The next evolution of military action figures – Marauder Valkyries Reviewed

Ever since getting my first few figures as part of the Kickstarter shipment a couple of weeks back, I’ve been feeding for more and starving to get a review posted.  Well, this past week I got both accomplished!

As soon as I got my grubby mitts on the first few Valkyries figures, I immediately needed more and made a purchase from MarauderInc.com within a few days.  Once I received that shipment, any love I had for this new generation of Task Force figures and accessories only sky-rocketed.

I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface with how cool these figures are, and I’ve spent hours swapping parts, gluing gear down and just mixing and matching.  It’s pretty astounding just how incredible these toys are.  Designed to near perfection by Boss Fight Studio, with the folks at Marauder developing a spectacular concept, these truly are the best of all worlds.

Check out my review at the Marauder Task Force Review page, or the direct link below.  Spoiler Warning – I’m pretty much in love.

valkyrie-recon-ops-04

Marauder Task Force Valkyries

How can I properly express just what lengths Marauder “Gun Runners” has come in the past few years?  Evolving from manufacturing and selling unique 1:18 scale weapons to distributing diorama accessories, then finally, through their first successful Kickstarter they started developing their Task Force action figures.

Since then, their second Kickstarter for the Task Force Valkyries was successful as well, and they’ve simply taken their formula for enhancing 1:18 scale action figures and spun it completely into a second stratosphere.

valkyrie-group-07

With the first run of Task Force figures, I was suitably impressed with what Marauder had accomplished, actually designing and producing (with the help of the best toy designers in the business, Boss Fight Studio) a fully functional action figure line, yet they were essentially the same figure buck and many of the same accessories, just spun out in some different colors.  While certainly exciting, I saw them mostly continuing as enhancements to an already large roster of 1:18 military figures.  What a difference a couple of years makes.  With what Marauder has done over the past 18 months alongside their additional Kickstarter is to add an immeasurable amount of versatility, customizability and variability to what was already a fantastic formula.  Thanks in no small part to the addition of several new female action figure styles, new head sculpts, new arms and legs, and many new paint decos, we now have a veritable barracks of different combinations with the ability to build out any number of combinations of strike teams.

valkryrie-urbanops-12

Marauder Task Force is no longer an enhancement, it’s an evolution, and things may very well never be the same again.

Looking at the female figures first, thanks to the sculpting of Boss Fight Studio, we have some of the finest built female figures in 1:18 military history.  Fantastic layered sculpting throughout the uniforms, nearly seamless armor enhancements, and the unique “faux-ring” articulation scheme gives us tough and rugged female troopers to serve alongside our roster of male soldiers that we’ve already amassed.  Even with the elaborate sculpting, the articulation is absolutely top notch, with great range of motion in every joint.

vaklyrie-nightops-10

Along with the standard military buck, Marauder also included some spare arms without armor and developed a brand new t-shirt torso which is spectacular, especially for how comparatively plain it is.  The arms are sculpted narrow, but really well articulated, with flexible fingers and wrists that can hold all manner of weapons without fear of breakage.

Additional female head sculpts are incredible as well, with various skin tones, hair designs (and hair colors) allowing for a massive amount of variation here, too.

To equip the female figures there are several different versions of combat vests now available as well, from a plain flak vest (ready for pouches currently sold or that came with the previous Kickstarter), to a great armored vest, and a very nicely sculpted additional heavier combat vest as well.

Along with the Valkyrie female figures, Marauder also included the fantastic Stedi-Cam gunner which added several great new elements to the Task Force collection.  Not only did it give us a very cool new weapons system including the gun, armored mask, and armored plate chest (with amazingly engineered web gear) but it also provided some added short sleeved arms and non-armored legs, which has provided a wealth of great variability to the existing Task Force collection.  The new limbs match the fantastic sculpting style of the rest of the figure with amazing articulation and some great new flexibility with existing tooling.

But let’s talk more about the web gear and chest plate.  The chest plate connects to the web gear via two of the standard Task Force pegs, which means you can take it off, then use the underlying web gear to mount pouches, holsters, and whatever else you can dig out of your Task Force storage bins.  For some reason I wasn’t aware of this neat feature, and it was a very pleasant surprise when I got the Stedi-Cam Gunner in hand.

As a great added bonus, Marauder has dedicated a wealth of different plastic color options (and decals!) for the Stedi-Cam gunner gear as well, really ramping up the potential for great mix and match variation.

What may be the coolest aspect of the Stedi-Cam Gunner, though, is the camouflage paint scheme.  This intricately decoed camouflage pattern is among the best I’ve ever seen at this scale, and the way Marauder has carried it over to a female figure as well is exceptionally cool.

As you read through this review, you’ll notice that I’ve grouped collections of accessories together, mostly because that’s how they were offered with the Kickstarter.  Keep in mind, though, through the wonders of MarauderInc.com you can pick and choose any number of thousands of variations of figures, heads, gear and other add ons which essentially makes the combinations nearly infinite.  If you see a figure you like in this review, but think it would look better with different gear, you have that option right at your fingertips.

Keep in mind I haven’t even talked about a number of new male head sculpts in different hair (and beard) colors, not to mention all the new paint schemes and additional new accessories including a fantastic flight helmet with translucent goggles.  Don’t even get me started on the baseball hat…it’s made from a fantastic flexible rubber, which lets it fit seamlessly over many different heads, and you don’t get the typical gap or stiff fit that you see when it’s been tried elsewhere.  There are bandoliers, belts, a duffel bag, a weapon sleeve, backpacks, baseball bats, the list goes on and on, and each new accessory comes with some level of customization available, whether its decals or holes for the standard Task Force plug.  There is just so much to talk about here, it’s very tough to frame a review around it, so I’m trying to look at this from a holistic perspective.

The figures are also incredibly easily customizable with simply swapped ball joints at the hips, the waist, the head, and even relatively easy to remove arms.  Boiling and popping is the best way to ensure smooth lower arm removal, though you have to crack the torso to pull off the shoulders.

One comment, because I know people will ask… yes, there are a lot of small parts, and yes I very strongly recommend finding a combination you like and gluing the pouches and accessories down to ensure maximum playability.  This stuff is not expensive.  You can certainly beef up on more pouches and vests and feel confident that dedicating a few key small accessories to a particular look isn’t going to break the bank, and will only make you happier as you pose and play with the figure you’ve designed.

In short, the improvements and enhancements made to the Task Force line since its inception are impressive and downright amazing.  It’s a completely different line now than it was even 18 months ago and has grown into a world of its own.  I am fully in love with this evolution of the Task Force, and have already made follow up purchases after the Kickstarter, and I’m poised to make some more.  I cannot wait to see where things continue from here and I’m greatly looking forward to the exo-suit Kickstarter coming this year from Marauder.

Great stuff, head over to MarauderInc.com and beef up your barracks now!  And if you have any questions about the product or just want to show off your creations, the Marauder Task Force Facebook Group is the place to be.  A ton of awesome looking customs and a great community willing to answer all sorts of questions.  MJ and Marauder Ruben are always there to interact and listen to suggestions as well.  Hit it up!

Exclusive debut – John Royle Gatefold cover from G.I. Joe: RAH 237, 238, and 239

Wow, nothing brightens up a Friday afternoon like some spectacular new art from IDW cover artist John Royle!  He’s been doing some really terrific variant covers for G.I. Joe titles recently, and this latest one is the mother lode.

It’s a three-issue gatefold with pencils by John Royle, inks by Jagdish and colors by Juan Fernandez.  It frankly looks… amazing!  Check it out for the very first time right here, and if you love these covers, definitely let IDW Publishing know.  I think they’re some really fun, energetic and well orchestrated covers, and I try and go out of my way to get these issues.  Great stuff.  To see more of John’s terrific artwork (G.I. Joe and otherwise) you can follow him on Instagram or hit up JohnRoyleArt.com!

john-royle-gatefold-rah-237-238-239

GeneralsJoes Reviews 2016 Heavy Duty and Stiletto

The holidays are past us and I’ve gotten a couple more 2016 G.I. Joe reviews under my belt… Heavy Duty and Stiletto can now be found on the G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary review page.

Along with this, with Chris from the Full Force Podcast’s help, a video review has been completed to compliment them and that can be found below, or embedded within the review itself.

Enjoy!

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-05

G.I. Joe 2016 Stiletto

gijoe-2016-stiletto-01 gijoe-2016-stiletto-02

Okay, I admit straight up.  This is going to be a tough review to write.  I was desperately hoping that Whisper might end up winning the fan vote, and I fully admit I was pretty upset that she didn’t get the nod.

That’s not meant to be any slight against the other three excellent candidates, but I’d be lying if I said this review wasn’t being written through at least some gritted teeth.  As it stands, the Stiletto figure came out pretty good, and manages to capture the elements of Bill Nedrow’s character relatively nicely.

gijoe-2016-stiletto-05

The new head sculpt is decent, but would have benefited from better paint apps, especially on the scar and potentially missing left pupil.  The figure build is essentially Rise of COBRA Agent Helix with Lady Jaye arms, and as much as I love the parts for that figure (I consider her one of the highlights of the excellent Rise of COBRA toy era) the color placement on Stiletto is odd to say the least.  Purple and black on the torso with oddly green colored pants and a blue scarf makes for an eclectic and eye-opening array of colors that seem almost arbitrarily chosen.

gijoe-2016-stiletto-20

While I fully admit to being somewhat disgruntled at Whisper’s shunting to relative obscurity, I’m generally a fan of new characters, and Stiletto works in that regard, although her filecard is in pretty direct contrast to the actual character in the fiction.  That leads to some challenges, as she is clearly a COBRA agent in the books, but is written as purely a G.I. Joe member according to the filecard.  It’s an interesting dichotomy which will make for some intriguing storytelling opportunities.

ACCESSORIES

gijoe-2016-stiletto-acc

As an expert in edged weapons, Stiletto comes with two swords and knives aplenty, as one might expect.  She also has a submachine gun and a Drugonov sniper rifle.  I’d argue out of the 2 packs she is the best equipped figure and has the most sensible assortment of weapons out of the whole crew.

gijoe-2016-stiletto-04

Stiletto is an intriguing new character and I’m happy for Bill that she managed to get included in the 2016 assortment, and I’m still totally not holding a grudge about Whisper.  All that being said, this figure is a decent build with some strange color choices and a nice assortment of useful accessories.

YouTube Video Review

G.I. Joe 2016 Heavy Duty

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-01 gijoe-2016-heavyduty-02

After the run that Heavy Duty had in the early 2000’s, it’s tough to picture a time when fans might actually be looking forward to a new version of this 90’s character.  Essentially a Roadblock replacement when the trademarks were lost during the new sculpt era (and into Sigma 6), Heavy Duty was often the target of derision from collectors who much preferred the more popular Roadblock.

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-05

Now here we stand in 2016 after getting a healthy helping of Roadblock from G.I. Joe: Retaliation and now people seem happy and satisfied with a new Heavy Duty.  In truth, there’s a lot to be satisfied by.

Heavy Duty here is by and large the Retaliation Roadblock from the neck down, with what looks to be a new head sculpt.  The result is a large, imposing looking figure as the classic was meant to be, though this version’s baseball cap is replaced by a bandana.  His shirt is off-white, like the vintage version was, and the green pants offset it nicely.  I will say without some kind of vest or web gear the figure looks a little plain, but still is pretty cool. Once you put the Resolute Roadblock web gear on him, it’s a huge improvement and the figure all told is surprisingly effective. Certainly it’s basically a Roadblock repaint, but this particular Roadblock is a fantastic figure with great sculpting and impressive articulation, so it’s pretty tough to complain about that formula.

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-17

Heavy Duty is a nice compliment to other figures in this first 2 pack assortment, and I think Hasbro did a decent job with it.

ACCESSORIES

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-acc

Heavy Duty is littered with accessories to the point where he seems to have more weapons than he has places to store them.  This seems to be an ongoing issue with these modern figures as Hasbro kind of treats them like “accessory packs” simply dumping a pile of gear in there that aren’t necessarily meaningful.  Heavy Duty comes with two separate oversized machine guns along with the M249, pistol, and knife.  He also has the great Resolute Roadblock vest, too.

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-04

In spite of the prevalence of Heavy Duty back in the early 2000’s, I was excited to hear about his inclusion here, and the end result is really nice.  It’s got some vintage twists, but some new elements, and the figure is surprisingly one of the highlights of this year’s series.

YouTube Video Review

Marauder Valkyries initial shipment is IN STOCK NOW!

Kickstarter orders have been fulfilled and Marauder “Gun Runners” has officially started stocking the initial allotment of their outstanding Valkyrie figures!  I just got my order last week and these are figures you will NOT be disappointed in.  Literally some of the best female figures I’ve ever held in my hands with all the customizability you’ve grown to love with the Task Force assortment.

Do not hesitate, stock will sell quick.  Hit up MarauderInc.com and grab ’em before they’re gone!

marauder-valkyries-in-stock

New Kindle Worlds Novella – G.I. Joe: Nerves of Stone Coming Soon!

nerves-of-stone-cover-templThe time has come! Last year we brought you Welcome to Wolf Squad, a novella based on the 2015 series of G.I. Joe and COBRA action figures… now we bring you Nerves of Stone, the follow-up Novella to our Wolf Squad adventure from last year.

Familiar characters make their returns and some new characters get introduced…each and every member of the 2016 G.I. Joe and COBRA roster appears!

When a new G.I. Joe recruit goes missing while investing a top secret COBRA research lab in Alaska, G.I. Joe’s special operations Wolf Squad team gets deployed to see what’s up. They get far more than they bargained for and when G.I. Joe reinforcements arrive, a long kept secret gets revealed…

Now, for a limited time, get an exclusive sneak preview of this upcoming novella! Sign up for the World of Wolf’s Head Publishing and you’ll get immediate access to the Prologue and first chapter of this novella, due for release in early 2017. This will be available NOWHERE else.

As an added bonus you can check out the first three chapters of my original novel The Fog of Dreams and get access to a Top Secret Research Paper outlining the Operation: Harvest story. If you’re a fan of G.I. Joe, I really think you’ll enjoy this story as well. Lots of similarities as one might expect.

Just sign up for the World of Wolf’s Head Publishing, I promise we won’t spam you or throttle your mailbox, but we will have plenty of exclusive offers and fun stuff coming down the pipe. Check it out!



Generals Joe and Tell Video Reviews – FSS Outback and Sneak Peek

With some newly found spare time at GeneralsJoes we’ve put together some video reviews for figures from FSS 4.0!  Tiger Force Outback and Sneak Peek video reviews have been posted to the GeneralsJoes YouTube Channel and are ready for viewing.

They’ve also been embedded in the written reviews at the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page or the direct links below.

Enjoy and huge thanks as always to Chris from The Full Force for his help on these videos!

tf-outback-15