MARISSA FAIREBORNE v.1 (2015) & AFTERBURNER
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (RAH) and Transformers have always been closely intertwined. Both properties launched in the early 80s with cartoons produced by Sunbow, comics produced by Marvel, and toys produced by Hasbro. The first time the two properties officially converged was in the “G.I. Joe and the Transformers” 4-issue mini-series published by Marvel in 1986. In the mid 2000s several more Joe vs Transformers comic book mini-series were produced by the companies who held the licenses at that time, Dreamwave and Devil’s Due. Currently there is an ongoing Joe/Transformers crossover book published by IDW.
In recent years the G.I. Joe and Transformers Collector’s Clubs have collaborated to produce the first official crossover toys. They released exclusive mash-up box sets for the San Diego Comic Con in 2011, 2012, and 2013. 2011 gave us a Joe Sky Striker painted to look like Starscream, in 2012 it was a HISS tank version of Shockwave, and in 2013 it was a Jetfire Sky Striker and a Hound Vamp (plus this Bludgeon and a few others figures). An unofficial crossover toy was released a few years earlier in the form of the Decepticon, Snowcat.
So while official comic book and toy crossovers have become commonplace, the two properties have never officially met in the world of animation. However, there have been a few unofficial interactions.
In season 3 of the Transformers, which was set in the far flung future of 2005, links between the two cartoons were hinted at but never overtly acknowledged. For example, in the episode “Only Human” a mysterious masked man in a long trench coat named “Old Snake” hatched a plot against the Transformers. If the solid chrome face plate and the serpentine name were too subtle for you to realize that Old Snake was an older version of Cobra Commander the fact that he was voiced by Chris Latta should have eliminated all doubt.
Season 3 also introduced a new human female character to the cast of Transformers. Her name was Marissa Faireborn. In the Joe cartoon it was well established that Flint a.k.a. Dashiel Faireborn and Lady Jaye were a couple. It was widely accepted by fans that Marissa was intended to be their daughter all grown up (since the Joe cartoon was set in 1985).
Well the Joe and Transformers Collector’s Clubs have teamed up yet again to create two new sets of mash-up figures based on those unofficial crossover characters from season 3 of the Transformers cartoon. Both sets recently went up for sale (along with Sub-Viper and his Wave Crusher) exclusively in the Clubs’ online stores. I ordered all of them of course.
The Old Snake figure comes with a couple of “Prime” Soundwave figures repainted to look like Battle Android Troopers (BATS). I wouldn’t have bought the Soundwave-BATS on their own but I suppose they’re kind of neat and I don’t mind that they were included with Old Snake even though they bumped up the price considerably. It’s a nice set which I’ll review sometime soon. Today I’m gonna be reviewing the Marissa Faireborn set.
Marissa came packaged with a motorcycle named Afterbreaker who is intended to be the Autobot Afterburner (Hasbro must have lost the rights to the original name). I must confess that I find this set pretty underwhelming. It’s a real shame when the Club fumbles the ball because it sucks to pay big money for mediocre figures. This figure and bike sets sells for $42US plus about $10 in shipping which costs me about $70 Canadian. Ouch.
While Old Snake was a one-episode novelty character who is neat to have, Marissa Faireborn was an important recurring cast member who is integral to any Transformers collection. I was quite excited at the prospect of getting a G.I. Joe-style figure of her when the Club first announced they’d be producing this toy. I wasn’t blown away when images of the figure were first shown online but it had potential. She was made up entirely of reused parts (Scarlett, Baroness , and Cover Girl) which is standard practice for Club exclusives but I really would’ve liked to see them splurge for a new and unique head sculpt for this character. There are only a handful of female characters in the Joe toyline so when one of their heads get re-used its very noticeable. I can’t not see Cover Girl when I look at this figure. This head, with its windblown hair, first appeared on the new-sculpt Cover Girl in 2006. It was based on specific Cover Girl artwork from the Devil’s Due Joe comic. The head was re-used by the Club for a modern-era Cover Girl as part of their 2013 figure subscription service. It’s too closely associated with Cover Girl to be re-used for another character in my opinion. Having said that, if the club HAD to re-use a female head then this was the best choice. It features a great feminine sculpt and it looks more like the Marrissa from the cartoon than any Scarlett or Baroness head would have. As for the body, I have no real problems with it. It’s a surprisingly good representation of the jumpsuit she wore on the show. The paint job is simple but it’s nice and clean. The biggest problem I have with this figure is how the head and body fit together. Marrissa has a giraffe neck and it looks ridiculous.
For accessories Marissa has a pistol, a jet pack, what appears to be a flamethrower that connects to the pack via a hose, and a display base. She has a G.I. Joe base which is fine but it would have been pretty cool if they gave her a display base with an Autobot logo.
As for Afterburner, its a pretty crappy toy but its not the total piece of garbage it used to be. This bike originally came out as part of the G.I. Joe Retaliation toy line. Three sets of characters with motorcycles were released in that line. I passed on Snake Eyes and Flint and their clunker cycles. The only one I bought was Firefly because I halfheartedly wanted the figure and he just so happened to come with the “Wheel Blaster Bike”; aptly named because it could blast you with a projectile wheel. Both the figure and the bike were cheap and ugly. I disliked the bike so much that I think I threw it out or gave it to my nephew which says a lot because I don’t like to part with anything. It’s almost funny, in a sad sort of way, that I ended up buying it again, and this time at a premium price. Thanks a lot Collector’s Club.
A couple of things I disliked about the original Blaster Bike was that it didn’t look like a real-world motorcycle and the orange color scheme didn’t fit with Firefly’s character. I actually referred to it in my first review as an “orange space bike”. That lack of realism actually kind of works here because the original Afterburner didn’t look like a real motorcycle either; he was a 2-wheeled Cybertronian sci-fi bike and this hunk of junk is actually a decent representation. The orange color scheme even works this time because the original Afterburner toy released in 1987 was fugly orange too. He was one of the 5 Technobots that combined to form Computron. My brother Doug owned him when we were kids so I actually do have some fondness for the character.
This set has its share of problems it’s still kind of a fun concept and an appreciated nod to hardcore fans of both properties. Marrissa Fairborn: 6 out of 10. Afterburner: 3 out of 10.