WASPINATOR

TF-Waspinator fullTRANSFORMERS

I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m not a car guy. That’s partly why I’ve always been a big fan of the Transformers who transform into bugs and animals. As a kid I found robot animals much more fun to play with than cars and trucks. But oddly enough, when the Transformers brand made the switch from the classic Generation 1 (G1) vehicles of the 80s to the all-animal BEAST WARS concept of the 90s I wasn’t a fan.

However, it wasn’t the fact that the Transformers were now all animals that led to my disinterest. This thing is I was a teen by the time the Beast Wars toyline and cartoon launched in the 90s so obviously it had less of an impact on me than the G1 stuff did in the early to mid-80s when I was an impressionable child. Plus I didn’t care for the 3D animated look of the show. I actually went to 3D animation college in 1998/1999 but to this day I prefer classical hand-drawn animation because that’s what I grew up on. My little brother Brian however loved Beast Wars and its follow-up Beast Machines. He was too young to experience G1 at its prime. So while I was all about Autobots and Decepticons he was all about Maximals and Predacons. Since he watched it every day I caught the odd episode and I appreciated how the writers made an effort to link the 2 generations together; the Beast Wars years fit into G1 continuity during the years that the Autobots slept dormant in their crashed spaceship.TF-Waspinator face

I’m familiar with most of the Beast Wars characters but I don’t have a personal attachment to any of them. Waspinator, who transforms into a wasp, was one of the Predacon henchmen on the show. He was kind of a bumbling inept character as most cartoon henchmen tend to be. He spoke in a distinctive buzzy voice. He was kind of neat looking but he didn’t hold a candle to the G1 Insecticons in my mind. When I started collecting Transformer toys again in the 2000s I was pretty excited about getting updated versions of the G1 characters I loved because I had long since gotten rid of all my childhood Transformer toys. But I had zero interest in getting updated versions of Beast Wars characters. Even though they were all technically part of a shared animated continuity I had no desire to collect Maximals and Predacons.

TF-Waspinator backAnother thing I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before is how much I love the Transformers comics published by IDW. The IDW stories feature the G1 characters in a brand-new continuity that harkens back to the old cartoons and comics of the 80s. For the past few years IDW has been knocking it out of the park with great artwork and storytelling. The writers have managed time and again to turn background G1 characters I never cared about before, like Swerve and Tailgate, into some of my absolute favorite Transformers.

Well for the past year or so Beast Wars characters have begun popping up in the comics. Rat Trap and Waspinator, most notably, have both taken on very prominent roles in the series. Rat Trap is the right hand man of the democratically elected ruler of Cybertron, Starscream, and Waspinator served as an unwitting pawn of Shockwave in his latest scheme. These characters are now firmly established in the G1 Universe and they seamlessly interact with the characters I grew up on. The result of that is that I must now own these characters in action figure form.TF-Waspinator pose

This 2014 Waspinator figure was released under the “Generations” banner.  I really like this figure in both his robot and bug modes. The color choices are very nice.  He’s primarily dark green but he also also has lighter green, black and yellow striped, brown, blue, and translucent parts.  They all come together to make a vibrant figure that really stands out amongst the other Transformers on my shelf.  But as great as the colors are I wouldn’t mind seeing a black and purple repaint of this figure so that he could be displayed as a member of the original Insecticons.

One interesting aspect of Waspinator’s robot design is how buggy it is. The original Insecticons like Bombshell and Shrapnel didn’t look anything like bugs when they were in robot mode. Waspinator, on the other hand, retains his big segmented bug eyes and mandibles in both bodes. He also has wings and segmented bug legs which are both very noticeable and exposed while in his robot mode. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though as it adds to his uniqueness.

The figure is well articulated and he has a striped stinger gun as an accessory. I like it. 8 out of 10.TF-Waspinator bug

4-LOM (1982)

SW-4lom fullSTAR WARS

Everybody who likes Star Wars loves the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunters. Other than Boba Fett, each of them only had a couple seconds of screen time in a single scene and none of them had any dialogue and yet they managed to steal that scene from Darth Vader anyway. They all just looked so completely badass. Most people’s favorite bounty hunter is Boba Fett for obvious reasons; he looks cool as hell and he’s the only one who actually did anything. My brother Doug owned the vintage Boba Fett action figure when we were kids essentially claiming the character as his own. Ergo, I had to choose another bounty hunter as my favorite. I picked the robot IG-88. He was the only bounty hunter I owned in toy form. We didn’t have Dengar or Zuckuss and Doug owned Bossk and 4-LOM.SW-4lom back

 

 

Like pretty much every other kid in the world Doug and I thought 4-LOM’s name was Zuckuss in the 80s because that’s how the package labelled him. Conversely, the vintage Zuckuss action figure’s package was labelled 4-LOM. Since the characters were never referred to by name on screen we took Hasbro’s word for it that those names were correct. It wasn’t until years later that Hasbro rectified their naming mix-up.

It was hard to know what to make of 4-LOM when this figure first came out in 1982. Is he a robot or a bug? Or some sort of robot bug? His body is pretty much the exact same as C-3PO’s and his head looks like that of a giant housefly with large segmented eyes and a weird little proboscis . I always assumed he was half-robotic and half-biological but according to his wiki biography he’s a straight-up droid.SW-4lom guns

Like most background characters from the movies 4-LOM had all kinds of adventures in the expanded universe of the Star Wars comics and novels. I never got into any of that stuff so all the information gathered from wiki is new to me. Apparently he and Zuckuss were best friends who worked together as a bounty hunter team and for a short time 4-LOM even joined the great rebellion.

Mind you, all of that stuff was recently swept from continuity so who really cares. 4-LOM has a clean slate now going into Star Wars’ new Disney-owned era.SW-4lom zuck movie

I recently acquired this figure, along with fellow bounty hunters Zuckuss and Boba Fett, from my new friend Nate who contacted me through this blog to see if I’d be interested in purchasing some of his childhood toys. You can read more about that haul in my Super Powers Robin review.

Nate’s figures were in great shape and most of them had all of their accessories. The 4-LOM he sold me for five bucks was equipped with 2 large rifles. I think the figure only came with one originally so I guess I scored a bonus one.SW-4lom zuck

This vintage 4-LOM looks just how I remember him from Doug’s collection. He’s sculpted in a shiny metallic gray plastic.  This looks like a 4-LOM fresh off the assembly line since he lacks any of the rust colored weathering detail seen in the movie and on the 1997 figure.  There’s lots of sculpted detail in his creepy face and throughout the body. The wiki page provides that 4-LOM’s body was constructed on set from spare C-3PO parts confirming that he is indeed a protocol droid gone bad. However I saw no mention of the origins of his head. I’m curious if it was originally part of a fly costume lying around the studio that they just slapped on top of the C-3PO body or whether it was specifically designed to look this way. Either way I like it.

4-LOM is cool and creepy and this figure holds up remarkably well. 8 out of 10.

1982 and 1997 4-LOMs

1982 and 1997 4-LOMs

MALE DAREDEVIL

AP-Male Daredevil fullADVENTURE PEOPLE

I’ve been on a roll lately with these reviews.  I’ve posted 9 in the past 5 days. I’d kind of like to take a night off, and it is Wednesday so I have a big stack of new comics to read, but I’d hate to slow the momentum.  So I’ve decided to write a really quick review before I retire to the bedroom with my comics.  I chose a figure that I already had a picture of saved on my computer and that I wouldn’t have much to say about; I chose the Male Daredevil from Fisher Price’s Adventure People line.

This figure was produced in the late 70s/early 80s.  I don’t have it in front of me at the moment so I can’t check the date which is likely stamped on his ass or his inner thigh.  I had a handful of Adventure People when I was a kid but I got rid of all of them except the Male Pilot I named Mark.  I really liked these toys; they made for great civilians when I was playing G.I. Joe.  I really wish I hadn’t gotten rid of them all because some of them go for big bucks on the secondary market now.  Last Christmas my brother Doug replaced  the Adventure People Land Speed Racer toy that I had lost in a public sandpit 30 years earlier.

I didn’t have the Male Daredevil when I was a kid but Doug and I owned similar looking dudes.  I acquired this guy in a small lot of Adventure People I bought on eBay a while back when I was feeling nostalgic. I previously reviewed the Male Outdoorsman from that lot whom I had named Bruce after my dad.  Like Bruce, the Daredevil is pretty plain.  Most of the Adventure People were pretty plain but that’s whats so cool about them; they’re action figures of everyday ordinary people.AP-Male daredevil van

This guy was apparently part of a set called the Daredevil Sports Van.  I found a pic of the set online and it appears to have included van, a motorcycle, 2 dudes, a kayak, a parachute, and a blanket.  It looks like it would have been a fun set to play with in the backyard.  You’ve got land, sea, and air covered.

I like how happy this guy looks.  He obviously loves being a daredevil.  He might not be smiling so much if he wipes out though because other than his helmet and goggles he doesn’t seem to be wearing any other protective gear. This guy’s outfit lacks sculpted detail but it’s extremely colourful so at least he has that going for him.  As a stand alone figure he gets a 5 but the complete set would’ve been an 8 or a 9.  5 out of 10.

GREEN GOBLIN (2014)

Marv-Green Goblin mash fullMARVEL: SUPER HERO MASHERS

It’s time for another Green Goblin action figure review. This is the third one I’ve written in the past 6 months. The first one I reviewed was the Marvel Legends build-a-figure Ultimate Green Goblin, which was nothing to call home about. After I realized that the lackluster Ultimate version was the only Green Goblin figure I had ever reviewed in my 2 1/2 years writing this blog I decided I’d better review a more traditional Goblin figure. I had many to choose from but I opted to share my thoughts on the unarticulated 12” toy produced by Remco in 1978, a toy I’ve owned since I was a wee child. That toy is pretty cool in a retro sort of way and it has a lot of nostalgic value with me but it was never all that fun to play with because it didn’t move. I have yet to review a great Green Goblin figure and I own at least 3 of those that I can think of off the top of my head. But those great figures will have to wait until another day because today I’ll be reviewing another mediocre Goblin figure.

For the past year or so Hasbro has been producing these clunky stylized figures called Mashers. The idea behind them is that they pop apart quite easily and the parts can be swapped amongst the various figures. So far they have Marvel and Transformers Mashers so if you want to create a super hero with Spider-Man’s head, Optimus Prime’s body and Iron Man’s legs you can do that. I suspect we’ll see Mashers from other Hasbro brands like Star Wars  and maybe G.I. Joe in the near future.Marv-Green goblin mash pose

I’ll admit I was tempted to pick up one or two of the Marvel Mashers when they first hit the shelves  a few months back but I resisted the urge. I already collect Marvel characters in the 3 ¾” Universe scale and I buy a number of them in the 6” Legends scale as well so the last thing I need to do is start collecting the same characters in a third format. However, I find the Transformers Mashers even more enticing. Especially the Optimus Prime and Megatron because they’re both great representations of the characters in their original G1 robot modes; something I don’t currently have in my collection. I haven’t picked them up yet but it crosses my mind every time I see them in the toy aisle.

Marv-Green goblin mash backThe Mashers are clearly geared towards children. They’re big, colorful, durable, and they don’t come with a bunch of small accessories. They’re a big hit with my brother Doug’s kids. My nephews Alex and Luke already have a Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Dr. Doom, Deadpool, Hulk, and Iron Patriot. Doug has already picked up a few more to give them as Christmas presents and when I asked him last week what I should buy for them (I’m trying to start early this year) he suggested I pick them up a couple more. It just so happened Mashers were on sale at Wal-mart last week so I went out and picked up Wolverine and Green Goblin for the boys. I got home and told Doug about my haul and he informed me that the Goblin was one of the figures he already had set aside for Christmas. So I went back out the next day and bought Hawkeye.

Now, I know I could have simply exchanged the Goblin for Hawkeye but at less than $10 a pop I wasn’t too concerned about the money. Besides, the Green Goblin was my favorite Spidey villain when I was a kid (he probably still is) so I figured I’d just keep him for myself.Marv-Green goblin mash face

This is a pretty nice version of the Goblin. He’s very classically attired in his original outfit: green scaly leggings, a purple bathing suit from the 1920s, a goblin mask, and a purple sleeping cap. The outfit may be a little silly, and I can see why they avoided it in the live-action movies, but as a toy it works great. The face has big yellow eyes, pointy ears, and an evil sneer just as it should. Not bad at all.

The reason I said before that it’s only a mediocre version of the Goblin is because I have far better versions of the character and this one does have a few faults. Primarily it’s a little too pre-school to be “cool”, plus he has weird sockets all over his body. They’re there so you can attach additional parts when mashing, which I’m sure would be fun for my nephews, but it detracts from the figure as a display piece.Marv-Green Goblin mash mixed

The Goblin came with 3 pumpkin bombs which is pretty cool as they were always his primary weapons in the comics. The pumpkins have little pegs on them so they can be placed in any of the sockets including those on his hands. Another issue I have with this toy is that it doesn’t have a glider. A Green Goblin without a glider is like a Lone Ranger without a horse, it just ain’t right.

Overall, it’s a fun figure but it won’t be something I’ll be displaying in my man cave. 6 out of 10.

BURNOUT v.1 (2003)

Joe-Burnout v1 fullG. I. JOE

I don’t usually get requests for reviews but every now and again someone will ask me to write about something specific. I usually try to honour those requests promptly but there are 2 requests I received quite some time ago which I never followed up on. The first was for the new TMNT Shredder figure with a removable helmet. I couldn’t review that figure because I didn’t own it and at the time it was brand new and nearly impossible to find. That figure is readily available everywhere now and even though I’m not personally interested in it I’ve considered purchasing it solely so I could write that requested review. One of these days I’ll pick it up. (even though that reader has probably long since left me).

The other request was less specific. Someone asked me to review a Dreadnok. The Dreadnoks are a misfit gang of hooligans who are often contracted out by Cobra to assist in their battle against G.I. Joe. I have a bunch of Dreadnok figures and I could’ve reviewed one right away but I was in the midst of a flurry of G.I. Joe reviews at the time becauseI was trying to complete reviews of all the figures from the 2014 Joe Con Collector’s set. I try to keep this blog diverse by reviewing toys from multiple toy lines so I put the Dreadnok request on the back burner for a while as I felt the blog needed a break from G.I. Joe.Joe-Burnout v1 arms

I’ve reviewed several non-Dreadnok Joe figures since that time (it’s usually a spur of the moment decision which toy I feel like talking about) but it’s always been in the back of my mind to honour that request and today is the day. I’ve selected a Dreadnok to review for your viewing pleasure. I can’t recall who made the request (was it you, Sidus?) but I’m sure whoever it was did not have this guy in mind. You could ask 100 Joe fans who their favorite Dreadnok is and I’m certain no one would say Burnout.

The first 3 Dreadnoks, Torch, Ripper, and Buzzer were released in 1985. Monkeywrench followed in ’86. The 4 of them were all bikers so it would’ve been easy to describe the Dreadnoks as a biker gang. But then they added a poacher, a pirate, and a couple of punks to the mix and that description went out the window. The strange mish-mash of characters in a single gang may not have made much sense but all the Dreadlocks were cool in their own right.  My brother’s Doug’s favorite Dreadnok was Thrasher who drove the Mad Max inspired Thunder Machine and mine was Road Pig the bi-polar brute who carried a cinder block on a stick as a weapon.

Joe-Burnout v1 backDuring the new sculpt era (2002- 2007) many of the classic Dreadnoks got updated figures. The 2004 Convention set padded the Dreadnok ranks with a group of bandana wearing rednecks known as the Deadheads with names like Joe-Bob and Billy-Bob, but excluding those ill-conceived goofballs there was only one brand-new Dreadnok released during the new sculpt years and that was Burnout.

Burnout is notable in that he was the first African American bad guy in the G.I. Joe line. Though admittedly it wasn’t easy to discern his ethnicity based on this figure. He has long flowing hair and his skin tone makes him look more Latino than black. It wasn’t until Burnout version 2 was released 8 years later with a darker skin tone and dreadlocks that I knew for sure.

Many new-sculpt figures suffered from bad articulation and wonky proportions but this figure isn’t too bad.  His torso is kind of short but otherwise he looks pretty good.  The design is relatively simple but the sculpt has a few neat little details. For example, I really like his bandaged hands and forearms with the embedded brass knuckles.   The barded wire wrapped around his chest doesn’t seem like a good idea but at least its interesting.    His pants are kind of weird too because I can’t tell if he has two-toned jeans or if he’s wearing leather chaps.  The head sculpt is very nice and has lots of personality.Joe-Burnout v1 compare

One curious aspect of this figure is the splotches on his shirt. It is unknown if they’re supposed to be a design on the shirt (some really bad camouflage perhaps) or maybe grease stains from working under the Thunder Machine (his file card describes him as a mechanic). You could even presume that the splotches represent holes in his shirt because the paint is close to his skin tone and he is wearing a barbed wire bandolier.

I bought my Burnout used without any of his weapons but he originally came with a shotgun and a riot gear outfit (so he could disguise himself as a military policeman, it was his Spy Troops gimmick).

Some of my favorite new-sculpt figures were the new characters that breathed some new life into the line. This figure may not be perfect but I like the concept. Burnout is a relatively clean slate but I hope to see him explored further someday in either the comics or perhaps a new animated series. 6 out of 10.

NEWTRALIZER (2014)

TMNT-Newt fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Playmates new line of Ninja Turtle figures are a real mixed bag when it comes to quality. The initial 4 turtle figures were great but some of the incidental characters from wave 1 were less so. In each subsequent wave I’ve  continued to find the figures of the supporting cast to be largely underwhelming. Not only are they lacking in articulation but some of the designs are downright awful. But every time I think I’m done collecting this line I stumble across another pretty cool toy.

I was browsing around Toys R Us the other day when I found a lone Newtralizer figure amongst a sea of turtles and crappy villains. I had never seen this figure before nor had I even heard of the character it so it caught be by surprise. I snagged him from his peg just to be on the safe side; the non-turtle figures TMNT can still be pretty tough to find in my area. If I didn’t grab him then and there god knows when I’d see him in the wild again.TMNT-Newt back

Most of the modern TMNT toys I’ve bought are new versions of old characters I liked when I was a kid, like Leatherhead, Metalhead, or Mutagen Man. I don’t usually care much for the new characters like Fish Face or Dogpound. The one new character figure I did pick up, Cockroach Terminator, turned out to be a real dud. But unlike the other new characters Newtralizer had a few things going for him that appealed to me.

First off he’s a newt. I’ve always loved salamanders. I use to go into the woods across the street from my house and collect salamanders from under the rocks. I would build little habitats for them in my fish tanks. I’ve always been fascinated by lizards and up here in Atlantic Canada you don’t come across lizards very often, if ever. Catching salamanders was as close as I came to owning a pet lizard when I was a kid. Newtralizer is painted in a color pattern very reminiscent of the salamanders I hoarded back in the day with his dark body and speckled orange belly.  Another neat thing about the paint job is the obvious nod to the Punisher’s skull on Newtralizer’s belly.

TMNT-Newt face

Secondly, his design is simple. He’s a relatively realistic looking newt with a belt and some shoulder pads. Many of the other new characters are overly stylized and really lean. Newtralizer is a good solid figure.

Thirdly, he’s a good guy, sort of. I was quite surprised to see him on the good guy side of the figure checklist when I looked the back of the package. He sure looked like a bad guy.  When  got home I read his brief bio on wikipedia and it turns out that he’s an assassin and criminal who’s an enemy of both the turtles and Kraang. I always think it’s cool when you throw a few lone wolves or new factions into a well established conflict like Destro and the Iron Grenadiers in G.I. Joe or the Evil Horde in Master’s of the Universe.TMNT-Newt art

Lastly, his name is Newtralizer and he’s a newt. You can’t beat that.

I really like the look of this character but the figure wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. It’s lacking in articulation which I’ve come to expect that with this line but I really wish Playmates would step up their game for future releases. Neutralizer swivels at the neck and he has ball joints at the hips and shoulders.  I’m not a fan of the way the legs attach to the body; its like they’re just tacked on.  Also, his legs are sculpted with bent knees and it appears that if the legs could be straightened out they wouldn’t be the same length.

TMNT-Newt sideNewtralizer comes with 2 weapons; a knife and a round bladed disc. They’re pretty plain accessories sculpted in solid gray plastic with no paint apps. With a name like Newtralizer and a nod to the Punisher in his design I would think this guy should be much more heavily armed with loads of guns and weapons.  Apparently he does all his neutralizing with a jackknife. weak.

This figure isn’t great but it’s pretty good. If I owned this toy when I was a kid Newtralizer could have lived in a swamp (my aquarium) where he’d rule over a legion of salamander warriors. It would’ve been fun. 6 out of 10.

JAYDEN

HF-Jayden fullHEROES FORCE

Back in 2012 I posted a review of the first wave of Heroes Force figures.  Heroes Force is a line of action figures created by a couple of Canadian guys, Shannon Thibodeau (a Canadian Forces Member) and John Alan Sperry, (a graphic designer).  The first wave of 3 figures and were named Thibodeau, Sperry, (named after the creators) and Watson (named after Scott Watson, an acquaintance of Thibodeau who was  integral in getting the product to market). The figure designs were based on today’s Canadian Military soldiers in the three aspects of the forces, Army, Navy and Air Force.  The figures were essentially all the same, decked out in green camouflage, but differentiated by their facial hair and the color of their berets.  My local comic shop, Strange Adventures, was one of a handful of retailers selling the figures.  I thought it was really cool to have a line of figures based on the Canadian Forces so I bought up all three.  The packaging was pretty plain but prominently featured the Canadian flag and a giant maple leaf.  I was dying to open them up but I thought they would look nice tacked to the wall carded so thats what I did. HF-Jayden carded

Not long afterwards a second wave of 3 figures was released.  The second wave was much more diverse.  Wave 2 consisted of a soldier in desert camo, a bearded soldier in winter camo, and an African Canadian soldier  in green camo.  Each figure in wave 2 came with a backpack and a machine gun (the figures in the first wave didn’t come with any accessories).  I bought wave 2 as well and as much as I wanted to open at least one of them I decided to keep the whole set carded.   It crossed my mind to buy a double of one of the figures so that I had one to open but they retail for $19.99 which isn’t cheap for such a simple figure so I resisted that urge.  My 6 Heroes Force figures have been displayed proudly on my wall for the past 2 years. I’ve been meaning to get around to reviewing one of the wave 2 figures for a while but they’re kind of  a pain in the ass to get off the wall.HF-Jayden group

This past Wednesday I was at Strange Adventures buying my weekly haul of comics as I do every Wednesday.  It’s not unusual for the shop to hook me up with little goodies from time to time like a free comic or a movie pass which is always appreciated.  They gave me a pass to see Nightcrawler a couple of weeks ago which was fantastic by the way.  Well this week, for whatever reason, after I paid for my books the clerk (I don’t know all the new kids names yet)  told me I could grab a free Heroes Force figure if I wanted.  Score.HF-Jayden cardback

So I picked up Jayden here and now I finally have a Heroes Force figure that I can open up and play with display.  On the back of the desert colored  blister card is a clip-out file card similar to those found on G.I. Joes. Jayden’s file card says that he is a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).  That sounds like kind of a wussy name for a military division but according to the card the PPCLI is one of Canada’s most famous infantry regiments.  Apparently they were founded at the outbreak of WWI and quickly established a reputation for ground-breaking leadership, service and sacrifice. The regiment is composed of 2000 soldiers has been awarded 39 Battle Honours. Well know I know, and knowing is half the battle.HF-Jayden run

 

 

 

The figure looks really nice.  The camo pattern is done really well and the crown symbol on the chest and the Canadian flag on the arm are done in very precise detail.  His name is even finely written above his breast pocket.  Overall the paint job is excellent, with perhaps one exception…my Jayden has crazy eyes.

The sculpt is a pretty simple one.  Other than a few pockets the figure is pretty smooth.  It lacks details like the wrinkles in the fabric found on many Joe figures.  The helmet isn’t removable which is kind of a bummer but it looks great.  I actually think it looks much more realistic than most Joe helmets.

The figure has decent articulation.  He  swivels at the neck, has ball jointed shoulders,  and has standard joints at the elbows, hips, and knees.  He stands up pretty good on his own but I wish he came with a display base.  The figure doesn’t even have holes in his feet so I can’t use generic stands.HF-Jayden back

 

This is a good quality figure but his torso feels somewhat fragile, like if I really squeezed it between 2 fingers it might break apart.  The other issue I have with this figure is he can’t really hold his gun and his backpack doesn’t stay on very well either.

Despite those few issues I think this figure is great and its making me consider buying doubles of the others so I can open the whole gang.  As a Canadian, I would have loved to have these figures when I was a kid.  I can imagine the Canadian government sending Jayden down to the US to assist G.I. Joe in some international crisis.  That would have been a lot of fun to play out.  8 out of 10.HF-Jayden tank

 

COBRA TROOPER v.20 (2014)

Joe-Trooper v20 fullG. I. JOE: 50TH  ANNIVERSARY

In my last post I reviewed the original 1982 Cobra Trooper. Today I’m going to take a look at 2014’s 50th anniversary version of that figure. Now, you might have noticed that the math doesn’t quite add up there. How very astute of you. 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the overall G.I. Joe brand dating back to the release of the first 12” doll back in 1964. Back then Joe didn’t have any enemies, just a bunch of outfits. It wasn’t until the brand was revived in 1982 in a new 3 3/4″ scale that Joe finally had an opponent, the terrorist group known as Cobra.

The Cobra trooper, or “blueshirt”, practically made up Cobra’s entire organization in the very early days of the new G.I. Joe. They did everything from working in the laboratory to manning the computer terminals to piloting the aircraft. As new specialty troopers were added to the organization the blueshirts role within Cobra was reduced but none of those specialty troops, not even the new standard infantry soldiers the Vipers, were able to push the blueshirts out completely.Joe-Trooper v20 back

 

The troopers are still an integral part of Cobra even after 32 years. Their look has been altered slightly here and there but they’ve retained their original design for the most part and they’ve remained a mainstay of every incarnation of G.I. Joe from the comics published by IDW, to the various animated series’ (Resolute, Renegades), to the live action movies (Retaliation). No other faction of Cobra is so prolific.

Joe-Trooper v20 side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  3 3/4″ toyline went through major overhaul in 2007 when Hasbro launched its 25th anniversary line of figures (that anniversary was in regards to the launch of the 1982 figures). The first wave of anniversary figures consisted of 5 Joes and 5 Cobras released in multi-figure box sets. Hasbro chose what they thought were the most iconic characters for each team. The Cobra Trooper was one of the 5 Cobra characters chosen. The success of those initial box sets lead to the anniversary line being expanded beyond the initially planned 25 figures into a massive toyline that’s still plugging along today.  These 50th anniversary figures are the latest addition to what has become known as the modern era of G.I. Joe.

Joe-Trooper v20 faceThe first modern version of the Cobra Trooper was decent but there was room for improvement.  This figure still isn’t perfect but it’s a step in the right direction. This figure was initially released in 2011 as part of the the “Pursuit of Cobra” (POC) series.  The POC figures were notoriously hard to find at retail so I suppose that’s partly why Hasbro decided to re-release it as part of the 50th anniversary line.  I’m sure many collector’s are happy to have a second chance at this figure.  The only disceranble differences between the two are that this version has a larger Cobra logo on the chest and the smaller Cobra logo on the left arm is gold instead of red.

There’s a ton of great sculpted detail on this figure.  The outfit is full of wrinkles and pockets but it’s not so busy as to feel cluttered.   His right leg has a sheath and a holster where you can store his knife and pistol. Both his web gear and helmet are removable.  Beneath the helmet he has short brown hair which is an improvement over the bald headed 2007 version.  This figure has loads of articulation including ankle joints and double jointed knees so he can be posed all kinds of ways.

Joe-Trooper v20 bazooka

He came packaged with a rifle, a bazooka, 2 pistols with silencers, a knife, a coil of barbed wire, and a display base with a gold Cobra logo.  He’s armed much better than the 1982 version was but sometimes these extra weapons just feel like overkill.  I’d gladly accept fewer weapons with my figures if it would drive the cost down a little.

This is a great update of the original blueshift.  I’m always happy to add a new version of the trooper to my Cobra ranks.  They’re available in Toys R Us right now so go get one.  9 out of 10.

Joe-Trooper v20 squad

 

 

COBRA TROOPER v.1 (1982)

Joe-Trooper v1 fullG. I. JOE

In many, if not most, of the reviews I post I include a hyperlink to a previous post so that you can easily check out another toy I’ve referenced in the review. I’ve noticed that I tend to link back to a few particular toys a lot. For example, Rocky Rhino is a figure I link to a lot because he was the designated leader of my “good guy” Battle Beasts when I was a kid, which I mention every time I review another good guy Battle Beast. Walrus Man from Star Wars and Mer-Man from Masters of the Universe come a lot simply because they were my favorite figures from those vintage lines. When it comes to G.I. Joe the most referenced figure has to be the Cobra Trooper. The reason the Cobra Troopers, known by fans as blueshirts, comes up so often is because they’re the backbone of the Cobra organization. The standard Cobra Trooper and the very similarly attired Cobra Officer were the very first G.I. Joe villains. They were released in 1982 which was the inaugural year of the 3 ¾ inch “Real American Hero” (RAH) Joe figures. In the early days of G.I. Joe the cartoons and comics were densely populated with blueshirts.

pic borrowed from yojoe.com

pic borrowed from yojoe.com

As the toyline grew each year new specialized troopers were added to Cobra’s  roster and the standard troopers and officers were seen less and less. Almost every time I review one of those subsequent trooper types, and I’ve reviewed quite a few (Ice Viper, Frag Viper, Viper, etc.), I mention how they are following in the footsteps of the original Cobra Trooper. The problem is I haven’t reviewed a “proper” Cobra Trooper that I can link to.

Joe-Trooper v1 faceThe Trooper has been around so long (32 years) that multiple variations have sprung up over the years. In one of my very early reviews back in February 2012 I reviewed Cobra Trooper version 9. The sculpt of that figure is pretty much spot on as to how a blueshirt should look. However that figure isn’t a great representative of the standard trooper because he was included in a desert environment-themed set so he’s wearing a tan outfit. I can’t exactly refer to a blueshirt only to link to a tanshirt.

I reviewed Cobra Trooper version 17 back in June 2012. That figure was included in the first wave of figures tied into the second live-action movie, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It was a cool design but not at all faithful to the look of the troopers in the movie and quite far removed from the original blueshirt design.  I could never link to that figure in reference to the look of the standard Cobra Trooper.Joe-Trooper v1 gun

The best example of a standard Cobra Trooper that I’ve reviewed thus far, and the post I have been linking to when I make reference to the blueshirt, is a figure that is technically called Cobra Squad Leader v.1 but which I named Scarface in the post. The figure is pretty much a perfect example of the standard trooper. He’s got the classic outfit and it’s the right color. And yet, the inclusion of two scars across his eyes, which was done as an easter egg for old-school fans like myself, turns that figure into a unique character and not just a generic infantry man.

You see, in the early issues of the Marvel comic, writer Larry Hama didn’t have very many characters to work with so he created a few. One of his original creations was Scarface, a Cobra Officer with very distinctive scars across his face. So while that figure wasn’t marketed as a unique character fans knew who he really was. Therefore, I don’t feel that that particular toy is the best one to link to when referring to a standard Cobra blueshirt.

Joe-Trooper v1 compare

So today I’ve decided to review the absolute best example of the Cobra Trooper that I can link to from here on out, the 1982 original.

The first wave of Joe figures holds a special place in my, and many other Joe fans hearts. The “original 13” Joes are revered by most collectors who were around at the dawn of the RAH toyline . But the first wave of figures consisted of more than just the 13 good guys, there were also 2 bad guys who were both called “The Enemy”. Though they shared the same name on the front of their blister cards, the Cobra Trooper and Officer were distinguished as having different ranks in the file cards on the back of the package. My brother Doug owned the Officer and I had the Trooper. I loved this figure back when I got him in the early 80s and I still love him now. I think the look holds up very well. Most of the original Joes were dressed in realistic military uniforms. The Cobra outfits weren’t based on any real world uniforms but they weren’t unbelievable or outlandish like later Cobra trooper outfits would be.Joe-Trooper v1 group

The original blueshirt sculpt consists of a relatively non-descript body molded in dark blue plastic with black paint apps on the belt, boots, and webgear. A red cobra emblem is stenciled on the center of his chest. The head consists of a blue helmet and a black balaclava over the mouth and nose. It’s become an iconic look. The only issues most people had with this original figure is that the head was too round and the eyes were rather sleepy. Both of these issues were resolved when the figure was rereleased in 2004 with a brand new head sculpt (the Scarface version, which came packaged with 5 other troopers in a Toys R us exclusive 6-pack).

For accessories the ’82 Cobra Trooper came with a single sniper rifle which is all he really needed.

I think this is a fantastic figure. 10 out of 10.

ZODAC & BEAST MAN minis (2014)

MOTU-Zodac mini BeastmanMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE MINIS

Another pack of Masters of the Universe minis arrived in the mail the other day. This is the fifth of six 2-packs to be released this year. My build-a-playset mini Castle Grayskull is nearly complete now. This pack included the bottom half of the left turret leaving only the upper half absent; it will be included in December’s final 2014 mini-pack. But as neat as the castle component is it’s merely an added bonus. The real stars of the set are the two mini figures, Zodac and Beast Man.MOTU-Beastman mini full

Beast Man is the evil warrior of the set. He will join the ranks of previously released baddies Skeletor, Scareglow, Mer-Man, and Faker. Beast Man is one of the main MOTU villains. He’s been around since the very first wave of figures. I recently wrote all about him in my review of the 2008 “Classics” Beast Man. I’m a big fan of this character and this mini figure does not disappoint. All the key Beast Man elements are accounted for from the furry collar to the face paint.MOTU-Beastman mini compare

He came with 2 accessories, his whip and a flail. What’s odd, however, is that he only has one closed fist able to hold accessories. The other hand is sculpted open which is great for bitch-slapping He-Man but not so good for holding weapons. This is the first mini to have a sculpted open hand so I’m unsure what the thought process was behind it, especially considering he came packaged with 2 weapons. His inability to hold all of his weapons at once aside, this is a great little figure.

MOTU-Zodac fullThe pack’s hero is Zodac who is joining fellow mini Masters: He-Man, Stratos, Moss Man, and Man-at-Arms. Zodac is one of the most mysterious MOTU characters. My brother Doug had the original figure when we were kids and I believe it was his favorite of all the heroic characters. His helmet made him look futuristic, like he’d be a technology guy, but he was portrayed as a kind of know-it-all mystic in the cartoons.  He didn’t appear in media tie ins regularly so it was tough to learn more about him.   Some interesting design features of the original toy were a hairy chest and 3-toed creature feet.  All that strangeness is partly what made him so interesting. Zodac went through a drastic transformation in the 200X MOTU series. The updated version was African American with glowing blue tattoos all over his body. He had normal feet and had discovered waxing.  Plus his helmet was removable so his entire face could be seen for the first time. The 200X figure was the first version of the character I owned and I really liked how black Zodac (who was later established as a separate character named Zodak) was portrayed in the 200X animated series so I’m a little torn as to which version I like more. This mini version is based on the vintage hairy white guy with the weird toes. It’s my first version of the original Zodac because he’s one of the few characters I missed out on from the Classics line.MOTU-Zodac mini back

Zodac also comes with 2 weapons, a laser gun which came with the 1982 original, and a staff thing that came with the 200X version. The staff splits apart so it can fit into his closed fists.  Zodiac’s look really lends itself to the stylized angular design of these mini figures. I think he may be my favourite mini to date.  This is definitely my favourite mini 2-pack to date because both characters are awesome. 9 out of 10.MOTU-Zodac mini castle

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