GeneralsJoes continues the 50th Anniversary Two Pack Reviews

We started down this road on Monday and we keep plowing ahead. Today I offer FOUR new reviews of recently released 50th Anniversary figures!

The Troop Build Up pack with Steel Brigade Trooper and Iron Grenadier, as well as the Hunt for COBRA Commander with Shipwreck and the big kahuna himself.

Check out these reviews on my 50th Anniversary Review Page, or via the direct links below.

Enjoy!

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G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary COBRA Commander

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One of the best, if not the best, version of Cobra Commander ever released, the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Cobra Commander did pretty much everything right.  I think the only complaint I really have is the shallow holes in the feet and rocker ankles that don’t allow him to stand on display very well.  

Beyond that, the figure was perfectly sculpted, excellently detailed, and amazingly well articulated, giving us quite simply the best classic version of the Cobra Commander we’ve seen.  Pretty exceptional.

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For this 50th Anniversary re-release, they chose that figure as a base, and who can fault them for that?  It’s pretty much the perfect choice, and ever since the mid 90’s, repainting Cobra Commander in black has been a staple deco choice.  For this particular release, they went to black and red, and it’s an aesthetic I actually really enjoy.  I loved the colors of the repaint G.I. Joe vs. Cobra Cobra Commander, even if the t-crotch figure itself was lacking a little in execution.  Black and red is a great color scheme for him, in my opinion.  The only real question I have is with the red boots.  I’m not sure what the thought process for that choice was, to be honest.  I love the red hood, the red gloves, and the red shoulder cape, but I’m not too sure about the red boots, mostly because they kind of look like red spats with the pants and shoes combination.

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The look I enjoy most is probably the red cape with the battle helmet, it’s got a great split of black and red and looks good, plus it pays a neat homage to the Spy Troops era, in which a Shipwreck figure came with a Cobra Commander disguise.

Accessories

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Cobra Commander doesn’t come with a whole lot.  He’s got the two heads (black helmet and red hood), shoulder cape, two canisters of a mysterious red liquid, his pistol, and a Rise of Cobra pulse rifle.  It’s an interesting combination of weaponry, but is pretty fun and actually brings some new stuff to the table here.

I could see the red liquid being some kind of power source for his futuristic rifle…that’s the thought process I’m going with.

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Cobra Commander is a decent enough update to the more familiar blue suited original from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation line.  I’m not sure it was a figure that folks were clamoring for, but it’s a nice update and I find myself liking the black and red paint scheme (minus the weird color breaks for the boots).  He’s got some fun gear, and the whole “battle in a box” concept works well here, too.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Shipwreck

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To be honest, out of all the concept case figures this Shipwreck repaint was one that I couldn’t quite get my head around.  I really loved the two variations of the discount store Shipwreck, and while the “Navy” shirted version was interesting, it didn’t bring a whole lot new to the table compared to some of the other concept case figures.  Considering the figure is pretty much a 30th Anniversary/Renegades Law from the neck down with the Shock Trooper vest and Rise of Cobra Shipwreck head, I had trouble figuring out the appeal.  Don’t get me wrong, there certainly seemed to be a strong segment of the fandom who were clamoring for it, I just wasn’t one of them.  Give me that awesome looking Pursuit of Cobra Clutch or HISS Driver any day.

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Regardless, getting this figure in hand, he’s not bad.  Not bad at all.  I’m a fan of the version of Law that was the template for this figure, he’s greatly detailed and extremely well articulated, so it’s tough to go wrong there.  The Navy on his chest is a neat touch, though with the vest on, you can’t see it much.  A white t-shirt and khaki pants is a good combination, even if it feels a bit segregated from Shipwreck’s classic look.  Perhaps my favorite thing about this version is that it seems to walk a good line for Shipwreck.  Previous versions were either a straight-up sailor, a wet-suited Navy SEAL, or a commando soldier hardcore military guy.  Shipwreck has always been a casual lay about who also happened to be a highly trained special ops soldier.  This combination of parts strays more towards the “lay about” side with his t-shirt and pants, but it’s fairly easy to slap the vest on him and put him more in a military commando role.

If I have any complaints about the deco work it’s that the differences in the green shades throughout his legs are pretty evident, as well as the white on the torso and white on the sleeves.  Not sure if that’s a plastic type/quality issue or more of a paint vs. production color issue.  It’s a little bit distracting, though, I have to admit.

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It’s a figure that didn’t especially appeal to me in the concept case, and doesn’t use any new parts, but the final execution ends up being a bit more fun than I anticipated.

Accessories

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The G.I. Joe sailor is equipped with pretty basic accessories.  A machine gun and submachine gun, as well as the tactical vest, two knives, pistol, and silencer.  Of course he also has his trusty parrot Polly.  None of the accessories are exceptionally different, but they compliment the figure nicely, which is all I can really ask for.  He can hold the weapons really nicely with those great Law arms, and is just a fun figure to sit and mess with.  The Shock Trooper vest has that handle on the back that can double as a mount for Polly as well, which is a neat touch.  I don’t know if that was planned (he fits, though the rubbery material of the vest doesn’t keep him there very sturdily).

I should also say that I assume both knives are his.  There isn’t an especially clear indication, but that seems to be the case, at least in my mind.

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This is one of those few Concept Case figures that I just looked past and was never really captured by.  I didn’t see much of a reason to push him through to retail release, but getting him in hand, the figure has a lot of promise, and walks that great line between Shipwreck’s familiar slacker personality and more military edge.  I like it more than I thought I would.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Steel Brigade Trooper

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At what point does a great figure and fun army builder become a bit tired and redundant?  I’m not sure, but if the Steel Brigade figure isn’t there yet, he’s getting close.  Don’t get me wrong, this figure is fantastic and has been from day one.  While I’ve never been a huge fan of G.I. Joe using “troops” I’ve always loved the G.I. Joe Collectors Club take on the Steel Brigade and have been able to rationalize the existence of these Troopers as a support squad for the International Peace Keeping Force that the Club devised for the team.

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That being said, I bought a few of these figures when they were first released in the Pursuit of Cobra.  I bought a few more in the 30th Anniversary.  I even have some zombie versions from the 2014 Convention set.  Now the figure sees release again as part of the 50th Anniversary line.  The figure was never exceptionally hard to find, so I’d think most fans have well built Steel Brigade squads at this point, but we’ve got him again here.

Not a huge deal, and for folks who missed him the first couple of times, this is a good opportunity to stock up, but as I said, when I’ve got almost 10 of the same figure already, it can be a bit tough to build up excitement.  He uses the COBRA Shock Trooper as the base figure, with a Beachhead head sculpt. The paint apps work well, being a nice mirror of the vintage version, but with some new elements as well.  The helmet appears to be a slightly different color and the legs don’t match precisely, mostly due to the different material turning out slightly different shades of tan.

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As a figure, it’s a great mix of vintage and modern, and is an excellent update, the only real issue I have is that this is the third such almost identical version released since 2011.

Accessories

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Like the figure itself, the accessories are familiar as well.  He has the Shock Trooper vest in Steel Brigade green as well as the Duke bandolier.  The bayonet machine gun, rocket launcher, backpack with spare rockets, as well as the Duke backpack gives a good mix of accessories inspired by the vintage version as well as typical trooper weapons.  He’s got a heavy machine gun, and the SCAR assault rifle comes with him too, though press release images show the Iron Grenadier with that gun.  Lastly, he has the removable Steel Brigade themed helmet.

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As I said, from a pure execution standpoint this is a great figure, and I know the 50th Anniversary formula necessitates certain “carry forward” figures.  As G.I. Joe troop builders go, the Steel Brigade is about the only option.  It can just be a little tough to get excited about a figure I’ve bought on store shelves a few times already.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Iron Grenadier

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Like the Steel Brigade trooper, this particular iteration of the Iron Grenadier has been released a few times to compliment the Pursuit of Cobra City Strike Destro, one of the coolest PoC figures ever done (and one in desperate need of one of these “carry forward” releases).  I’ve always loved the Iron Grenadiers, and that love doesn’t falter with these versions, even though they are essentially re-releases of the past versions.

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In actuality, this 50th Anniversary Iron Grenadier does have some cosmetic changes with the color pallet of the camouflage, and I actually like those color changes quite a bit.  The figure foundation itself is the same as we’ve seen, built off the same formula as the City Strike Destro with a terrific padded uniform, yet thanks to the revolutionary sculpting and design of the latter year G.I. Joe figures, even with the thick padded uniform, they still manage to retain great elbow articulation and range of motion.  It’s pretty impressive, actually.

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Where the previous two versions of this figure had elaborate gray and white camouflage, this particular version mixes it up a bit and changes out the darker gray with what looks to be a light blue/gray.  The overall appearance is similar to the previous heavy weapons soldier, but adds just enough variety to keep things interesting.  I’m not sure if it was a specific, purposeful change, or just happenstance, but the results are nice.  It at least adds some variety to the three separate times the figure has already been released to retail.

Accessories

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Iron Grenadier comes with much the same gear as previous iterations did.  The old school heavy machine gun (that originally came with Para-Viper) as well as the backpack and stedi-cam assault weapon.  The machine gun belt is there, too, as well as the awesome, oversized tactical vest that is such a great one.  Yes, the gear is all the same, but the gear isn’t too bad.

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The re-release of the Iron Grenadier, similar to the Steel Brigade, presents another opportunity for would be army builders to acquire somewhat difficult to obtain troops for their squads.  I think the Iron Grenadier was a bit more difficult to find, and these colors are a nice variation of the common theme.  Ultimately I think I can better find a place in my collection for the Iron Grenadier than the Steel Brigade.