#3169: Cobra Officer

COBRA OFFICER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Sometimes, you need a good army, made up of good army builders. But you can’t only have the base-level grunts. No, you’ve got to have some internal structure of ranks. Otherwise, it all just falls apart. It’s a false economy, I tell ya! But it’s okay, because Cobra, having a background in being a pyramid scheme started by a used car salesman, has plenty of levels. So, you don’t just have the Cobra Infantry, you also have the Cobra Officers!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Cobra Officer is figure 37 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up. He’s the last of the three figures in the second 2022 assortment for the line.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Like Spirit, the Cobra Officer is a mix of old and new parts.  Unsurprisingly, he’s using a number of pieces from the Cobra Trooper/Cobra Infantry mold, though it’s perhaps not as much as you might expect at first glance.  The pelvis, upper arms and upper legs are the same, but he gets new pieces for just about everything else.  The general gist of the sculpt is to keep things overall visually consistent with the prior mold, but making adjustments to make him ever so slightly more vintage in how things are set-up.  The gloves and boots are now more standard pieces, rather than the more  sci-fi looking ones of the prior sculpt, the torso armor is a little cleaner and sleeker, looking more like the tunic sported like the original figure.  The new head still keeps the full mask under the helmet, but the face mask portion is now a more standard cloth piece, again keeping him a little more in-line with the original figures, especially when the helmet is in place.  He also gets a slightly more streamlined version of the webgear from the last figure, a new helmet (also a bit more streamlined) now with rank at the front, and he also gets the arm band piece from the Cobra Island Trooper, just to more fully sell that extra bit of rank.  I like that it all assembles to something that’s still consistent with what they’ve already released, while still going for something just a little more classically inspired, keeping with that slow trend of the line as it moves forward.  The figure’s color work sticks pretty close to the standard Infantry release, with the expected changes for the new sculpt elements.  All of the application is pretty sharp and clean, and the eyes get the printed set-up, which continues to really work for these figures.  The Officer is packed with a small pistol, a short rifle (with removable magazine), a long rifle (with removable magazine and scope), a knife, and a holster that goes on his back to hold the long rifle.  All of the weapons are all new, and the long rifle even gets some additional paint work.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve enjoyed seeing the incremental changes that Hasbro’s been making to the Cobra Trooper look over the course of these figures.  I didn’t think much of the Officer when he was first announced, but after seeing all of the changes they made to go more classic, I was certainly interested.  He’s a figure that’s definitely going to get overshadowed by his wave-mates, but that doesn’t make him a bad figure at all, and I honestly think he’s an improvement even on the basic Infantyman.  And hey, it’s always nice to diversify your army a bit, right?

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

#3167: Storm Shadow

STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Okay, how long has it been since I reviewed G.I. Joe? Probably a while. I feel like it’s been a while. Has it been a while? It’s probably been a while. I could check. But, I kind of don’t want to. I get lazy like that. Anyway, the point is I’m going to review some more G.I. Joe today. At the beginning of the line, Classified Series kicked off with a deluxe version of G.I.Joe’s main ninja guy Snake Eyes. The first version of his nemesis, Cobra’s equivalent, Storm Shadow, was a was A) a wonky variant and B) an exclusive. The second version was based on the movie and the less said about that, the better. Three years into the line, we’re finally getting a proper version of Storm Shadow. I am looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Storm Shadow is figure 35 in the line-up of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He’s numerically the first figure in the second assortment of the line for 2022, and picks up right from the last assortment’s Alley Viper on the numbering.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  The overall set-up of the articulation is the same as the rest of the line, but with the added caveat of adding the pinless construction, which works especially well with the bare-armed look that this figure has.  The sculpt is all-new, and is clearly based on Storm Shadow’s V1 release.  It’s his classic look, and the one we’ve all been waiting for, so it’s logical.  As we’ve been seeing more and more as the line moves forward, Storm Shadow’s new design adheres quite closely to the old.  There are some slight adjustments, and a few modernizations and extra details added for the larger scaling, but he really is just a straight upgrade to the original look, rather than a re-imagining like the earlier figures in the line.  The biggest change to this design is the presence of a hood (something that became a lot more common place for the character after the V1 figure), and even that is completely removable, should you want him to be more spot-on with his reference.  The sculpt is a very nice one.  It’s sleek where it needs to be, functional where it needs to be, and has a lot of texturing and small detail work going on, which really makes it nice and visually interesting.  The proportions are quite nicely balanced, and I really like how naturally his clothing hangs on his body; it actually looks like there’s a person beneath all of that ninja gear.  Storm Shadow’s color work is generally pretty solid.  There’s a lot of molded colors, and not a huge amount of accenting, but what’s there is cleanly applied.  The eyes are printed, which looks really good on this figure.  Storm Shadow is packed with two different versions of his hood (up and down), two swords, a bow (which is different from the Arctic version), an arrow, and a quiver (with sheaths for the swords).  The swords, bow, and the arrows (both the loose one and the ones sculpted into the quiver) all get some paint apps, which is always nice to see.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure’s been pretty much inevitable since the line launched, but he definitely took his sweet time getting to us. The arctic version was a nice way of tiding us over until the real thing, but he was at best just a place holder. Still, with him being as good a figure as he was, there was certainly some worry that this one might not fully measure up. Well, thankfully, he not only measures up, he manages to blow that release out of the water, and showcase how much Hasbro can up their own game even in a short span of time.

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

#3038: Alley Viper

ALLEY VIPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Introduced into the vintage line rather surprisingly late into its run in 1989, the Alley Viper has nevertheless become a memorable piece of the franchise.  Perhaps it’s the utter absurdity of the neon orange and blue camo on a supposedly urban-setting specializing trooper, which somehow manages to make even the most fervent of anti-neon Joe fans make an exception for this one.  Who knows.  What I do know is that this particular Viper-variant has certainly faired better than the rest of its ’89 compatriots, with a subsequent 14 variations on its design over the years, including today’s focus, the trooper’s introduction into the Classified Series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Alley Viper is figure 34 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, released in the newest assortment of the line, alongside yesterday’s B.A.T. and a reissue of Gung-Ho.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Structurally, the Alley Viper uses the Duke body as a starting point.  It’s definitely Hasbro’s favorite starting point for the line, which is sensible, since it’s a basic set of tactical gear.  For the most part, it’s really just the legs that are re-used, with pretty much everything else being all new.  Like yesterday’s B.A.T., the design on the Alley Viper is decidedly a lot closer to the original V1 figure than some of the line’s earlier offerings.  This one does update some of the details for some more modernization and a slightly more real world tactical feel.  All of the major design elements from the original figure are present, and in the same spots, with some additional details to help fill in the larger canvas, which is certainly cool.  I really dig the moving visor, which is one of the original figure’s coolest features, and works out much the same on this one as well.  There’s also just a ton of detail work going into the sculpt, which gives him a nice feeling of depth to his design.  The color work on the Alley Viper is one of his most distinctive features.  He’s bright orange and blue.  That’s kind of the point, and it’s kind of an important one.  This figure sticks to that, and it’s super silly, and goofy, and gaudy, and I absolutely love how it turned out.  The V1 Alley Viper included the visor, shield, backpack, and a submachine gun, all of which are present on this release.  He also adds a pistol and two knives for his holsters, plus a larger rifle.  Additionally, the backpack, which on the V1 release had a gun worked into the mold, actually sports a third fully removable rifle, complete with a grappling hook, again throwing back to the V1 version.  It’s a really fun selection of extras.  The two main guns both have removable magazines, and while the new shield doesn’t have the window at the top for him to look through, he does get a really cool decal showing some sort of wire frame readout.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ll admit, I don’t have much personal attachment to the Alley Viper.  It’s outside my main focus for the vintage line, and the early ’00s line, which served to get me into things, was when they were really downplaying the design’s funky colors, which does sort of hamper its staying power.  My favorite Alley Viper is the Resolute one, which honestly barely even counts as an Alley Viper.  So, when these guys were first previewed hiding up at the top of that back-of-the-box illustration, I wasn’t jumping up and down for them or anything.  When they were finally confirmed, they were of course in tandem with the B.A.T.s, which did sort of steal the thunder a bit.  That said, I did really like the look of him, and I wasn’t going to pass up on getting at least one of them.  While he’s not competition for the B.A.T., he’s still a really, really good figure in his own right.  It’s honestly a fantastic update to the original, and I can definitely dig it.

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.

#2849: Major Bludd

MAJOR BLUDD

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

We’ve had something of a hiatus from G.I. Joe reviews around these parts, mostly because there hasn’t actually been all that much to review, surprisingly.  We’ve got a lot just now hitting and also on the horizon, but since I reviewed Zartan back in May, there’s only actually been one true addition to Classified Series, and, surprising very few people, it was an exclusive.  This time around, it’s another member of the Cobra forces, Major Bludd.  First added to the line in 1983, Major Bludd gave the Cobra side some variety in ranks, as one of the first actual face characters for them, as well as one of the very few to truly fit into the overall Cobra ranking structure, unlike Destro, who was more an outside contractor.  Bludd is often a character that gets no respect, and you know what?  That’s appropriate.  He hasn’t earned it.  No respect for Sebastian.  I shan’t allow it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Major Bludd is figure 27 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is part of the Target-exclusive “Cobra Island” sub-line of figures.  Unlike other Target-exclusives from this line, Major Bludd is the only new figure from his round, as he initially shipped with restocks of Firefly and the Viper.  His initial stock disappeared as quickly as anything else in the line, but there was a pretty decent push for solid restock cases, which made him *slightly* more available for about a week or so.  That was kinda nice.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Major Bludd’s design is generally a pretty straight forward updating of his original V1 design, with that little bit of the Classified sci-fi upgrading to help fill in some of the gaps from making it too bland at the larger scale.  Structurally, the core of Major Bludd’s build is shared with the Cobra Trooper.  It’s a pretty sensible choice, since he’s kind of the highest ranking grunt, and has classically had some design elements in common with them.  He gets a new head, right arm, torso overlay, belt, and boots in an effort to change him up.  Ultimately, it ends up working pretty well.  Bludd’s original head was a little nondescript, but this one is very descript.  He’s grizzled and angry.  His eyepatch is no longer just a standard patch, but is now this more armored, squared off looking thing, which appears to be mounted to his eye in some fashion.  The face is scarred beneath the patch, and the expression on the face is definitely not a pleasant one.  The helmet is, for the second time on a Major Bludd, a removable piece.  It sits securely in place, which is nice, and it adds a slightly more severe shape to the design than the original.  Perhaps the star piece of the new sculpt is the right arm.  Bludd’s V1 figure had an arm that lacked the usual articulation, but which sported vaguely cybernetic details, which weren’t mentioned in his bio, and were ultimately left off of all updates until 25th.  This time, he leans hard into those details, with an all-new appendage that is clearly a robotic replacement.  It’s a very cool design, which immediately reads as different from the rest of him.  It’s very cool.  Quite frankly, it’s too cool for Major Bludd.  He doesn’t deserve it.  But he gets it anyway.  Oh well.  Bludd’s paint work is largely very brown.  True to the character, but not terribly exciting.  The face gets some very strong detailing, though, so that’s cool.  Bludd gets a decent enough accessory selection, which includes the previously mentioned removable helmet, as well as a necklace of dogtags (a detail lifted from the V1 figure), an update on the V1 rocket launcher, two rockets, an update on the V1 backpack, and a very large revolver.  Despite not being V1-homaged, the revolver is probably my favorite piece.  But, again, it’s probably too cool for Bludd.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m not the world’s biggest Bludd fan by any stretch, and I certainly wasn’t jumping up and down for this figure.  Originally, he was brought up to some retailers as a standard release, at which point I would have just gotten him the usual way.  But, then he was suddenly a Target exclusive, and orders were being cancelled, and he was harder to get.  And that’s a lot of work for Bludd.  And is he really worth that?  I certainly didn’t think so.

FYI, there’s gonna be some Post-Jess talk here.

Three days after Jess’s passing, I was staying with my friends Tim and Jill, and I woke up one morning with a sudden urge to go to a Target.  No idea why.  I’ve pretty much entirely given up hunting these days, but I was feeling it for some reason.  Tim, Cheyenne, and Christian obliged, and off we went for a quick little trip.  The toy aisle was predictably barren, but I again felt an urge, this time to walk over to the “collectibles” section, which was a total mess.  I happened to pick up one of the NECA figures, and spotted the corner of a Classified box behind it, which turned out to be this guy.  I wasn’t actively searching for him in the slightest, but there he was, so I bought him.  Like the Disney+ Legends, he helped me navigate that first week without Jess, even if in a small way.  And, if I’m entirely honest, I almost feel like finding him was somehow her looking out for me.  I know it’s cheesy and hokey, and probably a very reductive way of looking at it all, but it makes my days a little brighter to think that some part of her is still out there, even if it’s only in my own mind.

#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.

#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.

#2529: Arctic Mission Storm Shadow

ARCTIC MISSION STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Even before G.I. Joe went heavy into its ninjas, they’d been present for a while.  While everyone associates Snake Eyes with the whole ninja thing, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t so much responsible for bringing it into the franchise, since in 1982 he was still just a commando.  It was actually Storm Shadow’s arrival on the scene in 1984 that really ushered in the ninjas, with Snake Eyes getting a bit of a re-work to match Storm Shadow’s ninja skills for the other side.  The two have subsequently become rather intertwined, and ninjas have become a fixed piece of the mythos.  So, it’s not too much of a shock that Storm Shadow cropped up pretty quickly for this new incarnation of the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Arctic Mission Storm Shadow is figure 14 in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series line-up, and is an Amazon-exclusive item.  He’s our first Storm Shadow, so it’s kind of interesting that he’s an environment-specific figure, rather than an all-purpose version.  That said, with the exclusive status on this guy, it makes sense to do something a little bit less standard, while still giving us a taste of the character.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 37 points of articulation.  In the history of environmental specific Joe appearances and Storm Shadows, there’s not actually been an Arctic Storm Shadow (well, okay, there was *technically* one in Sigma 6, but he was just the standard figure with the arms painted grey, so it’s iffy), so this is *technically* a new design.  That being said, he’s actually *not* really a new design, because Hasbro’s aptly repurposed Storm Shadow’s Ninja Force design for this release.  As with any of the designs for this line, there have been some adjustments to update it, give it that slightly sci-fi bend, and just generally fill the larger canvas a bit better, but the broad strokes are certainly all there, and I really like how this thing turned out.  There are a ton of layers to this design, and the most impressive part of it all is definitely the mask and removable hood.  The original figure had a permanently attached hood, but this one takes advantage of the scale and modern innovation for the removable factor, allowing a lot more depth of detail to the underlying mask, and the neck and collar of his uniform.  There’s a lot of really cool details I like in there.  The figure’s shoulder pads are also designed much like Baroness’s from yesterday, moving on their own, and allowing for more movement on the shoulders.  Another touch I like quite a bit is the absence of any sort of a Cobra insignia from his outfit; the Ninja Force figure was released while Storm Shadow had switched over to the Joes, so he didn’t have the Cobra logo, obviously.  Since this figure is *technically* still a Cobra, he can’t very well have any Joe logos either, so instead he got his Arashikage emblem, which definitely looks cool.  Storm Shadow’s paint work is what really sells the Ninja Force-esque design, with the proper black and white with gold accents.  It’s pretty clean and slick, and he’s also got printed eyes, which keep him nice and lifelike.  Storm Shadow is packed with another impressive selection of accessories, including a bow, arrow, quiver, sword, sheath, grapple, and sickle.  It pretty much covers all of the major bases for what a Storm Shadow could need, so I definitely dig it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since this is an Amazon exclusive, it’s probably not too hard to piece together where this guy came from.  He went up for order, and I ordered him, and then I received him in the mail.  Very exciting story, right?  Obviously, I had Snake Eyes, and I needed a Storm Shadow to pair off with him.  I gotta say, while he may not be standard, I really dig how they managed to get this particular design out there, and it makes for a really fun figure.  I can’t wait to see how the proper version turns out.  Also, can we possibly get a V4-inspired “Arctic” Snake Eyes to pair off with him?  Because that would make me very happy.