The PopCult Toybox
Last week I told you about the X-1 Project: HERCULES personal hovercraft, a new vehicle for GI Joe and his friends, aimed solidly at the customizer market. As promised, this week we bring more details.
Project Hercules is the brainchild of Mark Otnes, the man behind Patches of Pride and The Joe Report, and he told me about the development of this cool toy, “The original concept for Project: HERCULES came to me a couple of years ago and I was going to release it about a year and a half ago. But I held back on introducing it because I wanted to finish the Magnificent 7 (photo-comic) storyline that introduces it first. Business picked up (yay!), so the comic had to wait, and Project: HERCULES was sidelined. Finally, late last year, I realized that I was too busy to finish the comic (at least for now) and decided to just go ahead and release the first parts of the X-1 Project: HERCULES line now.
“My ‘Magnificent 7’ photo-comic introduces the storyline for Project: HERCULES but left off at its development (and important FIRST use) of the X-1. I haven’t completed the “official” X-1 storyline yet due to time, etc., so until I manage to get back to it, it’ll be up to PoP’s creative customers to envision what Project Hercules and the X-1 are all about. I get emails about it all the time and some of the fan suggestions and guesses have been fascinating—and very clever!”
The X-1 Project: HERCULES hovercraft is a really cool concept in many ways. First of all, hovercrafts are just inherently cool in the first place. Second, Mark has designed this toy so that the customer can stick with just the base vehicle or add a slew of bells and whistles, with all sorts of extras and decal sets. You even have your choice of “Project: Hercules” or “Adventure Team” decals, or you can leave your hovercraft unadorned.
Because of the low production run, building your X-1 a little at a time may be the most economical way to tackle this project. It also allows you to stretch out the fun of customizing this project over a period of weeks or months by adding a little at a time. Patches of Pride also offers a package deal, where you can get everything you need for a fully-loaded X-1 hovercraft at once. You will need to be able to do some assembly and the application of decals yourself.
Otnes explains who the market for the X-1 is, “Well, collectors of 1:6 action figures primarily, although you could probably fit 2 of the little Joes into it if you wanted. Clearly, I think the X-1 would make a great Adventure Team hovercraft. When it’s all “transformed” and collapsed into its basic saucer or “clamshell” shape, it’s small enough to be transported with the trailer of any 1:6 scale Jeep (we also sell tarps to cover it HERE), or it could configured as some sort of sci-fi time machine, or if it was repainted in OD green or maybe all-black, it could easily be outfitted with some weaponry (maybe a rack of missiles hanging down below?) and be reconfigured as some sort of military aircraft. We should think of the X-1 as a “platform” from which we can let our creativity flow. There are a so many possibilities for this thing. All customizers of 1:6 scale who’d enjoy adding something versatile to their collections are the most likely “target audience” for the X-1.”
This is more than just a simple piece of plastic. Otnes elabborates, “The clam-shell top opens. There are sliding and adjustable control arms, plus landing legs that extend and disappear completely into the fuselage and the heads-up display raises up and rotates around.”
While the price may seem high to non-collectors, Otnes draws a distinction between Project: Hercules and more high-priced product like Hot Toys action figures (which run a minimum of 200 bucks, and sometimes more than 300), “Personally, I wouldn’t label the X-1 a ‘high-end product.’ Costwise, the Project: HERCULES line all seems (to me, at least) to be quite reasonable for you receive, and the fact that you can cherry pick only the specific accessories you want, according to how you’d like to customize the craft, makes it much like Hasbro’s old “razors and blades” marketing concept for GIjOE. Even fully loaded with all of our related accessories, the X-1 still costs less than most comparable “high-end” Hot Toys figures, diorama sets, batmobiles, etc. Remember, all of our X-1’s optional accessories are sold a la carte, the choice and use of which are left completely up to the discretion of the collector/customizer. That way, they don’t have to pay for features they don’t want or need for their particular X-1 project.”
Otnes is correct here. The base model, which is perfectly functional as a toy vehicle for GI Joe or other 12″ action figures, costs less than seventy-five dollars, which is pretty remarkable considering that the production run is much lower, and consequently the manufacturing cost per unit much higher, than a mass-market toy would be.
You will not find the X-1 Project: HERCULES hovercraft in any stores. It can only be ordered from Patches of Pride (who also sell all sorts of other cool stuff aimed at the 1/6 scale collectors market, most notably replacement decals for vintage GI Joe vehicles).
In addition to the X-1 and all its decal and equipment sets, PoP also offers more extras like a custom display box and adult-sized Project: HERCULES T-shirts.
So with this really cool GI Joe-scale hovercraft under his belt, I asked Otnes what the future holds for his company. He responded, “More vehicles, maybe. More products, most definitely. SPOILER ALERT for 2015! Again, based on numerous customer requests and suggestions, we’re already begun working on expanding the Project: HERCULES line with plans for an amazing “X-1 Mission Control” diorama display station complete with control consoles, monitors, etc., and optional items such as chairs, expandable floor sections, etc. More intel on that project will be released soon (and first) to PoP’s VIP Customers and then to PoP’s faithful followers of our fan page on Facebook. Stay tuned!”
We want to thank Mark for the intel on the X-1 Project: HERCULES. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next. We’re sort of hoping, as die-hard fans of Monty Python, that he offers some 1/6 scale eels that can be used to fill the X-1.
Also, we should note that this is a toy hovercraft, it does not actually fly or hover.