I really need to get back into the habit of blogging because I have been acquiring a ton of cool toys lately. Earlier this week I picked up two Funko Pop! figures and two Marvel Legends and then a couple of days ago my 2016 G.I. Joe Convention box set arrived in the mail. I pre-ordered this set back in March and it was made available for pick-up to Con attendees the weekend of June 16-19. As a non-attendee I had to wait for the Collector’s Club to ship my set out after the Con. I’m pretty stoked to have this year’s set in hand a mere month after the convention because last year I think two or three months passed before I finally got my set. Last years set was so late that I kind of lost my enthusiasm for it by the time it arrived; as evidenced by the fact that I’ve only reviewed 3 of the 11 figures so far (Wreckage, Lifeline, & Stalker). This year I’m going to try to get all the figures reviewed in a timely manner.
For my first 2016 Joe Con review I’ve selected Air Devil, Cobra’s front line aerial assault combatants. This figure was one of the set’s two army builders so there were 3 identical Air Devils included in the set.
I’ve told you many times before that I stopped collecting Joes in 1990. It’s probably more accurate to say I quit collecting in ’89 since I only acquired a single 1990 figure. For that reason I have little to no nostalgic attachment to the figures released between 1990 and 1994 (when the line ended). The original Air Devil was released in 1992 as part of the “Air Commandos” sub-set which was a continuation of the “Sky Patrol” sub-set launched in 1990. I didn’t own any of the Air Commandos or Sky Patrol figures myself but my little brother Brian had a couple and one of them was Air Devil. I liked Air Devil. He had a unique design with a strikingly colourful uniform. It was odd to have the face exposed on a Cobra Trooper but that was part of the figure’s appeal.
When the Club announced that Sky Patrol would be the theme of their 2016 convention set I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy. I was hoping for Battle Force 2000 vs Cobra La even though I knew it was a long shot. However, I wouldn’t say I was disappointed by the Sky Patrol decision. The Club has managed to create some great sets out of concepts I wasn’t thrilled about before (Eco Warriors, Tiger Force) so I trusted they’d pull off another desirable set. The revamped Sky Patrol figure I was most looking forward to was Air Devil.
Now that I have the set in hand I think I was right to be excited about Air Devil because he’s my favourite figure in the set. No new parts were used to create this figure so there’s nothing we haven’t seen before but it looks fantastic and its free of the issues that plague other figures in the set such as ill-fitting accessories.
Air Devil is constructed with the torso and legs of Jungle Viper, the arms of Alley Viper, and a head that was first used for Night Fox in 2012 and most recently for Sightline in 2015. The pieces come together relatively well and do a decent job of recreating the look of the ’92 Air Devil figure. The most glaring difference is the head. The modern AD doesn’t have the exposed mouth and nose that made the original so unique. I kind of wish his face was exposed for consistency’s sake but this is a great head sculpt and it feels more “Cobra Trooper” than the original did. This guy fits into Cobra’s established rank and file seamlessly.
For accessories Air Devil comes with a display base, a pistol that can be holstered on his ankle, a knife that can be sheathed on his wrist (awesome), a rifle, a glider backpack, and a face shield. The weapons are all fine but nothing to call home about. We’ve seen the backpack a few times before so it’s nothing revolutionary but its fold up/pop-out wing design is neat, it has a cool new Cobra logo with a Devil’s tail, and serves as an adequate replacement to the large Cobra glider the original AD came with. The face shield is an odd thing. Apparently the ’92 figure had one but Brian never had it with his (he got it secon-hand) so I was never aware of it. I’m guessing Air Devils wore them to keep bugs out of their mouths or something which made sense when their faces was exposed but makes less sense now that they’re fully covered. I find the shield too large and clunky and it detracts from the look of the figure so I’ve opted to display only 1 of my Air Devil’s with his shield on.
In conclusion this is a very nice figure that starts the 2016 Convention Set off on the right foot. He’s not the home run 2014’s Toxo-Vipers were but he’s close. 9 out of 10.
The first Interrogator figure was released in 1991. I had essentially stopped paying attention to G.I. Joe by then. I only bought one figure the year before (Rampart: my last childhood Joe) because my interests were shifting to other things. My little brother Brian had just started collecting Joes though so I still had a general idea of what was going on with the brand; such as the introduction of the Eco-Warrior and Sonic Fighter sub-teams. One ’91 character that managed to fly under my radar (or perhaps over it) was Interrogator. He came included with the Cobra Battle Copter and because vehicle drivers weren’t featured on the card backs I wasn’t aware of him. Before the internet card backs and department store catalogues were essentially the only way you knew what figures were released in a given year. A second version of Interrogator with a new paint job was made available as an exclusive mail-away figure in ’93 but I wasn’t aware of that one either. I didn’t discover the character until 2006 with the release of his third figure.
Interrogator v.3 was featured in a 6-pack called Viper Lockdown that also contained Joe Colton, G.I. Jane and 3 Vipers. That pack was a “must-have” for me back in the day. The first Joe and Jane figures, a “name” Cobra character, plus 3 awesome army builders made it a no-brainer. Interrogator quickly became a favourite of mine. I loved his Cobra Commander-esque helmet and formal dress uniform jacket. Plus the colour palette was very striking. His file card described him as follows:
He can usually break prisoners by simply talking to them. With a soothing voice that lulls captors into a trance, the careful application of logic and reason, and just a hint of sympathy, he soon as the information he needs. “Of course I could simply hurt them until they talk. But it’s so much more amusing to twist their minds until all they want to do is tell me every single secret they know.”
Sounds pretty badass. Interrogator was calculating and patient which made him a good counterpart to the impulsive Commander. That 2006 figure remains one of my favourites from the new-sculpt era.
A 4th O-ring version was released in 2010 as part of that year’s Con set. Version 4 had a removable helmet for the first time plus he looked more prepared for the battle field in a tactical vest instead of a dress jacket. I never got that version partly because of the price but mostly because I was fully invested in the modern-style of figures by then and a set of O-ring figures seemed immediately dated. Well thanks to the Collector’s Club I now have a modern-era Interrogator to add to my collection.
I’ve read some lukewarm reviews of this figure on other sites but I’m really digging it. It’s not 100% faithful to any past incarnations of the character but the design and colour palette are all familiar enough so that there’s no mistaking this figure for anyone else. His body is made up of Cobra Commander and Destro parts. Some have said that the legs are too long for the torso and they might be right but as long as he’s wearing his removable flak vest I don’t notice any proportion issues. I like the combination of the jacket with the vest. It’s like version 3 and 4 merged together. The removable knife and sheath on his shoulder is kind of oddly placed but it doesn’t look bad. There are some nice sculpting elements throughout such as the weird metal pieces attached to his boots. They look cool but I don’t know what purpose they serve. On Arctic Destro I assume they were there to help him walk in the snow but Interrogator has no need for snow grips. I imagine he uses them as some weird torture device, maybe poison tipped boots or hydaulics that allow him to crush bones.
His head is the face first used on Flash (2009) from the Rise of Cobra line. It’s a fairly generic masked head and it’s covered by the removable helmet from Interrogator v.4. I had planned to take a pic of him with his helmet off but it’s on there so tight I didn’t bother. I do like the fact that the helmet is removable though and I think the 2010 helmet holds up quite well. It’s a bit plain but closer to the character’s original appearance than the more elaborate 2006 version was.
For accessories Interrogator comes with a small knife and sheath, a display base, a blue pistol, blue handcuffs, blue nunchucks and a larger knife with a red cobra-shaped hilt. The blue accessories aren’t very realistic but it’s a pretty shade of blue that matches his equally sharp pants and I like them. The promotional pics of this figure didn’t really excite me but in hand I think its great. 9 out of 10.
The latest FSS shipment from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club arrived a couple of weeks ago and it was a doozy. The two figures were Interrogator, who turned out much better than I was expecting, and the other was Billy Arboc.
Billy first appeared in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (RAH) issue 10 published by Marvel Comics in 1983. He was part of a small group of rebels trying to overthrow Cobra, a terrorist group who hadn’t taken over his hometown of Springfield. It wasn’t a major role and he wasn’t even given a name in that issue. However, two years later, in issue 33, he returned posing as a member of Cobra Youth (think Hitler Youth) as part of a ploy to assassinate Cobra Commander. The plot was foiled by Destro and in the end it was revealed that Billy is actually the son of Cobra Commander. The Commander spares Billy’s life but their family ties don’t stop CC from torturing the poor kid over the betrayal. These events result in Storm Shadow, Cobra’s resident ninja, defecting from the team, rescuing Billy, and training him as his apprentice.
Things seemed to be looking up for young Billy. That is until Scrap Iron, a Cobra mercenary, blew him up in issue 43 along with the Soft Master and Candy Apple. I wasn’t a big fan of Billy at that point so I wasn’t heartbroken about his demise but I was sad to see Ripcord’s girlfriend Candy bite the dust.
In issue 55 we found out that Billy survived the explosion. He was in a coma and missing both an eye and a leg but he was alive. Billy awakens and, after a short bout of amnesia, carries on with his ninja training with the aid of an artificial leg and an eyepatch. This is when Billy started getting cool. He had become an effective member of the Arashikage ninja clan and he was participating in Joe missions. Unfortunately, that momentum came screeching to a halt when Cobra Commander buried him alive with a bunch of other traitors in issue 98. Once again, Billy is seemingly killed.
In issue 114 it was revealed that Billy and Zartan managed to dig their way to safety from the buried bunker but fan favorite characters like Dr. Mindbender and Croc Master weren’t so lucky. Billy appeared a couple more times after that before the series came to a rather abrupt end with issue 155.
Billy really came into his own when Devil’s Due picked up the rights to publish Joe comics and continued the story nearly 10 years later. It was during the Devil’s Due series that Billy adopted the look used for this figure. Billy had a good run at Devils Due but during their final storyline “World War III”, published just before they lost the license to IDW, Billy was killed by his father and left hanging from a pole as an example to others plotting against Cobra.
Once IDW took over they started their own brand-new Joe universe but they also decided to continue Marvel’s RAH storyline in a separate book, picking up after issue 155 and ignoring everything Devil’s Due had done. That meant WWIII never happened and thus Billy had a new lease on life. He was featured prominently for a while but then IDW killed him off in issue 172. This dude just can’t catch a break.
So as you can see, Billy has been an important part of Joe lore for over 30 years and yet there has never been an action figure of him until now. He may not be the most interesting character visually but I think it’s about damn he appeared in plastic form. Billy now joins the ranks of Dr. Venom and Kwinn; integral characters created by Larry Hama for the Marvel series that didn’t get made into an action figure until decades after their introduction.
I’ve waited a long time for this figure so my expectations were high and I’m happy to report that I’m quite pleased with the final product. Some fans may have preferred a Billy figure wearing his ninja outfit and others may have preferred him as a young kid but this is the Billy I wanted. I’m actually kind of surprised the Club went with the Devil’s Due look since those stories have been wiped from the RAH continuity but I’m glad they did. The body is made up of Snake Eyes and Flint parts which work fine. The arms seem a little long and the shirt is insanely tight but those aren’t major issues. I personally dislike the wide neck style of his t-shirt (I would never wear it) but it is comic accurate so I don’t mind it here. The colors are pretty basic leaving the figure at risk of being drab but the bright red Arashikage tattoo on his forearm saves the day.
The head is a newly sculpted piece. It perhaps reads a little feminine (both Vanessa and my pal Ryan thought this figure was female) but I don’t really see it. I’m really glad the Club splurged for a new head because Billy deserves better than a lousy repaint after all these years. The eyepatch seems a little small and low to cover up his missing eye but other than that I think it’s pretty great.
For accessories, Billy has a sword that can be sheathed rather flimsily in his bandolier, a machine gun, a grappling hook, and a display base. It’s not a ton of stuff but a sword and a gun is all he really needed weapon-wise anyway. I’m not a fan of the card art and I don’t know why they gave him the alias of Billy Arboc (an anagram of Cobra) but those don’t detract from the thrill of finally owning a Billy figure. I’m thankful the Club listened to fans and finally produced this long in demand figure. 9 out of 10.
Last week I reviewed the FSS 4.0 Inferno BAT. Today I’m going to take a look at the figure that shipped out with him in the latest package from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club: Bullhorn.
The original Bullhorn was released the year I quit buying G.I. Joes as a kid, 1990. The only figure I got that year was Rampart. My little brother Brian had Bullhorn though so I did have a chance to play with him a little bit. Honestly, I was never very impressed with the figure or the character. The guy is an intervention specialist who came packaged with a megaphone so he could diffuse tense situations. Seems like a useless specialty when you’re dealing with a terrorist group like Cobra that isn’t known to negotiate. But perhaps I’m being too hard on Bullhorn because some of my favorite Joes had equally redundant specialties that limited their usefulness in battle like Barbecue the fireman or Budo the samurai.
Bullhorn’s underwhelming primary military specialty aside, the bigger problem I had with him was his bland appearance. He has to one of the most boring looking Joes ever. He’s got brown pants and a brown shirt with grey trimmings. Still somebody at Hasbro thought he wasn’t brown enough so they put chocolate all over his face too. It’s earth-tone overload and dull to look at. The detached expression on the figure’s face made it appear as though even Bullhorn was bored with himself.
Bullhorn may have been as flashy as a cardboard box but at least he was a well sculpted figure and his design was grounded in reality at a time when Joe figures were becoming more gimmicky and outlandish. The megaphone accessory was something we hadn’t seen before plus he came with a full-face gas mask and an elaborate sniper rifle and case which was pretty cool too. I now have two 1990 Bullhorn figures, the one I inherited from Brian and the other came in the Epic Haul I acquired from Eric two summers ago.
When the Club announced that a modern-era Bullhorn would be included in their 4th figure subscription service I was moderately intrigued. He’s not a character I have any particular fondness for but the Club has previously impressed me with their modern-era versions of other 90s characters like Top Side and Big Ben so I was curious as to whether they could win me over on a character that had the visual appeal of a pine comb.
When I first saw mock-up images of this Bullhorn figure online I was indifferent. It looked like a decent approximation of the 1990 figure which is good for authenticity but bad because the original was so boring. It was about what I expected but I was hoping for something more. The one area where the Club had a real opportunity to impress me was the head. If they had given us a unique and dynamic head sculpt this figure may have been redeemed but instead they gave us a repaint of Dusty v.14’s head which has already been reused for both Duke and Spearhead. I didn’t mind when the Club reused it for Spearhead because it kind of looks like him but I don’t think it resembles the original Bullhorn at all. I’m not sure why the Club opted to use it again because I feel there must have been better options available. The one aspect of this head that does suit the character is the bored expression.
Now that my complaints are out of the way let’s talk about the good stuff. From the neck down this figure shares a body with the Cobra Shock Trooper which is an excellent figure. There’s lots of sculpted detail, good articulation, and it’s got some heft. The inclusion of the Retaliation Cobra Trooper’s webgear adds some additional bulk which I like. The webgear doesn’t really match the vintage look, I’m guessing it was selected because of the grenades, but I think it looks good so I’m fine with the choice.
For accessories Bullhorn comes with his megaphone, a pistol that can be holstered on his belt, a rifle, a multi-piece sniper rifle with case, a gas mask, and a headband. It’s a good assortment of gear. The removable headband originally came with Red Dog. The vintage Bullhorn had a headband sculpted onto him so it’s nice that the Club was able to reproduce that look but I prefer the figure without it. I’m not sure why Bullhorn had a headband in the first place. I used to think it was to signify that he was Native American but I can’t find anything to substantiate his ethnicity on his file card or online. The full-face gas mask is a handy way to hide the fact that he shares a mug with three other Joes. I may display him with the mask on but truth be told the face is growing on me. The black hair and the face paint differentiate him enough from the other guys that I don’t think the resemblance is immediately noticeable.
My fourth FSS 4.0 package from the G.I. Joe Collectors Club arrived in the mail this past Friday and it was a complete surprise. Well, maybe not a COMPLETE surprise seeing as a new package from the Club arrives every few weeks which is the whole point of their subscription service but it was a surprise in that the contents had not been spoiled for me in advance. This is my fourth year subscribing to the FSS and thus far I’ve received 22 of these packages and this is the first time that no one revealed the identities of the figures online before I received mine. I’m not complaining about the spoiling, it’s the nature of the beast in the internet age. Living in Canada, I happen to be an “international” buyer so naturally my shipments arrive later than those shipped to US residents. This is why I was so surprised to find a delivery notification tag in my mailbox because I hadn’t heard even a murmur about the latest figures online. I picked up my package from the post office and tore it open like a kid on Christmas in hopes that it would contain either Billy or Sneak Peek; the figures I’ve most been looking forward to. To my slight dismay I discovered the Inferno B.A.T. and Bullhorn. Not to say that they’re bad figures but I was really hoping for the other guys. At least now I know the upcoming final two shipments will be good ones.
Here’s a quick recap on Cobra’s Battle Android Trooper. The original toy was released in 1986 and soon afterwards BATS were a mainstay of the comics and cartoons as well. Having robot bad guys allowed the Joes to look like competent soldiers who could actually shoot their enemies for a change while still keeping the show kid-friendly. I was a big fan of the BATs from the get-go. The design was really cool and what kid doesn’t love a robot with interchangeable weapon hands.
A second version of the BAT was released in 1991. It was similar in design to v.1 BAT but slightly less interesting in my opinion. The BAT was redesigned a few times during the new-sculpt years of 2002-2006 with varying degrees of success. One of the later new-sculpt models, released in 2003, was called the Inferno Bat. It was a v.2 BAT sculpted in translucent orange plastic. According to the file card, the orange colour was a result of their internal processing units being designed to generate great amounts of heat to allow the Inferno BAT to send out bursts of heat and fire. It was kind of a silly idea but it looked pretty cool. I probably would have liked the Inferno BAT a lot more had Hasbro used the original ’86 Bat mold instead of the ’91 mold which I never had an affinity for.
When the modern-era of G.I. Joe figures launched in 2007 many of the character designs and figure construction choices were questionable. A lot of those early ME figures really have not stood the test of time. However, the 2008 BAT was one of the best modern-era figures released during the 25th anniversary line and it remains one of the best ME figures to date. The sculptors managed to capture all the greatness of the original 1986 figure but they updated it so that the BAT was leaner, meaner, and more detailed. The new BAT was so cool that I was tempted to army build it (buy the same figure multiple times to have a whole squad of them) but I didn’t have to because Hasbro re-released it multiple times in various color variations. Therefore, I was able to build a small army of them without having to buy the exact same toy over and over again. Hasbro’s retail variations have included the Arctic BAT and the Jungle BAT and even the Collector’s Club previously released their own version in the first FSS with the Nano-BAT. A modern-era Inferno BAT wasn’t exactly a figure I was clamoring for but it’s one I was happy to add to my collection to expand my BAT battalion.
I thought I knew exactly what I’d be getting with this figure, the 2008 BAT figure in a new colour because that’s what every BAT re-release has been for the past 8 years but that’s not quite what I got. For the most part this figure is the same as the others but for some reason the Club opted to give the Inferno BAT Storm Shadows’s ninja legs; the same ones they used on the Arctic Night Creeper a couple of shipments ago. I don’t understand why they did that. The legs aren’t bad but the feet are quite small which results in shallow peg holes. Combine shallow holes with rocker joints on the ankles and you get a figure that’s difficult to keep standing. I hate it when figures can’t stand up. It didn’t bother me as a kid when all my toys were in a box or being played with but as an adult who likes to display his collectibles unstable toys are the bane of my existence. If one goes down it takes all its neighbors with him and then you have chaos. Stability aside, what about consistency? All my BATS, whether they’re Arctic or Jungle or whatever, wear very distinctive boots so why is this guy wearing socks? Why didn’t the Club just use the regular BAT legs like they used on their Nano-BAT? Is that too much to ask?
It probably sounds like I’m nerd-raging but I’m really not; I’m a little bit nerd-annoyed if anything. The Storm Shadow legs actually fit proportionately and they’re painted in such a way that they don’t look like sock feet . Besides, if the Club hadn’t changed something they’d probably be getting grief for being cheap and unoriginal. All-in-all it’s a nice looking figure. The translucent plastic is neat but its not as effective here as it was on the recently reviewed Undead Warrior.
The accessories are pretty standard for a BAT. He has two removable hands that can be swapped out for weapons: a gun, a flamethrower, and a claw. He also has the standard BAT backpack which can be used to store some of the unused items. What cool add-on that we haven’t seen with a modern-era BAT before is the sword hand. I like it and I’ll be displaying him with it on my shelf. 8 out of 10.
The first Pathfinder figure was released in 1990, the year I quit collecting G.I. Joes as a kid. The only figure I owned from that year’s assortment was Rampart. For that reason I have little attachment to the characters released that year and the final 4 years of the brand that followed. But that’s not to say that Pathfinder was a bad figure. The original featured a completely new sculpt and some pretty unique accessories. Like Recondo, he was a a jungle trooper but Pathfinder’s specific area of expertise was making trails where there were none, hence his code name and his weed whacker with spinning blade. The card art made it look as though he was wearing a fisherman’s bucket hat but the actual figure sported a safari style hat with one side pinned up just like his jungle buddy Recondo. Pathfinder also had sunglasses sculpted onto his face and a vest sculpted onto his torso. There is nothing overly exciting about the design but I appreciate the real-world look at a time when Joe figures were getting more and more fantastical. I did eventually acquire that original Pathfinder figure in the Epic Haul I received 2 years ago courtesy of Eric (are you still reading, man?).
Pathfinder had only been re-released once (a bland solid-gray repaint in 2001) before this new version hit mail boxes a couple of weeks ago. Pathfinder version 3 is the first ever modern-era version of the character and it was included in the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club FSS 4.0. He shipped out with Jammer, the subject of my previous review, in the third of six mail outs.
Completely opposite of the 1990 original, the 2016 Pathfinder is constructed entirely of reused parts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though as parts reuse is an inevitability in this day and age; the key is using good parts and that’s what the Club has done here. Pathfinder’s got the baggy pants legs of the G.I. Joe Retaliation Trooper and the torso and arms of 2013’s Kwinn. The parts work together nicely and give him some bulk which he would need to lug that weed whacker through the jungle. Obviously I would’ve preferred a unique head sculpt but the Club went with Lifeline’s head and it makes for a pretty good stand-in. Between the sculpted shades and the inclusion of Recondo’s removable hat this head looks like it was intended to be Pathfinder all along. I do find the head a wee bit small for the Kwinn torso but it’s not too bad. The hat fits pretty good as long as you flip it the opposite way of the original. Pathfinder’s vest is also removable on this version. The vest seems a tad oversized but the Club was limited in its vest selection so i don’t fault them for that. All in all it’s a nicely put together figure.
The paint job perfectly replicates the original and it’s what allows me to forgive some of the proportion issues. The colours look really great especially the crazy camouflage pattern on the pants. The brown and green paint used on the pants matches up very well with the brown and green plastics used for the vest, hat, and belt.
For accessories Pathfinder includes a machete, a pistol that can be holstered on his hip, a backpack which fits nicely despite the vest, a flashlight that can be stored inside the backpack, an axe, a machine gun, and of course the weed whacker. It’s a good lot of stuff that is all appropriate for the character. Some fans may be sad to see that the twin hip-mounted guns of the original are not present here but I’m not bothered by it.
This is a decent Joe figure and I feel the Club did the best it could with the existing parts library. It may not be perfect but I’m always happy to add unique characters to my shelves. 7 out of 10.
Two more Figure Subscription Service Joes arrived in the mail last week. The third shipment contained the first ever modern-era versions of Pathfinder and Calvin “Jammer” Mondale. Today I’m gonna take a look at the latter.
One of the 13 original Real American Hero (RAH) Joe figures released in 1982 was Stalker, the Joe team’s Ranger. All of the OG13 shared body parts and some of them even shared the same head but Stalker was unique because he had a wholly original head with a sculpted beret (the other guys had removable helmets). Also noteworthy is the fact that Stalker was the only African-American on the team. When that original Stalker figure was released internationally he underwent a few changes. In Mexico a figure practically identical to Stalker was renamed Cheetah, in Argentina he was released with a blue uniform and white skin and renamed Manleh. In Brazil he was called Triton and in Europe he was renamed Jammer and he was available in three paint variations; a solid green uniform, green camo, and black camo. All three versions featured a red beret instead of Stalker’s standard green one and they all had a red Z-Force logo on their chest. The various Jammer figures are highly sought after by many collectors.
Jammer got his first official American G.I. Joe figure in 2010 when he was included in a Z-Force themed 3-pack released by the Collector’s Club at that year’s Joe Con. I believe the 2010 file card is the first time he was given the name Calvin Mondale and a backstory. According to the file card he grew up in New York and California before moving to the United Kingdom to join the Z-Force unit of their Special Action Force (SAF). In the spirit of the original UK figure, the 2010 Jammer was made by repainting a Stalker head with a red beret and adding the Z-Force logo to the chest of the figure. The camo pattern the Club used on his uniform was similar to Stalker’s blotchy pattern but darker and more marbleized.
For this 2016 version of Jammer released as part of FSS 4.0, the Club homaged their own 2010 version. This figure’s camouflage is clearly based on the 2010 look more so than any of the UK Jammer figures. I’m glad they went that route because I think this paint job looks really bold and its visually appealing. This is my first Jammer figure and I didn’t expect to be excited about it. I was anticipating an unimaginative Stalker repaint with a red hat and a Z on his chest but this figure has surprised me. Yes, the uniform is a green camo pattern from head to toe which has always been Stalker’s thing but this pattern is different enough to stand on its own. Call me crazy but i can look at this figure and not see Stalker staring back at me. Little details like the Union Jack on his right sleeve and the SAF patch on his left individualize this figure even further.
From the neck down Jammer is made up of generic pieces we’ve seen plenty of times before but its a good solid build . His hands are a little gimpy so he can’t hold all of his accessories but otherwise the body is fine. The head is naturally a Stalker repaint. This was a brand new head sculpted by Boss Fight Studios for last year’s Tiger Force Stalker and it’s a beautifully detailed piece that features a removable beret. It makes sense that the Club would want to get more use out of this piece so I think it was a good choice to use for this figure. I like that his skin is a light mocha colour which continues to differentiate him from Stalker who has a darker complexion.
The last thing to mention would be his accessories. Jammer has a machine gun, a pistol that can be holstered on his boot, and a green cell phone that can be stored on his belt. I love his little phone but unfortunately neither of his hands can grip it.Since Jammer’s speciality is jamming insurgent communication systems he also comes with Dial-Tone’s funky communications backpack. Lastly, he comes with a silver display base just like his fellow SAF members T.N.T. and Quarrel. This figure doesn’t really bring anything new to the table but I find myself really liking it anyway. 8 out of 10.
In my last review I lambasted The G.I. Joe Club’s Figure Subscription Service (FSS) Barricade. It committed two cardinal sins; being a crappy character and being a crappy toy. Today I’m going to take a look at the other figure that shipped out with him, Night Creeper Ice Ninja.
The Ice Ninja is not a crappy character nor is it a crappy toy. The only issue I have with with this figure is its redundancy. Don’t get me wrong, I like trooper variations. Having Cobra soldiers in various colors is generally A-OK with me. It allows me to bolster my Cobra forces without buying duplicates of the exact same figure. However, ninjas are some of my least favorite troop builders and arctic ninjas seem especially impractical. To be fair, I wouldn’t think twice about buying this figure at retail for 10 or 12 bucks but at premium club prices it becomes glaringly obvious that ice ninjas are not integral to the Cobra organization. Having said all that, I do still like this figure.
Cobra’s contracted squad of high-tech ninjas first appeared in action figure form in 1990. The original wore purple and gray and it was pretty cool. The second version of the Night Creeper released in 1993 was a stupid pink Cylon look-a-like and it was complete garbage. That figure was re-released in 1994 with a new color-changing gimmick and it sucked even worse than the last one. The superior original mold made a return in 1998 for Night Creeper version 4. It was included in an arctic themed 3-pack along with Firefly and a Snow Serpent. The trio all had matching white and icy blue paint jobs. I never owned that pack but I’ve always thought they were a nice looking squad. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing a modern-era update of that Firefly to display with this remake of Night Creeper v.4.
I haven’t loved the previous 2 modern-era versions of the Night Creeper but they’ve been adequate. The first 2009 version was a remake of the purple and gray original and the Rise of Cobra version released later that same year with some tweaked arms and a new blue and black color scheme was essentially an update of 2004’s version 6. This new arctic version features a different set of legs and arms and it may very well be my favorite of the modern-era Night Creepers. The legs come from Storm Shadow v.43 which give this Creeper a more traditional sock footed ninja look as opposed to the booted legs of the previous two. Storm Shadow v.43 is my favorite Storm Shadow figure to date so I’m all for borrowing pieces from him. However, the ankle joints combined with shallow peg holes on his heels make it very difficult to get him to stand firmly on his display base. At a glance I’m not sure where the arms came from but they match up nicely with the rest of the figure.
The head is the same as the previous versions. I’ve always thought this head was decent but while I was taking him out of the package his headband and cowl fell off and I was surprised by how much I liked the look of him without it. I don’t think I’ve ever taken the headgear off of my other Night Creepers before but perhaps I should. Without it he kind of looks like an Ice Viper, my all-time favourite Cobra Trooper.
For accessories Night Creeper includes his standard backpack, curved blade sword, and multi-arrow crossbow. New to his trimmings is a shoulder scarf/cape which I guess he uses to keep warm while running around in the snow in his socks. It looks kinda cool and it differentiates him from his brethren but it does hinder a few things. His backpack doesn’t fit properly with the cape on and his right arm is completely useless under there.
The last thing I need to mention is the paint job. I thought it looked great in ’98 and it looks great now. The crisp whites and the silver and blue highlights look really sharp together. This figure may not be essential to your collection but if you signed up for the FSS 4.0 and you’re getting it anyway it’s not a bad addition. 7 out of 10.
This past Friday my second shipment from the G.I. Joe Club’s 4th Figure Subscription Service (FSS) arrived in the mail. It contained the Night Creeper Ice Ninja and Barricade. First up I’m going to take a look at Barricade.
When the FSS line-up is announced each year there are always some figures that I’m really excited about and others that I’m lukewarm on. My lack of excitement for a particular figure may stem from me having no personal attachment to the character, or because I don’t like the way the toy looks, or because it just feels redundant; like a Cobra Bat in yet another color variation. Barricade was one of those lukewarm figures for me this year. Fortunately, for the past three years, I have always found myself pleasantly surprised once I got those lukewarm FSS figures in my hands. Previous figures that I expected to dislike, like Alpine or Airtight, won me over in the end. Go back through my FSS figure reviews and I don’t think you’ll find a negative one.
Well that’s about to change because Barricade is a turd of a figure.
The original Barricade figure was released in 1992 which was after I had quit collecting Joes as a kid. He had a science-fictiony, Robo-Cop-esque look to him courtesy of his gold plated body armor and helmet with a red Visor akin to Cyclops of the X-Men. Underneath the helmet was a rather nerdy face with a side part in the hair. He was the Joe team’s “Bunker Buster” and it was the 90s (the era of over-sized spring-loaded weapons) so he came packaged with a massive missile launcher that no real person would ever be able to carry. Repaints of the original figure were released in 1993 and 2004. I have never owned any of those three Barricade figures so I have zero attachment to the character.
That is partly why Barricade was one of the characters I was least excited about when the FSS 4.0 line-up was announced at last year’s Joe Con. However, he was a character who hadn’t yet received a modern-era figure and I’m always happy to add unique characters to my collection even those I didn’t grow up with. I was hopeful that the Club would surprise me with an impressive figure.
Unfortunately, my lukewarm thoughts only got warmer (cooler? luker?) when the first mock-up images of the figure were shown a few weeks after the initial announcement. I did not care for the parts chosen to construct him. He was a blend of armored Cobra Commander arms on an Accelerator suit body from the Rise of Cobra toyline. The parts didn’t appear to come together very well and the helmet seemed to sit awkwardly on whatever head they used. Poor construction was strike number two against Barricade yet I tried to remain hopeful that the final product would be better than the photoshopped mock-up.
Well now I have him in hand and I can tell you that Barricade is even worse than I feared. The accelerator suit body (which I don’t love anyway) looks really weird with the Cobra Commander arms. The arms are just short enough to make it look like he’s got some sort of growth defect, like he’s a dwarf or a T-Rex or something. The helmet sits just as awkwardly as it appeared to in the promotional image and now I know why. The head they used is too damn big. Up until I opened this figure I had no idea what the head would look like. The Club hadn’t given us any hints as to what was under the helmet. It could have been a brand new head for all I knew which would have been a nice surprise. Even though the original Barricade head was pretty dorky looking I would’ve loved to discover a newly sculpted version of it, side-part and all, hidden underneath the ill-fitting accelerator suit helmet. Instead we got a repainted Chuckles head. I’ve previously ranted about how much I dislike this head in my reviews of Chuckles v.3 and Chuckles v.5. It’s an ugly misshapen head with big hair and a pervy expression it needs to remain covered up.
The other major thing that really drags this figure down is the paint job. I actually liked the shimmery metallic gold shown in the mock-up image but sadly the actual figure is completely devoid of shimmer. The armor is a flat rust color with a faint marbleization effect. It’s ugly and there is a lot of it. There isn’t enough blue to break it up. The original Barricade armor was simple and blocky and didn’t allow for much painted detail. This modern paint job may echo the original but the accelerator suit is so much more intricate than the original armor and its begging for additional paint apps. Some red or black highlights would’ve helped this figure immensely.
Barricade’s accessories are okay. He has a machine gun, a shotgun, a pistol that can be holstered on his leg, an axe, and a spring-loaded cannon with a tripod. The Cyclops/Robo-Cop helmet should’ve been Barricade’s signature piece and I really wish the Club had splurged to craft a new one. The accelerator suit helmet is a weak substitution. The lopsided red visor is especially ugly. It probably would’ve looked better had they used translucent plastic.
There’s no debating it. This is a fugly figure in both build and color. It is the worst figure the Club has produced since their horrible Iceberg of 2013. A massive disappointment. 3 out 10.
Last week I reviewed Law & Order, one of the first two figures to ship out as part of the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s FSS 4.0. Today I’m going to take a look at the other one, Nunchuk.
The original Nunchuk figure was released in 1992 which was two years after I had quit collecting G.I. Joes as a kid. I lost interest in the brand for a number of reasons and the influx of ninjas didn’t help matters. Now I liked ninjas as much as the next guy, I was into TMNT and I watched the American Ninja movies, but I didn’t like them overtaking G.I. Joe. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were cool; one ninja on each team of soldiers was fine. But then they added Jinx and the Night Creepers and then Firefly and Zartan were ninjas all of the sudden and then came Ninja Force.
Ninja Force was a sub-team of Joes and Cobras consisting of Nunchuk, Bushido, T’Jbang and Dojo on the good side and Slice, Dice, and Banzai on the evil side. My little brother Brain was into Ninja Force but they didn’t do anything for me. In my mind they just watered down G.I. Joe’s military theme. I’m pretty sure Brian owned the original Nunchuk figure but I inherited Brian’s Joes and I don’t have Nunchuk now so god knows where he ended up.
For some reason my dislike of 90s G.I. Joes has tapered off as I’ve gotten older. I don’t have nostalgic ties to them like I do with the 80s figures but there were some cool character designs during the final years of the Real American Hero line that I didn’t appreciate at the time. Nowadays I’m actually excited to add updated versions of those neon 90s Joes to my modern collection. For example, I’m super stoked about this year’s Joe Con box set which is made up completely of 90s “Air Patrol” Joes.
The 90s figures have been mostly ignored by Hasbro when it comes to their modern-era releases but the Collector’s Club has slowing been getting the job done via their box sets and subscription services. This year’s Air Patrol and 2014s Eco-Force box sets are prime examples. As for Ninja Force, Slice and Dice were both included in prior subscriptions and T’Jbang was shoehorned into the 2014 set. For that reason it wasn’t exactly a surprise to see Nunchuk included in this year’s FSS. He wasn’t a figure I was chomping at the bit to get but I’m always happy to add unique characters to my shelves.
This figure is made up entirely of reused parts. He’s got a Storm Shadow torso and arms which gives him an appropriate ninja looking top half but then he has Barbecue legs which provide him with battle-ready combat boots. I like the combination; it’s a lot like what the Club did when they mixed Jinx and Scarlett parts to give us Vypra last year.
The head was also originally used for a Storm Shadow figure and it makes for a fine generic masked face. The removable helmet does an okay job of recreating the original figure’s hooded headgear but it’s not as good as it could be. I would’ve preferred to see the Club just glue some cloth to the head like on the original Nunchuk. At least the helmet is unique to my collection. It original came with Snake Eyes version 55 which I don’t have.
Nunchuk has lots of accessories we’ve seen before that range from really cool to completely useless. I love the nunchuks with the string connecting the two batons. It makes for a functional weapon that suits him perfectly given his name. The backpack, swords, and sais are good too but the teeny little darts are just asking to be lost in the carpet.
The color palette is a bit dull but it matches the original quite well. For me personally, I expect this will be one of my least favourite figures from this year’s FSS and that’s a good thing because it’s not at all a bad figure. It’s a decent remake of the original with plenty of appropriate accessories and good articulation. What more could you ask for? My lukewarm reception is only due to the fact that I have no real connection to the character. 7 out of 10.