SABRETOOTH / WRECKAGE v.2 (2015)
After a slew of non-G.I. Joe reviews I’ve decided its time to revisit my favourite toy line. A couple of months ago I received my 2015 Joe Con box set in the mail. It’s a set I waited many months for and that cost me over 400 hard-earned dollars, so you’d think I would’ve been eager to tell you all about the 15 figures included within, yet I failed to review a single one. Time to remedy that.
The theme of this year’s set was Tiger Force vs the Iron Grenadiers. The Grenadiers are Destro’s personal army. Tiger Force is a sub-team of G.I. Joe that wears tiger-striped uniforms and drives around in tiger-striped vehicles. Why? I don’t know. It was a concept introduced in 1987, most likely as a way for Hasbro to save money by rereleasing old figures with new paint jobs, and it caught on with some fans.
I’m not a Tiger Force fanboy personally but I don’t mind the concept. Some of the Tiger Force repaints from the 80s were pretty cool and it’s kind of fun to see the Tiger Force trend continue. (It would be a lot more fun if I could buy these figures for $10 a piece at Walmart instead of shelling out a half-grand for them online but let’s not dwell on that. Rant over).
The first figure from the Con set that I’ve decided to review is Sgt. Sabretooth a.k.a. Wreckage. This is the first figure that the Collector’s Club revealed images of after they announced the theme of this year’s set and it’s the one that hooked me. I’d love to collect every Joe figure but I’m not rich and every now and again I have to pass on something. When I heard the 2015 Con set was going to be Tiger Force vs the Iron Grenadiers I actually thought I would pass on it. I knew the Tiger Force guys would most likely be striped repaints of characters I already have and I got most of the Grenadiers I wanted in the 2012 box set which featured Destro’s crew vs the Oktober Guard. But then I saw this figure and I knew I’d be buying the set.
Certain characters capture my imagination and make me feel like a kid again and Sabretooth happens to be one of them. Unless you’re a hardcore Joe fan (and maybe even if you are) you’ve probably never heard of this guy before. That’s because there’s very little to hear.
When I got back into collecting G.I. Joes in 2002 with the launch of the new-sculpt era I had a handy new tool at my disposal, the internet. The world wide web opened up new avenues of collecting that didn’t exist when I was a kid. I no longer had to rely on brick and mortar stores to stock the figures I wanted. Almost all of my Joe purchases were done through ebay back then. No longer was my brother Doug the only guy I could talk Joe with. There were fan sites and message boards filled with like-minded people willing to gab about Joe minutia. And my knowledge of the Joe brand was no longer limited to what was printed on the backs of the packages. I learned all kinds of new things about G.I. Joe courtesy of the internet. One of the most interesting things I discovered was that there were figures released exclusively in foreign countries like Brazil and Argentina. It was also intriguing to learn about abandoned ideas and unused concepts. For example…
In the late 80s one of the planned Tiger Force characters was a guy named Sabretooth. He was a green and yellow striped repaint of the Cobra saboteur, Firefly. It seemed a strange idea to take such an iconic Cobra figure and repaint him as a new Joe character but the uniform and mask were generic enough and it was one of the better-sculpted early figures so why not. Images of Sabretooth made it into a pre-sales catalogue but the figure was never released. Why? Who knows.
In 2003 Hasbro finally released the mysterious figure in a Toys -R-Us exclusive Tiger Force themed 5-pack. The figure was true to the abandoned 80s concept in that it was a Tiger Force repaint of the 1984 Firefly version 1 but the uniform colour was changed from green to black and his name was changed from Sabretooth to Wreckage. I really wanted that figure but that Toys-R-Us set was quite pricey and I wasn’t yet in the habit of dropping obscene amounts of money on toys so I never got it.
With this new figure Hasbro has rectified the colour and name changes of ’03. From head to toe this figure is a repaint of the “Ultimate” Firefly released as part of the Retaliation movie line in 2013. That figure featured a really nice sculpt but the paint job was too dull for me. Firefly is known for his distinctive gray-on-gray camo and that figure’s camo pattern was so subtle that it looked like the figure was painted a solid single shade of gray. The mask actually was solid gray. The dismal paint job failed to impress me so that figure was relegated to the back of the shelf.
The Sabretooth paint job, on the other hand, looks excellent on this figure and it makes me appreciate the sculpt in a way I never did before. There’s so much going on here from the textured boots and the flashlight on his leg to the ribbed turtle neck sweater. The flashy green, yellow, brown, and orange colour scheme really make those details pop. The paint job is clearly Tiger Force but its unique enough that this figure stands out even on a shelf full of Tiger attired Joes.
For accessories he comes with Firefly’s classic backpack (not even ultimate Firefly came with that), Recondo’s wrapped rifle, removable webgear, a knife and pistol that can be sheathed/ holstered on his legs, and two display stands. One says Wreckage and the other says Sabretooth so you can choose to display him with the name you like best.
This character has never appeared in any media so other than the little bit of info provided on his file card (his name is Dillon Moreno and he’s from LA) he’s a clean slate. He’s a unique character with no pre-established history and those are some of the reasons that I really wanted him. The Joe line needs new characters to stay fresh and I love adding new Joes to my ranks, especially when they’re as cool as this guy. 10 out of 10.