COBRA Viper (Figure Subscription Service)

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I’m going to start this review with a confession, though it’s a confession that will likely not come as a surprise to many.

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I love me some neon G.I. Joe.  I always have.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t love the figures because of the neon, I enjoy them in spite of their garish colors, and in most cases actually would prefer it if the kickass 90s molds would use slightly tamer, more realistic color schemes.  That being said, I will never look down on a figure because of its brightness, and the Battle Corps COBRA Viper is a perfect example of that.

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Yes the figure is purple and orange, and yes he would be a huge target on the battlefield, but from a pure sculpt perspective the figure is incredible.  The awesome narrow, sloped helmet with embedded visor, along with the built-in rebreather is an amazing design aesthetic, looking somewhat insect-like but also like something that could completely exist in the real world.  I think that’s what I’ve always loved so much about A Real American Hero, the fact that they take this outlandish concepts and manage to build figures around them that make them seem realistic.

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As one might imagine, after modern era format figures have been around going on seven years, we’re starting to run out of credible updates…so the Collectors Club is having to dig deep into the vaults, and with the COBRA Viper I think they made a great choice.  The choice makes sense as well, considering the Iron Anvil that was released for the 2015 G.I. Joe Convention.  Once that figure was revealed, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the character’s predecessor from the vintage days would appear somewhere along the line as well.

Interestingly, rather than duplicate the spectacular build for the Iron Anvil, the Collectors Club went their own way, and I think the results are mixed.  I’ll never be one to admonish trying to develop new concepts rather than just repaint what’s already been done, however the Iron Anvil figure build, frankly, was superior to this one in every way.  The sculpt and tooling for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes works a lot better in my mind, and allows the figure some better range of motion and an appearance of being more streamlined.

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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the Jungle Viper torso and legs we see here, the look is just thicker and more bulky, and overall I prefer the nimble appearance of the previous iteration.  Also, the use of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation COBRA Trooper arms means the wrists don’t get the extra articulation, which is a shame as well.

Looking at the color scheme, they did a decent job matching up the vintage ’94 COBRA Viper, while muting the tones somewhat.  You can immediately tell where the inspiration came from, but they manage to dial down the neon to a degree, which is a good combination.

Accessories

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The G.I. Joe Collectors Club chose some neat weapons for the COBRA Viper as well.  I’m a huge fan of the assault rifle that he comes with, I’ve loved it ever since it was released with G.I. Joe: Resolute Destro and I’m happy to say the COBRA Viper hands fit it really well.  He’s also got a purple knife inspired by the crazy blade that the original Viper came with, though since this knife is one that generally plugs into a hole on a figure, it has a huge rounded peg on it.  Without having some place to plug it in on the Viper, that seems a bit odd, but it’s not terrible.  Lastly, he has a pistol that fits neatly into the holster on his ankle.  He doesn’t come with a lot of weapons, but what he comes with makes sense and look pretty neat alongside the figure itself.

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I’m a huge fan of this version of the COBRA Viper and I have been for a long time.  I was really looking forward to seeing what the Collectors Club did with it. Unfortunately I ended up slightly disappointed in the build, though the overall color scheme and accessory compliment (almost) make up for that.  It’s a fun figure and a nice addition to the modern era collection.  Now someone get me a Crimson Guard Commander dammit.

Charbroil (Figure Subscription Service)

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If you’d asked me at any point over the past several years if we really needed an update for Charbroil, I would have said “hell no”.  In the 21st Century the need for flamethrower troopers seems unnecessary, and Charbroil isn’t even the number 1 flamethrower trooper on the G.I. Joe team.  Not only that, but we’ve already received two Charbroil updates, though one was Rise of COBRA and one was Night Force, so we never really got the 1988 update that some folks might have thought we needed.

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I would have disagreed.

However, throughout doing this review and realizing just how many 1988 figures have now been released, it’s kind of cool to see the group shot and Charbroil does fill a hole in that roster, which is cool to see.

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Charbroil himself is a decent figure.  He uses pretty much the entire base figure for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper (like the Night Force version did) but done up in colors more accurate to the 1988 version.  The shade of brown for the uniform is a decent match for the ’88 original and the yellow trim does a good job complimenting it now as it did 19 years ago.

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One curious choice, however, was that instead of reusing the same unmasked head that we got with the Night Force version, instead this Charbroil has a balaclava.  I’m not entirely sure why that decision was made, though I would have much preferred the unmasked head here as it was with the Convention set.

If I have a gripe, while the sculpting on the legs is exceptionally well detailed and looks really nice, the ankle joints don’t work especially well (as they really haven’t since 2012) making it tough to keep the figure standing, either on the battle stand or off.

Accessories

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This figure comes with the accessories you’d pretty much expect, including the familiar helmet, backpack with flamethrower (and removable flame) and pistol.  Honestly there’s nothing especially revolutionary or different here, and nothing that wows or impresses.  The weapons are fine and they make sense, but beyond that they’re just kind of there.

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As a character, Charbroil has never really held an interest for me, and as we sit here in 2017, the concept of a flamethrower trooper seems unrealistic at best.  It’s nice to have another entry in the 1988 figure roster filled, however, and I will admit I geeked out just a little when I shot that group shot that keeps on getting just a little bit larger every year.

Scoop (Figure Subscription Service)

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Hm.  Every once in a while you run across a figure that you mostly like and mostly enjoy, though a certain decision was made that seems strange and misplaced, but you want to love the figure anyway…

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Okay.  Why is Scoop orange?  I think the Club might have been going for “mustard yellow” (since they seem to like making these modern updates just a little dimmer and darker than their vintage counterparts)…but he really, truly looks orange.

Before we go down that road, I do want to say, as another entry into G.I. Joe’s illustrious roster of 1989 characters, the inclusion of Scoop was pretty much a given ever since we got Sky Patrol Airborne in the Con Set in 2015 using Scoop’s distinctive helmet.  That kinda sealed the deal right there.

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And it makes sense.  Scoop is one of those rare later year characters who appeared after 1987, yet still had a very distinctive and familiar role in G.I. Joe animation as a Crimson Guard traitor on the G.I. Joe team during Operation: Dragonfire.   Now, as one might suspect, he ends up having a change of heart, but he was still a central character throughout that mini-series and it makes sense to explore him as an action figure in the Figure Subscription Service.

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Scoop’s figure is legitimately great.  His head sculpt is reused, but it’s not exactly common and feels fresh just the same.  His parts are all from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation family and its evident with the nice modern sculpting, great range of motion and functional articulation that suits the figure build perfectly.  From a construction standpoint, I feel like the Club really and truly nailed this one.

But what’s up with the paint scheme?

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I can’t remember a time when Scoop was orange, either as a toy or in the comic or in the cartoon, yet here he is in action figure form a wholly more orange color than he should be.  It would be interesting to hear why.  It’s not like the color is terrible, it’s a fine color that works well enough, but the Club typically works hard to mimic the vintage color pallet as much as they can, so this stark distinction seems surprising.

That being said, by and large, Scoop is pretty fantastic, honestly.

Accessories

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Not only is the figure great, but the Club did an awesome job getting the right accessories for him, too.  He’s got a Resolute tactical vest, which I’m always in favor of, a nice multi-colored assault rifle, the great camera that came with the old school 25th Anniversary boxed set, as well as a microphone.  He also has a knife that fits in his ankle sheath.

In short, Scoop has a perfect allotment of great gear that makes sense and feels interesting.

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If you’d told me six months ago that halfway through the FSS, Scoop would be my favorite, I would have said you were out of your mind.  Yet here he are, and here he is.  So far, among the rest of the Figure Subscription Service, Scoop stands alone at the top.  He’s really fantastic, strangely orange colored and all.

Ambush (Figure Subscription Service)

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Got to get tough!  Yo Joe!

I just can’t help myself… every time I get a figure from 1990 in my hands I just want to belt out that theme song.  When the DiC series first aired way back when it seemed laughable in comparison to the Sunbow days, but looking back on those 90s years it’s still kinda cool to see the later generation characters in animated form.

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It was such a weird time in 1990.  It almost felt like a “soft reboot” of the G.I. Joe brand, with all new characters (many of them sort of replacing existing characters), tons of interesting accessories and when I say “interesting” I mean weed whacker and weird mesh tent type of interesting.

Ambush was a “concealment specialist” in those days, one of the few figures from 1990 that didn’t automatically replace an existing character.  His color scheme was a bit odd, looking very much like a desert commando, yet his accessories were clearly more geared towards jungle camouflage.  To be honest, I actually preferred the Sidetrack rendition of the figure to the original.  But I digress.

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The Collectors Club dives back into 1990 with Ambush as part of their FSS and does an okay job of it.  His head is from the Convention General Mayhem, which works surprisingly well, to be honest.  The deco of the figure is a nice match for the vintage version, though the long brown sleeves don’t work quite as well without the underlying texture.  Also, his torso and legs are from 25th Anniversary Dusty, which… is…  I just don’t get it.  In 2017 I can’t find many reasons why someone should use 25th Anniversary parts when there are so many others available.  If the entire purpose was to get that weird “shirt tail” piece, I’d have considered just not sweating that a whole lot.  As a result the figure looks somewhat dated, not just alongside other figures, but alongside himself.  With the obvious later generation head and later generation arms, the torso and legs don’t quite mesh.

As a result of the strange confluence of parts, Ambush looks like his arms are a bit too long for this torso (though not as bad as I thought originally) and his neck is bordering on giraffe.  Now, the Club did think to include the PoC Dusty scarf/cape piece to help offset that a bit, but if you want your Ambush to look more vintage accurate and you remove that?  Well, he doesn’t look real good.

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Of course a lot of that isn’t noticeable if you’re just checking out the figure on display, so perhaps I’m making mountains out of molehills.

Accessories

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Considering how much thought and work were put into the accessories for the original 1990 run of figures, you would think that would be a key consideration with these new versions, and to a degree, it is.  Ambush as a nicely fitting helmet, the collar and cape from PoC Dusty, the net from Shadow Tracker, a bandolier and two machine guns.  He’s actually pretty loaded.

While the net sort of misses the point of the original ghille suit/camouflage net, I give the Club props for doing what they could to blend that aesthetic.

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Ambush is a decent update, though unfortunately a somewhat flawed one.  I’m not sold on the 25th Anniversary parts, but they did a nice job replicating the deco and he’s loaded with pretty fun gear and weapons.  He’s better than I feared he might be based on some early images.

Generals Joe and Tell Video Reviews – FSS Outback and Sneak Peek

With some newly found spare time at GeneralsJoes we’ve put together some video reviews for figures from FSS 4.0!  Tiger Force Outback and Sneak Peek video reviews have been posted to the GeneralsJoes YouTube Channel and are ready for viewing.

They’ve also been embedded in the written reviews at the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page or the direct links below.

Enjoy and huge thanks as always to Chris from The Full Force for his help on these videos!

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Carla “Doc” Greer (Figure Subscription Service)

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The selection of Carla Greer for the FSS is all at once confusing, yet also makes perfect sense, especially as an entry into the 13th figure category.

From 2003 – 2004, Devils’ Due Publishing released an alternate universe G.I. Joe story entitled G.I. Joe: Reloaded which featured Duke as a COBRA double agent, Storm Shadow as a Yakuza looking guy in a white trenchcoat, and a version of Doc who was female rather than the Carl Greer we all knew and loved.  It was an interesting twist, and at the time was not a part of normal continuity.

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Fast forward to 2007 and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club released the “Tanks for the Memories” Convention set.  Within that boxed set, they brought forward the idea that Carla Greer existed in the main G.I. Joe continuity and had elected to join G.I. Joe after the death of her father, the original Doc.  It was an interesting way to tap into the Reloaded series and provided the G.I. Joe team with another much needed Medic.  For that reason, it does make sense for them to then bring that character forward into the modern format, and to their credit, they do it pretty well.

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She’s got a decent build, combining some Rise of COBRA era parts with some nice later generation 25th Anniversary parts, which makes for a good update to the 2007 original.  Her elbow articulation is a little restrictive, but she’s got a great look and manages to tie back some homages to the original Doc as well as her own original figure from seven years back.

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I believe her head sculpt is new, it isn’t one I immediately recognize, and while it’s not phenomenal, it’s always great to have a new addition to the library of female head sculpts, which are badly needed.

The figure’s paint deco is clearly inspired by both the vintage Doc and the 2007 update, with tan, brown, and white put together in a very nice combination.  This is a really solid figure, though not one I thought I desperately needed as part of my collection.

Accessories

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(Image used by permission from JoeBattleLines)

Carla “Doc” Greer borrows much of her gear from her father, including the bandolier with med kit and the flare launcher.  She also has the webgear from 50th Anniversary Lady Jaye and the hypodermic needle from Lifeline.  It’s a great selection of accessories that really adds some nice design aesthetics when it’s all put on the figure.  The darker webgear and lighter bandolier contrast quite nicely with the tan uniform underneath adding some much needed flair.

Note – I somehow misplaced the hypodermic that was supposed to come with Doc, so Fred from JoeBattleLines very kindly allowed me to use some of his images for this review.  Thanks, Fred!

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(Image used by permission from JoeBattleLines)

 

I wouldn’t have picked Doc as a necessary figure in the FSS even if you gave me 100 choices, but the execution is decent.  She makes sense as a 13th figure, one that has some great collectible elements, but not one that’s eminently desirable, and balances the execution of the figure quite nicely.  Not bad.

Tiger Force Outback (Figure Subscription Service)

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Along with the different Action Force focused characters released as European exclusives, one of the more famous and popular branch of UK and Europe released figures were their Tiger Force themed versions.  Outside the United States, the Tiger Force color pallet went a decidedly different direction, using oranges, blues, browns and greens rather than the more familiar yellows and blacks.  Looking back on it, the orange and brown specifically makes a bit more sense given the whole Tiger Force motif, though the domestic released figures appeared to be paying homage to some real world military themes.

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One of the most familiar of these repaints was Tiger Force Outback, who actually developed a whole new t-shirt deco featuring a great looking cat face that has really drawn lots of collector interest over the past several years.  It makes sense for the Collectors Club to want to dip into this area of collector desires.

What’s really interesting about how the Collectors Club handled this was that they actually wrote Outback into this look and feel throughout their monthly comic.  Making Outback a part of the Zombie Invasion convention set, they had him infected by Compound Z, and while he ultimately recovered, it ended up coloring his hair white (as the foreign version had white hair and a beard as well).  Once that revelation appeared in the convention comic, it was pretty clear that this figure was in the works.  So now that we have it, how does it measure up?

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It measures up… pretty well, I suppose.

I love the concept, and I love that they revisited the UK Tiger Force Outback in a modern format, I just wish they had taken a few more chances with the build.  I love the new head sculpt, it’s a great likeness and quite a bit better than the head we got for the 25th Anniversary.  It’s fantastic, actually.

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The torso is the same torso we got with the 25th Anniversary version, as are the legs, both of which are kind of a shame.  I understand why the Club went that route, mostly for the leg-mounted flashlight and the tie back to the original, but at this point, parts developed in 2007 – 2008 look pretty out of date next to more modern sculpted figures.  Not only that, but the COBRA Trooper legs tend to look bow-legged.  The knee pin on my figure is actually barely holding together, which might color my opinion a little bit too much, but still, looking at Outback’s legs compared to legs sculpted and developed post 2010 is a pretty stark reminder of how far things have come.  Thankfully, however, the Club does change out his arms with the more modern 30th Anniversary style short sleeves, which is a change that is very much appreciated, adding some better articulation and range of motion over the old school 25th Anniversary arms.

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What the figure does excel at, however, is the deco.  The cat face shirt pattern looks terrific, and the color matching of the figure is pretty spot on.  He’s a vibrant, interesting looking entry into the FSS, I just wish they hadn’t been quite so faithful to the outdated original with their parts choices.

Accessories

 

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Tiger Force Outback comes with a different sort of webgear that is actually cool, because he can wear it around his shoulders without covering up the awesome cat face.  He has a machine gun, large backpack and knife (again with the 25th Anniversary accessories, though.  It looks woefully out of scale and out of date compared to newer items).

The accessories are pretty good and work well for the character, though don’t provide anything especially revolutionary.

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Ever since his escape from Borovia, Outback has been one of my top tier characters in the Real American Hero mythos.  He’s gotten a surprising amount of love throughout the modern era, but none of them have been quite perfect.  The Tiger Force version improves most with a vastly improved head sculpt and great shirt deco, but the outdated build once again reduces the “wow” factor that the vintage figure provided.

Tiger Force Sneak Peek (Figure Subscription Service)

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Like with Tiger Force Outback, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club looked overseas for an idea on the deco for this particular figure, and I’m really glad they did.  In a way, I’ve always preferred the look of the European Tiger Force exclusives over much of the domestic releases (and really loved the aesthetic of the Toys “R” Us set, which mimiced some of that look) and it’s cool to see those decos represented here, even if they don’t really closely match some of the domestic figures.

I found myself especially excited for Sneak Peek considering his recent (well, somewhat recent) run in the IDW G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic, which had him coming back from the dead as a top secret undercover operative.  Interestingly that storyline tied into a story bringing Darklon back as well, and now both of those characters are appearing in more familiar paint schemes in FSS 5.

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Keeping our minds on Tiger Force Sneak Peek, the build is pretty straight forward, looking like more or less the Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper from neck to foot.  While not unexpected, this kind of default build can get a little tiring after a while, especially when it sidesteps some of Sneak Peek’s more identifiable traits like his rolled up sleeves and knee-high boots.  I know, I know, I consistently complain about dovetailing too closely to the vintage look, but in the case of Sneak Peek, it feels like they ignored some of the unique aspects that make him different, instead just giving us more of the same with the Poc Shock Trooper.  I’m curious to know if their access to tooling libraries is getting more restrictive, as we’re starting to see more and more figures sharing more and more of the same parts.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the Shock Trooper parts, they have great sculpting and impressive articulation, and look suitably military, but I’m hoping they’re not becoming a crutch and restricting creativity, especially when parts do exist.  Sci-Fi’s legs and 50th Anniversary Flint’s arms could both work for a Sneak Peek formula.  Perhaps there were restrictions I’m not aware of, though.

Thankfully they appear to be under no restrictions with the color pallet, though, and do a great job with the orange and blue that’s become a trademark of the European Tiger Force clan.  The look is great from that perspective, and I love the colorful nature of Sneak Peek.  He’s a great looking figure in spite of the somewhat generic build.

Accessories

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Sneak Peek comes pretty well loaded with accessories.  He’s got a removable helmet and Scrap Iron’s vest, along a newly sculpted and tooled periscope which looks pretty fantastic.  He has his trusty M-16, binoculars, and a field radio, all of which mesh nicely with his specialty.  It’s a pretty awesome selection of some great accessories that make the figure really pop.

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As a character, Sneak Peek never did a whole lot for me until Hama inadvertently brought him back from the dead and added some more intriguing twists to the character.  Since then, I’ve become much more of a Sneak Peek fan (even if it was a pseudo retcon on Hama’s part) and I’m glad to see him represented here as well as in the upcoming FSS 5.  Plus, it’s about time we started filling out more of the 1987 roster, which was one of the more unique series in the line’s history.

Although the parts chosen here feel a little bit phoned in, the deco is great and they gave him a ton of awesome gear, so the end result is better than I might have suspected.  A good note to end FSS 4 on.

Last day to order Figure Subscription Service 5!

This is it, Joe fans!  The last day you can order the most recent Figure Subscription Service from the G.I. Joe Collectors Club.  Don’t miss your only chance to add great characters like Raptor, Sneak Peek, Salvo, Scoop, Ambush, and others to your modern era roster!

If you like what you’ve seen with the FSS, don’t wait!  Place your order today, there won’t be another chance.

Order FSS 5 right here!

G.I. Joe Collectors Club reveals potential revised Salvo build!

And it is SO MUCH BETTER.

Taking fan feedback into consideration, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club has put together another possible build for the Salvo to be included in Figure Subscription Service 5!  Using the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Roadblock body and more accurate text for the shirt makes a TON of difference.

The figure looks 100% better.  Huge thanks to the Club for taking our feedback and bringing together something that really does Salvo some justice.  This is great stuff.

Please note – They still need to check on tooling availability, so this is not yet a done deal.  Everyone keep your fingers crossed that all the parts are available.  Check it out at GIJoeClub.com or the image below.

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The full line up (hopefully!)

Also, check out comparison images below:

SO MUCH BETTER.