Frostbite (Figure Subscription Service)

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Here we go again… figure #13.  A figure that’s been frought with frustration and controversy since the first FSS.  Personally, I still think Blackout was almost the perfect example of a Figure Subscription Service 13th figure.  He’s enough of a draw (I think) to please folks, but he’s not such a desirable figure that it frustrates would-be subscribers.  Grand Slam was too far into the “not desirable” side, and Frostbite, I think, surges the other direction into “must needed” territory.  Personally, I’m fine with that, I’m subbing anyway, obviously, but I can see where a couple folks might be frustrated.

It’s a weird feeling to see the 1985 roster now complete (well, except for Listen & Fun Tripwire, I guess) even though it took quite a while to get here.

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What amazes me, too, is that a character that wasn’t deemed important enough to receive a modern update until the last spot in the roster may possibly be one of the best overall ‘85 redo’s in the line.

Frostbite’s build is exceptionally well done, choosing parts from several different sources and giving us a figure with a nice arctic aesthetic and great range of motion.  He’s not over-detailed, but not under either, blending perfectly between part selections which all fit together amazingly well.  The new head sculpt is spectacular, with layered fur sculpting on the hat and bearded face.  Removable goggles approximate the classic look, but also can slide over his eyes as well for added realism.

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Doing the new sculpting as well as the build, Boss Fight Studio did a great job assisting the Club with getting this formula just right.

The deco is obviously built upon the classic version with lots of white and hints of off white fur, and black trim.  It looks the part perfectly.  This is one heck of an update to a 1985 character that rarely got any screen or page time, even in G.I. Joe’s hay day.

Accessories

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Along with the new head sculpt, we have newly sculpted fur collar that goes over his shoulders, with a pistol holster built in.  This is a terrific piece of new gear that adds a perfect element to Frostbite, allowing some flexibility for the torso underneath, but also matching the vintage look well.

Two pistols can be removed from his two holsters, both on the chest, and with the 25th Anniversary Zap’s belt, another great addition to the figure.  He also comes with a wrench to fix the Snowcat, the removable goggles mentioned before, and a nice sniper rifle. I’ll say the original Frostbite’s rifle is one of my all time favorite guns in the line, and this is a decent version of it.  All of the accessories make perfect sense and compliment the figure well.

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How suitable is this figure for the mystery 13th?  I’m a bit conflicted.  I think advertising this figure as part of the subscription might have driven more people to subscribe.  But at the same time it feels like a fantastic incentive for folks to subscribe next time.  On the flip side, if the NEXT 13th figure doesn’t rise to this level, we’ll just see disappointment all over again, so the Club is constantly waging this battle with the fandom.  This figure is fantastic.  I love it.  It’s made me care about Frostbite when the original ‘85 version failed, and I’m quite excited to have it in my collection, even though I just got the Tiger Force version six short weeks ago.

Night Creeper Leader (Figure Subscription Service)

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It seems like just yesterday that the Collectors Club’s decision to go with the yellow and purple Night Creeper Leader was met with frustration and anger, and now that the figure has been shipped, the reaction has been much the same, but this time focused on the head and blindfold. Early images of the Night Creeper Leader showed him without his black skullcap, and to the Club’s credit they gave him one. The only problem is the paint doesn’t go down far enough to meet the slim blindfold and the result is… well, it’s
not aesthetically pleasant.

Thankfully, I’m sure there are casters right now working on a potential stopgap solution to that.

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So after seeing all the online reactions, I was mentally preparing myself to be really disappointed with the Night Creeper Leader, but once he arrived, I feel quite the opposite. If you can get past the look of the head and blindfold, this figure is fantastic. Yes, fantastic.

Using Rise of Cobra Arctic Storm Shadow’s bare torso, Renegades Storm Shadow arms, and the Retaliation-themed Ninja figures (with rocker ankles), the build for this figure allows for terrific range of motion, great updated sculpting, and the ability to hold his included throwing stars and knives. The wrist joints give him some great flexibility in martial arts poses…this is a really, really fun figure.

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While many folks aren’t a big fan of this Night Creeper Leader paint scheme, I actually really love it. I find the yellow and purple more pleasing to the eye than the orange camouflage, and as an added bonus, it matches the Club Black Dragons perfectly! That may be meaningless to most of you, but in my Dio-Story, I had created an allegiance between the Black Dragons and Night Creepers, so I really love that there is an update to
that cool looking Night Creeper Leader.

ACCESSORIES

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Night Creeper Leader comes with a ton of gear. The focal point is the terrific double-strapped webgear which was a really great choice for a number of reasons. It looks great, holds tight, and allows for him to hold the twin Mac-10 submachine guns. One might ask why Night Creepers need machine guns, but it’s been pretty clearly established that they’re not JUST ninjas, so using machine guns makes sense, and I believe in an old
Marvel Comic, they actually used some Mac-10’s. I want to say it was an issue with art by Lee Weeks, but I may be misremembering it…

Along with this, the figure comes with two throwing stars and throwing knives, which works really nicely, considering the webgear has those exact weapons attached to it. An automatic crossbow, two swords and the blindfold round out the accessory compliments, and while it’s a little frustrating to have all this gear that the figure can’t hold, I think it
all makes sense for him.

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Yes, the head looks pretty bad with the mispainted skull cap that doesn’t come far enough down his head. I will not argue that at all. But from the neck down, I really like this figure a lot, and find myself thoroughly enjoying messing with it. An exceptionally pleasant surprise.

Crimson Guard Immortal (Figure Subscription Service)

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Like Big Ben, the genesis of Crimson Guard Immortal comes from the 1991 line of G.I. Joe figures, a run of toys that totally thrilled me as a child.  I was infatuated with nearly every figure in the 1991 line, but especially loved the updated looks for the familiar characters.  By far my favorite Cobra entry in the 1991 line was the Crimson Guard Immortal, which is probably why I was initially so critical of the look of the concept case version.

While a lot of folks seemed excited for the concept case Crimson Guard Immortal, I wasn’t really feeling it.  There are certain elements of the CGI that are critical parts of the figure’s design success, and the chest panels were some of those unique elements.  I just didn’t feel like the Pursuit of Cobra Firefly vest worked in that same way.

Not only that, but the somewhat clugey gauntlets from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Cobra Trooper didn’t fit my perceived aesthetic either.  I didn’t consider it a great update.

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So when the Club announced they were revisiting the idea in the FSS, I crossed my fingers that they might tweak the design somewhat and bring something a bit different to the table.

Well, a couple of interesting things happened.  First of all, they did follow the formula pretty much exactly, down to the Retaliation Snake Eyes legs.  Second of all, even though I fought against it all the way until cracking open the card, I find myself liking the end result a lot more than I thought.  Aesthetically, I still don’t like those flashy gauntlets.  I understand Hasbro and the Club were going for “ceremonial” but they just don’t look all that great to me.  From a functionality perspective, though, they’re pretty darn nice.  The somewhat longer arms have great range of motion and enable the Immortal to hold his weapon extremely well, and as folks who read these reviews should know by now, I often use that as a big measuring stick towards a figure’s success.  I still don’t love the look, but the feel is downright awesome.

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The Club used Hasbro’s new head sculpt, which is great, but also added some nice deco to the PoC Firefly vest, putting some black in with the silver to add some nice contrast.  I still don’t love the different shades of silver in the gauntlets and the vest, though, and that does detract somewhat from the cohesiveness of the figure.  The base red matches the existing Crimson Guard figures from the Retaliation line very well, and I love this new and updated Crimson Guard corps I’m now able to put together.  Although I’ll admit I really wish the Immortal was easier (cheaper)  to army build…the whole idea of putting troop builders in the FSS argument has been done to death, so I won’t regurgitate that here.  It doesn’t bug me a whole lot (I’d rather just get the figure in the first place than not) but in some cases, like this one, it’s a bit frustrating.

Accessories

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The Club also added some nice flair to the accessories for the Crimson Guard Immortal as well.  I totally hated the rocket launchers the vintage figure came with, and while the Club does include that, along with three rockets, they also give him a fantastic machine gun and a great Crimson Guard themed flag that are awesome additions.

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Conceptually I really wasn’t a fan of the look of the Crimson Guard Immortal in the concept case, and my feelings didn’t change a whole lot with the FSS rendition, but I’m happy to say in execution, I find myself enjoying it a lot more than I thought I might.  There are still some changes I would have loved to have seen made to make it perfect, though.