G.I. Joe 2016 Stiletto

gijoe-2016-stiletto-01 gijoe-2016-stiletto-02

Okay, I admit straight up.  This is going to be a tough review to write.  I was desperately hoping that Whisper might end up winning the fan vote, and I fully admit I was pretty upset that she didn’t get the nod.

That’s not meant to be any slight against the other three excellent candidates, but I’d be lying if I said this review wasn’t being written through at least some gritted teeth.  As it stands, the Stiletto figure came out pretty good, and manages to capture the elements of Bill Nedrow’s character relatively nicely.

gijoe-2016-stiletto-05

The new head sculpt is decent, but would have benefited from better paint apps, especially on the scar and potentially missing left pupil.  The figure build is essentially Rise of COBRA Agent Helix with Lady Jaye arms, and as much as I love the parts for that figure (I consider her one of the highlights of the excellent Rise of COBRA toy era) the color placement on Stiletto is odd to say the least.  Purple and black on the torso with oddly green colored pants and a blue scarf makes for an eclectic and eye-opening array of colors that seem almost arbitrarily chosen.

gijoe-2016-stiletto-20

While I fully admit to being somewhat disgruntled at Whisper’s shunting to relative obscurity, I’m generally a fan of new characters, and Stiletto works in that regard, although her filecard is in pretty direct contrast to the actual character in the fiction.  That leads to some challenges, as she is clearly a COBRA agent in the books, but is written as purely a G.I. Joe member according to the filecard.  It’s an interesting dichotomy which will make for some intriguing storytelling opportunities.

ACCESSORIES

gijoe-2016-stiletto-acc

As an expert in edged weapons, Stiletto comes with two swords and knives aplenty, as one might expect.  She also has a submachine gun and a Drugonov sniper rifle.  I’d argue out of the 2 packs she is the best equipped figure and has the most sensible assortment of weapons out of the whole crew.

gijoe-2016-stiletto-04

Stiletto is an intriguing new character and I’m happy for Bill that she managed to get included in the 2016 assortment, and I’m still totally not holding a grudge about Whisper.  All that being said, this figure is a decent build with some strange color choices and a nice assortment of useful accessories.

YouTube Video Review

G.I. Joe 2016 Heavy Duty

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-01 gijoe-2016-heavyduty-02

After the run that Heavy Duty had in the early 2000’s, it’s tough to picture a time when fans might actually be looking forward to a new version of this 90’s character.  Essentially a Roadblock replacement when the trademarks were lost during the new sculpt era (and into Sigma 6), Heavy Duty was often the target of derision from collectors who much preferred the more popular Roadblock.

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-05

Now here we stand in 2016 after getting a healthy helping of Roadblock from G.I. Joe: Retaliation and now people seem happy and satisfied with a new Heavy Duty.  In truth, there’s a lot to be satisfied by.

Heavy Duty here is by and large the Retaliation Roadblock from the neck down, with what looks to be a new head sculpt.  The result is a large, imposing looking figure as the classic was meant to be, though this version’s baseball cap is replaced by a bandana.  His shirt is off-white, like the vintage version was, and the green pants offset it nicely.  I will say without some kind of vest or web gear the figure looks a little plain, but still is pretty cool. Once you put the Resolute Roadblock web gear on him, it’s a huge improvement and the figure all told is surprisingly effective. Certainly it’s basically a Roadblock repaint, but this particular Roadblock is a fantastic figure with great sculpting and impressive articulation, so it’s pretty tough to complain about that formula.

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-17

Heavy Duty is a nice compliment to other figures in this first 2 pack assortment, and I think Hasbro did a decent job with it.

ACCESSORIES

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-acc

Heavy Duty is littered with accessories to the point where he seems to have more weapons than he has places to store them.  This seems to be an ongoing issue with these modern figures as Hasbro kind of treats them like “accessory packs” simply dumping a pile of gear in there that aren’t necessarily meaningful.  Heavy Duty comes with two separate oversized machine guns along with the M249, pistol, and knife.  He also has the great Resolute Roadblock vest, too.

gijoe-2016-heavyduty-04

In spite of the prevalence of Heavy Duty back in the early 2000’s, I was excited to hear about his inclusion here, and the end result is really nice.  It’s got some vintage twists, but some new elements, and the figure is surprisingly one of the highlights of this year’s series.

YouTube Video Review

GeneralsJoes Reviews 2016 Duke vs. Tombstone!

I’ve had the video reviews up for a while, but finally I’ve had some extra time to assemble the written reviews as well!

Hop on over to my G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary Review Page to check out the latest reviews for Duke and Tombstone.  You can also click the links below to go straight to the reviews.  Enjoy!

More to come…

gijoe-2016-tombstone-13

G.I. Joe 2016 Duke

gijoe-2016-duke-01 gijoe-2016-duke-02

I could spend hours extolling the virtues of Duke as a character, but let’s face it, after over 50 different versions of the character, almost everything that could possibly be said about Duke has been said.  While there isn’t a whole lot of new ground to cover when it comes to Duke the character, it’s interesting to look at this particular Duke action figure.

After the original 50th Anniversary run, there were rumblings among the fandom asking why we couldn’t get an updated version of Duke similar to Flint that we got in 2014.  It was something that many folks asked for, in spite of the numerous versions of the character we’d already seen, because interestingly, Hasbro has never really done a modern update (past the questionable 25th Anniversary versions) that tied directly back to the vintage look.

gijoe-2016-duke-07

Well, in 2016 Hasbro does a little bit of both, but I’m not certain the figure is better off for it.

While they certainly mirror the vintage look of the figure from a color perspective, Hasbro elects to modernize the figure with a bulkier, almost arctic looking uniform (using components from the Data Viper).  The range of motion and articulation is really great, though the choice of different parts than, say the 2014 Flint does raise some eyebrows.  Duke’s legs are from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper, though thankfully seems to have deeper foot holes that fit in the pegs better than some other figures that have shared these parts.

From a color scheme perspective, Duke obviously pulls homage from the 1983 version, but is cast in a strangely bright hue, his shirt looking much more vibrant (and thus a little less realistic) and his pants a deeper, richer green.

gijoe-2016-duke-12

All in all, Duke definitely has the look of the character, though the colors don’t quite jive with a more realistic looking version of the figure.  The sculpting and articulation are both really good, thanks to more modern figure components, but they look like a more arctic version of the figure.  Also, for whatever its worth, once you take off Duke’s vest, his torso is from Rise of COBRA Breaker and looks really skinny next to the baggy cloth of the arms.

ACCESSORIES

gijoe-2016-duke-acc

Duke comes with a wide array of cool weapons, though none of them especially stand point.  He’s got a familiar machine gun and pistol, the green Shock Trooper tactical vest, smaller M249 heavy machine gun.  He also has a green backpack.  Pretty traditional looking weapons assortment that works fine, though isn’t especially remarkable.

gijoe-2016-duke-04

Duke is one of the timeless characters of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero lore. Rather than go full bore vintage, Hasbro uses some vintage homages with some new twists, which generally I’m a fan of, though in this case it doesn’t work especially well.  It’s a decent looking figure, but doesn’t bring a whole lot of new elements to the table, which feels necessary for yet another version of this character.  Either go full vintage or go full on new, this walking the line in between isn’t especially effective.

YouTube Video Review

G.I. Joe 2016 Tombstone

gijoe-2016-tombstone-01 gijoe-2016-tombstone-02

Interestingly, in stark contrast to the other figure in this two-pack, rather than a long time established character with over 50 separate iterations, Tombstone is a brand spanking new character, something very much appreciated by this long time fan.

But is this being a new character enough to wow a discriminating collector?

gijoe-2016-tombstone-03

Along with being a new character, Tombstone also has a great new head sculpt full of character.  He’s a former COBRA trooper who has been through the wringer, and that’s immediately evident with one look at his face.  The sculpt is good to boot.  Looking at the figure build, it’s a decent one, with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Snake Eyes arms, which I’m always a fan of and the Pursuit of COBRA Firefly legs.  The result is a pretty skinny, but flexible figure, a character that looks especially lanky buried underneath the long and heavily armored tactical vest from Firefly.

Obviously the shining point of the figure is with the new head, and the new head is pretty great and pretty gnarly with a nasty scar over his right eye making the character look like he’s seen some stuff.  It’s a really neat “battle worn” look for sure.  One thing Hasbro does a good job with in looking at the part selection is the range of motion is great.  Long limbs and non-restrictive joints means the figure can achieve all sorts of great firing positions, which is a nice effect of the way the figure was built.

gijoe-2016-tombstone-14

There’s a healthy run of purple and black throughout the figure, which leaves it nicely dark, but with some interesting colors, though I’m really not sure what’s up with the stark white shoulder armor.  It’s not an especially realistic color and it stands out in distinct contrast to the rest of the dark figure.  It’s not a bad look, just a bit on the odd side.

The backstory for Tombstone is certainly interesting, as a psychological operations guy who is now essentially the field commander for the COBRA Viper corps.  It gives him some intriguing twists and lends some credence to his strange accessory compliment.  The figure itself aesthetically looks decent, but doesn’t quite come together in all areas with some off color combinations and very lanky parts selection.  That being said, he’s a figure that even with existing parts manages to stand out from the crowd, which is a good thing.

ACCESSORIES

gijoe-2016-tombstone-acc

I’m not really sure what to make of Tombstone’s accessories other than to assume, they were more or less randomly chosen without a clear indication of purpose.  He’s got a great assault rifle, but then comes with the old school gas grenade launcher alongside futuristic laser weapons.  It’s possible these are meant to be some kind of state of the art pyschosis weapons to go along with his psychological warfare specialty, but that’s not clearly stated anywhere.  The weapons are fine, they’re just kind of there.

gijoe-2016-tombstone-05

I’m always a fan of new characters and great new head sculpts and Tombstone has both of these, which gives him a major edge in my book.  Some of the construction choices leave me scratching my head a bit and the color combinations are interesting.  The newness of the character and head, however, overcome some of those design choices and leave me with a sense of satisfaction with the figure.

YouTube Video Review

New G.I. Joe 2016 line pre-orders available at Big Bad Toy Store

If you don’t have a local Toys “R” Us, or are just tired of the hunt, good news!  Big Bad Toy Store has posted pre-orders for the 2016 G.I. Joe 2-Packs and 3-Packs online!

Check out the BBTS G.I. Joe section right here!

bbts-gijoe-2016

GeneralsJoes Reviews 50th Anniversary Sneak Attack 3-Pack

I actually posted these reviews a while ago, but stupid me forgot to announce the reviews out on the main page.

Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page or the direct links below:

50th-anniversary-dusty (3)

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Firefly

50th-anniversary-firefly (1)50th-anniversary-firefly (27)

I believe I may have specifically stated in my G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Firefly review that Hasbro could never produce another Firefly and I’d be happy.  While that might hold true, I can’t argue with the greatness of this Firefly update, and I’m glad that Hasbro elected to ignore my previous statement in that other review.

Granted, this figure pretty much is Ultimate Firefly with some minor additions, but those minor additions make a huge difference and make for a figure that is really cool, even though it’s 95% repaint.

50th-anniversary-firefly (23)

First of all, it helps that the figure they repainted was an excellent one.  Ultimate Firefly is widely regarded as one of the nicest figures Hasbro has produced, from the excellent sculpting and great articulation throughout.  Somehow Hasbro took the existing figure (which was already terrific) and made some minor additions to it that took it even further.

Great elbow articulation and added wrist motion are both awesome pieces of the existing Firefly mold, which allow him to hold weapons really nicely and achieve some impressive poses.  The sculpting in the figure is stellar, with the layered commando turtleneck and shirt, all pretty basic looks, but done so well on these figures.  The legs are where this Firefly seems a bit more evolved, however.  Rather than the Lifeline parts, we have what appears to be a new holster and knife sheath on the right leg and new pouches on the left. These small changes make a big difference, and I really like what they add to the figure.

50th-anniversary-firefly (12)

Looking at the paint scheme, it seems like Hasbro was almost trying to emulate the o-ring Firefly from 2005 without the red, which is essentially just his familiar camouflage pattern in reverse.  If I had any complaints about the Ultimate Firefly it would have been that his camouflage was too light, and the figure looks more gray than camouflage.  That’s not an issue here, where the camo is much more clearly defined by color, and it’s a really nice urban look.  He looks darker and more deeply camouflage, which is cool, even if he doesn’t directly match his original ’84 rendition.

50th-anniversary-firefly (16)

I have seen some images where Firefly’s lower limbs look dramatically different colors than his upper limbs, but I have to say the difference isn’t that striking in person.  I wouldn’t have even noticed it if others hadn’t pointed it out.  There is a bit of sloppiness to the camouflage paint, missing some of the crispness of some lines and making the camouflage pattern look somewhat imperfect.  Not a huge deal, but something worth mentioning.  Also, my figure has a significant paint flaw near the eye holes of the mask which shows a big blotch of flesh colored paint.  Another paint related QC issue that bears mentioning.  By and large, this second iteration of 50th Anniversary figures has considerably better QC than last year’s did, but there have been some rampaint paint issues that do bear mentioning.

Accessories

50th-anniversary-firefly (26)

Hasbro didn’t just stop with some additions on the figure itself, though, they added some terrific new accessories, too.  Firefly comes with what appears to be a brand new silenced sub machine gun and saboteur themed backpack (with a great knife sheath on it).  He’s got his familiar webgear, with the bombs glued on as they were with the Collectors Club Wreckage figure.  The backpack is really nicely detailed with intricate paint apps on the newly sculpted piece of equipment.  He also comes with the two knives for the sheaths, the same two mines that the Pursuit of Cobra version came with (one of which fits on the backpack).   There’s a pistol for his new holster on the right leg, too, the same pistol that’s come with many different figures at this point.

50th-anniversary-firefly (25)

I didn’t think it could get much better than Ultimate Firefly, and in truth, since this figure is just sort of an evolution of that one, it still hasn’t.  But as someone who isn’t so connected to the aesthetics of vintage characters, this new paint scheme is a nice look for the character, even if just a reversal of his original colors.  Even with a bit of sloppiness on the camouflage blobs and facemask, the figure looks good, and I really love the new additions.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Dusty

50th-anniversary-dusty (1)50th-anniversary-dusty (21)

First and foremost, I have to admit that it’s not often that I see a desert trooper decked out in blue and white camouflage.

That being said, that is really my only complaint about this figure, I find myself strangely loving almost every other single part of it.  It certainly helps that the base figure is one of my favorite G.I. Joe action figures of all time, the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Duke.  I’ve loved that figure since the first time I ever set fingers on it, and this version of Dusty mimics it in all the best ways, and in fact, some might say improves on it with updated arms that include expanded wrist articulation, while maintaining the same range of motion.

50th-anniversary-dusty (17)

For some reason I just love that combination of reactive armor and baggier jungle ops combat pants, and it helps that the articulation of the figure is spectacular.  Elbows and knees both have great range of motion, and simply by adding Dusty’s head on there, you can establish a whole new character.  No, it doesn’t make much sense to have Dusty in blue and white, but I’ve been pretty vocal in the past that I’m not huge on narrow-fit environmental operatives, so having a great character like Dusty available in color schemes beyond the traditional brown and tan of desert operations is totally cool with me.

Hasbro continues to do great with the “battle worn” Reactive Armor, showing streaks and worn metal throughout the torso in a pretty effective manor.  Dusty’s dark blue mixed with white/light blue camouflage does look a little strange and doesn’t fit much preconceived notions for me, but I find myself more than willing to overlook it because the figure is so good.

50th-anniversary-dusty (4)

I will say from a structure/plastic quality perspective, the right knee of my figure is exceptionally loose, which is a bummer.  I’m looking into buying a second, though, because I love the figure that much.  I have no idea if the loose knee is unique to mine, or if it’s a common theme.  Also, my Dusty had a nasty smudge of paint on his face, which I was able to scrape off, but it still didn’t look real good.

50th-anniversary-dusty (22)

Beyond those issues (which may be widespread QC related, or may just be specific to this particular figure) I love this figure a lot more than I ever envisioned.  Whether he’s fully equipped or just partially equipped, he is truly fantastic and a lot of fun to play with…errr… I mean display.

Accessories

50th-anniversary-dusty (20)

Really, really great accessories here, too.  He’s got the helmet/goggles and collar with cape from his Pursuit of Cobra version, which layer on some great detail and character work to a desert operative who may find himself exposed in the wilderness for a long period of time.  He also comes with the two machine guns from the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper, one of my favorite figures in recent memory, though I wish the weapons weren’t blue.  He can hold them fairly well, but not perfectly, especially the sniper rifle.

Dusty also comes with the great webgear from the PoC Duke figure, along with the pistol and machete.

50th-anniversary-dusty (19)

This figure is great.  Upon first glance I had no idea why they had chosen the paint scheme they did (and truthfully, I still don’t) but I can’t get over how much I love the figure formula underneath.  Sure, much of that credit should be given to previous sculptors and designers, but the choice to carry it forward was really good, and I’m surprised at how nicely it meshes with the PoC Dusty gear as well.  The result is a really great figure version of a good character that I’m happy to have in a non-desert specific paint scheme.

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Bazooka

50th-anniversary-bazooka (1)50th-anniversary-bazooka (22)

One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the way some folks have approached G.I. Joe is that everyone seems so hung up on re-doing vintage figures they don’t leave room for new concepts.  Hasbro, in my opinion, has been doing a good job, especially with this recent rendition of their 50th Anniversary line, to explore new ideas as well as revisiting some classic looks.

We got great versions of Gung Ho and Storm Shadow, but also a brand new character in Sightline, and a whole new team in the Wolf Squad.  It’s enough to satisfy two different camps.  With this “Sneak Attack” 3-Pack there are some new concepts brought to the table, though I’m not sure how successful they all are.

50th-anniversary-bazooka (8)

Hasbro elected to put together a different parts formula for Bazooka rather than rely on his 25th Anniversary version, and from a sculpting perspective, I’m glad they did, though using the Retaliation Roadblock parts makes the character a lot larger and more muscular than he might otherwise be perceived to be.  The larger base figure also makes the head look pretty small sitting on top of those tall, broad shoulders.

Bazooka uses the torso and arms from Ultimate/Battle Kata Roadblock, but uses the legs from the Wave 1 Roadblock, which unfortunately has reduced knee articulation.  Of course, the original Bazooka did as well.  One nice thing about the use of the Roadblock Torso is that the split-torso joint is far enough down on the body so the entire “14” from his football jersey sits above it, which means no unsightly split in the middle of the numbers.  I like that aspect a lot.

50th-anniversary-bazooka (4)

What has me scratching my head, just a bit, is the paint scheme.  Designers went outside the box a little bit with the paint apps here, going with a darker blue and very light blue camouflage scheme for reasons unknown.  Now, G.I. Joe in the past has certainly been known to use strange camouflage colors and patterns, so I don’t have any major issues with those decisions necessarily, but I do wish some reason had been used for it.  Bazooka’s super light (almost white) blue jersey with powder blue numbers doesn’t really resemble anything specifically (though at JoeCon, Mark Weber mentioned, tongue firmly in cheek, that perhaps this was Bazooka’s “away jersey”).  The colors here are somewhat bright, though not obnoxiously so, I just wish some reason was given for the eclectic choices.  His pants are blue and white camouflage, which might work for a water based operative or parajumper (in fact on one of my early customs, I used a blue and white “Cloud” type camouflage for a parajumper) but Bazooka is really neither.

50th-anniversary-bazooka (12)

Again, though, this certainly wouldn’t be the first time a G.I. Joe figure was given a bright, odd color scheme, and it hasn’t bothered me terribly in the past.  I think the reason it gives me more pause now is that G.I. Joe in recent years has tried hard to make itself more grounded, and this feels like a departure from that, but not necessarily an unwelcome one.  Heck, I’m just glad to see a figure that isn’t meticulously tied back to how the figure looked 30 years ago.

Accessories

50th-anniversary-bazooka (21)

Bazooka comes with lots of his familiar gear, including his excellent backpack with four removable bazooka rounds, plus the bazooka that the rounds can actually fit into.  He has his trusty helmet with chin strap, and in case he fires all four rounds, he has a nice tactical shotgun as his backup weapon.  Not a ton of gear, but enough and it all works well for the character.

50th-anniversary-bazooka (20)

Bazooka’s portrayal in the Sunbow animated series had always soured me on the character, but I’ve learned to appreciate what the cartoon writers were doing with all of these over-the-top characterizations of some of these guys.  He’ll never be a character that is central to my G.I. Joe mythology, and this update doesn’t blow me away.  I think it makes sense to get Bazooka out there in the same year as characters like Shipwreck, Alpine, Dusty, Gung Ho, and Spirit and it’s quite interesting to stand back and look at this collected group of vintage favorites and see how things have changed.