Dvelopment Blog: Setting for Those '80s "Real American Hero" Action Men

  • ...well, not necessarily American, but -

    Illusration:  Sneak Peeks for at least one upcoming WGA set....

    Looks like Wargames Atlantic might be in the final parts check phase of development for their first moderns set, with the above collage including three separate sneak peek preview renders that might be for parts for that set (these are teasers, and not necessarily for the same set, nor necessarily for the final product!)  Looks like it'll be great for a lot of purposes!


    With that in mind, I thought it might be time for me to start thinking more seriously about a half-baked idea I've been kicking around for "G.I. Joe vs. COBRA" style skirmish gaming, which to me sounds like such an obvious idea for the Hasbro G.I. Joe product line, I'm actually surprised that an official computer strategy game, tabletop RPG, or wargame hasn't been done!

    I'll use this discussion to put together a few ideas into something playable, it's a work-in-progress, so feel free to take the idea and run with it - suggestions and alternate versions are welcome!  :)

    Note that I'm not Hasbro, I don't own the original G.I. Joe license or anything like that, and I'm not planning anything commercial here - just using the basic idea as a framework for an '80s "pulp style" near-future/cyberpunk skirmish game.






  • So, first, for the un-itiated:

    • G.I. Joe began its life in the 1960s as a fairly straightforward but small collection of four large 12" (30cm) action figures realistically representing the different branches of the US Military, in a toyline owned by Hasbro. These US figures ran into some image problems in the wake of the Vietnam war, would by the 1970s move in a pulp sci-fi/fantasy direction with the addition of some comic book style superheroes like "Atomic Man" and "Bullet Man" to the group's lineup, along with some villains: "The Intruders: Strongmen from Another World." The 12" action figure line ended in the USA by the mid '70s.
    • A UK licensed version of the 12" figures, Action Man, was released at about the same time in the mid 1960s, was quickly updated to portray representatives of the UK Armed Forces, and lasted up to the 1980s, with some new special-edition figures released occasionally since then.
    • In the USA, the G.I. Joe line was redesigned by 1982 into a new 3.75" (9.5cm) action figure line, in a form that seems to have lasted until today. In this incarnation, the "Joes" would become more of a coherent counter-terrorist team of colorful characters with a more detailed backstory (included with other details on an RPG character sheet-style "file card" included with the packaging), in a "near-future" sci-fi setting pitting them against the fictional international terrorist organization, "Cobra Command", invented by Marvel comics for a incensed comic book line - Hasbro was reportedly reluctant to produce action figures for the villains, fearing those figures wouldn't sell, but the Cobra villains would prove to be almost as popular as the new version of the Joe team's heroes themselves.
    • At about the same time in the early '80s, a European version of the 3.75" action figures was also produced in the form of "Action Force", along with villains of their own in the form of the "Crimson Shadows", lead by comic-book-style criminal mastermind, "Baron Ironblood". By the mid '80s, Action Force would be all but completely merged into the main G.I. Joe toy line, with the Crimson Shadows replaced by Cobra Command; the Action Force product line would bear the "G.I. Joe" name by the 1990s.
    • The '80s 3.75" - similar to that used for Kenner's Star Wars toy line - proved very popular and affordable, and was well suited for an array of accessories, vehicles, and building playsets.  The vehicles were a large part of the toy line's fun!
    • There had been some "pulp" sci-fi elements in the franchise since the 1960s, with the instroduction of "Atomic Man" into the Joe "team", and this would carry through to the modern day, with jet-packs, killer robots, space-planes, laser guns, cold-fusion MacGuffins being held hostage by masked criminal masterminds, and the like - these elemnts could get more than a little bit over-the-top, but were mostly grounded in technologies that seemed plausibly within reach at the time.


    The classic '80s US toy line seems to have run pretty smoothly from 1982 to 1985, with more or less plausibly near-future equipment, vehicles, and (in most cases) costumes, which (other than the occasional laser gun or weirdly-coloured outfit) wouldn't look very far out of place on a modern battlefield, with some prototype military equipment here and there, mixed with only slightly exaggerated, then-current 1980s-era vehicles.  By 1986, things got a bit... stranger. 

    For my purposes, I'm going to mostly try to stick with the more plausible early '80s aesthetic, updated a bit for the early 21st century, in much the same way that the original '60s concept was refurbished for the '80s.

    I'm not worried about making exact 28mm replicas of the original figures and vehicles, or with transplanting the official setting directly - I'm happy with a loose, broad-strokes inspiration here.


    One of my starting places is the Cobra Trooper:

    Illustration:  Vintage 1983 Cobra Trooper action figure....

    The Eisenkern Stormtroopers designed by Mark Mondragon and manufactured by Wargames Atlantic make a fine proxy for these guys:


    And, as can be seen, the original G.I. Joe team are more or less dressed in costumes and using gear that wouldn't look far out of place in a "near future" vision from the 1980s, give or take some exaggerated comic book elements like jet packs, and weirdly-coloured costumes - Some "modern military contractor" style figures in the style of the Wargames Atlantic sneak-peek above, combined with the WGA Cannon Fodder figures, ought to stand in for these quite well:

    Illustration:  From a vintage '80s comic book cover; the costumes are a bit comic-superhero style, and I think some "generic modern/near-future soldiers", with a little creative kit-bashing here and there, will work even better!


    Some troops for both sides are a great start!  That leaves me with:

    • A skirmish rules set is really the biggest thing!  (Got it!)
    • A bit of original backstory.  (I've got a few ideas.)
    • Optionally, some original names.  I feel a bit awkward borrowing Hasbro's IP!
    • Some "futuristic" vehicles and heavy weapons to fit the "20 minutes into the future" setting.  (Trickier than it seems!)


    Up next:  Stargrave - a mostly perfect skirmish rules set for this project!


  • @Yronimos Whateley Mate, I have the utmost respect for your scholarly approach to the hobby. You are a font of knowledge that never ceases to amaze me with the breadth and depth of your information. And knowing is half the battle!

  • So, next, with little more to work with so far than a vague skirmish conflict between colourful, gimmicky Eisenkern-based "bad guys" vs. generic modern soldier "good guys", I turn to rules sets.  The first one looked at, StarGrave, looks mostly perfect!

    • Stargrave is popular, inexpensive, easy to learn and tinker with, and fairly open-ended (bring your own minis!)  The setting "fluff" is minimal and not heavily integrated into the rules.
    • The open-endedness also means that it works well for pretty much any kind of sci-fi concept, from the default space-opera style setting, to this sort of near-future/"cyberpunk" thing:
      • Starships appear only off-screen and can easily be replaced by team headquarters.
      • Both robots and drones are supported by the rules; the drone elements will fit right in, while the robot elements - which assume autonomous cyborgs - can be dropped pretty easily (though at a glance, I see no reason while StarGrave robot rules can't be used for sci-fi versions of prototype military robots like MAARS, Gladiator, THEMIS, MULE, TALON, Big Dog, etc.)
      • Other pulp sci-fi elements - aliens, psionic powers, cosmic artifacts - are probably best kept to the same sort of minimum as in the original G.I. Joe setting, for our purposes:  we could have done without them, but it's nice to know they're there.  I think one weird pulp element every mission or two would fit the setting well! 
    • Assembling "crews" is easy, and seems to be perfect for the Joe/Cobra concept: 
      • Within a mission budget (sci-fi "credits", but it could as easily be Euros or anything else), each team creates a colourful captain and a less powerful lieutenant character from a simple array of stats and special powers/skills (to designate each character as a specialist medic, hacker, leader, drone-operator, mechanic, scout, or whatever), and add weapons. 
      • The team can be filled out with a variable handful of grunt soldiers, ranging from attack dogs to untrained recruits to heavy weapon specialists or power-armored elite soldiers. 
      • For our purposes, this means each team has two of the distinct and larger-than-life Joe heroes or Cobra villains, plus a handful of anonymous "Joes" and faceless Cobra mooks.  Perfect!
    • StarGrave assumes two (or possibly more) competing teams of skirmishers, whose goal is to collect "treasure" objectives from the game table, and escape unharmed, with as much damage done to the opponents as possible.  Basically, in Joe/Cobra counter-terrorist/intelligence pulp combat/spy gaming terms, collect the intel or resources or other macguffins, while shooting it out against the other team.  Perfect!
    • The not-so-perfect bits:
      • I'll need to reread the rules, but I'm not sure how well stealth and sabotage are built into the game.  I don't think this is necessarily a problem, and it might be easy to home-brew into the game.  (Any suggestions?)
      • I'm not sure I saw any provisions for heavy weapons (machine gun nests, mortar or artillary emplacements, missle-launchers, etc.) or vehicles.  This might not be a problem, or it might be something easy to homebrew in (again, suggestions are welcome!)


    Anyway, in short, I'm not thoroughly familiar with StarGrave yet, but at a glance, it seems to be able to do almost everything I need it to do, and I think I can improvise something for the rest!


    Up next:  Sourcing vehicle models! It's not going to be as easy as I thought....


  • Have you considered Five Parsecs from Home instead of Stargrave? Many folks find the campaign aspects of Five Parsecs better than Stargrave for building a narrative... whether that narrative would fit your project or not may be an issue but it seems a good framework that could be adapted to a GI Joe like setting. 

    Heavy weapons and vehicles may be problematic with Stargrave or Five Parsecs from Home. 

  • Thanks, Grumpy!  :D 

    I'd never make a good scholar, though - I have a tendency to scoop up any weird pseudo-science or other distraction, if it appeals enough to my taste in weird pulp fiction!  Kind of the same spirit as that famous quote by that famous guy who gets blamed for all the anonymous quotes: "when the legend sounds better than the truth, print the legend!"

    I've not seen Five Parsecs yet, but I've heard good things about it.  I'll try to find a way to fit it into my miniatures budget, if there's anything left of it after Reaper's Bones 6 Kickstarter.  If it ends up being as slow an hopeless as the doomy Kickstarter comments claim, I might have more to work with than I thought!  :)  (I'm not counting Reaper out yet, though - they've got some great-looking stuff this time!)


    Whether vehicles or heavy weapons are do-able in "Rules-As-Written" Stargrave probably depends on what we use them for: 

    Full-scale vehicle combat?  I don't think it's going to work, without some homebrew-fu! 

    Mission objectives of some sort - "retrieve the briefcase from the downed helicopter", or "blow up the enemy missile battery"?  That looks easy, at least on paper!

    Sentry guns or machine gun emplacements turned on hapless mission teams?  That could be do-able, using robot rules as a base for a well-armed but stationary "robot", and its crew.... 

    There is also an entry for a "large war robot" in the bestiary that is, for all intents and purposes, a vehicle. Will it work well for that purpose?  That, I'm not sure of.

    It may end up being that Stargrave loses any usefulness, once vehicles and heavy weapons are involved beyond some limited role as objectives, "capture the hill" terrain, line-of-sight obstacles, or the like....



  • I know there is a GI Joe RPG coming out. I am kind of tempted to get it, but dont think my gaming group would give it a fair shot. I used to love GI Joe as a kid... had a ton of the toys of course. Though they battled starwars guys, Thunder cats, He-man and WWF wrestlers... Voltron even made an appearance or two. 


  • Cool thread/idea Brother!

    I watched GI Joe back in the day as a kid.  I remember griping (as a kid) that it was dumb they had laser rifles but would always just throw them up in the air in favor of going fisticuffs.  I also complained "The US Army would never waste its time fighting some rag bag terrorists."  That last comment wouldn't age well......


    LOL.  I always like to say "Knowledge is half the battle, the other half is EXTREME VIOLENCE."



  • @Yronimos Whateley 


    Now this is based in memories of watching the cartoons as a kid 35? years ago.....

    But I don't think GI Joe had Joes / red shirts / "ordinary troopers."  GI Joe was an elite team where every member was, well, elite.  

    So the GI Joe team should be small with all superior members.  The Cobra guys can be a mix of superior characters and faceless minions.  

    At least that's how I remember it......


  • Bradley Morris of half the gaming podcasts on earth fame and the incredibly sadly deceased WWPD site has this blog:

    Land O Misfit Toys

    He's been working on a 28mm GI Joe gaming adventure for a while.  He's using the Bolt Action rules.  He's found a lot of good models and substitutes.

    For instance he found a file for the MOBAT tank... which I believe was roughly based on the MBT-70 program.


    Other entries:





    (Beautiful Puma.)



  • @JTam So... I remember in the cartoon whenever Cobra attacked you would always see basic no name Gi Joe troops. I dont know if they actually had action figures though. And there was a GI joe Base and a GI joe aircraft carrier. They didnt have enough named characters to crew that. 

    It looks like they did come out with at least 1 namesless grunt joe action figure... called the "green shirt".

  • @William Redford 

    "Green Shirt."  LOL.  Fair enough.

    Did the GI Joe carrier fly and get destroyed every other episode?

  • Maybe the upcoming 02 Hundred Hours rules could work?


    Elite troopers inflitrating and then eliminating hapless sentries with special weapons?  Not too far off.

  • @JTam I dont think it flew... but honestly i dont remember. i had a "kind of" friend... whose dad was in the military and had everything GI joe ever... He had the GI joe aircraft carrier. I saw it in person! Of course it was not for playing with... none of his joe stuff was (as that would lessen their value). But it was glorious that one time I was invited to his house and allowed to look at it...

    The coolest thing I had was Wild Bill's helicopter... I was so pleased getting it that I flew it to my friend Brian's house... where on the way i tripped over an uneven sidewalk and broke the Rotor... (the 2nd day I had it...) and thus grounded my Wild Bill, revoking his flight status...

  • @William Redford 


    @Yronimos Whateley 

    The Mauler tank.

    Clearly based on the real world, ahead of its time HSTV-L:


    (Stoner was a genius.)

    Here's a file:


    It's 1/100th but looks like it would upscale nicely.


  • Wow - great responses, thank you all very much!  It's going to take me some time to catch up here!


    Wow, it's about time they got the RPG out there! I'm really amazed this wasn't a thing sooner, I think my old gaming group would have been all over that!


    Re:  "Greenshirts"  -  I didn't know about those guys, but that's even better!  There was also "Grunt" from the first series of figures (he was actually code-named "Grunt" but had a "real" name too), basically he was the same idea and I was just going to refer to the Joe "redshirts" as Grunts, but Greenshirts fits the basic idea better:


    I figure that there might as well be casualties on both sides... thus these Greenshirts and the cool thing (to me) about the FrostGrave rules allowing for gamers to make their own named characters.  You can make your favorite Joes (or Cobra guys), but it's wide open for you to make original characters, and either way, there's a good chance someone's getting the equivalent of a posthumous Purple Heart....


    "0200 Hours" is definitely on my list of rules sets I was considering:  it sounds like it's designed for covert operations, sneaking around, sabotage, espionage, and the works.  It's been on my shopping list alongside "Five Parsecs from Home" - both look like promising alternatives to "Stargrave"!

    I'd better start making a list of these great resources that are coming to light here - keep the suggestions coming!

    • Land o Misfit Toys - has a list of vehicle substitutes!
    • YoJoe dotcom  - detailed descriptions of the action figures, vehicles, comics, and other collectibles
    • Circle of the Trigonists - a '50s era US-government funded Military LARP (!) set in a sort of Red Dawn-meets-G.I. Joe kind of alt-history timeline that assumes the the USA had been invaded by a Soviet-style Ruritanian superpower...

    I'm sure there are some others that have been mentioned that I forgot to include - I'll try to update the list as I remember them or get reminded!


    Those tanks are cool as can be!  I know many of the vehicles seemed to be drawn from real designs - HUMVEEs and M1 Abrams and AH-1's and so on, others turned out to be drawn from pure sci-fi (I'm guessing the HISS tank had no real-world counterpart), but I was kinda surprised how many of the vehicles I thought were pure sci-fi ended up being prototypes of things that never actually appeared on a battlefield.  I think that mix of real and sci-fi vehicles is going to work in favor of project like this, where a lot of things are going to come down to improvising with whatever is available!


    My brother and I would have had a couple of the first series of toys - Grunt was one of them.  But, we couldn't afford many of them - they definitely got into battles with Star Wars guys, and any and all of the cheaper action figures generic knock-offs that were available at the same time.  Sergeant Rock figures filled a lot of their ranks!  But, we mostly used green army men. 

    I had a step-uncle (always weird calling him an uncle, he was younger than me) who had the whole damned collection of GI Joe and Star Wars stuff both, he had a room of his house dedicated to it - one of those "look, don't touch" things - it was like a museum in there.  That baffled me as a kid - why have them at all, if you don't get them out of the package and play with them from time to time?  That collection is probably worth a fortune now, so I guess that's the thing!  I don't think that guy was allowed to play with any of his toys, though, that branch of the family was strange (he seemed weirded out that my brother and I didn't have many toys, they were mostly "generic" toys like dollar-store green army men, and we played with all of them, with backstories, detailed setting, ongoing storylines, and all - and maybe it was my brother and I who were the weird ones :D )


  • @Yronimos Whateley 

    Some good stuff on Doctor Mercury's Lab:


    Some more good stuff at the Twisted Pinnacle blog.

    Interesting use of Hero Forge to make GI Joe miniatures:


  • @Yronimos Whateley your play style with your brother pretty much mirrors my childhood. So if you guys are the weird ones then... i am too. :) I remember Sgt. Rock. Those gusy were not fully opposable.,.., but that worked out to their advantage later on in life. When the GI Joes were so played with that the joints were super loose and they could no longer stand, Sgt Rock and crew were still standing strong... just like the starwars guys. I have a cousin, though I havent seen him in 30+ years.. but he was a couple years older than me... and one summer he came to visit with his BB gun. I thought he was super cool, and a BB Gun! that is until he started using my GI Joes as targets... the BB gun didnt do much to then, until he started shooting them fromn a foot away...

  • Sounds right-on!  Trader's Galaxy has its Not Wars game, which is basically "Saturday Morning Cartoon Royal Rumble" -- Transformers, GI Joe, DinoRiders, M.A.S.K., etc., but I believe it's 6mm scale:




    For your idea, both Stargrave and Five Parsecs would be good templates, but if your wanting a narrative angle to the game, I'd take a look at Five Parsecs; it's much better for that.  You could also call missions "episodes" to play up the cartoon angle! 😁

  • This gentleman has all kinds of appropriate files:


    OK.... I didn't even know the Cobra Sea Rattler was a thing till now.... but that is bad a*s.

    I do remember the regular Rattler now.  I thought it was really cool as a kid.  I thought A-10s were awesome and knew B-17s were awesome.  And this thing was basically an A-10 with a top turret for maximum awesome!

    If you didn't want to go the file print route you could probably use a regular A-10 model painted blue with appropriate decals would get you to a 86% solution.

    Sidenote:  I was talking to the CO of a A-10 Squadron a month or two ago.  As usual, they don't know if they are on the chopping block this fiscal year.  A-10 pilots all live in fear of getting converted to drone pilots.

  • @Benjamin Hayward 

    Their "Rise of Democracy" line seems just the ticket:


  • The Pork Chop Sandwiches GI Joe Infomercials are probably the best thing to ever come out of GI Joe.

    Pork Chop Sandwiches

    Dockside Bars

    And if those wet your whistle.... here is the 16 minute remastered compilation:


  • @JTam AHAHAHAHA!!!  Solid GOLD! 🤣🤣🤣

  • saw these on Etsy

    Etsy link

  • @Yronimos Whateley  The Trigonists are actually just one of several training simulation enemies and while we are at it nations the US military has created (they even fought zombies once😉).

    @JTam Nah the best thing is the cobra commander memes🤣:

    Anyway if one has any of the old Defiance Game Alien War minis the human minis seem ready made for GI Joe and Cobra troops (have 3 boxes worth of the UMAC and one of the impossible to glue together Germans that I got off ebay, vaguely real world weapons plus near futurish armor, UMAC is getting a cobra viper paint job if I ever get to painting).





  • @JTam "If you didn't want to go the file print route you could probably use a regular A-10 model painted blue with appropriate decals would get you to a 86% solution."

    An 80% solution is more than close enough for me :)  I see from the screenshots above that someone beat me to the 1/48 scale Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force armored car model by Tamiya - which, by the way, looks fantastic for this purpose:

    Japanese Armored Car in 1/48 that someone else has converted for a Cobra vehicle

    Painted olive drab or khakhi, it would work just as well for the Joes' armored jeep-style armored car - I'm pretty sure the toy line used their own design, molded in different colour schemes, for both sides anyway!

    Tamiya also manufactured a great-looking 1/48 scale HUMMVEE, which doesn't seem to be in stock anymore, and a 1/48 truck built on a HUMMVEE frame which is in stock - I've bought both a Japanese armored car and one of these HUMMVEE trucks, which might take me a little time to get around to building and kitbashing as needed.  Both vehicles will make great command/control vehicles, or mobile weapon platforms, suitable (if nothing else) for capture-the-flag type objectives (destroy the weapon platform, capture the intel from the command vehicle, etc.)

    For anyone concerned about the difference between 28mm wargaming figures and 1/48 scale vehicles, the difference is negligible:  both model kits came with driver figures included which are only the tiniest bit taller than most modern "28m" figures - about the equivalent of a couple inches difference in height IRL, at most.  The Eisenkern figures are about exactly the same height, and the Cannon Fodder are close enough, and the proportions of all these figures are similar to each other (other Death Fields factions - like the Grognards and Bulldogs, might look a bit "chunky" compared to the 1/48 figures!)

    I'm thinking that 1/35 scale must be the one that is really too different for most gamers to use.  I picked up a cheap 1/35 scale model kit for a small Chinese IFV (kind of a mini-BMP or BTR style vehicle) to experiment with, but it might be too big to get away with... I'll put it together and see what happens, and take photos for comparison!


    First figures assembled:

    I've spent a little time this week assembling some of the Eisenkerne stormtroopers with some Cannon Fodder bits, and the spare AK assault rifles from the Project Z survivors, to see how they work - they look great to me, I'll try breaking out a camera to start getting some photos, and maybe getting some painting done, just to get a preview of what's possible. 

    The original Cobra Troopers were dressed in some fairly light and simple jumpsuits with helmets and cloth masks, with Dragunov-style designated marksman/sniper rifles.  The Eisenkerne guys are have a futuristic battle armor, which updates them pretty well for a modern battlefield, while the Cannon Fodder are wearing some cover-alls, which seems to me to work well for drivers, pilots, mechanics, medics, non-combat officers, and certain specialists.  I also picked up a sprue of Bolt Action Russians in winter gear mainly because of the cool greatcoats, but found that the best bit on the sprue formy purpose is a Russian soldier's head in a Soviet-style helmet, with a scarf wrapped around his mouth and nose, in the same style as the old-fashioned Cobra trooper - this head looks great on a Cannon Fodder body!


    Warlord Project-Z Zombie Apocalypse Figures mini-review:

    The Project Z kits are interesting, but frustrating... on one hand, there are some great bits in there, expecially in the survivor kits!  On the other hand, the arms and heads don't precisely fit the Wargames Atlantic kits without a little work, and I really don't feel like I'm getting anything remotely like the value of a Wargames Atlantic kit!  Here's what you can expect from the Project Z kits:

    • Male and Female survivor kits:  These look like the best "bargain" here, and are my favorites:  there are bases and two sprues, with enough bits for 10 figures. 
      • There are a couple head and arm options each, and these are technically not interchangeable, the way a WGA kit would be - in some cases this isn't a problem, but getting sleeves to match outfits can be tricky, and you'll want to be careful of the arms and heads meant for the child and overweight characters. 
      • The best part of the kit is a second sprue, which contains a wealth of loose modern weapons, meant to be strapped to the backs/shoulders of the characters, I guess, but perfect for Eisenkerne weapon swaps (just carefully remove the pistol grips and trigger guards, and glue to the Eisenkern hands with grips/triggers... they work great together!) 
      • The civilians figures are not much good for anything but civilians (or undercover Joe/Cobra agents, perhaps), but the heads are some nice sculpts that might come in handy for "hero"/"villain" characters, and other purposes. The characters are some basic survivor archetypes:  the cop, the priest, the redneck hunter, the cowgirl, the thug, the kid, and that sort of thing:  they're basically srieal-numbers-filed-off expies of popular characters from "Walking Dead":  no exact matches, but close, if that's what you're looking for.
      • The spare weapons are focused mainly on an interesting selection of the sort of thing you'd find on a gun range in the USA:  pump and double-barrel shotguns (the best source of shotguns I've seen!), some scoped hunting-style rifles, some nice and plain AR-15s (or M-16s/M-4s) with no special accessories which would work well with rank-and-file troops or civilians, and classic AK rifles of the sort that can stand in for about 70 years worth of variations on that rifle found around the world!  This makes it also an excellent source of some no-frills Cold War era rifles covering much of the ground for the world's military for the last couple generations:  classic Joe and Cobra weapons.
      • There is also the curious inclusion of a handful of RPGs, Uzis and other sub-machine guns, and some Euro-style bullpup rifles of the sort you wouldn't normally see in the USA.  A bit weird for American zombie survivors, but perfect for Joes and Cobras!  There are also some belt-packs, weird-looking civilian backpacks (not sure I'll be using these), and other bits and pieces.
      • The wealth of accessories just about makes up for the limited number of characters that can be built from these kits - these are modern-era kitbashing dream kits!
    • Biker Gang:  some bases and one and a half sprues focused on dismounted and mounted bikers... looks like enough bits to build three bikes, and up to six or seven dismounted bikers, and/or three mounted bikes with passengers. 
      • The bits are again not very interchangeable - head swaps and some weapon swaps are possible from the recommended configurations, but not by much. 
      • The bikes look fantastic - nice, retro-style easy-rider looking machines, great "bad guy" bikes! 
      • The characters look mean and tough, and maybe a couple could work as "villain" characters to work with Cobra.  The characters are mostly armed with classic tough-guy weapons like lever-action guns, revolvers, sawed-off shotguns, molotov cocktails, axes, and such, but a few SMGs and even an RPG appears, as well as a cool bike-mounted mini-gun that might come in handy.... 
      • Unfortunately, there is no accessory sprue here the way there was for the other survivors.  I kinda wish they'd filled a full two sprues up, with extra revolvers, civilian-style rifles, additional jerry cans (in addition to the single one included), and other loose accessories.
      • The bikes and characters almost but not quite make up for the price-per-mini here.
    • The "operators":  A kit with bases and parts for building maybe a half-dozen uniformed, battle-armored, helmeted soldiers from a single sprue.
      • With a single sprue, and only a half-dozen characters, this felt like the worst value!
      • The bits do seem like they'll make some great modern soldier characters, and will contribute some of the Joe "greenshirts" and "hero" characters.  Sadly, much like the other Project Z kits, these parts don't really mix-and-match very well compared to Wargames Atlantic's kits, but I expect some head and weapon swaps are possible.  Heads are mostly an assortment of modern helmets with radio headsets and/or night vision gear, with a couple boonie-hats and baclavas. 
      • Like in the survivor kits, there are (a few) loose weapons accessories in addition to the weapon-arms.
      • Most of the weaponry here is divided between scoped and otherwise accessorized M-16/M-4 rifles and AK-74 style rifles (or their modern counterparts), in addition to more of those Euro-style bullpup rifles, some RPGs, an RPK machine gun or two, and a handful of rifles I couldn't quite identify (they look like maybe variations on Galil or VZ-58 rifles?)  Basically, suitable for US and other modern militaries, police forces, and private contractors.


    The two "zombie survivors" kits are, i think, my favorites, just for the accessories.  The bikes do look cool, and the soldiers, though overpriced, will make good Joes.  I don't like the price-per-mini here, though - would rather go with a Wargames Atlantic kit with accessory sprues any day!


    G.I. Joe Noir:

    It occurred to me over the weekend, after remembering those inexpensive Sergeant Rock action figures (who had an early Cold War theme to them), that, with the wealth of WWII armies and vehicles out there, the ealry Cold War era might have been a better place to start for a project like this, and maybe someone out there might be willing to try it:

    Set in the late '40s and early '50s, the Joes face off against early Cold War Ruritanian "fifth-columnists" in a pulp-noir world of hardboiled detectives, sleazy gangsters, villainous master spies, and deadly femme-fatales, racing against time to be the first to find the MacGuffin against a backdrop of dieselpunk dystopianism and '40s and '50s era military hardware (jeeps, surplus German stuff, etc.), with a little comic-style atomic-age science fiction, two-fisted action, and horror elements tossed in for extra flavor - doomsday devices, secret formulas, crashed flying saucers, etc.

    Painting everything in a suitably moody noir black-and-white is purely optional, but would earn you bonus points for style!

    Illustration:  "Deadlands Noir" characters by Reaper Miniatures

    Illusration:  a Cold War classic Soviet T-34:  Just one example of the wealth of 1/48 scale model armor available out there, much of it more affordable and easier to find than 28mm and 1/56 scale armor and 3D printable models.  3D printable models and Bolt-Action wargaming figures from this era are also widely available!


    Clandestine teams of '40s-era Joe and Cobra Cold Warriors fighting to see who can claim the Area 51 wreckage, or trying to secure the radioactive "Green Energy" element from the Wargames Atlantic lizard-men, or racing against time to capture the Stolen Microfilm from a brutal East Berlin crime syndicate...? 

    Too weird, perhaps?

    I might try it out sometime anyway.  If anyone else wants to give it a whirl, post some pictures of what you come up with!  :)


    Coming up sooner or later:  "Hero" and "Villain" characters, plus Reaper Chronoscope characters mini-review....



  • "Free" if you have Prime:

    GI Joe: Retaliation


  • That GI Joe Kickstarter is live....


    Several of the sculpts are a bit too busy for my taste (especially Cobra Commander) and I am not a fan of the scale difference between the heroes and the mooks but this KS may be perfect for someone else.

    PS Regarding that GI Joe Retaliation poster... Bruce Willis really should know better! And knowing is half the battle! 

  • @Grumpy Gnome 

    Shame the minis are huge.

    Reference Bruce Willis.... Maybe he did know... that his health was failing, and it was time to sock away some cash, no matter the role.  

  • @JTam  ... I was referring to his trigger finger discipline, or rather the lack of it. That kind of thing spoils so many pictures for me. 



  • A shame about the "scale creep" up to 40mm for the hero/villain characters in that board game - the minis do look great!  I can tolerate a little difference of scale, but there's a certain point where it gets a bit too obvious.  Mix those 40mm guys with some wargaming minis that are closer to 28mm, and the size difference REALLY stands out.

    And about character minis:

    Reaper's "Bones" plastic mini catalogue includes figures from their "Chronoscope" line:  a catch-all "kitchen sink" line of anything that isn't generic fantasy.  This includes anything from pulp western and steampunk, to Jazz-Age cthulhu investigators, to "modern" action/adventure figures, to zombie apocalypse and other post-apocalypse figures, to various flavors of sci-fi.

    None of them are an exact match for any official G.I. Joe characters, but there's a nice selection of colorful characters in this line who would make fine home-brew "hero" and 'villain" characters.

    The plastic is easy to work with for customization and modification, and bonds well with WGA's hard plastic kits, and fairly inexpensive - Reaper's figures wouldn't be too tough to kit-bash with Wargames Atlantic parts for head-swaps and weapon-swaps, to help them blend in with the "Green Shirts" and "Troopers".

    Some highlights/examples of the Reaper Bones Chronoscope line for this project's purpose:

    One of four or five "Blackstar Corsair" models in different poses - a great Power Armor figure - compare to the original toy line's Cobra "S.N.A.K.E.", and the Joe "S.H.A.R.C." diving suit warn by "Deep Six":


    An Arctic Adventurer ("Not-Snowjob"):

    "Nightslip" (she wouldn't make a bad "Not-Baroness"):

    "Rex, Dark Future Hero" (clearly inspired by the Terminator, but he might make a nice base to build a "not-Destro" from):

    "Reggie Van Zandt", one of Reaper's IMEF troopers - the chain gun is cool:

    "Torch McHugh" - another IMEF trooper (would make a decen "not-Blowtorch":

    "Sarah Blitzer", IMEF sniper:

    "Bonnie" (a sort of Tomb Raider character, I think?)

    "Asanis, Mercury Flier":

    "John Bishop, Space Cowboy":

    "Tess, Adventuring Heroine":

    "Sgt. Mack Torrey" (a sort of "not-Sergent Rock" - this is the metal version, but he's available in plastic, too):

    And there are many dozens of others, plus a bigger selection of metal Chronoscope minis.  The modern figures, cyberpunk, and apocalypse figures are an obvious choice for this sort of project, but there are some great sci-fi figures (like the Blackstar Corsairs, IMEF space-troopers, Novacorp security forces, space cowboy, and others) who wouldn't be out of place, and even some of the pulp, western, time-travelers, and steampunk characters wouldn't be out of place in the comic-book style world.

    PROS:  Bones plastic makes for some inexpensive miniatures - you can probably find them on aucton sites for some very low prices!  The plastic is usually pretty soft and easy to modify, great for kit-bashing and customization.  There's a great variety of original and suspiciously-similar characters from a number of different pulp-friendly genres, some are very close matches for GI Joe heroes and villains.

    CONS:  Reaper has a handful of professional old-school sculptors who produced many of these sculpts by hand in their distinctive styles, with some of the newer figures being sculpted by computer; this can result in a range of styles from fairly realistic, to pretty exaggerated and cartoonish, with the difference being pretty wide, and a "your mileage may vary" thing on whether a given style will work.  The scale varies slightly from close to 28mm to over 32mm - not a big deal for most gamers, I think, but worth noting.  Some of the oldest figures were made when Reaper - which traditionally worked in metal - was still mastering the use of this plastic; these early models sometimes have some soft and mushy details, and some delicate areas like ankles and weapons are a little too thin to hold their shape well (there's a boil-in-water trick that is supposed to reset the plastic's shape, and I find that coating the figure in a light layer of Wacky Gloo CA glue will stiffen flimsy Bones plastic a bit.)  These aren't exact matches for any official Joe/Cobra characters, but this shouldn't be a problem if you're working from a "close enough" mindset, or creating original characters.


    I have a box full of dozens of these guys from backing the Reaper Bones Kickstarters over the years - I used to only game in fantasy, but grabbed these Chronoscope figure sets every time they were offered, for the great Kickstarter backer discounts, and for the neat variety of ideas that could be converted to fantasy characters with a little creativity.  I'm glad I did:  I've since been inspired to dip my toes into sci-fi gaming as well, so having batches of these figures sitting around waiting for a use with means I've got plenty to work with for different projects, and now, I grab a few extras every time I see a good bargain.  Chronoscope quickly became my favorite part of Reaper's catalogue, but, sadly, they don't seem to get many customers, and recently the line was dropped from Reaper's Kickstarters.  Hopefully, Reaper will keep making them!


    Suggestions for other sources of fun character models that would work well as Joe/Cobra hero/villain characters are, of course welcome!  :)


  • @JTam: G.I. Joe: Retaliation was actually pretty dang fun.  It had some great action, it was silly, the plot was ridiculous - in other words, it was a pitch-perfect adaptation of the cartoon!  Seriously, it's the closest I've seen any live-action movie come to nailing its Saturday morning source material, right up there with the unfairly-maligned Battleship.

    They missed a real opportunity to release "Knowing is half the battle" PSAs with the actors during the marketing for the movie.

  • @Grumpy Gnome 

    I missed the finger on the trigger on the poster.  1.  It's a small image on a phone.  2.  I think I just don't notice/expect anything else from Hollywood.  

    Interesting article. 

    When I was with the 101st back in '94, '95 a 327 IN Battalion Commander was killed by a negligent discharge.  The word going around the barracks was he was looking down into a trench line while his guys were clearing it.  A SAW went off and a round went through his NODs, skull, and out the back of his helmet.     Bad stuff.

  • @Benjamin Hayward 

    Good to hear.

    I only saw the first one.  And yes, I thought it was big and action packed and a little goofy:  I.E. a great live action version of the cartoon.  I remember the underwater battle being completely over the top and consequently awesome.

    Pass to promote the film would have been brilliant.

    Agree that Battleship was a actually a really entertaining film.  Maybe a little bit like Starship Troopers - It's so bad!  Yet so good! 

  • @Yronimos Whateley 

    Great finds.  A lot of those Reaper miniatures really fit the bill.  

    The Chronoscope line has a lot of treasure.  It was strangely a Reaper Chronoscope mini that finally broke my resistance and got me into 28mm WW2 gaming.

    I don't know much about the Infinity factions, but the USAriadna Rangers look like a great fit for Joes:


    Then there is these "Beyond Coldfront" guys that look more Cobra:

    These are more Ariadna troops I think that could maybe swing Cobra:


    Ariadna that could be special characters for either side:

     I also found this mini that might work as the Baroness:

    Etsey link

    Also, I mentioned somewhere else that Crooked Dice makes a nice Xenia Onatopp mini.  Could be an alternate take on the Baroness.  (I always picture the Baroness with an AKS-74U ;) )  Some of the other Crooked Dice minis might be of use as well.


  • @JTam  I am just supersensitive to weapon handling safety after seeing too many close calls personally and hearing/reading too many horror stories. To be honest I feel like tv and movie production companies have an obligation to try to educate their audiences on weapon handling safety as they make so much money from weapon related entertainment. Anything less strikes me as lazy and irresponsible. But then some folks thought I was something of a martinet back in the day....

    @Yronimos Whateley Yet again you are a living encyclopedia it seems. Thanks for all the information. Lots of sculpts I want now thanks to you and Jtam.

    @Benjamin Hayward You make some good points. I quite agree about Battleship being unfairly maligned and the GI Joe movies missed out on PSA marketing.

  • Yikes - that trench incident was terrible!  I was inches from a negligent discharge of an SKS that someone had souped up with one of those kits to fit AK magazines... that's way way way closer than I ever want to be to one! 

    I totally agree about not paying much attention to Hollywood - they do so many goofy things, it's almost best for our sanity to just accept them the best we can.  I still cringe anytime I see a character in a movie sweep one of their friends with a gun, the booger-hook-on-the-trigger thing, and that sort of thing - any time I do see it, I can't unsee it. 

    Weirdly though, for some reason, it's the bottomless magazines that always get to me, especially in fantasy, horror, and sci-fi, because that's frequently the point where that part of my brain kicks in that starts trying to figure out if I'm looking at a dream sequence or hallucination, or if the never-ending supply of bullets was otherwise a clue that something wasn't real.

    @Grumpy Gnome  - hopefully there's a little something interesting in there somewhere :)  I get a little carried away on this sort of thing, but the research, such as it is, is always fun.

    @JTam - I'd never heard of the Infinity/Ariadne figures before, those look fantastic! They do indeed look like perfect matches for the Joes and Cobras.  (And that Reaper sniper figure is a classic - she caught my eye the first time I discovered Reaper, too, and everytime I've seen her since!)

    Lots of great stuff of there that I haven't commented on yet, but it's amazing how many great items are scattered around in different places, that seem to have been waiting for a chance to be put together into a project like this!

    I should drop this quick photo I took of the sketchy beginnings of that Eisen-Kobra faction, before I forget (details here):



    Also, I just rediscovered Reaper's Bones plastic "CAV: Strike Operations" figures - these are not in 28mm, there's a much smaller scale, but it seems to me they'll make great drones and combat robots:



  • @Yronimos Whateley 

    Great progress!

    The Reaper Bones Cav Strike minis as drones, etc. is a great one.

    Found these cool minis that might be useful:

    Etsy Link

    Great mix of Russian and Western weapons.  You got your SVD sniper now ;) And, Wow! A Keltec P50.

    I'm not going to lie.  I really like these minis.  I don't game current conflicts.... but I'm trying to rationalize getting these.   Hmmmh....maybe for a Zombie game.


  • Actually that store has a grip of cool sh*t that would be useful for your project:

    And probably more importantly he has everything you need to build the All Cat Girl Imperial Guard Army you've always dreamed off.  Truly we live in marvelous times.

  • @Grumpy Gnome @Yronimos Whateley 

    Sure it would be nice if Hollywood demonstrated/taught responsible weapons handling.  But Pedowood personnel can't even be bothered with learning how to check if a weapon is clear, let alone any other aspect of proper weapons handling, and consequently go around gunning down crewmembers.  Expecting them to teach anything of use to the general public is a bridge too far.

    Reference weapons handling and endless magazines:   A movie that demonstrated superb gun running and had lots of weapon reloads was "Sucker Punch."  You could use parts of that movie as intro instruction on CQB (Close Quarters Battle) or as I like to call it, FISHing (Fighting In Someone's House).