G.I. JOE Classified: Crimson Guard by Hasbro

A short while ago, when I reviewed Tomax and Xamot, I mentioned just how infatuated I was as a kid with The Crimson Guard and its Commanders. Some of it probably just had to do with the hot newness of new figures and a new dynamic in the cartoon, but I think it mostly had to do with just how unbelievably cool the Crimson Guard designs were. With their snappy red uniforms and their full helmets, they pissed all over the average Cobra troops, who in all fairness, by now were painted as mostly inept buffoons in the cartoon. Sure, the Crimson Guard wouldn’t wind up being much better, but at the time they were introduced, there was hope.

I also had hope that we wouldn’t have to wait too long to see these troops arrive in the Classified line, and as it turns out they came out even sooner than I expected. Yeah, as the 50th numbered release, that doesn’t exactly make them early releases, but with the way Hasbro has been cranking out the Classified figures, we didn’t have to wait too long. I mean, what’s it been, only two years since that first wave? Damn, Hasbro! Anyway, I’ve had this figure in hand for a little while now, but I was waiting to get a few more in before I finally sat down to spotlight them. Now, I’ve got a small squad of them, so let’s get started!

And Merry Christmas to me! Just look at this beautiful bastard! As I’ve pointed out many times in my Classified spotlights, Hasbro seems to be sticking to extremely conservative updates to these figures lately, and that suits me just fine. Doubly so in the case of The Crimson Guard, because you just don’t mess with perfection. This Classified version takes the original RAH figure design and just adds more detail, without making any drastic changes. You do get some well-defined knee pads, a double-strap thigh holster on the left hip, and a knife sheath on his right hip. There’s also the addition of a sword, which was an absolutely inspired addition to the figure design. The crimson fatigues are just the perfect shade of red plastic, with high black boots, gloves, and lots of silver trim to round out what is a visually stunning color palate. The buttons and edging on the front panel of the tunic were always part of the original figure sculpt, but now we get them beautifully picked out with that snappy silver, as well as the chest insignia. Meanwhile, the shoulder braid and epaulets are left gray. Oh, and the texturing on the tunic is superb! I dare say, this design hasn’t looked this good since Sideshow produced it in Sixth-Scale.

The helmet and mask also stick to the RAH roots, but again with lots more detail. The thin silver slit forms a visor and there’s a silver breather bisecting the rest of the black mask. The texturing on the tunic shows off really well in these shots, as does the epaulets, and the little details in the insignia on his left breast and the collar.

The backpack design is lifted directly from the original figure, only this time its cast in black, rather than red, and I approve wholeheartedly. The addition of black here just adds more balance to the deco. The edges have a leather-like texture with sculpted eyelets and straps, and there are angled slats running down the center. A peg on one side allows you to stow his rifle, while a peg hole on the other allows you to stow his sword and scabbard, and more on those in a bit. Yes, this figure can easily carry all the gear he comes with, and that’s always a plus in my book! Let’s breakdown all the gear, starting with the cutlery.

The combat knife is one of the better ones I’ve seen in this line. Nothing against past blades, but many have been a bit insubstantial and cast in all black. Here we get a silver painted blade, with a nice swollen edge, a serrated back, and a chunky grip. This knife not only looks great, but it fits perfectly into either of his very trigger-orientated hands. I love it!

And then there’s the sword, which as I said earlier, suits the figure so well, it’s hard for me to believe this didn’t happen sooner. It has a black hilt with a rather traditional modern military hilt with a curved knuckle guard, and a straight silver blade. The blade fits perfectly in the scabbard, which in turn pegs into a hole on his left hip. Yes, you can attach the sword to the backpack as well, but I’m not sure why you would want to. It looks great on the belt, and doesn’t really get in the way.

Moving on to the firearms, The Crimson Guard has a compact no-nonsense automatic pistol with a simple sculpt and cast in all black plastic. There’s a little checkered texturing on the sides, and all in all it has a solid realistic profile to it.

And finally, he comes with the real showpiece of his arsenal, a Colt M4 Carbine, which is probably my new favorite weapon issued in this entire line. This sculpt is absolutely fantastic and sports some amazing detail from the telescoping-style stock to the carry bar, and removable magazine, it all looks so damn good. But, I think it’s the bayonet with the silver painted blade that’s really the icing on this cake. Some may be disappointed that it isn’t the style of rifle that came with the original figure, but it pleases me to no end that Hasbro still went with a real world design for this figure’s weapon, and that they did such a wonderful job recreating it here.

With only a couple weeks left in the year, it’s not premature for me to throw out there that The Classified Crimson Guard is one of my top figures of 2022. Indeed, the fact that I’m not yet prepared to call it my favorite figure of the year just speaks to what an incredible year it was for action figures. Well, that and I don’t want to make any snap judgements like that without putting some more measured thought into it. But is he in the Top 5? Most definitely! Top 3? Very possibly. This is just an example of a design that I love so much being executed with absolute perfection. Classified has been an absolute treasure trove for amazing Cobra army builders, and this fellow may indeed be my favorite one yet. I’ve got six of these guys in my army so far, and I’m still open to picking up a few more. It makes me feel sorry for the Classified JOE’s, because they are getting more and more outnumbered with each passing release.

2 comments on “G.I. JOE Classified: Crimson Guard by Hasbro

  1. Saw this guy at Gamestop yesterday, but I resisted the temptation… so far.

    The thing that always bothered me with the Crimson Guards is actually Tomax and Xamot. How did an elite unit in sharply-dressed crimson military uniforms end up taking orders from a pair of acrobatic accountants dressed in decidedly non-crimson disco yoga onsies? DId they write up the dress code for the troops but forgot to read their own memo?

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