G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Backstop

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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I suppose it was inevitable.  Once Static Line was released with Sky Patrol last year, many folks suspected it was just a matter of time before Backstop got some modern era love.  Turns out it happened just about exactly one year later.

As this year’s parachute figure, Backstop was a bit tough for fans to get their clutches on, though I have to admit, his connections to Canada were an interesting way to tie him to the story, even if him parachuting didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

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Like Static Line last year, Backstop’s new head sculpt does the figure no favors, with the colors and sculpt bleeding together into a somewhat amorphous, sorta head shaped thing with a helmet that is way too small to realistically fit a head inside.  The figure build is the same as Static Line as well with Pursuit of COBRA Beachhead torso and Resolute Duke legs doing an okay job approximating what the vintage figure looked like back in the day.

The dark green and yellow combination, with the right hints of light gray are all reminiscent of the 1987 figure, and this sort of feels like another example of digging into G.I. Joe obscurity simply because the tooling exists.  I know there are some very dedicated Backstop fans (or at least one of you… ;) ) and for your sake I’m glad this figure made it out in some way, but it does seem to be stretching the limits of necessity.

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In truth, I actually do like the figure’s  build, the combination of armor and tactical uniform is blended really well and he’s got some great articulation, even if the head sculpt doesn’t help things much.  I may talk a little crap about the need for a modern version of this particular character, but the figure itself isn’t a bad one.

Accessories

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Being the parachute figure, Backstop comes with the parachute and webgear/backpack along with a revolver and knuckled knife.  The knife is a nice homage to the sheathed blade that was sculpted onto Backstop’s chest back in the day, and the silver pistol he came with then was pretty slick as well.

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Did we really need an updated Backstop?  I’m going to catch flack from at least one person for saying this, but probably not.  That being said, the figure is good.  I like the build, he moves well, the paint apps work and overall it’s a fun figure, even if I’m not a big fan of the squishy head sculpt.


GeneralsJoes Reviews 2017 Convention Set B.A.T. and B.A.T. Officer

I’ve covered the BattleForce: 2000 parts of the Convention Set review, and now it’s time to take a look at the bad guys!

The COBRA B.A.T.s have been a mainstay at retail ever since their debut in 2008.  They are fantastic figures, no doubt about that, but their prevalence impacts their desirability, and I don’t feel like there’s anything in these versions that warrants the steep Collectors Club price tag.

Check out the reviews below or on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page.

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G.I. Joe Convention 2017 COBRA B.A.T.

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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Instead of “it’s Malibu Stacy with a new hat”…it’s Malibu Stacy with a new head.  It’s nine Malibu Stacies, with ten new heads, and it still doesn’t feel worth the cover price.

Believe me, I don’t want to railroad the point of the repeated uses of the B.A.T., I do wish the Collectors Club hadn’t done it, especially now with only one more opportunity for a convention set before losing the license, but it’s said and done, I suppose I should move on.

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Plus I pretty much said everything I needed or wanted to say with the B.A.T. Squad Leader Review.  I was kind of a dick.

Like the regular B.A.T. releases we’ve received over the years, this figure is good from an aesthetic and functional perspective, with some great accessories, fantastic sculpting and very impressive articulation.  They managed to capture the essence and energy of the original Battle Android Trooper and make all the right improvements to it, offering dual replaceable limbs and maintaining the backpack storage unit (though with only room for two attachments).  Later on in the line they came up with a battle damaged head sculpt and chest plate which added some fantastic variety to the figure, and the chest plate is carried forward here, though not the head, because they’ve evolved to the second generation B.A.T. head for this release.

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I might have appreciated this update a bit more if the Club had taken some steps to make it feel like more of an evolution, rather than just repainting it from the neck down and slapping a v2 head on top.  If you remember, the version 2 of the B.A.T. was pretty structurally different than its predecessor, more streamlined, a more rounded shape, and overall a pretty different look.  Calling this B.A.T. an “upgrade” when it’s basically just a new head feels kinda hollow.

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Even with the limitations on the sculpt, though, they did a good job trying to mirror the v2 paint deco at least.  The black, orange, and hints of florescent  green all call back to the vintage version and work surprisingly well even on this older body.  That being said, though, it’s still exceptionally difficult to view this as a proper version 2 B.A.T.

Accessories

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Like the Squad Leader, this B.A.T. includes a bunch of accessories.  All of the same attachments you’re accustomed to (as well as the newly tooled sword that came with the Inferno B.A.T.) and the busted chest plate.  He’s equipped for just about anything.

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Yes the B.A.T. is a good figure.  No I can’t rationalize including nine of them in this set, or the idea that simply dropping a new head on the existing body is a suitable upgrade.  This one ranks high on my list of Convention Set disappointments, hopefully next year the Club can go out on a high note.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 COBRA B.A.T. Squad Leader

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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I’ve long established that the COBRA B.A.T. was pretty close to the best figure in the 25th Anniversary era.  The combination of sculpted detail, articulation, vintage aesthetics and modern improvements all came together into a single package of perfection that defined what collectors should be looking for in their modern updates to vintage figures.

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I loved it.

Heck, I liked it even after Hasbro re-released it three times.  I liked it a little less the fourth time.  The fifth time, yeah, kind of got a little “been there, done that”.  The sixth time?  Come on now.  Then the Club gave us the Nano B.A.T.  Then the Inferno B.A.T.

Now… in a boxed set that costs over $400, you expect collectors to invest their hard earned, too easily disposed of cash on more B.A.T.s?  Not just more B.A.T.s but essentially TEN MORE B.A.T.s?!  

Yeah, no bueno.

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In fact, the whole ten B.A.T. fiasco is probably the single most reason I did not buy a Convention Set this year (you can thank noted author James Kavanaugh, Jr. for this review!) and to this day the mere idea of paying Collectors Club cash for ten figures that are essentially barely repainted versions of retail figures that were eight dollars a few years back seems pretty ridiculous.

I know, I’m an adult collector, stomping my feet and proclaiming the “unfairness” of it all.  ‘You don’t like it, don’t buy it’.

Well, I didn’t like it.  And I didn’t buy it.  But people still wanted me to review it.  :)

The B.A.T. Squad Leader is your basic Battle Android Trooper with red parts and a version 2 head sculpt (that probably should have been originally produced for the FSS Inferno B.A.T. a short while ago).  The head looks nice and the B.A.T. is a great figure, but at the end of the day, I have around ten B.A.T.s in my collection already, (ten individual B.A.T.s, not even counting army builders) I really am struggling to find a reason to stockpile any more, especially at nearly thirty bones apiece.

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I do like the shade of red here, it contrasts nicely with the black and even the bright green, but ultimately it’s just a slightly darker B.A.T. version 2.  You’d think for collector money that perhaps we could have at least gotten some semblance of an Overkill or something, but no such luck.

Accessories

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The B.A.T. Squad Leader comes with the same accessory layout as every other B.A.T. so far, with the addition of a spring-loaded rocket launcher.  He has two hands, claw, flamethrower and laser attachments, his backpack, the glass covering for his chest panel as well as the shattered glass panel as well.

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Don’t get me wrong, the B.A.T. is and has always been a great figure.  Pretty much everything you could be looking for.  But it gets to a point where enough is enough and expecting to pay for 10 versions of a figure we’ve already gotten 10 times at retail and elsewhere feels more than a little unreasonable.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Knockdown

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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One good thing about this review is that you won’t have to hear me complain endlessly about the quality of the new head sculpt…  because there isn’t a new head sculpt.

Knockdown comes with Kwinn’s noggin underneath a repainted  General Mayhem helmet, which actually approximates the Knockdown look far better than I thought it might.  Not only that, but it actually gives us a removable helmet, which is something we don’t get very often these days from the Club.

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That’s about the only good thing I can say about this particular figure, however.  Knockdown is, unfortunately, kind of a mess otherwise.

The Club chooses an assortment of parts that you would never think would work together, but somehow they do, at least from an aesthetic perspective in attempting to replicate Knockdown’s vintage look.  Unfortunately, even if they look like Knockdown, they don’t provide much in the way of function or fun.  His arms are especially painful, coming from the Pursuit of COBRA Storm Shadow (the crappy one, not any of the good ones) which limits the elbow range of motion and makes the figure a frustration to pose.  Knockdown uses Techno-Viper’s legs, which are a good choice, but the combination of the short arms with the legs makes him look squat.

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Techno-Viper’s vest over his torso replicates the shape and design of the vintage Knockdown as well, but the stickers on the front are a pretty poor substitute for actual textured containers there.  I’d almost prefer they simply left off that deco entirely rather than trying to replicate something three dimensional with decals.  It doesn’t work.

Accessories

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Knockdown comes with the removable helmet, the huge and bizarre vintage pistol and one of the pulse rifles that came during the Rise of COBRA era.  It’s a strange conglomeration of accessories that I suppose accentuates the strangeness of the overall figure as well.

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I wasn’t a big fan of the vintage Knockdown, and I’m not a big fan of this modern interpretation either.  The parts combination is strange, the decals on the torso armor make little sense, and he just leaves me pretty cold altogether.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Maverick

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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One year after the movie Top Gun changed the landscape of fighter jet films, a pilot joined BattleForce: 2000 named “Maverick”.  Coincidence?

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As far as pilot figures go, Maverick didn’t blow my socks off (notice a trend with these BattleForce: 2000 characters yet?).  A strange flight suit with bizarre chest armor and  a flat out weird flight helmet all add up to a bizarre amalgamation that doesn’t really fit the specialty.  Not as detailed or realistic as Slipstream, not quite as unique or interesting as Ace, Maverick just kind of hovered in between and didn’t make much of an impact.

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Heck, he didn’t stick around long enough to make much of an impact.

So what could they do with this current iteration of Maverick to improve on him?  Well, turns out they did a pretty good job.  The figure is tall and slender, much more streamlined than the vintage version, and while this more stylized helmet somewhat resembles Maverick’s, it looks a lot cooler (in my mind).  Bulky arms and legs fill out the flight suit style quite nicely and the modern parts provide decent articulation and sculpting crammed full of excellent  detail.  I actually love Maverick’s build a lot more than I thought I would.  Unlike the vintage figure it looks and feels much more like a flight suit, but with the addition of Matt Trakker’s armor system, still retains that technical look of the original BattleForce: 2000 pilot.

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The updated parts, the updated helmet, and you have a pretty awesome new version of the character which actually makes me wish he wasn’t dead.

Accessories

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Maverick comes with a great helmet (repurposed from Rise of COBRA among other places) a reproduction of his vintage submachine gun and a removable pistol that slides back into a holster on his right hip.  Great accessories, all told, and unlike many of the vintage weapons, I actually don’t mind this one at all.

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Maverick’s a really solid update to the original.  Great flight suit build, cool accessories that compliment it, and a paint scheme that pays homage while still feeling somewhat fresh.  Good job on this one.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Dodger

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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As the lone survivor from BattleForce: 2000’s ill-fated mission to Trucial Abysma, Dodger has gained somewhat mythical status in G.I. Joe lore.  He became an active character in my dio-stories for that reason and when Bench Press comics was poised to reinvigorate the G.I. Joe comic license, Larry Hama’s team featured Dodger front and center.  For that reason, he’s generally the central focal point of most everyone’s BattleForce: 2000 memories, myself included.

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This current iteration of Dodger does a pretty good job of updating him for modern day action.  While not excellent, the new head sculpt does the job it’s meant to do (though without the microphone, grumble, grumble) and looks a lot better than Avalanche and Blocker.  Dodger uses some great modern parts with excellent articulation (I will always love those arms) that retain some of the vintage aesthetic, yet also look nicely modernized.

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Dodger has a great muted paint scheme, evocative of his vintage look with well orchestrated camouflage patterns on his legs and a great combination of gray and green to mimic his vintage look.  I love that they gave him the brown tank top underneath the armor as well, and all told, this is a pretty great modern interpretation of the BattleForce: 2000 field commander.  I still wish they were able to give him his microphone and dangit where are all of my removable helmets?!?

Accessories

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Dodger comes with his familiar crazy two-handled rocket launcher (with spiked knuckles, naturally) as well as a great shotgun.  As far as BattleForce: 2000 weapons go, Dodger’s might be the one I hate the least, and I’m a big fan of the shotgun (and love the fact that they included the shells on his wrist).  Like the other members of the convention set, he doesn’t come with a lot of gear, but what he comes with makes sense.

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The Club did Dodger right.  Well, about as right as we can expect these days with non-removable helmets and no microphones, I suppose.  Those additional details would have put this figure over the top, but as it stands, it’s a pretty decent addition to the ever-growing army of modern era characters.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Blocker

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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Blocker holds the dubious distinction of being my favorite vintage BattleForce: 2000 figure, narrowly eclipsing Dodger.  Dodger is my favorite character, but Blocker was always my favorite figure.

The modern version?  Not so much.

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Don’t get me wrong, Blocker isn’t a bad figure, he’s got some redeeming qualities, but he doesn’t stand above and beyond the crowd.  A lot of that is do to his head sculpt.  Where the vintage Blocker had a great look with a lot of personality, this version has the same soft sculpt issues as Avalanche, but the worst issue is the paint on the face with the cross-eyed, vacant stare.  I’m not sure if this is a persistent problem on all Blockers, but it certainly was with mine.  The hat itself fits nicely and there is a bit more detail on the face (better than Avalanche, not as good as Blaster) so it’s not terrible, but the eyes do take away from the overall look of the figure.

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From a parts perspective, Blocker is great from the waist up.  A good selection of modern parts gives him a slender, well-articulated look, and I always applaud the use of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper vest.  One of my favorite accessories.  Unfortunately, below the waist, the figure suffers from the use of those horrid armored legs from Snake Eyes that look awful and restrict ankle movement.  I have no idea why these legs continue to be used, as I think any benefit to vintage resemblance is completely eliminated by the way they look and move.  I am not a fan of these legs at all.

The Club did a good job with paint applications on the figure, nicely mirroring the dark gray and brown camouflage, and you can immediately tell this is Blocker.  The head is unique, the colors work and overall the figure doesn’t look terrible, he just no longer sits as one of my favorites.

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And of course the other remaining issue is the lack of a visor on his hat which is a real shame.  It seems redundant to continue complaining about these additional face pieces that the Club didn’t include with these new heads, but I’m doing it anyway.  Humor me.

Accessories

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Blocker follows the formula we’ve seen, including a reproduction of his vintage weapon as well as a more modern one, this time being a great shotgun that he holds exceedingly well.  I’m a big fan of this weapon and love its inclusion here (much moreso than his vintage weapon which I’m not a big fan of).

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Blocker is good, but not great, mostly due to his head sculpt, lack of a visor, and use of the lower legs.  There is potential there, but it feels like some potential lost.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Blaster

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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An interesting thing has happened with the release of the BattleForce: 2000 convention set… I’ve been somewhat forced to go back and look at the original figures and I’ve been somewhat surprised about the realization that BattleForce: 2000 as a concept, something that never worked for me with the vintage aesthetic, is a lot more appealing in their modern forms.

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Blaster is a perfect example of this.  While I appreciated what they were going for back in 1987 with the cool futuristic battle helmet, the thick torso armor and padded legs, the figure looked a little off, as did most of the Battleforce: 2000 figures back in the day.  Rather than look bulky and imposing like the majority of the 90’s figures did, they looked mostly chubby and clunky.

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That problem has been mostly resolved with these modern figures, especially in Blaster’s case.  While the majority of the new head sculpts for the convention figures look soft and lack crisp features, Blaster seems to be the best of the bunch.  His helmet looks great and has some cool sculpted detail throughout, and the face actually looks like a real person, not a facsimile of one. The choice of relatively modern parts gives him a streamlined, yet reinforced look and feel, but he has some really great articulation in spite of that.  Unlike the vintage figure, he manages to look futuristic and well equipped without being overstuffed and mal-proportioned.

Interestingly, my favorite part of this figure are his legs.  They use a combination of two different legs for the uppers and lowers, yet they fit together seamlessly and look great, but also look nicely different and don’t immediately resemble already existing parts.  A nice combination.

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Like the vintage figure, Blaster is a nice green shade throughout with some pretty interesting camouflage placement on the chest and legs, with hints of blue trim.  He matches the vintage figure fairly well, but makes improvements in some key areas, which is appreciated.  The removable holster is definitely a cool element as well.

It would have been nice if the figure had come with a removable mask as the vintage version did, those seem to be some key pieces of all of these BattleForce: 2000 figures that were neglected in pretty much every case, which is a shame.  Investing in tooling for a new head, you’d think masks and mouthpieces could be accommodated for as well.  Personally I’d rather have had the masks or microphones over the reproduced vintage guns (since most of them are somewhat ludicrous) but the Club elected to go the other way.

Accessories

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Blaster isn’t loaded with gear.  He comes with his stand, a reproduction of his vintage weapon and a machine gun that I believe was originally released with the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper.  A small selection of weapons, but one that makes sense, and while the Club is releasing the vintage weapons with these figures, I’m glad they’ve also elected to include other weaponry as well that feels a bit more functional and less ornamental.

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Blaster is probably one of my favorite figures in the boxed set.  He’s got good colors, great articulation and a decent parts selection all combining together into a fun figure that is a decent update (and actually even an upgrade) to the original.


G.I. Joe Convention 2017 Avalanche

AvalancheBlasterBlockerDodgerKnockdown
MaverickB.A.T. Squad LeaderCobra B.A.T.BackstopDee Jay
COBRA CorrosionLaser ViperSky Serpent w/ Laser Viper OfficerMarauder SnowmobilesBAT Rocket Packs
Conquest X36Con Set Recap

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Avalanche epitomizes everything that I didn’t really like about BattleForce: 2000 back in the 80’s.  His helmet is strangely shaped and doesn’t make much sense, his uniform attempts to look armored and padded, but just kind of looks fat, and his weapon is a bizarre radar dish on a block of metal that doesn’t manage to look especially futuristic or even very interesting.  Combine that with the fact that I’ve never loved arctic figures to begin with, and I didn’t find a whole lot to love about Avalanche back in the day.

I don’t find a whole lot to love about this one either.

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While I like the use of Retaliation Firefly’s torso and the way they combined armored pieces on the right shoulder, the rest of the figure feels relatively blah.  His slender legs and knee-high metal boots are an interesting contrast and provide some great range of motion, but the use of 25th Anniversary Iron Grenadier Destro arms completely kills any sense of decent articulation with this figure.  Elbows that only bend at a 45 degree angle should really be banned from all future use, no matter how accurate they might look to the source material.  Aesthetically they are intriguing, but functionally they disappoint, preventing the figure from carrying any weapon in a realistic way.

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Like several of the other BattleForce team members, Avalanche gets a new head sculpt, but I gotta tell you, it’s not real pretty.  The head bleeds into the helmet and ends up looking pretty uncomfortable for poor Avalanche.  Sculpt wise, the face is smooth and flat and unfeatured and just does not do the figure any justice whatsoever.

Using the vintage figure as a template, Avalance is mostly white with assorted brown camouflage and the paint scheme is fine, though again, nothing too special.

Accessories

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Like the other BattleForce members, Avalanche comes with a reproduction of his vintage weapon as well as a modern weapon as well, and I actually really love the sniper rifle he comes with.  It’s a great choice.  The radar dish weapon, not so much.  Also, it would have been great if his microphone could have been sculpted and tooled alongside the helmet, but the Club elected not to do so, apparently.  Avalanche also comes with a removable knife for a sheath on his left thigh.

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Avalanche was never my favorite BattleForce: 2000 figure and he remains my not favorite one today.  The head sculpt is soft and not up to spec for what I expect from a modern G.I. Joe figure.  Not the best foot forward here.