Cotswold Fuzz-Heads: The Alternative AT Joe
Lets face it, getting your hands on a vintage near perfect (notice how I steered clear from the Mint word) Adventure Team figure; one that doesnt have hair and facial rubs, busted, broken and completely missing parts is almost impossible, unless youre willing to pay a lot. Yea, yea, I know; there's a lot of flee-market gold out there, and little old ladies selling off little Johnny's childhood treasures, but those are few and far between these days. But theres also the reproduction alternative to consider too.
Reproduction heads do exist, so do repro parts like arms, legs, thighs, hands, feet, even torsos and neck posts. Chances are if there's a broken vintage Joe part needing mended, there's also a Cotswold (Cot's) replacement part out there to take its place. What's more, it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to replace one! Sorry, had to toss that in there, it was too good to pass up. :)
In the way of heads there's a good variety of what they call Fuzz-Heads to choose from. Cot's Fuzz-Head Mike is essentially a reproduction of the Black Adventurer head sculpt. Cot's Mike with a beard is their version of the Black Talking Commander. Cot's Fuzz-Head Jake comes in red, blonde and dark hair colors, with and without beards, which pretty much makes them all dopplgangers for the rest of the other original Adventure Team (AT) figure head sculpts.
The only oddball is the red headed Jake without a beard, because I don't recall ever seeing a red headed Man of Action, or AT Astronaut figure, because those, as far as I know only came in dark and blonde hair varieties (and the Astronaut was only blonde). Ok heres the clincher, the Fuzz-Heads only cost $10 each! With a complete reproduction Cot's body, with your choice of hard-hands (their version of original vintage hands) or action hands (their version of Kung Fu Grip hands) were talking only $23.
Ok there is one difference. The only way they could get away with making them look so much like the originals, without legally stepping on Hasbro, was to omit the scar on the cheek. But, at a glance it's hard to tell if it's Cot's or vintage AT, which makes them well worth the investment.
I own about three Fuzz-Heads so far (the Land Adventurer in the top picture is the Club exclusive, not a Cot's), and for the money they just cant be beat. I prefer 100% vintage AT, but at a fraction of the cost I can get a Cot's Fuzz-Head, and in doing so I'm able to afford to pay a little more for near perfect AT uniforms to outfit them with. Additionally Cot's makes all kinds of absolutely outstanding repro items like boots, replacement AT stickers, helmets, hands, even kits to tune up your old Joes; you name it they've got it, and if they don't chances are they're working on it.
On the negative side, my only gripe would be how tight the bodies appear to be when brand new (most notably the hands at the wrist), then again most of the new 2010 "Adventures of GI Joe" figures share that same degree of stiffness at first. But for the money, you can afford to play with, and get a little rough with Cot's stuff. So there are unquestionably more advantages than disadvantages with their stuff.
So if you're looking for a way to add some more AT Joes to your collection, or if you're just looking to fix up a few "wounded in combat" Joes check out some Cotswold stuff, because you can't go wrong with it, and it's only a fraction of the cost of vintage AT stuff. All in all, it's just fun stuff, as collecting is all about having fun, and collecting is that much more fun when youre not so concerned about spending an arm and a leg to have a good time.
Check out Vintagecollectibles.org for Cot's stuff at great prices.