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.
Hold onto your butts… What’s on Joe Mind is here with Episode 104, just recorded last week and ready to roll for JoeCon 2016! We cover the latest news, talk about the Joes of 2004, and lose track of what we’re saying consistently for nearly two hours. Just another day at the WOJM studio.
You can listen to the episode on Podbean, or the embedded player below.
We talk about the Joes from 2004, catch up on the news, begin to set the table of what will happen at JoeCon…and generally get side tracked – A LOT. Download it now and listen to it on your way to JoeCon!
Speaking of JoeCon, be sure to catch Mike, Gary, Joe and Chris McLeod from the Full Force at our JoeCon panel on Sunday, June 19th at 1:00. It will be the last ever panel at JoeCon. Join us as we turn out the lights…forever (maybe, maybe not, we will see – we’re looking at you Hasbro!)
If you have not signed it already, be sure to sign our petition to Save the GI Joe Convention! If you want a Joe-only convention like us, make sure you sign the petition and let the powers-that-be know what you think! More than 2500 people have signed. Sign on the campaign today!
EDIT – Original source of the images (as I should have guessed) is ACToys here. I’ve mirrored a bunch more images and added them to the gallery below. This set is looking even better!
Labeled as only coming from the “Chinese Web” new images of what is believed to be the upcoming G.I. Joe ComicCon set have emerged on the G.I. Joe Discussion group on Facebook.
This year’s SDCC exclusive appears to be a Rattler repaint as Powerglide, with Scarlett facing off against a HISS repaint as Soundwave, with Zartan! Very cool looking repaints, for sure, and I’m loving that Scarlett build, though not really wild about the 25th Anniversary head sculpt.
I really loved the Retaliation Zartan as well, it will be interesting to see what the differences are between this one and the previous.
Choosing the repaint the Direct to Consumer HISS Tank is an awesome idea, too, and I’m digging those Soundwave missile launchers at the turret. Really creative stuff.
Not only is it cool to see these, but there are two slots in the crossword puzzle to fill in! Check out the mirrored images below, and hit up the G.I. Joe Discussion Group on Facebook to join in the talk!
As we move within a month of the 2016 G.I. Joe Convention, Hasbro has posted an exciting update over on their Hasbro Pulse regarding the upcoming development of Fan Vote winner Stiletto!
Along with the update, we see a first look at Stiletto’s head sculpt and what looks to be an early concept for the figure build using parts from the Rise of Cobra Agent Helix. As a huge fan of the Helix action figure, I approve of this build big time.
Mark Weber mentions that Stiletto will appear at Toys “R” Us and Entertainment Earth in November, which surely seems to follow the familiar formula from the past couple of years, indicating that we will see some G.I. Joe product later this year. Let’s all look forward to JoeCon to see what’s up Hasbro’s sleeves.
Check out the full article over on Hasbro Pulse, and I’ve mirrored a couple of images below.