G.I. Joe Kre-O - Kre-On Minifigures Wave 4
There were mixed emotions when the fifth series of G.I. Joe Kre-O figures were surprisingly discovered at Toys "R" Us stores a while ago. First was pleasant surprise, as the fifth series wasn't expected to hit quite so soon... but also there was a bit of fear and concern, because we hadn't seen Series Four yet, and suddenly folks were worried that perhaps the fourth batch of mini figures might somehow never get released.
Turns out we just had to be a little patient...and it also helps having friends. Thanks to my buddy Jeff, I was able to get my hands on this series relatively quickly, and even though I was 95% done with my Series Five review, I decided to hold off just a bit so my OCD wouldn't go crazy with series five before series four.
I'm happy to say that Hasbro continues to do all the right things when it comes to their Kre-On mini figures. The first two waves were great offerings, to be sure, but Wave 3 seemed to take it to a new level, and now Wave 4 has maintained that level, bringing us some very eclectic characters crafted meticulously. It's hard to nitpick and find any issues with these figures at all, they are near perfection.
Now, I must label these reviews with an all important caveat... I will say that I HATE the idea of Hasbro removing the "blind bag codes" from their mini figures. It's an exercise in frustration. I got very fortunate with my Series 4, because my friend Jeff found a whole case, and we just split it down the middle, so it worked out well. But with Series 5 I ended up trading with a few friends (after over-buying myself) because of a lack of codes. I'm sure it makes good business sense for Hasbro, since they're probably getting more sales than normal, but from a collector's standpoint, I find it pretty obnoxious.
Continuing the theme of fuzzy headed Adventure Team re-do's we get a great looking Air Adventurer with this series, complete with fuzzy head and his action figure box. His revolver is a nice touch and I love the orange flight suit. Airborne and Alpine are both critical additions to the early days of A Real American Hero, and compliment Wild Bill and Bazooka respectively. Some impressive additions to the already large roster of Kre-On mini figures.
As another addition to the early 83/84 series, this fourth wave gives us the Joe's most infamous clutz, Tripwire. The deco on his chest pad is really nice and detailed, and the Kre-O mine sweeper has some great construction. I like the use of the helmet, too. It amazes me how much mileage the Kre-On parts can get with some creative re-use. Along with Tripwire, we also get some later 80's entries into G.I. Joe lore with Budo and Chuckles. The helmet and emblem on Budo are fantastic, as is the nicely detailed deco on his pads. Chuckles is spectacular, too, with the flower shirt deco, pistol and knife. A great inclusion to the Kre-On collection.
Filling another big gap in the '86 roster, Wet Suit comes to us here, too, with the same helmet/air tank that Torpedo came with, as well as an ingeniously built underwater sea sled, too. I love the way they built the small orange sled, it works perfectly for the figure. And simply by giving Wet Suit one of the fuzzy headed Joe's hair, you can get curly headed Wet Suit from the Sunbow series, too! Along with Wet Suit we get a new Cobra Trooper (also called the Shock Trooper) based on the deco from the 25th Anniversary Night Watch trooper with a nicely built rocket launcher. Then, of course, there is the Cobra Viper, destined to be army built by nearly everyone. It's got a really nice simplified deco and a great helmet, though I do wish they vac-metallized his head like they did with Cobra Commander. Also the goggles look a little odd with the contours on the helmet, but he still looks excellent.
Rounding off series 4 is probably the three most anticipated figures in this wave, Nemesis Enforcer, Night Viper, and Zartan. I say without hesitation that Nemesis Enforcer is one of my favorite Kre-On mini figures ever made. Between the fantastic deco detail on his body, to his great head, and incredible wings, this is a figure that I am very excited about. Not just because Nemesis Enforcer is a great character, but because he's also a member of Cobra La, and may provide a doorway for other Cobra La characters in the Kre-O world. I think Kre-O is a fantastic outlet for these characters and their wacky, other-worldly design aesthetic could work quite well in the Kre-On format. Night Viper is unfortunately a bit less successful than Nemesis Enforcer. I don't really like the way they built the monocle, which doesn't even fold over his eye, it just kind of rotates down and sits out there like an odd green unicorn horn. His sniper rifle is cool, too, though I'm not sure how useful an underslung flashlight is for a long range rifle. To his credit, though, the deco on his body and head are both excellent and very much "Night Viper" esque. Without a doubt, Zartan was one of the most needed Kre-Ons, too, and I'm a bit surprised to see him in a mini figure pack. Typically characters as important as him are relegated to boxed sets. In this case, though, Hasbro decided to include him in a figure pack, and I'm thrilled for it. The hood is excellent, the deco is great, and I love his shoulder pads, too. I do wish they had put an additional face on the back of his head so it could just be rotated to change rather than a completely separate head, but this works fine, too.
Looking at it in its entirety, the fourth series of Kre-Ons is spectacular, pretty much end-to-end. Of course for Joe fans the format takes some getting used to, but for people who are into the mini figure format, it's tough to find many things to complain about here. Great concepts, great execution, and an awesome (and growing) collection of Real American Hero and classic 70s characters. Great stuff.
Warning - HOLY CRAP tons of pictures below!