G.I. Joe Collectors Club 2009 Convention Set Review - The Crimson Strike Team (Page 1)
Guest Review by Mysterious Stranger
Chris (aka Mysterious Stranger) here with a review of the 2009 G.I. Joe Convention 3 3/4 “ Collector’s Set – Crimson Strike Team. The 2009 Convention was held in my hometown of Kansas City Missouri August 13-16 and I was lucky enough to be able to go. The timing wasn’t the best as I had just been to SDCC a few weeks prior and anyone that’s been to SDCC can tell you it’s a very taxing experience, physically, emotionally and economically. But JoeCon was being held in KC and I hadn’t been home to visit since I moved “out west” the previous year. So I combined a family visit with the convention and killed two birds with one stone.
One of the things that had me really excited about the convention, aside from getting to catch up with my family, was the announcement that the 3 3/4 “ exclusives would be in 25th style. So I had to have a set. The theme was a remake of the 2002 Crimson Strike Team set and the figures are all based on the ARAH versions right down to parts selection. This decision upset a LOT of fans and probably had an effect on the turnout but I was glad to see the set. I don’t have the original (and have no desire to own it being a 25th/Sigma 6 collector) so I didn’t feel I was doubling up on anything I already had. The choice, love it or hate it was a bold one and the result is the Club succeeded at what they set out to do. The fact that the attendee exclusives were incredibly awesome only seals the deal even more. Now let’s take a look at what we got, shall we?
Starting from the outside in, the box is the same shape and style we’ve seen before and I really like this type of packaging. Its very collector friendly making it easy to store the figures after displaying them. There is one issue which I’ll mention in a moment but I want to talk about the art first. The box art is by Larry Selman and shows off the Crimson Strike Team very well. Selman is known to 12” collectors as the artist for most of the 12” box sets. I like the old school painterly feel to the art and his style really works with the ARAH characters.
The inside of the box brings us our first issue. The set is billed as 3 3/4” but anyone who has held a 25th style figure knows they are actually 1:18 scale and are in the 4” range. The problem lies in this minor yet significant distinction. The Club used the same die to cut out the figure slots that they use on the smaller ARAH, 3 3/4” figures. This means the “cubbies” (as my girlfriend called them) are smaller and the 4” figures are a very tight fit. This isn’t a big problem for the male figures but it did cause my Baroness to be even more bowlegged than the mold normally is. I corrected it by turning the lower legs backwards and letting her sit in the foam “cubby” for about a day and she was back to her normal right off the 5 day cattle drive bowlegged self. But its something the Club needs to consider should they decide to do another 25th style box set.
And since I brought it up I might as well cover the Baroness figure first because she is the greatest disappointment in the set.
Crimson Strike Team Baroness uses the first 5-pack body and as such suffers from the same flaws as that figure. She is slightly hunchbacked, her legs are spindly, and she has thin gangly arms. The second 5-pack figure is much better and would have been my preferred choice and I don’t know why the Club didn’t use it instead. However the one saving grace of this figure is the head sculpt. Using the head from the second Baroness figure (the one in blue) with the square glasses was a much better choice than the original head with the wind-swept hair. It’s a better sculpt and more fitting for the character.
The paint scheme also really saves the figure. The crimson and black with silver highlights really brings out the sculpting in the mold especially in the torso which has nice detailing in the belt and collar. She’s got a slight tan too from the looks of her face paint (a theme for the figures in this set) and her glasses are painted gold which I really like. It sets her face apart from the rest of the body and does a good job distracting you from the flaws of the mold.
Baroness is armed with a small silver Uzi (from 25th Snake-eyes) and a silver rifle from her first 25th figure. Not a bad compliment of weaponry but nothing to write home about. Over all she’s a good figure but far and away not the highlight of the set.
I should note here that the figures all come with 25th style figure stands molded in crimson to match. The Cobra stands are the first version with a single footpeg and the Joe versions (with the exclusive figures) are the second version with two footpegs. Another strange choice from the Club, not using the two peg Cobra stand.
Crimson Twins, Tomax & Zamot
The Crimson Twins are the other named figures in this set and they really are pretty spectacular in their ho-hum-ness. These are the same figures available in the comic pack only done in the Crimson Strike Team colors. The molds themselves are really good with the right detailing in all the right places. The main change here is in the paint.
In primarily crimson, these two look good. There are just enough highlights of silver and black to break up the crimson and the paint applications are nearly perfect. Like Baroness, Tomax and Xamot have a nice tan. The flesh parts of the figures are done in a reddish tan flesh tone as though they’ve spent a lot of time in the sun, almost too much. The arms and head are cast in this darker flesh color and the neck is painted. The paint matches up well with the cast parts.
The Twins come armed with the cartoon Cobra trooper rifle, in silver as well as silenced Uzis that I believe came with 25th Mutt. I’d have been really surprised if these two didn’t come with the trooper rifle and that’s pretty much all they need as far as I’m concerned. But like Baroness, these two are nice in the set but nothing spectacular.
Crimson Strike Viper
The “army builder” of this set is the Crimson Viper. My main concern when it was revealed that the Club was releasing a 25th Viper in the convention set was the hands. The first 25th style Viper has badly posed hands, an issue that Hasbro corrected in the 5-pack and Hall of Heroes versions. My fear was that the Club wouldn’t use these new hands and instead give us the bent wrist version. Well not only did the Club give us the new hands but they also used the 5-pack chromed mask head which was a surprise. I would have been perfectly happy with the v.1 25th head as I don’t see any issues with it. But the 5-pack head, with its molded on goggles and separate helmet is just as good. The problems are the same as with the 5-pack in that the helmet isn’t always glued onto the chrome faceplate head straight. I went through my 12 and managed to swap out a couple of the worst ones before the weekend was over. But I still have a few too many with crooked helmets. It’s not so bad that you notice right away but knowing they aren’t perfect nags at me whenever I look at them.
Aside from that minor helmet issue and the use of the improved hands, the Crimson Viper is made of some interesting parts. The torso and arms are of course from the 25th Viper and work well here. Nothing special aside from the good hands. The legs though are different from the typical Viper and match up with the ARAH version almost perfectly. Using the 25th Barbeque legs matches this figure up with its little ARAH brother really well. I would have been happy with the regular Viper legs but the BBQ legs give the figure some added bulk which a strike team specialist should have. I really like the parts choices here.
The paint on the Vipers is, like Baroness and the Twins, really well done. The crimson is a great color for the Viper and the black, silver and gold accents hit all the right points. I especially like the silver on the arm pads and the gold on the thigh gear. The silver of the chrome faceplate is really well done and some of mine appear to have a slight gold sheen to them. I’m not sure if that is just the reflection off the gold grenades on the vest or if the chrome itself has hints of gold in it but I like it regardless.
The Crimson Viper is armed, as you would expect, with the NVR rifle and an AK-47, both cast in silver. With the new hands the Viper can hold both weapons equally well and both look right at home in his grip. The Viper also comes with his standard backpack molded in crimson to match with gold accents on the grenades. He also has his vest which is in black with silver accents and more gold grenades and the black and silver of the vest really break up all the crimson.
Of the three different figures in this box set, I like the Viper the best. Maybe it’s the armybuilder in me or maybe it’s just the figure itself but the Crimson Viper is a really great figure considering its history. It’s not a groundbreaking design and all three figures really aren’t original. The Baroness figure would have put this over the top to a higher rating but using the v.1 tooling just doesn’t quite live up to the great parts choices in the Twins and the Vipers. The Club recreated the Crimson Strike Team in 25th style really well and I’m glad to have it in my collection. I give the 2009 Crimson Strike Team box set 3 3/4 stars for the effort and execution (and to see if Justin reworks his star graphic to make a 3/4 one.
(Chris, you're a jerk)