I ran a little late getting these posted last week, but here are the last two reviews I’ve been missing for the Figure Subscription Service figures to date. Reviews for General Flagg and Sneak Peek have now been posted to my G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page or you can also click the direct links below.
Isn’t it amazing how one little toss-in storyline in the comic can completely redefine a character for you?
Or is that just me? Am I just such a media fanatic that a simple mistake that turned into a plot takes a character to some different level in my mind? Ever since his initial release in 1987, I really didn’t give a crap about Sneak Peek. The figure was somewhat bland, his character wasn’t all that interesting, and while I generally love the concept of recon, the way his figure fit into that demographic (as compared to Recoil, a figure I loved) didn’t resonate with me.
He was just kind of there.
Then during the infamous Trucial Abysma story in the original Marvel Comic, he was given one last shot at being memorable, then sacrificed himself to save a child and permanently embedded himself in the minds of many G.I. Joe fans. Fast forward a couple of decades, and in the modern Real American Hero comic from IDW, Larry Hama apparently forgot this little twist and included Sneak Peek in a cast off comic panel. Well, the fandom went crazy, so Larry spun off that idea into the thought that Sneak Peek had faked his death way back when and gone deep undercover, ending up in a conflict with Darklon (who is also part of this FSS… go figure).
Many folks thought that was kind of a cop out, but I loved it. Ever since that moment transpired I’ve been wanting a modern version of Sneak Peek in a way that I never have from the beginning. Now the Club has given us one, and it’s… well, it’s okay.
Listen, I’m glad we got Sneak Peek. I’ve been wanting him. I think I just wanted him a little better than this. Looking back on the vintage version of the character, there are a few aspects that really stand out. He’s got those great knee-high metal boots, rolled up sleeves, a textured chest pad…these aspects are kind of what separates him from any other generic Joes out there, and the Collectors Club effectively included none of them.
Like the Tiger Force version from the last FSS, he’s got the regular Shock Trooper arms, and Shock Trooper legs, though the Club threw in the PoC Snake Eyes torso instead. Still, though, essentially he is just a repainted Shock Trooper as are so many other figures that have been released since 2011. I mean that’s not a drastic crime or anything, and he still very clearly looks like Sneak Peek, but I think this is a clear example of some of the intricate design aesthetics that have been missing in figures recently. It seems as if design falls to the lowest common denominator and whatever combination of parts is deemed “good enough” is what we get.
I understand it. I know the challenges the Club likely has to go through with overseas factories to sort out the parts, but still… it would be nice to look at a figure build and say “wow, that’s really creative” for once, instead of everything pretty much showing up as expected.
The figure’s colors match the vintage version well enough, and looking at Sneak Peek as a whole, he is a servicable modern version for a somewhat forgettible classic character that Larry Hama helped make more important to the mythology.
Taking a look at Sneak Peek’s accessories, one just has to go back to the Tiger Force version from the last FSS. We have the same helmet, radio pack, machine gun, binoculars and periscope. I do absolutely LOVE this new periscope, though, it’s head and shoulders better than the vintage version and was obviously expertly designed and crafted.
The one difference here is with his tactical vest. Instead of the Scrap Iron vest, we have Resolute Duke’s, and I’m fine with that. This one looks more modern and more military, and I dig it. I don’t mind that it’s drastically different from the vintage one, it looks better than the Tiger Force rendition in my opinion. The only issue I do have is that it’s a bit too small for the Snake Eyes torso, and unless you’re diligent about it, he constantly looks like he’s wearing a belly shirt.
Sneak Peek is a character I never cared for until recently, and I’m ecstatic that the Collectors Club found a way to work him into the Figure Subscription Service. I do wish there had been a bit more thought and consideration into making the figure build more unique, and this feels like it’s become a consistent, persistent issue, which is a pretty big deal when you consider how much we’re being expected to pay per figure.
If you’re going to be putting retail level effort into a product, but you’re expecting collectible level spending, I think that’s a big problem.
Back in the 1980s if you were a Marvel Comics reader like I was, you often wondered who some of these characters were and why you couldn’t have them in plastic form. One of the first characters I noticed that with was General Flagg, who was the initial organizer of the G.I. Joe team, leading Colonel “Hawk” Abernathy and his team of twelve operatives against the seemingly insurmountable COBRA forces.
Turns out those forces truly were insurmountable, and in issue #19, General Flagg was killed by Major Bludd.
While we wouldn’t get an action figure version of this General Flagg until the comic packs in 2005, his son, General Lawrence Flagg, Jr. made an appearance in the Battle Corps line, and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club elected to pay tribute to that version of the character here in the FSS. Interestingly, they opted to focus on the second version of General Flagg rather than the previous version, perhaps because the original Flagg looked quite a bit like General Hawk.
I’m glad to see the Club getting back into the Battle Corps arena, though I can think of a dozen or so characters I would have preferred to have been revisited before General Flagg. That being said, they did a decent job on the figure build itself. Using the Retaliation Firefly torso and arms is a good approximation of the leather bomber jacket and the thick pants work well for his legs as well. His head is a reuse that’s been seen countless times before (and somewhat obnoxiously is used for Sneak Peek, a figure released in the exact same month’s shipment of the FSS). The hat fits on this head relatively well, though not perfectly.
As mentioned above, the Club went with the second iteration Battle Corps color scheme (similar to what they did with Night Creeper Leader a time or two ago) which is a bit questionable, though it matches how I used Flagg in my dio-story, so honestly I’m pretty okay with it. His black jacket and lighter green pants look pretty cool, and offer a different aesthetic than General Hawk.
Flagg comes with some pretty neat gear. He’s got his removable hat, submachine gun, pistol that slides into his holster, and a version of City Strike Destro’s briefcase. While I like the idea of the reused briefcase, the sculpted piles of money with “Top Secret”, etc… randomly tampoed in strange places doesn’t really do the idea justice in my opinion.
I’m surprised that the Club focused on General Flagg at this stage of the game, especially this version of Flagg. He’s a critical character in my dio-story and I’m glad to see him done in this modern format, but it seems like even within the realm of Battle Corps itself there are quite a few other, better alternatives.
Still, the execution is surprisingly well done, and I dig the accessories, even if the briefcase is a bit of a head scratcher.
The reviews for this latest iteration of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Figure Subscription Service have gone live on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page.
Darklon and Salvo reviews are now posted. You can also check the reviews directly below:
The fans have spoken and thank goodness the G.I. Joe Collectors Club listened!
When the original build for the FSS Salvo was revealed, the G.I. Joe community pretty much imploded. Using 30th Anniversary Law/Renegades Duke parts with the Resolute Duke legs resulted in a scrawny, mish-mash mess of a figure update that pretty much did nothing right. Once the fandom was done yelling, the Collectors Club went back to the drawing board, and while they stuck pretty close to formula, they at least made some changes that presented an update to Salvo that felt more in line with the large, muscular rocket expert we got in 1990.
This version of Salvo is not perfect, but he’s a damn sight better than the alternative.
From the neck down, the figure is pretty much G.I. Joe: Retaliation Roadblock, only the lower legs are slightly different in order to get the proper cuffed look. While the figure and the legs are nice and bulky, the result of different lower legs is that the knee joints aren’t as functional as they could be, and once again I’m not a huge fan of those ankle joints either. On my figure, I couldn’t even get the peg stands to fit in his feet, and I know that’s been a recurring problem since this tooling was originally available.
That being said, the figure is large, muscular and imposing, another great looking figure of immense size to go along with some of the previously released Roadblocks, Leathernecks, Gung Ho’s, Repeaters, and others. It’s pretty awesome to see some variation in height and size among the ranks of the Joes, so I appreciate the Club using that tooling here. As one would expect, the articulation and range of motion is mostly good, and we got some exceptional sculpting work in that Retaliation line, so that’s all on point here, too.
The color scheme pulls straight from the vintage look, though some of the use of gold here seems strange. I understand they’re trying to mimic the look of the criss-crossed machine gun belts, but at some point hopefully the folks doing the deco for these figures realize that you can’t just slap color on any old piece of the figure to match the vintage aesthetic. You should really try and find a logical place for that color to exist and use it as a complimentary color, not just throw gold down on the holster and leg-straps because that kind of looks like where the gold is on the original figure. It doesn’t always work.
That minor gripe aside, overall the figure is good. They did a good job with the font on his shirt, the modern parts are good, and the choice of the Hit & Run head sculpt is unexpected and excellent.
Salvo comes with some decent gear. He’s got a huge rocket launcher which I’m sure fans will complain about, but makes perfect sense for his specialty. Anyone who is dying for his vintage accessories that much can find them super cheap on eBay and they’ll still fit with this modern figure, so go for it. He has Sci-Fi’s helmet and the same briefcase that he came with back in 1990, along with the Retaliation Roadblock pistol that fits in his holster. All told, he’s got some gear that works well and compliments the character as you would expect.
I’ve loved Salvo since his original release in 1990 and I’m glad to see him finally getting some modern era love here. I’m extremely happy that the Collectors Club followed the fandom’s lead and beefed up the figure build, even though it resulted in some mold fit issues. He’s a nice update and another addition to the much-needed 1990 “DiC” era roster.
As someone who is both a fan of the Iron Grenadiers and a fan of taking established characters and putting new spins on them, I really loved the Convention version of Darklon we received in 2014. Not only was it an update of a really cool established Iron Grenadier character, but it added some Pursuit of COBRA Firefly aesthetic and gave us a really awesome update to Destro’s criminal cousin.
However, as a Convention exclusive, and a highly desirable one at that, the price soon skyrocketed and fans grew upset that such an important character (is Darklon really an “important character”??) was so expensive on the secondary market.
Well, since the Club now had the tooling for Darklon’s helmet, they figured they’d make a more vintage accurate version and toss it into the FSS. I’m of two minds on the idea. Personally I’m not wild about being saddled with a $30 figure that is only subtly different than one I already paid $35 for at a Convention. Especially when the FSS version uses older parts that are less well articulated, softer sculpted and frankly, not quite as interesting.
That being said, I know the figure will appeal to the broader fanbase, who I do not always see eye-to-eye with.
This figure has the previously mentioned Darklon head sculpt that we originally got at the convention in 2014, and it still works well enough. Darklon’s torso is from Pursuit of COBRA Snake Eyes in an attempt to give him the textured look of the vintage figure, but his arms are from the 25th Anniversary Zartan. The result is a drastic reduction in sculpted detail, somewhat annoying articulation in the elbows, and the elimination of the texture on the arms. It doesn’t really work as a combination with the torso.
Also rather than even attempt to mimic the look of the original legs, the Club just used the 25th Anniversary Iron Grenadier Destro legs which does a nice job tying this figure in with Destro, but doesn’t do such a nice job making him look like his vintage counterpart. I do like the sword sheath and the color combination is vintage accurate, but the sculpting isn’t accurate, and the knee articulation is only single jointed which is a shame.
Speaking of the colors, the Club does do a decent job matching up the shade of green and purple with the vintage edition of Darklon and the overall inspiration is pretty clear cut.
Darklon comes with a decent assortment of accessories including a MARS briefcase with removable pistol, a pistol for his leg holster, the removable sword, and a retooled version of his vintage weapon. As much as I love the strangeness of his primary weapon, any time the Club invests money in retooling a vintage accessory that can be found on the secondary market for pennies on the dollar I question the reasoning. As we get fewer and fewer new heads or other body parts throughout the FSS, I’d much rather see money invested in more of those items rather than retooling vintage accessories in nearly the exact same way as they’re already available.
Darklon is okay. I prefer the convention version all told, and by leaning on 25th Anniversary parts, the Club aren’t doing themselves any favors. Limited articulation and sculpting make a big difference between figures that look like they belong with other 2017 figures, or figures that already look a decade out of place fresh out of the package.
Don’t look now, but the Figure Subscription Reviews continue unabated here at GeneralsJoes.com!
Today we’re taking a look at Charbroil and the COBRA Viper, the first two figures that hit mailboxes for FSS 5.0.
You can check out the reviews on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page or click the links below.
- G.I. Joe Figure Subscription Service 5.0 Charbroil
- G.I. Joe Figure Subscription Service 5.0 COBRA Viper
I’m going to start this review with a confession, though it’s a confession that will likely not come as a surprise to many.
I love me some neon G.I. Joe. I always have. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t love the figures because of the neon, I enjoy them in spite of their garish colors, and in most cases actually would prefer it if the kickass 90s molds would use slightly tamer, more realistic color schemes. That being said, I will never look down on a figure because of its brightness, and the Battle Corps COBRA Viper is a perfect example of that.
Yes the figure is purple and orange, and yes he would be a huge target on the battlefield, but from a pure sculpt perspective the figure is incredible. The awesome narrow, sloped helmet with embedded visor, along with the built-in rebreather is an amazing design aesthetic, looking somewhat insect-like but also like something that could completely exist in the real world. I think that’s what I’ve always loved so much about A Real American Hero, the fact that they take this outlandish concepts and manage to build figures around them that make them seem realistic.
As one might imagine, after modern era format figures have been around going on seven years, we’re starting to run out of credible updates…so the Collectors Club is having to dig deep into the vaults, and with the COBRA Viper I think they made a great choice. The choice makes sense as well, considering the Iron Anvil that was released for the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention. Once that figure was revealed, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the character’s predecessor from the vintage days would appear somewhere along the line as well.
Interestingly, rather than duplicate the spectacular build for the Iron Anvil, the Collectors Club went their own way, and I think the results are mixed. I’ll never be one to admonish trying to develop new concepts rather than just repaint what’s already been done, however the Iron Anvil figure build, frankly, was superior to this one in every way. The sculpt and tooling for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes works a lot better in my mind, and allows the figure some better range of motion and an appearance of being more streamlined.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the Jungle Viper torso and legs we see here, the look is just thicker and more bulky, and overall I prefer the nimble appearance of the previous iteration. Also, the use of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation COBRA Trooper arms means the wrists don’t get the extra articulation, which is a shame as well.
Looking at the color scheme, they did a decent job matching up the vintage ’94 COBRA Viper, while muting the tones somewhat. You can immediately tell where the inspiration came from, but they manage to dial down the neon to a degree, which is a good combination.
The G.I. Joe Collectors Club chose some neat weapons for the COBRA Viper as well. I’m a huge fan of the assault rifle that he comes with, I’ve loved it ever since it was released with G.I. Joe: Resolute Destro and I’m happy to say the COBRA Viper hands fit it really well. He’s also got a purple knife inspired by the crazy blade that the original Viper came with, though since this knife is one that generally plugs into a hole on a figure, it has a huge rounded peg on it. Without having some place to plug it in on the Viper, that seems a bit odd, but it’s not terrible. Lastly, he has a pistol that fits neatly into the holster on his ankle. He doesn’t come with a lot of weapons, but what he comes with makes sense and look pretty neat alongside the figure itself.
I’m a huge fan of this version of the COBRA Viper and I have been for a long time. I was really looking forward to seeing what the Collectors Club did with it. Unfortunately I ended up slightly disappointed in the build, though the overall color scheme and accessory compliment (almost) make up for that. It’s a fun figure and a nice addition to the modern era collection. Now someone get me a Crimson Guard Commander dammit.
If you’d asked me at any point over the past several years if we really needed an update for Charbroil, I would have said “hell no”. In the 21st Century the need for flamethrower troopers seems unnecessary, and Charbroil isn’t even the number 1 flamethrower trooper on the G.I. Joe team. Not only that, but we’ve already received two Charbroil updates, though one was Rise of COBRA and one was Night Force, so we never really got the 1988 update that some folks might have thought we needed.
I would have disagreed.
However, throughout doing this review and realizing just how many 1988 figures have now been released, it’s kind of cool to see the group shot and Charbroil does fill a hole in that roster, which is cool to see.
Charbroil himself is a decent figure. He uses pretty much the entire base figure for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper (like the Night Force version did) but done up in colors more accurate to the 1988 version. The shade of brown for the uniform is a decent match for the ’88 original and the yellow trim does a good job complimenting it now as it did 19 years ago.
One curious choice, however, was that instead of reusing the same unmasked head that we got with the Night Force version, instead this Charbroil has a balaclava. I’m not entirely sure why that decision was made, though I would have much preferred the unmasked head here as it was with the Convention set.
If I have a gripe, while the sculpting on the legs is exceptionally well detailed and looks really nice, the ankle joints don’t work especially well (as they really haven’t since 2012) making it tough to keep the figure standing, either on the battle stand or off.
This figure comes with the accessories you’d pretty much expect, including the familiar helmet, backpack with flamethrower (and removable flame) and pistol. Honestly there’s nothing especially revolutionary or different here, and nothing that wows or impresses. The weapons are fine and they make sense, but beyond that they’re just kind of there.
As a character, Charbroil has never really held an interest for me, and as we sit here in 2017, the concept of a flamethrower trooper seems unrealistic at best. It’s nice to have another entry in the 1988 figure roster filled, however, and I will admit I geeked out just a little when I shot that group shot that keeps on getting just a little bit larger every year.
Well, it’s about time, right? Yes, I know my G.I. Joe reviews have been lacking as of late. I’ll fully admit – my priorities have been elsewhere. Honestly, priorities will likely continue to be elsewhere, but I’m at least going to try to stay more up to date on reviews as product comes in. Lord knows it’s not like there’s a wealth of figures creating a backlog or anything.
But today (and all this week!) I am reviewing figures from the latest G.I. Joe Collectors Club Figure Subscription Service. I’ll be covering the latest two figures today, then filling in the rest from tomorrow through Friday. Check out the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page every day this week, and today you can also click the links below: