Ever since Destro debuted on the Black Sheep Toy Store a few weeks ago, many US-based Joe fans have been getting this figure in their mailbox, and now I can count myself in that camp. I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the figure and do up an impromptu review for those interested.
The character of Destro is indellible in the G.I. Joe mythos, and some might argue he is as important to the story, if not moreso, than COBRA Commander himself. He brought a sense of honor and tradition to the super villain role, and successfully walked the line between soulless evil-doer and a man of integrity. Some might say he actually walked that line a bit too well, for being a weapon supplier for terrorists.
Regardless, it quickly became clear that Destro was going to be an integral part of the Rise of COBRA film, actually serving as the main villain for most of the movie. As such, it was pretty important that he get a credible figure representation. Simply put, Hasbro nailed it with this one. They nailed it.
Unlike many of the fandom out there, I’ve found things to like about many of the movie figures. I love the “reactive armor” suits, and the actual sculpting of the figures is, frankly, stellar. Lots of detail, lots of intricate paint apps, and some very cool design choices have taken figures who could potentially look much the same, but actually makes them look fairly different. From Heavy Duty to Shipwreck, Deep Six, and Ripcord, you end up getting a lot of cool looking figures who all appear in the same theme without all looking the same. But in all honesty, as much as I like some of those other figures, Destro is far and away the best Rise of COBRA figure that I’ve seen yet. He is fantastic, and should appeal to the vintage fans as well as movie fans and yes, even the Resolute guys. He pretty much fits in everywhere.
In my mind, the original Destro was an instant classic. His black leather bodysuit, red fur collar, and huge medallion really defined the character, but let’s face it, they would also make him look totally rediculous in live action. It just wouldn’t work.
Hasbro manages to take the Destro character, work him into a fairly generic “European Dictator” suit and give him a style and flair that makes him look like Destro, yet still he retains a more realistic “real world” appearence as well. His upturned collar gives folks that resemblence to the old school, but with a more muted, normal looking gray suit and jacket, he doesn’t look silly on film. Of course, who knows if he actually appears like this in the movie, but even if he doesn’t, I’m psyched just to have an updated Destro that brings something new to the table.
Now, when it comes to Destro, in my mind, the accessories are pretty important. He’s made his reputation on being a weapons designer and seller of the highest caliber, and based upon what I know about the film, there is some crazy futuristic weaponry that he supplies COBRA with, so it would only make sense that he comes with some of those weapons himself.
I’ve seen a lot of complaining about his gear, but I actually like it a lot. To me, weapons have always been of secondary importance to a figure. Yes, for the price of a toy these days, you would want and expect for it to deliver on as many fronts as possible, including the weapons. However, now that Marauder, Inc. has come along, that is much less of an issue, as you can snag nearly any weapon you can think of from his shop if you feel the need. And yes, the movie figures come with some obnoxious, oversized, spring-loaded power launchers (Destro included) but as long as they come with plenty of complimentary weapons to go along with it, I don’t have an issue. The problem with Destro is that his complimentary weapons are all pretty “out there” and unrealistic, but in my mind, that makes sense for a character like this. But, to me, as long as the weapons are good, I don’t care if they’re unrealistic, and I think these weapons are at least pretty cool. The pistol with the stock and the two-part rifle are all very neat, I think, and work well with the figure. I like the fact that each weapon has a peg that hooks to his leg as well. There isn’t much flexibility in customization for a figure of this scale, but the two-part weapon fits together well and has a neat design, all told. I can give or take the rocket launcher, but I dig the guns at least. The small black pistol also fits seamlessly into his shoulder holster as well.
I think Hasbro really did a fantastic job with this figure. His head manages to look like a version of Destro without looking unrealistic, and I love the hollowed out eyes. His uniform borders the line between traditional Destro “look” and real world execution to near-perfection, and this version of Destro will fit with pretty much any era of G.I. Joe that you want it to. While a lot of folks are getting bent out of shape about this not being “their” G.I. Joe, I’m fired up as we’re actually entering another era of the Joe brand. I love it when G.I. Joe moves on and moves forward, and am not one of those folks who is endlessly tied to the past. I can accept updates to character look as long as the look remains faithful to the essence of the character and makes sense. Destro doesn’t always have to wear a black jumpsuit. Duke doesn’t always have to wear tan and green. I embrace new concepts and new looks, and with the recent Resolute items, upcoming “Headquarters for Heroes” stuff, and yes, the movie stuff, I am getting really excited to step into a new era for G.I. Joe. I think a lot of fans will be very pleased going forward, even if they don’t know it yet.