G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)
“The Renegades don’t answer to anyone but themselves. They don’t officially exist. They can function with very little restraint but if they are compromised, they’re on their own.
Mercer was the only Cobra Viper that ever defected to the Joes and survived. He had joined Cobra for the adventure and the promise of material gain but soon grew disaffected with the Cobra philosophy. He escaped Cobra island by hot-wiring a hydrofoil and outrunning his pursuers across the Gulf of Mexico. Mercer is proficient with all Cobra small arms and explosive devices.”
In 1986, GI Joe got their first real-life celebrity member in the form of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who would serve as a high-stakes drill instructor for the team when Beach Head just wasn’t enough. In 1987, both the toyline and the movie would give Slaughter his own specialized team of hard-hitting trainees, dubbed Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades. The three man team was made up of Red Dogg, Taurus, and today’s focus, Mercer, a turncoat Cobra Viper. Gee, I wonder why Ethan likes this one…
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Mercer and the other two Renegades were released as a special three-pack as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1987 line-up (except for in the UK, where Mercer and his teammates were available individually). They were one of a pair of three-packs based on characters introduced in the movie. There were plans for a third, but they were scrapped after the less than stellar performance of the Cobra-La pack. Mercer stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. His sculpt was all-new to him, and apart from the head being re-used for another Mercer figure in 2006, the parts would remain unique to him. Mercer’s design is important, since it has to read as a Cobra uniform without actually being one. Now, why it’s not just a broken down Viper uniform is really anyone’s guess, but I’d say Mercer’s not super keen to get mistaken for the enemy. He’s got a lot of similarly styled elements to the Viper figure, with the vest and the quilted elements on his pants. That said, he definitely reads as just a little bit more heroic than a Cobra operative. All things considered, though, Mercer’s sculpt does seem a little more basic and light on the details than some of his compatriots, with the hair being noticeably devoid of detail. He’s still more detailed than the line’s earlier works, but compared to some of the figures that hit the same year, the fact that his hair’s so smooth does stand out as a little odd. He also shows the line’s shift towards more exaggerated proportions, with his arms being quite bulked up, and his torso getting more of that V-shape that later figures would receive more regularly. With the proportions, it is a little more excusable for a character like Mercer, since the Renegades are supposed to be a little more hardened, though. Mercer’s paintwork is decent enough, keeping with the sculpt’s “suggest Cobra, but not actually Cobra” aesthetic. He does end up a little oranger than he looked in animation, but it’s at least a deep orange, not a safety orange. Mercer was packed with a pistol and a backpack, both of which are missing from my figure.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I’m a huge fan of the Vipers, so it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Mercer (the other two Renegades I can kind of take or leave). When piecing together the huge Joe collection that came into All Time, I was a little sad that the Renegades weren’t included (though not as saddened as the time Red Dogg and Taurus came in without a corresponding Mercer. That one really stung deep). As luck would have it, I happened upon Mercer at Yesterday’s Fun while on my summer family vacation, so I wasn’t without him for too long. Honestly, after going through so many Joes in the last few months, Mercer is perhaps not as exciting as I’d hoped, but it’s still cool to have him.