TRIPWIRE (KRE-O) (2014)
Not too long ago I reviewed Mutt, a G.I. Joe Kre-O figure. Kre-O is Hasbro’s in-house Lego knock-off which is completely compatible with the real thing. I actually think Kre-O is superior in some regards because their mini figures are better articulated. In my Mutt review I lamented that the G.I. Joe Kre-Os in particular are very hard to find in my neck of the woods. While you can find the Transformers stuff everywhere, the Joe line is exclusive to Toys R Us and the one Toys R Us in my city doesn’t seem to carry it. It looked as though I was doomed to track the figures down on ebay which would cost me a pretty penny when you factor in the cost of shipping to Canada.
However, within days of posting the Mutt review my friend Darryl, who owns the comic shop Giant Robot Comics in Dartmouth, messaged me on facebook. He said that he was venturing down to the U.S. of A to take advantage of Black Friday sales and that he would keep his eyes peeled for Joe Kre-Os for me. Score.
He messaged me after his shopping spree to tell me that he picked me up 4 playsets and nabbed nearly 50 wave 4 and 5 blind bagged single figures which he would divvy up between me and our mutual friend and fellow Joe collector, Glenn. I picked up my stash from Giant Robot a few days later. I was expecting a sizable bill but between the Black Friday discount and Darryl’s generosity it ended up being a very affordable haul. My Kre-O woes are behind me. I still don’t have a complete set but after that score I’m pretty damn close.
I still haven’t opened all of the playsets yet because I’m saving them for Christmas morning (I’m gonna need something to do while bumming around my parent’s house for a couple of days) but I have opened all the blind packed single figures. You’re not supposed to know what figures are inside the blind packs but there were discreet codes perforated into the foil of the first few waves of figures so nerds in-the-know could pick and choose the figures they wanted without opening the packages. But Hasbro has done away with the codes on waves 4 and 5 so I was as in-the-dark as the average consumer when I ripped into my latest blind packs. Out of the 24 packs I ended up with 6 doubles which isn’t too bad. Fortunately Glenn also got 6 doubles so we promptly made a swap.
Each wave of G.I. Joe Kre-Os has been impressive and 4 and 5 are no different. They featured a wide array of Joes from various eras of the brand. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite as Kre-O versions of some of my favorite characters were included this time around, such as Zarana and Nemesis Enforcer, but if I were forced to single out the best of the bunch I think I’d go with Tripwire.
Tripwire is the Joe team’s explosive ordnance disposal expert. The first Tripwire action figure came out way back in 1983 and was one of the first Joes in my collection. His file card described him as clumsy and jittery so I always saw him as kind of a goofball and played him for comic relief. It was hard to imagine him as anything but a background Joe since the original toy didn’t even come with a gun; just a mine detector and a couple of mines for detecting. While his military specialty wasn’t very exciting and he was never the hero of my bedroom battles he always seemed like an integral member of the team anyway. I really liked the design of his outfit, with the padded vest and the goggles, but unfortunately the ’83 figure didn’t quite pull it off; it looked kind of wimpy to me with its scrawny arms, big round head, and dopey expression. The first modern version of the character (version 5) was released in 2008 and it helped to make Tripwire seem less goofy but it still didn’t come across as a “cool” figure.
Oddly enough, I think this little brick figure is the “coolest” Tripwire we’ve gotten yet. I can quite put my finger on why but I just really like this figure. I don’t think his padded costume has ever looked better and, within the confines of being a brick person, I think this is the most well proportioned Tripwire to date. It’s also the first Tripwire figure to show his eyes beneath the goggles and I think it helps to humanize him. He’s got angry eyebrows and a stiff lip which make him look like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with for the first time ever. While the removable helmet is a neat new concept the rest of his accessories are very familiar. He has a rounded backpack and his classic mine detector, complete with a hose to connect it to the backpack. The detector is a little oversized but it looks pretty cool. It’s amazing what some creatively made accessories and a slick paint job can do for a simple brick figure. 10 out of 10.