II Max-B, who is a cyborg German Shepherd with wolf-colored fur. 

In Mainframe’s Beast Wars cartoon, the characters were robots who combined their mechanical parts with organic parts, resulting in a biomechanical amalgamation that was mostly robot-based. For a cyborg beast, you have the robot augmented with biological animal parts (already kind of a cyborg), and then you add mechanical parts on top of the organic animal parts. So you’re basically left with a double cyborg, and in an entirely different way than what you saw with either Transmetals I or II. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s a lot different than what any other toy line was doing at the time. 

Let’s get weird with 1998 Transformers Beast Wars II Max-B. 

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GI Joe Funskool Pepsodent Exclusive Undertow

GI Joe Funskool Pepsodent Exclusive Undertow (2002) Review

GI Joe Funskool Pepsodent Exclusive Undertow

The catch of the day isn’t a whopper, but it’s generated some Big Fish Stories nonetheless. Do we find this figure compelling because of its lowered articulation? Because it came free with a couple tubes of toothpaste? Because of its odd, shoddy paintwork? Because of its dubious legal nature? Or do we recoil in horror because it’s not quite right?

For me, it’s all of the above and much more. When I set out to write this review, I figured I’d do  something “easy” because the last one I wrote was massive. But I’m a journalist by nature, so I couldn’t leave well enough alone– I did some initial research, asked the experts some questions, and then dug even deeper. A couple things I found really surprised me. 

This GI Joe Funskool Pepsodent Exclusive Undertow is much more than a slapdash toothpaste giveaway figure. There are oddities with production, licensing, and figure construction. I dug up the unexpected. 

So, come for the weird under-articulated Undertow variant and stay for the mysteries hidden within its underachieving exterior shell.

Time to reel it in. 

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1994 Transformers Generation 2 Bruticus

1994 Transformers Generation 2 Combaticons and Bruticus Review

1994 Transformers Generation 2 Combaticons

This is another huge review, with 6000+ words and around 60 photos. But it has to be big because we’re looking at the biggest, baddest dudicus to ever be a metamorphing Bruticus. 

Today I’m joined by my friend Dial H, who runs Dial H for Houston. If you enjoy pulpy science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history novels, check out his website immediately. He writes fun, funny, and snappy reviews of all sorts of books you’ve never heard of. His site has personally encouraged me to order a few books for The Pile. 

Dial H was nice enough to supply both photos and commentary for G2 Bruticus, as I am both missing some of the toy’s accessories and missing all of Dial H’s life experiences and insights. This is a toy that’s notoriously hard to complete, as parts and pieces almost never pop up on the secondary market. 

So we’ve united into our own ragtag combiner force to bring you this review. Dial H is going to bring you a definitive ranking for each member of the team, but I cannot bring myself to choose favorites among my brightly colored 90s children. I do mostly agree with his rankings, though. 

I’ll let Dial H kick things off. 

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The Corps! Whipsaw

The Corps! Whipsaw Review (All Versions)

The Corps! Whipsaw

I love Lanard’s The Corps!, but you’ve probably noticed that I’ve only published one article on the toy line up to this point. That’s because each figure has so many releases and variants that you have to be an expert to write anything comprehensive on the franchise. Good information on the toy line does exist, but it’s often buried in labyrinthian forums, so it’s tough to compile. Especially when you’re blessed with a short attention span like mine. 

Luckily, I found an expert. Today I’m joined by my friend Cody (visit him on Instagram), who’s exhaustively researched and chronicled every version of The Corps!’s Whipsaw– which happens to be his favorite figure. 

To me, Whipsaw was always just one of “the hat” guys, and was sometimes the “bare chested harness” guy (which made him more interesting). 

Hopefully Cody’s passion and attention to detail rubs off on you, too. Because now I’m a diehard Whipsaw fan. 

Cody will be doing most of the heavy lifting on this article, with both photos and writing, so almost everything you see here was submitted by him. I’ve left a little note in each section and a couple photos here and there, but he did all the hard work. 

Thanks, Cody!

Let’s begin.

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1994 GI Joe Star Brigade Payload

1994 GI Joe Star Brigade Payload Review

1994 GI Joe Star Brigade Payload

For a nobody, Payload sure got a lot of action figures released in the original GI Joe: A Real American Hero toy line. There were five total Payload figures released in the vintage Joe collection, which means there were more Payloads than Flints, Scarletts, Destros, Gung Hos, or Storm Shadows. That’s wild!

In fact, the only characters in the original ARAH line who had more versions than Payload were Snake Eyes, Roadblock, Cobra Commander, Duke, Hawk, and Stalker. Compared to all of those big, household names. Payload doesn’t seem like all that much. But, someone at Hasbro must have loved Payload– or, more likely, someone at Hasbro just loved reusing a certain environmentally-minded firefighter toy over and over again. 

Today, we’ll look at the last version of Payload released in the vintage GI Joe toy line. This is Star Brigade Payload from 1994. 

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1993 Transformers Generation 2 Minibots

1993 Transformers Generation 2 Minibots Review

1993 Transformers Generation 2 Minibots

Thanks to my friend Battle Armor Dad for contributing to this review!

You asked your mom for an Optimus Prime, but you got a Bumblebee instead. This happened for 2 reasons:

  1. You’re a little shit
  2. Despite working two jobs, it’s much easier for your mom to afford a Bumblebee than an Optimus Prime 

The year was 1984. Or was it 1993? 

The phenomenon of getting “the little ones” (or Minibots, or Mini-Vehicles) as gifts is something that unites both 80s kids and 90s kids. Even if the older generation is still mad about smokestack sizes and newer Megatron toys being allowed inside of airports, it’s hard for them to not empathize with our shared plight. 

If you were into Transformers in the 80s and 90s, chances are you had the Minibots. They were cool, charming, and affordable, which made them appeal to our overworked, underpaid parents. 

Unless you were a rich kid. If so, this post is not for you. Go invest in a failing brick and mortar video game store, waste your money on some poser-ass Kings of Leon adult contemporary crypto MP3s, enjoy your inherited success, and come back for the next review. 

This Transformers Generation 2 Minibots review is for the real ones. 

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