CHECKPOINT ALPHA (KRE-O)
Just 14 more days until G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits theaters!!!!! Unfortunately my excitement had been somewhat dampened by the fact that I couldn’t find any new G.I. Joe product anywhere. I’ve been visiting multiple Wal-marts and Toys R Us’ at least once a week in hopes of finding new figures. It’s been killing me seeing all the other Joe news and review sites showing off their new Retaliation figures which they’ve had for weeks now. I finally caved this past weekend and ordered wave 2 of the movie figures online from Big Bad Toy Store. Ordering online is quick and easy but it’s more expensive and part of the fun of collecting is “the hunt”. However, failed hunts are only fun for so long. So I am pleased to say that I should have some new Retaliation figures to review leading up to the release of the movie.
I told myself I wouldn’t get into collecting them when I first saw images of them online, at least not with vigor, but the other items that I’ve been hunting for recently are the new G.I. Joe KRE-O sets. KRE-O is Hasbro’s in-house Lego knock-off which is fully compatible and virtually identical to the real deal. The promotional images of these sets did get me pretty excited but I knew I couldn’t let myself be swayed into collecting them. I’m running out of room in my man cave as it is and building blocks has never really been my thing. But damn they looked cool. I love the original 80’s Real American Hero line. And I love the modern Joe action figures which I feel present a more detailed, and realistic, and maybe grittier version of those 80s figures. As a grown man I appreciate that my favorite toy line has matured. KRE-Os are the complete opposite. The KRE-O line is loaded with vehicles and bases, the colors are bright and the characters are downright adorable. I didn’t think a brick-based cutesy line like this would hold so much appeal to me but I have to admit I’ve been won over. Over the past few weeks I’ve watched as other sites have shared their thoughts on these new Toys R Us exclusive Joe KRE-Os and I’ve been wanting to get in on the action. There are multiple sets available in a variety of sizes and price points and then there are also blind packed individual figures. I told myself that I should try to have some restraint and only buy the blind packs, and maybe the HISS tank set when it’s released eventually.
Well Andrew texted me last Thursday to tell me that he was in Toys R Us and that they had the KRE-O sets. He picked up two of the cheaper sets himself. As soon as I got home from work I made the trek over to Dartmouth and there they were. My Toys R Us did not get any of the blind packs in, and it’s the only Toys R Us in the province so I was S.O.L on that front. This meant I was going to have to buy some of the larger play sets to satisfy my craving for new Joe goodness. I got the two cheapest ones, the same ones Andrew got because I’ll be damned if he has Joes that I don’t, and I also picked up two larger sets. On the way out the door I impulse bought 5 of the blind packed Transformer Kre-Os as well.
The 4 sets I bought were: The G.I. Joe Battle Platform or Air/Sea Base as I referred to it as a kid. This set includes Cobra Commander, Duke and 2 Cobra Troopers. I also bought the Joe’s boat (why isn’t it a hovercraft Hasbro?) which included Cutter, Stalker and Copperhead. I bought the Ninja Showdown set that comes with Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and 2 red ninjas and finally I bought this set: Check Point Alpha.
This set was the cheapest of the bunch, only $12 and my favorite of the bunch. Checkpoint Alpha is exactly what it sounds like, a military checkpoint. The kind you’d see along the road or at the front gates of a military installation. There was a Checkpoint Alpha set released as part of the RAH line back in 1985. It was one of the more affordable play sets back then too. Doug owned it and we both loved it. It was just one of those little things that anybody could afford and it just made the Joe’s little world seem that much more real. This KRE-O version is a fantastic representation of the original and it serves the same purpose of fleshing out the world and giving kids who can’t afford the bigger sets a very cool base of operations for their Joes.
The tower is pretty much exactly how I remember the original. It’s got a little laptop computer inside, a search light, a ladder and 2 levels of play. It also comes with a separate rail fence. The original had a swinging fence attached to the base which is the only thing I’m sad to see is absent. The original Checkpoint didn’t come with any figures, this one provides much more bang for your buck by giving you the Joe team’s Law, his dog Order, the Cobra saboteur Firefly and a motorcycle. I actually can’t believe this set only cost me $12 especially considering the price most little Lego sets go for. I love this set. Building this was so much fun and it brought back nostalgic memories of snapping together my old Joe vehicles (modern vehicles come pre-assembled) as well as my days of playing Castle Lego. I’m actually looking forward to having my nephews over to play with these sometime.
I was actually so impressed with the sets that I went back the next day and bought 4 more. I also bought the rest of the blind bagged Transformers so I suddenly find myself with a rather large KRE-O collection. I highly recommend you pick these up, whether you’re a Lego fan, a Joe fan or both. My pictures don’t do them justice. I had trouble avoiding glare on the flat surfaces. If you like what you see check out other online reviews as there are others out there with far superior photography skills better able to showcase all of the fun little details on these figures and play sets. 8 out of 10.