If you weren’t a kid playing with GI JOE in the early years, it might surprise you to see how conservative the early figures actually were. A good number of them were straight up military style characters, completely oblivious to the Battle Android Troopers and zombie clone emperors that would come later. And while I personally have grown to love the batshit crazy spectacle that GI JOE would eventually become, I still have a burning nostalgia for those original grounded figures in their green fatigues and mostly real world weapons.
Enter Lonzo Wilkinson, aka Stalker: Army Ranger and all around Infantry bad ass. This was the kind of real world stuff that Hasbro would eventually drift away from to make GI JOE more appealing to parents who didn’t want their kids to grow up and have… what? Distinguished careers in the armed forces defending their country? I dunno. But to be fair, I think the eventual drift to the sci-fi stuff probably made the line more appealing toward kids as well. When Real American Hero launched, I was still watching stuff like The Guns of Navarone and D-Day with my Dad on Sunday afternoons, and my brother and I would go out and pretend we were storming German machine gun positions or scouting Japanese island fortifications. But much like Westerns, those genres were falling by the wayside in post-Star Wars cinema, and GI JOE evolved with the times. But I will always have a special place in my heart for these original straight-arms!
Out of the package and all geared up, Stalker is ready to take on all those high stress combat situations he specializes in, and boy is this figure beautiful! He’s clad in straight up camo fatigues with a long sleeved pullover and textured trousers. You get some sculpted elastic around the neck and wrist cuffs, fingerless gloves, high laced boots, and all the usual rumples and wrinkles in his fatigues. The camo coloring is a lot more subdued than the brighter green on the original figure, giving it a little more of a realistic punch. The shoulder straps, which were sculpted as part of the original figure are now cast in soft plastic and actually worn by the figure. This includes some pouches and a non-removable canister grenade and dagger.
His back has a removable scabbard for his sub-machine gun and a separate slot for the magazine. The scabbard has all sorts of great texturing and details. He also has a hard case holster on his right hip for his pistol and barrel extender, and a scabbard on his left leg for his fighting knife.
The head sculpt is a fantastic homage to the original figure, with tons of personality. Lonzo looks every bit the hardened combatant, born fighting the gang wars on the streets of Detroit. He looks like he’s assessing a fortified enemy position right before grabbing his gun and muttering, “well, let’s do this.” Or perhaps seeing Cobra’s latest hairbrained combat contraption hit the battlefield and unleashing his battlecry, “I’m getting too old for this crazy shit!” His bushy eyebrows and perfectly groomed mustache give him a distinguished look, and I just love every bit of this portrait.
The beret is removable and yet it fits the head well enough so it’s not constantly falling off.
The figure also comes with a scarf for his neck, which I kind of waffle back and fourth on. It’s a great sculpt, and I love the knitted texture, but it rides a bit high on the figure. I will likely wind up displaying him with it on, but when I’m handling the figure, I prefer to remove it, so you won’t see it in too many shots here. OK… let’s talk gear!
Starting with the small stuff, Stalker comes with a simple little combat knife with a black grip and a painted silver blade. It fits perfectly into his trigger finger hand, or the off hand for that matter. I’ve said it before, Hasbro is getting a lot better at making these knives feel more substantial and fun accessories, rather than something that gets lost or never removed from the sheath.
Following that, you get a pretty standard automatic pistol modeled after the M1911A1 listed among his specialties. It’s cast all in black with some very nice detail and a non-removable extended magazine jutting out of the bottom of the grip. It also comes with a barrel extender, which is not like any barrel extender I’ve ever seen. I own enough guns to call myself an enthusiast, but certainly no expert, so it could definitely be something I just haven’t seen before. It looks kind of silly, and I doubt I will get much use out of it.
Next up is his sub-machine gun, which is a pretty close match for the M-32 Pulverizer, that came with the original figure. It’s a fictional model, but definitely has a real-world style design and I really dig it. It certainly hits some of the beats of the M-3A1 “Grease Gun,” which was among the list of weapons Lonzo is proficient in. The magazine is removable and both store in the scabbard on his back.
And finally, we bring out the big boy, which looks to me to be the most fictional design in Stalker’s arsenal, but still not too far out there. Again, you get some really nice sculpted detail on this beast. It also has a removable box magazine with a belt of ammo coming from the magazine and feeding into the side of the receiver, which is a really weird design.
I’ll be honest, it surprises the hell out of me to see Hasbro release a figure like Stalker here. Apart from some fictional gun designs, everything about this guy is grounded and gritty. This is as close to a real-world Infantry figure as you’re likely to find in the toy aisles these days, and I’m actually proud of them for doing it. It also shows just how wonderfully diverse a toyline Classified has become by embracing both GI JOEs realistic roots and the crazy shit from later on. Frankly, I’m here for all of it! It’s only January and I have to say Stalker is already a candidate for one of my favorite figures of 2023!
Stalker was the most intriguing, realistic, and consistent character as written by Larry Hama in the comic, which has always kept him near the top of my favorites list. My only qualm with this figure is that I wanted a younger appearing headsculpt. This one looks like he could easily have gray hair and maybe even correspond to the Viet Nam era, as he did in the comic!
It would be interesting to see a third party tackle a younger head for him!
I played with the original G.I.Joes and loved Stalker! This guy looks awesome in 6 inch.
I had a subscription to the Marvel comic book that started somewhere around #18 or so, and that comic book (along with the toys and cartoons) fueled SO much playtime and woodland adventures.
I don’t buy toys now (aside from the occasional un-opened Playmates Star Trek that I need) because of three kids and a mortgage – but I may start trying to get some of these! These are clearly designed by people who love the I.P….
I am in awe of how Hasbro turned this line around. I liked the first wave figures well enough, but the designs were hit or miss. Recent figures like Stalker are more than I would have expected from a mass retail line!