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 ArtBox - BackBox - Inside Front FlapBox - Contents: Hardbound book and repro figure with jumpsuit, cap, dogtag, and Air ManualBoxed Figure - Reproduction Air Manual and Sticker Labels for CapBoxed Figure - Head DetailFigure - Free Standing OutdoorsFigure - 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."
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: