Meeting of the Minds

Meeting of the Minds

Sunday, January 14, 2018

G.I. Joburg: the best thing happening in GI Joe right now.

Looking at the statistics for GI Joe Intel Ops entering this new year!, our total lifetime hits are coming up on a total of 30,000.  Not bad I'd say, for a four year old blog with a total of eighteen published articles.  Even though I'm sure most of you are either bots or redirects from some quasi-related (at best) Internet search, thanks for the eyeballs all the same, even if they are just the glances of spiders and bots.

Unfortunately for us in the fandom, we are entering the deep, miserable, sweltering desert of our own discontent.  No new product for years now has hit retail shelves, with none on the horizon.  We have promises of a film that will presumably be both supported by a toy line and include a much-needed reboot as part of the launch of a new cinematic "Hasbroverse".  However, plans may change as they often do, yet that apparently hasn't stopped Hasbro from finding reason to discontinue the license of the GI Joe Collector's club from producing the handful of exclusive figures a year, mostly pulling material from the obscure parts of Joe lore that would never cross paths with what Hasbro is likely to do with the property.

-By the way, I'm calling it now: the film will be delayed, cancelled or GI Joe will be a very small part of it, making way for more marketable things.  In the end there would have been no valid reason for Hasbro to discontinue its relationship with the GIJCC, and many of the fans who currently disparage the Club will eventually mourn its loss.  While in the grand scope of things this will hardly be a case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory given these figures appeal mostly to a dwindling number of gen X'ers, I still don't see how there is absolutely any reason why the Club has to become attrition in Hasbro's attempt to revitalize the brand, even if the new film becomes a resounding success.


So that is the bad news. The good  news is that there are those who are trying to keep interest and enjoyment in GI Joe alive, and right now there is no one so committed and successful in this than the guys over at GI Joburg.

Based out of South Africa, of all curious places; Steve, Rob, and Paul are the local talent assisted by an American known as 'Kujo'.  They don't put out tons of content and commit themselves to an irregular schedule, but what they do put out is highly original and fun to watch.  Steve is the face of the channel.  He puts his cheery and goofy enthusiasm to great effect conducting reviews of the various odds and ends of Joedom.  This in fact seems to be their specialty: the less loved and appreciated toys that came out later in the line. The guys of GI Joeburg are apparently part of the late ARAH and post-ARAH wave of fans who grew up during the age of neon.

As for their "reviews", they are very unconventional.  Rather than have a static boilerplate complete with typical product shots and a grade at the end, they take the toy out into the wild and play the heck out of it, all the while musing about its good points, bad points, and where the character or vehicle fits into it all in the grand scheme of things, all in a reasonably well produced Youtube video.  It is very thought provoking and has taught me a lot about how to do reviews (IE: If you are doing reviews joylessly, then you are doing them wrong).

Please go to their channel and watch this and you'll see what I mean.



I'm pretty certain this thing rot hopelessly on shelves, but Joburg managed to launch this up the desirability scale.  Steve, Rob, Paul, and Mr. Kujo are, like, the ultimate peg-warmer salesmen.  This video, I might add, is very timely for us in the northern hemisphere.  We are shown pools and ocean beaches on a warm, sunny summer day in Africa, while we have to look on jealously here in the bitter cold (its been hovering around 0°F to -18°C here in the upper Midwest these last few days).

Anyway, enjoy their channel for an experience in very nostalgia rich content and escape from a dreary winter.


ALSO:


GI Joburg has made a goal of coming to what may be the last Joeconn in Chattanooga, Tennessee later in 2018.  I'm sure if they get there they'll find a way to entertain us with their unique style of programming.  They have a GO-FUND-ME page located here if you would care to donate.

GI JOBURG GO FUNDME
 

yo joburg!





   

Friday, March 3, 2017

M&C taking orders for Power Team Elite: World Peacekeepers merchandise


 I'm a few months late getting around to drawing up a post about this, but apparently it is now possible to order PTE goodies directly from China at http://www.mctoy.com.hk.  There is an ongoing discussion about this on the PTE thread over at Hisstank.com.  It's buried deep within the hundreds of pages of comments within the thread, but the start of it begins with a comment here on page 315.  The conversation continues towards the revelation that the parent company no longer requires large bulk purchases in order to secure direct orders, in fact it apparently offers orders of individual items.

The prices are a bit more than what you would pay if you were buying them locally off the shelf -plus the costs shipping on top of that, but the shipping costs are reportedly far from outrageous.  However, the total price is still far less than the typical going rate on Ebay for very rare things such as the SU-27.

There are a number of toys and play sets available directly on the M&C site that I've never seen before in the US domestic market or online.  Some of them look simply awesome, I'll highlight a few below using MCToy's own stock photographs: 




Anti-Aircraft Missile Vehicle

Fast Attack Vehicle

Military Base

Military Howitzer

Check out their page for World Peacekeepers at http://www.mctoy.com.hk/index.php/i/toyseries/2 as well as their other 1:18 Brands.  Be warned however, the website is very, very slow; painfully slow at times.   

Disclaimer: I have no association, employment, or investment with MCToys.  I just write reviews and news.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Twilight of the Apprentice : My Take on the Fate of Ashoka Tano.







I know, I know...this a GI Joe blog (more or less), but I love Star Wars as well, and since there's been a lot that's been happening the last several years with Star Wars I thought I'd throw a few things out there for everyone's consumption.


from: http://www.starwars.com/databank/ahsoka-tano-biography-gallery

I am a big fan of Ashoka Tano.  While she started out as a sort of annoying, token child-sidekick in the Clone Wars animated film from several years ago, she progressed into a very interesting character throughout the Clone Wars animated series as Skywalker's apprentice. I truly appreciate the fact that she was a great compliment to Anakin Skywalker in a way that allowed him be explored beyond the whiny, insipid portrayal given by Hayden Christensen in the prequel films.   She also provided an efficient plot vehicle to illustrate some of the deep flaws within the Jedi Order, flaws that towards the end of the series lead to her abandoning it for reasons I found justifiable.


Most recently in the second season of Star Wars Rebels, she showed up as an agent of the nascent Rebel Alliance and assisted the main cast on a number of occasions.  This is one of her more amazing appearances as she squares off against two of the Emperor's inquisitors:



I may post more about my thoughts on the Inquisitors at another time, but its clear they are no match for her.  From diminutive, cocky and awkward child padawan to graceful and powerful "Grey" Jedi, Ashoka struck out on her own path after leaving the Order behind.   I have no doubt her path was one that followed the Light, albeit one that was free from the strictures of the Jedi Order.  

The last place we see Ashoka is in the Season 2 Finale of Star Wars Rebels where she has a confrontation with Darth Vader:





We don't see the final outcome so her fate is rather nebulous.  The final footage we see of Tano is when she appears to be passing through an entryway at the base of the Sith Temple and there has been quite a bit of speculation as to what this means.

Show Runner, Dave Filoni has stated that “It’s likely that you might not have seen the last of Ahsoka Tano.”

What does this mean? I present the following three possibilities:

1) Tano is alive and left the scene.

She has had her faith shaken by the now complete and incontrovertible truth that her old Master is now the murderous scourge of the galaxy.  Her escape would of course be made possible by the huge explosion upsetting her mortal combat with Vader, wounding him enough that he could not continue the fight, so she uses the opportunity to flee.  After the events she distances herself from the rebellion for a time and will show up again at some later date.

This presents a difficulty towards the Star Wars canon.  Watching the original trilogy as a child, it was my distinct impression that one of the great burdens Luke bore was the fact that after Yoda's passing he was very much alone in the Universe.  He was now the sole remaining member of the Order and it simply won't do to have a bunch of vestigial Jedi lurking about the galaxy in various states of indifference.  George Lucas recently opined that perhaps Mace Windu survived his dismemberment, severe electrocution, and fall from the heights of Coruscant.  If so, with him, Yoda, Kenobi, Voss, Kanan and Ezra, and who knows who else still in the picture why the heck did the order completely dissolve?  Oh right...."prophecy", or something.

Source: Wikipedia


Regardless, if Ashoka Tano survived this encounter, at some point it still probably has to end and we are back to a similar encounter.  Vader's primary mission as the Emperor's apprentice and principal strongman is to destroy any remnant of the Jedi Order that he finds. She's too significant of a loose end to allow to live into the era of A New Hope and beyond, and I just do not see her character as the type that will once again fade into the background from disillusionment.  She's done that once and in a classic case of survivor's syndrome holds herself at fault for everything.

2) Tano enters the Temple as Vader's new apprentice.

In her encounter with Vader towards the end, she promises that she will not leave Anakin this time, putting blame on herself for his fall into darkness.  We are told that regret and grief can lead one to the dark side of the force, and it is possible that this is what happens to Ashoka after the scene cuts before the explosion, in which case Vader accepts her as his acolyte.  The final scene of her entering the Sith temple then makes sense as she invariable would have been assigned some task by the Dark Lord to either prove herself or accomplish some mission.


Dark Ashoka from the Clone Wars Series


From here, it would be obvious that she would then be something of a New Inquisitor and provide a new, far more formidable foil to the main characters of the Ghost into the final seasons of the series.  She would hunt, harass, and seek to destroy the cause and people she had so recently championed and risked her life to defend all because she thought she should have saved Anakin from falling into the same trap.

I honestly hope this is not where the show takes her.  In fact, the idea disgusts me.  It reeks of cheap, predictable storytelling that completely dishonors the character.  Invariably I see this leading to an equally predictable end where she saves the crew of the Ghost by realizing her errors and sacrificing herself just like Vader did for Luke in Return of the Jedi.  This would be absolute garbage.  It would  make falling to the dark side more like onto catching a cold rather than being trapped by your own moral choices and it would provide the sort of repetition this franchise should fastidiously abandon.   

I felt the writing behind Anakin's own fall was weak enough, but a dark-side Tano would ruin a character that had a lot of very painstaking planning going into her all the way back into the Clone Wars series; furthermore, one of the strengths of Ashoka's character was the realization of the deep flaws within the order and the splendid plot developments surrounding her exit.  In her final story arch in the Clone Wars series, she was framed for sedition and summarily banished from the Order before the kangaroo trail even started.  When she was exonerated the order offered her re-entry into the order citing that the whole affair would constitute her 'trial'.  In other words, the Jedi order wanted to legitimize their own failure to do a thorough investigation by dubbing the affair a post-hoc initiation into knighthood.  It would be more accurate at that point to call it a sordid hazing ritual where failure would have ended in a plebe's execution.  This hollowness of this asinine attempt at restitution a was of course lost on a Jedi order too arrogant and unrepentant to admit it's own faults.  

3) She's Dead, Jim

At the conclusion of Season 2 we see Tano's pale, phantasmic figure entering the temple base.  It could be that this is her spirit entering whatever is the afterlife.  In this case, either the explosion or the blade of Darth Vader finished her, but she has now passed on.  This would anger a lot of her fans who acknowledge her as one of the finest characters ever developed in the Star Wars universe, but hey, as I've argued above, it has to happen sometime.


It doesn't, however, mean it has to be the end of her story.  In fact, the reason I prefer this result above all others is because it could provide some very interesting scenarios.  Have you ever wondered exactly what Obiwan Kenobi meant when he told Vader, "If you strike me down...I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine"?....of course you have, and Ashoka's death would give us a great avenue into seeing just what Old Ben meant through the eyes of one of Star Wars' most compelling characters.  Imagine seeing Ashoka's death interceded in some way by Qui Gonn who teaches her how to maintain her identity within the Force, or perhaps she already knows and we can see a flashback of Qui Gon Jinn reaching out to her while still alive to teach her how to reach out to the living as a 'force ghost' as he did Yoda.  I'm not talking just about simple cameos as a force spirit, but of entire story arcs in the nether of the Force with Tano working in conjunction with other dead Jedi.  Invariably, appearances to the crew of the Ghost as well as Yoda and ObiWan could occur.  Also, in keeping with her final promise, she could choose to haunt Vader thereby setting the stage for the re-emergence of his humanity in Episode 6.  Either way, it opens up massive possibilities of story telling that reach beyond Rebels rather claustrophobic perspective because as a ghost, she can show up anywhere.

Well there it is, my first foray into the Star Wars universe.  As far as Ashoka's fate is concerned, "revealed my opinion is".

Feel free to comment.