G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Crimson Guard

Like Kwinn, this version of the Crimson Guard has a somewhat rocky past history. Initially slated for release in one of the tail-end waves of the 30th Anniversary, his assortment was canceled, and the figure was left to drift in the fog of collector desire. I had heard a lot of excited collectors who were eager to get their hands on this figure, and I wasn't entirely sure why. Granted his head sculpt was a much needed sculptural update, but the rest of the figure didn't necessarily fit my vibe of Cobra's mysterious "Elite" guard.

Speaking of which, the whole concept of the Crimson Guard seems to have lost some of its impact over the years. Throughout the early 2000's so much Crimson perpetuated so much of the action figure line that the color itself lost its impact. Back in the day, the "Crimson Guard" were something special. That seems to have lost some of its meaning now. However, I'm happy to say, even if my initial reactions weren't real strong with this figure, it has pleasently surprised me.

Using the trademark torso from the 25th Anniversary Crimson Guard, you immediately have the foundation (underneath the flak vest) that we're all familiar with. Shock Trooper arms are a pretty big departure from the mostly ornamental, sleek arms of the original, and the '89 Snake Eyes/Alley-Viper legs appear much more combat ready, which isn't a bad thing. An added holster and sheath are great touches, too, and turn these legs into well equipped combat pants. At first I feared those baggy Shock Trooper arms would not blend with the rest of the figure at all, but in reality, I don't think the mismatch is that bad. Sure, they look a little on the big side, but I think the added detail and range of motion is more than worth a little added bulk.

As one might expect, the colors are terrific, and right in line with Crimson Guard hues.

My vision of the Crimson Guard will always remain what Hama originally wrote, as very highly trained but mostly undercover agents, it was kind of challenging to establish this character's place in my universe. But I think there is room for it. While the red uniform's in the closet are for pomp and circumstance, there is always a time when the Crimson Guard will need to go into action, and it makes sense that they'd suit up in a bit more combat-ready uniform when that time comes. Heck, even Chuckles, the almighty undercover agent to beat all agents came with a flak vest in his most recent release, and was all the better for it.

I know I already mentioned the new head sculpt, but I feel it necessary to do so again. This head is a lot better than the previous one, looking much wider and rounder, and not nearly so thin and elongated. A huge improvement, in my opinion (even though I didn't hate the original one either).


The Crimson Guard comes with a very nice assortment of accessories for whatever task may be at hand. First and most notable is obviously the battle vest, which is an amazingly well sculpted and detailed vest with numerous pouches. The small details of this vest are the coolest, though, with actual wrinkled flaps and stretched seams that look so awesomly realistic at such a small scale. Attached to this vest through a hole in the back is a great sword sheath which does a great job holding the saber this figure comes with as well.

He has several different weapons, including a great machine gun with bayonet, looking much more ornamental, along with the SCAR Assault Rifle and Heckler & Koch submachine gun for more practical purposes. His pistol is nice and small (and fits beautifully in his holster) with a great knife for his sheath as well. Like the other figures, he came with a surprise battle stand, and his same classic backpack. What I really love about the accessory compliment is that it nicely bridges the more ceremonial aspects of the Crimson Guard with the combat aspects. We have the backpack, the saber, and the bayonet machine gun, but also have the tactical vest and the SCAR to balance it out. These figures could conceivably serve multiple roles, and they actually end up looking really good in either one.

But one of the most intriguing things about the accessories here is the sticker set that comes with it:

These stickers are a very cool way to customize your Crimson Guard corps and make them fit in where you want them to. It's a pretty neat twist to the figure, and gives us collectors an excuse to buy even more of them. I'm not entirely sure how the stickers really are designed to work, though. The sheet says to put the rank on his chest and division on his left arm, but some of the pre-production images have shown it the other way. The division stickers are all squares and don't fit really snugly on that wrinkled pocket on the left shoulder. But I guess it works okay.

Yeah, I realize the rank might be meant to go on the top right blank area, but this rectangular shape seems to fit better on his shoulder. I may move it still, I'm not sure yet.

Over the past thirty years I'm amassed quite the collection of various different Crimson Guard figures...I didn't necessarily feel the need to stock up more. However I found myself quite pleasantly surprised at how great this figure is and how much I enjoy it either as a ceremonial elite guard, or as a highly trained combat specialist. It really is a terrific figure, and as an added bonus is happens to mesh with the Retaliation Alley-Vipers pretty nicely as well. Pick this guy up, you might be surprised.