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 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot

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PostSubject: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:52 am

I see there was a previous Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot topic, but the photos have disappeared, so I'll start a new one.

I just received this Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot box set a few days ago (April 2018) via eBay:


Box - Front - High-Quality Graphics Featuring Original 1964 Box Art


Box - Back


Box - Inside Front Flap


Box - Contents: Hardbound book and repro figure with jumpsuit, cap, dogtag, and Air Manual


Boxed Figure - Reproduction Air Manual and Sticker Labels for Cap


Boxed Figure - Head Detail


Figure - Free Standing Outdoors


Figure - Free Standing Outdoors - Closeup

The G.I. Joe Masterpiece Edition collection, released in 1996-1997, included four variations: Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot, and Action Marine. A fifth version, Action Astronaut, was available as a limited edition from the FAO Schwarz toy store.

The Masterpiece Edition supposedly offered an as-close-as-possible reproduction of the original 1964 G.I. Joe figure. The set includes a hardbound book on the history of the G.I. Joe action figure co-written by the Hasbro designer, and a reproduction of the instruction booklet (or "military manual") that accompanied the original release figures in the 1960s.

The set is massive. The outer gatefold box measures 13-1/2 inches (34.25 cm) square and 2-1/2 inches (6.25 cm) deep. The box includes the 11-1/2 inch (29cm) figure, a hardbound book, and a lot of empty space and cardboard packaging. The entire package weighs in at a whopping 4 pounds (1.8 kg).

Although impressive in appearance, in size, in weight, and in graphics quality, these sets are surprisingly affordable, or perhaps discouragingly worthless for current owners, on eBay. The cost of shipping for such a large package (approximately $22 for in-country shipping in the US right now) is higher than the price a mint-in-box example brings. The sets are currently selling for $15 to $25 with an additional $15 to $25 for shipping, so it is possible to find one with shipping for about $30.00 USD. (In fact, earlier this evening I won a sealed box Action Soldier version for USD $12 + USD $15 shipping.)

I only recently learned about the existence of these figures, so the one pictured here is a recent acquisition. While I absolutely love the detailed packaging, it actually represents a lot of wasted space. I expect to be permanently de-boxing this figure soon. I shall take numerous photos of the packaging and then discard it. If I believed the figure was scarce or there would be any future value in it, I would of course keep the packaging, but the huge numbers of them currently available on the secondary market for reasonable prices indicates that this is a perfectly "play-worthy" figure.

As the outdoor photos above illustrate, the figure looks a little bit not-quite right. That is, to my eye, the legs look too short. After noticing this, I read online that these figures are slightly shorter than the original 1964 figures. Apparently the height difference is in the legs.

I realize that this figure has been wired into the packaging for over twenty years. I don't know if that is what has affected the tension in the legs, but the legs seem a bit floppy.

The cap is a bit too large for the head. I vaguely remember the cap on the Action Pilot I had as a kid fitting fairly snugly; at least it would stay put. I had to put some adhesive tape inside this cap to get it to stay on the new figure's head for these photos.

The hands, while similar to the originals, seem a little thicker and not quite as finely detailed as the hands on original figures.

The boots are somewhat more shiny than I remember, and the plastic of the boots is not as thick as on the early originals, particularly around the toes.

The head material has a slightly pinkish hue that doesn't quite match the yellowish tint of the body.

Unfortunately, manufacturing for nearly everything has been outsourced to China over the past few decades. Barbie and Hot Wheels are no longer manufactured in Hawthorn, California, and G.I. Joe is no longer proudly made in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA. And sadly, it shows.

While I love the vintage graphics and high-quality printing of the box art, the quality of the writing leaves something to be desired. It's really not very good, which is a disappointment considering that this box set was issued by a book publisher, Chronicle Books, to promote the G.I. Joe history book written by Joe designer Don Levin.

"Friend knelt beside friend, father beside son, joining ranks in a new hobby and glorying in scenes of military might."  Rolling Eyes  And really, did G.I. Joe represent a "father figure," as claimed in the text, to a significant number of boys? Or to any boys? That seems a bit of a stretch, to say the least; because... and yes, I'll use the verboten word here: it's a doll!

Despite my nit-picking, the figure is a fairly decent facsimile of America's Moveable Fighting Man from the mid-1960s, and I'll be able to photograph, set up diorama scenes with, and, okay, play with the figure without having to worry about damaging it like I would with a 1960s original. I like it well enough that, in addition to the Action Soldier I mentioned earlier, I also have another Action Pilot on the way, a blonde-haired version like I had when I was a kid. I'll likely be keeping an eye out for good deals on an Action Sailor and Action Marine to complete the set.

But, for space considerations, I will not be keeping the ginormous boxes. They're very nicely made, heavy and solid, with great graphics, but they're simply too big. Discarding them will pain me a little bit, but the abysmal writing style of the carton text makes it easier to part with them.

As an addendum: when Mr. Stanley Weston, the marketing man who initially pitched the concept of "G.I. Joe" to Hasbro in 1963, passed away last year, the Nerdist.com pop-culture website used one of my photos of my original-era Action Pilot to illustrate an article about him and the influence G.I. Joe had on the toy industry. Needless to say, I was honored that one of my images was used in this way:



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PostSubject: Re: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:24 pm

Looks like a nice figure SCU_HQ! cheers
Great addition to your collection! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:03 am

The Masterpiece Edition (ME) is my favourite reproduction G.I. Joe.  Sure there are issues with them, but to my eyes relative to all the various Hasbro reissued figures they are the closest to the original.  In 1993 Hasbro put out a horrible 30th Anniversary figure and claimed that the technique to produce the vintage style figure was lost.  This Masterpiece Edition put that lie to bed.  Actually, it may have been the folks at Cotswold Collectibles who reproduced the first vintage style figures because they came out about the same time as the ME G.I. Joe.

You're right, the figures are a little shorter than the original, and I seem to remember that it was most noticeable in the legs, but other body parts were smaller too.  As far as the colouring, I don't have an issue with the skin tone because out of my 200+ vintage figures there is a huge variation in skin tone, depending on the mix of the polystyrene on any given day.  The plastic seems a little more translucent, though.  

Check out Matt McKeeby's site: Vintage3DJoes to see the variation in body skin tone as well as the change in body parts over the 12 year run.

The ME figures are a little more prone to stress cracks -- especially the Black figures.  Robert Wisdom over at the UAMHQ surmised that stress cracks are due to the nylon connector pins responding more drastically to humidity levels and when they take on moisture they swell at a much higher rate than the polystyrene and this causes cracks.  I haven't had any problems with the ME figures but I live in a dry climate with very slow changes in relative humidity.

Have you read the book that came with it yet?  It was actually written by John Michlig and he produced a larger more detailed book on the subject: "G.I. Joe; The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action".  The copy on the box is not indicative of John's ability as a writer.  The "father figure" thing is accurate, though.  Sam Speers, the guy who actually designed the patented figure was approached by numerous men at the 1994 G.I. Joe Convention who related to him that G.I. Joe was a father figure to them.

Yes, it's just a doll but the potent power of the simulacrum/effigy is understood in psychology, sociology, and religion.  The Japanese Shinto tradition actually has a ceremony to dispose of old dolls in a respectful manner so as to not offend the spirit that has developed in the doll due to its interaction with the child who owned it.  Heck, even Hollywood understands that concept and from Chucky to Woody & Buzz has done stories about dolls coming to life.  

If you can pick up more you should.  The head sculpt was used by the Hasbro for their Timeless G.I. Joe figures, and by the G. I. Joe Club.  It's pretty accurate, but it's a little more rounded than the longer vintage head.  If any of my ME figures develop massive stress cracks I would put the head on a Cotswold body, they are the highest quality of all the vintage style bodies -- and they are the same height as the vintage figures.
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PostSubject: Re: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:17 pm

Joe90 wrote:
The Masterpiece Edition (ME) is my favourite reproduction G.I. Joe.  Sure there are issues with them, but to my eyes relative to all the various Hasbro reissued figures they are the closest to the original.  In 1993 Hasbro put out a horrible 30th Anniversary figure and claimed that the technique to produce the vintage style figure was lost.  This Masterpiece Edition put that lie to bed.  Actually, it may have been the folks at Cotswold Collectibles who reproduced the first vintage style figures because they came out about the same time as the ME G.I. Joe.

You're right, the figures are a little shorter than the original, and I seem to remember that it was most noticeable in the legs, but other body parts were smaller too.  As far as the colouring, I don't have an issue with the skin tone because out of my 200+ vintage figures there is a huge variation in skin tone, depending on the mix of the polystyrene on any given day.  The plastic seems a little more translucent, though.  

Check out Matt McKeeby's site: Vintage3DJoes to see the variation in body skin tone as well as the change in body parts over the 12 year run.

The ME figures are a little more prone to stress cracks -- especially the Black figures.  Robert Wisdom over at the UAMHQ surmised that stress cracks are due to the nylon connector pins responding more drastically to humidity levels and when they take on moisture they swell at a much higher rate than the polystyrene and this causes cracks.  I haven't had any problems with the ME figures but I live in a dry climate with very slow changes in relative humidity.

Have you read the book that came with it yet?  It was actually written by John Michlig and he produced a larger more detailed book on the subject: "G.I. Joe; The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action".  The copy on the box is not indicative of John's ability as a writer.  The "father figure" thing is accurate, though.  Sam Speers, the guy who actually designed the patented figure was approached by numerous men at the 1994 G.I. Joe Convention who related to him that G.I. Joe was a father figure to them.

Yes, it's just a doll but the potent power of the simulacrum/effigy is understood in psychology, sociology, and religion.  The Japanese Shinto tradition actually has a ceremony to dispose of old dolls in a respectful manner so as to not offend the spirit that has developed in the doll due to its interaction with the child who owned it.  Heck, even Hollywood understands that concept and from Chucky to Woody & Buzz has done stories about dolls coming to life.  

If you can pick up more you should.  The head sculpt was used by the Hasbro for their Timeless G.I. Joe figures, and by the G. I. Joe Club.  It's pretty accurate, but it's a little more rounded than the longer vintage head.  If any of my ME figures develop massive stress cracks I would put the head on a Cotswold body, they are the highest quality of all the vintage style bodies -- and they are the same height as the vintage figures.

Thanks for posting this Joe90!

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PostSubject: Re: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:44 pm

yes a quality Joe for sure! Thanks for posting! the whole PB fiasco hit a lot of threads causing them to lose all the photos Sad

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PostSubject: Re: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:09 pm

Joe90 wrote:
The Masterpiece Edition (ME) is my favourite reproduction G.I. Joe....

Thanks for the additional detailed info, it is much appreciated.

No, I haven't yet had the opportunity to check out the book in depth, but I assumed the marketing copy on the box was different than what is written in the book.

Despite their minor shortcomings, as noted, I have two additional ME figs on the way. (And I figured out a place to safely store the giant boxes, too; I can't quite bear to discard them!)

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PostSubject: Re: 1996 Masterpiece Edition Action Pilot   Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:04 pm

I think I'd like to have the while series at some point. 3/6 down. (Soldier, Black Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Pilot, Astronaut. I know there were black versions of all of them, but not in the 60's. Only Black Soldiers then)

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