G.I. Joe Kre-O - Kre-On Minifigures Wave 5
With Kre-O, it seems like it's either feast or famine. We're either seeing nothing but empty shelves for six months, or we're getting nailed with the Terror Drome, Series 4, and Series 5 of mini figures all within the span of four weeks. But I'm not complaining!
I'm especially not complaining because Series 5 was somewhat of a surprise. It was sprung upon us during San Diego ComicCon this summer, and suddenly, only a couple of months later, it was hitting retail. In fact it was hitting retail before Series four even hit retail.
If I have any complaints about Series 5, it would be the same as Series 4, namely, the elimination of the "blind bag" codes. That is a disappointing move that likely will improve sales short term, but it may do some damage in the long run. Time will tell. Thankfully, I have some good friends who were able to help me out by trading or selling me my missing pieces. If nothing else, it does help build up the community a bit, and it's tough to complain about that.
I still have vivid memories of the 2003 G.I. Joe Convention in San Francisco, where as a newbie to convention going, and certainly to the tight knit 12" community, I was surprised by these strange chants of "We are DOB" throughout the weekend. Turns out "DOB" refers to "Defenders of Bulletman" and there was a whole crew of folks who were committed to ensuring that Bulletman wasn't some offensive affront to the military legitimacy of the G.I. Joe brand. Wow, sound familiar? Sounds like this military realism vs. science fantasy battle was going on since long before 1982. Forgetting all of that for a moment, I absolutely love Bullet Man. The vac metallized helmet, the awesome red uniform, and his trusty action figure box are all key pieces of this figure and he goes perfectly with the other 70's homages carried through in the Kre-O line. Dial Tone is another great mini figure, filling a slot in 1986 nicely, with a really innovative build for his communications pack. Iceberg is much the same, though I'll admit I like him better without the arctic "vest".
The old "Scale Creep" himself, Leatherneck is a great part of this assortment, boosting up the '86 roster even further. As these series go on, we're filling a lot of important roles, and to this point, I believe the only main spot we're lacking in '86 (besides vehicle drivers) is Sci Fi. I could see him ROCKING a Kre-On. Lifeline is another '86 stalwart, coming complete with his medical bag, pistol, walkie talkie backpack, and excellent "RESCUE" stencil down his leg. Moving up to 1987, Outback comes to us as another excellent mini figure with his familiar t-shirt, backpack and submachine gun. Very simple build, but fantastic.
Building up the Cobra trooper ranks, we get another Battle Android Trooper here in series five, only this time he comes to us battle damaged, which is a great touch. The deco is really nice, showing us a hole blown in his facemask as well as a cracked chest plate. He comes with a drill attachment and cannister backpack. Ninja Ku is a surprising addition, too, using the familiar Storm Shadow deco pattern, but in black to celebrate the Argentinian exclusive character. The cool thing, too, is he can double as a black garbed ninja and be built as a trooper for the Arashikage clan if so desired. Another entry into the Cobra cadre is the Stinger Driver (simply called Cobra Driver here) which is a gray uniformed Cobra Trooper. I'm a little confused as to why they used the deco for the Cobra Trooper here rather than the Cobra Officer since the Stinger Driver has always been an Officer repaint, but perhaps, this guy isn't meant to be the Stinger Driver, and we have a boxed set to look forward to...
Rounding off Series Five gives us some key Cobra support personnel. The Techno Viper is a really interesting deco, obviously reminscent of the 1987 original, with a great use of the helmet and backpack for his tools. Tele Viper is the same, and I love the assembly of his weird projector-gun, too. I'd love to see a varient at some point with different words painted in reverse on those silver goggles. Lastly, Zarana comes at us with a great looking, very pink color scheme. Interestingly, Zartan has removable shoulder pads, while Zaranas are painted on. I'm not sure what the reason is for that. Her weapon nicely replicates her buzzsaw gun, but can also be disassembled to be a more typical AK 47.
Series Five is another spectacular run of Kre-On minifigures, but I will say it's not quite as impressive as Series 3 or 4. I love Leatherneck, Outback, and Bulletman, and while the others are excellently crafted, to be sure, they don't ring my bell quite as effectively as the previous two series. Still, an impressive assortment of key characters and the Kre-On roster continues to build. We are pretty quickly running out of central characters to the G.I. Joe mythology, I hope Kre-O has enough in its tank to keep pushing forward for a few more years at least.
I was speaking to Todd, the guy behind Magnum 6 Delta, and we both agreed that we MUST HAVE some sort of Kre-O Cobra La/G.I. Joe: The Movie themed set... get us the rest of our Cobra La characters, plus Lt. Falcon and maybe even the Broadcast Energy Transmitter. How awesome would that be?
Are you listening, Hasbro??
Warning - HOLY CRAP tons of pictures below!