I’m sure even the most casual G.I. Joe fan remembers the silver headed Destro. Though he was usually seen at Cobra Commander’s side they were uneasy allies at best. Destro was actually an arm’s dealer with no real allegiance to Cobra. His weapon manufacturing company, M.A.R.S. (Military Armaments Research System) sold to Cobra because it was profitable to do so. Destro was often seen going into battle on Cobra’s behalf but it was usually for his own reasons, sometimes just demonstrating the effectiveness of a new weapon on the battlefield in order to sell a bunch of them. Destro actually had an army all his own known as the Iron Grenadiers. Though Destro was introduced way back in 1983 it wasn’t until 1988 that we first got a glimpse of his private army. A second version of Destro was released in ’88, this time he donned a gold helmet, a red cape and an overall more regal outfit with a red, black and gold theme throughout. That year we also got a figure of an Iron Grenadier, one of Destro’s personal body guards who was similarly dressed and colored. This black red and gold color scheme looked great and really differentiated Destro’s troops from Cobras. It’s a shame it was abandoned so quickly. Destro’s forces quickly grew over the next year or two with the release of Iron Grenadier frogmen, vehicle drivers, and pilots. 1989 brought us Destro’s elite airborne assault troopers, the Annihilators.
Destro’s regal color scheme had been thrown out the window by this time. The Annihilators were loudly decked out in orange and purple outfits. My brother Doug owned the 1989 Annihilator. The figure wasn’t exactly menacing looking but he looked pretty cool. I always found his head to be rather duck shaped and his outfit made him look like a bit of a dandy with those braided ropes crossed on on his chest; and then of course there was the bright colors. The coolest thing about the character was his accessories. He came with a helicopter bladed backpack that worked like a jet pack of sorts; a hele-pack. It was pretty nifty.
Ever since their initial release the Annihilators have never been revisited. There were no Annihilators released during the new sculpt era of the early 2000s and they were not included in the 25th anniversary modern sculpt line either. In fact hardly any of the Iron Grenadier specialty soldiers have ever been released again, only the original trooper. Annihilator was a figure I always wanted and even though I rarely buy vintage Joes anymore I did recently purchase a 1989 Annihilator for a couple of bucks online. He didn’t come with his hele-pack but at least I finally had the figure.
Well since Hasbro didn’t seem like they were going to give us a modern Annihilator figure any time soon the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club took it upon themselves to provide fans with one. At the 2012 Joe Con they surprised fans with a few exclusive figures that had not been previously announced. One of those surprises was an army building 3-pack of Annihilators sculpted in the modern style.
I really wanted one of these but finding them online at a reasonable price was tough because most sellers were selling the 3 identical figures packaged together and asking more than I was willing to spend. Luckily I have an awesome girlfriend. I highly recommend anyone without a girlfriend get one because they really come in handy sometimes. It was my birthday yesterday and Vanessa came through BIG TIME. Not only did she get me an Annihilator but she also got me another rare even more desirable Con exclusive Joe figure, plus a bunch of booze, candy, clothes, a bluray and a frig’n tablet. Can I get a slow clap for Vanessa please.
So what are my thoughts on this new Annihilator? He’s pretty sweet. First off the Collector’s Club does not have the resources to create brand new figures from scratch so they have to make do with pieces previously released by Hasbro for the most part. This figure is made up entirely of re-used parts, a true Franken-Joe as we call them. He borrows parts from Snake-Eyes, Snow Job and Air-Viper. His head is the most obvious borrowed piece, it was originally used on the 25th anniversary release of Lamprey. Even Annihilator’s hele-pack is borrowed from another figure. The Collector’s Club has been at this a while now and has a real knack for choosing just the right parts to create something new and cool. This figure is far from an exact update of the ’89 figure but if you didn’t have the old figure in front of you to compare it to you’d probably have a hard time picking out what was changed. The orange and purple color scheme is still intact but it’s much more subdued. I would’ve preferred brighter colors but the new colors are much more believable. The removable web gear on this guy does a good job at recreating the purple vest of the original but improves on the braided rope design by adding a holstered pistol instead.
I also would’ve preferred if this figure did not have a see through visor. The clear purple glass helps to make this figure more believable but I generally don’t like being able to see my Cobra troopers’ faces. It would be cool if he had a solid colored visor that was removable to reveal his face but I wish there was more mystery to this guy’s visage. I thought the same thing when this head was originally released as the head of the Lamprey. Overall this figure is pretty rad. I probably wouldn’t be as stoked about it if it was a standard release figure available at Wal-Marts everywhere but when you factor in his rarity this guy becomes hella cool. 9 out of 10.