During the chaos of San Diego ComicCon, friend of GeneralsJoes Chris Polansky took some time to stop by the Hasbro booth and spoke with Mark Weber, Derryl DePriest, and John Violette about their roles in the latest iteration of G.I. Joe. They talk 50th Anniversary, IDW Comics, Kre-O, and all sorts of other topics. It was a great conversation, which I’ve transcribed below. Big thanks to Chris for taking the time out of his trip to help out. Enjoy!
Last week I posted a review for the ComicCon Kre-O Slaughter Marauders boxed set, and this week I’m following up an exciting SDCC with a review of the exclusive Crimson Strike boxed set with the Cobra Scythe w/ AVAC & Alley-Viper Officer vs. the G.I. Joe CHIMERA w/ Steeler & Grunt. They’re two pretty fun pieces of a cool looking set that you’ll only find at San Diego ComicCon and HasbroToyShop.
Check out the 50th Anniversary Review Page, or the direct links below.
As I mentioned in my review for the Cobra Scythe, there isn’t necessarily anything new or revolutionary about certain vehicles changing sides, but the way Hasbro has explored it with this year’s extension of the 50th Anniversary line is certainly different than they’ve approached it before.
Hasbro designers and story tellers have apparently built this year’s theme around capturing vehicles, and with the CHIMERA, G.I. Joe may have had their largest coup yet as they take control of Cobra’s trademark HISS Tank, repurposing it as the CHIMERA. According to the Hasbro presentation at JoeCon, CHIMERA stands for C.aptured H.ISS I.ntegrated M.obile E.nergy R.ail Gun A.dvanced. I like that they’re working towards anagrams again, that’s pretty neat.
As I mentioned in the Crimson Scythe review, we start off with some spectacular box art, which really helps showcase both toys as well as bring a striking new look to the way these toys are marketed. It’s very collector oriented and exceptionally well done, and really starts this set off on the right foot.
G.I. JOE CHIMERA
Looking at the CHIMERA, I will admit it’s tough to get excited about a lot of the vehicle, simply because we’ve had the HISS and variations of that vehicle around for 30 years. That being said, Hasbro went through the trouble of tooling up new twin cannons for it (the aforementioned Rail Guns) and the results are pretty cool. Hasbro has experimented with other turrets for the HISS Tank in the past, using quad rocket launchers, four-barrel laser guns, and a single large tank barrel, but they’ve only had very mixed success. The CHIMERA actually does a great job of updating the twin cannon look for the HISS, bringing something new to the table, while still referencing the classic look and succeeding quite nicely.
Like the HISS we all know and love, the CHIMERA has sloped armor and a sleek design, preferring speed and maneuverability over sheer firepower. Remember, the HISS has always been the HIGH SPEED SENTRY, meaning a vehicle that’s designed for quickness and not to necessarily be the armored backbone of the Cobra (or G.I. Joe) fleet. The green color of the HISS is a nice color shade, somewhat generic, but in fitting with the two figures that come with it, not to mention many of the other early G.I. Joe releases.
Where this vehicle shines, however, is the new Rail Guns. Rather than two somewhat narrow round barrels, the guns here are larger and rectangular with lots of great intricate detail work, and small extending barrels. They give off a sense of power and manage to take the existing HISS double cannon platform and make it functional with more modern technology. It’s a great look.
I will say I had some trouble getting the canopy to stay latched, even without a figure inside, but that could be a one off issue with my CHIMERA, and not something that’s consistent across other releases.
Overall, the CHIMERA is nice. It’s an appealing looking vehicle with the green colors and the upgraded cannons, even if, at its core, its the same thing we’ve seen a dozen times before.
When G.I. Joe captures a tank, it makes sense for them to have a tank driver, right? Steeler fits the bill nicely.
Offsetting the great color scheme of the CHIMERA, Hasbro elects to go back to the early days to bring Steeler and Grunt back to the G.I. Joe fold. Steeler is a modern retelling of the classic figure, feeling somewhat Pursuit of Cobra/Resolute like. He has the same head sculpt he’s had since the 25th Anniversary and the Ultimate Firefly torso, which I’m always a fan of. In fact, his parts are all relatively modern, even up to and including the Retaliation Roadblock legs. These legs give Steeler a taller stature, which is good, because he’s supposed to be one of the largest and strongest Joe characters, especially from those early days. Unfortunately those Roadblock legs do not have ankle swivels or double knees, so there’s some articulation limitation there.
In spite of the parts coming from somewhat different body types, the figure stands and moves well, though the plastic continues to feel somewhat light and cheap in comparison to past releases. At this point it’s likely something we just need to get accustomed to, and as long as it does not impact the functionality and play value of the figure, I’m okay with it. In Steeler’s case, he appears to stand and move just fine, though his hips are a tad on the loose side.
Honestly, I’m a little surprised at how much I enjoy this figure. His mix of green and gray colors is balanced really nicely, and even without any webgear, his tall stature and new build does wonders to separate him a bit as a character. The more I fool with Steeler, the more I start appreciating how simple, straight forward, but fun the figure is.
The G.I. Joe tank driver comes with his familiar helmet and visor as well as the G.I. Joe: Resolute Beachhead vest, which is a neat touch. I’m always a fan of that vest, and it does call back a bit to the Pursuit of Cobra, which featured some very similar looks. Many of those PoC driver figures were released in somewhat monotone green uniforms with new webgear, and I like that look for some reason. Steeler fits in with characters like Kickstart and Double Clutch pretty well, and any way I can find to fill in my Pursuit of Cobra display, I’ll jump at the chance,
Along with the helmet and webgear, he comes with some firearms as well, including a pistol and basic machine gun. I like both weapons quite a bit, he holds them both well, and even when not surrounded by the CHIMERA, I find Steeler to be a really enjoyable new take on the old school character.
I’m afraid this figure review may end up sounding an awful lot like Steelers, because I feel much the same way about Grunt as I do his tank driver partner.
One thing Hasbro really put a focus on at the JoeCon presentation was that they wanted to address the issues with the HISS (and thus the CHIMERA) that they always came with a driver, but no gunner. Well, Hasbro has resolved that here by including Grunt as the CHIMERA gunner, which actually makes a lot of sense. In the 80s mythology, Grunt was an electrical engineer as well as G.I. Joe’s top Infantry specialist, so when you’re talking about next generation technology like a Rail Gun, it makes some sense to get an engineer behind the controls.
Like Steeler, Grunt is made up from existing parts, all relatively later generation. He has the always huge Resolute Duke legs, which helps bring him into the Pursuit of Cobra roster like I mentioned before. I’m not a huge fan of the legs as time has gone on, and the softer plastic means Grunt’s hips are actually really loose. Seriously, my Grunt even has some issues just maintaining a normal standing pose.
Beyond the legs, though, the torso and arms are pretty standard choices but work nicely. Like Steeler, I really love the green and gray base colors throughout the figure, I find the hue really appealing, and they are offset nicely by the black webgear. Without any of his gear, Grunt is actually a great basic figure, just like Steeler, a fact that truly surprised me once I got him in hand.
Grunt has a great helmet with flip-down night vision goggles, perfect for an Infantry specialist, as well as an excellent machine gun and pistol. He comes with the MARS Trooper’s webgear, which is unfortunate, as it’s some of my least favorite webgear since 2009. The way the straps space out and the funky pouches on one side just doesn’t look good, and this great basic figure deserves better. Thankfully, I have plenty of alternate pieces of black webgear I can try out until I find one I like.
Grunt uses a similar formula as Steeler, but is a bit less successful, mostly due to those too wide, somewhat bland G.I. Joe: Resolute legs that don’t jive real well with the rest of this figure, or other figures as a whole. The loose hips don’t help a whole lot either. Beyond that, though, Grunt is a pretty fun update with some interesting, if somewhat formulaic traits.
Okay, consider me surprised.
I’m not afraid to say I was a bit underwhelmed with the product showing from Hasbro, but my first in hand experience has been a good one. The CHIMERA is a small, but very fun little vehicle, and the two G.I. Joe figures have impressed me in spite of their somewhat soft plastic and generic paint deco’s. As a package, when you consider the excellent painted mural packaging, this is a really nice combined set. I’m not sure I’ll end up liking it as much as the other set, but it’s still provided some real fun during this review. I’m sure some of that is due to the fact that it’s the first retail Joe product I’ve gotten my hands on in 2015, and also because there are actually some new concepts in here rather than vintage rehashes. Whatever the reason, I was expecting ho hum, and I ended up pretty darn happy, I have to admit.
If there’s anything I’ve written about time and time again over the past couple of years it’s that I’m ready for something new. Getting new versions of old figures has its appeal for a certain time, but I feel like that time is kind of growing thin and we need to look towards the future for the viability of the G.I. Joe brand.
With that in mind, this latest iteration of the G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary line (yes, this qualifies as a continuation of that line, just like the 25th Anniversary line lasted 2.5 years back in the day) injects a small element of newness into a lot of the same old formula. The Crimson Strike set especially seems to follow that design.
First and foremost, the packaging is pretty fantastic. A bullet hole ridden slip cover slides off to reveal one of the nicest pieces of G.I. Joe related art that I’ve seen in a very long time. It perfectly captures the look and energy of the toys inside, but manages to be an appealing piece of art all at the same time. A truly great work by Hasbro and whatever artist they commissioned to do this work.
Once you get inside, you see what Hasbro was talking about when they mentioned a “twist” to the G.I. Joe philosophy, taking captured vehicles and spinning them to the opposite side. Some would argue that this isn’t much of a twist, especially when looking at Tiger Force back in the 80s, and Sky Patrol in the 90s, both of which had that element to them. That being said, the opposite side vehicles have their own appeal beyond just being swapped around.
It’s hard to remember a time when the Skystriker was the “be all end all” of G.I. Joe vehicles. The only one I had as a kid was a used and abused ’83 original that I had traded a friend of mine for. It was missing both seats and half the missiles, and the stickers were worn and frayed, but I loved it and played with it endlessly. As I reached adulthood one of the first “major” purchases I made from the secondary market was a Skystriker complete with box, for a whopping $30. Now, over the past few years, we’ve received several different Skystrikers, and the appeal has quickly diminished. In fact, from San Diego ComicCon exclusives alone, this is the third Skystriker since Starscream was initially sold in 2011. That being said, even when a vehicle gets repurposed so many times over a certain period of time there are ways to make it desirable. I won’t say making the Skystriker a Cobra vehicle makes it desirable, but giving it a striking new paint scheme certainly helps.
The Scythe is an electric looking red and silver assault plane that simply looks terrific. The colors are vibrant and exciting, not just in their tone, but also in the snake-themed shape over the surface of the aircraft. It really stands out, and when you’re releasing a vehicle for the fifth time, that’s important. The Scythe succeeds there.
At its core, the vehicle is simply another Skystriker. Unlike the ComicCon Jetfire there are no real added parts or pieces to spark desire, it has all the same tooling as the regular release, but the paint scheme brings it to another great level.
Supplementing a great selection of colors is an array of magnificent decals, which are somewhat imposing upon first glance, but add some life to the vehicle as well, giving the Cobra aircraft a real sense of personality. Decks of cards, snake themed logos, and other trappings take this from being a generic Skystriker repaint to being something pretty new and unique. That being said, I did struggle with some of the decal placement. I’m far from a “sticker master” anyway, and I found a few of the stickers to be confusing and a hassle to try and place.
Along with some sticker confusion, I’ve also had some real struggles with the canopy. On both the CHIMERA and the Scythe it almost feels like the tab isn’t quite big enough to catch on the body, and thus it leaves the canopy floating around a bit, and not able to latch closed, even with nobody inside. I’ve asked a few other folks who have these sets already, and nobody else has complained about it, so perhaps it’s just mine, but I figured it was worth a mention.
I think many folks will see this Skystriker and immediately associate it with the Crimson Guard. I think that’s certainly the intent. I’m not ready to do that myself. Even now with the rampant crimson themed repaints, I still hold true to the Crimson Guard being a small, select, elite unit, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around that unit having tanks and attack planes. For that reason, I’m not sure exactly where this fits. I kind of find some separation in my G.I. Joe world between “Crimson Guard” and “Crimson Strike” and I think I can find a way to fit this into the “Crimson Strike” category without putting it in the armory of the true Crimson Guard. I have no idea if that makes any sense.
At the end of the day, yes this is another Skystriker and it’s tough to rationalize that, but the paint scheme is exceptionally well done and quite striking, which definitely helps.
The Air Viper Assault Corps figure was one of my all time favorite vintage figures, and for that reason, the 25th Anniversary one has always torqued me off. They took a figure that I consider the highlight of the ’86 run and made him a mish mash of Zartan and HISS Driver, and…well… ick.
I can appreciate what Hasbro is trying to do with bringing the AVAC into this updated series, and as a pilot for the Scythe it makes sense. The part selection is an interesting amalgamation of Crimson Guard and the 25th Anniversary AVAC, and while the build looks great, it doesn’t function especially well. The older 25th Anniversary parts stand out amongst a group of more modern assembled figures, and while I think the dress uniform aspect of the character is interesting, he’s overly slender and not really exciting.
There is some aesthetic appeal. His black base color with red trim is cool enough, and he certainly has the look of a regal air corps officer. I could see this AVAC leading other AVAC’s, perhaps as Wild Weasel’s squadron commanders. His legs don’t move all that well with these convoluted parts, so don’t be hoping for a real flexible figure.
The Cobra AVAC doesn’t come with much, simply a pair of machine guns and his familiar knife, which are pretty neat weapons, but nothing overly new or interesting or key to his character.
If you haven’t figured it out simply by reading my review, my feelings on this guy are extremely mixed. He’s a figure that if I catch out of the corner of my eye, I decide I really love him, but then I take a closer look and scrutiny reveals a litany of flaws. Granted, he spends most of his time in the cockpit of the Scythe, but I would have loved his functionality to have matched his appearance.
ALLEY VIPER OFFICER
I don’t recall asking for another Alley-Viper, especially after we received so many in such a short period of time, and I can’t quite fathom how this figure fits into the theme of this pitched air battle in the jungle. All that being said, the Alley-Viper build formula has been one of my favorites over the years, and they didn’t mess with perfection here, bringing forward all the fun qualities of the other modern renditions of the Cobra urban troopers.
He has the exact same parts as the latest Alley-Viper, which was released with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation line. That figure was mostly the same build as previous iterations, only with the armored torso of Retaliation Duke and Flint with the jungle Duke web gear over it. That holds true here.
So with a fun build, it’s tough to complain a whole lot about this figure. Even with no new parts, he’s well articulated and relatively well detailed, nice sculpting evident from the later years of the 25th Anniversary line.
Where the figure excels, though, is the paint scheme. It seems as if Hasbro took the orange that made Alley-Viper what he was and reversed it, using orange as the trim with black as the main colors. Its works surprisingly well and in person much less resembles a “Halloween Viper” than I thought it might. It’s a nice pattern of camouflage, and even though I’m not sure where this Alley-Viper Officer fits between this Jet/Tank battle, he’s a neat figure that I enjoy, and it’s kind of a shame he’s only available through a limited SDCC release.
The figure comes with much of the gear you’d expect, with the Jungle Duke web gear with removable machete, machine guns, forearm knife, helmet w/ visor, and the familiar Alley Viper shield. It’s all there and in some pretty intriguing paint schemes. I think you’ll find that this release “borrows” quite a bit from the Retaliation Alley-Viper (as far as paint masks go) but flips the color scheme a bit to make the overall look a lot darker and more true to an urban setting. They all work really nicely and compliment this figure terrifically.
Alley-Viper Officer ends up being more interesting and more fun than I originally thought he might. It’s the same pretty good build as the Retaliation version with a much more intriguing paint scheme to go with it. It’s a shame army building him will be so difficult, but I suppose if you treat him as an Alley-Viper commander of sorts, it won’t be so bad.
I’m generally a big fan of the bad guys, but in the case of the Crimson Strike set, I find myself enjoying the G.I. Joe side a bit more. I like the Alley-Viper Officer and the color deco on the Cobra Scythe is a very nice surprise, but AVAC isn’t terrific, and the theme of this side of things doesn’t jive quite as well as the G.I. Joe figures and vehicle. There’s terrific presentation here, and it’s always cool to see some new elements, but the Cobra end of the ComicCon Crimson Strike set leaves just a little bit to be desired.
GO GET IT!
So the news leaked a bit prematurely yesterday (unfortunately), but today we are all official, and the news is great! Yes, Hasbro will be releasing a G.I. Joe Kre-O set at ComicCon and it contains Sgt. Slaughter and his Marauders vs. the nefarious Iron Grenadiers.
UPROXX has all the latest info, on a set that looks…well… about as insane as you’d expect a Sgt. Slaughter Kre-O set to look. Phenomenal.
Something just leaped to my #1 most wanted list for ComicCon exclusives. Good stuff!
Check out the images below, and thanks to UPROXX for breaking this exciting news!
This must be the night for sneak SDCC reveals, as overseas auction site TaoBao has revealed our first look at the packaging for the ComicCon exclusive “Desert Duel” G.I. Joe boxed set.
The Desert Duel set features Chuckles and the FOE Striker vs. Cobra Elite Horseman and the Cobra Basilisk, with two bonus figures, the Cobra Air Trooper, and Night Fox. The box is fantastic with a bullet-riddled sleeve and really nice looking diorama shot on the back (as well as the great artwork that was originally revealed at the 2015 JoeCon).
It’s very impressive presentation. Big thanks to Chris over on the G.I. Joe Discussion Facebook Group for the heads up!
Yes, I’m considering this a rumor, even though it appears to have some strong basis in fact. At some point tonight it would appear that a YouTube video for an announcement of an upcoming SDCC Exclusive Kre-O set was accidentally published, and some quick fingered Joe fans captures a screen shot contained within.
According to that briefly public YouTube page, we should be expecting a ComicCon exclusive Kre-O set, and it sounds absolutely amazing.
Over on HissTank, an enterprising member went to a cached page for the announcement site and retrieved the following information:
KRE-O G.I. JOE Slaughter’s Marauders vs. Destro’s Iron Grenadiers Set is a special-edition KRE-O construction set that features the debut of Kreon figure Sgt. Slaughter as he leads the Marauders into battle against Destro and the Iron Grenadiers. The Comic-Con exclusive set comes with 12 Kreon figures, including Barbecue, Footloose, Darklon, Voltar, and the debut of Kreon Destro in his leopard-print coat. The set also includes pieces for building Sgt. Slaughter’s Triple T Tank. And the collectible 232-piece set comes packaged in special throwback boxed set packaging resembling VHS cassettes, complete with Sgt. Slaughter and Destro file cards and art that recreates classic G.I. JOE packaging.
I’ve been bummed about a lack of Kre-O news, and while this is just a snippet of what we’ve seen in the past, it’s a pretty awesome snippet. Some great characters and what looks to be an awesome build for Slaughter’s TTT. Check out the screen caps below and thanks to HissTank.com for the info.
That’ll teach me to crash early last night! Thinking that the Gentle Giant 12″ vintage figures represented the G.I. Joe news of Preview Night for SDCC, I logged off early last night, then woke up to the intel that Kre-O Wave 5 was revealed for the first time!
Looking like another fantastic line up by Hasbro, this fifth series gives us the following mini figure Kre-Ons:
- Bullet Man (!!!)
- Stinger Driver
- Dial Tone
- Techno Viper
- Ninja Ku
- Tele Viper
- Battle Damage B.A.T.
The info and images come from HISSTank.com and Toy Ark. Along with Series 5, we also got some great in person looks at the upcoming Terror Drome, which looks… frankly… like the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life, perhaps including my two children.
Check out all of these great images below!
Okay, just when we thought we had it all figured out, thanks to TRU.com, there seems to be more confusion now about exactly how the “Danger at the Docks” SDCC Exclusive 50th Anniversary set will be available.
Over on ToyArk.com a Press Release from Toys “R” Us was revealed, and within the context of that press release, there seems to be an indication that the “Danger at the Docks” G.I. Joe set will NOT be available in Toys “R” Us stores. This has caused some confusion because it’s been pretty widely reported (mostly by me) that this set would not strictly be sold at ComicCon itself.
As it turns out, the most likely result is both stories are true.
Previously there was a Faker/Bizarro 2-Pack from Mattel that was an SDCC Exclusive, but was also available at ToysRUs.com, but was NOT actually in brick & mortar stores. It sounds like that is likely what’s going to happen here. Considering TRU.com themselves has advertised that the Danger at the Docks set will be available online after ComicCon, but they’re also listing it as “Available Only at San Diego Comic-Con” in this latest press release, this sounds like the most likely result.
According to folks I’ve spoken with, the Faker/Bizarro 2 Pack was not especially difficult to get after ComicCon, and certainly far easier than dealing with Hasbro Toy Shop, but at the end of the day, I’d say if you want the Danger at the Docks set, be prepared to jump on it on TRU.com and don’t sit and wait for it to show up at Brick & Mortar. Thankfully SDCC is right around the corner and our long, national nightmare shall soon be over. Check out the full text of the Press Release after the Jump.