G.I. Joe State of the Union JoeCon 2015 Edition
It has been sometime since I have felt a good positive vibe for G.I. Joe and it’s core group of fans. With all the ups and downs that we in the G.I. Joe fandom endure, it has been very hard for all of us to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the respect for the brand that we all expect as collectors. After this weekend I really feel we are finally going to get the solid commitment to G.I. Joe that we have been waiting for.
To bring everybody up to speed on the current overlords of G.I. Joe, we will first need to start with Derryl DePriest: A long time G.I. Joe fan with a collection that would shock any G.I. Joe fan. He is a dedicated player, knows his G.I. Joe history, and has done a lot of work for the collecting community, tracking down lost tools (toy molds) that were at first thought to be extinct, along with constantly pushing for MORE surrounding the G.I.Joe Brand as a whole. He gets a lot of respect from me just on the effort he puts into his work, and I know he wants G.I. Joe to succeed.
Next up is G.I. Joe Brand Manager Mark Weber who is fresh off of the Transformers Generations line, coming from a brand that has proven itself time and time again to be a winner, Transformers. I had a very in depth conversation with Mark and I can tell you we are lucky to have him. Not only is he a life long collector of 3 3/4 he knows his G.I.Joe and reads up on his comics. It was nice to see a G.I. Joe brand manager who could keep up with me on IDW comics.
Now that we know who controls our fate over the G.I. Joe brand let’s breakdown all the information that I could gather, and put it all into what I think we are going to see in the future for the G.I. Joe brand. I was able to talk to both Mark and Derryl on a very real level. I didn’t hold back at all, the line of questioning was at times respectfully aggressive, and I feel because of that we received some real answers.
To understand what it looks like Hasbro is about to do with G.I. Joe you must first examine what has been going on with the Transformers Brand and how that has been working out for the collectors. First off, Transformers fans are reading IDW comics religiously, and enjoying the awesome benefits of doing so. Not only does IDW listen to what the fans want, they are also getting a ton of product including new characters made into new Transformers toys that directly tie into the comics books. IDW lives off of the feedback and keeps improving Transformers comics, keeps growing the fan base, and helping that brand become even stronger with fan driven product that also has kids appeal. It’s one of the BEST CASE SCENARIOS that we could hope for the G.I. Joe Brand.
The problem is the G.I. Joe toy collecting community is NOT reading G.I.Joe comics. I was shocked to see how many people at JoeCon 2015 have never read G.I. Joe Cobra, or are not reading G.I. Joe comics at all. This is a huge problem, especially now, knowing that Hasbro is shifting gears to bring kids back to the brand. The best chance we have of getting G.I. Joe content, new characters, toys connected to good content, that we as adult collectors will enjoy is IDW G.I. Joe comics. You can expect a renewed effort from HISSTANK.com to get people reading again! I really think this is the only way we will receive the level of story telling we expect from the G.I. Joe brand. All these awesome Marvel movies we are getting were at one time awesome comic books. If you want the G.I. Joe brand to be strong, it’s going to start with the G.I. Joe comics.
So this brings us to the Movie – Cartoon cycle that Hasbro uses to keep the fan base engaged. A new G.I. Joe movie is on it’s way and will most likely kick off the new cycle. Not much was said on that front, but they did hint to some of the rumors out there about G.I. Joe 3 may have some truth to them. It could be the rumor that D.J. Caruso will be the next director, or that awful idea of including Matt Trackker into a G.I. Joe film. Nothing was confirmed but the fact that G.I. Joe 3 is in the works.
The one thing that was clear at the Hasbro G.I. Joe booth is that kids engagement will now be the main focus for the G.I. Joe brand as it should be. What this means for most of the core base, 40ish year old toy collectors, is be ready for change, because it’s not going to be what we want on a G.I. Joe Resolute scale. I don’t think we will ever see that level of G.I. Joe again in cartoon form. The next cartoon series and direction is going to be kids focused and marketed to them, not us. This is some of the best news we could have expected to hear out of JoeCon 2015. If kids start to buy into G.I. Joe, all those closed doors will open up for the G.I. Joe brand. Hasbro is going to face huge obstacles on how that is done, and I wish them the best of luck on that front.
Where does the G.I. Joe Club fit into all of this? Well it looks like Hasbro has surrendered the rights to do the rest of ARAH to the Collectors Club. If your looking to continue to collect the figures that come from ARAH the Club is going to be the main outlet for those Characters and Vehicles. If Hasbro wanted to continue doing ARAH at retail they just had a huge opportunity to offer us a chunk of what was missing from your ARAH collection, but they have chosen to produce what was in the Hasbro G.I.Joe case at JoeCon 2015 over old school classics. To me this was the best option Hasbro had to still have ARAH figures available to the core G.I.Joe collecting base.
To round all of this up is not easy, Hasbro is going to make that effort to ignite the G.I. Joe brand again. G.I. Joe has the potential to gain back the respect it deserves. We all have a chance in the collecting community to be a part of that trip, but it all hinges on the ability for Hasbro to deliver a G.I. Joe Movie that keeps up with all of it’s competition: Star Wars, Marvel Movies, Transformers, DC – Batman and a host of other pop culture titans that will be releasing films over the next 10 years, right along side any potential G.I. Joe film.
We as fans are going to need to adjust and let the kids G.I. Joe programming be what it is. Most likely we are not going to like it, and that’s fine because it’s not going to be produced for us. Same goes for some of the toys that will show up for that kids direction. The pay off comes down the line when the G.I. Joe team gets a much larger budget to produce G.I. Joe items that are aimed directly at the core collector market. My best example would be the Transformers Masterpiece Series, Transformers Generations, Black Series 6″ Star Wars and Marvel Legends with Build-A-Figures. All have large collector base followings, with kids focused product sitting along side of what we look at as collector driven product.
Bottom line is G.I. Joe is far from finished at mass retail. ARAH will still be around via the G.I. Joe Collectors Club. And fresh new ideas are going to flow into the G.I. Joe Brand. How Hasbro gets to that middle ground that they have achieved with their other brands like Transformers is yet to be seen. Lets hope and pray it’s a smash hit and there is a new school generation of G.I. Joe collectors that crashes the G.I. Joe brand.
We hope everybody enjoyed HISSTANK.com’s coverage of JoeCon 2015. We worked very hard to bring you up to the minute information from the showroom floor and panel rooms, for all of you that could not make it out to the show. We hope all of you take the time to sound off on the HISSTANK.com forums and let us know how you feel about our JoeCon 2015 State of the Union write up. See you after the jump!