GeneralsJoes Reviews G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary “Vanishing Act” 3 Pack

I wrapped up the two pack reviews over a week ago, and it’s time to move on to the three packs.

First out of the gate is Vanishing Act, featuring everyone’s favorite character Hit & Run!  Check out the reviews of all three figures at the 50th Anniversary Review Page or linked directly below.

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G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Zartan

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A 50th Anniversary three-pack that includes my favorite G.I. Joe character and one of my favorite COBRA characters?  Seems like a dream come true.  Not only are they giving us an update to COBRA’s venerable master of disguise, but they’re basing the figure on the Concept Case version, a rendition of Zartan that has been a fan favorite for the past few years.

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I’m not entirely sure what Hasbro used as source material for this particular version of Zartan, with the gray shirt and differently armored legs.  Perhaps it’s a feeling that here in the 21st Century a dude in a hood and armored belly shirt doesn’t have the same gravitas as he did over 30 years ago?  I’m not sure, but I don’t mind.

The parts are all reused, with what I believe is the G.I. Joe: Resolute Duke’s torso and the familiar Zartan head and arms.  The legs belong to the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Attack Snake Eyes, which is a pretty awful figure, but the legs themselves manage to translate okay to this updated figure.  The strange thigh pads are an interesting call back to the original Zartan, though the slanted leg armor looks considerably different than his vintage styled ones.  I don’t mind, though, it’s a great updated look for him.

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Zartan’s articulation is decent.  His arms are carried forward from the 25th Anniversary version, but unlike many figures of that era, the range of motion is actually okay.  Sculpting is a little soft there, however, making his arms look a bit slim and underdetailed.

The head and hood are great looking, and I like the more bulky armored legs.  Wearing a shirt underneath his armor works fine for me as well, and even if it doesn’t have a real link to a different media, it’s a cool look, and when he wears a mask without the armor on, he looks at least a little bit more like a guy in disguise.  Just a little, though.  Zartan mostly has his classic paint scheme, with brown pants and a brown hood over a gray shirt and a healthy helping of very cool almost reflective metal for the chest armor, shoulder pads, and leg armor.  It’s a great look for him and makes him look classic as well as gives him a shot of something different.

Accessories

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Anyone who has owned previous versions of Zartan will find a lot of familiar gear here, including the removable armor, his trademark backpack, and three different masks.  He also comes with the same knife he’s come with since the first 25th Anniversary version (though unfortunately he has nowhere to store it) as well as the multi-crossbow launcher that has come with a number of other figures.  He’s pretty well equipped and the accessories all add something nice to the overall look and feel of the figure.

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Out of all the concept case entries that were visible at JoeCon several years ago, the Zartan update didn’t really speak to me.  I wasn’t sure what the motivator was behind the aesthetic changes, but now that I’ve got this figure in hand, it’s got some interesting updates and I can’t find much to complain about.  Of course there aren’t a whole lot of improvements here when compared to a couple of spectacular figures like the Resolute Zartan or Pursuit of Cobra Zartan, but as far as classic looking updates go, it works okay.

I still feel like Zartan deserves the “Ultimate” treatment, similar to COBRA Commander, Destro, Storm Shadow, and Firefly, and maybe some day we’ll get it.  For those looking for the ‘be all end all’ version of him, this isn’t it.  That doesn’t make it bad, and in fact, I find it to be a very entertaining update, but for anyone who is looking for that sort of figure, I want to make sure expectations fall where they should be.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Torpedo

Note – You know you’re taking review pictures too late at night when you go through the editing process and realize nearly EVERY PICTURE has the left shoulder turned backwards.  Oof.

Rest assured it didn’t impact arm movement very much, but please keep that in mind when viewing the images below.  My apologies.

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The first, and some might argue the best, G.I. Joe Navy SEAL makes a big return for the 50th Anniversary line in a three pack.  Torpedo was my first introduction back in the day to the near-mythical branch of the Navy called the “SEALS” and he began to shape my appreciation for the special forces in ways that not many other pop culture elements have.  My only issue with him back then was that while he was branded as a Navy SEAL, he was designed purely as an underwater operative in a permanently attached wet suit, which limited his usability in many circumstances.

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Heck, back in 1983 his air mask and goggles were even sculpted to his face, so you couldn’t even use a whole lot of imagination to pretend he was acting in a more land based capacity.  Even in an early comic appearance (#16 – Night Attack) he scrambles around Washington, DC in a wet suit and flippers and looks downright ridiculous.  While the G.I. Joe Collectors Club went out on a bit of a limb and produced Wet Suit in land ops format for their 2011 Convention Set, Torpedo has never gotten that treatment, at least not in a modern era format (yes, it happened in Spy Troops, but not since).

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This would have been a really interesting opportunity for Hasbro to do that, but instead we got essentially a repainted 50th Anniversary COBRA Eel in Torpedo colors.  That’s not a terrible thing, but it does feel like at least somewhat of a missed opportunity.

The tooling is decent, using G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes arms and legs with 25th Anniversary Torpedo’s torso.  The forearms are from the 25th Anniversary COBRA Eel, which worked nicely for the COBRA operative last year, but isn’t quite so accurate to the source material this time around.

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Range of motion is nice due to the later generation tooling, though the rocker ankles leave a little to be desired with the footpegs.  The flippers do fit nicely.  It’s questionable as to how much the Retaliation Snake Eyes figure really resembles a full blown wet suit, but the nice thing is it can kind of work for a land operations soldier as well, without too much suspension of disbelief.

Paint applications are nice, closely resembling the vintage ’83 Torpedo with the light gray trim over black.  The belt with the knives is pretty snug around the waist, and doesn’t fit the two blades seamlessly.

Accessories

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Torpedo comes with an interesting allotment of gear.  He’s got the facemask and backpack from Rise of COBRA Shipwreck, which is great in a way, as they both look fantastic.  The facemask fits Torpedo really well.  He’s got his trusty speargun as well as a submachine gun (which is released here in a strange tan color, I’m not entirely sure why).  He has his two knives from the 25th Anniversary and the two new flippers from last year’s COBRA Eel.  All in all, some great looking stuff.

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This Torpedo figure is a nice update, though I’m not sure many folks were demanding such an update.  I would have loved to have seen a bit more outside the box thinking, perhaps making him a land operations version of the character, and it’s clear that he’s pretty much a COBRA Eel repaint.  Still, the enhanced range of motion helps, and he still manages to tie nicely back to the vintage aesthetic.  Not my favorite by any stretch, but not terrible either.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Hit & Run

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Is this real life?  It wasn’t so long ago that when folks asked me who my favorite character was and I said “Hit & Run”, I would get a questioning look and the gesture that told me the person asking was trying to remember who that character was.

He didn’t appear in any animated series, he barely appeared in the comics, and by and large he’s a mostly forgotten later-era G.I. Joe infantry specialist.  Certainly not as remarkable to most folks as Grunt or even Footloose, Hit & Run flew under most radar screens except for avid G.I. Joe fans.

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In 2008/2009 I was very pleasantly surprised when Hit & Run was included as part of the Assault on COBRA Island 7-Pack, although the formula wasn’t the best.  In those days, though, there wasn’t exactly a lot to choose from.  For a long time it seemed like that might be what we got for a modern era Hit & Run figure, but then 2012 came, and the now infamous Hasbro Concept Case revealed an amazing Hit & Run upgrade using a mixture of Firefly and Lifeline parts.  Ever since then, Hit & Run has been a fixture in various G.I. Joe figure assortments, most of them from the Collectors Club.  First there was the Night Force version (along with a Kre-O rendition of the same figure), then we got a great version in the Figure Subscription Service, and finally Hasbro has gotten into the game with the Vanishing Act 3-Pack featuring a Wolf Squad repaint of Hit & Run.  Originally viewed as another Night Force version perhaps, the Wolf Squad connection was revealed as part of a Q & A session right here on GeneralsJoes and the figure makes a lot more sense based on that.

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The figure uses the same parts formula as other recent installments, with the Hit & Run head, Lifeline’s torso, Agent Mouse’s arms, and the legs sourced from PoC Snake Eyes, but used and modified several times since.  Unlike previous iterations of this figure, the 50th Anniversary Hit & Run has the same legs as the PoC Snake Eyes, and not with the additions from Lifeline.  I have little issues with the parts build, though I wish there had been a way to use the Ultimate Firefly torso seen in the concept case.  According to the Collectors Club the head doesn’t fit on that torso.  In the grand scheme of things, Lifeline was one of the best figures produced in recent years, so I have no issues with how that build came to be.  The range of motion is great, sculpting is excellent, and he holds his weapons very well.  He’s got plenty of holsters for his various accessories, and the figure’s look and feel from a build perspective is excellent.

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I will say, however, that I am curious about the mindset behind the deco choices.  It certainly looks as if Hasbro was going for either a night operations or urban operations color scheme here with various shades of gray with black trim.  I realize the tie-back to Wolf Squad (and love it) but from purely an aesthetic standpoint, the Hit & Run figure does have some paint related issues.  First of all, the majority of the figure is swathed in a pretty standard shade of gray, which is a relatively blah color to start with.  He’s got some interesting camouflage on the pants, but his torso and arms are completely without camouflage, which might not look so weird if he had webgear, but he doesn’t, so the different in color scheme is pretty apparent.  If the base uniform color wasn’t the same exact shade, too, it might work okay, but instead of looking like camouflage pants with a non-camouflage shirt, it just looks like there were some missing paint applications.  I do understand it was probably a costing issue, I just can’t help but think how much better the figure would look with the great leg camouflage on the torso and arms (to match the helmet and backpack).

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There are some variations in the shade of gray throughout the pouches on his torso, which breaks things up a bit, as does the red underneath his arms.  The black gloves and boots adds some variety, too, but other than those few color breaks, the figure comes across as fairly monotone.  Of course, one of Hit & Run’s trademarks is camouflage skin, and they maintain that here, going with a darker gray, which actually makes the figure look almost rock-like.  It makes me think perhaps he was developed as a mountain specialist, where the rocky colors of his skin might help him blend into the stone surface of the mountains he’s climbing.  It’s a strange color scheme that doesn’t look especially natural, and being gray, it sort of adds to the monochromatic feel of the rest of the figure.  Thinking to the Wolf Squad angle, I could see Hit & Run being a “cave hunter” type of operative, a guy that goes into caves to try and root out COBRA leadership, or what have you.  The darker gray shades look pretty cool within the dark shadows of a cave, and the lines on the skin could work for a rock pattern.

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I love the build, as I have from the first time I saw it, but the color choices are a bit off kilter and not all that exciting.  I am thrilled to have another Hit & Run to add to my repertoire, but I love the continued evolution of Wolf Squad, but I think there could have been some deco changes here and there.

Accessories

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Hit & Run comes with a lot of familiar accessories that we’ve seen in previous versions of the figure. His helmet and goggles are here, with a really nice looking urban operations paint scheme.  There’s an infantry backpack, too, which maintains that great camouflage pattern.  If anything they really make me wish Hasbro had done the urban ops camouflage throughout the entire figure rather than skipping the torso.  Unfortunately the Lifeline torso doesn’t lend itself to having webgear on top either.

He also has his familiar machine gun (the one from the 25th Anniversary, not the Lifeline machine gun from the last two releases), pistols, and knife, which each has a place in a holster or sheath on the figure. His secondary pistol is the one with the silencer from Snake Eyes.

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I will welcome and enthusiastically embrace every new Hit & Run figure we get, and this one is no exception.  The parts build is great, gives him terrific articulation, and some really nice accessories.  It’s a solid figure, which is somewhat held back by a somewhat dull deco pattern.  In the grand scheme of things it’s a figure that had some great potential, but could use some aesthetic improvements.

The Pre-Production Version

I’ve seen a lot of fans question the reasoning behind pre-production collecting.  A lot of folks have this misconception that it’s about getting something “first”, and that is not always the case.  Sometimes it is, but not in all cases.  When it comes to the 50th Anniversary Hit & Run, I jumped on one of the first pre-production auctions that came across the board, and the result is I have a figure that is very nicely different and adds a cool element to my Hit & Run collection.

As you can see from the images below, the pre-production figure is considerably different.

  • Different shade of gray skin color
  • No hair
  • No skin camouflage
  • No uniform camouflage
  • Black boot color goes to the knees
  • No camouflage on the helmet
  • No camouflage on the backpack

Check out some of the comparison images above.  I’m really glad I jumped on that pre-production auction, and this is just a small example of why some collectors focus on them.