Fitz’s Toy Chest #12: Stalker

Welcome back guys to another installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest. This time out we’re headed back to 1982 where a few pieces of plastic and an o-ring combined to make the ultimate soldier.

When Hasbro launched the G.I. Joe 3 3/4 line in 1982, they did so with 13 figures. If you look at those first 13 figures you can tell that one of their mandates must have been to try and make the team as diverse as possible which is something they continued to do throughout the Joes’ run in the 80s.

Sure the majority of the original team was still comprised of the usual array of white dudes, but Larry Hama made sure to include 3 minority characters right off the bat: badass female commando, a Hispanic heavy explosives soldier, and the subject of this week’s Toy Chest, a former gang warlord from Detroit turned green beret…Stalker.

Stalker
Company: Hasbro
Acquisition Year: 1982
Acquired via: Gift
Years In Possession: 38

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The G.I. Joe comic and the file cards all written by Larry Hama were my first introduction into the world of the military. It was the first place I heard the term “Grunt”, the first place I saw the word “Commando”, or heard about a “Geneva Convention”. It was also where I was introduced to the concept of a Green Beret.

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How I came into possession of this figure was that it was a surprise gift from my grandma. We were at her house one day and she said she had a present for me and she produced 2 G.I. Joe figures from a plastic shopping bag. She said pick the one you want, the other would go to my cousin the next time he came over. The two figures were Breaker and Stalker. I chose Stalker. Why? He was the most interesting looking to me. He didn’t look like the other Joes. Not only was he a different ethnicity than all the other characters, his paint scheme was strikingly unique as well.

Most of the original Joes all used the same couple of body molds and only differed in the paint schemes (obviously Scarlett being the exception). By this time I already had Rock N Roll and Clutch, both bearded white dudes like Breaker, but Stalker was something else entirely. From the camo paint scheme on his fatigues to the green beret on his head. I can remember thinking “What is up with that weird hat?”.

Also, his gun was pretty cool looking too.

Breaker’s military specialty was “Communications Officer”, BO-RING. Stalker’s was listed as “Ranger”. What the hell is a Ranger? I didn’t know but it sounded cool as hell.

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It was not long after I started reading the Joe books, maybe a year or 2, that I discovered the Black Eagles series of novels by John Lansing and learned a whole lot more about Vietnam (it was still a few years before Platoon would hit theaters and probably a decade before I would actually watch it). What drew me to those books initially was a image like this:

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Notice the green beret? I was immediately drawn to this cover by that beret. I knew what that was, that was what Stalker wore and I was instantly intrigued. Who knows, one of these Black Eagles book may show up as a Nerd Blitz Book Club entry….

Later in the Joe series, they delved more into Stalker’s service in Vietnam where it actually served with Hawk and Snake Eyes (before he was disfigured martial arts master). Those panels were the first images I remember seeing of a line of green fatigued soldiers in boonie hats wading through waist high grass, something of a cliche in Vietnam movies but at the time was brand new to me.

As for Stalker the action figure, unfortunately you can see that he suffered the same fate as an incredibly high number of those original 13 Joes, the infamous broken thumbs!

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I recently read in Mark Belamo’s fantastic G.I. Joe reference book that the incredibly brittle thumbs on these figures was due to the composition of the plastic they used. It was found to be too brittle and the next assortment of figures would be the first with a reformulated plastic that was slightly more pliable to solve the broken thumb problem. Sadly, almost all of my originally Joe’s are missing at least 1 thumb. I was normally very careful with my toys even as a kid, but even I could not avoid this problem, much to my dismay.

Join me next week when I pull another gem from my bag of tricks! I promise that soon we’re going to diversify and change things up from the normal Star Wars/G.I. Joe/Transformers-fest that this feature has been up until now. What could that mean? What other vintage toy lines could I possibly have in the Toy Chest? You’ll find out soon enough!

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Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think!

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #83

We’re back for yet another installment of America’s longest running weeky nerdy question written by us! Are you read for all of those undulating waves of nerdery to slam into you with the power of a thousand tsunami? Then let’s dive in, gang.

This week’s topic, given a recent amount of pure speculation, has us going back to Marvel and wondering what your thoughts are on the following: Should Tony Stark stay dead in the MCU?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #82

A day late and a dollar short but still going strong, it’s the ever asky 82nd edition of The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week!

This week, we’re all aquiver about some strangely marvelous news, so we’re doubling up and asking: How Excited Are You For Sam Raimi To Direct Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness?
And Do You Think He Will Sneak In Any Easter Eggs To His Spider-Man Trilogy

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #81

The sun rises on another week, and another week means a new Question Of The Week is upon us.
So gather round, Knights Of Nerd Blitz-Dom, and let’s dive in.

This week we’re going to get…MARVELOUS!
And we’re asking you to watch THIS TRAILER and tell us: Which Of The Upcoming Disney+ Marvel Shows Are You Most Excited About?

Leave your answer down in the comments below or tweet it over to us on the Twitter @NerdBlitzPod or by using the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks goes out to the good sir @SteBoost for creating our eye catchingly sexified QotW logo.

Iron Man: And Call My Killer…MODOK! Review

I’m just gonna put this right at the top: if you are picking this up expecting the cocky Robert Downey jr. version of Tony Stark from the MCU, you will be disappointed.
With that out of the way, one of the things that’s most interesting to examine in this, and most of these older novels, are the changes that have happened since these novels dropped and become fundamental pieces of the characters.
So let’s dive in deep and see what some of them are, gang.

As per usual, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

With only 189 pages, it’s not a convoluted story, and that’s a good thing.
After an attempted kidnapping at a college speaking gig and a robbery that stole the Iron Man blue prints from Stark International headquarters, Tony decides to sell an unarmed, stripped down version of the red and gold armor to the highest bidder.
The behemoth man monster MODOK, running low on funds and credibility for his ner-do-well organization AIM, concocted the nefarious plots against Stark and his alter-ego to get the suit and carry out more villainous operations to take over the world.

One of the biggest changes that have come down the pike that may stun folks would have to be the marriage of Happy & Pepper.
That’s right, gang, 40 years ago they were happily hitched!
That’s something I knew and forgot, and when I read it I damn near unloaded a entire house worth of bricks in my undies.
Even in the comics, as far back as I have been reading the funny books, Tony & Pepper had been circling each other.
The other big difference MCU fans will immediately notice is that Tony is still in the super closet as he’s told the world Iron Man is just a bodyguard of his.
So kickin’ back into that mindset is fun and (as I touched on in my Incredible Hulk: Stalker From The Stars Review) that’s really key to this particular series of Marvel novels.

Are they in depth & revelatory character studies that get to the heart of the human condition?
Fuuuuck no, man!
Are they fun, full of thrilling comic booky adventure, excitement, characters, & hints at continuity?
100%, hell yes.
And you don’t need to have read 500 issues to understand either, Tony’s origin is given a refresher here for 2 probable reasons.
1. To make sure you understand where this specific version of the character is coming from.
2. To hook in people who may have never read a comic and make it easy to dive in and get a good feel for this world.
And it works perfectly.

As I sort of said in my Hulk review, this is what comic books and comic book based stories should be, gang.
You don’t need to always juggle 427 characters, tie-in issues, and story threads.
Sometimes, just a simple story of a hero and a villian covers all your bases and scratches the itch.
Simple and effective is what made these characters stand out, and that’s what I want to see again.
This series of novels are exactly what I want, and I can’t wait to find more of them.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Episode 086: Oh Let’s Don’t

20190728_123258.jpgIn this episode, we’re strokin’ out while gettin’ grossed out, at least one of us, and trying to figure out just where exactly that fishy smell is coming from.

Fitz eats a random alien spawn that almost caused a projectile vomiting incident, then he finds a stash of bufferin, and he goes to FroYo, as Doom figures out that he hates something…shocking, we know!

Pimp Spots happen, famous people catch dead AND IT’S NOT FITZ’S FAULT THIS TIME, then a recent Marvel movie gets reviewed before we run down what’s coming in Phase 4 and more in this fast and fun ep of the only podcast featuring us and 70+ years of combined failure!

URL: Episode 086: Oh Let’s Don’t
Direct Download: tnb086.mp3

Fantastic Four: Redemption Of The Silver Surfer Review

In my experience, Marvel’s First Family has, no pun intended, a rocky history outside of the four color realm.
I’ve read a few novels over the years that have been dull, to put it lightly, and, though I enjoyed the first two, the movies have been been generally derided by the vast majority of fans.
So going into this, I was a wee bit worried.
But were those worries unfounded?
Let’s find out, gang!

As per usual, consider this your official 22 year ***SPOILER ALERT***

Michael Jan Friedman is a dude whose work I have always dug.
I will admit I haven’t read all of his books and stories, but what I have read has never disappointed me.
The Marvel stuff he has written has always left me feeling like this is a guy that spent his time wallowing in comics and nerddom (a fact I also noticed while reading his X-Men/Star Trek The Next Generation novel, Planet X), this book does nothing to disabuse me of that notion.
To put it plainly, he fuckin’ gets it, man!

It’s beyond obvious from the jump that he knows these characters well. Specifically Silver Surfer, who he quickly and economically gets across the back story and guilt of.
For those who may not know, this is a dude that spent too many years condemning entire planets, races, and civilizations to death for the devourer of worlds, Galactus.
Silver Surfer has spent all the years since he broke away from Galactus trying to balance the scales in anyway he could, which gives us our title and a solid A-plot that’s deftly disguised as a potential B-plot.

Which leads me to my only real, and admittedly minor, issue with this novel.
The Surfer is the star of this book, he’s not a guest in any sense, but our titular heroes do feel almost like guest stars.
I don’t hate that Norrin Radd is in the spotlight at all, but it does feel a bit like the Fantastic Four title was used for the wider general name recognition.
And believe me, it works perfectly to hook you in!
But I did finish the story wishing that I had gotten at least 1 chapter that focused on the FF together before the trip to the Negative Zone and maybe one at the tail end just to beef up their presence a little.

The fact that the Negative Zone and it’s inhabitants haven’t been the focus of one of the movies is a damn shame, and this book is full of all the evidence you could need to support that.
Reed, Ben, and Johnny are prompted into the alternate universe when an old foe, Blastaar, sets hostages up for slaughter right near their outpost in the zone.
Blastaar lures them in, not for a fight this time but for their help, having felt their combined power first hand, to defeat a coming threat – a destroyer of worlds, much like Galactus, named Prodigion.
The trio decide to look on as Blastaar tries to destroy Prodigion’s ship and crew as something feels off.
Johnny is injured and taken aboard the vessel, Sue and the Surfer show up to help, and things get even more complicated than any of them were led to believe.
The turns in this are great.
Prodigion going from villian, to hero, and back and forth again until his final reveal leave you with a great sense of mystery and suspense until the end.

Bottom line: Surfer’s story is suitably heartbreaking and involves a chance at happiness, and the aforementioned redemption, he has so desperately craved for the 1st time in ages and it’s handled with the care and ease of somebody who has the writing and in universe experience to give it the weight it deserves without being laughable.
If you are a fan of the FF and their supporting characters, snap this up if you stumble across a copy.
Now I’m gonna go searching for more of Michael Jan Friedman’s TNG work.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.