LOWLIGHT v.6 (2006)
I received a comment on one of my posts the other day from a new reader who told me that he had just discovered my blog and that he spent the last 3 days reading through the whole thing. That was pretty awesome to hear. I have quite a few visitors every day, ranging from 150 to 300 in recent months, but very few ever leave comments. I’d encourage you to say hello and throw in your 2 cents on any one of my reviews. Anyway, my new friend requested that I review a Low Light figure and I aim to please so here we go…
The first Low Light figure was released in 1985, what many consider the golden year of G.I. Joe. Pretty much every figure released in ’85 was a gem and each was very unique. Low Light was the Joe team’s night spotter. His file card stated that after being lost in the woods for 3 weeks as a child “the night belonged to Low Light”. I seem to recall him being kind of a quiet and intense dude in the old cartoons, who spoke as if he were doing his best Christian Bale Batman impression.
My brother Doug owned the original Low Light. I almost always find that the first outfit a character appears in becomes his iconic appearance. New versions may come and go, and some of them may even be great, but characters always tend to go back to their classic duds; just look at Spider-Man. Within G.I. Joe there are a few exceptions to that rule. I think most people find Snake Eyes’ visored version 2 appearance to be his most memorable outfit, and the same goes for the bomber jacket wearing version 2 of General Hawk.
Low Light is probably the Joe who had the most drastic change from one version to the next. The first figure had a gray outfit with some black and red accents. He had curly blonde hair, a knit cap, and big red night-vision goggles. 1989’s version 2 was the exact same mold but painted in blocky green, blue and brown patches as that was the color palette for his new sub-team, Sgt. Slaughter’s Marauders. Version 3 released in 1991 is where things changed dramatically. Low Light received a whole new body with a mesh pattern on the torso. This was fine; dudes change their clothes. What was odd was the new head design. Gone were the iconic red goggles and knit cap (again, normal enough) but so was the curly blonde hair. Low Light version 3 had black hair and a full beard. This seemed really odd to me. Sure, guys grow beards, mine comes and goes on a whim, but fictional characters don’t usually mix things up like that very often. Can you imagine if Captain America decided to grow a mustache? It would just be weird. But even the beard I can get behind. It’s the change in hair color that really seemed weird. Was he compensating for going gray? Was he bleaching his curls when he was a young man? (I used to). I’m not sure if Hasbro was just being lazy or if they consciously thought that the character would benefit from this drastic change in appearance. Regardless, I wasn’t a fan of Low Light’s new look and neither Doug nor I bought into it.
Another bearded version was released in ’93, this one blond, and then he was back to the black beard in 2001. Hasbro was all over the place with this guy. At that point he’d been bearded longer than he had been clean shaven but because he wore his version 1 outfit in the comics and cartoon, and because that’s the only toy version of him Doug and I owned, that remained his signature look in my mind.
And luckily Hasbro finally went back to his original design with this figure, the first and only Low Light released during the new sculpt era. As with many popular characters that Doug owned when we were kids, I didn’t own my first Low Light until the new sculpt years. This version was released in 2006. I actually thought this was a great redesign for Low Light despite the fact that it was just a repaint of a Torpedo figure released in 2003. I never owned that Torpedo so this felt like a brand new figure to me. While the knit cap look was a neat idea for a land-based Torpedo figure (who usually wears a skin-tight diver’s outfit) the mold looked much more like a Low light anyway.
The plain gray uniform, with the addition of a removable black vest with a red shoulder pad, did a good job of replicating the character’s original design. I also like that that this version of Low Light had removable goggles. One really neat aspect of this figure is the map attached to his leg which has some very finely painted detail. Besides the vest and goggles he also came with a rifle with bipod and a pistol. Overall I think this is a really nice figure and it’s a shame he never made it to retail stores. By 2006 the new-sculpt era was winding down and Hasbro was only selling Joe figures direct to consumers through their website. 7 out of 10.