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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I could spend hours extolling the virtues of Duke as a character, but let’s face it, after over 50 different versions of the character, almost everything that could possibly be said about Duke has been said. While there isn’t a whole lot of new ground to cover when it comes to Duke the character, it’s interesting to look at this particular Duke action figure.
After the original 50th Anniversary run, there were rumblings among the fandom asking why we couldn’t get an updated version of Duke similar to Flint that we got in 2014. It was something that many folks asked for, in spite of the numerous versions of the character we’d already seen, because interestingly, Hasbro has never really done a modern update (past the questionable 25th Anniversary versions) that tied directly back to the vintage look.
Well, in 2016 Hasbro does a little bit of both, but I’m not certain the figure is better off for it.
While they certainly mirror the vintage look of the figure from a color perspective, Hasbro elects to modernize the figure with a bulkier, almost arctic looking uniform (using components from the Data Viper). The range of motion and articulation is really great, though the choice of different parts than, say the 2014 Flint does raise some eyebrows. Duke’s legs are from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper, though thankfully seems to have deeper foot holes that fit in the pegs better than some other figures that have shared these parts.
From a color scheme perspective, Duke obviously pulls homage from the 1983 version, but is cast in a strangely bright hue, his shirt looking much more vibrant (and thus a little less realistic) and his pants a deeper, richer green.
All in all, Duke definitely has the look of the character, though the colors don’t quite jive with a more realistic looking version of the figure. The sculpting and articulation are both really good, thanks to more modern figure components, but they look like a more arctic version of the figure. Also, for whatever its worth, once you take off Duke’s vest, his torso is from Rise of COBRA Breaker and looks really skinny next to the baggy cloth of the arms.
Duke comes with a wide array of cool weapons, though none of them especially stand point. He’s got a familiar machine gun and pistol, the green Shock Trooper tactical vest, smaller M249 heavy machine gun. He also has a green backpack. Pretty traditional looking weapons assortment that works fine, though isn’t especially remarkable.
Duke is one of the timeless characters of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero lore. Rather than go full bore vintage, Hasbro uses some vintage homages with some new twists, which generally I’m a fan of, though in this case it doesn’t work especially well. It’s a decent looking figure, but doesn’t bring a whole lot of new elements to the table, which feels necessary for yet another version of this character. Either go full vintage or go full on new, this walking the line in between isn’t especially effective.
Interestingly, in stark contrast to the other figure in this two-pack, rather than a long time established character with over 50 separate iterations, Tombstone is a brand spanking new character, something very much appreciated by this long time fan.
But is this being a new character enough to wow a discriminating collector?
Along with being a new character, Tombstone also has a great new head sculpt full of character. He’s a former COBRA trooper who has been through the wringer, and that’s immediately evident with one look at his face. The sculpt is good to boot. Looking at the figure build, it’s a decent one, with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes arms, which I’m always a fan of and the Pursuit of COBRA Firefly legs. The result is a pretty skinny, but flexible figure, a character that looks especially lanky buried underneath the long and heavily armored tactical vest from Firefly.
Obviously the shining point of the figure is with the new head, and the new head is pretty great and pretty gnarly with a nasty scar over his right eye making the character look like he’s seen some stuff. It’s a really neat “battle worn” look for sure. One thing Hasbro does a good job with in looking at the part selection is the range of motion is great. Long limbs and non-restrictive joints means the figure can achieve all sorts of great firing positions, which is a nice effect of the way the figure was built.
There’s a healthy run of purple and black throughout the figure, which leaves it nicely dark, but with some interesting colors, though I’m really not sure what’s up with the stark white shoulder armor. It’s not an especially realistic color and it stands out in distinct contrast to the rest of the dark figure. It’s not a bad look, just a bit on the odd side.
The backstory for Tombstone is certainly interesting, as a psychological operations guy who is now essentially the field commander for the COBRA Viper corps. It gives him some intriguing twists and lends some credence to his strange accessory compliment. The figure itself aesthetically looks decent, but doesn’t quite come together in all areas with some off color combinations and very lanky parts selection. That being said, he’s a figure that even with existing parts manages to stand out from the crowd, which is a good thing.
I’m not really sure what to make of Tombstone’s accessories other than to assume, they were more or less randomly chosen without a clear indication of purpose. He’s got a great assault rifle, but then comes with the old school gas grenade launcher alongside futuristic laser weapons. It’s possible these are meant to be some kind of state of the art pyschosis weapons to go along with his psychological warfare specialty, but that’s not clearly stated anywhere. The weapons are fine, they’re just kind of there.
I’m always a fan of new characters and great new head sculpts and Tombstone has both of these, which gives him a major edge in my book. Some of the construction choices leave me scratching my head a bit and the color combinations are interesting. The newness of the character and head, however, overcome some of those design choices and leave me with a sense of satisfaction with the figure.
Holy cow, this is what happens when you don’t post a new episode for a while… the What’s on Joe Mind podcast has posted a new episode of their G.I. Joe podcast, and it’s a big ‘un!
FIVE FREAKING HOURS of content crammed into this tiny audio file, encompassing hours of recording, editing, and production work. Big props to all the work done behind the scenes, and I hope everyone enjoys this latest mammoth episode.
ZOMG! It’s a REAL episode!! Yes, the gang brings you almost FIVE hours of Joe Related Talk…and other subjects…and pointless tangents. Justin was having “family time” so joining us for substitution host duty is Chris McLeod of The Full Force. Since this is our first show since JoeCon (yes, we know it has been that long, but we all have real lives we must live folks), we spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of time in the news doing a day-by-day review of all that went down in Loveland. We also catch up on other topics in the news…all which is old news now, but you can hear what we have to say instead of reading it on a forum or in social media. We also talk to IDW GI Joe artist extraordinaire, Tom Feister as we check in to what projects he has cooking for the rest of the year. All that plus the Joes of 2006 and Inappropriate Cosplay Emails to Joe Colton. We know you will love this new segment! We’ll fill you in with our lives in the real world on our next episode, but for now, enjoy this MEGA show…this should last you a couple of days on your commutes…unless you have a long commute and in that case we hope it makes your trip go by that much more rapidly. Thanks for thinking of us! We appreciate your listener-ship!!
The selection of Carla Greer for the FSS is all at once confusing, yet also makes perfect sense, especially as an entry into the 13th figure category.
From 2003 – 2004, Devils’ Due Publishing released an alternate universe G.I. Joe story entitled G.I. Joe: Reloaded which featured Duke as a COBRA double agent, Storm Shadow as a Yakuza looking guy in a white trenchcoat, and a version of Doc who was female rather than the Carl Greer we all knew and loved. It was an interesting twist, and at the time was not a part of normal continuity.
Fast forward to 2007 and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club released the “Tanks for the Memories” Convention set. Within that boxed set, they brought forward the idea that Carla Greer existed in the main G.I. Joe continuity and had elected to join G.I. Joe after the death of her father, the original Doc. It was an interesting way to tap into the Reloaded series and provided the G.I. Joe team with another much needed Medic. For that reason, it does make sense for them to then bring that character forward into the modern format, and to their credit, they do it pretty well.
She’s got a decent build, combining some Rise of COBRA era parts with some nice later generation 25th Anniversary parts, which makes for a good update to the 2007 original. Her elbow articulation is a little restrictive, but she’s got a great look and manages to tie back some homages to the original Doc as well as her own original figure from seven years back.
I believe her head sculpt is new, it isn’t one I immediately recognize, and while it’s not phenomenal, it’s always great to have a new addition to the library of female head sculpts, which are badly needed.
The figure’s paint deco is clearly inspired by both the vintage Doc and the 2007 update, with tan, brown, and white put together in a very nice combination. This is a really solid figure, though not one I thought I desperately needed as part of my collection.
Carla “Doc” Greer borrows much of her gear from her father, including the bandolier with med kit and the flare launcher. She also has the webgear from 50th Anniversary Lady Jaye and the hypodermic needle from Lifeline. It’s a great selection of accessories that really adds some nice design aesthetics when it’s all put on the figure. The darker webgear and lighter bandolier contrast quite nicely with the tan uniform underneath adding some much needed flair.
Note – I somehow misplaced the hypodermic that was supposed to come with Doc, so Fred from JoeBattleLines very kindly allowed me to use some of his images for this review. Thanks, Fred!
I wouldn’t have picked Doc as a necessary figure in the FSS even if you gave me 100 choices, but the execution is decent. She makes sense as a 13th figure, one that has some great collectible elements, but not one that’s eminently desirable, and balances the execution of the figure quite nicely. Not bad.
Along with the different Action Force focused characters released as European exclusives, one of the more famous and popular branch of UK and Europe released figures were their Tiger Force themed versions. Outside the United States, the Tiger Force color pallet went a decidedly different direction, using oranges, blues, browns and greens rather than the more familiar yellows and blacks. Looking back on it, the orange and brown specifically makes a bit more sense given the whole Tiger Force motif, though the domestic released figures appeared to be paying homage to some real world military themes.
One of the most familiar of these repaints was Tiger Force Outback, who actually developed a whole new t-shirt deco featuring a great looking cat face that has really drawn lots of collector interest over the past several years. It makes sense for the Collectors Club to want to dip into this area of collector desires.
What’s really interesting about how the Collectors Club handled this was that they actually wrote Outback into this look and feel throughout their monthly comic. Making Outback a part of the Zombie Invasion convention set, they had him infected by Compound Z, and while he ultimately recovered, it ended up coloring his hair white (as the foreign version had white hair and a beard as well). Once that revelation appeared in the convention comic, it was pretty clear that this figure was in the works. So now that we have it, how does it measure up?
It measures up… pretty well, I suppose.
I love the concept, and I love that they revisited the UK Tiger Force Outback in a modern format, I just wish they had taken a few more chances with the build. I love the new head sculpt, it’s a great likeness and quite a bit better than the head we got for the 25th Anniversary. It’s fantastic, actually.
The torso is the same torso we got with the 25th Anniversary version, as are the legs, both of which are kind of a shame. I understand why the Club went that route, mostly for the leg-mounted flashlight and the tie back to the original, but at this point, parts developed in 2007 – 2008 look pretty out of date next to more modern sculpted figures. Not only that, but the COBRA Trooper legs tend to look bow-legged. The knee pin on my figure is actually barely holding together, which might color my opinion a little bit too much, but still, looking at Outback’s legs compared to legs sculpted and developed post 2010 is a pretty stark reminder of how far things have come. Thankfully, however, the Club does change out his arms with the more modern 30th Anniversary style short sleeves, which is a change that is very much appreciated, adding some better articulation and range of motion over the old school 25th Anniversary arms.
What the figure does excel at, however, is the deco. The cat face shirt pattern looks terrific, and the color matching of the figure is pretty spot on. He’s a vibrant, interesting looking entry into the FSS, I just wish they hadn’t been quite so faithful to the outdated original with their parts choices.
Tiger Force Outback comes with a different sort of webgear that is actually cool, because he can wear it around his shoulders without covering up the awesome cat face. He has a machine gun, large backpack and knife (again with the 25th Anniversary accessories, though. It looks woefully out of scale and out of date compared to newer items).
The accessories are pretty good and work well for the character, though don’t provide anything especially revolutionary.
Ever since his escape from Borovia, Outback has been one of my top tier characters in the Real American Hero mythos. He’s gotten a surprising amount of love throughout the modern era, but none of them have been quite perfect. The Tiger Force version improves most with a vastly improved head sculpt and great shirt deco, but the outdated build once again reduces the “wow” factor that the vintage figure provided.