I actually posted these reviews a while ago, but stupid me forgot to announce the reviews out on the main page.
Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page or the direct links below:
I believe I may have specifically stated in my G.I. Joe: Retaliation Ultimate Firefly review that Hasbro could never produce another Firefly and I’d be happy. While that might hold true, I can’t argue with the greatness of this Firefly update, and I’m glad that Hasbro elected to ignore my previous statement in that other review.
Granted, this figure pretty much is Ultimate Firefly with some minor additions, but those minor additions make a huge difference and make for a figure that is really cool, even though it’s 95% repaint.
First of all, it helps that the figure they repainted was an excellent one. Ultimate Firefly is widely regarded as one of the nicest figures Hasbro has produced, from the excellent sculpting and great articulation throughout. Somehow Hasbro took the existing figure (which was already terrific) and made some minor additions to it that took it even further.
Great elbow articulation and added wrist motion are both awesome pieces of the existing Firefly mold, which allow him to hold weapons really nicely and achieve some impressive poses. The sculpting in the figure is stellar, with the layered commando turtleneck and shirt, all pretty basic looks, but done so well on these figures. The legs are where this Firefly seems a bit more evolved, however. Rather than the Lifeline parts, we have what appears to be a new holster and knife sheath on the right leg and new pouches on the left. These small changes make a big difference, and I really like what they add to the figure.
Looking at the paint scheme, it seems like Hasbro was almost trying to emulate the o-ring Firefly from 2005 without the red, which is essentially just his familiar camouflage pattern in reverse. If I had any complaints about the Ultimate Firefly it would have been that his camouflage was too light, and the figure looks more gray than camouflage. That’s not an issue here, where the camo is much more clearly defined by color, and it’s a really nice urban look. He looks darker and more deeply camouflage, which is cool, even if he doesn’t directly match his original ’84 rendition.
I have seen some images where Firefly’s lower limbs look dramatically different colors than his upper limbs, but I have to say the difference isn’t that striking in person. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if others hadn’t pointed it out. There is a bit of sloppiness to the camouflage paint, missing some of the crispness of some lines and making the camouflage pattern look somewhat imperfect. Not a huge deal, but something worth mentioning. Also, my figure has a significant paint flaw near the eye holes of the mask which shows a big blotch of flesh colored paint. Another paint related QC issue that bears mentioning. By and large, this second iteration of 50th Anniversary figures has considerably better QC than last year’s did, but there have been some rampaint paint issues that do bear mentioning.
Hasbro didn’t just stop with some additions on the figure itself, though, they added some terrific new accessories, too. Firefly comes with what appears to be a brand new silenced sub machine gun and saboteur themed backpack (with a great knife sheath on it). He’s got his familiar webgear, with the bombs glued on as they were with the Collectors Club Wreckage figure. The backpack is really nicely detailed with intricate paint apps on the newly sculpted piece of equipment. He also comes with the two knives for the sheaths, the same two mines that the Pursuit of Cobra version came with (one of which fits on the backpack). There’s a pistol for his new holster on the right leg, too, the same pistol that’s come with many different figures at this point.
I didn’t think it could get much better than Ultimate Firefly, and in truth, since this figure is just sort of an evolution of that one, it still hasn’t. But as someone who isn’t so connected to the aesthetics of vintage characters, this new paint scheme is a nice look for the character, even if just a reversal of his original colors. Even with a bit of sloppiness on the camouflage blobs and facemask, the figure looks good, and I really love the new additions.
First and foremost, I have to admit that it’s not often that I see a desert trooper decked out in blue and white camouflage.
That being said, that is really my only complaint about this figure, I find myself strangely loving almost every other single part of it. It certainly helps that the base figure is one of my favorite G.I. Joe action figures of all time, the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Duke. I’ve loved that figure since the first time I ever set fingers on it, and this version of Dusty mimics it in all the best ways, and in fact, some might say improves on it with updated arms that include expanded wrist articulation, while maintaining the same range of motion.
For some reason I just love that combination of reactive armor and baggier jungle ops combat pants, and it helps that the articulation of the figure is spectacular. Elbows and knees both have great range of motion, and simply by adding Dusty’s head on there, you can establish a whole new character. No, it doesn’t make much sense to have Dusty in blue and white, but I’ve been pretty vocal in the past that I’m not huge on narrow-fit environmental operatives, so having a great character like Dusty available in color schemes beyond the traditional brown and tan of desert operations is totally cool with me.
Hasbro continues to do great with the “battle worn” Reactive Armor, showing streaks and worn metal throughout the torso in a pretty effective manor. Dusty’s dark blue mixed with white/light blue camouflage does look a little strange and doesn’t fit much preconceived notions for me, but I find myself more than willing to overlook it because the figure is so good.
I will say from a structure/plastic quality perspective, the right knee of my figure is exceptionally loose, which is a bummer. I’m looking into buying a second, though, because I love the figure that much. I have no idea if the loose knee is unique to mine, or if it’s a common theme. Also, my Dusty had a nasty smudge of paint on his face, which I was able to scrape off, but it still didn’t look real good.
Beyond those issues (which may be widespread QC related, or may just be specific to this particular figure) I love this figure a lot more than I ever envisioned. Whether he’s fully equipped or just partially equipped, he is truly fantastic and a lot of fun to
play with…errr… I mean display.
Really, really great accessories here, too. He’s got the helmet/goggles and collar with cape from his Pursuit of Cobra version, which layer on some great detail and character work to a desert operative who may find himself exposed in the wilderness for a long period of time. He also comes with the two machine guns from the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper, one of my favorite figures in recent memory, though I wish the weapons weren’t blue. He can hold them fairly well, but not perfectly, especially the sniper rifle.
Dusty also comes with the great webgear from the PoC Duke figure, along with the pistol and machete.
This figure is great. Upon first glance I had no idea why they had chosen the paint scheme they did (and truthfully, I still don’t) but I can’t get over how much I love the figure formula underneath. Sure, much of that credit should be given to previous sculptors and designers, but the choice to carry it forward was really good, and I’m surprised at how nicely it meshes with the PoC Dusty gear as well. The result is a really great figure version of a good character that I’m happy to have in a non-desert specific paint scheme.
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the way some folks have approached G.I. Joe is that everyone seems so hung up on re-doing vintage figures they don’t leave room for new concepts. Hasbro, in my opinion, has been doing a good job, especially with this recent rendition of their 50th Anniversary line, to explore new ideas as well as revisiting some classic looks.
We got great versions of Gung Ho and Storm Shadow, but also a brand new character in Sightline, and a whole new team in the Wolf Squad. It’s enough to satisfy two different camps. With this “Sneak Attack” 3-Pack there are some new concepts brought to the table, though I’m not sure how successful they all are.
Hasbro elected to put together a different parts formula for Bazooka rather than rely on his 25th Anniversary version, and from a sculpting perspective, I’m glad they did, though using the Retaliation Roadblock parts makes the character a lot larger and more muscular than he might otherwise be perceived to be. The larger base figure also makes the head look pretty small sitting on top of those tall, broad shoulders.
Bazooka uses the torso and arms from Ultimate/Battle Kata Roadblock, but uses the legs from the Wave 1 Roadblock, which unfortunately has reduced knee articulation. Of course, the original Bazooka did as well. One nice thing about the use of the Roadblock Torso is that the split-torso joint is far enough down on the body so the entire “14” from his football jersey sits above it, which means no unsightly split in the middle of the numbers. I like that aspect a lot.
What has me scratching my head, just a bit, is the paint scheme. Designers went outside the box a little bit with the paint apps here, going with a darker blue and very light blue camouflage scheme for reasons unknown. Now, G.I. Joe in the past has certainly been known to use strange camouflage colors and patterns, so I don’t have any major issues with those decisions necessarily, but I do wish some reason had been used for it. Bazooka’s super light (almost white) blue jersey with powder blue numbers doesn’t really resemble anything specifically (though at JoeCon, Mark Weber mentioned, tongue firmly in cheek, that perhaps this was Bazooka’s “away jersey”). The colors here are somewhat bright, though not obnoxiously so, I just wish some reason was given for the eclectic choices. His pants are blue and white camouflage, which might work for a water based operative or parajumper (in fact on one of my early customs, I used a blue and white “Cloud” type camouflage for a parajumper) but Bazooka is really neither.
Again, though, this certainly wouldn’t be the first time a G.I. Joe figure was given a bright, odd color scheme, and it hasn’t bothered me terribly in the past. I think the reason it gives me more pause now is that G.I. Joe in recent years has tried hard to make itself more grounded, and this feels like a departure from that, but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Heck, I’m just glad to see a figure that isn’t meticulously tied back to how the figure looked 30 years ago.
Bazooka comes with lots of his familiar gear, including his excellent backpack with four removable bazooka rounds, plus the bazooka that the rounds can actually fit into. He has his trusty helmet with chin strap, and in case he fires all four rounds, he has a nice tactical shotgun as his backup weapon. Not a ton of gear, but enough and it all works well for the character.
Bazooka’s portrayal in the Sunbow animated series had always soured me on the character, but I’ve learned to appreciate what the cartoon writers were doing with all of these over-the-top characterizations of some of these guys. He’ll never be a character that is central to my G.I. Joe mythology, and this update doesn’t blow me away. I think it makes sense to get Bazooka out there in the same year as characters like Shipwreck, Alpine, Dusty, Gung Ho, and Spirit and it’s quite interesting to stand back and look at this collected group of vintage favorites and see how things have changed.