For a number of years Hasbro, the manufacturer of G.I. Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, and My Little Pony toys, has shown off the latest G.I. Joe and Cobra action figures in its booth at Comic-Con. Hasbro employees or contractors pose the figures in elaborate dioramas and this year I believe they had at least four separate scenarios being enacted behind the glass cases. I contacted Hasbro to find out who built the dioramas and for details about their construction, but never heard back from the huge, global toy company.
The Cobra Installation
Two vignettes really caught my attention. The first is obviously a Cobra installation with Cobra Commander and his lieutenants Storm Shadow and Destro surveying the Cobra troops. Two Decepticons have bolstered the Cobra ranks. During the 80s and 90s, there were occasional crossovers between the two toy franchises in the Marvel comic books. The modeler or modelers have created a very convincing layout with a number of flat surfaces weathered to show a little exhaust and grime. While the red translucent cases and their loading carts come from the Comic-Con exclusive release of the H.I.S.S. Tank/Shockwave, most of the building seems to be scratch-built, using pieces of cardstock or styrene to create texture.
I spot Iron Grenadiers, some new B.A.T.s (Battle Android Troopers), Alley Vipers, a regular Viper, a Night Viper, the Shockwave H.I.S.S. and Starscream, I believe. I love the stenciled Cobra logo on the floor.
I am a little surprised that the modeler(s) didn’t add activity on the monitors for the two Cobra members on duty at the right, simply by printing out a miniaturized scene from a cartoon or comic. They also do not appear to be Tele-Vipers, which would have been extra cool. Their searchlights though probably do swivel. Can you spot the Soundwave in the picture? Who is he ejecting?
Ninja Bridge Battle
The other diorama that also looked realistic to me (and therefore inspiring for building terrain for wargaming) was this Ninja Bridge Battle which seems to come straight from the second movie, Retaliation. If you have not seen the GI Joe: Retaliation trailer, these ninjas will have an aerial battle, anchored by ropes, on a mountainside in the film, battling against Snake Eyes and his team, including the yellow and black-clad ninja, Jinx. GI Joe: Retaliation‘s release date has been pushed back to March 29, 2013. These enemy ninjas are called Red Ninjas in the comic books appropriately enough.
The one criticism I have of this vignette is the choice of red to fill in some of the grout in the stonework. I gather that it is supposed to be blood, but if it is, the splatter is curiously not sticking to the stone faces, but instead running into the cracks. The building at the end of the bridge appears to be a straightforward construct, but the addition of the black trimming partway up makes it more believable. The clay tiles on the roof look good and 28mm modelers can achieve the same with the Hirst Arts Clay Tile Roof Mold.
It’s scenes like these that had me playing with GI Joes throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, but back then we were limited to catalogue pictures that were nowhere near as imaginative with their environments. Similarly wargaming scenery brimming with castles, cobblestone streets, and lush forests drew me into Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40K.