#1761: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

G.I. JOE MIGHTY MUGGS

What’s this?  More Mighty Muggs?  That’s crazy!  But wait, this one’s different!  This one’s vintage….ish.

After their success with their licensed properties of Marvel, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones in the Mighty Muggs format, Hasbro decided to go all-in and start offering up some of their in-house properties in that same style.  While that did eventually grow to include the likes of ROM and the Visionaries, the primary focus was on Transformers and G.I. Joe.  I’ll be looking at one of the latter’s characters today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Snake Eyes was released in the first series of G.I. Joe Mighty Muggs, which hit stores in late 2008.  He’s based on Snake Eyes’ 1985 v2 look, which is kind of the go-to for Snake Eyes.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 3 points of articulation.  While the legs are a separate piece, they aren’t actually articulated, or at least there’s no practical movement to be had from them.  Snake Eyes is built on the basic Muggs body from the old days.  It’s a fair bit taller than the newer Muggs, and the proportions are slightly different, with the head being noticeably smaller in comparison to the rest of the body.  He doesn’t have any add-on pieces or anything, which is rather sensible for Snake Eyes, and also fairly common for the older Muggs.  The detailing of course all comes from the paint work.  The original Mighty Muggs were a bit different in terms of how the details were handled.  They had more of an art-deco/designer vinyl sort of vibe to it, where it boils down things to the most simple designs, but also adds in some creative shading.  It’s the sort of look that really fits well with the general design of the character.  In particular, I quite like the faux-reflective nature of the visor.  Though accessories were not the norm for the line, Snake Eyes was actually pretty well armed, betting both his sword and machine gun, allowing for him to go for that whole commando/ninja combo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I liked the original Mighty Muggs quite a bit, by the time this line came along, my focus had moved to other things, so I didn’t get this guy new.  Instead, I actually picked him up just a couple of weeks ago, as sort of a birthday present to myself, from 2nd Chance Toyz.  Obviously, he’s as much an acquired taste as any of the others, but I really like him, and I think he was a really good choice for the style.

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#1600: Snake Eyes

SNAKE EYES

G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO

“SNAKE EYES served in Long Range Recon Patrols in Southeast Asia. He left the service to study mystic martial arts with the same Ninja family that produced STORM SHADOW. SNAKE EYES was living an ascetic existence alone in the High Sierras with his pet timber wolf when he was recruited for the GI JOE team. He is a qualified expert in all NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms, has a black belt in 12 different fighting systems, and is highly skilled in the use of edged weapons.”

Ah, look at that.  Another hundred reviews.  That means it’s time for—wait, sorry, hadn’t updated the script.  Right.  Hi there dear readers!  Welcome to the Figure in Question’s 1600th review.  Usually on the hundred mark I do a special high-end deluxe review, but I like to mix things up occasionally and space those particular reviews out a bit more as I go along.  So, the deluxe reviews are new going to be every 250 reviews from now on.  So, in honor of this not at all monumental review, I’ll be taking a look at a Snake Eyes figure.  Wooo-eee.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This particular Snake Eyes figure was packed with the Kid Rhino DVD release of the first two mini-series of the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon, which hit in 2003.  It’s the 16th version of the character released, and is actually just a slight re-working of his very first figure.  This figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Sculpturally, he’s the exact same figure as the ToyFare-exclusive Snake Eyes figure from the same year (already reviewed here).  It’s the original Snake Eyes mold, with the version 1.5 swivel arms, and Roadblock’s pelvis piece.  It’s a sculpt that shows its age, but one I still very much like.  The main difference with this figure and that one is coloring (though not paint, as the actual paint applications on these two are identical).  Rather than Snake Eyes’ usual all black palette, this figure is molded in a dark blue, which mimics how he was colored in the cartoon.  Given how this figure was released, it’s certainly a reasonable change, and makes for a somewhat unique looking figure.  Snake Eyes was packed with a pretty decent accessories complement, given his nature as a pack-in.  He included a sword, an Uzi, a pack of explosives, a back pack, and his trusty canine sidekick Timber.  Sadly, I lost Timber at some point, something I still kick myself about.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the DVD set that included this guy as a Christmas present from my parents some years back.  I know I’d seen it somewhere and expressed interest in it, and they took note of this and got it for me.  Of course, I certainly didn’t ask for the set just for the figure included with it.  That would be preposterous, right?  Who would do something like that?  Not me.  Not me at all.  Despite essentially having reviewed this figure before, there’s just something about this particular variant that I really like. 

#1524: Flash

FLASH

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

“Flash is highly skilled in many aspects of electronic technology and is capable of equipment repair in the field. Specialized Education: Electronics School; Chemical School; Covert Electronics. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; XMLR-1A (Shoulder-Fired Laser Rifle).”

In 1982, Hasbro was looking to revitalize their G.I. Joe brand.  Two different iterations of the 12-inch line had come and gone, and the market just wasn’t there for the style.  What the market totally *was* there for, however, was 3 3/4 inch figures, which had been super-popularized, courtesy of a little movie called Star Wars.  So, Hasbro partnered with writer Larry Hama and created a brand new iteration of G.I. Joe, dubbed A Real American Hero.  Now the Joes weren’t just your average soldiers, but were instead a group of specialized operatives, each with their own style and code name.  The line began with 13 figures, built from a common pool of parts.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those 13, the Laser Rifle specialist, code-named “Flash”*

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was released in the original 1982 assortment of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Unlike many of his compatriots, this wound up being his only figure for 23 years (well, apart from his 1983 re-issue, which I’ll touch on in a second).  Flash stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation.  That articulation count’s a little lower than usual for a vintage Joe.  Why’s that?  The first year of Joes didn’t sport the swivel arms that became a standard for the line in ’83.  These original releases are known as “Straight-Arm” figures, and are an interesting quirk of the earliest offerings in the line.  All of the straight-arm figures would see swivel-arm re-releases in ’83 to help bring them up to date, so there’s two versions of our boy Flash out there.  The lack of swivels does impact posablility, of course, but I didn’t find it to be quite as restricting as I’d expected; I guess I’m just used to my Micronauts.  Another change in motion is the neck joint.  Later figures got actual ball-jointed necks, but the earlier guys just had swivels.  Not a huge difference, but certainly a noticeable one.  In terms of construction, Flash doesn’t actually have much that’s unique to him.  His head was shared with Hawk, Shortfuse, and Steeler.  It’s a reasonable enough piece, and generic enough that changing the hair color is really all that’s needed to make him look different.  I certainly prefer it to his 25th Anniversary sculpt.  The lower legs were shared with Snake Eyes (they’re just generic boots, so it works fine), and the rest of his sculpt is shared with Grand-Slam.  As Grand-Slam was his fellow laser trooper, it’s a pretty sensible re-use, since they’re presumably both in uniform.  The sculpting on this guy is indicative of the time.  The details are a little soft by modern standards, and proportions are less traditionally heroic.  But, if you know what you’re getting into, it’s all about standard for the vintage line.  In terms of paint, Flash is mostly basic work, but it’s all pretty clean, and surprisingly bold for the line.  A lot of the early figures had very washed out palettes, but Flash gets some bright red to keep things a bit more interesting.  Flash was packed with a removable helmet (with flip-up visor), a back-pack, and his laser rifle, which my figure happily still has all of.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Flash has been on my list for a little while.  He was ranked as #16 on ToyFare magazine’s “Top 20 G.I. Joe Toys,” which is what really got him on my radar.  Since then, I’ve been on the look out for him, albeit at a reasonable price.  I ended up getting him very recently, courtesy of Lost In Time Toys, during one of their December sales.  He was in a case of items marked 50% off, meaning I got him for about $10, which is great for a vintage Joe.  Unfortunately, when I opened him, I discovered the o-ring holding him together had dry-rotted.  As luck would have it, Hasbro used standard parts for these guys, so all I needed to do was run over to Home Depot and pick up a box of #9 plumber’s o-rings, which ran me about $2 and took me less than 20 minutes to swap out with the old one.  It was actually pretty awesome to get to rehabilitate this guy, and now he’s ship-shape, and hands down one of my favorite Joes in my collection.

*DC was a bit less productive of their trademarks at this point, I suppose.  Future figures of this character would all add a rank of Sergeant to his name to denote him from the scarlet speedster.

#1461: Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow

SNAKE EYES & STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE VS COBRA (HASBRO)

Heyo!  As all my faithful FiQ-fans are undoubtedly aware, today marks four years of reviews here at the site.  In honor of this momentous day, I wanted to take a look at a pair of figures that are somewhat important in the grand scheme of my collection.  I’ll be setting my sites on G.I. Joe, a franchise that I feel I don’t look at quite as often as I should around these parts.  I mean, it is the *original* action figure, after all.  The line definitely deserves some respect.  Today, I’ll be looking at two of my favorite characters from the franchise (as well as two of the most popular characters in general), Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Snake Eyes & Storm Shadow were released in Series 1 of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Vs Cobra line. This series served to bring brand-new 3 3/4-inch Joes back to mass retail after a one year absence and a few years of repaints.

SNAKE EYES

“SNAKE EYES learned his top combat skills in missions around the globe. A tragic helicopter mission took away his voice and scarred his face. That’s why he communicates with sign language and never removes his mask around others. He studied mystical martial arts with the Arashikage clan, which is also the family of master ninja STORM SHADOW, SNAKE EYES is an expert in all disciplines of martial arts and silent weapons. He can move silenty and without being seen. At one time, he and STORM SHADOW were sword brothers, linked by spirit and tradition. Now that STORM SHADOW is part of the evil COBRA organization, there is no escape from a final battle between two of the world’s greatest martial arts fighters.”

As perhaps the most popular Joe ever, it was no surprise that Snake Eyes turned up here in the first series.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall (he’d be taller without the wide stance) and he has 14 points of articulation.  The first series of Vs were distinct in their construction.  Hasbro abandoned the more typical O-ring construction, and went for a more solid construction.  This results in figures that are a little sturdier than their predecessors, but slightly more limited in their posability at the hips.  It wasn’t a perfect solution, and that’s why Hasbro ended up going back to the O-ring build in the next series.  This Snake Eyes had a unique design, which made use of elements from all of his prior figures.  I may be a little biased, but this has always been a favorite look of mine.  His sculpt definitely shows its age….or an age.  Given the sheer size of this guy’s muscles, he looks like he should be straight out of the ’90s, not the early ’00s.  Guess Hasbro was still shaking off a little of the Extreme days from the ’90s.  That being said, whoever worked on this sculpt was certainly having a good time of it.  The details in the wrappings, the straps, and the pouches are all really well rendered, and indicate real attention being paid to this figure.  The head’s my favorite part of the figure, as it’s probably the least affected by the stylization.  I like that you can clearly see the face under the mask, but it’s not quite as ridiculous as the sculpted lips from Rise of Cobra.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit more involved than most Snake Eyes figures tended to be.  He’s actually molded in a very, very dark green, allowing his visor to be made straight black and still have contrast.  The rest of the work is all in the accents, which all go pretty well.  He’s got some color without it getting too garish.  Snake Eyes was packed with a pair of swords, a backpack to hold them, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  After 15 years, all my figure has left are the swords.

STORM SHADOW

“STORM SHADOW grew up in the Arashikage clan of ninjas.  During his training, his sword-brother was SNAKE EYES, the commando and martial arts master of the GI JOE team.  The evil COBRA organization recruited Arashikage members.  This corruption split the clan in two.  After a COBRA agent killed STORM SHADOW’s uncle, he went undercover within COBRA to find the assassin.  When the killer was revealed, STORM SHADOW joined the GI JOE team to get revenge.  But now, STORM SHADOW is back with COBRA.  Are all Arshikage ninjas evil? Or does COBRA COMMANDER hold some special power over STORM SHADOW?  Whatever the reason, the anger is clear when he meets SNAKE EYES.  The battle between the ninja masters will be legendary.”

Ah, the revolving door that is Storm Shadow’s affiliation.  Yes, one of the notable things done by the relaunch was placing Storm Shadow back on the side of Cobra, which was explained in the Devil’s Due comics of the time as the result of brainwashing.  The figure has the same height and articulation as Snake Eyes.  Thanks to a slightly straighter stance, that actually makes him a little shorter.  The sculpt for Storm Shadow as another all-new one, and while Snake Eyes would get another sculpt very quickly, Storm Shadow’s stuck around for several years.  It’s not anywhere near as exaggerated as the Snake Eyes sculpt, so I guess it had a slightly longer shelf life.  That being said, I can’t help but feel this sculpt is a little less inspired than that of Snake Eyes.  The details seem a lot flatter, less organic, and just generally a little less developed.  And then there’s that hood; what’s going on with the hood?  It’s all stuck to the head, and generally un-hood-like.  The Storm Shadow figure just prior to this one clearly showed that sculpting a hood was totally within Hasbro’s grasp, so this just looks…strange.  It’s as if they didn’t decide until the last minute whether they wanted the hood or not, so he just has this amorphous could-be-a-hood-could-be-a-mask thing.  Storm Shadow’s paint is alright.  It’s pretty basic stuff, really.  Red, white, gray, and black.  It’s relatively clean, and makes for a good contrast with Snake Eyes.  The white is all molded plastic, though, so he’s done some serious yellowing over the years.  The figure was packed with two swords, a backpack, a knife, and a sub-machine gun.  Apart from the backpack and knife, the pieces were actually unique to Storm Shadow, not shared with Snake Eyes.  That’s actually pretty cool!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These two are my very first small-scale G.I. Joes.  I had several of the 12-inch ones, but the smaller line was on the back burner for my earlier collecting years.  When the first series was first shown in ToyFare magazine, I was pretty excited, and I knew from the very beginning that Snake Eyes was the first one I wanted.  Storm Shadow sort of came along for the ride.  My dad bought these for me, as a reward for patiently waiting for flooring with him at Home Depot.  They aren’t amazing figures.  None of this era of Joes really were.  But they were my first, and they were fun.  I loved having them, and they got me into the whole franchise.  Now I have over a hundred of these little guys.  Lots of them are better technically than these two, but these two are still my favorites.

#1335: Rex “The Doctor” Lewis

REX “THE DOCTOR” LEWIS

GI JOE: RISE OF COBRA

“Rex is the chief experimental doctor for M.A.R.S. Industries and developer of advanced nanotechnology. Disfigured in an explosion, he relies on life support equipment as he launches a diabolical plan to satisfy his thirst for power and revenge. ”

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra isn’t a particularly well-regarded movie.  It definitely took some…different approaches to the source material.  I myself kind of enjoyed the movie, but with the caveat that I liked it as it’s own, separate thing.  It’s a good spy-flick, but the Joe label is a bit misplaced.  Misplacing of labels seems to have gone around a lot in this movie.  I absolutely loved Joseph Gordon Levitt’s turn as Doctor Mindbender.  The only problem is that as it turns out, the mysteriously named “The Doctor,” despite checking off every mark for Mindbender (including the character’s signature monocle), is actually Cobra Commander.  Odd choice.  But hey, cool action figures, though!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rex “The Doctor” Lewis was released in the third series of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra tie-in line, which hit a little while after the film’s release.  Presumably, he was in a later assortment so that the reveal that he was Baroness’s not-quite-dead brother Rex could be kept secret.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  The sculpt for the Doctor was all-new to him, and as far as I know, it’s not been re-used (well, apart from the labcoat, which has shown up on a few figures).  The sculpt is certainly different.  Hasbro opted to not be 100% faithful to the film’s version of Rex, who dressed more like an actual scientist (well, apart from the headgear).  This figure has some sort of  Edward Scissorhands get-up.  Which, with the addition of the jacket, ends up looking about the same as the movie design anyway, so I guess it didn’t really matter.  The head stays pretty faithful, apart from the loss of the monocle thing.  The hair and breathing apparatus are both removable, allowing you to view the fully unmasked Rex, who actually looks a fair bit like Levitt in the scar make-up from the film.  Despite being removable, the hair and rebreather fit pretty tightly to the head, and look pretty decent overall, and they also both stay in place really well, which is a definite plus.  The paint on the Doctor is largely confined to the head (everything else is mostly black plastic).  The detail work is actually pretty great, and they convey the scarred nature of his skin quite nicely.  The Doctor is packed with a pair of claw gloves, a giant nanite-injector claw-thing, a pistol, a rifle, a briefcase with three containers of nanites, and a display stand with “THE DOCTOR” printed on it.  Not a bad assortment of extras!  The case with the nanites and the claw gloves are definitely my favorites, but they’re all pretty fun extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Doctor was one of my favorite parts of Rise of Cobra, so I was a little dismayed that he wasn’t out when the film hit.  I patiently waited for his release, and ended up finding him at the local Walmart while grabbing some Christmas decorations with my Dad.  He’s one of the better entries in the Rise of Cobra line, and one of my favorite modern-era Joes in general.  Not bad for a figure from a movie nobody likes!

#1315: Audie Murphy

AUDIE MURPHY — MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT

G.I. JOE: CLASSIC COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Born in Texas on June 20, 1924, Audie Murphy joined the United States Army in 1942 and went on to become the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II.  It was on January 26, 1945 that Second Lieutenant Murphy, 15th Infantry, performed one of the most extraordinary acts of selfless heroism ever recorded.”

Generally speaking, when it comes to G.I. Joe, I tend to stick with the ‘80s A Real American Hero incarnation of the line (though I’m also partial to the ‘70s Adventure Team incarnation as well).  That being said, I was introduced to the brand via my dad and uncle’s old vintage Joes from the ‘60s.  Anti-war sentiment following Vietnam led to the end of the original Joe concept, but opinions gradually calmed over the years, allowing for that original concept to make a gradual return in the ‘90s.  In addition to the generic soldiers that originally populated the line, Hasbro also peppered in some prominent historic members of the U.S. military.  Today’s focus is one of those figures, Audie Murphy, who might be as close as WW2 got to having an actual Captain America.  He was prominent not just as a soldier, but also as movie star in the ‘50s and ‘60s.  And he got a G.I. Joe, so that’s pretty cool, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Audie Murphy was released in 2001’s Echo Series of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: Classic Collection.  He was an entry in the then-ongoing “Medal of Honor Recipient” sub-series of the line.  The figure stands about 12 inches tall and has 42 points of articulation.  The figure is obviously meant to evoke Murphy during the events of January 26, 1945.  It’s worth noting that he seems to actually be more pattered on Murphy’s appearance in the 1955 film To Hell and Back, which retells that battles events, and stars Murphy as himself.  Obviously, there’s a lot more reference available from the movie, and it’s how most people are gonna think of Murphy, so it’s hardly the worst choice. 

The head sculpt is a respectable recreation of Murphy’s likeness.  Obviously, it’s not Hot Toys quality or anything, but that’s hardly expected, given the time period and price point of this figure’s release.  Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty solid sculpt, with some pretty impressive detailing.  It’s perhaps a little on the small side in comparison to the body, but Hasbro was at the time still trying to shake off the really large, chunky heads of the early ‘90s, and I think this looks a little less silly than the alternative.  The paint work is pretty clean, and there’s even a little bit of accent work on the hair.  You’re not going to mistake him for a real person, but you can see who it’s supposed to be.

Murphy is based on the at the time standard body for the line.  It’s a body that definitely shows its age; the arms in particular are a touch on the long side, though this is really to aid with posing.  As far as playability, it’s actually pretty great.  It’s super posable, and can hold a lot of intense poses.  He sports the “Gung Ho Grip,” meaning he had the individually articulated fingers, which are a lot of fun when it comes to posing.

His uniform is made up of a field jacket, shirt, pants, two belts, a scarf, a helmet, and a pair of rubber boots.  Like the head sculpt, they’re not comparable to anything from the higher end, but they fit well with the style of the line at the time.  The tailoring is a little loose, mostly to help preserve his articulation.  Due to the thickness of the fabric, when he’s wearing everything, he can look a little puffy, but that’s really the style of the time, and he won’t look super out of place.  The helmet, second belt, and boots are all quite nicely sculpted; the helmet sits securely on his head, which is always a plus.

The figure included a pretty impressive selection of accessories:

  • M-1 Carbine
  • Canteen
  • .45 caliber pistol
  • .45 ammo pouches
  • Holster
  • Browning .50 caliber machine gun (w/ ammo belt)
  • Dog tags

He’s armed with an M-1 Carbine, a .45, and a Browning machine gun.   All three are quite nicely sculpted pieces.  The Carbine’s my favorite of the three, and I think he looks the best holding it.  Its got a removable magazine and a strap, which is cool.  The .45 is also a pretty nice piece, though it looks a touch small in his hands.  There’s a working slide and a removable clip, which are both pretty awesome touches.  The Browning is supposed to replicate the one Murphy used during his standoff against the German forces.  The main gun is pretty accurate, but the real thing was mounted to a tank, which obviously wasn’t feasible here.  He’s been given a little tripod to stand it on, which is a little awkward to use.  Nevertheless, it’s a cool piece.  The ammo pouches, canteen, and holster are all designed to be attached to his second belt.  It can be a little tricky to get them placed, but they stay on pretty tight once they’re on there. Lastly, there’s the dog tags, which predate G.I. Joe’s move to slightly more realistically scaled ones, and as such look super, super goofy on the figure.  One thing that might have been nice to get is some sort of display stand, but they weren’t really common at this point.

THE ME HALF OF THE  EQUATION

This Audie Murphy figure belonged to my Granddad.  My family and I gave him to Granddad as a birthday present back in 2001, when the figure was still brand new.  Remember how I mentioned that my Granddad moved at his own pace?  Yeah, well he took this figure, unopened,  and set it under a table in their dining room for several years.  Then he finally removed it from under that table….to use it to prop up the TV antenna to get better reception.  It would be hyperbolic to say this caused me actual, physical pain, but it did come quite close.  In the last few weeks since Granddad’s passing, we’ve been doing a lot of work around the house, and I found this guy, still in his now horribly sun-stained packaging.  With my Grandmother’s permission, I finally opened him, 16 years after he made his way into the house.  It was a nice, somewhat cathartic moment.  The figure shows his age, but I found myself genuinely enjoying taking him out and playing with him.  He makes me nostalgic for my days of when I was super into this style of G.I. Joe, and I’m really just happy he’s finally been opened!

#1274: Cobra Commander

COBRA COMMANDER

G.I. JOE: PURSUIT OF COBRA (HASBRO)

“The deviously brilliant leader of Cobra has created the Cobra H.I.S.S. Tank, a dangerous weapon that will help him expand his empire. He is prepared for battle in a mask that uses sunlight to power his cybernetic armor. As the showdown with the G.I. Joe Team begins in the desert, he sends in his new tanks for the final attack.”

When G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was released in 2009, the whole G.I. Joe line was reformatted to tie in with the movie, bringing an official end to the widely popular 25th Anniversary line.  When Hasbro returned back to the non-movie based stuff in 2010, the sort of merged the two, offering a modernized take on the G.I. Joe mythos that used some elements from the movies, but was largely a continuation of the same Joe story from 1982.  Quite frankly, it’s probably my favorite era of the line.  The line offered new takes on a lot of the classic characters, including Cobra’s shrill leader, Cobra Commander!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cobra Commander was part of the first series of Pursuit of Cobra.  He was officially classified as the “chase figure,” but I don’t actually know what the logistics of that were.  It may have just been that he was short packed.  Whatever the case, he’s not noticeably rarer than any of the other figures from that same assortment.  This figure actually began his life as a proposed mail-away figure for the Rise of Cobra line.  When that line was ended, Hasbro cut one of his accessories (the PoC figures were packed in smaller blisters than the RoC ones), and moved him into this line*.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  This figure is largely a parts re-use from the main RoC Commander figure, which was loosely based on his movie design.  While the movie look wasn’t my favorite thing, there’s no denying that the figure had a pretty cool sculpt.  The jacket’s probably my favorite part; there’s an air of elegance to it, which seems perfectly in character for the Commander, and between the awesome texture work and the slightly windblown look to it, it really adds a lot to the figure.  The rest of the figure is pretty solid too; the torso has some really sharp detailing on the armor, and I love that this guys got wingtips.  The figure does get a new head sculpt; it’s not too far removed from the RoC head, but it’s a solid piece this time, instead of being pseudo removable, which makes it a bit sleeker.  I’m still not as much of a fan of this design as I am the classic featureless faceplate, but it’s not awful.  The paintwork on this guy is pretty top-notch; it’s super sleek, if nothing else.  The faceplate of the mask has been vac-metalized, and there’s even some slight accenting on top of that to help bring out the details.  The chest is a deep red, a departure for the Commander, who’s usually blue.  Still, it’s a really nice, metallic red, and there’s a black wash over it to make it really pop.  This figure moves the previous Commander’s logo from just to the left of his left lapel to the back of his jacket.  It’s certainly more visible now, and looks a bit less out of place.  With that said, it’s abundantly clear that this sculpt wasn’t intended to have a logo on the jacket.  The interior of the jacket has been lined with a dark burgundy, which is easy to miss if you aren’t looking closely.  Cobra Commander is packed with a small pistol, a weird grey machine gun thing, a Gonfalon (thanks yojoe.com for helping me ID that), and a display stand with his name and the Cobra logo on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always gone through phases of buying G.I. Joe, but despite hitting smack dab of one of those phases, I didn’t pick up this guy when he was new.  I thought about it, but his design was divorced enough from what I consider Cobra Commander to give me pause.  Then, between the Resolute version, the later (more classic Commander-inspired) PoC version, and finding the RoC figure for a discount, this guy just felt sort of redundant.  Back in February, I ended up spotting him as one of the silent auction items in Farpoint’s charity auction.  Like the previously reviewed Kaylee figure, the money going to a good cause was enough to get me to finally buy him.  I’m really happy I did.  He may not be your conventional Cobra Commander, but he’s a really, really fun figure.

*In 2011, they also offered the figure in his original packaging and with the missing mini H.I.S.S. Tank accessory, as a G.I. Joe Collectors Club exclusive.  This has probably contributed to the relative ease of acquiring the standard release.

#1075: Grand Slam

GRAND SLAM

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6

grandslam1

GI Joe as a franchise has always been subject to change.  Despite being the creators of the action figure market, Hasbro has spent the better part of their 50+ years with the franchise playing catch-up to the rest of the industry.  In the early 00s, anime was hitting pretty big with the hip kids in the US, and Hasbro tried to cash in on that fad via Sigma 6, an anime-styled retooling of the Real American Hero incarnation of the line.  Though the line initially started out rather focused on a small selection of characters, towards its end, many of the old mainstays from the ‘80s line were added to expand the line-up a bit.  One such character was Grand Slam, one of the earliest Joes in the ‘80s line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

grandslam2Grand Slam was released in the first 2007 Commando wave of GI Joe: Sigma 6.  Though the figures up to this point had been based on the corresponding Sigma 6 cartoon, Grand Slam was a design totally original to the toy line (it’s possible he was set to appear later in the cartoon, prior to its cancellation).  The figure is about 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Grand Slam was deliberately introduced into the line with the intent of re-using the already existing Heavy Duty molds, so the fact that he uses a lot of HD’s parts isn’t a huge surprise.  He uses the torso, arms, hands, and boots from HD. Those parts were cool the first time around, and they were still cool here, if rather on the stylized side.  The flip-up comm link still remains one of my favorite features from this line.  Grand Slam also gets his own head and leg sculpts. The head is, obviously, there to make it clear he’s a new character (though that would become less and less common on new characters as the line continued).  It’s somewhat generic, but works reasonably well for Grad Slam, and it’s well-fitted to the body.  The legs are the result of a change in style as the line progressed.  Initially figures made use of cloth parts for things like coats, vests, and even pants.  By the time Grand Slam came along, Hasbro had started aiming for more conventional action figure sculpts, so Grand Slam’s pants are sculpted rather than tailored.  This does the figure a lot of favors, in my opinion.  Not only does it differentiate him a bit more from HD, but it also allows his look to be a bit more consistent, stylistically.  Plus, they’ve got a lot of really great detail worked into them, which adds a bit more character to what could be an otherwise rather generic figure.    The paintwork on this guy is fairly decent, if not anything particularly outstanding.  By this point, the line had mostly given up on the wacky bright colors, so Grand Slam sticks to mostly drab greens and browns.  It’s not thrilling, but it’s still rather appealing.  As a Commando figure, Grand Slam originally included a whole bunch of extras, the only of which I actually have is his set of metal dog tags.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was initially very excited by the change to Sigma 6, but fairly quickly lost interest because of how difficult it was to find many of the figures.  Grand Slam was released a good ways after I’d stopped collecting the line, so I didn’t get him at retail.  I actually found him just a couple of months ago at the 2nd Avenue near where I live.  He was only a few bucks and was just laying there sans accessories, so I figured why not? He’s a pretty cool figure, actually, and I’m glad I picked him up.  He actually did a bit to reinvigorate my interest in my Sigma 6 figures.  Which may not be the best thing…

#0948: Cobra Viper

COBRA VIPER

G.I. JOE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY

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To be a successful evil organization, you need to have a few metric tons of faceless goons. Nothing says evil like some faceless goons! Evil terrorist organization Cobra (the ones that fight G.I. Joe, not the ones who sell health insurance) are practically the kings of the faceless goon: they’ve got a squad of them for just about every occasion! When the basic Cobra Troopers aren’t quite enough, then it’s time to send in the *slightly* more advanced Cobra Vipers! Let’s take a look at one of them today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Viper25th2The Cobra Viper was released in the 2008 assortment of the G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary line. It’s the 16th version of the Viper Hasbro’s released, and it’s based on the classic Viper design from way back in 1986. The figure stands a little under 4 inches tall and has 20 points of articulation. While some of the 25th Anniversary figures made tweaks to the original designs, the Viper is a pretty shot-for-shot recreation of the original toy. The only real change is the move to slightly more realistic proportions (though that head’s a bit undersized). The general quality of the sculpt is pretty good, with lots of really nice detail work. They’ve even made his vest and goggles removable, allowing for a bit more customization and detail than the original figures offered. However, the figure isn’t without some rather notable flaws. First and foremost, there’s the hands. The Viper’s wrists are oddly contorted, which I assume is to allow him to hold his weapon, in theory at least. In practice, this doesn’t work, leaving him with very strangely positioned hands that can barely hold the included gun. Also, the separate goggles, while cool, are incredibly hard to keep in place, due to being just a touch too small for the head. On the plus side, the paint work here is pretty solid. The colors are all nice and vibrant and everything is applied very cleanly. They’ve even added some detail not present on the original, to help add a bit more depth to the design. The Viper includes his standard issue rifle and a Cobra-insignia-ed display stand with his code name printed on it. I do wish the rifle was molded in something other than that weird off-white, but it’s a fairly nice recreation of his original gun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually own three Vipers, all gotten at different times. I picked up the first one loose from All Time Toys, when I was on my first 25th Anniversary buying spree. The second came from Amazon so that I could get free shipping on another order. The final one was added much later, and I believe it also came from All Time Toys, though it was packaged. Is this Viper a perfect figure? No. The hands are pretty annoying, and there’s no real fix. The goggles, however, can be fixed with a small dab of superglue, so there’s that. The Viper’s my favorite human Cobra trooper, and this figure’s definitely serviceable. Hasbro’s produced far worse.

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#0938: Action Marine

ACTION MARINE

GI JOE: CLASSIC COLLECTION– KEYCHAINS (FUN 4 ALL)

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1994 marked the 30th Anniversary of the original G.I. Joe figures. At the time, G.I. Joe was in a bit of an odd spot. The 3 ¾ inch line had started to die down, but the 12 inch line had not yet come back in full force. To celebrate the anniversary, Hasbro sort of combined the two, releasing the original 12-inch Joes, but this time in the smaller scale. Four years later, Fun 4 All, perhaps one of the only not-Hasbro-companies to ever do G.I. Joe toys, made use of Hasbro’s molds to produce a line of keychains…sort of. Yes, they had the key chain bits attached, but by-and-large, this felt like an excuse for Fun 4 All to produce a set of G.I. Joe figures. And why not? Well, let’s have a look at one of the “keychains” they produced, the Action Marine.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Marine2 (2)The Action Marine was one of the four keychains offered in Fun 4 All’s G.I. Joe: Classic Collection – Keychains line, offered starting 1998. All four keychains were fully articulated figures, which a detachable keychain piece (which is missing from my Action Marine. You can clearly see my main interest in these). The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. The sculpt of this figure is a slightly altered version of Hasbro’s Action Marine from 1994. The only real difference between the two (apart from the slightly lower quality of the plastic used by Fun 4 All) is the addition of a loop between the shoulder blades to allow for the keychain’s attachment. The overall sculpt isn’t bad. He’s more or less on par with any of the vintage 3 3/4-inch Joes. Some pieces of the sculpt seem a bit more rudimentary, most noticeably the shoulders, which don’t mesh together organically. In addition, the lower quality of the plastic means that some of the finer details from the original sculpt are lost, which gives him all around simpler look. Still, he’s far from horrible; certainly better than some other figures in the scale. In addition to the step down in plastic quality, there’s also a step down in the quality of the paint. It’s still not bad, mind you. The colors are appropriate, and the level of detail on the camo is decent. However, the paint has a tendency to chip, especially on the hands, and the application is rather on the sloppy side. The Action Marine included no accessories (beyond the detachable keychain, if you’re inclined to count that). A rifle or something would have been nice, but these were relatively low-price, so it’s not a shock.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I was younger, I went in and out of periods of being into G.I. Joe. The earliest Joe I can remember getting for myself was actually one of these keychains, but it wasn’t the Marine, it was the Sailor. I ended up getting the Marine a few years later from a KB Toys (KB pretty much kept these guys in stock until they went out of business). I never really had any particular affinity to him, but he just sort of stuck with me. He actually got left at my Grandparents house for several years, and I found him a few months back while doing some cleaning. He’s not one of my favorites, and he won’t really be winning any awards, but he’s got a certain charm to him.