#2691: Firefly

FIREFLY

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2657: Bumblebee

BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Despite his prominent placement in the franchise as a whole and in the tie-in media for the War For Cybertron Trilogy, mainstay Autobot Bumblebee has been completely absent from the main line for the first two parts of said trilogy.  It’s been a weird, almost gnawing omission, since we got Cliffjumper and a handful of other Bee-esque molds throughout the year, and he’s also had a fairly sizable role in Netflix’s tie-in animation.  Eventually, he surfaced, but rather than being a mainline release, he’s instead part of the previously repaints-only Walmart tie-in line for the animation.  Oh joy, another Walmart exclusive.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bumblebee is part of the second round of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line, and is part of the five piece deluxe-class assortment, alongside three repaints, and the similarly new offering of Elita-1.  In his robot mode, Bumblebee stands 4 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  In theory, he’s based on the cartoon, but…well, he’s not.  Bumblebee had no Siege figure, so while many of the characters featured in the cartoon used direct copies of the original CAD files, Bumblebee was an all new model created for the cartoon.  These two designs are certainly drawing from the same source (G1 Animation Bumblebee), but a spitting image of his cartoon counterpart, he is not.  Structurally, this figure is, as expected a re-tool of the Cliffjumper mold from early last year.  It was probably my favorite mold to come out of Earthrise, so it’s definitely a good starting point.  He gets a different head (shared with Bug Bite, but obviously designed for Bee), as well as new parts for his mid-section and feet.  Why the new parts for the mid-section and feet?  That’s because…

…he also gets a new alt-mode!  While Bug Bite and Hubcap both shared Cliffjumper’s generic sports car alt-mode, Bumblebee gets his exterior pieces replaced, allowing him to transform into an authentic, fully-licensed Volkswagon Beetle.  The general transformation sequence is the same as all prior uses of the CJ mold, so there’s still that little touch of parts-forming required with the back of the car, but I still really don’t mind.  It’s a decent transformation sequence, and ultimately it results in quite a nice alt-mode for the figure.  It’s clean, it holds together well, and it’s undeniably a Beetle.  It also means that Bee stands out a bit from the other uses of this mold, which feels appropriate for him.  Bumblebee gets the same accessory selection as all prior uses of the mold: the modular cannon thing.  It’s in the same colors as Cliffjumper’s.  It’s a fun piece, and adds a lot of variety to the figure, so I don’t mind getting it again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I, like a lot of people, have been waiting for a proper Bumblebee in this line since Siege launched.  Simply put, it’s stupid that they opted to make him a Walmart-exclusive, because it guarantees that he’s going the be hard to find and go for stupid amounts of money on the aftermarket.  They really need to stop making core looks exclusives, especially to Walmart.  Hopefully, the plethora of fiascos revolving around these exclusives in the last year will get Hasbro to ease up on them a bit moving forward.  As I’ve said on a lot of these exclusives, I hope that Hasbro finds a way to make these more readily available so that more people can get them, because Bumblebee is a very nice figure, and goes very well with the rest of the standard line.  Also, a shout out to Max for setting me up with this figure, so that I could, actually, you know, have him.  That was super dope.

#2656: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Ah, yes, non-Transforming Transformers.  A wonderful little oxymoronic concept that’s been rattling around ever since the introduction of Action Masters in 1990.  Over the years, it’s been something that Hasbro (and some of their licensees) have gravitated back to every so often, as a way of offering figures that are more accurate to what you see on the screen, thanks to not needing to have any sort of compromise for the sake of an alt-mode.  They’re newest stab at this venture is Transformers: R.E.D., short for “Robot Enhanced Design.”  It’s designed to pair off with the likes of The Black Series, being a highly-articulated line of collector-aimed Transformers figures…that don’t transform.  I’m giving the line a try with who else but Soundwave?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the three figures in the debut assortment of R.E.D., which was exclusive to Walmart.  I know, everyone’s super-thrilled, right?  This version of Soundwave is heavily inspired by his original G1 cartoon design, taking into account all of the impossibilities of that design in regards to an actual transformation sequence.   The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  In terms of sizing, he falls somewhere between and deluxe and a voyager class from the main line, meaning he fits in alright with the standard, actually transforming Transformers, if that’s something you’re interested in.  Despite being designed as a companion line to their other 6-inch stuff, he’s, of course, not even remotely in scale with Black Series or Legends.  Honestly, actual scaling aside, even just as a “hey wouldn’t he be cool robot figure to put with them” sort of thing, he seems a bit on the small side.  The articulation is overall pretty good on this guy.  It’s a slight step up from the Siege mold in its robot form, with more range in areas such as the shoulders and wrists in particular, but just a greater range of motion across the board, really.  The only area where I had any trouble was the ankles, which are just hard to get to move, I think in part due to the size of the joints.  They’re rather large joints, and prone to getting stuck.  In terms of sculpt, Soundwave is admittedly a pretty spot-on recreation of the G1 animation model.  They really got the proportions down pretty well, and the head and torso in particular really nail this particular look.  The torso even features the eject feature for the tape deck in his chest, although in the case of my figure, it does have a tendency to get stuck.  The articulation is pretty well worked in, and it all looks pretty clean.  For the most part, anyway. I do have one notable issue with the sculpt, and it circles back around the issue I had with the articulation: the ankles and feet.  They’ve given him these rather large ball-shaped universal joints, and they’re just kind of obtrusive and not very well worked into the sculpt.  They don’t follow the model, and they don’t look great.  But, from the ankles up, everything’s great.  The paint work on this figure goes for a flat color scheme to match the cel animation.  It’s a more muted appearance than other figures as of late, but it works out alright.  And hey, it’s a Soundwave with a red visor.  That’s cool!  Two of those from Hasbro in a year.  Not bad.  Soundwave is packed with a small version of Laserbeak in tape form, two sets of hands (gripping and fist/button pressing), his shoulder cannon, and his gun.  It hits all the basics, but it feels a bit light.  Couldn’t we at least get Ravage or Laserbeak in their robot modes?  Or perhaps the perpetual red-headed stepchild of the cassettes, Buzzsaw?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interactions with Transformers in the last two years have sort of shifted my opinions on things, because in 2018, this is the kind of line that I probably would have been a bit more excited by, being a fan of the Transformers as cool robots, but not much else.  But, Siege and Earthrise have showcased to me that Hasbro can make some really good robot action figures that still have transformations, making the prospect of this line a harder sell.  When Prime and Megatron were the only two we knew about, it was an easy pass, especially with that bit about the Walmart exclusivity.  Then they had to go and show this guy, and my stupid love of stupid Soundwave dragged stupid old me back in.  The Soundwave that eventually became mine wasn’t originally meant for me at all, however.  Max found two of them at retail, but was unable to get a response from me, so only bought this one for himself.  After opening and messing with the figure, however, he ended up just asking if I wanted this one, because he wasn’t really feeling it.  I certainly wasn’t going to pass on a G1 Soundwave I didn’t have, so I was more than happy to take it off his hands.  Ultimately, getting him within a week or so of the Earthrise Soundwave, he feels a little redundant and out of place, but I can appreciate him for what he is, even if what he is winds up being a bit…counterintuitive?

#2632: IG-11

IG-11

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“One of a series of dangerous assassin droids largely outlawed in the galaxy, IG-11 is a hired gun programmed to follow Bounty Hunters Guild protocols to the letter.  This distinctive collection features premium deco applications inspired by the end credit images from The Mandalorian, plus a collectible Imperial Credit accessory”

Usually, around the holidays, I’m out of town for the week surrounding Christmas, meaning that, pretty much since I began the site, I’ve been jumping into my Post-Christmas reviews as the new year begins.  2020 was having none of that, so I was still at home this year, allowing me to just turn these reviews right around.  Don’t you guys feel so lucky?  For the first few years I was running the site, I kicked off these sets of reviews with an Alien Queen, but in recent years, that’s shifted to Star Wars, something that will stick this year, as I kick things off with a variant of IG-11!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

IG-11 is part of the “Credit Collection” sub-set of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series.  These guys hit right around the launch of The Mandalorian‘s second season, and were effectively this year’s equivalent to the Carbonized figures from last year.  Theset was split up as exclusives amongst a few different retailers, with IG-11 being available through GameStop.  Structurally, this figure is the same as last year’s standard IG-11.  That means he too stands about 7 inches tall and has 21 points of articulation.  It also means that he too is based on the IG-88 figure, and is therefore a little bit inaccurate for IG-11.  That said, it’s not like anyone was really expecting a new mold for this release.  He’s designed to be a quick repaint, and that’s exactly what he is.  At least the IG-88 mold is still a pretty fun toy mold.  The differences on this guy come down to two things, the first being the paint.  He, and the rest of the figures in this set, are based on the illustrations seen in the show’s closing credits, which showcase some of the early art for the show.  IG-11 is illustrated in these images with a much warmer, and more colorful palette than is seen in the show, and that’s replicated well here.  I really dig how they’ve captured the sort of graininess of the illustrations, as well as the really divergently bright colors used.  These two definitely won’t get mistaken for each other.  The second change to the figure are the accessories.  He gets the same two blasters as the prior release, but also gains one of the credit pieces that the bio talks about.  It’s a pretty basic piece, and obviously not meant to go with the actual figure, but it’s a cool little extra nevertheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got all of the standard color versions of the figures chosen for “The Credit Collection”, so I wasn’t in a rush to pick any of them up, especially given their exclusive status.  I did kind of want the IG-11, because I just really like the IGs.  I wasn’t going to buy it from Gamestop for myself, though.  It’s okay, because I didn’t!  Max and I were discussing the figures when they were shown off, and I said I’d hold off, so he went ahead and ordered an extra IG for me for Christmas.  I’m glad to have this guy.  He’s not my primary version or anything, but he’s a fun alternate deco, and goes well with my other IG-related stuff.

#2628: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Oh man, was my last Soundwave review on the site really Bayverse?  Yikes, I can’t let that stick.  I mean, at least he wasn’t some stupid sports car or something, but still.  Okay, let’s got extra, primo classic with this one then, I guess.

This summer, Netflix dropped a new Transformers cartoon, based on Hasbro’s currently running War For Cybertron trilogy of toy lines.  Hasbro corresponded with a set of Walmart-exclusive re-decos of some of their figures, making them a bit more show accurate.  With the show’s second part, Earthrise, upon us, Hasbro’s doing something a little different, and actually using this exclusive line to do some slightly reworked sculpts.  In the case of today’s Soundwave, that means he actually gets an earth mode this time.  Gee, I wonder what it might be?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is part of the second assortment of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line.  He’s one of two Voyager class offerings this round, with the other being Optimus Prime.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 niches tall and he has 25 workable points of articulation.  As I touched on in the intro, some of the second assortment figures got some new tooling, and Soundwave is included there.  He’s got quite a few parts in common with his Siege counterpart, including the head, forearms, hands, feet, and parts of his pelvis.  I was a little bummed that the forearms were kept the same, since they were one of my only complaints about the original, but I guess they had to draw the line somewhere.  Additionally, much of the inner workings of this figure, notably the articulation, are shared between the two.  Siege Soundwave is a very nice figure in his own right, and very strong recreation of his G1 bot mode, so keeping a lot of the parts is fine by me.  The new pieces are largely just about changing up some surface level details.  Some of the more greebly bits are removed from the arms and legs, and he’s generally just made cleaner and sleeker, bringing him a little closer to his original design.  The biggest changes occur on the torso, which is a little wider hand has a slightly different construction at a few spots, as well as removing a number of the moving parts from the Siege mold.  The reasoning behind this change comes more into play in the next section.

Boom, here we are in the next section, where we discuss the figure’s alt-mode.  Since the ‘80s, Soundwave figures have had to deal with the question of what to do for an alt-mode for a guy who turns into out of date tech.  The Siege figure gave him a weird sort of dropship mode, which I didn’t hate, but I also didn’t love.  This release just decides to not even try and come up with a more up-to-date mode, so he once again turns into a cassette player.  The new torso has been designed to help facilitate this change more fully, and ultimately his transformation scheme isn’t too far removed from the vintage figure.  There are a few more moving parts, and the end product’s a touch more fiddly, but it’s overall a set-up that works.  In addition to the new alt-mode, Soundwave also gets a new, much cleaner and bolder paint scheme than the Siege release.  No silver paint this time, or at least no silver paint where his basic design doesn’t call for it.  He’s got all the silver paint he’s *supposed* to have.  Soundwave is packed with the shoulder and hand cannons that were included with the Siege release, as well as is gun that folds into a staff.  Additionally, he comes with Laserbeak and Ravage packed right in this time, instead of them being separate releases.  Both figures get new decos to make them look a bit more like actual tapes (with Ravage’s being the one that really sells it), and Laserbeak also gets a new more Earth-y bird head, which I really like.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like so many Transformers before him, this figure is Max’s fault.  Well, okay, it’s mostly Hasbro’s fault, since they, you know, made it.  But Max showed me the original leaked photos, and let me know it was a Walmart exclusive, and ultimately hooked me up with this one I’m reviewing here.  I love the Siege figure, but I didn’t love his alt-mode.  This figure fixes that, and also just makes for a slightly cleaner robot mode.  I like that a lot.  I don’t know that I’d say he’s definitively better than the Siege release, but I do really like the adjustments made here.  He’s definitely a good Soundwave.

#2613: Mandalorian Super Commando

MANDALORIAN SUPER COMMANDO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“Darth Maul’s Mandalorians modified their armor to reflect allegiance to the Dark Lord. These super commandos wore red and black, and some even fashioned horns atop their helmet.”

The Mandalorian side of the Star Wars universe has been getting a good deal of focus these days, thanks to a show of the same name being kind of a big deal and all.  While this is certainly the most prominent focus the culture has gotten, their background has been in place for a while.  It was originally a strictly EU thing, but made its first foray into more main stream culture via The Clone Wars, whose saga of Mandalore’s fall mad up the back bone of the show’s second half, and playing a large part in the show’s multi-part finale.  Said finale serves as the inspiration for the first fully-Clone Wars-inspired assortment of Hasbro’s Black Series, with the Mandos themselves making up half of the set, one from each side of the Mando Civil War.  Today, I’m looking at one of the Mandos on Darth Maul’s side of the conflict.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Mandalorian Super Commando is figure #05 in the Clone Wars subset of the latest relaunch of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s the highest numbered of his four figure assortment, which is, as of right now a Walmart-exclusive set.  However, the marketing on this particular set has been very vague about the actual exclusivity of this set, and all signs point to it just being an early exclusivity deal, much like Ectotron and Gigawatt were.  Time will tell, of course.  This guy is based on one of Maul’s Super Commandos, specifically the most ornate of the bunch.  It’s armor that was initially seen on Maul-faithful leader Gar Saxon earlier in the show’s run, prior to being adopted by a few of the other Mandos in the show’s final season.  It’s a cool design to be sure, combining all of the cool elements of Maul and the Mandos into one.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  The Super Commando is built on the Jango Fett body, which is…I mean, I guess it’s not the worst, but it’s not the best either.  It comes from a period when the line wasn’t at its best articulation wise, so it’s a bit stiffer than more recent offerings.  On top of that, Jango was a little chunkier than how the Mandos have been portrayed elsewhere.  Now, obviously some of the difference comes from the move from animation to realistic, but it still makes the guy seem just a touch schlubier than he should.  Overall, though, it’s still not a bad sculpt, and the detailing on the armor is pretty darn sharp.  The Super Commando gets a new head, wearing the horned helmet mentioned in the bio.  By far, it’s the best piece of the figure, and is a really clean, really sharp recreation of the design from the show.  He also gets a new belt and upper legs with new holster pieces, which are now separate parts without the straps.  This does at least aid in the posability of the figure at the hips.  Lastly, there are new shoulder pads on the upper arms, with some spikes to match the helmet.  It helps to make the figure sufficiently different from Jango, so he does at least feel a little bit new.  The Super Commando also gets a brand new paint scheme to match the new parts.  It’s pretty solid, although if I have one complaint, it’s that the grey used for the body suit seems a little lighter than it should be.  Other than that, it’s a pretty striking design.  The Super Commando is packed with the same rocket pack that came with Jango, as well as a pair of the standard Mandalorian pistols, borrowed from Sabine.  It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to be workable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While watching the last few seasons of Clone Wars, I was really hoping to get some more figures from the show’s later seasons.  When this assortment was shown off, I was super excited…until the whole “Walmart” bit got mentioned, which thoroughly killed my buzz.  Fortunately, Max was able to help me out on this guy here at the very least.  He’s definitely cool.  Not without his flaws, but cool.  Hopefully the rest of the assortment ends up showing back up in a more easily acquired fashion so that I can get the rest of them.

#2587: Psycho Rangers

IN SPACE PSYCHO RED, BLUE, BLACK, YELLOW, & PINK RANGERS

POWER RANGERS: LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

Remember yesterday, when I was talking about Power Rangers In Space, and how it’s my jam, man?  Well, that continues to be the case.  While the main team of Rangers from the show is just now starting to make their way into Hasbro’s Lightning Collection, we do already have one complete team of Rangers from the show, specifically the Psycho Rangers.  These evil counterparts of the main team were notably absent from the show’s tie-in toys at the time.  They eventually surfaced in Bandai’s Legacy Collection, but the line was cancelled before the whole team could be completed.  The Lightning Collection initially started out with seeming plans to release each Psycho Ranger individually, but then rather quickly threw in that towel and just dropped the whole darn team all at once.  So, uh, here we are.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Psycho Rangers were released as an Amazon-exclusive boxed set, as part of the Lightning Collection line-up, hitting towards the end of the summer of this past year.  Black, Yellow, and Pink are exclusive to this set.  The Red and Blue Psycho included in this set are indistinguishable from the prior releases, reviewed here and here, though there is also an effects piece included for Red’s sword, albeit one re-used from elsewhere in the line.

PSYCHO BLACK RANGER

Psycho Black was fortunate enough to be one of the ones Bandai got to, by virtue of being largely a parts re-use of the other male Psychos.  Hasbro’s version sticks with that, rather unsurprisingly.  He’s still 6 inches tall and he still has 34 points of articulation.  The articulation on this body, specifically the arms, is a bit on the limited side, but otherwise, I do really like this sculpt, and I certainly don’t have any issues with its re-use here.  Obviously, he swaps out the paint scheme, with the primary color accents of the least two being changed to black here.  I do appreciate that they kept the shinier finish to the accented parts, thereby keeping those parts from getting too lost in with the rest of the black on the costume.  Psycho Black is packed with his Psycho Rod, and two sets of hands in gripping and a fist/electrical effect combo pairing.  I’m bummed that he didn’t get an effects piece for his weapon, but it’s worth noting that his effect hand is actually a unique sculpt from the other two male Psychos.

PSYCHO YELLOW RANGER

Absent from Bandai’s attempt at the Psychos were both female members of the team, Psycho Yellow included.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 34 points of articulation.  The articulation here is pretty similar to the male body, with the slight limitations on the shoulders and all.  The double elbows are swapped out for the universal joints, as is usually the case for female bodies, but no major posability is lost.  On my copy of this figure, there are a lot more loose joints, notably in the arms and the neck.  This means she struggles a bit with holding a pose and staying standing, but fortunately not as bad as some figures, but it’s still annoying.  While Black was a total re-use, Yellow, being female and all, is mostly new, apart from the helmet, which is identical for all of the Psychos.  The sculpt matches up well with the other version, and it means she slots in beside the other three team members just fine.  The paint on Yellow pretty much matches up with everyone else, with the accents changing to Yellow, of course.  Yellow is packed with the two sets of hands to match the male body’s and her Psycho Sling.  Again, no effects piece, which is a shame.

PSYCHO PINK RANGER

See what I wrote above, about Psycho Yellow?  Great, you can pretty much just swap the word “Pink” in there and you’re good to go.  Okay, maybe not quite, I guess.  The joints on my copy of Pink are a little tighter than on Yellow, so that makes her a slightly more easily used figure.  At the very least less frustrating.  Paint’s more or less the same, color change aside.  She gets the same hand selection as Yellow, plus her Psycho Bow.  Also, somewhat astoundingly, she gets an effects piece, the firing arrow that MMPR Pink and Ranger Slayer got.  I guess that’s not too bad.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As cool as the Psychos are, and as much of a fan of In Space as I am, I will admit that I was kind of cold on this set.  I was all prepped for picking them up one by one, and that’s why I’d gone and gotten Red and Blue.  I was waiting for the other three, so when they decided to drop the whole set of them all at once, it sort of felt anti-climactic.  Not helping things was the fact that Red and Blue are included again and are also completely unchanged for this round, meaning I was only actually getting three new figures in a set of five.  And, of course, one of those three new ones is a straight repaint, and the other two are the same mold as well.  It’s just a lot of sameness all in one go, I guess.  So, I opted not to jump right in on this set.  Max, on the other hand, did, but upon receiving them, was iffy on keeping them.  Since I’m a big In Space fan, and I did want to get them eventually, I was happy to take them off his hands.  Ultimately, the set’s fine.  Nothing amazing, and I still think spacing them out would have been better, but I’m glad I have them.  Now, I need to figure out what to do with the extra Red and Blue, I guess…

#2572: Red Ninja

RED NINJA

G.I. JOE: CLASSIFIED SERIES (HASBRO)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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

#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.