As I mentioned in my review for the Cobra Scythe, there isn’t necessarily anything new or revolutionary about certain vehicles changing sides, but the way Hasbro has explored it with this year’s extension of the 50th Anniversary line is certainly different than they’ve approached it before.
Hasbro designers and story tellers have apparently built this year’s theme around capturing vehicles, and with the CHIMERA, G.I. Joe may have had their largest coup yet as they take control of Cobra’s trademark HISS Tank, repurposing it as the CHIMERA. According to the Hasbro presentation at JoeCon, CHIMERA stands for C.aptured H.ISS I.ntegrated M.obile E.nergy R.ail Gun A.dvanced. I like that they’re working towards anagrams again, that’s pretty neat.
As I mentioned in the Crimson Scythe review, we start off with some spectacular box art, which really helps showcase both toys as well as bring a striking new look to the way these toys are marketed. It’s very collector oriented and exceptionally well done, and really starts this set off on the right foot.
G.I. JOE CHIMERA
Looking at the CHIMERA, I will admit it’s tough to get excited about a lot of the vehicle, simply because we’ve had the HISS and variations of that vehicle around for 30 years. That being said, Hasbro went through the trouble of tooling up new twin cannons for it (the aforementioned Rail Guns) and the results are pretty cool. Hasbro has experimented with other turrets for the HISS Tank in the past, using quad rocket launchers, four-barrel laser guns, and a single large tank barrel, but they’ve only had very mixed success. The CHIMERA actually does a great job of updating the twin cannon look for the HISS, bringing something new to the table, while still referencing the classic look and succeeding quite nicely.
Like the HISS we all know and love, the CHIMERA has sloped armor and a sleek design, preferring speed and maneuverability over sheer firepower. Remember, the HISS has always been the HIGH SPEED SENTRY, meaning a vehicle that’s designed for quickness and not to necessarily be the armored backbone of the Cobra (or G.I. Joe) fleet. The green color of the HISS is a nice color shade, somewhat generic, but in fitting with the two figures that come with it, not to mention many of the other early G.I. Joe releases.
Where this vehicle shines, however, is the new Rail Guns. Rather than two somewhat narrow round barrels, the guns here are larger and rectangular with lots of great intricate detail work, and small extending barrels. They give off a sense of power and manage to take the existing HISS double cannon platform and make it functional with more modern technology. It’s a great look.
I will say I had some trouble getting the canopy to stay latched, even without a figure inside, but that could be a one off issue with my CHIMERA, and not something that’s consistent across other releases.
Overall, the CHIMERA is nice. It’s an appealing looking vehicle with the green colors and the upgraded cannons, even if, at its core, its the same thing we’ve seen a dozen times before.
When G.I. Joe captures a tank, it makes sense for them to have a tank driver, right? Steeler fits the bill nicely.
Offsetting the great color scheme of the CHIMERA, Hasbro elects to go back to the early days to bring Steeler and Grunt back to the G.I. Joe fold. Steeler is a modern retelling of the classic figure, feeling somewhat Pursuit of Cobra/Resolute like. He has the same head sculpt he’s had since the 25th Anniversary and the Ultimate Firefly torso, which I’m always a fan of. In fact, his parts are all relatively modern, even up to and including the Retaliation Roadblock legs. These legs give Steeler a taller stature, which is good, because he’s supposed to be one of the largest and strongest Joe characters, especially from those early days. Unfortunately those Roadblock legs do not have ankle swivels or double knees, so there’s some articulation limitation there.
In spite of the parts coming from somewhat different body types, the figure stands and moves well, though the plastic continues to feel somewhat light and cheap in comparison to past releases. At this point it’s likely something we just need to get accustomed to, and as long as it does not impact the functionality and play value of the figure, I’m okay with it. In Steeler’s case, he appears to stand and move just fine, though his hips are a tad on the loose side.
Honestly, I’m a little surprised at how much I enjoy this figure. His mix of green and gray colors is balanced really nicely, and even without any webgear, his tall stature and new build does wonders to separate him a bit as a character. The more I fool with Steeler, the more I start appreciating how simple, straight forward, but fun the figure is.
The G.I. Joe tank driver comes with his familiar helmet and visor as well as the G.I. Joe: Resolute Beachhead vest, which is a neat touch. I’m always a fan of that vest, and it does call back a bit to the Pursuit of Cobra, which featured some very similar looks. Many of those PoC driver figures were released in somewhat monotone green uniforms with new webgear, and I like that look for some reason. Steeler fits in with characters like Kickstart and Double Clutch pretty well, and any way I can find to fill in my Pursuit of Cobra display, I’ll jump at the chance,
Along with the helmet and webgear, he comes with some firearms as well, including a pistol and basic machine gun. I like both weapons quite a bit, he holds them both well, and even when not surrounded by the CHIMERA, I find Steeler to be a really enjoyable new take on the old school character.
I’m afraid this figure review may end up sounding an awful lot like Steelers, because I feel much the same way about Grunt as I do his tank driver partner.
One thing Hasbro really put a focus on at the JoeCon presentation was that they wanted to address the issues with the HISS (and thus the CHIMERA) that they always came with a driver, but no gunner. Well, Hasbro has resolved that here by including Grunt as the CHIMERA gunner, which actually makes a lot of sense. In the 80s mythology, Grunt was an electrical engineer as well as G.I. Joe’s top Infantry specialist, so when you’re talking about next generation technology like a Rail Gun, it makes some sense to get an engineer behind the controls.
Like Steeler, Grunt is made up from existing parts, all relatively later generation. He has the always huge Resolute Duke legs, which helps bring him into the Pursuit of Cobra roster like I mentioned before. I’m not a huge fan of the legs as time has gone on, and the softer plastic means Grunt’s hips are actually really loose. Seriously, my Grunt even has some issues just maintaining a normal standing pose.
Beyond the legs, though, the torso and arms are pretty standard choices but work nicely. Like Steeler, I really love the green and gray base colors throughout the figure, I find the hue really appealing, and they are offset nicely by the black webgear. Without any of his gear, Grunt is actually a great basic figure, just like Steeler, a fact that truly surprised me once I got him in hand.
Grunt has a great helmet with flip-down night vision goggles, perfect for an Infantry specialist, as well as an excellent machine gun and pistol. He comes with the MARS Trooper’s webgear, which is unfortunate, as it’s some of my least favorite webgear since 2009. The way the straps space out and the funky pouches on one side just doesn’t look good, and this great basic figure deserves better. Thankfully, I have plenty of alternate pieces of black webgear I can try out until I find one I like.
Grunt uses a similar formula as Steeler, but is a bit less successful, mostly due to those too wide, somewhat bland G.I. Joe: Resolute legs that don’t jive real well with the rest of this figure, or other figures as a whole. The loose hips don’t help a whole lot either. Beyond that, though, Grunt is a pretty fun update with some interesting, if somewhat formulaic traits.
Okay, consider me surprised.
I’m not afraid to say I was a bit underwhelmed with the product showing from Hasbro, but my first in hand experience has been a good one. The CHIMERA is a small, but very fun little vehicle, and the two G.I. Joe figures have impressed me in spite of their somewhat soft plastic and generic paint deco’s. As a package, when you consider the excellent painted mural packaging, this is a really nice combined set. I’m not sure I’ll end up liking it as much as the other set, but it’s still provided some real fun during this review. I’m sure some of that is due to the fact that it’s the first retail Joe product I’ve gotten my hands on in 2015, and also because there are actually some new concepts in here rather than vintage rehashes. Whatever the reason, I was expecting ho hum, and I ended up pretty darn happy, I have to admit.