G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Iron Grenadier Mantis

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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With the sources of vehicles getting lower and lower, one has to wonder just where the Club will continue to get material to generate their exclusives on an annual basis. While I don’t know precisely what tooling is still available, it seems to me that things have got to be running somewhat low, especially from a vintage variety. If that’s the case, I think the Club should consider looking towards some more modern vehicles, and the Mantis is a great subject.

Granted, the Club used the Mantis tooling just a couple years ago for the Sea Adventurer’s vehicle, and I loved it then, too. One of the highlights of the new sculpt era, the Mantis is small, sleek, but very fun, with folding wings, rotating engines, and a cool, unique appearance. Unlike many other of the new sculpt era vehicles, it feels like something that could have existed in the good old days, and has many nuanced characteristics to add to its fun. The contoured canopy is a small touch that adds some coolness.

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Utilizing it as an Iron Grenadiers vehicle is actually an unexpected stroke of brilliance. The black, red, and gold suits the vehicle perfectly, and it almost desembles Destro’s Despoiler upon quick glance. I can totally see this thing as either General Mayhem’s personal aircraft or as a squad craft for an Iron Anvil Officer, who might pop the canopy and leap from it. Heck, it’s water based, too, so maybe it even belongs to the Undertow Officer. It’s really versatile and really fun, and as the free attendee vehicle, I think the Club made a remarkably great choice.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Skystriker

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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I remember actually really loving Skystriker as a kid, mostly because he was actually a new character, unlike the bulk of the Tiger Force crew. Back in the day I was a completist, and I already had all those characters, so felt no drive nor desire to buy them all over again, not to mention I was very attached to how my characters appeared in media, and Tiger Force didn’t appear anywhere, so these new looks were somewhat meaningless.

However, among all that, a new character emerged…a jet pilot who was completely unique to Tiger Force in general. So I did have some attachment to him as a kid.

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This new Skystriker hits some of those same buttons. Like the original, this version of the Tiger Force pilot reuses many parts from Wild Weasel (though some originally belonged to Snow Job) including the torso and upper legs, with the maps on the thighs immaculately reproduced.

However, the arms are now Data Viper arms, as well as the legs, and I think the figure is far better for it. The somewhat bulkier, more flexible limbs help bring what could have been a dated figure to the modern age.

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But all is not perfect with Skystriker. His head could certainly use some work, but that may have been beyond the Club’s control. In talking with Dave Lane, he mentioned testing out a few alternate heads for Skystriker, but at the end of the day, the helmeted Slipstream/Ace head was a known commodity and one they felt comfortable running with. I can understand that, and swapping a head isn’t a really major issue on our end.

The colors are great here, following the color scheme and design elements of the vintage version as well as the rest of the Convention set. Tagging Skystriker as the Tiger Hawk pilot is a neat idea, and he’s presented pretty well here.

Accessories

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Skystriker doesn’t come with much, just a machine gun and pistol, but really, he doesn’t have to. Ultimately he’s a pilot and his real accessory is the Tiger Hawk, so no complaints from me there.

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Skystriker is a nice addition to the Tiger Force clan, and I’m glad the Club got him worked into this Convention assortment. He has a clear purpose, a decent build, and a nice color scheme. I would have preferred a new head, but that’s something I can take care of myself fairly easily.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Frostbite

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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I gotta admit, this took me by surprise a bit. Rarely do we get an attendee convention figure with new parts. Generally the Club reserves those new parts for the actual boxed set, and the bonus exclusives are pretty much all repaints.

Not so with Frostbite.

Tiger Force Frostbite comes with a new head and new fur “collar” of sorts, both items never seen before in the modern line. This begs the question…did the Club get these new parts made up just for this three pack, or is this a hint that a vintage Frostbite is soon to come? We still don’t know what the 13th FSS 3 figure is…

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All that aside, looking at this figure on its own merits, Frostbite is pretty fantastic. He utilizes a mixture of recent parts, providing a wealth of nice sculpted detail combined with great range of motion. His upper legs look a bit older, from the 25th Anniversary, but they take nothing away from the overall aesthetic of the figure. It’s amazing how easily a figure comprised of relatively common parts can be totally transformed merely with a new head and new secondary, but Frostbite is.

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The two small new parts make a world of difference, but it also goes to show how critical a good build underneath is as well. As awesome as the new parts are, but integrating them with a later generation build, the figure is just elevated all the more, becoming one of the highlights of this year’s Convention set by a wide margin. His articulation is fantastic, the design on the new parts are all great, and I love the twin pistol holsters with removable weapons, too.

Frostbite is a the real deal.

Accessories

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Like many of the other guns in the set, Frostbite comes with green weapons, and pretty awesome green weapons at that. His compact sniper rifle is great (it originally came with 25th Anniversary Zartan, I believe) and the two pistols that slide nicely into twin holsters are great touches as well. He also comes with removable goggles that can be eased over the fur hat to look even more vintage accurate. It’s a nice group of accessories that compliment the figure perfectly.

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Every minute I fool around with Frostbite, I learn to love the figure even more. Back in the day my favorite part about Frostbite was his rifle, but I didn’t particularly care for the character himself. The fantastic work done on building out this updated version has infused him with a ton more character and play value, and he has risen sharply on my list of favorites. Great job by the Collectors Club, and fantastic work by Boss Fight Studio on the sculpting and build for this figure. Here’s hoping we see a vintage version somewhere down the line soon.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Alpine

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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I’ll admit I didn’t see this one coming. The Club had some opportunities to think outside the box when it comes to representing their form of Tiger Force, and for the most part, they followed an established formula. Essentially they reproduced modern versions of vintage designs, or took some more current existing designs and melded them into the vintage Tiger Force aesthetic.

For Alpine they seemed to kind of go another way. Yes, I realize that there was a Tiger Force Alpine in the new sculpt era, but it was so drastically different than the typical Tiger Force deco that it’s tough to count it. For that reason, this figure feels like a big departure, and also feels like a repeat, since we just received our most recent FSS shipment a couple of short weeks ago.

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Alpine is the exact same figure as the one we received in the FSS, but the Club went Tiger Force with him, integrating him with the rest of their offerings in a yellow and black stripe designation. His shorts are still somewhat red, and he really does not match the other Tiger Force version in anyway. However, it is a nice looking figure, and I appreciate the fact that they worked him in here alongside Bazooka.

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It’s tough to complain about the figure, too, much, since it’s built upon the solid and fun Kwinn build. Unlike others, I don’t have an issue with him wearing shorts, and he wears the matching deco pretty well.

Accessories

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Alpine comes with many of the same accessories as the FSS version, with his machine gun and submachine gun, as well as the ropes to swing over his chest.

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This was an unexpected figure, but not a bad one. His place on the helicopter crew makes sense, and while he doesn’t fit the same mold as Frostbite and Skystriker, he looks as if he belongs. I just wish it wasn’t a figure that I just received a few short weeks ago.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Iron Anvil Officer (Parachute Figure)

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WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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What can I say about the officer than I didn’t already say about the Iron Anvil itself? I may be one of the biggest Iron Anvil fans on the planet, and I thought the update done for the Convention set was pretty much perfect.

Considering the officer is the same structural formula with only some minor changes (gold shoulder pads and shin armor) I can’t find much to complain about here either.

The build for this figure is just terrific. Every once in a while you get a G.I. Joe figure that just feels right in your hand. He poses right, he balances right, and he just looks awesome. It actually happens less often than you might think.

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Iron Anvil and Iron Anvil Officer fill both of those roles for me. The parts selection fits together seamlessly to provide the foundation for an armored, but flexible paratrooper for Destro, with a terrific paint scheme and great accessories. Both the regular Anvil and the Officer are fantastic.

Accessories

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Beyond the minor paint adjustments, this is obviously where the figures really differ. While the regular Anvil comes with an Alley-Viper vest and Para-Viper harness, the Officer comes with a red repaint of the Retaliation Cobra Trooper parachute pack, which looks pretty fantastic, I might add. He also comes with the same submachine gun and knife, as well as the familiar blue Retaliation parachute.

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Like his normal trooper counterpart, the Iron Anvil Officer is a great looking, fun figure, with a few color adjustments and cool accessory additions. As a Parachute figure this year, it was tough to get, with only a single figure being allowed per attendee, but the nice thing about that is he is so similar to the trooper, it doesn’t feel like a dramatic loss. That being said, I’m happy I have him, and will proudly place him at the head of my Iron Anvil squad.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Annihilator

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WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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As one of my favorite late 80s Army Builders, I once was highly anticipating a modern version of the Iron Grenadier Elite Guard, but in all honesty, the variation we got a few years ago left me just a little bit cold. I wasn’t a big fan of the build, using mostly dated 25th Anniversary parts, and a somewhat strange metallic color scheme.

A few years later, I feel very similar.

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Granted this new Annihilator has a pretty cool new shade of red and black rather than the purple and orange of previous versions, but the basic figure build is the exact same as it was with the Oktober Guard set, which does the figure no favors. It’s a somewhat skinny, outdated clutch of parts that doesn’t really protray the muscular bodysuit of the originals, though to be fair, I’m not sure the Annihilator was ever a popular enough troop builder to warrant its own new tooling.

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The head is from Lamprey, with the body mostly from Strato-Viper (which was in turn cobbled together from other 25th Anniversary figures) and while it does help kind of blend this character in with the Strato-Viper, compared to figures using next generation parts, Annihilator suffers somewhat.

Accessories

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Annihilator comes with the Strato-Viper vest, somewhat more ceremonial throwback than his plain uniform, his helicopter backpack, and submachine gun, all carried forward from the 2012 Convention Set.

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The change in color scheme to red and black is the only noticable change (though one can’t help but also notice that we now only get two figures for the same price as three were only three years ago). Don’t get me wrong, I like this color scheme a lot more than the strange bronze/purple from 2012, but at the end of the day, we only get so many new toys in a given year, I just hate to see the same stuff again.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Iron Anvil

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Up to this point, the original Iron Anvil from 2005 has remained probably my favorite Convention figure to date. It hit that perfect sweet spot of a great 90’s figure that desperately needed a new paint job, and perfectly executing that new paint job. Sure, in a perfect world, it would have remained with Cobra and been painted blue and red rather than black, gray, and red, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the end result was still pretty spectacular.

So obviously it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I awaited these new Iron Anvils… I’m happy to say at the end of the day, I’m quite pleased with the update.

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Boss Fight Studio brought their incredible skills to the table for the new head sculpt for Iron Anvil, and you can really tell. Along with the great head sculpt, the figure itself uses Retaliation Snake Eyes arms on a Shock Trooper body, with Pursuit of Cobra Firefly legs, a terrific combination of pieces, managing to blend sleek with strong, and the figure stands as one of the best in this 2015 Convention Set. I really love the Shock Trooper torso for pretty much everything, and the Ninja Duel Snake Eyes arms have fantastic articulation and detailing. Leveraging the color scheme from the original Iron Anvil allowed for a great looking update here, going with mostly black and red, and just the right hints of gray and gold for trim. This version of the Iron Anvil is modern, but more than that, the color breaks are done just right and he comes across as a significantly effective modernization.

Accessories

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The Pursuit of Cobra Alley-Viper vest provides the row of pouches that was unique to the ’94 Viper (and thus the Iron Anvil) and manages to be extremely successful doing so. Anvil also comes with the slim parachute pack, Annihilator submachine gun, and a great jagged knife, reminiscent of the Battle Corps original. The leg harness from a Para Viper polishes off the accessory compliment quite nicely.

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As an Iron Grenadier Paratrooper, the Iron Anvil works really well with these various accessories (not to mention the Iron Anvil Officer as the parachute figure), but even without the parachute equipment, he is really well developed as a modern special ops looking trooper, too.

All of the right pieces came together in 2005 to produce one of the finest G.I. Joe sets ever made, in my opinion. So many great elements, of which the Iron Anvil was only one small piece. I don’t feel as strongly about this set of course, but the Iron Anvil figure is a beautiful modern era action figure, and one I’m extremely excited to own. Great stuff.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 General Mayhem

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Just seeing this figure brings me back ten years… it seems like things were so much simpler back then. Not nearly as much convoluted history…no fierce dichotomy between o-ring purists and the modern era fans. Sure, there was a growing divide between “new sculpt” and “vintage” but by and large, anyone who loved the new sculpt also loved the vintage, and Conventions were a time to celebrate the legacy of the o-ring and see what cool stuff the Club could do with it.

It didn’t get much cooler than 2005.

One of my favorite army builders of all time as the ’94 Viper, and getting that figure in good colors was enough to sell me right there. Combine that with an awesome new Iron Grenadier using Night Viper parts… not to mention Mega Marines Gung Ho in better colors, PLUS a real live member of the Oktober Guard? Good stuff.

The Steel Brigade concept felt relatively fresh, with a new look at the idea as an International peace keeping force, and they introduced a new character by the name of General Mayhem. What a great set.

Flash forward ten years later and General Mayhem no longer feels quite so new, but his figure is still really nice.

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Like Metalhead, we have Boss Fight Studio to thank for the great new head sculpt here, with gorgeously sculpted mutton chops, certainly designed with love by one of the bearded wonders at BFS. A close look at the head reveals a ton of great little detail work, and I’m surprised that they were able to take a cobbled together Gnawgahyde and transform it into this work of art. The torso belongs to SDCC Destro/Joe Colton, with arms from Ultimate Cobra Commander and legs from Rise of Cobra Destro. It’s an strange combination of parts that gives us a really great looking update to the Russian Iron Grenadier field commander.

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Like most other figures in this set, the deco is black, red, gray, and a hint of gold, tributes to the Iron Grenadier faction. It’s not amazingly new or interesting, but exceptionally well executed.

Accessories

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The most critical point of discussion with the accessories is obviously the new vest. Boss Fight Studio designed and sculpted this new secondary along with the head, and all of a sudden provided a wealth of opportunity to the Collectors Club and customizers. A good basic dress uniform secondary had not really been available until now, and thanks to this one small addition, there are numerous possibilities down the road.

Along with this, General Mayhem comes with Retaliation Lift Ticket’s flight helmet, which works remarkably well as a replacement for the Long Range helmet from the vintage days. He also has a submachine gun and rocket launcher.

There aren’t a lot of accessories here, but the ones that he comes with are pretty great and suit the character well.

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General Mayhem is great. I love getting new characters introduced to the mythology, and while this isn’t truly a new character at this point, he’s a great addition to the Iron Grenadier story, and it’s pretty cool getting him in modern format.


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Metalhead

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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With Voltar and Darklon’s release in the convention set from a few years ago, Metalhead became the most wanted individual as part of the Iron Grenadier corps. So much so that a custom version offered at the New Jersey Collectors Convention became a highly desirable item on the secondary market. The Club enlisted the aid of Boss Fight Studio to design and sculpt the head, and I assume they did the build for the figure as well, and by and large it’s successful.

I think it could have been a bit better.

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When it comes to developing these modern updates, you must always walk a fine line between paying tribute to the vintage and trying something new, especially in the case of Metalhead, who has such a different and unique vintage appearance. You can sacrifice an homage to bring something new and different to the table, or pick an element from that classic figure to build around. We ended up with sort of a mixture of the two.

First and foremost, the head sculpt is just terrific. It has loads of character, from the mullet-like hairdo, to the crosshair etched goggles, and the grimace encased inside the crazed beard. Even if nothing else on the figure resembled the Iron Grenadier explosives expert, you’d know exactly who it is.

Using pretty slender arms was an interesting design element here, especially considering those ’90 era figures tend to be on the bulkier side. They tried to make up for it with the extra bulky Jungle Viper legs, which I actually really love for Metalhead. Deco is relatively straight forward, with the familiar black, red, gray, and just the slightest hint of gold.

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I’m not sold on the build. I realize that the Club (and Boss Fight) were going for some vintage elements with the strap patterns of Snake Eyes’ webgear, not to mention the knife sheath, but combining the extra large webgear with the extra slender torso and arms just makes for a somewhat odd combination. It’s almost as if the bulky webgear exentuates the skinny parts underneath (and vice versa) so it appears to be more drastic than it really is. At some point I’ll likely swap out the webgear as a test, because I really do love most of the figure, it’s just those parts together don’t jive really well in my eyes.

Accessories

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As I mentioned, he’s using the PoC Snake Eyes webgear, which is an awesome vest, even if a bit oversized in this case. He also comes with a knife for his sheath, the great Retaliation Cobra Commander laser gun, and the Pursuit of Cobra Duke missile launchers, which suit the character so perfectly it’s almost scary. I’m not one of those vintage devotees who won’t accept a Metalhead without rocket launchers attached at each thigh…I think what he comes with is pretty much perfect. The color matching of the rockets and the launcher/backpack is pretty flawless as well.

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There is a lot to love about this Metalhead. His new head sculpt is really perfect. The range of motion on his arms and legs is excellent. The deco is spot on, and I so much want this to be my favorite Convention figure ever. But that oversized webgear combined with the extra-scrawny torso and arms just makes for a weird combo. Thankfully webgear is easy to swap, and I’ll kick some stuff around to see if anything else grabs me. Beyond the issue with Metalhead looking a bit too skinny, most of the figure is great, and will look awesome among the other score of Iron Grenadiers.

Now we need some Nullifiers and TARGATs!


G.I. Joe Convention 2015 Undertow

Big BrawlerDial ToneLifelineRecondoSgt. Stalker
WreckageGeneral MayhemIron AnvilMetalheadUndertow Officer
UndertowIron Anvil OfficerAnnihilatorAlpineFrostbite
SkystrikerTiger Sting w/ BazookaTiger Shark w/ FelinoTigerhawkMantis
Con Set RecapKre-O Six Pack

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Destro’s diver troops have had a convoluted history throughout the Real American Hero mythology. Emerging in 1990, somewhat separate from the majority of Destro’s troops, Undertow sort of became amalgamated with Cobra right off the bat, especially in the DiC animated series. Their colors never really matched typical Iron Grenadier colors (though to be fair, neither did Nullifier, TARGAT, or several others) and in fact, during G.I. Joe’s 2000 release, they became official Cobra underwater troopers.

When the Collectors Club reintroduced the Iron Grenadiers for the 2005 Convention Set, the Undertow was conspicuously absent…a fact that the Club rectified several years later, releasing him as their annual incentive figure in a great Iron Grenadier deco. When Undertow was announced as part of this year’s Convention set, many folks wondered which one it would be… the Iron Grenadier deco, or the 1990 deco?

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With Iron Anvils and General Mayhem in the set, the IG deco is the one that made the most sense, and honestly, it looks pretty nice, too. It’s fair to mention, however, that the 50th Anniversary Eel, released this summer, bears a pretty striking resemblance to this Undertow, but still, it’s nice to have another squad of Destro troopers in hand.

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Undertow uses Torpedo’s torso, Retaliation Snake Eyes upper arms, Torpedo lower arms, and Retailation Snake Eyes’ legs, all of which combine together to portray a decent wet suit look and feel. Mixing the more modern parts in there, though, offers better range of motion and sculpting than we saw originally. As I already mentioned, Undertow uses the Iron Grenadier paint scheme, a mixture of black, gray, and red with just a hint of gold, and it looks really nice, complimenting the rest of the Iron Grenadier corps quite well.

Accessories

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Undertow comes with the typical weapons allotment. The Cobra Eel Speargun along with Torpedo’s backpack, and the familiar facemask, trident, and underwater sled that they are so well known for. It’s a pretty great selection of weapons, and I love that the sled is included as well. Those miniature vehicles that came with certain figures are among my favorites in the line.

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Undertow is a pretty basic upgrade, but one that works well within the confines of the Convention Set. I have no doubt that we’ll eventually see a classically deco’d version either in the FSS or elsewhere, but this version will be a great placeholder until that happens.