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It was a moment at JoeCon that I’m not likely to forget any time soon. The Hasbro round table as regularly been the highlight of many a JoeCon, mostly due to the product reveals and exciting announcements, and while the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention was no different, it was the context of those announcements that really brought the good feelings to the surface.
While the 50th Anniversary product was a highlight, to be sure, the source of so much praise was the reveal of the new character Sightline and the fact that he was being developed as an homage to G.I. Joe fanatic Gary “Goggles” Head who passed away suddenly early this year. Using Gary Goggles as his file name, Sightline was slotted into the Silent Strike boxed set, working alongside Captain Ace as his forward observer and recon expert. As if that wasn’t enough, the figure design was slated to come with goggles. It all seemed to come together perfectly, and the raucus audience let Hasbro know how they felt during the reveal.
Like I said, a great moment.
(Video Courtesy of Dave and Duvall and Toy World Order)
The only thing left to see would be whether the execution of the Silent Strike boxed set would live up to its conceptual development, and I’m happy to say, I believe it does.
I had some mixed reactions with the Crimson Strike ComicCon set, but from end-to-end I find myself really enjoying Silent Strike.
I asked the question during the ComicCon version of this set review, about whether or not we really needed another Skystriker. The answer to that question is obviously a “no”, but it’s tough to argue that point when they execute it as well as the Crimson Scythe was executed, and frankly, the vehicle in this set is pretty darn nice as well.
Sure, there’s not a whole lot of outside the box thinking or ingenuity here, this is essentially a “stealth” Skystriker, the familiar F-14 Tomcat in a darker gray, almost black paint scheme. It’s the same version of the plane that we’ve gotten several times since its 2011 debut, and there’s not a whole lot to complain about, really. The newly tooled structure of the plane is great, the “swing-wings” work well, and the missiles have been greatly improved since it’s debut, staying hooked onto their mounts on the plane far better than they have previously.
I’m not sure exactly how they achieved the effect, but the gray on the Skystriker has an almost metallic or reflective quality, which is a pretty neat design aesthetic. I don’t know if it’s marblized or not, but it comes across looking really “shiney” which is a nice separation from just a traditional dark gray color.
Sure, the plane is still just a single seater, but I maintain that this isn’t a huge issue, as you can’t really clearly see inside when the vehicle is on display, and if you want to “play with it” as a double seater, just use a little imagination, it’s not a huge deal. This version of the famous assault plane is a lot more solid and durable feeling than its predecessor, and I must admit I really do like the darker color scheme here. The canopy is a very nice diversion from the original, too, with some great red highlights.
One of my favorite elements of the Skystriker is probably the great new Wolf themed logo on the rear fin. It also matches a patch that can be found on Ace’s arm as well.
As I said, this isn’t an extremely clever or unusual concept for a Skystriker update, but it looks very cool, which helps.
One of the most unheralded figures in the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary line was the version of Ace that came with the original Skystriker. Using a fantastic mix of modern parts, that version of Ace existed as a great pilot figure, but also a very cool figure altogether. Both him and the ComicCon COBRA Commander based on him are great examples of how a vehicle driver can be designed as a great driver without sacrificing the basic qualities of a good figure.
The 50th Anniversary update to Captain Ace retains the same parts formula as that one, but done in the now well known “Wolf Squad” color scheme of dark gray with some subtle red highlights, which works really nicely as a flight suit, but also as part of the Wolf Squad ground team. It’s a combination of unusual individual parts that make up a really solid final figure that has great articulation as well as a fantastic looking somewhat futuristic flight suit. This version of Ace maintains all of that and I really love the colors as well. Interestingly, Hasbro balances the gray with a reflective “gun metal” type of paint scheme that just compliments each other so well and looks fantastic. It ties Ace into the Wolf Squad, but also gives him a very technical look, which works well. I love how the reflective gray colors on Ace’s uniform trim matches the same reflective gray look on the attack plane. It ties them both together really well and is a nice effect on its own to boot.
Another link to the aircraft is the Wolf Squad logo on Ace’s arm, which is pretty tiny, but it’s definitely there.
The Wolf Squad aesthetic has evolved into something very cool, and I hope Hasbro leverages that going forward.
Captain Ace comes with some familiar gear, some of the same stuff as previous versions of the figure came with. He has the flight vest that the original figure came with, as well as the leg harness from Para-Viper. The flight helmet is straight from the Pursuit of COBRA Skydive, which is a change from the previous Ace figure, but still works nicely. He also has a small submachine gun and the pistol that slides neatly into his ankle holster.
I really love the evolution of some of these pilot figures. Both Ace and the G.I. Joe: Retaliation version of Lift Ticket have evolved past being drivers and into really excellent looking military themed updates, who can exist behind the control stick, or behind a machine gun. This new version of Ace is no different, and I’m excited to have him.
For as much as G.I. Joe has been based off of existing vintage concepts for many of the modern releases, in my mind the bread and butter is with new characters. It’s what really helped the line push on through its original 12 year run, and for many folks, it’s what continues to interest long time fans. As a figure, Sightline works quite well. For the most part, he uses the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Duke template (though the armored torso is from Retaliation Duke version 1, not the Ultimate version) only in a great digital camouflage urban deco instead of desert. He uses the alternate head that came with that figure, and even though, from the surface, the figure looks identical, the camouflage paint scheme does wonders to differentiate him. Heck, the Ultimate Duke figure is a fantastic figure anyway, so tough to complain about him being the base.
He’s one of those great toys that has a pretty bulky armored uniform, but still maintains significantly great articulation, with elbows and knees that move quite well. I’ll admit, though, as time goes on, I have less love for the rocker ankles, and they feel a little weird on this figure as well.
So, take one of the greatest figures from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation line, give it a terrific urban camouflage paint scheme, and base his new character identity on a good friend who passed away? Yeah, that’s a good formula for success in my eyes.
Sightline comes with a sniper rifle, the Duke vest, a laptop, pistol, knife, and shovel. I’m going to assume the inclusion of the shovel wasn’t meant as an homage (Gary Head unfortunately passed away due to heart failure from shoveling snow) and was merely an accessory that made sense for the character’s specialty. The sniper rifle and laptop are both terrific accessories, and I love the idea of Gary Head’s character having a computer within reach at all times. The knife and pistol fit the holster and sheath and I really like those base weapons anyway.
Yes, this figure was a highlight for collectors, and in many ways the end result meets our lofty expectations. It’s a great figure based on a great friend, and I’m glad to have him in hand.
Looking at the G.I. Joe side of the Silent Strike set, I’m extremely happy with how this all came together. Although the Skystriker is on the verge of overuse (heck, some might argue it crossed that line a while ago), I do like this new paint scheme. Both Ace and Sightline are highlights of this second run of 50th Anniversary figures, and the core of the Wolf Squad concept is done amazingly well in this boxed set. Thumbs way up on this side of the fence.