General Flagg (Figure Subscription Service)

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Back in the 1980s if you were a Marvel Comics reader like I was, you often wondered who some of these characters were and why you couldn’t have them in plastic form.  One of the first characters I noticed that with was General Flagg, who was the initial organizer of the G.I. Joe team, leading Colonel “Hawk” Abernathy and his team of twelve operatives against the seemingly insurmountable COBRA forces.

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Turns out those forces truly were insurmountable, and in issue #19, General Flagg was killed by Major Bludd.

While we wouldn’t get an action figure version of this General Flagg until the comic packs in 2005, his son, General Lawrence Flagg, Jr. made an appearance in the Battle Corps line, and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club elected to pay tribute to that version of the character here in the FSS.  Interestingly, they opted to focus on the second version of General Flagg rather than the previous version, perhaps because the original Flagg looked quite a bit like General Hawk.

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I’m glad to see the Club getting back into the Battle Corps arena, though I can think of a dozen or so characters I would have preferred to have been revisited before General Flagg.  That being said, they did a decent job on the figure build itself.  Using the Retaliation Firefly torso and arms is a good approximation of the leather bomber jacket and the thick pants work well for his legs as well.  His head is a reuse that’s been seen countless times before (and somewhat obnoxiously is used for Sneak Peek, a figure released in the exact same month’s shipment of the FSS).  The hat fits on this head relatively well, though not perfectly.

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As mentioned above, the Club went with the second iteration Battle Corps color scheme (similar to what they did with Night Creeper Leader a time or two ago) which is a bit questionable, though it matches how I used Flagg in my dio-story, so honestly I’m pretty okay with it.  His black jacket and lighter green pants look pretty cool, and offer a different aesthetic than General Hawk.

Accessories

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Flagg comes with some pretty neat gear.  He’s got his removable hat, submachine gun, pistol that slides into his holster, and a version of City Strike Destro’s briefcase.  While I like the idea of the reused briefcase, the sculpted piles of money with “Top Secret”, etc… randomly tampoed in strange places doesn’t really do the idea justice in my opinion.

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I’m surprised that the Club focused on General Flagg at this stage of the game, especially this version of Flagg.  He’s a critical character in my dio-story and I’m glad to see him done in this modern format, but it seems like even within the realm of Battle Corps itself there are quite a few other, better alternatives.

Still, the execution is surprisingly well done, and I dig the accessories, even if the briefcase is a bit of a head scratcher.

Salvo (Figure Subscription Service)

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The fans have spoken and thank goodness the G.I. Joe Collectors Club listened!

When the original build for the FSS Salvo was revealed, the G.I. Joe community pretty much imploded.  Using 30th Anniversary Law/Renegades Duke parts with the Resolute Duke legs resulted in a scrawny, mish-mash mess of a figure update that pretty much did nothing right.  Once the fandom was done yelling, the Collectors Club went back to the drawing board, and while they stuck pretty close to formula, they at least made some changes that presented an update to Salvo that felt more in line with the large, muscular rocket expert we got in 1990.

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This version of Salvo is not perfect, but he’s a damn sight better than the alternative.

From the neck down, the figure is pretty much G.I. Joe: Retaliation Roadblock, only the lower legs are slightly different in order to get the proper cuffed look.  While the figure and the legs are nice and bulky, the result of different lower legs is that the knee joints aren’t as functional as they could be, and once again I’m not a huge fan of those ankle joints either.  On my figure, I couldn’t even get the peg stands to fit in his feet, and I know that’s been a recurring problem since this tooling was originally available.

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That being said, the figure is large, muscular and imposing, another great looking figure of immense size to go along with some of the previously released Roadblocks, Leathernecks, Gung Ho’s, Repeaters, and others.  It’s pretty awesome to see some variation in height and size among the ranks of the Joes, so I appreciate the Club using that tooling here.  As one would expect, the articulation and range of motion is mostly good, and we got some exceptional sculpting work in that Retaliation line, so that’s all on point here, too.

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The color scheme pulls straight from the vintage look, though some of the use of gold here seems strange.  I understand they’re trying to mimic the look of the criss-crossed machine gun belts, but at some point hopefully the folks doing the deco for these figures realize that you can’t just slap color on any old piece of the figure to match the vintage aesthetic.  You should really try and find a logical place for that color to exist and use it as a complimentary color, not just throw gold down on the holster and leg-straps because that kind of looks like where the gold is on the original figure.  It doesn’t always work.

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That minor gripe aside, overall the figure is good.  They did a good job with the font on his shirt, the modern parts are good, and the choice of the Hit & Run head sculpt is unexpected and excellent.

Accessories

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Salvo comes with some decent gear.  He’s got a huge rocket launcher which I’m sure fans will complain about, but makes perfect sense for his specialty.  Anyone who is dying for his vintage accessories that much can find them super cheap on eBay and they’ll still fit with this modern figure, so go for it.  He has Sci-Fi’s helmet and the same briefcase that he came with back in 1990, along with the Retaliation Roadblock pistol that fits in his holster.  All told, he’s got some gear that works well and compliments the character as you would expect.

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I’ve loved Salvo since his original release in 1990 and I’m glad to see him finally getting some modern era love here.  I’m extremely happy that the Collectors Club followed the fandom’s lead and beefed up the figure build, even though it resulted in some mold fit issues.  He’s a nice update and another addition to the much-needed 1990 “DiC” era roster.

Darklon (Figure Subscription Service)

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As someone who is both a fan of the Iron Grenadiers and a fan of taking established characters and putting new spins on them, I really loved the Convention version of Darklon we received in 2014.  Not only was it an update of a really cool established Iron Grenadier character, but it added some Pursuit of COBRA Firefly aesthetic and gave us a really awesome update to Destro’s criminal cousin.

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However, as a Convention exclusive, and a highly desirable one at that, the price soon skyrocketed and fans grew upset that such an important character (is Darklon really an “important character”??) was so expensive on the secondary market.

Well, since the Club now had the tooling for Darklon’s helmet, they figured they’d make a more vintage accurate version and toss it into the FSS.  I’m of two minds on the idea.  Personally I’m not wild about being saddled with a $30 figure that is only subtly different than one I already paid $35 for at a Convention.  Especially when the FSS version uses older parts that are less well articulated, softer sculpted and frankly, not quite as interesting.

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That being said, I know the figure will appeal to the broader fanbase, who I do not always see eye-to-eye with.

This figure has the previously mentioned Darklon head sculpt that we originally got at the convention in 2014, and it still works well enough.  Darklon’s torso is from Pursuit of COBRA Snake Eyes in an attempt to give him the textured look of the vintage figure, but his arms are from the 25th Anniversary Zartan.  The result is a drastic reduction in sculpted detail, somewhat annoying articulation in the elbows, and the elimination of the texture on the arms.  It doesn’t really work as a combination with the torso.

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Also rather than even attempt to mimic the look of the original legs, the Club just used the 25th Anniversary Iron Grenadier Destro legs which does a nice job tying this figure in with Destro, but doesn’t do such a nice job making him look like his vintage counterpart.  I do like the sword sheath and the color combination is vintage accurate, but the sculpting isn’t accurate, and the knee articulation is only single jointed which is a shame.

Speaking of the colors, the Club does do a decent job matching up the shade of green and purple with the vintage edition of Darklon and the overall inspiration is pretty clear cut.

Accessories

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Darklon comes with a decent assortment of accessories including a MARS briefcase with removable pistol, a pistol for his leg holster, the removable sword, and a retooled version of his vintage weapon.  As much as I love the strangeness of his primary weapon, any time the Club invests money in retooling a vintage accessory that can be found on the secondary market for pennies on the dollar I question the reasoning.  As we get fewer and fewer new heads or other body parts throughout the FSS, I’d much rather see money invested in more of those items rather than retooling vintage accessories in nearly the exact same way as they’re already available.

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Darklon is okay.  I prefer the convention version all told, and by leaning on 25th Anniversary parts, the Club aren’t doing themselves any favors.  Limited articulation and sculpting make a big difference between figures that look like they belong with other 2017 figures, or figures that already look a decade out of place fresh out of the package.

COBRA Viper (Figure Subscription Service)

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I’m going to start this review with a confession, though it’s a confession that will likely not come as a surprise to many.

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I love me some neon G.I. Joe.  I always have.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t love the figures because of the neon, I enjoy them in spite of their garish colors, and in most cases actually would prefer it if the kickass 90s molds would use slightly tamer, more realistic color schemes.  That being said, I will never look down on a figure because of its brightness, and the Battle Corps COBRA Viper is a perfect example of that.

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Yes the figure is purple and orange, and yes he would be a huge target on the battlefield, but from a pure sculpt perspective the figure is incredible.  The awesome narrow, sloped helmet with embedded visor, along with the built-in rebreather is an amazing design aesthetic, looking somewhat insect-like but also like something that could completely exist in the real world.  I think that’s what I’ve always loved so much about A Real American Hero, the fact that they take this outlandish concepts and manage to build figures around them that make them seem realistic.

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As one might imagine, after modern era format figures have been around going on seven years, we’re starting to run out of credible updates…so the Collectors Club is having to dig deep into the vaults, and with the COBRA Viper I think they made a great choice.  The choice makes sense as well, considering the Iron Anvil that was released for the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention.  Once that figure was revealed, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the character’s predecessor from the vintage days would appear somewhere along the line as well.

Interestingly, rather than duplicate the spectacular build for the Iron Anvil, the Collectors Club went their own way, and I think the results are mixed.  I’ll never be one to admonish trying to develop new concepts rather than just repaint what’s already been done, however the Iron Anvil figure build, frankly, was superior to this one in every way.  The sculpt and tooling for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes works a lot better in my mind, and allows the figure some better range of motion and an appearance of being more streamlined.

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the Jungle Viper torso and legs we see here, the look is just thicker and more bulky, and overall I prefer the nimble appearance of the previous iteration.  Also, the use of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation COBRA Trooper arms means the wrists don’t get the extra articulation, which is a shame as well.

Looking at the color scheme, they did a decent job matching up the vintage ’94 COBRA Viper, while muting the tones somewhat.  You can immediately tell where the inspiration came from, but they manage to dial down the neon to a degree, which is a good combination.

Accessories

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The G.I. Joe Collectors Club chose some neat weapons for the COBRA Viper as well.  I’m a huge fan of the assault rifle that he comes with, I’ve loved it ever since it was released with G.I. Joe: Resolute Destro and I’m happy to say the COBRA Viper hands fit it really well.  He’s also got a purple knife inspired by the crazy blade that the original Viper came with, though since this knife is one that generally plugs into a hole on a figure, it has a huge rounded peg on it.  Without having some place to plug it in on the Viper, that seems a bit odd, but it’s not terrible.  Lastly, he has a pistol that fits neatly into the holster on his ankle.  He doesn’t come with a lot of weapons, but what he comes with makes sense and look pretty neat alongside the figure itself.

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I’m a huge fan of this version of the COBRA Viper and I have been for a long time.  I was really looking forward to seeing what the Collectors Club did with it. Unfortunately I ended up slightly disappointed in the build, though the overall color scheme and accessory compliment (almost) make up for that.  It’s a fun figure and a nice addition to the modern era collection.  Now someone get me a Crimson Guard Commander dammit.

Charbroil (Figure Subscription Service)

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If you’d asked me at any point over the past several years if we really needed an update for Charbroil, I would have said “hell no”.  In the 21st Century the need for flamethrower troopers seems unnecessary, and Charbroil isn’t even the number 1 flamethrower trooper on the G.I. Joe team.  Not only that, but we’ve already received two Charbroil updates, though one was Rise of COBRA and one was Night Force, so we never really got the 1988 update that some folks might have thought we needed.

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I would have disagreed.

However, throughout doing this review and realizing just how many 1988 figures have now been released, it’s kind of cool to see the group shot and Charbroil does fill a hole in that roster, which is cool to see.

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Charbroil himself is a decent figure.  He uses pretty much the entire base figure for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper (like the Night Force version did) but done up in colors more accurate to the 1988 version.  The shade of brown for the uniform is a decent match for the ’88 original and the yellow trim does a good job complimenting it now as it did 19 years ago.

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One curious choice, however, was that instead of reusing the same unmasked head that we got with the Night Force version, instead this Charbroil has a balaclava.  I’m not entirely sure why that decision was made, though I would have much preferred the unmasked head here as it was with the Convention set.

If I have a gripe, while the sculpting on the legs is exceptionally well detailed and looks really nice, the ankle joints don’t work especially well (as they really haven’t since 2012) making it tough to keep the figure standing, either on the battle stand or off.

Accessories

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This figure comes with the accessories you’d pretty much expect, including the familiar helmet, backpack with flamethrower (and removable flame) and pistol.  Honestly there’s nothing especially revolutionary or different here, and nothing that wows or impresses.  The weapons are fine and they make sense, but beyond that they’re just kind of there.

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As a character, Charbroil has never really held an interest for me, and as we sit here in 2017, the concept of a flamethrower trooper seems unrealistic at best.  It’s nice to have another entry in the 1988 figure roster filled, however, and I will admit I geeked out just a little when I shot that group shot that keeps on getting just a little bit larger every year.

Scoop (Figure Subscription Service)

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Hm.  Every once in a while you run across a figure that you mostly like and mostly enjoy, though a certain decision was made that seems strange and misplaced, but you want to love the figure anyway…

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Okay.  Why is Scoop orange?  I think the Club might have been going for “mustard yellow” (since they seem to like making these modern updates just a little dimmer and darker than their vintage counterparts)…but he really, truly looks orange.

Before we go down that road, I do want to say, as another entry into G.I. Joe’s illustrious roster of 1989 characters, the inclusion of Scoop was pretty much a given ever since we got Sky Patrol Airborne in the Con Set in 2015 using Scoop’s distinctive helmet.  That kinda sealed the deal right there.

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And it makes sense.  Scoop is one of those rare later year characters who appeared after 1987, yet still had a very distinctive and familiar role in G.I. Joe animation as a Crimson Guard traitor on the G.I. Joe team during Operation: Dragonfire.   Now, as one might suspect, he ends up having a change of heart, but he was still a central character throughout that mini-series and it makes sense to explore him as an action figure in the Figure Subscription Service.

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Scoop’s figure is legitimately great.  His head sculpt is reused, but it’s not exactly common and feels fresh just the same.  His parts are all from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation family and its evident with the nice modern sculpting, great range of motion and functional articulation that suits the figure build perfectly.  From a construction standpoint, I feel like the Club really and truly nailed this one.

But what’s up with the paint scheme?

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I can’t remember a time when Scoop was orange, either as a toy or in the comic or in the cartoon, yet here he is in action figure form a wholly more orange color than he should be.  It would be interesting to hear why.  It’s not like the color is terrible, it’s a fine color that works well enough, but the Club typically works hard to mimic the vintage color pallet as much as they can, so this stark distinction seems surprising.

That being said, by and large, Scoop is pretty fantastic, honestly.

Accessories

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Not only is the figure great, but the Club did an awesome job getting the right accessories for him, too.  He’s got a Resolute tactical vest, which I’m always in favor of, a nice multi-colored assault rifle, the great camera that came with the old school 25th Anniversary boxed set, as well as a microphone.  He also has a knife that fits in his ankle sheath.

In short, Scoop has a perfect allotment of great gear that makes sense and feels interesting.

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If you’d told me six months ago that halfway through the FSS, Scoop would be my favorite, I would have said you were out of your mind.  Yet here he are, and here he is.  So far, among the rest of the Figure Subscription Service, Scoop stands alone at the top.  He’s really fantastic, strangely orange colored and all.

Ambush (Figure Subscription Service)

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Got to get tough!  Yo Joe!

I just can’t help myself… every time I get a figure from 1990 in my hands I just want to belt out that theme song.  When the DiC series first aired way back when it seemed laughable in comparison to the Sunbow days, but looking back on those 90s years it’s still kinda cool to see the later generation characters in animated form.

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It was such a weird time in 1990.  It almost felt like a “soft reboot” of the G.I. Joe brand, with all new characters (many of them sort of replacing existing characters), tons of interesting accessories and when I say “interesting” I mean weed whacker and weird mesh tent type of interesting.

Ambush was a “concealment specialist” in those days, one of the few figures from 1990 that didn’t automatically replace an existing character.  His color scheme was a bit odd, looking very much like a desert commando, yet his accessories were clearly more geared towards jungle camouflage.  To be honest, I actually preferred the Sidetrack rendition of the figure to the original.  But I digress.

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The Collectors Club dives back into 1990 with Ambush as part of their FSS and does an okay job of it.  His head is from the Convention General Mayhem, which works surprisingly well, to be honest.  The deco of the figure is a nice match for the vintage version, though the long brown sleeves don’t work quite as well without the underlying texture.  Also, his torso and legs are from 25th Anniversary Dusty, which… is…  I just don’t get it.  In 2017 I can’t find many reasons why someone should use 25th Anniversary parts when there are so many others available.  If the entire purpose was to get that weird “shirt tail” piece, I’d have considered just not sweating that a whole lot.  As a result the figure looks somewhat dated, not just alongside other figures, but alongside himself.  With the obvious later generation head and later generation arms, the torso and legs don’t quite mesh.

As a result of the strange confluence of parts, Ambush looks like his arms are a bit too long for this torso (though not as bad as I thought originally) and his neck is bordering on giraffe.  Now, the Club did think to include the PoC Dusty scarf/cape piece to help offset that a bit, but if you want your Ambush to look more vintage accurate and you remove that?  Well, he doesn’t look real good.

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Of course a lot of that isn’t noticeable if you’re just checking out the figure on display, so perhaps I’m making mountains out of molehills.

Accessories

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Considering how much thought and work were put into the accessories for the original 1990 run of figures, you would think that would be a key consideration with these new versions, and to a degree, it is.  Ambush as a nicely fitting helmet, the collar and cape from PoC Dusty, the net from Shadow Tracker, a bandolier and two machine guns.  He’s actually pretty loaded.

While the net sort of misses the point of the original ghille suit/camouflage net, I give the Club props for doing what they could to blend that aesthetic.

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Ambush is a decent update, though unfortunately a somewhat flawed one.  I’m not sold on the 25th Anniversary parts, but they did a nice job replicating the deco and he’s loaded with pretty fun gear and weapons.  He’s better than I feared he might be based on some early images.

Potentially unreleased G.I. Joe 2016 Items revealed?

Package artist/colorist of the 2016 G.I. Joe line Ross Hughes has posted some images on his DeviantArt Page of artwork he has produced for recent G.I. Joe releases found at Toys “R” Us.

Interestingly, some of those images feature artwork for characters that were NOT released.  Those characters include Action Man (in two different versions), Stinger Driver (in three different versions), a Snow Serpent, Wild Weasel and Rock n Roll (resembling his look from the concept case).

Considering some of these characters (specifically Stinger Driver and Wild Weasel) it certainly seems possible that some planned vehicle releases might have included these figures, but as we know, Toys “R” Us was not on board with vehicle releases for 2016.  Whether or not these will make it out in some other format remains to be seen.

Check out Ross Hughes DeviantArt page here, and some mirrored images below.

G.I. Joe Convention Exclusive Avalanche Revealed!

The next exclusive for the upcoming G.I. Joe Convention boxed set has been revealed and it’s looking pretty awesome!

Maverick and Knockdown were okay, but Avalanche is pretty spectacular.  Great build, great paint, and a new head sculpt.  Nice!  Keep checking GIJoeCon.com for the latest info, and you can see the image mirrored below.

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More G.I. Joe Convention Exclusives revealed

I could have sworn I posted this a couple of days ago, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.  My bad.

This week the G.I. Joe Collectors Club has revealed two more 2017 G.I. Joe Convention Exclusive figures.  A couple of days ago we got our first look at the B.A.T. Squad Leader, apparently inspired by the ’91 version of the Battle Android Trooper.  He’s got a newly tooled head, but is pretty much just B.A.T. v1 from the neck down.  The choice is a bit curious, as one would assume that folks might want to army build this version, and as a squad leader, I figure he’s the only one of this type in the boxed set.

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Which of course begs the question… what will the standard troopers look like?  The 2003 repaint?  Hopefully we’ll find out soon.

Along with the B.A.T. Squad Leader, today we also got a look at Knockdown, who appears to come with General Mayhem’s helmet and a newly retooled version of his crazy anti-aircraft pistol.  Not sure I’d consider that a worthy investment in tooling dollars, but there you go.

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More to come, keep checking GIJoeCon.com for the latest intel!