#2572: Red Ninja

RED NINJA

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2571: Gung-Ho

GUNG-HO

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#2570: Cobra Commander

COBRA COMMANDER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2569: Cobra Trooper

COBRA TROOPER

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2530: Profit Director Destro

PROFIT DIRECTOR DESTRO

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Remember when Destro was pretty fliggity-fly for a chome-headed guy?  No? Yeah, that’s fair, because that’s totally a phrase I just made up, and if I’m honest, I’m kinda regretting it just a touch.  It’s okay, let’s just move on and not dwell.  Today, I get to touch on one of my favorite things: weird toy production trivia and oddities!  Yes, today’s focus figure has a definite story behind it, going back to the year 1997.  The 3 3/4 scale Joes had taken a 3-year break, and Hasbro was looking to attempt a relaunch of the line.  The result was the Real American Hero Collection, a collection of mistakes, mishaps, and misfortune that somehow still managed to be an overall success and bring the line back.  Interspersed with all the madness that surrounded the project, Hasbro was still trying to inject at least *some* new life into the franchise, and subsequently brought in some outside artists to try and spruce up some of the mainstays with some new color schemes.  Amongst these new designs was one for Destro, which replaced his usual black and red number with something more…exotic?  Okay, look, you’ve seen the picture at the top, I don’t need to beat around the bush: it’s leopard print.  They gave Destro leopard print.  What began as more of a jokey concept on the part of artist Steve Masso actually managed to get approved and go into production…briefly.  Once a few people higher up on the Hasbro chain saw the design, this new Destro design was deemed a step too far, and the leopard print was replaced with black on the final production figure.  A small sample of the original design, dubbed Pimp Daddy Destro by the fanbase, managed to make it out, however, and the whole thing has become rather legendary in the Joe community.  Hasbro paid its first bit of official homage to the design as a SDCC-exclusive in 2007, and is now following that up by bringing the design into their latest re-launch of the line, with a figure I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Profit Director Destro (rather clever way of getting an official take on the name on Hasbro’s part) is a fan channel-exclusive Classified Series offering, numbered at 15 in the line, making him chronologically the latest figure in the line.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  At his core, this figure is the same as the standard Destro from Series 1, which is pretty sensible, since PD Destro’s always been a repaint.  It’s also a really strong sculpt through and through, so I’m not unhappy to see it show up again.  He does actually spruce things up a little bit more than the prior two versions of this design, gaining a fairly swank cape.  Oh wait, did I say cape?  I meant capes, plural, because he’s got not one, but two fur capes going on there.  It’s definitely a fun piece, and manages to actually stay in place quite securely once you’ve got it one there, and definitely adds to the whole look.  The rest of the appearance has been achieved through paint work.  There were a lot of smaller detail changes on the body suit of the main Destro, and so this figure kind of adapts the PD color scheme around them.  The main red of the body suit is definitely more present this time around, and the leopard print is slightly more downplayed.  Also, much like the variant edition of the 2007 release, he swaps the silver helmet for a gold one.  It calls back to his V2 design, and it actually works a bit better with the overall color scheme of this design.  Destro’s pretty decently packed when it comes to accessories, including the briefcase and pistol from the standard release, as well as a pair of sunglasses and a stack of money that’s been lit ablaze.  The last two extras are definitely the coolest ones, as they perfectly complement the overall over the top nature of this design.  I dig the vibe.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a sucker for cool toy history throw-backs, and I was always kind of bummed that I’d missed out on the ’07 edition of this design.  As soon as this one was shown off, I was definitely on board.  Obviously, he’s not going to be my standard Destro by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s a really fun little side figure, and he’s got a really fun design.

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

#2529: Arctic Mission Storm Shadow

ARCTIC MISSION STORM SHADOW

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2528: Baroness & Cobra C.O.I.L.

BARONESS & COBRA C.O.I.L.

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

Since its move to the 3 3/4 inch scale and subsequent re-branding under the “Real American Hero” branch of the franchise, vehicles have been a somewhat central piece of G.I. Joe.  When it became official that the line would be jumping to 6 inch scale, one of the early questions to pop-up amongst the fan base was: “What about the vehicles?”  Vehicles have been a hard-sell for the line pretty much since the end of the vintage years.  Obviously, at almost twice the size, they’re an even harder sell, but Hasbro’s dipping their toes in the water, much like they did with Star Wars, with a smaller-scale vehicle to try things out.  And, it’s also packed with one of the franchise’s central characters, so let’s see how all of that works out, I guess.

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

Baroness and the Cobra C.O.I.L. are another piece from the Target-exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-line of Classified Series.  They’re numbered 13 in the overall line-up, showing that the vehicles will also apparently be getting in on that main numbering scheme as well.  Also, for those of you tracking at home, you’ll see I went from 11 to 13.  That’s because 12 is the Cobra Trooper, and I haven’t yet become a miracle worker.

BARONESS

Baroness was an early addition to the toyline (and an even earlier addition to the franchise, due to being present in the comics well before her toy appeared), and has long been at the core of the franchise, so it’s no surprise that she’s getting added to this relaunch pretty early on.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 35 points of articulation.  She’s got the same articulation scheme as Scarlett, meaning she’s a touch more limited in terms of posability than some of the others in the line, but as I noted on Scarlett, she’s still very serviceable on that front. In fact, she’s actually got one improvement over Scarlett in terms of construction; her shoulder pads are their own piece, allowing them to rotate out of the way, giving the shoulder’s slightly cleaner movement.  I do still wish there was a deeper range on the elbows, but I’m overall pretty happy with the mobility on this one.  In terms of design, Baroness joins her boy-toy Destro in staying pretty faithful to the vintage figure.  Obviously, there are a lot more parts and depth to this particular iteration, but the major parts of the costume all line up pretty much piece for piece with the layout of the V1 figure’s gear.  I definitely dig this.  Her head sculpt definitely falls slightly more into the modern era depictions of the character, and I definitely see a lot of similarities to Sienna Miller’s take on the character from Rise of Cobra going on.  That being said, there really are worse parts of that movie to be borrowing than Baroness’s design.  The glasses are a separate piece that’s been glued in place, and they’re quite well scaled to the figure.  Sometimes, I’m sketchy on that sort of set-up, but it actually works here.  Baroness’s color scheme is classically just a lot of black.  This figure takes that as a starting point, but does a fair bit more with it, adding dark grey sections to her underlying body suit.  She’s also got a printed face, which looks pretty solid, apart from one errant mark on my figure.  I also quite dig the gold tips on her glasses.  That’s a fun touch!  Baroness is quite well accessorized, with a second head sporting a helmet, two golden pistols, a strange snake gun thing, two rifles, and a knife.

COBRA C.O.I.L.

Our first vehicle for the new line is honestly not a huge surprise.  Motorcycles have been a piece of the Joes since pretty much the very beginning, and it’s a good, fairly low-cost way to introduce a vehicle to the line.  The only thing that I’m left to ponder is just what C.O.I.L. stands for, because the box doesn’t share that info with us. Alas, we’ll have to figure that out for ourselves.  The cycle measures 4 1/2 inches tall by 8 1/2 inches long, and has working wheels.  When I first saw the cycle, I was honestly expecting it to have a fair bit in common with Black Widow’s bike from Marvel Legends, but the two are wholly unique from each other.  This one’s got a rather unique design to it, which looks pretty decent, and fits well with the whole overall Cobra aesthetic.  It’s definitely in line with the line’s high-end sci-fi elements as well.  Baroness sits well on it, and you can even mount the two rifles each on the sides of the bike, for some proper armaments.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Given the nightmare that other people have been having trying to locate this one, I was anticipating not getting the chance to grab it at all.  However, like with the Roadblock from yesterday, I got a call from Max, who found one while on a grocery run.  Dope!  Baroness is a really nice figure, and a fantastic companion to the Destro figure from Series 1.  I feel confident she’ll be out again in some shape or form, and probably rather soon.  The bike I can kind of take or leave, because I don’t really associate Baroness with it, and I don’t really have anyone else who quite fits it yet.  Still, it’s not a bad piece either.

#2527: Roadblock

ROADBLOCK

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

For the second day of this week of G.I. Joe: Classified Series reviews I’ve got going, I’m gonna be doing some retreading….which is what I did for the second day of my last round as well.  Am I getting predictable, or is Hasbro?  Probably both of us, really.  The line’s first retreaded character was, unsurprisingly, Snake Eyes, but the second character to get the follow-up treatment is, a little bit surprisingly, Roadblock, a character that Hasbro seems to be really getting behind for this reboot.  Hey, I can’t really knock it myself, especially when it means more cool toys.  Let’s check it out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roadblock marks the second figure in the “Special Mission: Cobra Island” sub-line of Classified Series figures, which is currently exclusive to Target…and eBay, I guess, but let’s try not to dwell.  Roadblock is numbered figure 11, picking up from Beach Head, and by extension the whole main line.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation.  Unlike Snake Eyes, who was just a straight deco change between the two figures, Roadblock’s gotten a rather adjusted design for his second outing.  While a lot of people were pulling for a Roadblock that came close to the V1 figure, this one actually moves even further away from it.  He’s got more of a covert ops feel to him, befitting the Cobra Island mission theme of the set.  It also seems to take a sizable chunk of its inspiration from Roadblock’s successor Heavy Duty in his Sigma 6 incarnation.  Given my vocal approval of Sigma 6, I’m definitely okay with this.  In order to get this new appearance, this guy uses the same core body as the prior Roadblock, but without the vest piece, and with the addition of a new head, and add-ons at the wrist and thigh.  Removing the vest does a lot to change up the body from the start, but the new pieces take it even further.  The new head is really the star piece, and the thing that brings up the Heavy Duty/S6 similarities.  He’s sporting a bandana and a sort of high-tech comm piece on his ear.  It also appears that Roadblock’s been on his mission for a little while now, because he’s got a large, bushy beard, and his friendlier expression from the last figure has become much more intense and worn down here.  I like how they’ve convincingly changed so much about his appearance.  The add-on pieces for the wrist and thigh straps are actually a bit of a preview here, initially being designed for the Gung-Ho figure that’s in the second main assortment.  They add a bit to the sci-fi elements of the design, and also do a little more to mix up the body, which certainly is fine by me.  Roadblock’s paint helps to sell the more covert elements of this design, transitioning him to more blacks and greys.  It’s not eye-catching, but then it’s not meant to be.  I don’t hate it; I can kind of dig the understatement.  Roadblock is armed with the same weapon as the last time, so he’s still toting around the big rail gun thing.  It does at least get a slightly altered paint scheme, with a bit of graffiti on the side, which I really quite like.  He’s also packed with a pair of sunglasses, which help to further sell the Sigma 6 feel on the design.  I’m down for this, you guys.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Roadblock is actually the first of these exclusives I was able to get my hands on.  It’s not much of a surprise, since he’s the one that everyone seems most willing to pass on.  Nevertheless, Max found this guy while on a grocery run, and hit me up, and boom, there he was.  I know he kind of pales in the light of new versions of major players and the line’s first army builder, but I really enjoy this Roadblock figure.  Honestly, with the number of changes, I’m thinking I might just find a slightly more Roadblock-y weapon for my Series 1 figure, and keep the rail gun with this guy so he can just be Heavy Duty.  Boom.  Then I can keep them both on my shelf, and my Joes get one more member.  I don’t know about you guys, but that seems pretty downright awesome to me.

#2526: Wayne “Beach Head” Sneeden

WAYNE “BEACH HEAD” SNEEDEN

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

It’s been a month since I took my last look at Hasbro’s re-boot of their G.I. Joe line under the Classified Series banner.  The initial drop from the line was a general release.  The immediate follow-up has been split between a few different locations.  The majority of the second round of product is courtesy of Target’s exclusive “Special Mission: Cobra Island” assortment.  It’s…not been a smooth process getting them out there, but….well…it’s not smooth.  That’s kind of the central piece to these figures.  Fortunately, it does seem like they’re finally making their way into some dedicated fan’s hands.  And hey, look at me, over here, being a dedicated fan.  The first of the new figures I’m taking a look at is the Joe’s own resident Drill Sergeant Nasty, Wayne “Beach Head” Sneeden!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beach Head is the first figure in the “Cobra Island” sub-line of figures for the Classified Series line-up.  He’s numbered figure 10, and it looks like all of the other exclusives will be following suit, and keeping the on-going numbering for the line.  That’s different from how Hasbro handled the Black Series numbering, so I was a little surprised to see them go this route.  Given the total lack of any sort of actual exclusive branding, its possible that these might end up getting wider releases later?  One can only hope.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Beach Head’s design remains quite faithful to his V1 figure from ’86.  In terms of vintage accuracy, I’d say he’s pretty much only rivaled by Destro.  The specifics of his design have, of course, been somewhat refined, both to fit in with his more sci-fi-esque teammates, and to take advantage of the larger canvas that the new scale gives the character.  Beach Head marks the line’s first instance of cross-character parts re-use, making use of Duke’s legs and hands.  Given the sort of standard issue nature of both characters’ designs, it’s hardly an issue, and honestly not that noticeable at first glance.  The rest of his parts are new, and they’re really impressive.  From the incredibly dedicated texturing and stitching of Beach Head’s sweater and mask, to the angry and determined expression clearly visible beneath his mask, there’s a lot going on in this sculpt, and it’s all pretty awesome.  Quite honestly, it’s probably the best sculpt produced by the line so far, and that’s really saying something.  In terms of paintwork, Beach Head again stays pretty close to his vintage routes.  There’s one spot of the bright Tron-esque blue that’s been on all the Joes so far, but that’s it, and it’s honestly pretty tame.  The rest is drab greens and browns, and it works.  There’s actually a paint variant on this figure, which concerns the eyes.  Mine are blue, but there’s also one with black eyes out there, for those that care about such things.  I personally prefer the one I got.  Beach Head does quite well when it comes to accessories, getting a rifle, pistol, small crossbow, backpack, knife, and a beret.  I don’t know how I feel about the solid green on the weapons, but it’s not the end of the world.  I guess I just got accustomed to the painted weapons from Series 1.  Overall, definitely a fun selection, though, and he’s only an ammo case away from covering what was included with the original figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

To say that these Target-exclusive Joes have been hard to track down is something of an understatement.  I didn’t even come close to getting in on the online orders, so I’ve been relying on the kind nature of others to help me track them down in person.  Fortunately, Max was able to set me up with this guy via one of his collecting acquaintances, so I didn’t have to do too much searching on my own.  I’m glad I got him, because he’s probably my favorite thing to come out of the line at this point.

#2488: Scarlett

SCARLETT

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

To wrap up up my look at the first assortment of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe relaunch, I’m making my way to the First Lady of the franchise, Shanna O’Hara, aka Scarlett.  Debuting as one of the Original 13 back in the day, Scarlett has a sort of hot-and-cold run when it comes to action figures.  She’ll go long stretches between updates, and finds herself frequently left out of line-ups where she should be included (Sigma 6 being the biggest offender on that front).  Fortunately, she’s right here at the start for Classified.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Scarlett is figure 05 in the Classified Series line-up.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 35 points of articulation.  As far as mobility goes, she’s definitely the most limited of the first series figures, thanks to actually just having less articulation.  For the most part, she’s still pretty serviceable on that front, but the elbows are a lot more limited than I’d like, especially given that she’s got a weapon she’s meant to hold two-handed.  Some deeper bends are really needed.  Of all the designs in this first set, Scarlett’s is the one that’s the most far-removed from her original figure.  Now, in her defense, even the original animation and comics designs were a little bit removed from how the figure looked, so she’s already starting from there.  That said, there’s still a lot more modernization and tweaking going on this one.  It kind of makes sense, with her being the least regulation of the original bunch anyway.  She was running around in a leotard and was just shy of a super hero costume, so she’s always been a little bit of an outlier.  She’s also the one most prone to rather sizable re-works as the line progresses, so this is really just the next one of those.  For me, this design really works, because it possesses all of the broad strokes elements that really read as Scarlett, while still fitting in a little bit better with a modern aesthetic.  This design has a nice fusion of practicality and fantasy, and it keeps it pretty fun.  The sculpt does a solid job of bringing her into three dimensions, with a nice set of balanced proportions, and a ton of small detail work that helps her really pop.  In terms of paint, Scarlett is definitely a brighter splash of color than the rest of the assortment.  That’s not a bad thing, and it’s in keeping with usual depictions of her.  The use of the gold that’s been on most of the Joes looks a lot better here, especially when merged with the yellow that’s already there.  I’m also quire a fan of the variation on her hair, which gives it a nice sense of transparency and light.  I did notice a few spots of slop on the base paint for my figure, especially on the wrist guards.  I’m hoping Hasbro can tighten up the paint a little more on this line going forward.  Scarlett is packed with an updated version of her crossbow, plus three knives.  The crossbow is in two parts and has a tendency to pop apart a lot, but is otherwise pretty cool.  The knives can all be stowed on the figure, which gives them a nice extra interactive feel which I really enjoy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a very big fan of Scarlett, so as soon as I saw Snake Eyes, I was waiting to see the corresponding Scarlett.  I know she’s not everyone’s jam, but I really dig this new design a lot, and I like having her to go with my updated Snake Eyes.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a more classic version at some point as well, though, since I’m hardly going to turn down the chance to get another Scarlett figure.

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