Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 6 (Terrordrome Sponge Bath)

Well the day has finally arrived, my G.I. Joe cleaning and restoration project has at last reached the final stage, that’s right the Cobra Terrordrome has been completely renovated and restored to its former glory! I knew that cleaning up the Terrordrome would be a considerable undertaking, but it proved to be more difficult than I imagined. Just by looking at the thing I could see it was a filthy mess, the compartments around the base of the Cobra headquarters and the circular command center at the top seemingly served as a great nesting ground for the rodents that made their home within the large cardboard box that stored the Terrordrome and the other Joe toys. Dust, debris, and blotchy brown mouse stains covered every part of the Drome of Terror. The real problem however wasn’t with how dirty the thing was, it was how huge it is! Originally I had planned to take the whole thing outside with a bucket of soapy water and the garden hose and clean it in my backyard. I nixed that plan however when the weather refused to cooperate and after about the third week in a row of rain my impatients and curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do what I could in the basin sink in my basement. Thankfully it worked out, but I had to do some serious wrestling with several of the wide, unwieldy sections of the Terrordrome in order to get them thoroughly cleaned.

Starting out I first completely disassembled the base, removing every wall panel and accessory that was still attached. After that I just made a few twisting maneuvers and was able to separate the top of the Terrordrome from the launch silo and the base. I was hesitant to take it apart completely; worried that it would be a pain in my ass to put back together. As I said earlier my first thought was that I would be able to just haul it outside and wash it down without having to completely break it down. Thankfully the base is designed in a fairly foolproof manner that makes it more or less impossible to put together wrong. The only concern was a few accessories that could be attached in various positions depending on your aesthetic.

Once the whole thing was taken apart the cleaning began. I started with the smallest parts first, the pie shaped retracting silo covers and the wall and door sections. Then came the dark blue ramparts that attach to the top of the base emblazoned with the Cobra insignia, they are actually some of my favorite features of the base. The large main turrets were cleaned in my initial wave of cleaning when I took care of all the loose guns and parts that were floating around in the bottom of the box, but the smaller rear turrets and the outer bay doors of the Terrordrome were taken care of this round.

Then it came down to the biggest sections, the top and the base. The top wasn’t too bad, after the cobra insignia ramparts were removed it was far more streamlined and fit easier into the basin sink, it was just a matter of turning it like a wheel and flipping it around in order to get it all cleaned. I abandoned most of my brushes which had served as my cleaning implements in previous stages, and took up a sponge that would be easier to work into the nooks and crannies of the Terrordrome’s varied layers. I suppose you could say I literally gave the Terrordrome a sponge bath.

That last part of the base, was the bottom with the launch silo still attached, together it barely fit into the sink enough to clean it. I had to wedge it in at an angle turning the faucet to one side leaving just enough room to be able to turn the water on and off and reach down to a small bucket of soap and water. It took a good twenty minutes to scrub that sucker down, twisting, pulling, shifting, lifting, and reaching around it in order to make sure it was spotless when I was done with it.

After that workout I decided to just leave it all out to dry and come back to assemble it later. When it finally came time to put the Terrordrome back together I was pleasantly surprised, as I said before it was fairly foolproof to reassemble. When it came to the minor details I was fortunate to have some of the original instruction sheets as well as the packaging images to refer to in order to figure it out.

Now that it is all cleaned up and reassembled it is a glorious sight to behold. The Terrordrome is a thing of beauty! They simply don’t make toys like this anymore, or else kids just aren’t interested in these kinds of things nowadays. This Terrordrome in particular is in great condition! Considering how much evidence there was of mouse activity within the Terrordrome itself there really wasn’t that much damage from the mice, not as much as there was with some of the other stuff. There are only few incidents of them chewing on the plastic parts, one of the turret seats have been gnawed on and a wall section has a few nibbles taken from it. The only other problems with it are minor ones, a few stickers in the wrong place, and two of the gun caps are MIA. With those few exceptions the Terrordrome is in surprisingly pristine condition and in fine working order.

But enough of me going on about the thing, take a look for yourself! Below are the pictures of the last of my cleaning efforts (click on the images for a larger version), but fear not this does not mean you won’t be seeing these G.I. Joe and Cobra toys again! I have been pondering what to do with these treasures and I have a few ideas in mind for a photography project that would make use of this stuff. In fact, there might be a clue within the pictures below as to what that project might be . . . . .

The base of the Terrordrome after being diasassembled

The various doors and walls of the Terrordrome

The top of the Terrordrome with Cobra insignia ramparts still attached

The base and launch silo in the sink mid-cleaning

Terrordrome in the process of being reassembled

It is complete! A fully assembled Terrordrome!

A shot from above, a chair for every computer terminal, and a computer terminal for every chair

Finally Cobra can get back to work terrorizing the world and the forces of G.I. Joe

There are three garage bays with deployable refueling stations

There are two smaller rear turrets that can swing out to fire on enemy forces, also pictured the launch lever for the silo

A prison cell for captured G.I. Joe forces, let's see them get past that "laser" gate!

The common area/ party room/ storage. This is where they have company birthday parties.

A closeup of one of the main turrets

That is all . . . . for now . . . .

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 5

     So here we are in the final stages of this Terrordrome Renovation project and I’m still running into a few surprises, stage 5 was wrought with ups and downs. This time around my efforts were focused on the cleaning and the reconstruction of the once elaborate G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center. After referencing a few images on YoJoe.com to get the feel of how it was assembled I realized this Joe base came loaded with a smattering of cool features. Though not the largest of the playsets this one-sided G.I. Joe equivalent of the Majeno Line came equipped with two garage bays, one with a lift to “repair” vehicles, a secure holding cell for captured Cobra operatives, artillery, gun, and lookout turrets at the front, a computer and communications console, and storage for all the random guns and equipment the Joes accumulated with each new recruit. With so many cool interactive features the Headquarters Command Center would certainly have been a busy place, despite its smaller size.

How the Headquarters Command Center appeared in the G.I. Joe cartoon.

     Unfortunately as I began examining the parts I had I quickly realized this HQCC was not all there. I suspected as much a few weeks ago when I took a few minutes to sort through the parts that went with the Headquarters and only found two rows of jail bars for the holding cell. At the time I hoped maybe there were only two walls of bars and the other two were just the prefab walls that were already there. That was not the case however. I also knew I did not have the large artillery placement that jutted out from the front of the fortress which was a shame because that is a cool and prominent feature of the set.

     Before the assembly could begin the walls and various sections of the command center needed a good washing. As I remember the parts for the HQCC laying toward the bottom of the large box of toys and as such they were, appropriately enough, the base of operations for the mice that were squatting there. As you will see in the pictures below there was no doubt this stuff needed a good scrubbing. For this task I put down the toothbrush, done now with the finer detailing of the vehicles, and picked up a larger flat scrub brush which I used to clean the grime away from these flat, wide surfaces. Several of the panels and wall sections were small enough that I could just soak them in the large bowl I’ve been using to clean these toys, but the floor, front, and vehicle bays had to be washed in the basin under the faucet.

     Sadly once the Headquarters Command Center was all clean, dried, and reassembled I realized just how incomplete it was. A shell of it’s former self this HQCC is, as I suspected, without a proper holding cell, missing a whole section of prison bars and the cool pivoting cell door. Although the console for the communications center is intact and in really good shape the twin chairs that were posted in front of it are MIA. There are also a few small dividing wall pieces missing, along with the storage bins and covers that fit in the back of the playset. As I mentioned before the heavy gun is missing from the front of the building but worse then that, there is an entire section missing that fits in behind the front barricade of the building. It wasn’t until I started putting it all together and returned to my reference photos that I realized there was a large empty space toward the front of the Headquarters. This section would have consisted of a small staircase that lead to an elevated floor that had searchlights and a gun turret overlooking the wall and would have lead to the big main gun. Next to the stairs was a housing for a generator. To make matters worse still I actually have the small gun turret, the searchlight, the generator, and the cover for it but that entire section they accessorize is gone.

     There were some good things to come from this however, all was not lost. First of all the HQCC is still pretty cool. The garage bay lift is just one of those cool toy features that are just fun. The console has some great stickers showing Scarlett and a seemingly bored Cobra Commander, and if nothing else it simply provides an appropriate place to store my Joes. Secondly while I was once again exploring YoJoe.com I unraveled the mystery of one of the vehicle accessories that had been puzzling me. There is a carriage-type trailer that looks like a big wooden crate that can attach to the hitch of other vehicles and which opens up to reveal a radar dish inside, I’ve mentioned it in past posts and was unsure exactly what it was. Well thanks to the miracle of the internet I now know that it is called the Coastal Defender and it is a deployable land air/sea defense platform and best of all it turned out that I had all the other parts that went along with it, solving several mysteries in one! Finally, as I was sorting out the HQCC components I came across the sheet of decals which I had spied when I first sorted through the old toys. The stickers were completely unused and had Cobra markings. I quickly went to the random pages of instructions that had been floating around with the toys and discovered that those stickers were for the decoration of the Firebat, the Terrordromes resident launching fighter jet. I had a bit of fun applying the stickers, and though the sheet had been pretty warped the stickers went on without a problem and so now the Terrordrome is that much closer to being 100% intact.

     So although the G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center might not be completely viable it’s still half-way decent and it was a blast to put it all together. The revelation about the Coastal Defender was great and my excitement level about the Terrordrome is now off the charts. Completely guessing, I’d say the Terrordrome is probably 97% intact. The only things that I know are missing for sure are a set up gun caps for the small lower guns, but we’ll see, that’s up next!  Take a gander at the pics below, and as always click them to see the much larger versions.

Looks like G.I. Joe could use a house keeper.

 

The main floor section of HQCC pictured with the Firebat decals.

 

A closeup shot of the communications console and it's awesome stickers.

 

The fully assembled Headquarters Command Center, at least what's left of it.

 

Ain't no party like an HQCC party, cause an HQCC party don't stop!

 

You'll notice the large bare section to the left, there's something missing . . . .

 

"This just in, someone stole our chairs!"

 

The vamp gets worked over on the lift.

 

The undeployed Coastal Defender with Wet Suit and Deep Six.

 

What?!? Who designed this thing, Optimus Prime?? (Cause it transforms . . . . )

 

That is all!

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 4

      Things are moving right along with this little G.I. Joe project I’ve undertaken.  This stage of the cleaning was marked by the last of the vehicles being spruced up, which leaves only the Headquarters Command Center and the Terrordrome itself still to be worked on.  This may have also been the most complicated the restoration process has been thus far.  There wasn’t anything too difficult, but up until now the main effort on my part has just been to scrub these things down and search through the loose pieces I had to see what accessories went with which vehicles.  This time however I dabbled a bit more in the actual restoration of some of these toys. 
 
     First of all I was able to completely repair the two figures I thought were completely out of commission, Xamot and the D.E.M.O.N Driver.  Just as I was about to glue the figures legs on in order to at least make use of them in vehicles or the various bases I happened to come across a small screw driver I had which was the perfect size to undo the figures tiny screws.  This was a breakthrough and meant it would give me the opportunity to perform some . . . . surgery.  Xamot suffered from the most common G.I. Joe ailment, a blown o-ring.  The small rubber band that connects his torso to his pelvis and legs snapped causing him to fall apart but leaving him otherwise in good shape.  The D.E.M.O.N. Driver actually had a broken leg hook.  The small metal piece that attached to the legs and which hooked onto the o-ring was corroded and somehow broke.  Long story short both figures were saved by cannibalizing parts from other Joes.  There were several random figure parts and broken characters floating around in the bottom of the box where these toys were stored, from those loose and busted parts I was able to find a new leg hook for the D.E.M.O.N. Driver.  The o-ring for Xamot was a little harder to find considering that rubber can degrade pretty quickly, the only o-rings I was able to find from the random parts were shriveled up and brittle.  That component had to come from a Duke repaint which was nearly identical to another I had so I took him apart and extracted his fresh rubber band, I figured it was a worthy sacrifice to make.
   
     Next I attempted to move a few decals around on the D.E.M.O.N. itself which has some very cool stickers decorating it.  One in particular is an image of Destro’s head in gold with his name printed in gold letters underneath, which is just great.  I don’t think you can see it in any of the pictures below but when I examined the D.E.M.O.N. the sticker was in a completely wrong place where it could not be fully appreciated.  After giving the zany vehicle a good cleaning I ran the sticker under some hot water and was able to pull it off with no problem.  I tried to flatten it out as best I could and applied a latex based adhesive to it that dries clear which I figured would be similar to the original type of adhesive on the decal.  Because the sticker was folded and bent from where it was originally placed it doesn’t lay perfectly flat on the front of the vehicle but it’s worth it.  I just really like the idea of villains being cocky enough to plaster their faces and names across their fleet of war machines, especially Cobra, who are not known for their stellar victories.   Anywho the real challenge with all of this is yet to come however in the form of the two bases which will require major cleaning, some complex assembly, and minor detail restorations.  The G.I. Joe Headquarters shouldn’t be too troublesome to clean since it’s completely disassembled into flat plastic walls.  The Terrordrome though, is much larger, and short of taking the Cobra base apart it will have to be cleaned either in my garage or outside and hosed off.  That however requires for some decent weather, instead of the 40 degrees and rain we’ve had for the past month!
 
Finally as a last little tid bit I’ve identified all of the characters and compiled a list of figures that I have now, both from my previous collection and those acquired from this new cache of toys, check it out.  Following that it’s the before and after shots of the last four vehicles and the rest of the random items that were in need of some cleaning.  
 
Cobra:
Headman, Voltar, Cobra Commander (several versions), Destro, Firefly, Stormshadow, Baroness, Serpentor, Major Bludd, Zartan, Dr. Mindbender, Crystal Ball, Scrap Iron, A.V.A.C., Laser Viper, Cobra Officer, Air Viper, Star Viper, Shadow Viper, Fast Blast Viper, Rock Viper, Paraviper, Xamot, and Ferret (D.E.M.O.N. Driver)
 
G.I. Joe:
Gung Ho, Torpedo, Duke, Wild Bill, Big Bear, Deep Six, Mutt, Big Ben, Shockwave, Clutch, Crankcase, Major Storm, Road Block, Mercer, Airborne, General Tomahawk, Rock n Roll, Snow Job, Snake Eyes, Path Finder, Wet Suit, Scarlett, Surefire, Zap, Doc, Low-Light, Salvo, Ambush, Sneak Peek, Crossfire     
 
 

A fully repaired Xamot!

 

The mobat tank fairly clean but not in great shape. Broken canon and missing wheels.

The mobat cleaned up with Major Storm.

 

Disassembled bridge layer. The bridge portions were pretty gross underneath, something was living in them . . . .

 

The cleaned up bridge layer in undeployed mode. Still missing are the side guns.

 

The bridge layer fully deployed with the vamp making a cameo. Clutch, Mutt, and Doc pictured.

 

 

Destro's D.E.M.O.N. missing a few parts and dusty.

 

The D.E.M.O.N. cleaned up and the missing parts found and replaced.

 

D.E.M.O.N. in its elevated position, showing off the various moving parts. Iron Grenadiers Ferret (D.E.M.O.N. Driver), Destro, and Voltar in the cockpit.

 

The Terrordromes attack ship, firbat, in need of some thorough cleaning!

 

The firebat all cleaned up and the missiles attached. Firebat pilot A.V.A.C. at the controls.

 

Wind-up motorized accessories and a random unknown gun that were among the vehicles and other toys

 
 
That is all!

10 Underused Characters I Want to See More of!

     So the other day I was thinking about the actor Michael York.  He’s had a fairly significant career and if you’re a geek such as myself you should be at least somewhat familiar with him either from his movie career (Logan’s Run, Austin Powers), his varied television appearances (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Knots Landing), or his cartoon voice work (the Clone Wars, Justice League).  Specifically I got to thinking about his character from Austin Powers and how I always wanted to see more from Basil in the zany James Bond parodies.  This then got me thinking about other characters that I feel I haven’t seen enough of, or wish had bigger roles in their various genres.  Always on the lookout these days for blog fodder I decided to compile a list from some of my geeky interests, of fictional characters I wish had a bit more screen time, or were present a little more on the page.  The underdogs and the unappreciated, the forgotten and the mysteriously unexplained.  Characters I can only describe as underused, and who if I had my way, would have a slightly longer moment in the spotlight!

     Of course I don’t really cover all of the characters I’d like to see more of in this short list, and there are certainly many other fictional universes for me to choose from but I decided to go with the characters that directly sprang to mind when I chose this topic, and doubtlessly my choices have been influenced by my current activities.  If there are some characters you think have been criminally underused leave me your lists in the comments!  But without further ado, here’s the Ten Underused Characters I want to see more of!

#10 – Luigi: Mario Bros. Video Game Franchise

     The younger brother of the heroic Mario, Luigi is the oft overlooked second half of the Mario Bros. duo.  Luigi is controlled by the second player, a position that is not often taken up without some modicum of contention.  As such Luigi is generally looked down upon as second best, and not at all as desirable as his elder sibling Mario.  As the franchise has evolved over the years Nintendo has played up this aspect of Luigi portraying him as a bashful, reluctant hero forever eclipsed by the shadow of Mario.  It is for this precise reason that I love Luigi!  He is hilarious.  Modern video games have allowed the characters to portray more emotion and personality then they could in the early 8-bit Mario games and for my money Luigi is where it’s at.  In the various Mario themed sports games for instance Luigi’s lack of confidence is always emphasized making for humorous moments when he surprises himself with success.  Luigi of course has had the opportunity to headline a game of his own with Luigi’s Mansion placing the younger Mario brother in a haunted house and pitting him against an army of ghouls and Boos, the perfect setting for the Don Knotts of the Mario universe.  Although he’s had a big presence in almost all of the Mario games, I feel there’s always more room on my shelf for another solo Luigi game, I demand a follow-up to Luigi’s Mansion and perhaps a game involving his evil counterpart, Waluigi.

#9 – Marcus Cole: Babylon 5

     Unfortunately many reading this probably don’t know who this character is at all, and I contemplated simply adding Babylon 5 in general to this underused list, but I decided against it and stuck with only characters.  Continuing my quest to revive an interest in Babylon 5 just let me say that if you’re not familiar with this show, and you enjoy sci-fi/fantasy, then you really should check it out.  It’s currently on Netflix so you really have no excuse.  Anyway on to Marcus Cole.  Marcus was a regular character on the show for two seasons and became the face of the mysterious group known as the Anla’shok, or the Rangers.  Coming from a tragic background Marcus joins up with the Rangers who are a joint Human/Minbari organization who are keeping an eye out for dark, lurking things in the farthest regions of space.  Marcus eventually comes to Babylon 5 and has a significant role in the show’s unfolding story, however by the time Marcus arrives on the scene there are already a great number of other important characters vying for face time.  As cool as Marcus was, I always felt that his story was often pushed to the periphery and after every major appearance he made I was always left wanting to know more.  I believe they could have gone farther with his storyline and I think he had potential for a far greater story.

#8 – Basil Exposition: Austin Powers

     This is the one that sparked this list.  Michael York as Basil is hilarious, he really does a great job in comedic roles and he can actually harness a real zaniness as evidenced by his cartoon voice work in the Clone Wars and others.  I think Basil was best featured in the first Austin Powers movie where we got to see him in the retro 60’s scenes and the modern-day goofiness.  His stifled, almost naive acceptance of Austin’s shenanigans are spot on and York’s subtle style really plays off well with Mike Myers outrageous Austin.  However when the other two movies came out I felt that Basil was sort of pushed aside in order to introduce more characters and allow for more Mike Myers.  Don’t get me wrong I still think the Austin Powers movies are great, but with a talent like Michael York among the ranks I thought they really could have expanded his role slightly, giving him a bit more room to flex his comedic muscle.  Although I suppose Michael York has made a career out of underused characters, taking on small, but memorable roles and giving them his all and Basil Exposition is just another entry on that list.

#7 – Animal Man: DC Comics

     When it comes to DC comics, Animal Man is the number one hero I want to see get more attention.  One of DC’s more obscure characters Animal Man clearly doesn’t have much in the way of name recognition, but once you familiarize yourself with the character you will find that he does have one hell of an interesting history within the DC universe.  Introduced in 1965 Animal Man only made a handful of comic book appearances throughout the silver age, and it wouldn’t be until the 1980’s that he would begin to rise in prominence.  Finally getting his own title written by comic book legend Grant Morrison, Animal Man underwent a tremendous character change and definition taking him from a typical superhero, to a galaxy spanning man in search of a greater understanding.  It really is quite hard to explain here in a single paragraph, but the Grant Morrison run of Animal Man is arguably the single biggest improvement to happen to any individual  hero ever.  After the Morrison storyline and a brief stint with the Justice League International Animal Man’s popularity faded once more.  It wasn’t until the weekly comic event 52 which featured Animal Man and a small group of heroes trapped in outer space as one of the many ongoing storylines in that series, that Animal Man again found a major role in comics.  Truly an underdog, and certainly unappreciated, I believe Animal Man is one of the most interesting characters DC has in their arsenal and I would love to see Buddy Baker have more of a presence in the DC universe.

 #6 – Kremzeek: Transformers

     I don’t claim to know all that much about the entire continuity of the Transformers or their universe, but I do know one thing.  I.  Love.  Kremzeek.  I was introduced to this character several years ago now and I have been a fan ever since.  In the original cartoon series Kremzeek was created by Megatron as an ultimate weapon for the Decepticons, or something along those lines.  Kremzeek is a bio-electric creature that can travel through, disrupt, and control electronic circuts and devices including the Transformers themselves.  After devastating the Autobot base little Kremzeek sets off for Japan to wreak havoc by jumping through trains, walkmans, and factories until finally one of the Transformers tries to destroy him with a high dose of energy which results in Kremzeek multiplying in a tribble-esque variety of colors.  Eventually the multiple Kremzeeks are reunited into a giant Kremzeek which the Autobots turn back on the Decepticons before begrudgingly destroying electricity monster.  Of course one little Kremzeek manages to escape and the episode ends with the Autobots chasing him down.  As far as I know this is the only appearance of Kremzeek in the cartoons, however there have been several homages to the little guy in other episodes and throughout the various Transformer series.  I for one would love to see more of the tiny electronic terror, there should be a return of Kremzeek in the new Transformers Prime series!

#5 – Deathlok: Marvel Comics

     Don’t know Deathlok?  Think Robocop mixed with the Punisher, and a dash of Marty McFly.  Any of that sound like something you’re into?  Then check out Deatlok, not to be confused with Dethklok the cartoon heavy metal band of Metalocalypse fame.  Deathlok, like Animal Man, has a bit of a confusing back story and a varied interdimensional continuity that sometimes places him in the normal 616 Marvel continuity and other times sets him apart in an alternate reality.  Wherever in time and space Deathlok resides however, you can count on him to bring the pain.  Basically an amped up cyborg zombie with a computer companion in his brain and a high-tech blaster in his hand; Deathlok has been known to seek revenge on the government that turned him into the undead robot he has become as well as team up with other heroes on occasion when it suits him.  There is an element of mystery to Deathlok along the lines of Wolverine, with his origins tracing back to shady government military programs coupled with a loss of memory.  A loner seeking revenge, Deathlok had a brief solo title career in the comics, but has now been relegated to a supporting role popping up on rare occasions as a surprise guest, most often being reactivated by some villain who rattles his sporadic memories and puts him to use in some dastardly scheme.  I think it’s time Deathlok gets called up from the bench and put to use in this more mature comic book day and age for some truly gritty and dark anti-hero storylines!

#4 – Crystal Ball: G.I. Joe

     This guys inclusion on this list is clearly influenced by my current Terrordrome Renovation project, but after doing a little research I believe he genuinely has a right to be here.  Crystal Ball heralds from one of the earliest G.I. Joe toy lines way back in 1987 yet as far as I can tell had no presence in the G.I. Joe cartoon at all.  His file card explains that Crystal Ball is a top Cobra agent and a dabbler in the dark arts who is a master hypnotist and mind reader.  All of those sound like qualities I would think Cobra might want to employ against the Joes in order to force them to give up their plans and secrets.  Also, according to urban legend, Crystal Ball is also connected to Stephen King, the master of horror himself.  Supposedly King’s son was a fan of the cartoon and somehow through his fathers connections was able to write-up the biography for Crystal Ball lending a bit of sinister occult flair to the Cobra forces.  As a side note, from another source, Crystal Ball supposedly was one of the worst selling G.I. Joe figures ever, many of which remained on toy store shelves for years!  Rumor has it that as a result of his poor toy sales the makers of the cartoon deemed him unpopular and thus never included him in the show.  That seems like the completely wrong thing to do if you want to sell toys, personally I would have gone the opposite route and included Crystal Ball in the show and made sure he was awesome, thus making him more desirable.  Alas ol’ Crystal Ball has been relegated to running gags and parodies among toy collectors as seen in Toy Fare magazine and he is widely known as one of the worst toys of all time.  I for one love magical elements involved in any story, especially when used by the forces of evil, it just makes for some good villainy.  Aside from a few cameos in the G.I. Joe comics, Crystal Ball was never given a fair shake and I think it’s time he took his rightful place in the hierarchy of Cobra!

#3 – Every Bit Part and Background Creature in the Neverending Story

     There are so many interesting creatures and odd folks in the Neverending Story that I could make a list of underused characters just from this movie alone!  The racing snail, Night Hob the bat rider and all the other crazy bastards wandering around the Empress’ court were all so wild and exotic to me as a kid.  I couldn’t get enough of this movie when I was growing up, and it had a similar appeal for me as Star Wars did, packed with strange creatures and places the world of the Neverending Story seemed so much deeper and more complex than the movies plot revealed.  One reason to rewatch this movie is just to look around during different scenes to get a better look at the costumes and creature designs that were standing around in the background!

#2 – Mon Mothma: Star Wars

     The supreme leader of the Rebel Alliance, this is Princess Leia’s boss and the heart and soul of the entire Rebellion to Restore the Republic, but we don’t get to see her until Return of the Jedi!  Like the Emperor, the leader of the Rebellion goes unseen until the end of the saga.  Unlike the Emperor however, Mon Mothma has only a brief inconsequential scene where she sets up the attack on the second Death Star, and then disappears not even returning for the ewok celebration at the very end.  There were to be scenes in Revenge of the Sith that showed the first hints of the Rebellion and featured a young Mon Mothma, but those scenes were ultimately cut.  Because of the focus of the stories in Star Wars we never really get a good look at the Rebellion other than our brief time at Echo Base on Hoth and so we don’t really have a chance for more Mon Mothma, but it would have been awesome to maybe see some hologram communications between Leia and Mon Mothma similar to the conversations between Vader and the Emperor.  Leia is supposedly a prominent political figure among the Rebel Alliance but we never really get to see her do much in the way of leading the rebellion, she generally just gets taken prisoner a lot.  A few transmissions with the rebel HQ between Leia and Mon Mothma might have helped maintain Leia’s leadership position beyond the first movie.  Oh well, I’m not really complaining at all, just saying that I like Mon Mothma, she actually reminds me of my aunt, and I would have liked to see more of her and the Rebel command structure in the movies, but I guess that’s what the EU is for right?

#1- The Duchess: Alice in Wonderland

This might seem like an odd choice for my number one spot but I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, it was one of my first literary obsessions.  Alice in Wonderland is one of the few books I can read over and over again.  As such I was very disappointed in the recent movie which drastically departed from the style and story of the books and tried very hard to make Alice in Wonderland into something it was not.  Alice is not a hero per se, but a traveler and a discoverer.  Like an explorer from history charting a course through an insane realm.  One of my favorite encounters Alice has in the book is when she comes across the Duchess’ house, the pepper tossing cook, and the transforming pig/baby.  There’s just so much going on there, and the original drawings of the Duchess are just great, such a lovely woman.  This moment in the book seems to often get bypassed in other adaptations and I always feel let down that I don’t get to see the startled look on Alice’s face as the baby’s upturned nose becomes a snout and the squirming child trots off a pig!  I suppose it all boils down to the fact that few movies are ever as good as the book, as true as it is with most works, it is especially true with Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  The Disney cartoon is probably still the best but I have always kept my hopes up for a live action big screen adaptation that remains loyal to the books, or perhaps focuses on Through the Looking Glass entirely (which seems to never get much attention.)  All in all there are a great many characters that pop up in Alice that I would like to see more of but the Duchess takes the top spot, I suppose I will just have to sit down grab a corner of mushroom, and make my own trip to Wonderland where I might not only meet the massively headed Duchess but perhaps all the other underused characters as well.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

That is all!

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 3

So the clean up effort of the recently acquired G.I. Joe toys continues. 
 
Yesterday was a fairly straight forward round of detailed cleaning.  There were one or two decal scares where I scrubbed some of the vehicles a little too hard and nearly lost some of their decal stickers, but thankfully everything is still intact.  Good decals were the best, I always loved putting them on vehicles and toys as a kid.  It could be a maddening process sometimes, trying to get those tiny stickers to line up properly, or working to fit them onto awkwardly angled surfaces.  I would occasionally take some liberties with my decal placements moving them around if I didn’t think they looked good where the instructions wanted me to put them, but only occasionally.  Star Wars vehicles often come with great stickers, one of my favorite examples is the recently rereleased B-Wing bomber which came with squadron markings, and little kill tally counters for the side of the cockpit in three different shapes for TIE fighters, TIE bombers, and TIE interceptors.  There were quite a few of the markings so I put some on my B-Wing and used the rest to decorate my X-Wings, A-Wing, and Y-Wing with some kills as well.  Ninja Turtles toys also had great decals, those toys were just fantastic and the stickers were ridiculous and awesome.  There was one figure in particular, Mondo Gecko, which was a skateboarding gecko who came with a small sheet of stickers to decorate his shirt and board with.  Good times.

Anyway!  Back to this G.I. Joe cleanup project.  Thanks once again go out to YoJoe.com for their great site that had the visual aids I needed to make sure these things were put together as much as possible.  I have a small box full of missiles and rockets that go to the various vehicles and having those visual references has been invaluable in pairing them up.  As another quick tangent I always liked the ridiculous amounts of missiles G.I. Joe vehicles had attached to them.  The missiles very rarely actually fired from the vehicles, they were just attached on pegs and you’d have to pluck them off and toss them over at the enemy.  I  suppose it added a bit of strategy to the play of the toys perhaps?  You couldn’t just point the vehicles and push a button you would have to create some type of rule for your battles, such as: “You have to flick the rockets with your finger and however far they go is it!” or “You can only throw them with your throwing hand touching the vehicle!”  Again I have to say I didn’t have these toys as a kid so I didn’t play with them that often but I remember arranging these mini Geneva Conventions beforehand on the rare occasions I did play with Joe toys at friend’s houses.  Maybe it was just me?

Also as a side note I learned from reading some posts on YoJoe.com that hydrogen peroxide can be used to whiten plastic on toys that has gone yellow over time.  I’ve had this problem with some of my Stormtrooper toys in my Star Wars collection and I know I’ve heard other toy collecting comrades complain about the same thing on Transformers toys and others.  The posts did mention that hydrogen peroxide should only be used on white plastic parts, and could fade the colors of other parts, so be careful to use it delicately around those colored sections. 

Ok tangents ended.  Below are some before and after pics of what I cleaned up this round.  From the  G.I. Joe Battle Force 2000 collection the Marauder and the Eliminator.  From the Cobra fleet of vehicles, one of my personal favorite names of all time, the Stellar Stilleto, and I also washed a couple of the smaller vehicle accessory doohickies.  So take a look!

 

The Marauder cleaned up and fully assembled.

As you can see the Eliminator was one of the grimier vehicles.

 

The Eliminator ready for battle after it is cleaned up.

The Eliminator in transport mode.

 

The Stellar Stilleto was in pretty good shape, just needed cleaned and have it's missiles attached. My favorite Cobra, Firefly, at the helm.

 

Some of the other vehicle accessories that I cleaned up. The two HALs, and some trailer that transforms into a command center, I don't know that is.

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 2

Well I’ve gotten a strong start with this G.I. Joe project that I’ve undertaken.  I’ve gotten everything down in my basement now and (mostly) sorted out.  Thanks to the resources at YOJOE.COM I was able to determine what all I’ve got on my hands, and whether or not I’ve got all the required bits and pieces needed to fully get these things back together.  Here’s a quick list of the major items I’ll be working on.

The Terrordrome – This of course is the big one, it has the most parts, it’s the biggest and it will take me the longest to get cleaned up I’m saving this one for last.

G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center– After taking a look at yojoe.com I think I might actually be missing a few parts for this, it looks like I’m missing some jail bar sections for the brig, which is a shame cause that’s the coolest part!

MOBAT– A big ol’ tank for the Joes, it was actually motorized and battery powered but the battery cover is missing.  I think there might be a hatch cover missing as well, but regardless this thing looks cool and is in good shape.

VAMP– A typical combat jeep for the Joes.  This is one of those toys I remember a lot of people having as a kid.  Nearly complete just missing the pivot for the rear turret!

HAL (x2)- There are actually two of these things they are big artillery guns that can be hooked up to other vehicles and towed into battle.

APC– The big daddy.  A troop transport.  Every toy group had one of these back in the day, the vehicle that held a ton of figures and could double as a type of carrying case.  Good stuff mostly intact only missing the top gun.

Dragonfly– Another G.I. Joe classic, this was Wild Bill’s helicopter.  Unfortunately this one has been marked with a “BR” on my list, meaning Beyond Repair.  The blades are snapped off, the rotor is bent, the cockpit cover is missing and the landing skids are gone.

F.A.N.G– Looks like Cobra won’t have much luck in the air either.  The F.A.N.G is a small Cobra helicopter, but this one is also marked BR, the blades and rotor are missing, and the cockpit cover is MIA.  Not in bad shape otherwise . . .

H.I.S.S.- The iconic Cobra armored vehicle.  It looks like a Jawa sandcrawler with guns mounted to the top.  This is also not in good shape, but not hopeless.  The cockpit cover is missing, and the guns for the turret are gone but I have a plan to perhaps improvise some guns.  We’ll see.

Rattler– This one is BR also unfortunately.  This was one of the coolest Cobra planes.  Bent wings that could rotate for a vertical takeoff.  All I have of this one however is it’s shell, everything that could come off of this one is gone and nowhere to be found.

Bridge Layer– One of the coolest Joe vehicles I never knew existed.  It’s an armored treaded vehicle that has a big folded bridge section resting over it and which can extend to unfold the bridge out in front of it to make a field crossing, pretty rad and mostly intact.

Eliminator– This is an ominous sounding Joe vehicle from the Battle Force 2000 fleet of vehicles.  Apparently there were six different vehicles in the Battle Force 2000 group which could be taken apart and reformed as the Future Fortress, a base for the Joes.  There are three of the Battle Force vehicles in this collection and they are 100% intact!

Marauder– An armored three wheeled motorcycle with removable gun platform.  Part of the Battle Force 2000 group.

Sky Sweeper– A mobile radar and anti-aircraft platform with a deployable guard post.  Part of the Battle Force 2000 group.

D.E.M.O.N.- One of the craziest vehicles in the collection, this one is of course on the Cobra side, specifically it is part of Destro’s Iron Grenadiers.  It has two sets of treads, an offset cockpit, surface to air rockets, golden guns mounted all over the thing, and the treads can come together elevating the vehicle in the air!  Zany.

Swampfire– Another one for the Cobras.  This one is a small aquatic helicopter with floater skids and a forward mounted gun.  This vehicle belonged to the Dreadnoks.  It is in great shape and 100% intact.

Stellar Stiletto– Although this sounds like the name for some kind of drag club, this is actually a Cobra vehicle.  A slender rocket ship, this vehicle is actually also complete and in great shape.

As I’ve been looking these things over during my initial inspections I’m finding quite a bit of evidence of the mice that once made their home among these toys.  Aside from their general filth, the mice apparently enjoyed gnawing on some of the plastic parts.  As I’ve been cleaning them I find more and more chewed sections or whittled down parts.  It’s pretty entertaining really to see where they have chewed, and it’s not like I was ever planning on trying to sell these things or anything, so it all adds a bit of character for whatever kids play with these next!

Crystal Ball was severely mauled by the mice

 

This chair from the Terrordrome also incurred the wrath of mice

I’ve had to make a few repairs so far but nothing major just some quick gluing.  There was a guard tower with a few cracks in one of its legs which were easily repaired.  Also sadly some of the figures have fallen apart as G.I. Joes tend to do.  The rubber band rots inside those things and then they’re done for.  Unfortunately it just so happened to be two of the coolest Cobra figures that were among the boxes.  Xamot (yes I looked it up to see which twin it was exactly) and the Iron Grenadier driver for Destro’s D.E.M.O.N.  I’ve glued their asses to their torsos but their legs will either have to be glued or just remain loose.  Either way both of them will permanently be in a seat for the rest of their days, which is a shame, Tamox and Xamot were two of the few Cobra high command I never had as a kid, oh well Xamot will at least be able to man one of the many computer stations in the Terrordrome when it’s done.

Xamot and the D.E.M.O.N. driver will never walk again.

So now I’ve finished all the washing of the small weapons and removable base parts.  The figures that were still in one piece also got a thorough washing.  All that remains are the many vehicles and the large bases, which won’t be as quick as it sounds.  However I have gotten a good start, and the first of the vehicles have been scrubbed down and reassembled.  Here’s what I’ve got so far, take a look.

The Swampfire before it's cleaning, not bad.

The Swampfire after its cleaning, and fully assembled.

Cobra's H.I.S.S. was pretty grimy

The H.I.S.S. is now clean but not very effective without any of its weaponry.

The G.I. Joe VAMP in need of washing.

A clean VAMP. Though I have the gun for the VAMP there's no pivot for it, so I laid a gurney across the back.

The Sky Sweeper was pretty much together when I found it. Here it is cleaned up and all together.

The APC was pretty gross when I found it.

The APC cleaned and loaded up.

Cleaned and put together. You can see here that the turret is missing and toward the back there is a section where the mice chewed on the plastic top.

 

So for the most part a pretty successful start to this little project, five of the vehicles done, all the small parts cleaned, and all the figures washed.  There are still several more vehicles to go and the big bases.  Like I said before the Joe base shouldn’t be too difficult it just consists of a floor and several flat wall sections, but the Terrordrome looms on the horizon still . . . . 

That is all!

Terrordrome Renovation 2011

Well what an interesting day I’ve had, through a series of serendipitous events I have all new blog fodder directly related to my last blog post about He-Man and my childhood toys in general.  After posting the previous blog I went to run some errands, one of which was picking something up from my cousin’s house.  When I got there I found both my cousin and her husband doing some hardcore spring cleaning, pulling things out of their garage and shed and tossing anything that was taking up too much room.  After chit chatting with my cousin-in-law for a bit he snaps his fingers and tells me he has some stuff I might be interested in, some of his old toys, namely some old G.I. Joe stuff including “The Cobra headquarters.”

“What?!? The Terrordrome??” I asked agast.  To my delight he climbed up into the rafters of his shed and handed down a couple of huge boxes which we promptly cut open and started sorting through.  As promised the first thing we pull out is the one and only enormous Terrordrome, from my initial inspections the Cobra base seemed to be completely intact, a great find.  As we continued to look through the boxes we pulled out tanks, jeeps, planes, choppers, artillery, various Joes and Cobra goons, but then we started pulling out flat wall and floor pieces, ramps, more walls, and various other building type pieces until I realized we were looking at the G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center!  Hotchi Motchi!  Double rainbow!  Although it wasn’t as assembled as the Terrordrome the Joe HQ also seemed to have all its parts at the ready for reassembly.  Most the vehicles weren’t as lucky when it came to completeness, they clearly had seen some action, most of it full of heavy fighting. 

The only downside to all of this is that the huge boxes that were storing the toys had also been home to some rodents at one time, with plenty of evidence for the rodent residency in among the Real American Heroes.  My cousin-in-law tells me it’s all mine if I want it, he wants to get rid of the stuff and clear things out, and would probably just wind up tossing it all eventually.  He of course knows this stuff is right up my alley, and I was more than happy to take it off his hands.  He has two daughters, neither of which seems that interested in the ongoing battle between G.I. Joe and Cobra, so I packed up the goods and hauled them back home to unload and inspect them in my garage.  Among the cool things I found, were three awesome G1 Transformers in great shape and an original Boba Fett figure, which I of course already have but a great find nonetheless. 

I of course had a few G.I. Joes growing up, you’d be hard pressed to find a guy in my age range who didn’t, but they were never one of my main toy universes.  I however loved the cartoon but because I never sought out any of the vehicles or accessories for the Joes and Cobras in my possession they didn’t ever see much action aside from cameos in my Ninja Turtle adventures or in some quick skirmishes in my backyard where inevitably one of their comrades would be buried.  That’s not to say I didn’t think the toys were cool, I particularly liked all things Cobra especially the B.A.T.S, the Cobra vehicles, and Cobra Commander himself.  I however was content with what I had, and though I might have swooned over some of my friends cool G.I. Joe swag, it never went beyond envious stares and a few hours of letting my lonely figures mingle with the better equipped platoons.  The toys I now have in my garage are items of childhood mythology, only whispered about, and once thought to be only speculation.  I have spied these treasures however and I am going to restore them to their former glory.   

Now what all this means for me, and you loyal readers (ha ha!), is that I have a new ongoing project to tend to which I am calling Terrordrome Renovation 2011!  A project that will consist first and foremost of a thorough cleaning of everything to remove the grime and gunk from its storage in the rafters.  I’ve already started with this project by gathering up all the small arms, missiles, helmets, backpacks, and other miscellaneous accessories I found and gave them a good scrubbing with a tooth brush, a dunk in a bleach/water mix, and a good rinse.  I scrubbed the Transformers with the tooth brush as well, skipped the bleach with them, gave them a good rinse and dried them well.  Normally I wouldn’t be so anal with this type of thing, I’d just swiffer them off and be done with it, but there is some real ghastly stuff on some of the parts and when it comes to cleaning off things that have lived with mice, I don’t fuck around.

So here is my two part strategy as of now, first the cleaning.  Dust, wash, and sterilize every part.  It will be fairly easy with the vehicles and larger stuff but the small parts from the bases are gonna be time consuming, like I said it’s an ongoing project.  Second, the restoration.  Putting all the parts together with the correct vehicles and bases they go with.  Luckily I do have the instructions for the Terrordrome which should help, but pretty much everything else will have to be referenced from the internet in order to put it all together.  I will be posting my progress here and showing pictures of the fully restored goodness.  Some folks restore historic cars or polish antiques I plan on restoring a few historic toys.  Long story short I will be in my basement playing with old toys if anyone needs me and if anyone wants to lend a hand come on over and grab an old tooth brush and lets clean up Cobra!

That is all! 

One of Destro's vehicles along with a pile of parts.

 

The vehicles in the acquired collection, some in bad shape

 

Slag, Astrotrain, and Hook the newest additions to my small Transformers collection

 

Parts for the G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center, it's no USS Flagg but it's still pretty rad!

 

What I've cleaned so far, some G.I. Joe weapons and accessories.

 

Behold the Terrordrome in disarray

 

Cobra Commander says hello from the Terrordrome