If there was anything that the G.I. Joe purists hated more than the Sigma 6 toys or the Sigma 6 concept itself, it was the animated series. We got our first taste of the cartoon at the G.I. Joe convention, and all came away pretty impressed. With designs and animation by Gonzo studios, this seemed like a potentially great (if not somewhat “kiddified”) new super-hero type animated series, but featuring our favorite Joe characters. While at the beginning, the animation impressed, the writing was an immediate drawback, as the cartoon came across as if it were almost written for the kindergarten set. Overly emotional, wacky vocal patterns, and over-exaggerated expressions gave us the worst parts of the Japanese animation culture, but not much of the good stuff. Still, there were some things to look forward to, if you could overlook the silliness.
The arctic battle was one of the first clips we saw at the convention, and it was a crowd-pleaser. Seeing the Ice Sabre in fully animated computer generated glory was pretty cool, and even if the characterization was rough, almost every time the vehicles showed up, they kicked ass. Trust me, you’ll see your fair share of vehicle clips in this article and the next.
It was evident to most G.I. Joe fans that Sigma 6 was originally designed to take place after “Valor Vs. Venom” and was possibly conceived as an animated feature for the ill-fated Robot Rebellion 3 3/4″ line. One thing that lends itself to this idea was the fact that COBRA Commander was a captive (he was captured in the Valor Vs. Venom animated feature), a condition which did not last long in the Sigma 6 series.
As anyone can see, when the characters stop talking and start doing things, the series picks up immensely. I can’t stand to listen to Duke talk for more than 10 seconds, but once he starts kicking some Dreadnok ass, I get at least somewhat more interested. That’s probably why you’ll see a lot of action scenes in these clips, and not necessarily too many speaking points.
Of course, at some point we do have to take a look at the way the characters interact, and how the Sigma 6 concept came to be, so yes, at some point we have to listen to Hi-Tech (and Tunnel Rat) talk about the Sigma Suits.
Oye. Yeah, the dialog is rough. Yeah, that IS Hawk’s kid Scott. Yeah, Hawk’s 12-year old can apparently outsmart COBRA and hack into their top secret computer network to give all of their secrets to Sigma 6. And we haven’t even touched on the “Spud” issue yet…maybe I’ll gloss over that one.
I can admit it up front. This series can be painful to sit through at times…but if you can ignore the more ridiculous aspects and just enjoy seeing the toys come to life and seeing some action on the screen, then it does pay off, at least a little bit. Essentially the first 5-Parter of the Sigma 6 series involves Overkill’s army of B.A.T.’s, Hawk’s kid getting kidnapped so Overkill can use his mind (and the especially advanced Artificial Intelligence in his…err… robot dog. Yes, robot dog) to further the development of his android army. But Sigma 6 needs to gather their forces to stop him in his tracks. Even after COBRA destroys their headquarters, they deploy in their state of the art vehicles and strike back, in an attempt to rescue Hawk’s son Scott. So yeah, even amongst the silliness, there are some VERY cool action sequences.
That above sequence is probably my favorite in the entire series. The animation is smooth and realistic, the movement is fluid, and the choreography is great! The above is the Sigma 6 cartoon at its best, and yeah, even amongst the painful dialog and bizarre characterization, there are some cool action bits mixed in between. I especially like the fact that the vehicles used in the above clip are all 3 3/4″ vehicles. It always does make me a bit sad, though, because I absolutely love the costume designs of Hi-Tech, Duke, and pre-Sigma Suit Scarlett, and am pretty bummed that those figures never ended up hitting retail. Some great stuff there.
At any rate, Sigma 6 ends up in the belly of COBRA’s submarine base, rescues Scott, and ends up face-to-face with the various COBRA agents.
Not a bad little group of hand-to-hand battles there, and of course, in the end, Sigma 6 is victorious (I’ll spare showing the clip of the robot dog pee’ing on COBRA’s ultimate instrument of destruction to defeat the terrorist clan… and yes, I’m being serious) and we move on to the rest of the series.
As we move on through the series, the focus shifts to the “Power Stones”, which are artifacts that COBRA wants to get their hands on in order to tap into their unlimited power. The first episode dealing with this also tackles the timeless Storm Shadow/Snake Eyes conflict and introduces us to the Hovercycles.
While the animation does seem to take a small hit as the series progressed from the 5-parter (especially as Season 2 wore on) it’s still fairly crisp and watchable throughout the first season, and the characters don’t quite go so far over the ridiculous line (unlike Season 2, which pushed things a bit far). Long Range and Spirit are an especially good team, I think, even though Long Range’s Hispanic characterizations and Spirit’s Native American tendencies are enhanced to the extreme.
This actually pretty much wraps up the first 6 episodes of Season One, and to avoid totally loading this page down with video clips, I will continue this recap in Part 2, which will get posted later today. Do things get better or worse as the first season goes? I’ll give you some insight in Part 2…