Something that Larry Hama always excelled in was creating characters out of nothing. Hasbro gave him some sketches and names, and he essentially built the mythos from the ground up, which is really an amazing feat, considering the history of toy-based comic book properties. Larry was great at this, and never showed it better than he did with the character of Ripcord. Now, I know this guy isn’t “Ripcord” per se…but let’s face it, he’s Ripcord.
If not for his portrayal in the late 30’s of the Marvel Comics, Ripcord was someone I couldn’t have cared less about. The initial figure was terrible, I think, with some very odd “chunky” shapes, very flat detail work, and just not a whole lot to rave about. Sure, the parachute pack was great, and I loved the rifle, but beyond that, Ripcord as a figure was nothing to write home about. However, his personality in the comic made him one of my favorite characters, so it was a bit frustrating to have this awesome guy in the media who really didn’t have a very fun figure to play with. Well, “Altitude” changes all of that. Back in ’84 it seemed Hasbro made the parachute first and made that HALO specialty the focus. Here, they really make a great base figure to go along with the parachute, and you get a version of Ripcord (who isn’t really Ripcord) who works as a ground pounder as well as a HALO jumper.
The parts that they use make for a very nice base uniform that Ripcord was often seen wearing in the Marvel comics, which, when combined with the Ace and Dusty legs, gives a very nice parachute suit that works seamlessly with the COBRA Trooper parachute pack alongside the regular camouflage uniform. Yeah, he's got Red Star's head, but honestly, I don't find myself that bothered by it, and it actually bears some resemblance to the vintage look.
As far as paint applications go, Ripcord's most identifiable trait has always been his camouflage pattern, and the paint apps work amazingly well here, paying terrific tribute to the original version, and still looking like a viable soldier as well.
Altitude’s accessories are fairly nice, though not perfect. He’s got a new sculpt G35 with shotgun attachment that pays tribute to the “Ripcord” from the new sculpt Spy Troops days, though I would have rather seen something like the rifle that the vintage version came with. His helmet and facemask are carry forwards from Blowtorch, so the fit is a bit loose, and there’s no place to plug in his air hose, but besides those minor problems, the gear works well. His parachute pack is re-used from the Best of the 80’s COBRA Trooper, and I love it. It’s a bit tricky to get the pack off his legs, but it’s possible, and you end up with a nice versatile version of Ripcord that, in my mind, we haven’t had until this point.
This figure is proof positive that current Hasbro designers can make figures that are very nice homages to the vintage versions, yet improve them in every way they can. I love the Airborne arms, as well as the other construction components, the paint apps, and the accessories. It really is a fantastic figure that builds great from the vintage version and gives us some great new twists. For the first time, we get a version of this character (even if it’s not technically the same character) that can be used in various different functions, and I’m very happy to see it.
Buy this set at Big Bad Toy Store!