I actually posted these reviews a while ago, but stupid me forgot to announce the reviews out on the main page.
Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page or the direct links below:
I believe I may have specifically stated in my G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Firefly review that Hasbro could never produce another Firefly and I’d be happy. While that might hold true, I can’t argue with the greatness of this Firefly update, and I’m glad that Hasbro elected to ignore my previous statement in that other review.
Granted, this figure pretty much is Ultimate Firefly with some minor additions, but those minor additions make a huge difference and make for a figure that is really cool, even though it’s 95% repaint.
First of all, it helps that the figure they repainted was an excellent one. Ultimate Firefly is widely regarded as one of the nicest figures Hasbro has produced, from the excellent sculpting and great articulation throughout. Somehow Hasbro took the existing figure (which was already terrific) and made some minor additions to it that took it even further.
Great elbow articulation and added wrist motion are both awesome pieces of the existing Firefly mold, which allow him to hold weapons really nicely and achieve some impressive poses. The sculpting in the figure is stellar, with the layered commando turtleneck and shirt, all pretty basic looks, but done so well on these figures. The legs are where this Firefly seems a bit more evolved, however. Rather than the Lifeline parts, we have what appears to be a new holster and knife sheath on the right leg and new pouches on the left. These small changes make a big difference, and I really like what they add to the figure.
Looking at the paint scheme, it seems like Hasbro was almost trying to emulate the o-ring Firefly from 2005 without the red, which is essentially just his familiar camouflage pattern in reverse. If I had any complaints about the Ultimate Firefly it would have been that his camouflage was too light, and the figure looks more gray than camouflage. That’s not an issue here, where the camo is much more clearly defined by color, and it’s a really nice urban look. He looks darker and more deeply camouflage, which is cool, even if he doesn’t directly match his original ’84 rendition.
I have seen some images where Firefly’s lower limbs look dramatically different colors than his upper limbs, but I have to say the difference isn’t that striking in person. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if others hadn’t pointed it out. There is a bit of sloppiness to the camouflage paint, missing some of the crispness of some lines and making the camouflage pattern look somewhat imperfect. Not a huge deal, but something worth mentioning. Also, my figure has a significant paint flaw near the eye holes of the mask which shows a big blotch of flesh colored paint. Another paint related QC issue that bears mentioning. By and large, this second iteration of 50th Anniversary figures has considerably better QC than last year’s did, but there have been some rampaint paint issues that do bear mentioning.
Hasbro didn’t just stop with some additions on the figure itself, though, they added some terrific new accessories, too. Firefly comes with what appears to be a brand new silenced sub machine gun and saboteur themed backpack (with a great knife sheath on it). He’s got his familiar webgear, with the bombs glued on as they were with the Collectors Club Wreckage figure. The backpack is really nicely detailed with intricate paint apps on the newly sculpted piece of equipment. He also comes with the two knives for the sheaths, the same two mines that the Pursuit of Cobra version came with (one of which fits on the backpack). There’s a pistol for his new holster on the right leg, too, the same pistol that’s come with many different figures at this point.
I didn’t think it could get much better than Ultimate Firefly, and in truth, since this figure is just sort of an evolution of that one, it still hasn’t. But as someone who isn’t so connected to the aesthetics of vintage characters, this new paint scheme is a nice look for the character, even if just a reversal of his original colors. Even with a bit of sloppiness on the camouflage blobs and facemask, the figure looks good, and I really love the new additions.
First and foremost, I have to admit that it’s not often that I see a desert trooper decked out in blue and white camouflage.
That being said, that is really my only complaint about this figure, I find myself strangely loving almost every other single part of it. It certainly helps that the base figure is one of my favorite G.I. Joe action figures of all time, the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Duke. I’ve loved that figure since the first time I ever set fingers on it, and this version of Dusty mimics it in all the best ways, and in fact, some might say improves on it with updated arms that include expanded wrist articulation, while maintaining the same range of motion.
For some reason I just love that combination of reactive armor and baggier jungle ops combat pants, and it helps that the articulation of the figure is spectacular. Elbows and knees both have great range of motion, and simply by adding Dusty’s head on there, you can establish a whole new character. No, it doesn’t make much sense to have Dusty in blue and white, but I’ve been pretty vocal in the past that I’m not huge on narrow-fit environmental operatives, so having a great character like Dusty available in color schemes beyond the traditional brown and tan of desert operations is totally cool with me.
Hasbro continues to do great with the “battle worn” Reactive Armor, showing streaks and worn metal throughout the torso in a pretty effective manor. Dusty’s dark blue mixed with white/light blue camouflage does look a little strange and doesn’t fit much preconceived notions for me, but I find myself more than willing to overlook it because the figure is so good.
I will say from a structure/plastic quality perspective, the right knee of my figure is exceptionally loose, which is a bummer. I’m looking into buying a second, though, because I love the figure that much. I have no idea if the loose knee is unique to mine, or if it’s a common theme. Also, my Dusty had a nasty smudge of paint on his face, which I was able to scrape off, but it still didn’t look real good.
Beyond those issues (which may be widespread QC related, or may just be specific to this particular figure) I love this figure a lot more than I ever envisioned. Whether he’s fully equipped or just partially equipped, he is truly fantastic and a lot of fun to
play with…errr… I mean display.
Really, really great accessories here, too. He’s got the helmet/goggles and collar with cape from his Pursuit of Cobra version, which layer on some great detail and character work to a desert operative who may find himself exposed in the wilderness for a long period of time. He also comes with the two machine guns from the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper, one of my favorite figures in recent memory, though I wish the weapons weren’t blue. He can hold them fairly well, but not perfectly, especially the sniper rifle.
Dusty also comes with the great webgear from the PoC Duke figure, along with the pistol and machete.
This figure is great. Upon first glance I had no idea why they had chosen the paint scheme they did (and truthfully, I still don’t) but I can’t get over how much I love the figure formula underneath. Sure, much of that credit should be given to previous sculptors and designers, but the choice to carry it forward was really good, and I’m surprised at how nicely it meshes with the PoC Dusty gear as well. The result is a really great figure version of a good character that I’m happy to have in a non-desert specific paint scheme.
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the way some folks have approached G.I. Joe is that everyone seems so hung up on re-doing vintage figures they don’t leave room for new concepts. Hasbro, in my opinion, has been doing a good job, especially with this recent rendition of their 50th Anniversary line, to explore new ideas as well as revisiting some classic looks.
We got great versions of Gung Ho and Storm Shadow, but also a brand new character in Sightline, and a whole new team in the Wolf Squad. It’s enough to satisfy two different camps. With this “Sneak Attack” 3-Pack there are some new concepts brought to the table, though I’m not sure how successful they all are.
Hasbro elected to put together a different parts formula for Bazooka rather than rely on his 25th Anniversary version, and from a sculpting perspective, I’m glad they did, though using the Retaliation Roadblock parts makes the character a lot larger and more muscular than he might otherwise be perceived to be. The larger base figure also makes the head look pretty small sitting on top of those tall, broad shoulders.
Bazooka uses the torso and arms from Ultimate/Battle Kata Roadblock, but uses the legs from the Wave 1 Roadblock, which unfortunately has reduced knee articulation. Of course, the original Bazooka did as well. One nice thing about the use of the Roadblock Torso is that the split-torso joint is far enough down on the body so the entire “14” from his football jersey sits above it, which means no unsightly split in the middle of the numbers. I like that aspect a lot.
What has me scratching my head, just a bit, is the paint scheme. Designers went outside the box a little bit with the paint apps here, going with a darker blue and very light blue camouflage scheme for reasons unknown. Now, G.I. Joe in the past has certainly been known to use strange camouflage colors and patterns, so I don’t have any major issues with those decisions necessarily, but I do wish some reason had been used for it. Bazooka’s super light (almost white) blue jersey with powder blue numbers doesn’t really resemble anything specifically (though at JoeCon, Mark Weber mentioned, tongue firmly in cheek, that perhaps this was Bazooka’s “away jersey”). The colors here are somewhat bright, though not obnoxiously so, I just wish some reason was given for the eclectic choices. His pants are blue and white camouflage, which might work for a water based operative or parajumper (in fact on one of my early customs, I used a blue and white “Cloud” type camouflage for a parajumper) but Bazooka is really neither.
Again, though, this certainly wouldn’t be the first time a G.I. Joe figure was given a bright, odd color scheme, and it hasn’t bothered me terribly in the past. I think the reason it gives me more pause now is that G.I. Joe in recent years has tried hard to make itself more grounded, and this feels like a departure from that, but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Heck, I’m just glad to see a figure that isn’t meticulously tied back to how the figure looked 30 years ago.
Bazooka comes with lots of his familiar gear, including his excellent backpack with four removable bazooka rounds, plus the bazooka that the rounds can actually fit into. He has his trusty helmet with chin strap, and in case he fires all four rounds, he has a nice tactical shotgun as his backup weapon. Not a ton of gear, but enough and it all works well for the character.
Bazooka’s portrayal in the Sunbow animated series had always soured me on the character, but I’ve learned to appreciate what the cartoon writers were doing with all of these over-the-top characterizations of some of these guys. He’ll never be a character that is central to my G.I. Joe mythology, and this update doesn’t blow me away. I think it makes sense to get Bazooka out there in the same year as characters like Shipwreck, Alpine, Dusty, Gung Ho, and Spirit and it’s quite interesting to stand back and look at this collected group of vintage favorites and see how things have changed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saving the best for last?
Like his fellow Marine, Leatherneck last year, Gung Ho was overdue for an updated modern figure, though many would argue Gung Ho’s need was far more drastic than his 1986 era teammate. I would agree.
I think most of us would also agree that Gung Ho’s update meets all of those lofty expectations.
Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page for the latest, or click the links below.
So this is it…as much as Destro and Leatherneck were the stars of the show for the first go round of the 50th Anniversary, this second wave was all about Storm Shadow and Gung Ho, with most of the focus squarely on G.I. Joe’s first Marine. So, what’s the verdict?
Pretty excellent, in truth. Nearly perfect, I dare say.
Leveraging the sculpting skills of Fred Aczon, now of Boss Fight Studio, Gung Ho is a work of art from a sculpting standpoint. I believe the figure is brand new from head to toe, standing tall and wide in stature, as the classic character should. Interestingly, he’s not quite as tall as Leatherneck or Destro, but stands somewhere in between those two and more “normal” sized figures. I still find it amazing that Gung Ho was deemed important enough to be included in the first 25th Anniversary 5-Pack, but somehow not important enough to be re-released in his classic visage ever since. There were a few other versions of the character interjected into various lines, but none that really did the character justice. This one does, in spades.
The new head sculpt is chock full of great character, with the handlebar moustache and the familiar Marine cap. The torso and arms look great, and the legs are great, too, allowing Gung Ho to stand tall and sturdy. Leg joints and plastic quality feel better than we got with Destro last year with a functional holster and knife sheath on the boot. At this point we have several different great legs for these tall characters, and kudos to Hasbro for not just re-using Roadblock or Destro this time around.
Paint applications are good, looking very much like the classic ‘83 version of this character in a similar powder blue camouflage. The Marine Corps tattoo on his chest is incredibly well done, too. It’s huge on his chest and covers some serious real estate, not just kind of tossed on there as the ‘07 version was. This Gung Ho is prouder than ever of his Marine Corps heritage!
The Joe Marine comes with a ton of gear including a great looking newly tooled vest, a re-released grenade launcher, mini gun w/ backpack, pistol and knife. He also has Duke’s smaller, paratrooper format M-249 SAW heavy machine gun for good measure. Yeah, Gung Ho is pretty strapped, and the gear is really nice. I would have loved to have seen a slightly more normal assault rifle for standard military operations, but who can complain? I’ve got plenty of extra gear to go around.
Just as the tall and imposing Destro and Leatherneck figures were last year, this rendition of Gung Ho is the star of the second series of 50th Anniversary figures, and he deserves his place in the limelight. There is almost no possible place for complaint with the figure, as its design and execution are both top notch, giving us one heck of a great new version of the G.I. Joe Marine. Sure, it took us eight years to get a new version of the classic Gung Ho character, but some might say it was worth the wait. He is truly stellar. My hope at this point is that they take this figure and redeco him in some more realistic camouflage for the Marvel issue #39 era of jungle operations. This version of Gung Ho would look pretty spectacular in more realistically colored camouflage.