ALPINE v.2 (2004)
Regular reader and friend of this site, Sidus Ang, pointed out to me the other day that I’ve been doing a lot of modern Joe figure reviews and he requested that I devote some attention to the new sculpt era of G.I.Joe. The period of time we Joe fans call the “new sculpt era” covers 2002 until 2006/2007. The brand had been pretty much dead since the early 90s when Hasbro decided to take another stab at it in 2002. They experimented a lot with figure construction and character design during those few years and while not all of it was successful I was just happy to have Joe figures back on the shelf.
The release of the modern sculpt/25th anniversary style figures in 2007 marked the end of the new sculpt era. While I wholly embraced the anniversary line I was little saddened at the loss of some of the wacky concepts brought about in the new sculpt days. The new sculpt line embraced the early Real American Hero days but they didn’t just rehash what had come before. The line was equally made up of brand new characters alongside familiar faces, but even the old Joes all had new costumes.
The original Alpine (the Joe team’s mountain trooper) was released in 1985; arguably the brand’s best year. I really liked my ’85 Alpine figure. He had a unique look and a unique specialty. One of the coolest things about him was his accessories. He had a pick axe, a backpack that held the axe, a grappling hook gun, and coolest of all, a set of climbing hooks on a string which he used to repel all over my bedroom. The Joes never would have reached Cobra’s mountain fortress on the top bunk if not for Alpine and his trusty climbing gear. His portrayal in the cartoon went a long way in making him a likable character as well.
This here is the second version of Alpine, released in 2004; 19 years after the original. This figure had pretty big shoes to fill and while he’s not as cool as the original he isn’t too shabby.
One of the new concepts Hasbro tried during the new sculpt era was selling figures in 2-packs. We had seen multi figure packs before but they were few and far between in the 80s and 90s. In the early 2000s 2-packs became the norm. Alpine came packaged with a new type of Cobra Trooper, the Swamp Rat. The Swamp Rats were soldiers who had undergone Dr. Mindbender’s venomization process which combined animal DNA with their own. I would have rather seen Hasbro try a little harder to match-up their 2-pack adversaries. Swamp Rat should have been packaged with Muskrat or Tunnel Rat while Alpine could have come packaged with some sort of half-man/half-mountain goat trooper.
This figure is clearly recognizable as Alpine though he has undergone some major changes. In 1985 he was only sporting a mustache whereas now he has a full beard. His uniform seems to be of a much more casual nature this time around too. He’s wearing a short sleeve shirt, a ball cap, and shorts, which doesn’t strike me as overly military. He’s even ditched his signature goggles. This could practically be a figure of weekend Alpine.
This version’s accessories are okay but not as much fun as the originals. There’s no pick axe to impale Cobras with and no backpack to hold it anyway. The hook on a rope remains, but where the original string had hooks on both ends, Alpine always had something to cling to. This version’s string only has a hook on one end and the other end just dangles . You need to tie the loose end into a knot to make any use of it. One thing I like about this figure over the original is that the rope around his chest is a separate piece which can be removed.
Later in 2004 this figure was repainted in green and brown, to more closely resemble the original 1985 figure. I appreciated the throwback but I actually kind of like the mustard shirt and red shorts of this figure. Alpine version 2 doesn’t suffer from the horrible proportion issues that plagued many new sculpt figures so all-in-all I’d say he’s one of the better figures from the era. 7 out of 10.