Who Are those Usual Suspects? Part 2
And now, the reveal of all the final suspects shown in the pictures…
The third figure is a new one released by Mattel with the launch of the Wonder Woman film. It is one if the best sculpted figures ever. I purchased her as I am still building a full ensemble of DC and Marvel Superheroes. She represents modern collecting. This is a collector type figure that was harder to find. Mattel released several very fashion doll versions of Wonder Woman but they all had spindly bodies and slightly oversized heads. None of them impressed me, but when I saw this one on a business trip in a Bentonville Toys R Us, it impressed me. There was no room in the suitcase so as soon as I was able, I scoured my local TRU until I found the one left on the shelf.
It should probably go without saying that I own WAY too many toys. I had actually stopped buying actions figures for myself and this figure made me fall off the five-year bandwagon. Since my current job with high travel requirements have forced me into keeping a stark on-the-road apartment, the Wonder Woman figured added a desperately needed touch of fun.
I am a huge fan of articulation and certainly, Mattel sacrificed articulation for sculpting quality on this figure. However, it does have the minimum acceptable articulation with hips, knees, elbows, shoulders and wrists. The figure even comes with two sets of hands. One set can hold the lasso or sword. Another set is sculpted as clenched fists. The other aspect I usually require in a 1/6th figure is soft goods clothing. In this particular case, her costume is injection molded PVC and is not removable but they nailed the leather look of the costume from the film.
This Wonder Woman has three modes to play or display: 1) holding the sword and/or the lasso 2) deflecting bullets with her bracelets and 3) an action spinning motion portrayed with molded swishes that snap into her bracelets in the same holes as the bullets do.
The best part of the figures is the head and hair sculpting. Usually, the best human head sculptings are created in rotocast PVC like a Barbie or GI Joe head. That process allows for small undercuts and more organic flexibility to create the mold since the process if mostly chemical. This Wonder Woman head is an injection molded part and still looks great even after they had to adjust for easy removal from the mold.
For the Joe collectors out there, number four is the 1966 GI Joe Soldiers of the World Japanese Imperial Soldier. It is one of the few vintage GI Joe figures with a unique head. Hasbro released their Soldiers of the World to augment their early military themed GI Joes in 1966. From a sales point of view, they were a flop and were dropped the next year. I loved them! Somehow, one of my brothers managed to get a GI Joe Fighting Men Counter Intelligence Manual which was a cross-sell booklet showing the Soldiers of the World collection.
It showed fully uniformed figures of six different non-US WWII soldiers. Three were Allied soldiers such as the French Resistance Fighter, Australian Jungle Fighter, and the British Commando. There were also Axis soldiers represented by Russian Infantry Man, German Soldier, and Japanese Imperial Soldier. The booklet showed these available as figures, accessory sets and figures with uniforms and accessories. If you looked very carefully, you could see that… maybe they were different heads but it was unclear as they were small black and white images.
One day in about 1970, the local drug store was selling off some old stock of these. It was confusing since they were accessory packs, however, unlike the cross-sell booklet, these included uniforms but no boots. I know it was not 1966 as I bicycled alone to the store with all my allowance money when I heard about them. I bought one of each but there were no Japanese ones available. As I child, I never had any of the figures.
Fast forward to about 1986. I was working at Mattel Toys in their old building in Hawthorne, CA on the same property where they also used to manufacture. There was a basement full of old storage of different departments including lockers of reference from employees long gone. People would occasionally clean those out and throw out things. One day I happened to spot a doll head on the floor near the dumpster. To my utter shock, it was clearly a GI Joe head but did not look like a normal GI Joe head. It was also odd that it looked almost brand new and the neck on it was a talking GI Joe neck instead of the normal neck. After talking with some collectors, I discovered that it was not my imagination and that the Soldiers of the World figures all had unique heads. There was even a rumor that the German figure had one long nasty scar on the side of his head. This rumor I have never found any proof to verify. It is possible that the rumor came from the same source as the Marx Black Knight stories my brother taunted me with in my youth. Five of the figures used that same head, which looks like a more sinister GI Joe, but the Japanese figure had a clearly Asian sculpted version of the classic GI Joe head.
I found a collector willing to trade off that figure which has an excellent soft goods coat, backpack and pants with fake leggings. The rifle, pistol, bayonet and helmet and unique to the figure also. Each of the figures even came with 1/6th stamped metal awards historically correct to each figure. These had little pins so they could be pushed into the fabric, then bent down to hold onto the uniform. I have all the sets and boots now but only two with the correct heads. The Japanese soldier and the head from the trashcan on my German soldier. My Russian is wearing the far more appropriately looking Action Sailor with full red beard to keep him warm on the Eastern Front.
I believe I had to trade an Adventure Team GI Joe talking Commander in package to get this complete Japanese figure – but it was worth it.
That fifth figure is undoubtedly confusing even to the most accomplished collectors wondering why it is there and that it should not look like that. It is wearing a mis-colored preproduction raid jacket from the Law Enforcement Raid, but it is mostly there because is it purple and I wear a ton of purple.
The cargo pants are from the GI Joe Hall of Fame Joes Snake Eyes which are similar to the cargo pants I often wear (I should add the GI Joe tag to mine though). On his head is a set of Mickey Mouse Ears from the Mattel Heart Family Goes to Disneyland segment – more product I worked on as well as at least a hundred 1/6th Disney dolls.
The figures is the GI Joe Classic Collection WWII ETO Military Policeman, which I designed.
You have heard rumors and read that many Joe heads are based on real Joe designers which is absolutely true…and which is now against the rules to do inside Hasbro. At the time, there was a suggestion to use my head. I refused noting I do not have a face heroically appropriate for GI Joe. However, I had no problem being the voice of a Joe. That is my voice in the MP. It has freaked me out several times when I go to move a box of Joe stuff and the hair trigger activates so I hear my own voice yelling at me to say “Stop!” “Hands up!” “Advance to be recognized.” So when I found the pin at Shanghai Disneyland last year saying “Hats required”, I bought it and added it to the Joe of me sitting on me shelf. He has shown up to a few toy conventions and will probably show up to more.
I hope you have appreciated the fun back-stories on these pieces and maybe it shed some light on questions you have on some of your own figures.
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What interesting trades have you made obtain 1/6th figures?