RIP John Stephenson – voice of Hawk, Dr. Quest, and more

George Stephenson

Rest in peace, John Stephenson.

General Hawk, General Franks, Dr. Benton Quest, Doggy Daddy, Mr. Slate– these are all characters that were brought to life by the incredibly talented John Stephenson.  The voice actor passed away on Friday May 15, 2015 at the age of 91.

His career spanned an impressive 57 years in the entertainment industry with his first credited role listed in 1953 and his last in 2010.  Before his move to voice acting he was a prolific character actor in the early days of television with appearances on notable series such as The Lone Ranger, F Troop, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart, Perry Mason, and even Hogan’s Heroes. He was also the voice that announced the verdicts at the end of episodes of the popular series Dragnet.

Later, he moved to voice acting and was possibly the most-used talent at Hanna-Barbera Studios providing voices for Fred Flintstone’s boss Mr. Slate, Doggy Daddy, and was the original voice for Dr. Benton Quest on Jonny Quest before the role was assumed by the late Don Messick.  His IMDB page lists over 230 acting credits.

Eventually John Stephenson went to work on many of the Sunbow animated series that fans of JBL are familiar with– providing the voices for such characters as General Hawk (substitute in “The Spy Who Rooked Me”), General Franks, General Flagg, Dr. Lucifer, Granak, Kup, Thundercracker, and Huffer for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Inhumanoids, and The Transformers.

In his final years he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had been living in a retirement home.

Rest in peace, John.  Thank you for all the hours of entertainment you’ve given us. Your talents will be missed.

DiC G.i. Joe Series on Clearance

G.I. Joe: Series 2, Vol 2

The DiC G.I. Joe animated series is now 70% off!

In my haste this morning to post the links to the complete Sunbow series sale I missed another bit of G.I. Joe animation that is on an ever deeper clearance– the DiC G.I. Joe series is also getting the close-out treatment.  With low stock remaining, the two volumes of the second G.I. Joe animated series are 70% off. Continue reading

G.I. Joe Complete Series Now 50% Off!

g.i. joe complete sunbow series

Do you miss having the Sunbow G.I. Joe Complete Series on your favorite streaming service?  Well, now you can pick up the classic animated cartoon saga for 50% off!

That’s right, it’s every single episode of the classic G.I. Joe Complete Series that ran from September 1983 to November 1986 in first-run syndication.  All 95 episodes are presented in this single slim pack case collection; everything from Fatal Fluffies to Cold Slither to Excalibur to the window cleaning services of “The Viper.”  Even better, it’s in a nice case that stores better than the previous footlocker edition. Continue reading

Hasbro shifts digital content to Vimeo

Vimeo logo

Hasbro animated series are coming to Vimeo!

As reported yesterday by, Hasbro Inc announced yesterday that they were partnering with video sharing site Vimeo to be the exclusive online host for many of the toy-maker’s animated series.   Currently available are Transformers (Generation 1) and Jem & the Holograms with other series including G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and My Little Pony to follow later this year.

Per the announcement, episodes of the Hasbro series will be $.99 to rent for 24 hours or $1.99 to purchase individually.  Entire series may be purchased for $40.00.

Is this a good move for the Pawtucket-based Hasbro, Inc?  By the numbers, it means that Hasbro’s animated properties will be delivered to a significantly smaller audience.  As of Q1 2015, subscription-based Netflix had an audience of just over 60 million global subscribers. As of December 2013, Vimeo was sitting at 22 million subscribers.  It’s not a strict apples-to-apples comparison as far as the dates go but it indicates that Vimeo doesn’t quite have the reach that content posted on Netflix does.

There’s also the issue of the the pricing model.  Increasingly, more and more digital content has gone “pay-to-play” requiring viewers to either rent or purchase episodes on a platform-to-platform basis.  Vimeo follows that model meaning that fans will have to pay around $40 to own a full season of their favorite nostalgic series.  This puts it on par with the cost of owning the content on DVD and Blu-Ray from retailers such as but it leaves casual fans a bit out-of-the-loop.  Rather than being able to randomly browse through a few episodes of a series before getting hooked, viewers will be have to pay to rent or view episodes on an series-by-series basis.  This could limit the Hasbro content’s overall reach when it comes to new viewers rather than diehard fans who most likely already own the content in tangible form anyway.

What do you think?  Is the move to Vimeo better for Hasbro?  Will is help grow the audiences for their animated properties?  Will you be making the jump to the new video-sharing service in order to follow the adventures of your favorite characters?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

G.I. Joe Resolute DVD back in stores!

G.I. Joe Resolute DVD

G.I. Joe Resolute is back on shelves of Walmart stores!

The micro series debuted on Cartoon Network’s website back in 2009 as a series of 10 minute webisodes.  Penned by writer Warren Ellis, Resolute took a decided darker tone with the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero mythos that included the off-screen deaths of several core characters.  It also featured what may be the first definitive animated footage of G.I. Joe characters using weapons that fired actual bullets!  (Yes, I realize that there are shots in Sunbow that show shell casings but the weapon’s discharge is still indicated to be laser beams.)

G.I. Joe Resolute spawned a few action figures and then POOF!  It was gone!  Whatever the intent behind the project was it certainly wasn’t a long-term marketing push.

Continue reading

2013 JoeCon: Sunday voice actor panel with Bill Ratner and Mary McDonald-Lewis

Wow– one of the single greatest events of JoeCon 2013?  That would be the Sunday voice actor panel with two of the greatest stars of the Sunbow G.I. Joe animated series– Bill Ratner and Mary McDonald-Lewis.  That’s right, the voices of the original Flint and Lady Jaye were on stage together and they didn’t disappoint!


To open the Sunday panel, Bill and Mary took the stage and performed an impromptu script reading with a little help of Fun Publication’s own Pete Sinclair.  The story was entitled “Flint & Lady Jaye Have a Baby” and detailed the events of a G.I. Joe mission in which Lady Jaye reveals that she’s expecting.  After foiling the efforts of Cobra and returning to headquarters, they decide upon a name for their daughter– Marissa.  It was a nice homage to both the Sunbow G.I. Joe and Transformers animated series and marked the first time that the two had performed their respective signature characters since production on the original series ended.  Honestly– it was a fan written script performed at a convention and it still caused me to grin from ear-to-ear when two of my favorite animated characters seemingly returned to life in an auditorium in Indianapolis.  In many ways, it was like being a kid again and rushing home from school to catch the animated adventures of Flint and Lady Jaye each weekday afternoon.

Following the performance, the two took audience questions and related a number of anecdotes about the production of the original Sunbow series.  (Who knew Michael Bell carried a “man purse” or that Chris Latta was always late coming back from lunch?) Mary Mac and Bill both discussed the differences between voice acting and stage acting as well as their fondness for the days of radio performances.  In the end, the hour went by far too quickly  and the audience gave these two a standing ovation.  2013 marks the first ever JoeCon appearance for either of them and it would be fantastic to see their return in the future.

To catch-up on what these two talented voice actors are working on currently, visiting the following links:

Check out a few images from the panel below:

G.I. Joe Con 2013: Bill Ratner joins the guest list!

Bill Ratner

If you’re a fan of the Sunbow G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series you’ll want to be at this year’s G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention!  Just added to the guest list is Bill Ratner- better know as the voice of Flint, the team’s premiere warrant officer!  Ratner will be joining Mary McDonald-Lewis (Lady Jaye) for what is sure to make for some exciting panels and fan interaction!  I mean– who didn’t like Flint?  (Plus, some of us remember Mr. Ratner from the Variety Arts Radio Network productions of The Adventures of Doc Savage!)

Check out the official announcement from the Club below:

01/28/2013 – We are thrilled to announce an additional guest to the GIJoeCon line-up. On hand for the entire weekend will be Bill Ratner, voice of Flint from the G.I. Joe: A Real American Heroanimated series!

Check out our special guest showcase and read their project bio’s…Click here! All will be scheduled for discussion panels and autograph sessions over the convention weekend.

Mr. Ratner was a guest on the popular What’s On Joe Mind podcast– featured in Episode #70!

For more information, visit!

Amazing “vintage” Adventure Team commercial– featuring 1:18 Joes!

G. I. Joe Adventure Team

It’s time to place blame where blame is due.  The G.I. Joe Collector’s Club is turning me into an Adventure Team fan.  Those nefarious scoundrels in their evil headquarters on Cattle Baron Drive in Texas have managed to take my initial impression of the fuzz-headed Joes as “those older dolls” and turn them into full blown Jonny Quest-styled heroes.  Part James Bond, part Indiana Jones– the Adventure Team has come to life in the form of the monthly Adventure Team Chronicles comics in the Collector’s Club newsletter.  In fact, and here’s the frightening portion of this confession, I read the AT comic BEFORE I read the A Real American Hero strip.

So, imagine my newly-found AT giddiness when the Club posted the following video up on their Facebook page.  Posted by YouTube user “vidmystery”, the commercial showcases the modern 1:18 AT figures in the style of a classic 1960’s commercial.  Seriously– that’s just too much awesome for one short video!  (This seems to be the Club’s official YouTube page– so my hat’s off to the video’s actual creator!)

Continue reading

Remembering Chris Latta

Today would have been Chris Latta’s 63rd birthday.

Chris Latta

Chris Latta

Born on August 30, 1949, Christopher Charles Collins was an actor, comedian, and voice artist whose talent breathed life into countless characters.  Among his most famous were the Sunbow animated versions of  Cobra Commander and the treacherous Decepticon Starscream.   Other characters included his first voice role Sgt. Knox (Starblazers), Wheeljack (Transformers), Gung-Ho (Duh!), D’Compose (Inhumanoids), and the debut appearance of Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons).    Other live-action appearances include Road House, Married… With Children, and Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot!

Chris Latta died on June 12, 1994.

Happy birthday, Chris.  You’ve touched countless lives through your performances.

William Shatner introduces Chris (Latta) Collins at the Improv


Starscream Cobra Commander

DVD: G.I. Joe Series 2 season 2 hits shelves TOMORROW!

Just a reminder in the midst of all of the pre-SDCC hype that G.I. Joe has a new DVD dropping tomorrow!  Fans of the DiC animated series will soon be able to complete their collection as Shout Factory releases G.I. Joe Series 2, season 2 on July 10, 2012!

G.I. Joe: Series 2, Vol 2

Let’s be honest– when compared to the Sunbow series, the DiC episodes of the 90’s left a lot to be desired.  The plots in season 2 of the second series were– well, let’s just say that “Kindergarten Commandos” sums it all up.  However, this series is also the only time that certain characters and character designs were ever featured in animation.  Characters like Pathfinder, Metalhead, Salvo, Bullhorn, Iron Grenadier Destro, and even the Ninja Force all made their first and only appearances during DiC’s tenure.  Plus, this volume has a short special feature with members of the Hasbro design team discussing their recollections of the series as well as the origin of the Python Patrol!

Check out this promo video for volume 1 and snag your copy at a local retailer tomorrow!  (Just don’t walk around chanting “Brainy Bradley!”  Seriously– not cool.)

Check out these recent reviews of the Season 2 release:

So, what do YOU think of Series 2?  Has it aged well?  Is it good cheesy fun or the abomination some fans claim?  Sound off!