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.
Like with Tiger Force Outback, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club looked overseas for an idea on the deco for this particular figure, and I’m really glad they did. In a way, I’ve always preferred the look of the European Tiger Force exclusives over much of the domestic releases (and really loved the aesthetic of the Toys “R” Us set, which mimiced some of that look) and it’s cool to see those decos represented here, even if they don’t really closely match some of the domestic figures.
I found myself especially excited for Sneak Peek considering his recent (well, somewhat recent) run in the IDW G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic, which had him coming back from the dead as a top secret undercover operative. Interestingly that storyline tied into a story bringing Darklon back as well, and now both of those characters are appearing in more familiar paint schemes in FSS 5.
Keeping our minds on Tiger Force Sneak Peek, the build is pretty straight forward, looking like more or less the Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper from neck to foot. While not unexpected, this kind of default build can get a little tiring after a while, especially when it sidesteps some of Sneak Peek’s more identifiable traits like his rolled up sleeves and knee-high boots. I know, I know, I consistently complain about dovetailing too closely to the vintage look, but in the case of Sneak Peek, it feels like they ignored some of the unique aspects that make him different, instead just giving us more of the same with the Poc Shock Trooper. I’m curious to know if their access to tooling libraries is getting more restrictive, as we’re starting to see more and more figures sharing more and more of the same parts.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the Shock Trooper parts, they have great sculpting and impressive articulation, and look suitably military, but I’m hoping they’re not becoming a crutch and restricting creativity, especially when parts do exist. Sci-Fi’s legs and 50th Anniversary Flint’s arms could both work for a Sneak Peek formula. Perhaps there were restrictions I’m not aware of, though.
Thankfully they appear to be under no restrictions with the color pallet, though, and do a great job with the orange and blue that’s become a trademark of the European Tiger Force clan. The look is great from that perspective, and I love the colorful nature of Sneak Peek. He’s a great looking figure in spite of the somewhat generic build.
Sneak Peek comes pretty well loaded with accessories. He’s got a removable helmet and Scrap Iron’s vest, along a newly sculpted and tooled periscope which looks pretty fantastic. He has his trusty M-16, binoculars, and a field radio, all of which mesh nicely with his specialty. It’s a pretty awesome selection of some great accessories that make the figure really pop.
As a character, Sneak Peek never did a whole lot for me until Hama inadvertently brought him back from the dead and added some more intriguing twists to the character. Since then, I’ve become much more of a Sneak Peek fan (even if it was a pseudo retcon on Hama’s part) and I’m glad to see him represented here as well as in the upcoming FSS 5. Plus, it’s about time we started filling out more of the 1987 roster, which was one of the more unique series in the line’s history.
Although the parts chosen here feel a little bit phoned in, the deco is great and they gave him a ton of awesome gear, so the end result is better than I might have suspected. A good note to end FSS 4 on.
Is this real life? Only two weeks ago I got done posting my review for Billy, a figure G.I. Joe fans had been waiting for for nearly thirty years. Now here we are taking a look at Pythona, Cobra La’s notorious infiltrator and assassin, a character who made her debut in 1987 and just barely received treatment in plastic form.
My history with Pythona is a weird one. While I actually enjoy the 1987 G.I. Joe animated movie more than most other people I know, at the time of its original airing, I absolutely hated Pythona. I still remember watching cartoons after school as I always did, when an advertisement for G.I. Joe: The Movie came on. Completely out of the blue, not something I knew was coming at all (back in those innocent pre-Internet days) and I was immediately enraptured. I’d already seen Transformers: The Movie and was still living off that high, and my mind went crazy with all the possible angles they could take in a G.I. Joe movie with the same production values.
The opening sequence blew my 13 year old mind, and afterwards, the entire infiltration scene with the Terror Drome was absolutely amazing. A dark cloaked figure tearing through the COBRA ranks, burning dudes with acid, tearing open walls with nasty claws and being just a general bad ass. Again, my mind went crazy considering who this could possibly be and what awesome character was doing all of this cool stuff.
When it was revealed to be Pythona, my initial reaction was pretty much… “who?” Here we had COBRA the most nefarious terrorist organization in the world essentially decimated by one person, and it was someone I’d never heard of and someone I couldn’t own as an action figure. Back then, and still to this day, my love for G.I. Joe and many toy brands is tightly focused on how the surrounding mythology supports the characters, and here was someone who had zero action figures I could play with to live out these incredible adventures happening on screen. It kinda made me mad.
My opinion softened over the years, and I’ve grown to really appreciate Cobra La and Pythona, and she became a figure that I really and truly wanted almost above all others. Her and Billy pretty much stood atop a drastically shrinking mountain of G.I. Joe and Cobra characters who never got action figures, and now within the span of a month, both of those check boxes have been checked.
I’ve said many times throughout the years that I didn’t think the Club would ever do Pythona simply because they wouldn’t be able to do her “right”. The texture of her costume would require significant new tooling and would be prohibitively expensive, but thankfully last year I was proven wrong when the Club announced that she would be the 2016 incentive figure. Now, when I heard they would be mostly mimicking the pattern of her uniform with paint, I was pretty dubious as to how well it would work. I’ve seen plenty of customizers try that over the years (myself included) with iffy results.
Holy crap was I proven wrong.
Now, the Club did invest in new tooling here, going with a new head sculpt, new hands, and what looks like a possible new upper torso for Pythona, but they went with paint for all the shaped circles and ridges in the uniform and it works spectacularly well.
Pythona herself is a mixture of existing parts for the legs and arms, with the Reactive Armor Scarlett lower torso, but the new upper torso, new head, and new hands go an incredibly way towards making her a very unique and deserved update to the missing Cobra La member. Her head is a gorgeous sculpt and features a removable ponytail so you can tuck the cloak’s hood up over her head, a little touch that is really awesome. The ponytail does have a tendency to fall out of her head, but the look of the figure is terrific, and that feature is a welcome one.
Her slim build and impressive articulation allow for all sorts of great poses and movements, allowing us to put her in all sorts of great “infiltration” positions. The newly sculpted hands are terrific, too, and while she can’t really hold anything, the trade off of those long fingers and fingernails is well worth it.
I’m happy to say her paint applications are nearly perfect as well, with dozens of those shaped circles all throughout the paint of her body, very closely matching the color pallet of the animated model and managing to look extremely realistic, even though the mold of the figure isn’t textured to match. Color changes are subtle throughout and excellently applied, really bringing the figure to life nicely. I can’t think of too many complaints at all when looking at the figure’s build, paint, and articulation.
I will admit there isn’t much here as far as accessories go, though I suppose Pythona doesn’t need much. She comes with a great cloak, which may be a newly developed soft good, and it works nicely, fitting over the figure, with the hood coming up tightly around the head (once the ponytail is removed). It adds some great aesthetic to the figure and in some ways I’m really glad Pythona was made now instead of 1987, because I seriously doubt the same effect could have been maintained back then.
She also comes with a foot stand and the same tentacle accessory that Nemesis Immortal came with several years ago. It somewhat replicates one of her nasty hand-held weapons, so it seems like an okay choice.
I had my doubts that we’d ever see Pythona as an action figure, and even if we did see her, I suspected the end result would be less than ideal. I was proven 100% wrong on both counts, and I’m exceedingly pleased with this figure, and am now firmly in the “Modern Era Cobra La please” camp. Like with Pythona, I can’t really think of any way Golobulus or the Royal Guard could be done without some significant new tooling, but maybe, like Pythona, the Collectors Club will find a way to surprise me. Considering the news from JoeCon that their relationship with Hasbro has been extended until at least 2018, that would be a terrific capper to their illustrious convention career.
This feels like it should be a momentous occasion, and in truth it is. As rumors swirl around us about what the future holds for G.I. Joe, and as the years have marched on, that long list of figures that needed to be done slowly dwindles.
In the early 2000’s we finally got our Oktober Guard (then again from the Club a handful of years ago). Several years later, again courtesy of the Collectors Club, we got our Dr. Venom. Another couple of years after that, Kwinn finally appeared in the Retaliation line of all places. Now this year the Club hands us both Pythona and Billy, all while standing on the precipice of their own final surge with the Hasbro license. Something about it seems almost poetic.
Ever since his first appearance in G.I. Joe #10, curiosity has surrounded the character of Billy. Though we didn’t find out he was COBRA Commander’s son until Destro pointed it out in issue #38 (I believe…). Shortly thereafter, Billy was taken in by Storm Shadow shortly before being caught in a rocket attack and gravely wounded. He managed to escape with a lost eye and leg and rejoined Storm Shadow, becoming immersed in the Arashikage culture and greatly evolving his ninja prowess. Devil’s Due took the ball and ran with it where Billy was concerned, bringing him on to act as a foil between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, and that’s where this version of Billy comes in.
I’m really happy that the Collectors Club elected to go with this more combat ready version of COBRA Commander’s son rather than a boy scout or another iteration of the ’84 Storm Shadow. This is how he appeared in the Devil’s Due comic, and this is really where his training came to play, in my mind. His appearances in this guise in Devil’s Due were some highlights of that run, and I’ll remember that Mike Zeck penciled 21st issue very fondly.
The Club made some interesting choices with this figure. His head is a new sculpt, because it pretty much had to be, though doesn’t appear to be Boss Fight’s work. Most of the figure is based off the Rise of COBRA Snake Eyes, which is okay, I suppose, and that figure actually ends up being sculpted a bit smaller than more modern figures, so it makes sense for a younger operative. I will say the arms and torso don’t blend together especially well, and the shoulders look very “ball” like compared to some smoother flowing parts.
Speaking of his arms they’re the short sleeves that we saw with many figures throughout the Retaliation era, I believe, rounding off the t-shirt look. Colors here are very straight forward, with a simple black for the t-shirt and olive drab for the pants. They are plain colors, but match the comic look, so I can’t complain too heavily. Overall, it’s an effective design that is relatively comic accurate and blends nicely with other PoC era figures as well.
They didn’t load Billy up with too much gear, giving him a submachine gun, sword, grappling hook, and the same sheath/strap that the original Snake Eyes had, which holds his sword (though just barely). Billy doesn’t need a whole lot of gear, and the weapons he comes with here do make some kind of sense.
Fans have been waiting for Billy for a very long time, and I’m glad that the Collectors Club was able to get this figure out to folks before losing their relationship with Hasbro. As I said above, it seems almost poetic that as the Club is forced to halt this product, they’re checking off a bunch of desires that the fans have been asking for. It makes me pretty excited to see what might be planned for the real last hurrah of FSS 5.0.
For me, in a way, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Figure Subscription Service has felt like my home away from home and a place that dovetailed really nicely with my own little view on the G.I. Joe universe. Over the past two runs of the FSS we’ve gotten Hit & Run, Vypra, and now Interrogator, three characters who play huge roles in my own G.I. Joe universe, and characters who I’m thrilled to see modern updates of.
Interrogator was such a minor character in the Marvel Comics, practically a non-entity until Devils’ Due made him part of the Plague, and in a way really put him on the map. I also featured the character pretty heavily in my dio-stories, mostly due to his striking design, awesome helmet, and really cool specialty of being COBRA’s chief torture master. Interrogator has been revisited a couple of times now, and probably my favorite update to him is the Direct to Consumer rendition that we saw in the early 2000’s, which really modernized him nicely and made him look a little more official.
The G.I. Joe Con exclusive in 2011 was a pretty great take, too, with a neat removable helmet.
That brings us to this particular FSS update, which I will admit, I struggle to get my head around. The torso and arms appear to be from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation COBRA Commander, a pretty neat figure, and those parts look pretty neat here, too. His legs are from Arctic Destro in the Pursuit of Cobra era, and I have zero issues with those parts either. They give him a great bulk and some really awesome design aesthetics that are somewhat evocative of his vintage look, but also nicely updated.
His head, however, leaves a little to be desired. The Club chooses to reutilize the removable helmet, which was okay back in 2010 but looks a little dated these days. It’s covering the head from Rise of COBRA Sgt. Flash, which also doesn’t provide a heck of a lot of excitement. Considering the Club used the torso and arms from Retaliation COBRA Commander, I’m almost shocked that they didn’t just use that head as well, since they should know it would fit, and I’d think it would be in the same tooling library. If they’d used that head with red paint on the faceplate, this figure would look 100% better.
Looking at the colors, the Club sticks with what works, a gray shirt with dark blue pants and lots of black and silver trim to spice things up a bit. On each thigh we also see the familiar red stripes as another tribute to the old school version. From a pure aesthetic perspective, the figure looks like an update to Interrogator, and works moderately well from that regard, but could definitely use some fine tuning.
As mentioned above, the Interrogator comes with a removable helmet (though it stays pretty firmly on that more modern larger head. He also has a snake-handled knife, pistol with silencer and twin nunchuk type things that actually look more like some kind of electronic cattle prod. Law’s handcuffs are included, too.
Along with this, he also comes with the same tactical vest that the MARS Trooper came with back in the Rise of Cobra days, and unfortunately I think that’s the biggest hang up I have with this figure. I’m not a huge fan of that overly flat and bland looking webgear as it is, but especially on top of a relatively cool modern figure it looks especially underwhelming.
The good news is, of course, that webgear can be easily swapped out, but as it stands, the figure does not look especially good with it on him.
Interrogator is a character that is pretty near and dear to me, and I desperately wanted a modern update to knock my socks off. Unfortunately the FSS version does not quite hit that milestone. I think with a few minor adjustments, like the Retaliation COBRA Commander head and fresh web gear, the figure could be drastically improved. I’ll take steps to do that, but it would have been really awesome for him to come out of the package that way in the first place. Not bad, but not the Club’s best.
As I mentioned in my review of Pathfinder, the FSS figure shipped just last time around, 1990 was a bit of an enigma to me in my younger years, but one character I completely latched onto was Bullhorn. It was in 1990 when my own little personal G.I. Joe universe first got rolling, and where Hit & Run became such a central part of my mythology. At the same time, Bullhorn was introduced, a rookie Joe communications specialist, who quickly took center stage alongside Hit & Run and became a very important member of the G.I. Joe roster.
When it comes to new characters I can’t quite explain why certain ones appeal to me, but Bullhorn had some unique traits that I just loved. The face camouflage, the nice patterned shinguard things, and a somewhat bulky mold, that was still quite well articulated.
Not to mention in 1990 Bullhorn came with quite possibly the greatest accessory that the line had seen so far. The backpack with the take apart sniper rifle was absolutely ingenious back then, even if Bullhorn himself couldn’t really hold it.
Looking at the Figure Subscription Service update to Bullhorn, the Club did a pretty good job approximating the vintage look. The figure is essentially a Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper from the neck down, with Pursuit of COBRA Dusty’s head sculpt (with black hair). Both components of the figure have been in use for what seems like forever, though with the right paint applications, the figure manages to still look relatively unique.
Variations of grays and browns make up Bullhorn’s overall deco, with camouflage on the knee pads to resemble the vintage shin guards, and the colors match pretty well. It’s tough for me to give a real in person opinion, because my vintage Bullhorn is viciously discolored, but from a quick look, the modern version certainly looks like Bullhorn.
I’ve seen quite a few customs in the past using the grenade strap webgear from the COBRA Trooper from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which is a little strange, since it doesn’t very closely resemble the vintage look for Bullhorn. From a functional perspective, it makes sense, because you could see a negotiator carrying around tear gas grenades. Of course, Bullhorn doesn’t come with a grenade launcher at all, but a little suspension of disbelief could allow you to assume he throws them by hand.
The FSS Bullhorn is pretty well stacked with great accessories. Along with the COBRA Trooper grenade strap gear that I already mentioned, he’s also got the removable headband, the pistol for his holster, plus Low Light’s sniper rifle and sniper rifle case. He also comes with a second sniper rifle, gas mask, and his megaphone.
His Low Light sniper rifle is included to resemble the classic version, and as a bonus, he can actually hold this one, though like the Pursuit of COBRA version, the scope doesn’t stay on all that well, which can be a challenge.
Although all of the parts that make up Bullhorn have been seen many, many times in the recent past, the combination of those parts and the updated paint scheme does still resonate as the 1990 hostage specialist. I have a real affinity for the Bullhorn character, and while this modern update doesn’t look nearly as cool or unique as the vintage version, I appreciate the update and I think it fits the 1990 aesthetic quite well.
It was a simpler time. G.I. Joe had just barely made it’s splash back at mass retail, and the biggest debate at the time was o-ring vs. no-ring (though it wasn’t much of a debate, to be honest) and how many paint wipes Hasbro was lathering on their tail end TRU releases. The property as a whole still felt very fresh, Devils’ Due was getting in the groove, and Fun Publications was introducing their first entries into the 3 3/4″ convention realm. Things were amazingly uncomplicated.
In 2002, Hasbro experimented with an online exclusive and shipped out a white-box package of o-ring B.A.T. army builders. Rather than dipping into the more familiar 1986 well Hasbro went with repaints to the 1991 version, including a classic themed deco and the fantastic Inferno B.A.T., a transparent red repaint that immediately became a fan favorite.
Obviously tooling limitations leave the Club a bit ill equipped to do a true vintage inspired homage, so as they have done in the past, they blend a few different inspirations together, and bring us the FSS Inferno B.A.T. which is conceptually pretty awesome, but unfortunately in execution it drops the ball somewhat.
Leveraging the nearly perfect 25th Anniversary B.A.T. as a template, the Club shifts gears a bit and gives him Retaliation Storm Shadow’s lower legs. I can only view this as some kind of homage to the new sculpt B.A.T., as both iterations of that figure have streamlined metallic legs rather than the more typical pantlegs of the earlier versions. I actually think it’s a great choice and I love the look of it, though the more we get these rocker ankles that can’t fit on existing battle stands, the more tired I get of them being used. It’s a shame because the figure looks great with these different lower legs, but the battle stand thing is a real pain in the rear end.
Like the original Inferno B.A.T., the Collectors Club goes with transparent plastic throughout most of the figure, to pretty great effect. It’s not quite as stark and clean looking as the vintage figure, but the basic effect remains spectacular. Over the top of the transparent plastic they drop some black trim and sprinkle some gold, both as a manner of homage to the older version. By and large, these additions are great, until you get to the chest.
For whatever reason the transparent plastic didn’t carry through to the front half of the torso and so the Club just elected to go all black, and the look is not a good one. I’m not sure if there were some kind of production or factory issues, but whatever it was, the way the black jumps away from the red makes the figure look slapped together and incomplete. I love the inspiration for the transparent red, unfortunately they were not able to pull off the execution as I’d imagine everyone wanted them to.
The FSS B.A.T. comes with a number of the same accessories that the 25th Anniversary version did, with two hands, a laser gun, flamethrower, and the familiar opening claw. However, this version of the B.A.T. also comes with the terrific long bladed sword that was initially released with the new sculpt B.A.T. in the early 2000’s. This is also meant as an homage to an older version of the figure, and I love the addition. It makes for a really great new weapon that further enhances this figure’s release.
Like most of the attachments, the backpack that holds them comes with the figure as well, and the Club has added some interesting deco to the back, making it strongly resemble to look of the gears in his chest. A neat touch.
I wanted the Inferno B.A.T. to be awesome. It isn’t a figure that many fans have been clamoring for, but the way the Club was approaching it seemed interesting. Unfortunately for whatever reason the transparent plastic didn’t “take” or wasn’t applied to the front half of the torso and the end result is a figure that could have looked amazing, but unfortunately ended up tipping the other way towards disappointing. They took a chance at trying to do something pretty cool and outside the box, but it was a chance that hurt this particular figure in the end.
Beyond that disappointment, much of the figure is really interesting from a design perspective, with the Storm Shadow lower legs and the new sword attachment leading the charge.
I can’t quite explain why, but in my younger years, I couldn’t quite get my head around 1990. Where the years leading up to then were a mixture of classic characters and new blood, the main line in 1990 was new blood soup-to-nuts. Being someone that appreciates new characters now, I’m surprised that my younger self didn’t embrace that fact, but for some reason I didn’t.
It’s only now, over two decades later, that I recognize 1990 as perhaps being a “soft reboot” of sorts, giving us a whole series of new characters and taking play to a different level with many smaller, more intricate accessories making these figures unique. Pretty much every single figure in that 1990 line came with elaborate and well detailed accessories that really enhanced the play value. From Stretcher’s air sled to Bullhorn’s take-apart sniper rifle, not to mention Ambush’s camouflage tent and Topside’s backpack mortar launcher. Pathfinder was no different, coming equipped with two hip-mounted heavy machine guns as well as a full blown weed whacker. While parts and tooling restrictions made it so we couldn’t get the hip-guns with a modern release, I’m happy to say the updated Pathfinder is ready to go, weed whacker and all!
The figure has Lifeline’s existing head sculpt, which matches the look of the original figure, and the removable hat does an okay job of replicating that look, too. To copy the brim fold of the original figure, the hat is positioned in a way that doesn’t stay on the figure’s head very well. Once I swapped the hat around it actually fit a lot better, though that small piece of vintage accuracy is lost. I think I can live with that.
Pathfinder uses Kwinn’s torso and arms, which are a great choice, as they pretty accurately mimic the original, but are newer construction, offering very good range of motion. If I have any complaints, the somewhat tight hand grip doesn’t fit the handle of the machine gun very well, but you can work with it.
His legs are from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation era and also are excellently sculpted, with some great baggy effects, though the more I see these legs used, the more annoyed I get with the weird rocker ankles. They end up pretty stiff and difficult to pose, and the footholes are becoming an increasing issue on existing battle stands. This figure isn’t nearly as bad as the Night Creeper was with the last installment, but it can still be somewhat difficult to get him to stand.
Paint deco is pretty fantastic. Straight black on the upper body, and the camouflage pattern and colors on the legs are pretty close to spot on perfect. Great articulation, effective parts choices, and the base figure for Pathfinder is excellent.
As we’re used to with the 1990 era Joe characters, Pathfinder comes pretty well equipped. A couple of his accessories are pulled from the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Strike Duke, which I’m completely cool with, including his backpack and flashlight. He has a great pistol for the holster at his hip, a gray colored heavy machine gun, inspired by the original’s hip mounted weapons. His removable hat works moderately well, and the removable vest does as well. The plastic is a bit stiff, which makes the vest a challenge to remove, but it’s not insurmountable and the end result is a figure that looks much more like his vintage counterpart.
Of course the focal point here is the weed whacker, and I’m happy to say it fits his hands well, looks pretty nice, and ends up being a cool finishing touch to the figure. If given a choice between the hip-guns and the weed whacker, I probably would have chosen the hip-guns, but I can understand the Club not being able to retool a piece (or a belt) to make that work.
All in all, Pathfinder is a very effective figure. The paint work is really nicely done, and he’s got a good number of fun accessories. A pretty great installment for the FSS 4.0.
Any day we get a modern update to our favorite European special missions force is a good day, and I’m a pretty big fan of Jammer. Even back in the 80s, Jammer was a barely repaint of the original Stalker, essentially a slightly different shade of color with the trusty Zed Force logo in red on his chest as well as a red beret.
When the Club revisited the whole Action Force/Red Shadows conflict in the Convention set in 2010, we saw another update to Jammer, this time using the Comic Pack Stalker formula (o-ring version). Now, for this final iteration of the infamous Zed Force Communications Specialist we get much the same, though with some interesting twists. His head sculpt is from the Convention Tiger Force Stalker, which is nice for folks who might not have that figure yet (and it certainly helps that the head sculpt kicks all sorts of ass). The torso is from the 25th Anniversary, which is a bit of an oddchoice, in my mind, as it makes the figure look somewhat short and misproportioned, and the torso is visibly less detailed than the rest of the figure. I understand why they made that choice, to tie him into the vintage “original 13” aesthetic, but I would have loved to have seen something a bit different.
His legs are the updated “Original 13” legs that were seen with Attack on COBRA Island Zap and the discount store Duke, which is a cool enough choice and fits the theme. His arms are more modern, large and baggy with the updated wrist joints, which is all well and good, except they somewhat add to the misproportioned look, making the figure look somewhat top heavy and creating a mis-match between the exceedingly wrinkled arms and smooth torso. As much as I love the Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper arms, I can’t help but think they don’t jive 100% with the rest of the figure here. I am glad to see the increased articulation, though perhaps if the Club had used the Shock Trooper torso, the flow would have been a little better.
Where this figure does really shine, however, is with the paint applications. The shade of green and black is fantastic and fits well with the Zed Force look and feel. The “streak” pattern of the black camouflage is exceptionally well done, and I love the striking color of red in the logo and the beret. Great to see the Union Jack on his right shoulder, too, which blends him well with Quarrel, Big Ben and Blades, who both had that distinct patch on their uniforms as well. Great touch.
Jammer comes with a removable beret and the same chest strap that Zap and the Duke came with, which is a departure from the vintage version, who shared the same torso as Stalker with the double-strap webgear. I don’t mind the change, as this webgear fits the contour of the chest well and is detailed nicely, however it also covers up a big chunk of the great Z logo on his chest, which is a bit unfortunate. I have to admit, though, that older 25th Anniversary double strap webgear does look a little dated.
He’s got Dial Tone’s backpack, which fits the communications theme as well as a nice machine gun and two holsters. A nice touch is that one holster contains the traditional pistol you’d expect, but the other holster holds a smaller mobile phone to fit in with the communications motif. Unfortunately the peg on Dial Tone’s backpack is a little on the large side, and doesn’t fit real seamlessly into his back hole. You can generally rotate it and get it to sink in, but I’d be concerned about wear and tear on the peg of the backpack long term.
When it comes to a figure trying to resemble the original 13 look, generally I love using that Zap template. It retains the vintage look but with slightly more modern sculpting, and I am in love with the twin holsters and removable pistols. Unfortunately, while I completely applaud the choice to use more modern arms for the enhanced range of motion, it does look a little off compared to the rest of the figure in a way that my eyes can’t quite reconcile.
Jammer has great accessories, I’m a big fan of the character, and the paint apps are pretty terrific as well. Overall, I approve of the figure in most ways, I just wish the parts formula looked a little bit more consistent and uniform.