#2774: Zartan

ZARTAN

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Man, who would have guessed that a master of disguise would be so hard to find?  What is he, good at this job or something?  I mean, come to think of it, what if Zartan’s actually been in my collection the whole time?  I did have two Snake Eyeses floating around at the beginning there…

Joining the line in 1983, Zartan’s been a pretty consistent fixture of the G.I. Joe franchise ever since, cementing himself as one of the most distinctive baddies, right up there with Cobra Commander and Destro.  He’s found himself in every re-interpretation of the franchise since, right down to being one of the few carry-over characters in both of the live-action films.  How about that?  His name’s been high on most-wanted lists since Classified was launched, and now he’s finally here…as much as any of the Classified releases are here, anyway.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zartan is figure 26 in the G.I. Joe: Classified line, and was technically in the same assortment as the Cobra Infantry figure.  However, as of this time, they seem to only be shipping in separate solid cases, rather than assortment cases like previous (and later) line-ups.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  Zartan’s articulation scheme is the same one we’ve grown accustomed to for the line; it’s a good set-up, and I really have no issues with it, so no complaints there.  Zartan looks to be an entirely new sculpt, at least from what I can tell.  Given his non-standard design, it’s not a huge shock, I suppose.  Speaking of design, Zartan’s definitely cut from the Destro styling here, going for something quite close to his very distinctive V1 design, just with some of the very specific smaller details changed, for the sake of the larger canvas to work with.  It’s a good design, and definitely reads well for Zartan.  It’s nice that they went for the classic Zartan, rather than trying to mix things up, because prior lines have tried, and it rarely goes well.  The construction on the figure is rather similar to the others in the line, with lots of separate overlay pieces and the like.  It gives him a nice layered appearance, but it also results in a figure that’s a little less sturdy than I might like.  The hood and scarf (which appears to be a re-use from the Viper) are nice, but they lack any actual way to affix them to the figure, which means they move around a lot, and pop out of place, which can be rather frustrating.  Likewise, as cool as it is that they included the monkey’s paw and the snake head, the fact that they’re separate pieces means that they fall off, making them easily lost (I’ve already lost the snake somewhere, because I didn’t notice it had popped off until after the fact).  Additionally, while the armor on the chest is cool, the fact that the shoulder pads are just attached to it, rather than using the separate attachment like we saw on Baroness and Storm Shadow does feel like a slight step down, and makes posing a little more restricted.  Ultimately, it’s a sculpt that looks very nice, but he’s nowhere near as fun to mess with as some of the other figures.  In terms of paint work, he’s generally pretty good.  He’s very brown, which is right for the character.  The eyes do seem a little wonky on mine, as they did on all of the copies I was able to look at.  It’s not the end of the world, I suppose.  Otherwise, the application’s all pretty good.  He does lack the color changing feature he was originally advertised with, it should be noted, because Hasbro has supposedly lost the recipe for the vintage figure’s plastic.  Zartan is packed with a small gun, a knife, a back pack, and a mask patterned after the one included with the original figure.  Interestingly, while Zartan now has pupils (which the vintage figure did not), the mask doesn’t (which the original did).  I don’t know how convincing a disguise that’s going to be, Zartan.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Zartan was supposed to hit early in the year, but he seemed to be struck by quite a few delays (likely due in part to the plastic thing), so I had more of a wait on him than the Trooper that was shown alongside him, whom I got back in February.  I actually wound up getting Zartan a whole month after the the Flint and Lady Jaye I just looked at the last two days, even.  Ultimately, after all that waiting, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the figure, I think.  He’s not bad, but he’s not quite as good as I’d hoped.  Still, he looks good with the rest of the line, so I’ll be fine with sticking him on the shelf and just leaving him there.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2773: Flint

FLINT

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

First arriving in the toy line in 1985, alongside his usual compatriot Lady Jaye, the Joes’ Chief Warrant Officer, Flint, was another character that had been introduced just prior to his inclusion in the line, first appearing in 1984 on the cartoon.  Flint’s a character that can easily wind up as very similar to Duke, and has in a few instances (G.I. Joe: Retalliation being a prominent example) just been a sort of a Duke replacement.  I find the character works best as a foil to Duke, but that’s just me.  Whatever the case, I like Flint, and I’ve already looked at Lady Jaye, so I’m pretty much obligated to look at Flint, too.  Let’s do that now!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flint is figure 26 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, hitting in the same assortment that also gave us yesterday’s Lady Jaye.  As I brought up with that figure, Flint’s actually a non-exclusive item, which is still something of a novelty in this line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  Flint’s design calls back to the character’s V1 design, but is slightly more tweaked than Jaye was, owing both to some actual updates to the design, and also to a healthy helping of re-used parts.  Following in the steps of the 25th Anniversary Flint, this figure uses the line’s version of Duke as it’s starting point.  It’s not a bad idea, and Duke has in general been serving as a basis for a lot of the line’s figures, since he’s rather on the basic side.  Add in that Flint and Duke just generally have similar design elements, and it’s even more sensible.  The only notable change-up is that, like the Viper, the sleeves aren’t rolled up high enough for a classic Flint appearance.  Ultimately, it’s not a major change-up, though, and the overall read of his design still has the same broad strokes.  Beyond the changes brought by the shared Duke parts, Flint’s design follows the general set-up of a lot of the line’s updated designs, taking the classic Flint look, but re-envisioning the exact purpose of certain elements.  Notably, his classic suspenders are now a full selection of chest armor, with the internal pieces being black plating, to match with the shirt’s visual appearance.  He also gains the armor on his lower legs, matching up with most of the other Joes.  Following in the footsteps of a few of the later 3 3/4 inch Flints, this version has a removable beret.  It’s a pretty nice piece, and kind of surprisingly, it’s not a re-use of the one that came with Beach Head.  It’s sits closely and securely on the head.  Said head is a pretty nice sculpt in its own right.  While I saw a touch of a John Cena resemblance in the Duke sculpt, I’m rescinding that comment, and applying it to Flint instead, because it’s even more there for him.  The paint work on Flint is generally pretty decent.  He’s got the face printing, which even features a small scar over his eye (the opposite eye from Duke), and an impressive fade on the edges of his hair.  Beyond that, the base paint work is all pretty sharply and cleanly applied.  Flint is slightly lighter on the accessories than some of the other Joes, but he still gets his shotgun and pistol.  The pistol’s the same one included with Duke, which is reasonable enough.  The shotgun’s a fun piece, and even has a hinge in the middle for opening it up.  Definitely a solid weapon set-up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m big on having both Lady Jaye and Flint together, so I was pretty happy when the two of them were announced for the line at the same time.  Likewise, I was definitely down to pick up the two of them together at the same time.  Flint’s more by the numbers than Jaye was, so he’s not quite breaking the same ground.  That being said, I’d put him at least on par with, if not maybe a little better than, Beach Head, who was previously my personal favorite from the line.  As it stands, these two are a killer pair, and definitely the highlight of the line for me so far.  I’m hopeful this is a trend for the line this year, alongside the whole them also being standard releases.  That would be a nice trend, too.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2772: Lady Jaye

LADY JAYE

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

G.I. Joe: Classified Series has certainly had a kind of a rough start.  The line’s certainly far from a failure, and was honestly one of Hasbro’s hottest lines last year.  The trouble is that it’s so darn hard to actually collect it, since more than half of the releases last year were actually hard to find exclusives (and even the non-exclusive hasn’t been overly plentiful, either).  Fortunately, 2021 looks to at least be trying to keep a little more of it in the main line, so hopefully that might help with some of the distribution issues.  I managed to get my hands on some of the most recent figures, so I’m going to be jumping into things with a look at one of my favorite Joes, Lady Jaye!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lady Jaye is figure 25 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line.  She’s a main line release, not exclusive to any specific retailers, and is, along with Flint, one of two new figures in the latest assortment of the line.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and she has 36 points of articulation.  Jaye’s articulation scheme marks a notable change from and improvement upon the articulation set-up for prior female figures in the line.  Where both Scarlet and Baroness had more restricted movement than their male counterparts, Lady Jaye actually pretty much just matches the male articulation, right down to keeping the double joints on the elbows, which have previously proved problematic implementing on female figures, due to the smaller arms.  Fortunately, they’ve taken advantage of their new pinless construction joints in order to help the arms look not only more seamless, but also be more stable in terms of construction.  It really works well, and makes her even more fun to play around with.  Lady Jaye’s design is actually a fairly faithful recreation of her classic V1 look from ’85.  Admittedly, her original, rather utilitarian design is one of those ones that lends itself best to modernization, so it still looks fine in the updated setting of the new Joes.  All of the elements of the original design remain present, with some extra details added in to help to fill out the larger canvas just a bit more.  So, she’s bee granted a few extra panels of detailing on her fatigues, as well as a few more armored elements on her legs, to match the rest of the line a little more.  As a send-up to the V1 figure, Jaye has her hat, of course, but that’s the one element she notably lacked in the cartoon.  In order to give collectors both options, Jaye has a removable hat, but not quite the way you’d expect; it’s actually a whole wig that comes off of the figure’s head, which makes it look a lot better proportioned to the head.  I was a touch concerned about it falling off easily, but it actually stays in place securely, and adds a lot of extra display versatility to the figure.  The rest of the sculpt is a pretty impressive summation of the character as seen in various media over the years, and that facial expression in particular feels pretty spot on.  Jaye’s paint work is, as expected for the character, pretty reserved, but a good match for her usual look.  She’s got the printed face work again, which looks quite nice, and they’ve placed a couple of insignias, in order to help spice things up a bit, I guess.  It’s all quite nice work.  Lady Jaye’s accessory selection is pretty decent.  In addition to the previously mentioned alternate hair pieces, she’s got her usual javelin set-up, which in this case is a multiple piece construction, which can be disassembled and reconfigured.  It’s made up of two actual javelins, with three different heads to swap around between them, as well as the actual hand held mechanism of it all, which can hold one javelin, while the other, as well as the two tips not in use, can be stowed on her back pack.  Said back pack also has an articulated arm featuring a camera at the top, calling back to the original figure’s separate spy camera piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Given her prominence in the old cartoons, Lady Jaye has long been one of my favorites when it comes to Joes, so I was definitely happy to hear her name get leaked early on for this line-up, and I was even happier when she was shown off, because she sure did look pretty cool.  I was very fortunate to be able to snag her from one of All Time’s early cases of the wave, and I have to say, in hand, she may very well be the line’s most impressive figure.  What she does, she does very well.  Hasbro’s really set a new standard with this one.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2712: Cobra Infantry

COBRA INFANTRY

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

G.I. Joe: Classified Series had something of a jumpstart last year, somewhat stunted by the fact that, like, more than half of the line at this point has been exclusives.  Several key pieces of the franchise, in fact, have been exclusives, and notably, that’s been two of the line’s three army builders.  I looked at the Cobra Trooper last fall (thanks to the small miracle that allowed me to actual get my hands on one), and now I’m taking a look at another one.  How about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Infantry is figure 24 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, technically from the third “wave” of standard release figures for the line, although Hasbro’s kind of moving away from actual assortments, in favor of single releases in solid cases.  Also, hey, there’s some novelty to a standard release figure, isn’t there?  It’s…been a while.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Structurally, the Cobra Infantry figure is the same figure as the Target-exclusive Cobra Trooper.  Given the relative rarity of that release, a pretty straight re-use makes quite a bit of sense.  It helps that it was a very impressive sculpt the first time I looked at it, which means I really don’t mind seeing it again.  As I discussed in the prior review, it’s a good summation of a number of the Cobra Trooper designs from over the years, and there’s just a lot of really great small detail worked in.  The first change of note from the Trooper to the Infantry is on the paint scheme.  This release is, per Hasbro, a little more animation inspired, which largely seems to have translated to having more blue than the previous release.  Upon the prototype’s reveal, a lot of fans speculated that this extra blue meant that Hasbro was simply cutting paint apps from the prior release, but in-hand this is very definitely not the case.  It’s easy to miss at first glance, but the paint scheme this time around is actually a fair bit more complex, with a lot more variations within the various colors, especially the blues.  It’s quite impressive to behold in hand.  Additionally, the skin tone has been slightly darkened on this guy, giving him a bit of variance when compared to the other release.  The other change-up between the two figures is the accessory selection.  The Target Trooper had a lot of extras, while this one dials it down ever so slightly.  He gets the removable helmet, the standard rifle, the two pistols, and the knife.  While this lacks the customizability angle of the prior figure, it keeps everything you could classify as “standard”, making this one a but more ideal for actually army building.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Between the two of us, Max and I were able to snag a single Target Trooper.  Max was kind enough to loan it to me for the purposes of reviewing, but that meant I didn’t actually have one for my personal set-up.  Fortunately, I was pretty sure this guy was coming, even before he was announced, and once he was shown off, I knew it was just the waiting game.  Honestly, I’m glad I waited.  As I said when I reviewed the other version, he’s nice, but I don’t know that he was quite worth all the fuss.  This one’s a bit more paired down, but keeps the stuff I really liked from the last release, and if I’m totally honest, I find myself far preferring the color scheme on this release anyway.  Ultimately, he’s pretty solid, and hopefully he proves a little bit easier to army build.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2692: Cobra Viper

COBRA VIPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Alright, so, for my seventh entry in my crazy, insane “Day of the Vipers”–wait a minute! It’s not 2018 anymore, is it?  I…I already made it through the Day of the Vipers, didn’t I?  Right.  Sorry.  The “Day of the Vipers”, it did things to me, you guys.  I still haven’t fully recovered.  When I last left off with the Vipers, it was 2003, and the Joe line had just done a re-brand into it’s Spy Troops incarnation.  That line would lead into Valor Vs Venom, which got its own brand new Viper mold.  After VvV, the 3 3/4 inch line went on another hiatus at mainline retail, and moved to Direct To Consumer markets, until returning in 2007 with the 25th Anniversary line.  The Viper would gain an additional seven figures from that line (the first of which I reviewed here back in 2016), and then another revamp in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary style.  The 3 3/4 inch line again went into hiatus following the franchise’s 50th anniversary, but Joes have returned once more, now in a 6 inch scale, and with an all-new Viper figure to boot.  What could possibly go wrong?  Yeah, about that…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Viper is the other half of the second “Special Misions: Cobra Island” assortment of G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He’s officially figure 22 in the line, the highest numbered figure so far in the line-up.  He follows the trend set by the Cobra Trooper of standard Cobra army builders being exclusives, which isn’t very cool.  Hopefully he’ll also get a second release in the main line, just like the standard trooper, because as of now, he’s even harder to find than that one was. The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  The Viper’s design is unquestionably an update on his V1 design.  Most Vipers since the ’00s have worked from this same reference material, so there’s been a lot of smaller tweaks to it over the years.  This one follows suit, with its own handful of tweaks, but does honestly stick closer to the original design than a lot of the Classified figures so far.  Most of the tweaks are of the rather minor variety, changing up some of the specifics of design, to modernize and somewhat utilitarianize the look, while still kind of hitting the same ending mark.  Things like the ribbed section of the shoulders on the original figure have now been adjusted to be straps holing things in place.  Same end result visually, but a more practical rational for it, and one that fits a bit more with the aesthetics of the line.  The biggest change to the character’s visual is on the arms; rather than the tightly rolled up sleeves of the original figure, this one’s arms are almost entirely covered in the default set-up.  The changes that cause this are two-fold.  Firstly, the new add-on pieces for the wrist guards are designed with removing them in mind, so they wrap solidly all around the arm, rather than leaving most of the forearm exposed like the original design.  Secondly, the sleeves come much further down the arms than the original, almost exactly meeting the guards.  This bit is caused by the figure’s only re-use; namely, he has the upper torso and arms of the Duke figure.  It’s not the worst choice of re-use, even if the sleeves aren’t quite right; it changes things a little bit, and removing the guards entirely helps to sort of simulate the old look in its own way as well.  He also gets Duke’s holster for his leg, giving the Viper a side-arm he doesn’t classically have.  The rest of the figure’s sculpt, apart from the arms, is all-new.  It’s a pretty solid sculpt, with quite a bit going on, and quite a few layers.  The helmet is a very clean piece; its shape is slightly sharper and more stylized than the classic helmet, but it fits well with the rest of the figure’s design.  Much like the 25th Anniversary figure, this one’s goggles are a separate piece, and much like that figure, there is some difficulty keeping them in place.  With a little bit of doing, you can get it to sit a little bit more securely, but I’ve heard that it’s prone to breakage, so I was quite careful.  Even so, mine’s started to split a bit at the back, so I don’t foresee it holding out terribly longer.  Ultimately, the removable goggles are an intriguing idea, but much like the 25th, I’m hoping Hasbro uses later releases to offer up a version with the goggles attached directly to the helmet.  The goggles are an interesting experiment, but they always seem to introduce extra problems, and honestly, how many people are really looking to display the Viper without the goggles?  It winds up as the one really annoying feature on an otherwise enjoyable figure.  The paint work on this figure is pretty decent.  It follows the usual set-up for the color scheme on a Viper, with a touch of extra red detailing worked in.  The flesh tone on the arms is a little sloppy around the edges, and misses the mark, as well as having a spot in the middle of one arm.  These parts aren’t really meant for being seen, I suppose, so it’s not the *worst* possible place for issues to occur.  The Viper’s accessory selection includes the previously mentioned goggles, a removable bandana piece, a back pack, Duke’s pistol (to match the holster), and a rifle with a removable clip.  The rifle’s not quite the distinctive silhouette of the classic Viper weapon, but it’s not an awful looking update either, and is a cool looking gun on its own merits.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Readers of the site may have *slightly* picked up on the fact that I’m quite a fan of the Vipers.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting their addition to Classified, and I was…less than pleased about the Target exclusive move.  Nevertheless, I was determined not to miss this one, but also not to pay scalper pricing.  I wound up stalking Target’s site for a couple of hours the day these dropped, and was actually able to get one pre-ordered in the less than 5 minutes they were actually in stock.  It wasn’t fun.  What also wasn’t fun was his delivery getting pushed back three separate times, all the while people were finding them in-store, and the aftermarket price was skyrocketing.  Fortunately, they actually came through, and he actually arrived, but Target *really* needs to work on that pre-order system…or maybe just not carry quite so many exclusives?  I don’t know.  It just seems like a bad set-up.  At least the actual figure turned out pretty nicely.  The goggles are annoying, but otherwise, I really like him.  And I’d really like to be able to have a few more of them, so maybe a mainline release?

*The classic Viper rifle above was actually given to me, along with a few other classic Joe-esque designs, by Mark2Designs, whose work is quite impressive, and can be seen on his Instagram page!

#2691: Firefly

FIREFLY

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

I haven’t taken a look at anything from G.I. Joe since October, which does feel like a bit of a gap, doesn’t it?  In my defense, there hasn’t been a ton to look at, since I’ve been kind of keeping up with Classified as it’s been moving along, and there was a bit of a gap in new releases, as they at least attempted to actually get some of the older releases to some stores.  But, the new year has brought some new figures…or more specifically some new exclusives.  I know, I’m not thrilled either.  I’m starting things off with the *slightly* less frightening to acquire offering, Cobra’s resident saboteur, Firefly!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Firefly is one half of the second Target-exclusive “Special Missions: Cobra Island” series of G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He brings us another Cobra mainstay, and another character that *probably* shouldn’t have started as an exclusive, but, hey, let’s not open that particular can of worms, huh?  Firefly stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  FIrefly’s design is one of the ones that’s a little further removed from his classic v1 appearance, at least in terms of direct replication.  All of the major strokes are there to ID him, but he modernizes a few elements.  It’s not incredibly new for the character, since elements like the goggles and the bomb disposal vest were incorporated into the character’s design back during Resolute and Renegades, making him more of an adaptation of all of the character’s appearances through the years, rather than focusing in on just one figure in particular.  The figure is a mix of old and new pieces to achieve this design.  His upper half is shared with Beach Head, while the legs come from Snake Eyes.  While we’ve had some re-use previously, this is the first time that any of them have crossed teams.  Fortunately, they end up looking pretty standard issue, so it doesn’t look too specifically Joe-y.  He gets a new head and boots, as well as an overlay for the bomb vest.  The head’s the best piece, and I absolutely love what you can make out of the crazed expression beneath the mask, as well as that small touch of scarring over the eye.  The boots are sufficiently unique looking, if maybe not much to write home about.  They get the job done.  The vest piece is pretty cool looking, but my main beef with it is how much it restricts the mobility on the torso and hips.  It definitely impairs his posability a touch.  Firefly’s paint work is pretty nicely handled.  He’s got some proper camo detailing, which looks pretty sweet, and they’ve managed to keep him in all greys without him looking too bland or boring.  I also quite like the detailing around the eyes; it really makes them pop.  Firefly is pretty well off when it comes to accessory selection, including a pair of goggles, a gun (based on a modified version of the Nerf Vortex Praxis; thanks Tim!), a backpack, stack of dynamite, drone, and control panel for the drone.  The goggles are another cool piece of customization, and the drone’s certainly a lot of fun, and can even be stored on the backpack (as can the dynamite).  I wish he had a spot for the control panel, but no placement for it seemed to make sense to me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were shown off, I honestly didn’t pay Firefly much mind.  I was quite happy with Havoc as a stand-in on the shelf, and this one was an exclusive, and that’s not a game I was really looking to play.  I was far more invested in getting his assortment-mate anyway, so I wasn’t going to put any real effort into this one.  Then they started hitting, and I did stick to that bit about no effort.  Max, however, managed to find a pair of them out in the wild, and hooked me up with this one.  Admittedly, even after getting him, I held off of actually cracking him open for a bit out of protest about getting him before my pre-order for the other figure actually even shipped, but, well, he’s open now, so I guess you can fill in some blanks there.  He’s a well put together figure, but I can’t say he really jumps out at me as much as others from the line.  Still, I’m happy to have him, I guess.

#2572: Red Ninja

RED NINJA

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Oh, we’re just out of the frying pan and into the fire on G.I. Joe elements that Ethan’s not too big on, aren’t we?  That’s right, Ethan doesn’t really care for the Red Ninjas.  Let’s discuss.  The Red Ninjas were introduced in issue #21 of Marvel’s G.I. Joe comic, which is the famous “Silent Interlude,” the story that also introduced Storm Shadow, solidified Snake Eyes as a fan favorite, and hinted at a possible connection between the two.  Storm Shadow was, of course, introduced into the toy line the same year as “Silent Interlude’s” publication, but the Red Ninjas were not part of the line, since they were initially just rather generic looking ninjas meant to serve as Storm Shadow’s back-up.  They wouldn’t join the toy line proper until 1993, under the Ninja Force banner, and with a rather different look.  It wouldn’t be until the 2000s that we would get the more classic attire in toy form.  They then went on the be a key piece of one of the most infuriatingly repetitive sequences in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and also got some more toys along the way.  And now they’re in the Classified Series line-up, which I guess isn’t unreasonable.  I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Red Ninja is figure 08 in the Classified Series line-up, capping off the second main release series of figures.  Given how “core cast” the figures have been so far, he’s slightly obscure by comparison, but if you factor in that the Snake Eyes movie was supposed to be hitting this year, likely right around when this particular assortment would have arrived on shelves, it makes a bit more sense.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  The original Red Ninja design in the comics was a rather basic one, essentially being standard ninja garb, but in red.  Nothing thrilling or anything, but it’s a pretty straight forward look.  When it comes to toy designs, they’ve always been a little inconsistent.  The v1 figure’s a garish ’90s monstrosity, and subsequent releases have generally stuck to just being repaints of whatever Storm Shadow mold is available at the moment.  This one opts to take the basic Ninja look and inject it with, like, steroids, or something.  Remember how I was bringing up the whole “over designing” thing on Cobra Commander?  Yeah, I think it’s worse here.  There’s just too much going on with this guy.  He’s got a hood.  He’s got a collar.  He’s got a faceplate.  He’s got shoulder pads. He’s got gear strapped onto gear.  Where the Cobra Trooper took a lot of piece meal elements and made them flow into something that felt cohesive, and added a bit of customization, there is neither customization nor cohesiveness with this guy.  He’s just got…stuff everywhere.  At his core, this figure uses the same body as Snake Eyes, and boy did I love that Snake Eyes mold.  Unfortunately, one of the strengths of the Snake Eyes mold was its sleekness and posablitity.  This figure throws a bunch of stuff on top of the body, which ruins both the sleekness and the posability, and I don’t really feel that the appearance of the stuff they threw on top of him really justified the sacrifices they made.  Posing the figure for the photos was a bit of a chore, if I’m honest, and that’s not what you want out of a toy.  The paint’s not too terrible, I suppose.  There’s a few different shades of red going on, but I think they come together all right, and the pupil-less white eyes are appropriately eerie.  In terms of accessories, he’s at least well-armed, with two swords, two Sais, two Kama, and two axes, all borrowed from the Pulse-exclusive Snake Eyes figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My enthusiasm for the Red Ninja has never been all that high.  Honestly, I think armies of faceless ninjas are a little over done as a whole, and it’s hard to dissuade me of that.  However, I am still a fan of a good action figure, and figures such as the Articulated Icons Basic Red Ninja did just that.  And perhaps that figure did things a little too well, I suppose, because this guy just really doesn’t click with me.  He’s one of those figures that feels lesser than the sum of his parts, because there are certainly elements that I like, but I just don’t enjoy the final product all that much.  In fact, I so don’t like the final product that I didn’t even opt to keep this one I’m reviewing, which is actually now in Max’s possession.  That’s just how it is some times, I guess.  With this guy out of the way, here’s to some slightly more exciting army builders.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2571: Gung-Ho

GUNG-HO

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

♫Ooooooooh, every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited Gung-Ho!♫…..Sorry, does that seem harsh?  ‘Cause, I’m about to be real with y’all, I…uh…I don’t really care for Gung-Ho.  I get that he’s one of the core characters to a lot of people, I do, really, but I’ve just really never liked him.  I began my dislike of him in 2002, when I was first discovering 3 3/4 inch Joes, and I was forced to buy a Gung-Ho to get the Destro figure that I actually wanted…and then it pretty much stopped there, because I didn’t really like Gung-Ho, so I just never bought one again.  Well, until now, that is.  Look, I want to support this new G.I. Joe line, and I suppose I don’t have the seething hatred of the guy that my 10-year-old self did.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gung-Ho is figure 07 in Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Classified Series, the second figure numerically in the second main release assortment of the line.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 36 points of articulation.  Design-wise, Gung-Ho’s not a terribly radical departure from his original v1 design…at least as a whole.  He’s got the same basic look to him, but some of the more real-world military elements are a bit different this time.  Notably, his hat isn’t quite shaped the same way as a proper Marine cap would be, which has some caused a bit of a stir amongst the purists in the audience.  As someone who’s first introduction to the character was the 2002 version, who also had a more generic hat, I didn’t realize it was that big an issue.  Ultimately, the rest of his get-up’s never been much for regulation anyway, but different strokes and all that.  The other notable adjustment is giving his vest a more sci-fi make-over, which matches with the adjustments made to other characters.  In terms of construction, Gung-Ho marks another bit of parts re-use for the line.  In a similar fashion to Beach Head making use of some of Duke’s parts, Gung-Ho is built on the same core body as Roadblock.  He gets a new head, of course, as well as a new left knee (sans knee pad), and new add-ons for his hat, vest, wrist and shoulder guards, and a thigh piece.  The wrist and thigh add-ons previously were seen on the Cobra Island Roadblock variant, though they were designed for this guy.  The head and hat pieces are definitely the best work on the figure.  Gung-Ho’s got a pretty distinctive look, and it’s well translated to this figure.  The hat sits tight on the head, and you could be forgiven for not realizing it’s actually a separate piece.  Removing it reveals an adorable little patch of hair at the very top of Gung-Ho’s head, which is actually a really fun little touch.  Gung-Ho’s paint work is pretty decent.  It’s fairly subdued, in keeping a bit more with the more recent renditions of his design.  It’s certainly not the turquoise of his original figure.  Another notable change-up to his design occurs under this section; Gung-Ho’s tattoo has classically been a slight take off of the Marine insignia (although not an exact match, since that’s trademarked), but for this release, it goes a bit further away from that source, presumably to further avoid any trademark issues.  Gung-Ho continues the line’s trend towards impressive accessory selections, with a backpack and three different guns: a shotgun, an assault rifle, and a grenade launcher looking thing.  The back pack can carry two of the guns at a time, which is pretty fun, though they do have a tendency to pop out of place somewhat easily.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my intro, I’m not much of a Gung-Ho fan.  In fact, I dislike him so much that when I drew up a series of G.I. Joe parody strips while I was in middle school, I ever so eloquently named his parody match “Dung-Ho”.  I know, I’m very clever.  All of this is to say that I wasn’t super thrilled by the prospect of this guy in the new line, but once I saw the prototype, I was actually somewhat intrigued.  He changes up some design elements, much like many of the figures in this line, but I think it works for the overall figure, and he’s got a lot of cool stuff going on.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2570: Cobra Commander

COBRA COMMANDER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Since it was re-branded in the ’80s, G.I. Joe has been as much about the evil forces of Cobra as it has about the titular team of heroes.  The very first year of the line saw (as a mail away, anyway), the introduction of one of the most distinctive faces of the franchise…despite his lack of, you know, an actual face, Cobra Commander, the faceless leader to the faceless goons!  It’s really not much of a Joe line without him at this point, so it comes as little shock that he’s a pretty early addition to Hasbro’s recent relaunch…with three separate versions, no less.  Today, I’m looking at the only version I have so far, the most standard-est of the bunch!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cobra Commander is figure 06 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and heads up the second main release assortment of the line, which wound up being the third assortment at retail if you count the Target stuff…look, let’s not think about it too much, okay?  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit more restricted than some of the other figures in the line, missing out on the drop hips and the ball jointed waist in particular.  While it’s a little bit of a bummer, it’s not the end of the world, since the Commander’s rarely as agile as a lot of the other characters in the franchise, and what he has still allows him to pull of a lot of really good poses for the character.  Cobra Commander’s design is definitely a take on his original V1 battle-helmeted design, which has always been my preferred lineage for redesigns of the Commander.  This figure follows in the footsteps of both the Valor Vs Venom and Resolute takes on this particular look, taking the slightly more utilitarian design of the original figure and injecting some of the regal flair that would become so integral to the character.  On the whole, I think the design works, but I’ll also freely admit that there’s a degree of overdesigning going on with this guy, especially when compared to others in the line.  There are areas where I think simplifying things just a touch would help sell the design.  In particular, I think there’s just a little too much going on with the gloves, and the shoulder pad/half-cape also seems a little bit too involved.  I think this guy’s similarities to the Resolute version might be hurting him in that regard, because that design’s pretty cleanly handled, and is kind of the gold standard for Cobra Commander re-designs.  This one is quite far from being bad, mind you, and I do still really like a lot about it.  The paint work on this guy takes the Commander’s usual color scheme and slightly dials it back, going for an overall more subdued appearance, at least as far as the blues are considered.  As with the overall design on the sculpt, there’s perhaps a little too much going on with some of the color work, but as a whole it works, and it’s certainly got the appropriate vibe behind it.  Cobra Commander is packed with two sets of hands, one pointing/fist combo, and one gripping/open gesture combo, as well as a flintlock-style gun and a small sword.  The hands are definitely great for getting some expressive poses out of him, but I find the weapons once again fall victim to the dreaded over designing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m all-in on this new Joe line, or at the very least all-in on all of the standard release stuff, so there was no way I was missing out on the Commander.  I was planning to snag him through All Time, but ended up getting him just a bit earlier courtesy of Max, who snagged the standard early and then decided to upgrade to the PulseCon exclusive version.  While I see a few more flaws on this guy than with the prior figures, he’s still a solid figure.  Now I have to debate about whether I want the two repaints.

#2569: Cobra Trooper

COBRA TROOPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

So, how ’bout that new G.I. Joe line?  Aren’t you all really glad that everything from it’s so easy to get at regular pricing and not getting scalped at the first chance pretty much everywhere?  Oh, right, that’s…that’s just how it is in my dreams.  The real world is far more sad and painful.  What a shame.  Well, despite the relative insanity that is this line and its distribution, here’s another new review, of one of those insanely hard to get items, nonetheless.  Please don’t hurt me.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Trooper is figure 12 in the Classified Series line-up, making him numerically the last of the “Special Missions: Cobra Island” singles.  As with that whole sub-line, he’s a Target exclusive, but as Pulse Con confirmed, there’s a slightly tweaked version of this guy coming out in the main line in a few months.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Like a lot of the figures coming out of this line, the Cobra Trooper’s design has its roots in the v1 figure design.  That said, this one works in a lot more modernized elements, and even grabs from a few later incarnations (the v3 from ’06 comes to mind, given the full balaclava under the helmet).  The final assembled product feels very v1-esque, but there’s a lot of layers going on there.  As with pretty much everything from the line so far, it’s a truly impressive sculpt, with a ton of detail work and careful thought being put into how it all assembles.  I really dig how much work goes into stuff like the mask, most of which is never going to be seen when it’s under the helmet.  This is definitely one of the line’s most impressive sculpts (though I think Beach Head still edges him out in my book).  The paint work is about what you’d expect from Cobra forces.  There’s a lot of blue and black, with just a hint of red.  This version in particular has more black than usual, which doesn’t look bad, but is certainly different.  This particular version of the Cobra Trooper has quite the accessory selection, with the removable helmet, a set of goggles, a removable arm band to give him a higher rank, standard and sniper rifles, two pistols, and a knife.  Everything can actually be stored on the figure at once, which is quite impressive, especially since it doesn’t require him to be holding one of the rifles like most Joes fall back on.  I dig the customization angle that all of these parts give the figure for sure, though I myself am drawn to a rather “standard” trooper set up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been able to pull some favors to get the rest of the Target-exclusive stuff for this line, but this Trooper in particular has been pretty much a ghost around here since before these figures dropped.  This one’s actually not mine, and is instead Max’s.  He was able to procure one through some of his connections, and even offered to let me have it outright, but I was content just to get to do the review.  He’s a fun figure, but one that I see a lot of people hyping up way too much and ultimately being let-down by.  I’m planning to wait for the standard release myself, but it was nice to get a little preview of how that version should turn out.