In Figure 8, the PoP! Stars give their take on the latest and greatest in Action Figures and Toy Lines in eight (succinct) parts.
I may not have made it to Toy Fair 2013 like PoP!’s roving reporter Tito “Teets n’ Tweets” Cruz, but that didn’t keep me from following the action all weekend. Between picture texts, Twitter updates, and stolen moments surfing all the various news sites, I made sure I knew what was going on. But the rest of the weekend was nothing compared to Saturday and Hasbro’s full-court press with all of their major toy lines. A two-foot tall Metroplex!? A 6″ Star Wars line!? Wolverine Legends!? AMAZING! But no single toy line is better positioned to drain my wallet dry than the real American hero himself, GI Joe! While many of the upcoming offerings had been seen as early as last year (due to the movie being pushed back) there were still a few new – and amazing – surprises thrown in the mix. Below are the great eight, new or old, that we’ll be seeing this year.
Announced at last year’s Joe Con, Retaliation‘s General Joe Colton features a sculpt based on Bruce Willis and some crazy accessorization. For those unfamiliar, Colton in the comics was based on the original 12″ GI Joe with flocked hair and beard and was introduced late in the run as the clandestine founder of the Joe team. Oh the irony that a figure famous for having hair is being portrayed on screen by Bruce Willis. John McClane here comes with a pistol and shoulder holster, a shotgun (not pictured), and a combat shotgun/grenade launcher type weapon complete with quad-barrel spring-fired missile launcher. The good news? It looks like that monstrosity slides right off of the weapon; Bruce is getting old and I’m not sure his back could handle hauling around a quarter ton piece of artillery like that.
Ultimate Crimson Guard
The biggest benefit we collectors get from GI Joe: Retaliation isn’t the movie themed toys, but rather Hasbro’s willingness to invest in non-movie toys to accompany the film-accurate figures. Enter the Ultimate Crimson Guard. Following the Renegades Storm Shadow – which many collectors began to dub “Ultimate Storm Shadow” for his increased articulation and accessorization – this CeeGee sees an increse in both over what you might consider “standard” figures. These “Ultimate” versions are designed to serve not as alternatives to previous released versions, but rather as definitive versions thereof. In the case of the good old Fred series, here, we’ll be getting a number of different faction decals to customize the trooper, allowing not only for troop building, but full-on platoon building. As I already HAVE a small army of Crimson Guards from the 25th release, I’ll be treating this guy as their ranking officer. He’s just too good to pass up entirely.
Speaking of the “Ultimate” sub-line, this Cobra Commander figure DID make his debut at Toy Fair. With ramped up articulation and both his hooded and battle-helmeted heads, this is a must have for any collector, right off the bat. But wait, there’s more! The new CC comes complete with a re-imagined FANG helicopter, now in backpack form. The Joes always did love their preposterous flying machines, and helicopter backpacks were all the rage from the Iron Grenadier Annihilators to the Sonic Fighters’ Falcon. Now the commander himself can travel in style with a flying pack that looks to have a push button spinning rotor and some form of bomb dropping action. Buy two to display with each head and you suddenly have a pair of chopper packs for your Cobra troopers to employ. Because who wears a loose fitting fabric hood while piloting a heli-pack?
Ultimate Snake Eyes
Rounding out our “Ultimate” spotlight is Snake Eyes. This is a tricky one. Didn’t we already GET an Ultimate Snake Eyes? Well, yes and no. The Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes was pretty close when you consider the accessorization and articulation that figure offered, including swappable heads to represent both his commando and ninja looks. This, however, is an Ultimate Snake Eyes based directly on the cartoon. That means greater cartoon accuracy (like his signature grenade belt) and most importantly Timber, his pet wolf! The figure looks great and will allow those of us with the PoC Snake Eyes to finally feel better about displaying him with his shades instead of his visor. He’ll also pair perfectly with the new Ultimate Storm Shadow we’re getting, who’ll be sporting a sleeveless cartoon accurate look and some new CLAW Glider, as well.
Joe Con Nocturnal Fire Set
This hurts. This really hurts. This year’s Joe Con exclusive is a 30th style Night Force themed set. I couldn’t care less about the Night Force figures, though the Repeater and Psyche Out would absolutely make it onto my shelf (while Charbroil, Hit & Run, Muskrat, and Spearhead would all jump directly into my parts bin). What hurts is the inclusion of the Frag and SAW Vipers in this set, as it means there’s almost no chance of us seeing them at retail, ever. The con exclusive figures have a bad habit of remaining as such. Alongside the upcoming Night Viper (at right), the SAW and Frag Vipers are two of the most requested 30th updates, and this set gives you three troop builders of each. Still, with a limited run and rather hefty price tag ($430 for con admission and the set), I’m not so sure even I can be convinced to pony up the cash to help complete my Cobra ranks. Which is a damned shame. A single as-of-yet-unreleased SAW Viper is already fetching forty dollars shipped on e-Bay; that’s four times retail for a single figure. OUCH!
This gem of the Cobra fighting forces debuted at Joe Con… two years ago?… then was said to be cancelled, then was going to be reworked, and now looks like it will be hitting shelves exactly as originally planned, thanks to the heat from Retaliation. Why all the fuss? This figure is HUGE. The Data Viper comes with a ridiculous semi-futuristic rig that is meant to turn him into a one-man data-processing hub. Long range antennae, dishes, and something that could either be advanced weaponry or just more server space all come together with a couple of gnarly joysticks and a Pyramidhead inspired helmet to make this guy quite distinctive in appearance. Beyond that, however, he comes equipped with a spy drone the likes of which appears in the trailers for Retaliation attacking the Joe base. So, y’know, the tie-in here at least makes SOME sense. Even if the drone gets cut from this figure, it appears it will be packed in with Ultimate Movie Duke, so worst case scenario we’ll have to buy another Channing Tatum to get the full effect from this hi-tech snake.
There is no better way to win me over than to take a toy I had no interest in as a child and make it cool. And the best part is, the Cobra Night Landing was ALREADY pretty cool, I just didn’t appreciate it. I mean… it’s a rubber boat. There’s a motor, machine gun, and two oars mounted to it, but… it’s a rubber boat. Cast in all dark blue plastic. How much fun is that? To a kid, not a ton, but to a collector looking to create dramatic displays? This is gold! Not to mention the upgrades: the flooring and seats of the boat now get a black paintjob to make them pop, it comes with a movie-style Cobra EELS, and it includes a giant trunk that is absolutetly filled to the brim with weapons. THIS is how you deploy a team of Cobra troopers onto enemy shores. And look at that new Cobra EELS figure! The modern/Retaliation/PoC styling gives the Cobra diver a much more “real world” look and his dive gear is positively impressive. Pair the Night Landing with a Night Viper and give Shipwreck a run for his money. Heck, I’ll take two!
The Eaglehawk (aka Tomahawk) Chopper
News of a computer listing for a “GI Joe Tomahawk” leaked out about a week prior to Toy Fair and started the speculation among fans as to what this new item could be. Would Hasbro dare to re-release their giant troop transport helicopter, or would this be some sort of massive misdirection? One fan even pondered the possiblity of an egregious Nerf weapon of some sort. It’s not unlike Hasbro to re-use old names for new products, after all. But Toy Fair taught us that not only would we get the old chopper brought back to life, but that “Tomahawk” was just a toy nerd from on high having some fun, as the actual name now is “Eaglehawk” – whether for legal reasons or just in an attempt to be more PC, who knows?
The Tomahawk, like the Night Landing, always seemed boring to me as a child. Give me the sleek and sexy Dragonfly (based on the Apache attack chopper) any day. The Chinook-inspired Tomahawk was big and bulky; too heavy to hold aloft and too hard to imagine engaged in battle. But hey, I’ve grown up. Now I long for nothing more than a troop transport hovering over the battle field as Joes jump to the ground and open fire from its wide open cargo bay.
The Eaglehawk has all of the amenities of its predecessor – wing mounted missiles and torpedos, an anti-tank chin gun, rear compartment machine guns, an opening cargo bay door, and a fully operable winch. Where it truly shines is the upgrades, though. The new model has a retooled cockpit with full joysticks like the 25th reissue of the FANG, an added row of seats in the cargo hold allowing for at least six passengers over and above the two-man crew, folding rotors to prevent the breakage common to the original model, and - along with a Retaliation decoed Lift Ticket to pilot her - a pair of headsets to allow communication among the crew. It’s the little things in life, y’know?