#2400: Cobra (The Enemy)

COBRA (THE ENEMY)

G.I. JOE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“One of the nameless, faceless legions of COBRA Command. Each COBRA is highly skilled in the use of explosives, all NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms, sabotage, and the martial arts.”

Okay, let’s go back to the well of the randomly generated list of reviews, shall we?  What are we gonna do today, Brain?  Same thing we do every day, Pinky: try to take over the world.  If you’re gonna take over the world, you need some good, solid faceless minions.  Also, if you’re going to launch a toyline with a limited tooling budget which really only covers the main heroes, leaving the space for only a single villain figure, the faceless minions also help there.  When G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was launched in 1982, they had one villain: Cobra, subtitle “The Enemy.”  Later, that same figure would be more commonly referred to as the Cobra Trooper, as the line grew and Cobra became a much larger organization.  But, that name, Cobra –  The Enemy, stuck with people, so when the 25th Anniversary line was launched in 2007, it was used for a couple of figures before “Cobra Trooper” took hold again as the go-to name.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cobra (The Enemy) was released in the second wave of single carded 25th Anniversary figures in 2007.  He was the third Cobra Trooper variant in the line, following the slightly different Cobra (The Enemy) released in Battle Pack #1 and the Cobra Officer released in the first wave of singles.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As one of the earlier figures from the line, he suffers from some rather restricted movement on the elbows, which can’t quite make a full 90 degree bend.  It affects his ability to properly hold his weapon, but otherwise he manages alright.  He just needs some creative posing.  All three of the ’07 Cobras share the same core body.  It’s a respectable update of the original ’82 design, now with more removable gear and depth to its design.  Both his helmet and webgear are separate, removable pieces.  The webgear’s a little bit on the floaty side, but looks decent enough, but the helmet stays nice and snug.  Perhaps a little too snug, even….I’ll touch on that in the paint section.  Hey, let’s jump over to the paint section.  For the most part, he’s pretty good.  Application’s clean, and everything looks pretty sharp.  Technically, the Cobra insignia being silver’s not really a regular Cobra thing.  Were it not for the black gloves in place of blue, this guy would actually be spot-on for the deco from 1983’s Viper Pilot figure, which didn’t actually get an update, so there you have it.  The only true issue with the figure’s paint concerns that tight helmet, and the fact that it’s placed on the figure in the package.  It got a little stuck on mine and ended up taking some of the skin tone from the sides of the head with it.  It’s a little distracting when the helmet’s off.  Cobra (The Enemy) is packed with a rifle, a short blade, and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cobra (The Enemy) came relatively early into my 25th collecting, which was, of course, after the line had pretty much wrapped.  I had gotten the Resolute sets and wanted more figures.  Cosmic Comix had a handful of figures, including Hawk, Sgt. Flash, and this guy.  He mostly came along for the ride with the other two, because I didn’t want to just leave him behind.  He’s hardly my favorite Cobra Trooper in my collection, but at the same time, he’s not a bad figure.  He at the very least does a decent job of filling in the ranks.

#2387: G.I. Joe Resolute Joes Box Set

DUKE, SNAKE EYES, SCARLET, FLINT, SGT. STALKER, ROADBLOCK, & BEACHHEAD

G.I. JOE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“The world is threatened once again by Cobra–and only G.I. Joe can stop them!  The team races across the globe and into space to combat an evil plot by Cobra Commander to control the world.  Cobra even brings the battle right to the team’s doorstep, but the men and women of the G.I. Joe team remain strong, courageous…and resolute!”

Okay, so remember waaaaaaaaaay back nearer the beginning of the site, when I reviewed the massive seven-figure Resolute Cobra boxed set?  Well, unsurprisingly, there was a Joe component as well.  It’s been six years, but let’s cap things off, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This seven-figure set was one of two (the other being the Cobra set) online-exclusives released in the summer of 2010 as a quick way of rounding out and finishing up the Resolute subline of figures that was supposed to run through the 25th Anniversary line at retail.  When it became clear that 25th would not be returning to retail following Rise of Cobra’s tie-in line, Hasbro shunted the molds it already had ready to go, plus a few quickly thrown-together figures into this 14 figure drop.

DUKE

A leader is always in the position of making the tough calls and hard decisions.  Duke, as the head of the G.I. Joe team, understands the burden of leadership all too well.  When it’s the duty of the team to respond to a threat against the world, Duke must be the one to make sure that the priorities are clear: the mission comes fist and everything else comes a distant second.  He demands a lot from his team, but doesn’t ask anything of them that he isn’t willing to give himself.  His hard-won experience and unflinching determination have earned him the respect and loyalty of his team.”

Duke was pretty fortunate when it came to the Resolute stuff.  While the others were making their debut here, this particular Duke marked his third time up to bat for this collection, hence the more environment-specific outfit this one is sporting.  He’s based on his look from towards the end of the mini-series, when he and Scarlet make a run on an arctic Cobra base.  Given how it figures into the climax, it’s honestly a pretty solid choice for a figure.  The figure stands a little over 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  He’s mostly compiled from the parts of other figures, with his torso and waist coming from the 25th line’s cold-weather Snake Eyes, the upper arms coming from the second Resolute Duke, and the lower arms and legs coming from the first Resolute Duke.  It makes for an okay approximation of his gear from the show, though it’s hardly as spot-on as some of the designs.  The figure’s head was all-new to him, and marked an improvement over the standard Resolute Duke head we’d gotten previously.  This one was far more on-model for the show, and just generally looks nicer than the previous.  The paintwork on this guy is actually pretty great.  They’ve included all of the important details, and done what they can to use the paint to make the sculpt look a bit more on-model.  They’ve also kept important details like painting the gun in his thigh holster a different color than the holster, which I assure you, is something that will come up again in this review.  Duke included the same rifle as the standard Resolute Duke, plus a pistol, a knife, and a display stand with his name on it.

SNAKE EYES

“Snake Eyes is a dedicated member of the G.I. Joe team, but he is forced to put a personal issue first when his archenemy Storm Shadow raises their rivalry to a deadly new level. The G.I. Joe commando confronts the Cobra ninja in a duel that originated many years ago, when they were friends in a ninja school that taught the Seven Steps to the Sun, a lethal martial arts sequence. Snake Eyes has never revealed how many of these steps he learned…and the answer to this question will determine who lives and who dies in this final duel.”

Snake Eyes had *technically* had a Resolute-based figure before, thanks to his planned 25th figure getting shunted into the Rise of Cobra line under the name “City Strike Snake Eyes,” but that release made a few changes to the color scheme, in order to bring him more in line with the other movie stuff.  It was also really hard to find, so a second version here made a lot of sense.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  His whole sculpt is shared with the previously mentioned City Strike Snake Eyes, and is a pretty good recreation of Snake Eyes’ design from the show, albeit through the slightly more realistic 25th style lens.  It’s a pretty sleek looking design, and one of the few times we’ve seen a modern redesign that calls back on his V1 figure, rather than keeping the V2’s distinctive visor.  While I’m a V2 man myself, I can really appreciate what’s going on here.  Snake Eyes’ paintwork is a solid match for how he looks in the show, which is to say mostly grey.  The one thing they changed up is the visor, which instead of being a light grey like it is in the animation, is a bright green, calling back to how he looks when he does his glide into is duel with Storm Shadow.  Snake Eyes is the best accessorized of the figures here, with his sword and sheath, a back pack, the same rifle as Duke but in all black, his glide-pack, and a display stand with his name on it.

SCARLETT

“A brilliant mind, outstanding martial arts skills, and lethal accuracy with her trademark crossbow – that’s Scarlett. The G.I. Joe team’s counter-intelligence expert has the cerebral savvy to get inside the mind of her enemies and design a plot that’ll outsmart them at their own game. She also has the combat skills to take on a squad of Cobra troopers and be the sole person left standing when the fighting’s over. She can make a HALO dive into hostile territory in the dead of night, then enter a heavily guarded Cobra missile silo and take it over as one-half of a two-person unit, and not even break a sweat. That’s skill. That’s training. That’s Scarlett.”

Had the Rise of Cobra line gone just a little bit longer, Scarlett would have joined Snake Eyes under the City Strike banner, with another re-purposed Resolute mold in new colors.  It was probably for the best that she waited for this set, though, since, while the grey and black deco of City Strike worked okay for Snake Eyes, it was really off for Scarlett.  She finally got her release here, and, well, uhh, let’s just dive right in, shall we?  The figure stands 4 inches tall and she has the same 22 points of articulation as everyone else.  I like to give credit where credit is due, so I’m going to discuss the body first.  Scarlett’s Resolute redesign was one of my favorites from the show, as I think it’s just a really solid boiling down of the basics of her original design, all in a more modern setting.  The sculpt on the body does a fantastic job of taking all of the elements present on the animation model, and then adding a whole new selection of little details to make the uniform feel like a real thing.  It’s also not super small, which was my main issue with the standard 25th Scarlett.  So, why focus on the body first?  Because I wanted to be able to talk about it positively before getting into undoubtedly the worst piece in this whole set: Scarlet’s head.  Oh boy, it’s not pretty.  Baroness from the Cobra set also had some issues, but they pale in comparison to this piece.  I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but there’s a rumor that some sizing was off in both of the molds for the female figures (since they had more complicated two-piece heads), which lead to the whole thing being just…kinda unsightly.  It’s definitely not right for the design.  Fortunately, there are other options for Scarlett heads that are easy enough to swap out; I myself went with the 25th comic pack version, as it was rather cheap.  Scarlett’s paintwork is generally pretty good.  She gets down the slightly washed out palette of the series, and everything’s pretty clean.  The head has more issues here, with the eyebrow placement looking like it’s rather off.  But, I ditched it anyway, so no problems.  Scarlett was packed with her usual crossbow, plus a sniper rifle, a pistol (the same one included with Duke), and a stand.

FLINT

Flint is a classical scholar and graduate of the Airborne School, Ranger School, Special Forces School and Flight Warrant Officers School.  He brings a broad intellectual background as well as finely honed technical skills and tactical knowledge to the G.I. Joe team.  A thorough and meticulous planner, he has led many dangerous and complex missions in the field and overseen them from the team’s base.  His arrogance may be irritating at times, but it comes from firsthand experience, rock-solid skills and extensive knowledge.  As the team disperses around the globe and into space to stop Cobra, Flint advises them all from the team’s base.”

Flint takes on a fairly prominent, if slightly lighter on the action, role in Resolute, and is definitely a well-utilized character.  If I recall correctly, there were more Cobra figures than Joes planned when everything was moved to the boxed sets, and Flint was one of the couple of figures put together to fill out the set.  I might be wrong on that, though.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  The figure is largely built from repurposed parts, with the arms and legs coming from Duke, and the torso and waist coming from one of the RoC Hawk figures.  He does get a new head, webgear, and gauntlet, which all make for a pretty convincing transition into Flint’s design from the show.  The only real inaccuracy is that he’s got two knee pads instead of one, but I’m willing to give them a pass on that one.  The new pieces are really strong, and follow in Scarlett’s footsteps of taking the core elements from the cartoon and then adding lots of smaller detail work around them.  Flint’s paintwork is largely pretty good, but has one glaring issue.  Remember what I mentioned about the gun in the holster on Duke?  Well it doesn’t get painted here, and it looks pretty goofy.  Beyond that, though it’s a solid paint job.  Flint is packed with his usual shotgun, as well as a pistol and a display stand.

SGT. STALKER

“The survival instincts of Sgt. Stalker were honed at an early age on the mean streets of his hometown.  The lessons he learned may have been tough, but they made him a fierce warrior.  It doesn’t matter if he’s facing two or twenty Cobra troopers; he’ll make every one of them wish they’d never gotten out of bed that morning.  Ranger trained and Airborne-qualified, Sgt. Stalker uses his skills, training and instincts to adapt his actions to the changing situation.  He heads to the jungle with Roadblock and Beachhead to rescue hostages held by Destro and Baroness, and teaches that arrogant duo not to underestimate the G.I. Joe team ever again.”

Stalker was another piece of the “fill in the set” puzzle, clearly being chosen because he could easily be built without investing in a ton of new pieces.  Stalker himself has a relatively minor role, with Roadblock getting most of the focus in their section.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and he had 22 points of articulation.  Stalker is again pretty big on the re-use.  He takes the Duke legs, and throws the Snake Eyes torso and arms in with it.  It’s not the oddest choice, since Stalker and Snake Eyes have more than once shared parts.  He gets a new head and webgear, and a collar piece he shares with Beachhead.  The end result is an okay recreation of his on-screen design, though I’m not sure it works quite as well as Flint.  The sweater collar on the skintight shirt looks weird, he’s missing the pockets on his shoulders.  He’s also got gloves, which he didn’t in the show.  At the very least, the new head (which I looked at when it was re-used on the 30th figure) is a pretty good piece.  It’s certainly a unique look for the character.  Stalker’s paint is alright, but suffers from the same lack of paint on the gun that Flint did.  They also painted his skin tone too far down his neck on the back, meaning it runs past the separate collar piece.  Since it’s on his back and obscured by two add-ons, it’s easy enough not to focus on, but it does look kinda goofy.  Stalker includes Duke’s rifle in green and silver, a pistol, a knife, and a display stand.

ROADBLOCK

He’s a gourmet cook who can wield his hand-ground, carbon-steel cook’s knife and his M2 .50 caliber ‘Ma Deuce’ Browning heavy machine gun with equal skill. He wanted to be a chef and attend the Escoffier School in France, when a recruiter signed him up with the promise that the army would train him to be a cook. He later joined the G.I. Joe team, where, on any given day, he can whip up haute cuisine for the team – and mince anything in his path with a barrage of gunfire. Cobra gives him plenty of opportunity to perfect his skill with the Browning, as the evil organization spreads its vile presence from the snowy north to the town of Springfield.”

Roadblock takes us back into the territory of pre-existing figures that Hasbro just wanted to get out.  Like Snake Eyes, his mold found its way into the RoC line, first as a Night Adder, and then as Roadblock in a Walmart-exclusive battle pack.  However, the Night Adder was obviously a different character, and the Walmart Roadblock was painted rather differently, and even ditched the vest overlay from this guy for a different one.  At just shy of 4 1/2 inches tall, Roadblock is by far the tallest figure in this set (and one of the tallest in the line, truth be told), and he’s got the same 22 points of articulation everyone else does.  Roadblock’s design in the show was not only a solid update of his V1 figure, it also managed to work in some of the V2 design as well, for something that is just so unquestionably Roadblock in nature.  For the purposes of these figures, all of the show designs were made a bit more real world, and Roadblock is perhaps the most adjusted, since his animation design had some pretty darn cartoony proportions.  This figure instead goes for something more in line with the classic Roadblock in build and facial stylings, but gives him a proper take on the fancy new animated outfit.  The vest piece on this guy is by far the coolest bit, because the level of detailing included there is quite frankly amazing.  Roadblock’s paintwork is pretty great, taking his classic colorscheme, fitting it into the established Resolute palette and really just running with it.  It makes him the most colorful figure in the set, which is a definite point in his favor.  Roadblock included his usual heavy machine gun, a belt of ammo to feed it, a pickaxe, a missile, a pistol, and a display stand.

BEACHHEAD

“Beachhead has one goal: to do his best. That’s what infuses everything he says and does. He focuses on the task he’s been given and ignores anything that doesn’t help him complete it. When things go bad, he channels his anger and frustration into fuel to help him go further and fight harder. He pushes himself to exceed his personal best and be an example to others, such as running ten miles every morning in blizzards, heat waves and anything in between. Along with Sgt. Stalker and Roadblock, he deploys to the jungle to rescue hostages held by Destro and Baroness.”

Beachhead rounds out the set as another “constructed to round out the set” figure.  Who…you know…rounds out the set.  Like Stalker, he’s a character that’s present in the show, but not overly prominent.  I don’t actually believe he even has any dialogue.  All that said, he’s got one of the more memorable classic Joe design, so it makes a lot of sense to include him.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Beachhead is mostly built from the same bank of parts as Flint, with Duke’s arms and legs, and Hawk’s torso and waist.  It’s a decent enough formula for both designs, so more power to them.  He gets a new head and webgear, as well as using the collar piece shared with Stalker.  The new parts are definitely solid, and this head is honestly my favorite Beachhead sculpt to date.  Given that it showed up on every Beachhead figure that followed, I’d say Hasbro agreed. The vest is a nice piece, with the only downside being how freaking hard it is to get his knife sheath back in place once you remove it…which is why mine doesn’t have his in any of the photos.  The collar piece definitely works better here than it did on Stalker, leading me to believe it was designed for Beachhead and then also used for Stalker.  It all adds up to a figure that doesn’t really feel like he’s at least 75% the same as another figure in the set, despite the fact that he totally is.  Beachhead’s paintwork is all pretty decent, apart from that annoying gun/holster issue that I mentioned on both Flint and Stalker.  It wouldn’t annoy me quite so much if they hadn’t properly painted it on only one figure in the set, honestly.  Beachhead included the same rifle as Stalker, as well as a knife, pistol, and display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my review of the Cobra set, it was these Resolute packs that really got me into the 25th line.  Well, that, and the fact that I got them while recovering from getting my wisdom teeth out, while watching my DVDs of the Sunbow cartoon, which led to me tracking down a whole bunch of the other figures from the line.  I was expecting to enjoy the Cobra set more of the two of them, but the Joe set ended up being my favorite by a fair bit.  I think Beachhead might be my personal favorite of them, because he’s just the best Beachhead figure, but every figure in the set’s pretty darn good.  My only major complaint is the Scarlett head, and I’ve had that swapped out for 10 years now, so it feels minor these days.

#2372: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

In 2016, after an attempt to revitalize the line with a 50th Anniversary celebration after numerous re-brandings of the core line, the G.I. Joe brand was retired from retail, with its only continuation being in the form of a handful of Collector’s Club exclusives and a one SDCC exclusive from Hasbro that wasn’t even specifically Joe-centered.  In 2018 there were exactly two Collector’s Club-exclusive, and the rest was silence.  With over a year of no new Joe at all, the fanbase kind of folded in on itself, with most of the focus shifting to the old vintage line, because they were desperate to have *something* to buy.  After that year-plus of silence (to the point of even leaving G.I. Joe off of a brand poster that included freaking *Visionaries* of all things), Hasbro went into 2020 with a plan to revitalize Joe again.  The Snake Eyes movie is supposed to be hitting theaters this year, the mobile game was officially launched in January, and Hasbro’s bringing G.I. Joe back to retail in the form of a new 6-inch scale line, much in the style of their LegendsBlack Series, and Lightning Collection lines.  So far, we’ve seen most of the first series (which is tentatively hitting in June, but who knows at this point?), and the line has officially been kicked off with a deluxe version of everyone’s favorite ninja-commando-mute, Snake Eyes!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Snake Eyes is figure 00 in the newly launched G.I. Joe: Classified Series.  He was offered exclusively though Hasbro Pulse, and, as the “00” denotes, he’s meant as a preview for the line proper.  The rumor mill is speculating that the core figure of this release will be going to regular retail with the rest of the line, making all of the deluxe-ness the real exclusive part of this one.  Speaking of the deluxe-ness of this release, before I dive into reviewing the actual toy proper, I would like to mention the packaging of this release.  Though I’m not usually all that interested in what my figures get to me in, this release deserves a special mention, because Hasbro’s really gone the extra mile here, with a heavy cardboard construction, and an almost faux-leather exterior.  The intricate design on the front and back of the box is really impressively applied, and said design is also included as a pretty cool print when you open the box.  Inside the box, there’s a foam tray with spots for the core boxed Snake Eyes (in a variation of what will be the line’s standard packaging) and all of the exclusive extras.  It’s one hell of a presentation, and shows that Hasbro’s really invested in the significance of this release.  Alright, we’ve discussed the beauty that is the box, now we tear it open and look at the guy inside.  Snake Eyes stands just shy of 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Hasbro’s gotten pretty impressive with their articulation on their 6-inch-scale lines as of late, but Snake Eyes takes that to the next level, adding things like butterfly shoulders, a ball-jointed waist, and drop-hips to the equation.  He also fuses the Black Series double-ball-jointed neck design with the Legends hinge joint, which gives the best of both worlds in terms of range.  He’s a very, very posable figure is what I’m getting at here.  However, it’s worth noting that the figure’s sculpt really doesn’t suffer to grant him this posability.  Said sculpt is clearly patterned after Snake’s v2 figure, which is generally considered his most distinctive look, and a good starting point for any new version of the character.  He’s not a straight adaptation of that design, though, as Hasbro is clearly building a new aesthetic for the Joes for this new line.  The broad strokes are all the same.  He’s got the knight-style visor, the bandolier with grenades, and all the pouches and straps are in more or less the same spot.  However, when you take a closer look at the smaller details, that’s where the changes come in.  They’ve followed a bit in the footsteps of the movies, giving him a more armored appearance, at least on the head and torso.  Within that set-up, he gets some extra webgear on his shoulders, which is really the only part of this design I’m a little iffy on.  Honestly, I don’t hate it, but I think it stands out a little too much from what’s around it.  I think the fact that I can hone in on one specific thing like that and say it’s slightly off speaks to the sleekness of the rest of the sculpt, though.  I really do appreciate how well they homaged the v2 release with this sculpt.  In terms of the paint, Snake Eyes goes a fair bit more involved than the usual figure of him.  He still keeps things predominantly very dark, but it’s not quite as much straight black.  There’s a lot of variance to the browns, and there’s also some nice change-ups in the finish on the black sections as well, making the different sections look like different materials.  It’s really nicely handled, especially given how easily they could have just left things all-black.  In terms of accessories, there are really two groups with this figure.  Firstly, there’s what is actually included in his smaller box with him.  He gets a sword (which according to Tim is more of a messer than a katanna, and I’m inclined to believe him there), an Uzi, a Beretta m93r with a removable silencer, a knife, a backpack, a sheath for the sword (which can plug either straight into his back or onto the pack), and two extra hands, one holding throwing stars, the other flat.  The Uzi, sword, and backpack do a great job of replicating the v2 figure’s accessories, and the Beretta, knife, and extra hands just accent things further.  Outside of his own packaging, Snake Eyes also gets a whole Dojo wall full of weapons.  The wall itself is a nice piece in its own right, and its got spots for the 2 sai, 2 axes, 2 kama, spear, long sword, and katana included alongside it in the box.  Snake Eyes can use these extra weapons if you like, or they make for a pretty killer display behind him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got a slight heads up that a 6-inch Joe line was coming, so I was pretty eagerly awaiting its arrival.  Once this guy was shown off, I knew I needed one.  Max was kind enough to let me use his Pulse account so that we could both order one, meaning I got in on the ground floor with this guy.  And then I got him literally the day everything started shutting down around here, so I’ve gotten a lot of time to mess with him.  I love this figure.  I love this figure so much.  This is pretty much everything I wanted out of this line, and I’m really excited for the rest of the line to hit so that this guy can have some companions.  Until then, he’ll just have to face off against my Fortnite Havoc figure that’s totally not just a 6-inch Firefly.

#2360: Flint

FLINT

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 (HASBRO)

“Flint worked with many stealth forces before joining the GIJoe team. He leads espionage operations, while Duke commands tactical missions. Like a cat hunting the night, he is silent and unseen, until he attacks with the full force of his impressive combat skills. He and Snake-Eyes make a perfect team: the knife that cuts the night, and the arrow that pierces the dark. His multi-weapon system can be configured in different ways, and the custom-made sword is this stealthy hunter’s formidable ‘claw.'”

With a new relaunch of G.I. Joe almost upon us (provided the world doesn’t end first, of course), I’m in a mood to delve back into some of their previous re-launches.  Let’s take another look at poor old Sigma 6.  Initially, Sigma 6 placed its focus on a core team of arguably the most memorable (or at least marketable and distinctly different) Joes, upgrading them to a more multipurpose task force, in order to fill some of the spots classically taken up by the ’80s line’s more specialized forces.  However, by the time of the line’s third and final year, they decided to expand things ever so slightly, and reintroduce a few more of the ’80s characters into the fold.  Some of those figures were fairly faithful updates of the old toys, while some of them went a little more for the reinventing side of the line.  Today’s focus, 1985’s Warrant Officer Flint, fell into the latter category, with a pretty hefty rework.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flint was released in the third Commando wave of the 2007 line-up of G.I. Joe: Sigma 6…well, okay, technically it wasn’t “Sigma 6” anymore, as Hasbro had dropped the branding from the toys after the show stopped airing.  But they were still in the same style and are a continuation of the same line…and otherwise it’s just a line simply titled “G.I. Joe” with no further modifiers.  I’m getting kind of off topic and distracted.  Sorry.  So, Flint was in the penultimate Commando wave of the line, and definitely sticks with the end of the line’s slight move away from some of the stricter team-building they’d been doing previously.  Interestingly, Flint’s bio describes him as a character that’s really, really different from his more “mainstream” counterpart, suggesting that perhaps he had already been planned for an appearance of some sort on the show before it wrapped up?  I know other figures from late in the line were based around un-used cartoon concepts, so maybe Flint was too.  The figure stands a little over 8 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He’s also got the Kung-Fu grip feature on his right hand, which allows for some slight movement on the fingers, but is designed to snap back into place for a tighter fit on the grip (which is actually a totally different design than the original kung-fu grip; his left hand is actually far closer to the original design).  Flint was an all-new sculpt, and one of the most unique sculpts from the line.  He doesn’t go for the sigma-uniform variant that the other Joes in the line did, making him feel like more of an outsider.  It also gives him a slightly more generic, and slightly more real-world appearance, at least in terms of what he’s wearing.  He still maintains the line’s signature style, of course, but he’s not wearing anything that looks particularly sci-fi-y.  He’s also not wearing anything that looks particularly Flint-y.  About the closest you get to a traditional Flint item is that his cloth vest piece has some straps of pouches that look somewhat like the original figure’s “suspenders.”  The head represents possibly the most radical departure of all.  Not only does he not get Flint’s signature beret, he’s got long hair, possibly the longest hair of any of the main Joes in the line.  It even covers part of his face!  What kind of a warrant officer would stand for that?  The kind that’s not actually a warrant officer, I suppose.  He’s also got a pretty sizable scar running down the left side of his face, but scars are hardly a new development when it comes to the Joes.  Flint was packed some climbing gear, which included his vest and a harness for his pelvis.  He also included a gun which could be broken down into much smaller components, but like a lot of my Sigma 6 collection, my figure is missing a good number of his parts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sigma 6 was difficult enough to find at retail when retailers were supporting it, so when they stopped supporting it late in the line, the figures became practically non-existent.  By the time of Flint’s introduction, I’d pretty much given up any hope of really getting any of these at retail.  Thanks to some hunting over the years on my part, I’ve managed to actually find a few of the ones I wanted, Flint included.  Flint is an interesting inclusion in the line, especially since the only thing that connects him to the original character is the name Hasbro stuck on the box.  That doesn’t stop him from being a really cool figure, though, and I’m glad I was finally able to add one to my collection.

#2346: Zombie Viper

ZOMBIE VIPER

G.I. JOE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“ZOMBIE-VIPERS are COBRA infantry troopers who have been given a mysterious chemical substance, Compound Z, that has turned them into drones. Wiped of all thought, they follow orders mindlessly and cannot be reasoned with or sidetracked. They have retained skill at combat; in fact, their desire to fight has been increased, making them more dangerous than before. In other words, they are deadly zombie warriors.”

After a rather noticeable hiatus from retail shelves, G.I. Joe is making its return later this year, with an all-new line of 6-inch figures.  I myself am quite excited for this new line, so in the mean time, I’m going to look at some of the older items already in my collection.  Today, I’m turning my sights on the 30th Anniversary of the 3 3/4 inch line, which in addition to updating some of the older figures to the modern day, also served as the distribution point for a handful of left over ideas from Hasbro’s rather inventive Pursuit of Cobra line.  PoC attempted to introduce some new ideas into the franchise, including a few new styles of Cobra trooper.  And since everyone was going crazy about zombies in the early 2010s, we even got one of those!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Zombie-Viper was part of the fourth assortment of the G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary line, which would prove to be the final assortment of the 30th line.  Unfortunately, due to Paramount not wanting competing product during a movie year, the 30th line was shoved into 2011, which wasn’t its actual anniversary year, and the fourth assortment in particular was practically non-existent at retail.  Fortunately, the Zombie-Viper got a more or less unchanged release for the 50th Anniversary line in 2016, making him much easier to find.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Zombie-Viper’s non-zombie parts are re-used from the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper.  The same figure served as a parts source for both the standard PoC Cobra Trooper and the Viper,  so there’s a nice connective tissue to it, which sells the backstory that these are infected Cobra forces.  The new parts do quite a nice job of selling the whole zombie thing.  The level of detailing is really impressive at this scale and at on a mass retail item, and is honestly enough to give other zombie lines of the time a run for their money.  The forearms are designed like those of the BATs, allowing for them to pop out at the joint and be swapped out for other attachments, in this case a set of tendrils, adding to that more sci-if side of things.  They are also compatible with the BAT attachments, allowing for some mix and match.  The Zombie-Viper’s paint work is mostly on the drab side, which is sensible for a zombie, but with a little bit of bright blue thrown in there, again to play up that sci-fi side of things. There’s some nice accent work wit ph a wash, which helps highlight the intricacies of the sculpt.  The Zombie-Viper is packed with the previously mentioned tendrils, as well as a containment helmet and tube, and a display stand with the figure’s name and the Cobra insignia on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was quite looking forward to this figure when it was first shown off, but unfortunately Wave 4 never showed up at retail around me, and by the time I realized it hadn’t, the full sets had long since sold out online.  I wound up tracking down my one must have figure (Lifeline) on his own, but never did get the Zombie-Viper.  Fortunately, via the 50th Anniversary reissue and Max not wanting to keep both of them from the two-pack, I was finally able to get one.  I’m glad, because he’s a really cool figure.

#2288: Spirit Iron-Knife

SPIRIT IRON-KNIFE

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 (HASBRO)

“Spirit Iron-Knife started in field operations and was selected for the most difficult missions because of his outstanding ability to spot overlooked clues.  He became a lead investigator at special ops and solved complex cases with his ability to track suspects using shreds of information.  He was soon promoted to covert ops and used his tracking skills to to uncover criminals skilled at concealing their existence.  He is also an expert at creating small, precisely targeted explosions that disable mechanical or electronic systems without destroying the entire structure.  He is a highly skilled marksman with his bow, using technologically advanced arrows that deliver powerful explosions.”

In the last several months, I’ve taken some time to really look at the G.I. Joe franchise, with a real focus on its ’80s A Real American Hero incarnation, which was by far the franchises most popular and successful incarnation.  Now I’m taking a jump ahead to the incarnation that followed, Sigma 6.  Launched in the mid-00s, it tried to modernize things and tap into what was popular at the time, and it was honestly a pretty decent success. Well, purely commercially, anyway.  With the pre-existing fans?  Let’s just say they don’t deal well with change.  So, after a solid three year run, it was put to bed and replaced with a return to the old.  But, let’s not focus on the end, let’s focus on the beginning, with one of the line’s launch figures, a re-imagined Spirit Iron-Knife.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spirit Iron-Knife was one of the five figures released in the first Commando assortment of the Sigma 6 line, which launched the line in 2005.  Compared to the others in the assortment, Spirit was something of an oddball choice, not being amongst what people would typically consider the “core” Joes.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new at launch (and would later be re-used for a second version of Spirit), though it certainly had some similarities to his team-mates, given the line’s general style and the uniformed nature of the Joes.  Spirit’s design is shared with his cartoon counterpart, and marked something of a departure from his original ’84 design (which was a little bit stereotypical for a Native American tracker).  He had received quite a redesign in the comics that accompanied the 2002 relaunch of ARAH, and his S6 design seemed to take a few elements from that, as well as being the first version of the character to tap into Billy from Predator as a design inspiration.  The final result is honestly the most unique of the five initial figures, not just when compared to the other four in the same set, but also compared to prior versions of Spirit himself.  The figure’s sculpt is definitely the coolest of the initial assortment, showing some neat deviations from the standard uniform, and giving us a head with a lot of character behind it.  As one of the more deluxe “Commando” releases, he also got to be a slightly mixed media affair.  Not only is his head band cloth, but he’s also got a pair of actual pants to wear over his Sigma suit, as well as the usual set of dogtags.  The figure was then armed with a bow, four arrows, a quiver, a knife, a sheath, a pair of axes, and his pet eagle.  As is the nature of the Sigma 6 beast, mine is incomplete, with only the bow and the knife sheath.  I know, for shame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve discussed before, Sigma 6 was a concept I very much enjoyed, but unfortunately not a line I was able to get much of when it was new.  Spirit was a figure I always wanted, but was just never able to get.  I was eventually able to track one down back in November of 2018.  It took a while to get him and he’s not complete, but it’s still very nice to have even just the core figure, because he’s quite a cool offering.

#2260: Action Sailor

ACTION SAILOR

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Since joining the Joes, I’ve held the record for personally sinking more enemy ships than the entire 3rd fleet, and that’s on a bad day!  I’ve torpedoed so many hulls, I’m surprised the ocean hasn’t overflowed with scrap iron!  On dry land, I’m a fish out of water.  I’d rather be on my sea sled than in a tank or jet fighter; luckily I have plenty of courageous teammates to handle those jobs. Making the seas safe from criminal scum is my life’s work, and I can’t think of a better way to do it than as a member of G.I. Joe!”

In 1994, it was the 30th anniversary of the G.I. Joe brand as a whole, but perhaps not the best spot for the brand’s 3 3/4 inch scale, which had ruled the market for 12 years.  In its last gasp of breath before going on a hiatus, the line merged styles with its 12-inch predecessors for a line of commemorative 3 3/4-inch figures based on the original Joes.  Each of the major branches of the military was covered with one figure based on the original packaging illustrations.  In the case of the “Action Sailor” that meant a pretty sick looking wet suit!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Action Sailor was released in 1994 as part of the final year of the Real American Hero branding’s vintage run.  He and the other four 30th figures were sold as deluxe boxed items in packaging that replicated the original box.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  While the original Action Sailor was in a more standard uniform, this figure instead gives us the sailor in his Navy Frogman outfit, by far the most distinctive look for this branch.  His mold was brand new to him, but a slightly altered version was used by Fun 4 All later in the ’90s when they put out their Keychains.  As I noted in that review, I find this and the Action Pilot to be the best of the 30th sculpts.  It’s a lot more organic than the soldier and marine were, and gets to add in the details of a fully kitted out design.  This version of the mold is also a lot sharper than the keychain recreation, allowing the details to more clearly be made out, making it all the more impressive.  Also, the better quality plastic means that he’s not as easily broken, allowing me to finally have a diver without the broken pelvis.  Yay!   His paintwork is a fairly basic set-up; the black is just molded plastic, with some silver and flesh toned details mixed in throughout.  The Action Sailor included his sea sled, a scuba tank, two flippers, a harpoon gun, a flashlight, and a hose.  My figure’s missing the gun, flashlight, and hose, but even so, he makes out alright on the accessory front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Action Sailor is important me because the Keychain release is actually what got me into small-scale G.I. Joe.  That one was never quite as impressive as a proper Joe, but I hung onto him for a good while.  It wasn’t until much later that I even knew that non-keychain releases existed, nor did I know of the difference in quality.  This guy came from a small collection of Joes that All Time got in about a month before the huge collection.  He got a little overshadowed, but I was still pretty happy to have the proper Hasbro release after all these years.  He’s not majorly different, but it’s different enough that I felt he was worth the purchase.

#2246: G.I. Joe

G.I. JOE

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“G.I. Joe (a.k.a. Joseph B. Colton) graduated in 1960 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, receiving the academy’s highest possible honors.  An expert marksman, he is proficient with all modern weaponry from M60 machine guns to attack helicopters and L.A.W.s (Light Armored Weapons).  Recruited by Special Forces, Colton was destined for military glory, quickly distinguishing himself as an outstanding Green Beret.  In 1963, after participating in “ultra” top secret combat operations and extensive tours of duty in trouble spots around the world, 1st Lt. Joseph B. Colton became the most decorated — and most feared — battlefield soldier the world had ever known.  Recognizing Colton’s innate combat skills and his warrier heart pumping courage through his veins, then President John F. Kennedy, secretly selected him to create and command an ULTIMATE freedom fighting force.  Higher ranking soldiers had been passed over for this elite, presidential appointment.  Colton was issued the name “G.I. Joe” and began building his team with the toughest men the armed services could muster.  From there, G.I. Joe would change the course of military history and re-define the word hero!”

When reworking G.I. Joe into the anti-terrorist fighting force that would so define them throughout the ’80s, Hasbro decided to re-work the assumed name of one man from the ’60s toyline, and make the name for the whole team.  However, when it came time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original 12-inch line, Hasbro decided to transfer some of the old style figures into the new smaller scale.  Additionally, they decided to pay tribute to those original figures by actually making “G.I. Joe” one guy again, and having that one guy be the one who started the whole thing, just like that one figure started everything in the real world.  It was a pretty cool concept and one that has found its way into comics and movies as well.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

G.I. Joe was offered as a mail-away offer as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1994 line-up.  He tied in with the wider 30th Anniversary assortment offered up that same year.  The figure is 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  His bio classifies Joe as a Green Beret, so this smaller figure is wisely patterned on the Green Beret Action Soldier from the original line.  As far as construction, he shared a lot of his parts with the other 30th Anniversary figures (whose molds would later be re-purposed by Fun 4 All for the line of key chains offered in the late ’90s).  His torso and arms are from the Action Marine, and his left and lower right leg are shared with the Action Soldier.  The head, pelvis, and upper right leg were all new.  They slot in well with the already sculpted parts, and the end result is a figure that does a respectable job of replicating the larger figures in the smaller scale.  This is my first exposure to the original Hasbro versions of most of these pieces, which are certainly of a higher quality than the Fun 4 All variants.  The details are a lot crisper, and there are some that just go missing entirely on the later releases.  The new head is a solid rendition of the old Joe likeness, but made to fit a little better with the rest of the smaller line.  Joe’s paintwork is fairly basic, but does the job well, and it looks pretty clean.  The little bit of camo visible beneath his jacket is in particular pretty cool.  Joe was packed with a heavy machine gun, re-purposed from the V2 Gung Ho in 1992. It’s really large, but not in a comical sense, and he can hold it reasonably well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I was alive in ’94, I wasn’t quite collecting yet, so I didn’t send away for this one myself.  So, I had to resort to buying one second hand.  He wasn’t in All Time’s rather large collection from over the summer, but I ended up finding him at Yesterday’s Fun while on vacation over the summer.  I wasn’t specifically looking for him like the other two I ended up getting, but I have to say I do quite like him.  He’s a cool little piece of history to be sure.

#2232: Undertow

UNDERTOW

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Any frogman can operate in clean water, under optimum conditions, but the UNDERTOW are especially trained to function and fight in the murky, polluted waters that clog busy industrial and military waterfronts.  His wet-suit is made of a nontoxic anti-corrosive material.  His face-mask is coated with silicone to repel oil slicks, and is organically conditioned against hostile biological agents and infections.”

In 1988, Destro decided he just wasn’t content to let Cobra have all that faceless minions fun, so he got his own group of armed body guards, dubbed the Iron Grenadiers.  He then decided he liked that enough to double down, and start adding even more faceless minions.  But, in order to add more minions, he’d really need to diversify things a bit.  Throw in a little bit of specialization, you know?  Cobra had their own group of underwater operatives, so why not get in on that market?  Enter the Undertow, Destro’s Frogmen.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Undertow was released in the 1990 line-up of G.I. Joe, and was one of two additions to Destro’s forces from that particular year, bringing Destro’s total numbers up to a resounding 10.  Hey, that’s not the worst, I suppose.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Despite not being Cobra affiliated in the slightest, Undertow’s sculpt actually has a lot of the same hallmarks of a lot of Cobra’s forces.  Because of this, it’s not much of a shock that the next two times the mold was used, he was transitioned over to Cobra.  It’s honestly a pretty solid sculpt, and surprisingly restrained for being a 1990 release.  Where most of them were starting to bulk up and go for the more fantastical elements, this one keeps it far more low-key, and honestly feels pretty at home with the line’s earlier offerings.  He’s just got a very clean design.  It’s kind of a shame that they saddled him with with the color scheme that they did.  Yes, if Undertow’s sculpt isn’t indicative of the time period he was released in, his paint is.  I mean, it’s not blindingly neon like others, I suppose, but he looks something like a Christmas pageant reject with all that red and green.  Not exactly the sort of colors that come to mind when you think of an underwater trooper, are they?  At least the application’s not bad, I guess.  Future uses of the mold would change the colors way up, which honestly did the mold a lot of favors.  Undertow was packed with a mask (with hose), harpoon, sled (with removable missile), flippers, and a…barracuda?  Hey, whatever works for you, man.  Mine is missing the harpoon, but everything else is showcased here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was a kid, I actually had the 2002 Undertow figure, which used this same mold, and he was a favorite of mine.  Unfortunately, he didn’t make it through my childhood intact, so there was this Undertow-shaped hole in my Joe collection.  I was the slightest bit bummed when Undertow didn’t come in with the big collection that All Time got over the summer (but not overly surprised, given how late run a figure he is), so I ended up finding this guy at Yesterday’s Fun during my family’s family vacation.  The colors are wonky, but the sculpt is still one of my favorites.  Of course, I still kind of want to get a direct replacement of my V3 original one of these days…

#2218: Mercer

MERCER

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“The Renegades don’t answer to anyone but themselves. They don’t officially exist. They can function with very little restraint but if they are compromised, they’re on their own.

Mercer was the only Cobra Viper that ever defected to the Joes and survived. He had joined Cobra for the adventure and the promise of material gain but soon grew disaffected with the Cobra philosophy. He escaped Cobra island by hot-wiring a hydrofoil and outrunning his pursuers across the Gulf of Mexico. Mercer is proficient with all Cobra small arms and explosive devices.”

In 1986, GI Joe got their first real-life celebrity member in the form of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who would serve as a high-stakes drill instructor for the team when Beach Head just wasn’t enough.  In 1987, both the toyline and the movie would give Slaughter his own specialized team of hard-hitting trainees, dubbed Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades.  The three man team was made up of Red Dogg, Taurus, and today’s focus, Mercer, a turncoat Cobra Viper.  Gee, I wonder why Ethan likes this one…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mercer and the other two Renegades were released as a special three-pack as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1987 line-up (except for in the UK, where Mercer and his teammates were available individually).  They were one of a pair of three-packs based on characters introduced in the movie.  There were plans for a third, but they were scrapped after the less than stellar performance of the Cobra-La pack.  Mercer stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new to him, and apart from the head being re-used for another Mercer figure in 2006, the parts would remain unique to him.  Mercer’s design is important, since it has to read as a Cobra uniform without actually being one.  Now, why it’s not just a broken down Viper uniform is really anyone’s guess, but I’d say Mercer’s not super keen to get mistaken for the enemy.  He’s got a lot of similarly styled elements to the Viper figure, with the vest and the quilted elements on his pants.  That said, he definitely reads as just a little bit more heroic than a Cobra operative.  All things considered, though, Mercer’s sculpt does seem a little more basic and light on the details than some of his compatriots, with the hair being noticeably devoid of detail.  He’s still more detailed than the line’s earlier works, but compared to some of the figures that hit the same year, the fact that his hair’s so smooth does stand out as a little odd.  He also shows the line’s shift towards more exaggerated proportions, with his arms being quite bulked up, and his torso getting more of that V-shape that later figures would receive more regularly.  With the proportions, it is a little more excusable for a character like Mercer, since the Renegades are supposed to be a little more hardened, though.  Mercer’s paintwork is decent enough, keeping with the sculpt’s “suggest Cobra, but not actually Cobra” aesthetic.  He does end up a little oranger than he looked in animation, but it’s at least a deep orange, not a safety orange.  Mercer was packed with a pistol and a backpack, both of which are missing from my figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a huge fan of the Vipers, so it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Mercer (the other two Renegades I can kind of take or leave).  When piecing together the huge Joe collection that came into All Time, I was a little sad that the Renegades weren’t included (though not as saddened as the time Red Dogg and Taurus came in without a corresponding Mercer.  That one really stung deep).  As luck would have it, I happened upon Mercer at Yesterday’s Fun while on my summer family vacation, so I wasn’t without him for too long.  Honestly, after going through so many Joes in the last few months, Mercer is perhaps not as exciting as I’d hoped, but it’s still cool to have him.