GeneralsJoes Guest Review – ComicCon Revolutions Boxed Set

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Hi, all!  James “KuuKuuSon” Kavanaugh Jr. jumping in and I think this is my first review, at least first for GeneralsJoes.com.  Justin, is that correct?  Eh, he’s probably off hob-knobbing with all the other big shot toy reviewers.

Well, here I am, off to the good stuff (the review if you’ve listened to too much What’s on Joe Mind? and thought other ideas).  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the Hasbro/IDW San Diego Comic Con 2017 Revolution crossover set and, let me tell you, this. set. is. AMAZING!  If you’re out of the loop or kept your heads in your vintage Marvel Joe comics, IDW has merged their existing G.I. Joe and Transformers universes together and brought in the new classics Action Man, ROM, Micronauts ,and MASK (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) to take action and adventure to new levels.  Children are notorious for mixing their various toy lines in their play (admit it, at least tried it) and this premise really helps to bring back that feeling.

At this point, I’ll clarify by saying I self-identify as G.I. Joe guy through ‘n through, though I own a copy of almost every Transformers comic and have picked up every IDW copy of every title listed above in the Revolution universe.  I’ve always felt review readers should know where the reviewer is coming from as well as where I’ll be going in regards to my preferred brands and explain why my perspective may not nail other brands.  I will say, seeing each brand come together certainly made me excited for everyone.  I was born in 1977 in the United States to round out my perspective.

So is this a review of the set or biography?  Why not both? (que the Old El Paso taco girl).  I am laying the foundation of “me” because the undertone of this set will seem like the overtone by the end of the review and that undertone is nostalgia.  At least half of this set hasn’t had much of a presence since the 80’s and it’s quite the welcome feeling. Of course I remember Joe and Transformers, I also loved watching MASK every day and the holograms on the Visionaries toyline were hypnotic.  My age tells you I was a bit too young for Micronauts but caught up when they made a resurgence in the early 2000s.  ROM was a new one to me but those I trust to have a well-rounded and educated understanding of comics were stoked to see his return.  Apparently, in a pop culture sense, the comic surpassed the toy in many ways and developed a devout cult following.  The final reason why I felt it was important to give a background on “me” is every 4” action figure in this set derives from 2007+ G.I. Joe tooling, which is almost like they designed the set to dangle in front of me.  Eh, they would’ve had me anyway. 

The set is $100 and I find that more than fair.  I put current 4” action figures at $10 a piece MSRP and there are six of them so divide the $40 between a mid-sized Transformer and nine Micronaut figurines.  You’re hard pressed to convince me that alone isn’t a win.  What those figures consist of makes this set worth waaaaaay more than $100 as we’ll discuss in the review.

Transformers

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I thought I’d start with, from my perspective, the easy one and that’s Jetfire.  I had the original Jetfire as a child so I’m biased towards him.  This one, however, is way more dynamic.  He is currently in more of the forefront (of a flashback) in IDW’s current story but a great character to speak for his brand.  When this set was announced, I was made aware that this mold has some fan demand to it, so I’m glad they’re able to have another chance to obtain him.  He’s a pretty straight forward Transformer.  The modern designs are structural masterpieces and almost puzzle–like.  My age also reminded me of the old adage, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” and that refers to my transforming skillz.  It took me a minute but I chalk that up to quality design.  I have every bit of confidence I could’ve tossed it to a kid and they would’ve transformed him as fast as a Rubix Cube champs works his cube.  The paint apps are solid, the plastic is durable, and the quality is fine.  I’ll take this time to clarify that, when it comes to action figures like this and we know this is a rare figure rerelease, I am more than confident there are better reviews of the toy out there and I would be doing the toy a disservice by expanding beyond the pictures.

Micronauts

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I’ll get the “bad” out of the way for you and clarify/state the obvious that all nine Micronauts are unmovable figurines.  However, I’m not going to say that’s a bad thing.  Micronauts are what their name implies (you’re going to have to educate yourself if you don’t know what I’m getting at) and they are just that.  I think the figurines are the perfect size for everyone to play with as is and within the crossover experience.  Plus they’re nine of them.  Reading the Micronauts comics, I find the designs to arguably be the most dynamic and perfect fusion of vintage foundation with innovative redesigns.   And that is a huge compliment from me as someone who thinks tweaking nostalgia can be a very slippery slope for vendor and customer.  I liked and agreed when I read the comment online about a potential figure/game combo coming from these figures.  They could certainly work as table top pieces.  The plastic is decent, slightly bendy, yet able to stand with little falling (something I’ve noticed to be a problem with cheaper figurines).  And to wrap this portion of the review up as a bad/good/bad clarification sandwich, I can take a step back see this set as a whole and dub the approach as using “strategic tooling” to hit a specific price point.  The review will round out this comment but, for now, I’m confident nine Micronauts fit in with six 4” figures and a decent Transformer guides the Micronauts into a figurine format and that’s fine the moment you have them in hand.  Micronauts forged the 1:18th scale action figure phenomenon, so I’m confident we’ll see larger and movable Micronauts in the near future.

MASK

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Onto the first of the six 4” action figures and I thought, once again, I’d start with an easy one.  Matt Trakker is easy for a “Joe guy” because we received Matt Trakker in 2008 and he was deemed a member of G.I. Joe.  The 2008 Matt Trakker suggests that the crossover universe was on Hasbro’s mind as far back as them and only helped us out now.  This version reuses previously seen G.I. Joe body tooling and accessories and, the parts choice more accurately reflects the stylized approach IDW is taking.  The reds are richer and the greys are darker.  This figure seems to really punch.  Side note, I understand the output of the 2008 version, he is a product of the tooling available at the time whereas the Revolution Matt Trakker had the advantage of a much larger tooling catalog.  Neither is better than the other.  Speaking of difference, yes, there is one very noticeable difference, the IDW version is no longer a blonde, white male but a black male.  I need to make a point to confirm this but I am confident the change derives from a certain team we all know already had a blonde, white leader.  Seemingly unrelated, early super hero costumes’ simple and bright tropes derive from easy recognition on the reader’s part.  I’m sure Duke will be interacting with Matt Trakker in the storyline and these minor tweaks will help move the story along for the audience.  This assumption doesn’t wash over the point that diversity has been actively addressed in all facets of modern society and sited as an important component of the shared universe going forward.  I think it’s safe to assume we will be seeing more gender and ethnicity changes in the future if we haven’t already.  Outside of that, the head sculpt is simply stunning!  This very charming head sculpt will certainly be appealing for expert customizers and LBC’s alike.  Yes, I can admit an action figure is handsome.

Action Man

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Another handsome chap in plastic form is Action Man.  If you’re unaware, Action Man was a direct cousin to the G.I. Joe 12” line and has been seeing a resurgence across the pond.  I seem to recall Action Man specifically hitting US shelves at a certain point but I’ve always been a 4” fanatic (except for MOTU, that’s another story).  Action Man in the Revolution set looks like he’s peeled right off the comic pages.  The body is familiar tooling but the blue with orange striping really makes Action Man pop.  Orange has been made a staple of Action Man’s color palette and the combination makes him look ready for action. I think you have to say action as much as possible whenever you’re having a conversation about Action Man.  His accessories are also familiar and the plastic and paint quality is the same for all the 4’ figures.  I am a bit of a stickler for paints and this entire set checks all my boxes (a big plus in my book).  The win for this figure is of course the head sculpt.  Another dashing head that has a slight comic/cartoon tinge, but a head sculpt works with the paint scheme.  His hair is tussled, his smirk is brazen, he’s a young James Bond ready to do the impossible mission and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

ROM

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Like I said, when IDW first announced the shared universe, ROM was a new concept to me.  Also, like I said, if my cadre of “experts” says it’s a go, I’ll give it a shot.  And (while I’m adding conditions) since the comic overshadowed the toy, ROM moved away from a blocky robot and gained a blocky/humanoid hybrid esthetic.  The designer accurately chose Battle Armor Cobra Commander’s legs to set the ground work and gave him muscular arms to bridge the gap.  FYI, ROM is a humanoid encased in the robotic armor and sworn to fight the Dire Wraiths, having an element of humanity in the character is important.  The chest and head sculpt (as well as his iconic blaster) are all new.  Plus he’s shiny.  Kid James liked shiny.  I’m going to leave for a bit and stare at the shiny.  Just kidding (or am I?  You’ll never know when this was stopped and resumed).  These parts are great and very accurately reflect the ROM seen in the comic books.

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The Dire Wraith also captures the pages of the ROM comic.  Dire Wraiths are aliens that kill humans and assume their form, typically assuming roles of those in powerful positions.  So, the underlying tone of the comic is you never know who is a Dire Wraith until they reveal their true form.  This figure in particular represents the point in the story when Doc is revealed to be a Dire Wraith.  Oh, did I spoil it for you?  Well, the bad news is you were spoiled the moment you looked at the figure because the satchel and body motif tells you exactly who it is…er, was… The arms are from the infamous Zombie Viper and do a great job to bridge the comic character to action figure form given the grand scheme of the set(see my budget comment in the Micronauts write-up).  The arms are great, the paint apps help punch up the tentacles and the darker approach to Doc’s uniform helps punch the Dire Wraith blue while darkening the overall tone of the villain.  The money on this piece is again the head sculpt.  This head wonderfully portrays the Cheshire grin that is the staple of a Dire Wraith.  They are an arrogant villain set on dominating Earth and ROM is intent on wiping that smile of their evil faces.

Visionaries

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This figure should’ve been last but, if you’ve read everything so far (my apologies), you’ve probably figured out my progression.  Why did I just waste your time there?  Because Visionaries are not yet in the IDW universe, nor do they have an active comic nor any press release announcing any plans.  Leoric certainly took us by surprise.  And, if you like Visionaries, he looks great!  Again, I leave the parts knowledge to the gang at joecustoms.com and other experts but, as far as I can tell, looks great.  The overall military (with a tinge of ninja) motif in G.I. Joe doesn’t leave much for sword and sorcery tooling, but the legs look great.  Besides, Visionaries had a bit of a modern take to them anyway.  Much like ROM, the big pay day is the chest, head, and helmet.  The head is fantastic and the helmet and body totally nailed his vintage look.  Did I say pay day?  Because this figure is money.  If the new parts weren’t enough, the staff is new and, along with his chest, have holograms in them!  I’ll be honest, that was my immediate concern when I first saw the press release and it is indeed a lot more holographic than the pictures assume.  They aren’t as holographic as the original (or how holograph stickers tend to look) but I have a feeling that it falls under my budget/price point commentary undertone in this review.  The blues are striking and accurately reflect the vintage toy and give it the 80s feel.

G.I. Joe

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So that’s all the new concept, some of which haven’t been seen since the 80s.  Everyone discussed above is enough to put this set on the “must have” list.   So why did I save the G.I. Joe last?  Biased, of course.  Yes and no.  This Joe isn’t just any Joe, it’s Roadblock.  Oh, huh… No, not huh, this isn’t just any Roadblock, this is the cancelled Renegades Roadblock head, chest, and overall build.  So, backstory, Renegades was a G.I. Joe cartoon in 2011 that, for reasons that are too long to write in an already long review, left Roadblock stuck in the “unreleased” queue.  The only member of the main G.I. Joe Renegades cast to be unreleased.  And, it’s argued that the cartoon Roadblock had the most personality out of the entire main cast.  This figure also had a second failing in 2012 when a Retaliation movie four pack was cancelled, a pack he was a member of.  Word that the figure was waiting in the wings has left collectors waiting in the wings for a future release and, after six years, the time has finally arrived!!  I need to ask around, but I am confident this is also his intended Renegades deco pattern.  It’s not exactly in sync with the comic palette but who cares!?  Long awaited Renegades Roadblock trumps crossover Roadblock any day.  This figure is so great, I am confident a more comic accurate version will sell just as well.  But back to the figure at hand, if the pictures don’t paint the picture, this Roadblock fits with the Renegades figures seamlessly!  I can’t say enough great things about this figure.  The weapons assortment appears to be the Pursuit of Cobra’s “Jungle” Duke but, again, who cares?  It was probably the set from his internal SKU number and there are plenty of “Ma Dueces” out there in weapons bins to load him up as you see fit.  The body is one we’ve seen a few times by now but it great to see it in its originally intended form.  Finally receiving this figure is as significant as finally receiving the characters above.  Big “KuuKuu” points (non refundable and I wouldn’t suggest you eat them) to Hasbro for providing us with this one.

So, if you’re still awake and reading, here we are.  Like I’ve eluded throughout the review, the set sells itself.  I hope these pictures satisfy those who can’t wait to see and obtain this set.  I’ll confess that mild mannered James is a bit helpless without his heavily artillery used for the Rank & File guides and I’m going to milk this “first review evah” crutch as long as I can.  If you picked up on my whimsical approach to this revue, it’s because this set did indeed make me feel like a kid again.  Archiving is probably the most “adult” think one can do with his toys (no, I’m not trying to convince myself I’m doing anything actually adult with my toys, though I probably should) and not very fun in the moment (first world toy guide problems).  It’s more of a delayed gratification.  From start to finish, this set was all about fun.  It was great to see these characters receive action figure form once again and the only way to accurately review them was to have fun with them. And, like I said, I am a G.I. Joe guy (mostly dictated by my wallet fyi) so getting a chance to transform a Transformer and pit my various toys against each other was a great thrill.  The Ohio weather isn’t polite to talk about, but being outside with my toys play working will be a highlight for this summer. I will be curious to see the overall reception of this set as well as what the results will bring in the future.  Joe Con told us something is changing for Joe and something can only change for every other property in this set beyond G.I. Joe.  But don’t wait for the future, live in the moment with this set and get it however you can.  This set jazzed me enough before I even received it to start the page layout for an upcoming guide.  Yeah, it’s not much but I thought this could at least double as an insight into where I start and where I’ll finish.  I am currently hashing out where these crossover action figures in the grand scheme of archiving but, again, I can’t stress enough that this set allows you to put all the “where does this belong in my ‘Joeverse’” malarkey and have fun.  Fun and action.  And action fun.

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Series 2 of Only Human G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover at Pete’s Robot Con

Last weekend, former Fun Publications employee Pete Sinclair held his first ever Transformers convention, Pete’s Robot Con.  As a part of the show, he revealed a slideshow featuring some pretty cool Transformers exclusives that unfortunately did not make it through the release process before Hasbro neglected to renew their license.

Other items revealed at the show include customs of three proposed additions to the G.I. Joe/Transformers figure line, pulled from the Only Human cartoon episodes.  These figures were set to include Springer and Ultra Magnus in human form (using some pretty cool G.I. Joe recipes, especially Ultra Magnus) as well as Victor Drath.

Check out some of the mirrored images below and thanks to HISSTank for the info.

Rank & File Volume 3 is ON THE WAY!

Good friend of GeneralsJoes and noted author James Kavanaugh, Jr. has nearly completed work on the third volume of his impressive Rank & File guide to G.I. Joe modern era figures!  JoeCon is nearly upon us, and so will the latest Rank & File and you’re guaranteed to find something to love here.  Check out the press release and full details below.

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The adventure continues to evolve in Rank & File — A Guide to Third-Generation 4” G.I. Joe Action Figures!

After a brief hiatus in 2006 that allowed G.I. Joe to flourish in other areas, G.I. Joe:  A Real American Hero went in a new stylistic direction that is still predominately used today!  Not only did fans get to revisit some of their most cherished icons within the G.I. Joe mythos, they were also introduced to new characters that are now known and loved.

The Rank & File guide volume 3 displays every G.I. Joe action figure produced between the Celebrating 30 Years of A Real American Hero / Renegades, Retaliation,50, and Basic G.I. Joe Asst. series, complete with every accessory and variation produced.   Not only are the accessories shown, they were carefully cataloged in an upcoming volume that will guarantee the proper shade of accessory goes to the appropriate action figure. To top it off, every vehicle and playset released in the 4″ era is documented and every easily removable piece is shown individually photographed —ensuring collector completion.

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This full color, forty-eight page resource manual beautifully illustrates the four series’ 148 action figures, twenty-two vehicles and every accessory, including all known variations. Not only is every accessory present and accounted for, they have each been assigned a unique number and identified throughout the resource guide.  Each action figure was carefully examined between its initial run and any further re-releases to ensure accurate samples are clearly and concisely presented, perfect for the collector who is identifying individual action figures or sorting through unorganized lots.

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Whether you are a seasoned or rejuvenated collector, enthusiast, or toy vendor, the Rank & File series is the decisive compilation for G.I. Joe action figures, vehicles, and playsets produced from 2007 to today.    Let the Rank & File guides serve as a reference for completion or a scrapbook to the next big turning point of G.I. Joe:  A Real American Hero.

Basic Information

The MSRP for The Rank & File guide Volume 3 is $20 and available at www.rahcguide.com.  Buyer will pay all additional shipping and handling costs.  If you have purchased the R.A.H.C. guides before, the process will be very similar.   This guide was self-published and produced in quantities reflecting previous sales so do not hesitate in ordering if owning a guide is a priority.

You may join the mailing list at: rahc.guide@gmail.com and like on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/RAHCGuide to get the latest updates between press releases.

Sneak Peek (Figure Subscription Service)

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Isn’t it amazing how one little toss-in storyline in the comic can completely redefine a character for you?

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Or is that just me?  Am I just such a media fanatic that a simple mistake that turned into a plot takes a character to some different level in my mind?  Ever since his initial release in 1987, I really didn’t give a crap about Sneak Peek.  The figure was somewhat bland, his character wasn’t all that interesting, and while I generally love the concept of recon, the way his figure fit into that demographic (as compared to Recoil, a figure I loved) didn’t resonate with me.

He was just kind of there.

Then during the infamous Trucial Abysma story in the original Marvel Comic, he was given one last shot at being memorable, then sacrificed himself to save a child and permanently embedded himself in the minds of many G.I. Joe fans.  Fast forward a couple of decades, and in the modern Real American Hero comic from IDW, Larry Hama apparently forgot this little twist and included Sneak Peek in a cast off comic panel.  Well, the fandom went crazy, so Larry spun off that idea into the thought that Sneak Peek had faked his death way back when and gone deep undercover, ending up in a conflict with Darklon (who is also part of this FSS… go figure).

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Many folks thought that was kind of a cop out, but I loved it.  Ever since that moment transpired I’ve been wanting a modern version of Sneak Peek in a way that I never have from the beginning.  Now the Club has given us one, and it’s… well, it’s okay.

Listen, I’m glad we got Sneak Peek.  I’ve been wanting him.  I think I just wanted him a little better than this.  Looking back on the vintage version of the character, there are a few aspects that really stand out.  He’s got those great knee-high metal boots, rolled up sleeves, a textured chest pad…these aspects are kind of what separates him from any other generic Joes out there, and the Collectors Club effectively included none of them.

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Like the Tiger Force version from the last FSS, he’s got the regular Shock Trooper arms, and Shock Trooper legs, though the Club threw in the PoC Snake Eyes torso instead.  Still, though, essentially he is just a repainted Shock Trooper as are so many other figures that have been released since 2011.  I mean that’s not a drastic crime or anything, and he still very clearly looks like Sneak Peek, but I think this is a clear example of some of the intricate design aesthetics that have been missing in figures recently.  It seems as if design falls to the lowest common denominator and whatever combination of parts is deemed “good enough” is what we get.

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I understand it.  I know the challenges the Club likely has to go through with overseas factories to sort out the parts, but still…  it would be nice to look at a figure build and say “wow, that’s really creative” for once, instead of everything pretty much showing up as expected.

The figure’s colors match the vintage version well enough, and looking at Sneak Peek as a whole, he is a servicable modern version for a somewhat forgettible classic character that Larry Hama helped make more important to the mythology.

Accessories

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Taking a look at Sneak Peek’s accessories, one just has to go back to the Tiger Force version from the last FSS.  We have the same helmet, radio pack, machine gun, binoculars and periscope.  I do absolutely LOVE this new periscope, though, it’s head and shoulders better than the vintage version and was obviously expertly designed and crafted.

The one difference here is with his tactical vest.  Instead of the Scrap Iron vest, we have Resolute Duke’s, and I’m fine with that.  This one looks more modern and more military, and I dig it.  I don’t mind that it’s drastically different from the vintage one, it looks better than the Tiger Force rendition in my opinion.  The only issue I do have is that it’s a bit too small for the Snake Eyes torso, and unless you’re diligent about it, he constantly looks like he’s wearing a belly shirt.

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Sneak Peek is a character I never cared for until recently, and I’m ecstatic that the Collectors Club found a way to work him into the Figure Subscription Service.  I do wish there had been a bit more thought and consideration into making the figure build more unique, and this feels like it’s become a consistent, persistent issue, which is a pretty big deal when you consider how much we’re being expected to pay per figure.

If you’re going to be putting retail level effort into a product, but you’re expecting collectible level spending, I think that’s a big problem.

General Flagg (Figure Subscription Service)

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Back in the 1980s if you were a Marvel Comics reader like I was, you often wondered who some of these characters were and why you couldn’t have them in plastic form.  One of the first characters I noticed that with was General Flagg, who was the initial organizer of the G.I. Joe team, leading Colonel “Hawk” Abernathy and his team of twelve operatives against the seemingly insurmountable COBRA forces.

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Turns out those forces truly were insurmountable, and in issue #19, General Flagg was killed by Major Bludd.

While we wouldn’t get an action figure version of this General Flagg until the comic packs in 2005, his son, General Lawrence Flagg, Jr. made an appearance in the Battle Corps line, and the G.I. Joe Collectors Club elected to pay tribute to that version of the character here in the FSS.  Interestingly, they opted to focus on the second version of General Flagg rather than the previous version, perhaps because the original Flagg looked quite a bit like General Hawk.

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I’m glad to see the Club getting back into the Battle Corps arena, though I can think of a dozen or so characters I would have preferred to have been revisited before General Flagg.  That being said, they did a decent job on the figure build itself.  Using the Retaliation Firefly torso and arms is a good approximation of the leather bomber jacket and the thick pants work well for his legs as well.  His head is a reuse that’s been seen countless times before (and somewhat obnoxiously is used for Sneak Peek, a figure released in the exact same month’s shipment of the FSS).  The hat fits on this head relatively well, though not perfectly.

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As mentioned above, the Club went with the second iteration Battle Corps color scheme (similar to what they did with Night Creeper Leader a time or two ago) which is a bit questionable, though it matches how I used Flagg in my dio-story, so honestly I’m pretty okay with it.  His black jacket and lighter green pants look pretty cool, and offer a different aesthetic than General Hawk.

Accessories

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Flagg comes with some pretty neat gear.  He’s got his removable hat, submachine gun, pistol that slides into his holster, and a version of City Strike Destro’s briefcase.  While I like the idea of the reused briefcase, the sculpted piles of money with “Top Secret”, etc… randomly tampoed in strange places doesn’t really do the idea justice in my opinion.

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I’m surprised that the Club focused on General Flagg at this stage of the game, especially this version of Flagg.  He’s a critical character in my dio-story and I’m glad to see him done in this modern format, but it seems like even within the realm of Battle Corps itself there are quite a few other, better alternatives.

Still, the execution is surprisingly well done, and I dig the accessories, even if the briefcase is a bit of a head scratcher.

Salvo (Figure Subscription Service)

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The fans have spoken and thank goodness the G.I. Joe Collectors Club listened!

When the original build for the FSS Salvo was revealed, the G.I. Joe community pretty much imploded.  Using 30th Anniversary Law/Renegades Duke parts with the Resolute Duke legs resulted in a scrawny, mish-mash mess of a figure update that pretty much did nothing right.  Once the fandom was done yelling, the Collectors Club went back to the drawing board, and while they stuck pretty close to formula, they at least made some changes that presented an update to Salvo that felt more in line with the large, muscular rocket expert we got in 1990.

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This version of Salvo is not perfect, but he’s a damn sight better than the alternative.

From the neck down, the figure is pretty much G.I. Joe: Retaliation Roadblock, only the lower legs are slightly different in order to get the proper cuffed look.  While the figure and the legs are nice and bulky, the result of different lower legs is that the knee joints aren’t as functional as they could be, and once again I’m not a huge fan of those ankle joints either.  On my figure, I couldn’t even get the peg stands to fit in his feet, and I know that’s been a recurring problem since this tooling was originally available.

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That being said, the figure is large, muscular and imposing, another great looking figure of immense size to go along with some of the previously released Roadblocks, Leathernecks, Gung Ho’s, Repeaters, and others.  It’s pretty awesome to see some variation in height and size among the ranks of the Joes, so I appreciate the Club using that tooling here.  As one would expect, the articulation and range of motion is mostly good, and we got some exceptional sculpting work in that Retaliation line, so that’s all on point here, too.

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The color scheme pulls straight from the vintage look, though some of the use of gold here seems strange.  I understand they’re trying to mimic the look of the criss-crossed machine gun belts, but at some point hopefully the folks doing the deco for these figures realize that you can’t just slap color on any old piece of the figure to match the vintage aesthetic.  You should really try and find a logical place for that color to exist and use it as a complimentary color, not just throw gold down on the holster and leg-straps because that kind of looks like where the gold is on the original figure.  It doesn’t always work.

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That minor gripe aside, overall the figure is good.  They did a good job with the font on his shirt, the modern parts are good, and the choice of the Hit & Run head sculpt is unexpected and excellent.

Accessories

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Salvo comes with some decent gear.  He’s got a huge rocket launcher which I’m sure fans will complain about, but makes perfect sense for his specialty.  Anyone who is dying for his vintage accessories that much can find them super cheap on eBay and they’ll still fit with this modern figure, so go for it.  He has Sci-Fi’s helmet and the same briefcase that he came with back in 1990, along with the Retaliation Roadblock pistol that fits in his holster.  All told, he’s got some gear that works well and compliments the character as you would expect.

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I’ve loved Salvo since his original release in 1990 and I’m glad to see him finally getting some modern era love here.  I’m extremely happy that the Collectors Club followed the fandom’s lead and beefed up the figure build, even though it resulted in some mold fit issues.  He’s a nice update and another addition to the much-needed 1990 “DiC” era roster.

Darklon (Figure Subscription Service)

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As someone who is both a fan of the Iron Grenadiers and a fan of taking established characters and putting new spins on them, I really loved the Convention version of Darklon we received in 2014.  Not only was it an update of a really cool established Iron Grenadier character, but it added some Pursuit of COBRA Firefly aesthetic and gave us a really awesome update to Destro’s criminal cousin.

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However, as a Convention exclusive, and a highly desirable one at that, the price soon skyrocketed and fans grew upset that such an important character (is Darklon really an “important character”??) was so expensive on the secondary market.

Well, since the Club now had the tooling for Darklon’s helmet, they figured they’d make a more vintage accurate version and toss it into the FSS.  I’m of two minds on the idea.  Personally I’m not wild about being saddled with a $30 figure that is only subtly different than one I already paid $35 for at a Convention.  Especially when the FSS version uses older parts that are less well articulated, softer sculpted and frankly, not quite as interesting.

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That being said, I know the figure will appeal to the broader fanbase, who I do not always see eye-to-eye with.

This figure has the previously mentioned Darklon head sculpt that we originally got at the convention in 2014, and it still works well enough.  Darklon’s torso is from Pursuit of COBRA Snake Eyes in an attempt to give him the textured look of the vintage figure, but his arms are from the 25th Anniversary Zartan.  The result is a drastic reduction in sculpted detail, somewhat annoying articulation in the elbows, and the elimination of the texture on the arms.  It doesn’t really work as a combination with the torso.

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Also rather than even attempt to mimic the look of the original legs, the Club just used the 25th Anniversary Iron Grenadier Destro legs which does a nice job tying this figure in with Destro, but doesn’t do such a nice job making him look like his vintage counterpart.  I do like the sword sheath and the color combination is vintage accurate, but the sculpting isn’t accurate, and the knee articulation is only single jointed which is a shame.

Speaking of the colors, the Club does do a decent job matching up the shade of green and purple with the vintage edition of Darklon and the overall inspiration is pretty clear cut.

Accessories

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Darklon comes with a decent assortment of accessories including a MARS briefcase with removable pistol, a pistol for his leg holster, the removable sword, and a retooled version of his vintage weapon.  As much as I love the strangeness of his primary weapon, any time the Club invests money in retooling a vintage accessory that can be found on the secondary market for pennies on the dollar I question the reasoning.  As we get fewer and fewer new heads or other body parts throughout the FSS, I’d much rather see money invested in more of those items rather than retooling vintage accessories in nearly the exact same way as they’re already available.

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Darklon is okay.  I prefer the convention version all told, and by leaning on 25th Anniversary parts, the Club aren’t doing themselves any favors.  Limited articulation and sculpting make a big difference between figures that look like they belong with other 2017 figures, or figures that already look a decade out of place fresh out of the package.

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.