#2360: Flint

FLINT

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2288: Spirit Iron-Knife

SPIRIT IRON-KNIFE

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 (HASBRO)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#1956: Firefly

FIREFLY

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6

“FIREFLY is an expert in the art of sabotage and specializes in explosive devices that disable electronic systems. He worked in covert ops on missions involving computer espionage and was brought onto the SIGMA 6 Team to destroy a sophisticated computer virus created by COBRA to destabilize the world economy. He infiltrated the evil organization and blew up the base’s central electronics core, stopping the virus from being transmitted and ending all computerized COBRA activity for over a year. He became a permanent member of the SIGMA 6 Team to provide his expertise in fighting the COBRA B.A.T. troops. His Innovative Devices have provided the team with powerful weapons to deplete the ranks of these dangerous robots.”

G.I. Joe is a franchise of change.  Well, it was, anyway.  Beginning in the late ’60s, when it became unfashionable to be selling war toys, and the line had to be rebranded as “Adventure Team,” the brand became rather comfortable with re-formatting itself to suit the times.  In the early ’00s, after a decent run with a relaunch of the ARAH line, it was time to re-brand again.  In an effort to fit in more with the anime-influenced, sci-fi-heavy market of the time, Hasbro created Sigma 6, perhaps one of the most divisive incarnations of the brand in existence.  Either you love it, or you despise it, with very little room between.  Some of the changes to beloved characters drew this divisiveness out even more, and today’s focus, Firefly, was at the center of some of that conflict.  Rather than the clear cut Cobra saboteur of the ’80s, he was a member of the Joe team, with a character arc that amounted to more than the line “Cobra saboteur.”  How could this be?  They were killing the line!… You know, apart from the whole running for another year and a half after this figure’s release, and giving Hasbro the liquidity to launch the 25th Anniversary line and get the movie financed.  But yeah, it killed the line.  Let’s look at this awful thing that killed the line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Firefly was released in the second Soldier Wave for the 2006 line-up of Sigma 6 figures, as the assortment’s one debut character.  Like most of the line, he’s based on the character’s appearance in the corresponding cartoon, albeit filtered through a slightly different stylization.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Firefly’s sculpt was all-new to him, though it definitely shared more than a few stylistic elements with the various other Sigma Suit-sporting characters from the line.  Stylized as he may be, there are still a lot of really fun sculpted elements mixed in throughout this guy’s sculpt.  I love the differing textures on the various parts of the suit, as well as the fact that Firefly’s been given a distinct build when compared to the rest of the team.  I’m also still a fan of the cool little flip-up communicator that every team member had built-in; it was such a fun little touch.  Firefly also has one of my favorite headsculpts from this whole line; that evil smirk of his just exudes so much character, and is just so on point for him.  The modular nature of Sigma 6 was a pretty big selling point for the line, and most of the early figures have pretty involved costume pieces.  As a Soldier release (meaning he was at a lower price-point), Firefly had less pieces than some, but he was still pretty jam-packed.  He had a mask, web-gear (missing from my figure), belt, elbow and knee pads, and a set of dog tags, all of which add-up to a very unique looking figure.  By far, my favorite part is the mask, which has a very distinct flair to it, and sits so perfectly on his head.  In addition to the accents to his uniform, Firefly was armed with a nifty looking sub-machine gun (with a removable magazine and everything), plus two lightsaber-inspired torches, and a land-mine/trap gizmo.  The trap is kind of goofy and hard to use, but the gun is awesome, and the torches can be inter-locked with it for a different configuration, or the flame effects can also be removed and attached to the gun’s barrel.  There are a lot of play options here, to say the least.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sigma 6 was a concept I loved so much, but one I never was able to actively collect when it was new.  Firefly is a figure I admired from a far for quite some time before finally being able to add a mostly complete sample to my collection late last year, courtesy of House of Fun.  There’s so much I love about this figure, and he perfectly encapsulates everything that was so great about this line.  He’s a fun re-vamp, a fun design, and just a generally fun toy.  And he most decidedly did *not* kill the brand.  That came later.  Whatever the case, I’m glad to finally have one of my own, and he really is pushing me to get more of these figures.

#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…