Friday, August 28, 2015

DukesCollector Retro Review - The Ripcordz The General Lee

I get a lot of positive feedback when I review upcoming Dukes of Hazzard items, but unfortunately there aren't any Dukes items currently in the pipeline.  If I can't review anything new, let's take a look back at some older items.  This is the first in a series of posts called the Retro Review.  I'm going to look at an item as if it just came out.  The first Dukes piece in the Retro Review series is the Ripcordz The General Lee.

The Ripcordz logo is bigger than the Dukes of Hazzard, Racing Champions, or Joy Ride logos.  You would think that means there is an entire line of vehicles with "Rev it up and rip it out" action features.  As far as my research shows, The General Lee is the only car ever released in the Ripcordz line.

The first The General Lee Ripcordz was released in 2001 in the then-standard rebel flag decorated box.  The Silver Era of Dukes of Hazzard collectibles was in full swing by 2001.  The show had already been a huge success on TNN for several years and WB was experimenting with new products, not just re-releases of Golden Era items.  The Ripcordz was an item meant to be played with and not mostly a collectible.  The gimmick of The Ripcordz was the zip cord mechanism that propelled The General Lee at high speeds.  Ertl released the car under their Racing Champions line, which many of the Dukes of Hazzard items at the time were a part of.

The actual product is pictured on the box, where several items had a picture of a real General on them.  The Dukes logo used at the time differs from the current standard.

The back of the box also displayed the car.  And, again, the huge Ridcordz logo.  The instructions read "To operate Ripcordz General Lee, insert ripcord into slot in roof.  Pull ripcord out and place The General Lee on hard flat surface and watch it fly!"

The bottom of the box includes the Dukes and RC logo as well as the huge Ripcordz logo.  This one even has a tag line: "let 'er rip!!"  You would really think there are other Ripcordz toys.  But nope.

A few years later the Dukes of Hazzard movie ushered in the Modern Era of Dukes of Hazzard collectibles.  2005 saw several popular Dukes toys repackaged in movie themed boxes.  None of the toys were altered in anyway to reflect the minor differences made to the Gen'ral.  Only the boxes were updated.  The Ripcordz logo is again pretty big, just not the biggest thing on the box.  The actual product is again pictured on the box.  By 2005, Ertl was releasing Dukes items under their Joyride logo.

Johnny, Jessica, and Seann are pictured as well as the movie Z logo.  This image of the movie Dukes is used on several items as well as the poster.  I always thought it was funny that the Led Zeppelin was photoshopped off  Seann's shirt on the toys.  But it was promenent on other promotional items for the movie like posters, calendars, and dvds.

The back of the box again shows off the other side of the car.  It also has a blurb about the movie that mentions the The General Lee, names the cast of the movie, and has such a vague description of the plot that it could actually describe any episode of the show.  It also incorrectly spells Rosco as "Roscoe."

The bottom of the rear side of the box has the same instructions on how to make The General Lee fly.

Also on the back is a checklist of other movie themes items.  They are all re-releases.  I like the addition that reads "Collect both movie and classic editions!"  I certainly took that piece of advice very seriously.

The bottom of the box has the same size (huge) Ripcordz logo and the tagline returned.  The Z Dukes logo is also present.

The items in the box include the 1/24 plastic toy and the included ripcord.

The General Lee is nicely detailed.  All of the Dodge Charger features are nicely displayed.  The 01 is accurate and the vectors are spot on.

If you noticed, throughout this article I've capitalized the T in The General Lee.  This is the reason. This item has a big flaw where as it prints the "THE" along side the "GENERAL LEE" text. Someone at Ertl screwed up on this one.  We all know it shouldn't have the "THE" and the text should be blue.  But we'll let the color mistake slide because a majority of Dukes items make that mistake.  The mistake was not corrected on the movie release.  There is one other item that includes "The General Lee" on the roof.  Bonus points for whoever knows which item it is.  Leave a comment, email me, or contact me on Twitter if you think you know what it is.

The push bar on the front looks great.  I love that there is no incorrect plate on the front.

The CNH-320 is absent on the car.

The mechanism the propels the car is actually a big wheel in the center of the car.  The four regular wheels don't do much except balance the car out.  The center wheel is lined with rubber, but the regular wheels are made of plastic.

For some reason, there are two slots on the roof to insert the cord.  Both work the same.  I guess they wanted the car to look balanced.  "The General Lee" nearly goes the length of the flag.  How could no one notice the mistake?  Come on Etl, you've been making this car for over twenty years at that point.

The zipcord that comes with the car is pretty long.  Nearly two feet.

I expected there to be some sort impression on the cord or at least a trademark.  There isn't one. Sometimes you see TM info on weapons that come with action figures.

The car is the same size as the model kit.  1/24, 1/25, it's all the same.

 The Ripcorz has some superiority in detail over the newer Auto World/MPC Snap-It model kit.

The vector wheels on the Ripcordz have a great look.

I can't decide which ones are better.  These are both fine sets of tiny vector wheels.

There are several differences to these two cars, but they are probably the best plastic toy General Lee cars that have ever been released.

The instructions say "watch it fly" but that's pretty much an overstatement.  I envisioned myself using the ramp from the classic Dukes of Hazzard Stump Jumper set to launch the car through the air while recording it for the blog.  I broke into the set and gave it a go, but the car couldn't make it up the ramp.  It really doesn't go that fast.  The box told me "For best performance, vehicle should be played with on a clean, hard surface."  Luckily I happened to have an under construction kitchen available with a new hardwood floor.  Enjoy a video of me enjoying my Dukes toy.

The Ripcordz The General Lee is a great item that has become a classic since its first release 14 years ago.  It is a staple of the silver era as well as a forebearer of the modern era.  They don't pop up for sale much anymore.  If you can find one, or both. you should add 'em to you Dukes Collection.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cooter, Dave DeWitt, and the Mobile Dukes Museum at the Garrett County Fair

A little while ago I was invited to the Garrett County Fair in Deep Creek Maryland by Dave and Melissia DeWitt.  I wasn't going to miss this event.  Ben Jones has become a staple at this fair and this year Dave and Melissia brought along the world famous mobile Dukes of Hazzard museum.

The fair was very nice and had all the great food and entertainment you would expect.

It was really hot outside, but luckily Dave made sure his museum was inside that giant air-conditioned main hall.  Matt Thomas brought his beautiful General Lee as well.

Dave's museum gets nicer every time I see it.  The attention to detail and amount of preparation that Dave puts into his pride and joy really shows.

I was fortunate enough to be there for most of the set up this time.  What an undertaking it is.  You might initially think he leaves the items on display, but they would never stay put while the trailer is in motion.  Dave plans, labels, and charts every piece before an event.  It is an amazing sight.  Dave's presentation is what every collector strives for, this is exactly how a collection should be displayed.

A new addition this time was a television playing the Dukes.  Now that it's not on TV, a lot of people were watching it the entire time.  Great idea Melissia and Dave.

The museum was definitely a great addition to the evening with Cooter.

Speaking of Cooter, he put on a great show as usual.  Lisa, Robby, and the rest of the Cooter's Garage Band never disappoint.

There was a big crowd for the show...

And I think every person there bought something from the Cooter's merchandise stand.  Richie and I worked our tails off selling the Dukes goods.  It was a blast.

Everyone had a great time at the concert.

Cooter and the band played a little more classic rock than bluegrass at this show.  They played several song that I've never heard them play.  I really enjoyed it.

Of course, after the show Ben signed autographs for everyone.

And I do mean everyone!  It was a long line, and a great time to talk Dukes.

Ben singed General Lees, posters, pictures, rebel flags, DukesCollector business cards, shirts, hats, and babies.

Miss Alma even signed some babies.

This good ol' boy is quite the Dukes fan.  It was really cool seeing him talk Hazzard with the county mechanic.  I think he bought one of everything we had to sell.  I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't have a Dukes collector blog in a few years.  Or whatever new thing replaces blogs before long.

His parents asked me if this Dukes thing is just a phase their son is going through.  I told him I saw that the Dukes was strong in him and they should get used to seeing orange for some time.  Oh, you didn't know that us super Dukes fanatics have Jedi mind powers?

It's always great getting to hang out with Dave and Melissia.  They put a lot of work into their Dukes displays and really love doing it.  One of the best parts of this hobby is all the great friends that I get to share it with.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Item Alert: The Dukes of Hazzard Complete Collection DVD Box Set

This one snuck up out of nowhere.  It is a very unfortunate situation that this extremely nice item, that we have been waiting over ten years for, is going to be a sought after, rare, collector's item and not an item every casual fan of the Dukes of Hazzard can own.  This is the complete series in a single box set.  It also contains the movie as well as the Beginning.  And it's not for sale in the general marketplace.

This may be the last Dukes of Hazzard item of an era.  I'm not prepared to make that sweeping proclamation yet.  This item was supposedly released on July 15, 2015.  For those keeping score, that's over a week after Warner Bros. announced they would no longer sell Dukes of Hazzard items that include the Confederate Flag.  Obviously, the flag is a centerpiece of this box set.  The release of this set must have been in the works for some time before the events that lead to the Dukes of Hazzard being the center of a national debate, but I never knew of those plans.

The rumors I'm hearing include this set being held back by WB and stockpiled.  One source told me that some were mistakenly sold at Costco stores in Canada where they then went to eBay.  I was also told that they were recalled from all of the Costcos before they sold out.  None of this information is verified, and it is only what I've heard from different people.

I'm not opening my set.  I would imagine the individual sets are very similar to the season sets released over the years.  Season one originally came out in 2004, with the next six seasons released over a two year span.  It's interesting to see Johnny, Seann, and Jessica along with John, Tom, and Catherine.  It's altogether crazy to see April Scott along with our Dukes.  I wonder why "The Beginning" is on the left of the movie as if it's portraying it came out first.  The two movies on the bottom are not presented in chronological order.  The box shows that both movies included are the unrated versions.  These versions do not follow the family friendly theme of the original series.

The bottom of the box shows the copyright and trademark information.  The series is presented in its original standard definition.  Both movies are in widescreen.  When CMT and then TVLand began showing the series in newly converted High Definition, I really hoped we would eventually get a Blu-ray release of the show.  This isn't it.  I'm still holding out hope.

The 2015 year is very important.  It will be remembered as an infamous year in the history of the Dukes of Hazzard.

This is a very nice package design.  The main picture was also used on the season three DVD set.

The General Lee picture used on the back of the box is new to promotional Dukes items.  I haven't seen it on any other item.  Unlike the recent Auto World replicas, the AMT model kit, the last few calendars, and other Dukes items that have hidden the flag on the outside of the box, the designers of this box set seem to be showing it off.  Even before the events of the summer, I would have been surprised the flag is so prominent.

This is a great collection.  I'm not sure why WB didn't release this set as soon as all the seasons were out.  Seriously bad timing will haunt this set.  You can find some on eBay right now, mostly coming from Canadian sellers.  Michael of Cooter's Place tells me they just received a shipment but have a very limited supply.  I don't expect them to last long.  This is an item any Dukes Collector should have in their collection.  Give Cooter's a call or hop on their website before they are gone forever.

I'm not giving up on Warner Bros. and their commitment to the Dukes of Hazzard.  Hopefully they will redesign the box to their standards and re-release this set for casual release.  I'm also keeping my fingers crossed for those Blu-rays, and I can't wait until the Dukes are back on television.