GI JOE 25th Anniversary Collection: Mercenary Wraith by Hasbro

Last time, I looked at Mindwipe, a Transformer that was really tough for me to bag at retail. This time, it’s the same story only in the GI JOE lineup. Back when I was hunting the 25th Anni. figures, I never once saw Wraith hanging on the pegs and I came pretty close a couple of times to paying a premium for him online just to get him into my collection. I never did pull the trigger and now, after a few years, I stumble upon a dozen of them on clearance at Marshall’s. Interestingly enough, in my mad excitement over finally finding him, I overlooked one important fact: He sucks. I’ll elaborate a little, but this is still going to be a quickie.

Here we have one of the only figures that can make the 25th Anni. vintage style cards look blah. The artwork is just bland and really not worthy of the packaging style let alone the original comic art for the character. Wraith seems like he should be a slam dunk. He’s a shifty mercenary wearing a high-tech cloaking suit. He’s just the kind of thing that would have been right at home in Metal Gear Solid. I was never a huge fan of him in the comics, but I always thought he would make excellent figure fodder. I still think I was right, but Hasbro just completely choked the chicken on this one.

Aesthetically, the sculpt isn’t bad. The armor is well executed, particularly the way the upper torso armor is layered as a separate piece over the black textured stomach. The helmet is cool enough and the face plate is hinged so that it can lift up to reveal… um, Tony Stark. Yeah. Aesthetics aside, though, this sculpt has all sorts of practical problems that interfere with the articulation, so let’s just talk about that now.

Wraith uses the same basic articulation as all the 25th Anni. Joe bodies, but Hasbro took every opportunity in the sculpt to muck it up. Perhaps the dumbest thing here are the angel hair wires that connect his arm guns to his biceps. If you want to move Wraith’s arms at all, you might as well just snip all of these off because they will not survive. You’ll also have to cut them if you want to remove the cumbersome arm weapons. The shoulder armor and the collar also do their part to inhibit Wraith’s articulation. At least from the waist down things are ok.

Wraith comes with a backpack, a ridiculous assault rifle that he can’t really hold unless you take off his arm guns, and even then he can’t hold it very well. I’ll give Hasbro a pass on the gun, since he didn’t really need to come with one at all, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s one of the worst guns I ever got with a modern Joe figure. Oh yeah, he also comes with a figure stand. This stand would be the only really valuable thing in the package, if only it didn’t have his name on it.

Unless you are absolutely in love with Wraith from his comic appearances, this figure should have been an easy pass. He’s awful in just about every way. I currently keep my Joes baggied and in storage totes, but I don’t think I’m going to even waist a baggie on this piece of crap. But hey, the odds were that at least one figure in the line would be crap, and honestly, I can’t think of any others that were even close to this disappointing.

GI JOE 25th Anniversary Comic Pack: Scrap-Iron and Wild Bill by Hasbro

The last time I was in Marshall’s hunting Joes, I was able to pick up one of the GI JOE Comic Packs that still eluded me. They had quite a few I still want, but I’ll be back for those. I was originally planning on leaving this pack sealed as I have a few Joe comic packs hanging on my wall, but the horrible stubborness of the Marshall’s price tag made me change my mind. That’s ok, though, since I really did want to get at the figures… well, one of the figures. I already have the single carded Wild Bill from the 25A Collection, and while this one is certainly different, I was most excited to get me a new Scrap Iron for my collection.

Hasbro’s comic pack packaging is some of the best action figure packaging mankind has yet invented. Whether it be GI JOE, Star Wars, or Marvel, it’s just brilliant. The presentation is awesome, you get two figures, and you get a nice comic book reprint to read too. I rarely ever think twice about tearing open packages to get at my toys, but ripping these things open always gives me pause. It’s amazing that these are the same guys that took the comic book out of the Marvel Legends figures when they took it over from Toy Biz. Anyway, I would have thought that Scrap-Iron and Wild Bill were an unlikely of pairings, but there they are trying to kick the shit out of each other right on the front of the comic.

Let’s get Wild Bill out of the way first. You know what was always so cool about Wild Bill? He came with the Dragonfly chopper. Take away his ride, and he’s pretty, meh. Throw in the fact that I have no Dragonfly chopper to put him in, and he becomes even more pointless. I guess I could dig out my Spy Troops Desert Attack Chopper, but it’s just not the same. Besides, his holsters are so damn big, I doubt he could fit into a cockpit if I had one to put him in. Toss in the fact that this is just a repaint of the same figure I bought carded many years back and he really is totally superfluous. He better keep wearing that yellow vest and cowboy hat, because with that blue outfit, one of the Joes is bound to shoot him by mistake.

To make matters worse, the quality on this figure is not good. Besides the cheesy and uneven white paint used for his pistols and belt buckle, the hinges on his left knee are totally shot, making him difficult to stand up even on his figure stand, and the seams in his legs are pulling away. Maybe I just got a bad one. On the plus side, his colors do match the comic pretty well, if that’s your bag, and I love the fact that he comes with both a flight helmet and his Cavalry hat. He also came with a figure stand, which is definitely cool since I forgot Hasbro put them in these packs.

And then there’s Scrap-Iron. I can’t really explain the fondness I had for this figure as a kid. He must have had a really kick ass moment on the cartoon that I can’t remember now. Or, maybe it was because he came with a big missile launcher. Either way, I really loved my Scrap-Iron figure and whenever I played with my Joes he got invited to partake in all of Cobra’s reindeer games. This update is really spot-on and they didn’t wreck his colors for the comic book like they did with Wild Bill. The head sculpt is excellent, and he’s got all sorts of little scars painted on his face too. His vest is removable and he has clips on his leg to attach a dagger, although he didn’t come with one.

He did, however, come with an automatic pistol and his trademark armor-busting mobile missile launcher. [The strands of cat hair seen in the picture didn’t come with it, I had to add those. -FF] The launcher is pretty close to how I remember the original toy. It has a stand, a corded control box, and the two red missiles just lay inside the launcher. Scrap-Iron also comes with his own figure stand.

The included comic isn’t a classic reprint, but rather a new original book by Larry Hama. It’s kind of cool to see that Hasbro went through the trouble to create something new and original like this, but honestly, it’s not all that great. There’s no story, it’s just a drawn out set-piece action sequence with Scrap-Iron trying to take down a Dragonfly with Wild Bill and Airborne on board while Dial Tone, Scarlet and Snake Eyes duke it out with some HISS tanks. What it lacks in story, though it makes up for in style as all the story is told through radio communications, which is kind of cool. There’s also a couple of classic moments like Wild Bill blasting a missile off target with his six-shooters at nearly point blank range. So, yeah, the comic is always a nice bonus, but I didn’t get the same nostalgia and enjoyment I got out of reading the reprints from the Classic Comic Packs.

I always thought it was a dirty move for Hasbro to include Scrap-Iron with a shitty recolor of Wild Bill. But finding this pack on clearance, I was able to overcome my principles and finally add one of my favorite Cobras to my 25th Anniversary Collection. It was $6.99, which was definitely worth the price, even if Wild Bill gets tossed into a bottomless storage tote or becomes a plaything for FigureFeline. It’s the kind of deal that I remember back when Hasbro was putting out those Valor vs Venom 2-packs for around the same price. They weren’t the best figures, but how can you complain about getting two figures with accessories for seven bucks, eh?

GI JOE 25th Anniversary Collection: Sgt. Airborne and Croc Master by Hasbro

What do these two figures have in common? They were two of the last figures I needed from this collection and I found them both on clearance at Marshall’s last week. Seriously, if you haven’t been to your local Marshall’s lately, it’s been transformed (HA!) into a wonderland of clearanced GI Joe and Transformers toys from yesteryear. I could go on and on, but today we’re just here to talk about the two I picked up on this particular visit.

The recent Star Wars Vintage Collection is all well and good, but oh God, these 25th Anni. cardbacks are awesome. I love the artwork, I love the smaller bubbles, and even the back of the card is similar to the way things used to be, complete with vintage style filecards. I can’t tell you how close this line brought me to starting a second mint-on-card collection just to decorate my wall. I really had to utilize every fiber of my resistence to not do it. Anyway, I tore these bastards open as soon as I got home.

Sgt. Airborne is a really nice update from the vintage figure, although that’s based a lot on my fuzzy nostalgia because It’s been a really long time since I owned the vintage one. I do remember him being among my top tiers of Joes to draw from when I was playing with them, and he often took the back seat in my SkyStriker. I can’t say a lot about his character from the cartoon. All I really remember about him was he had some wacked out brother who got kidnapped by Cobra so they could turn his ESP into some kind of crazy super-weapon. Wow, do I need to watch some of those episodes again.

Airborne’s sculpt is a home run and he’s got plenty of added gear to enhance the figure even further. His vest is removable, as are his belt and leg straps, and his helmet. His backpack is also a separate piece and pegs into his back. I actually had to do some shaving on the peg to get it to fit in. His sculpted gear include a combat knife and a grenade on the vest and he’s got a working holster sculpted on his hip for his pistol. He comes with a personalized figure stand, an assault rifle with bayonet, and an automatic pistol.

And then there’s The Croc Master, also a brilliant figure. In his case, I never owned the vintage one and I only vaguely remember him from the comic. I don’t recall him ever being in the cartoon. Still, you need only look at his file card to see his impressive pedigree. As founder of Gator Guard Inc. he wanted to sell alligators to people for use as home security. Wait, what? Is he Croc Master or Gator Master? Either way, it’s obviously that kind of thinking that Cobra values. Interestingly enough, I already owned a variant of this sculpt as it was reused for the Viper that was packed in with the Mole Pod in the Rise of Cobra line.

The sculpt here is pretty nice. He’s got textured reptile skin making up his vest, boots and holster. The mask is cool and has a hose that comes out of the mouth and runs to an oxygen tank on his back. The holster holds his grey revolver and he also comes with a whip, because apparently he whips his gators? Or crocodiles? It’s all very confusing. He also comes with a personalized figure stand.

The croc figure is awesome. Instead of being just a hunk of plastic, he actually has a hinged jaw so you can have him clamp down on your Joes. The paint apps on him are also surprisingly well done and he’s got a spiked collar and leash, which can be removed. Hasbro easily could have half-assed this piece, but instead it got some pretty good loving.

Both Airborne and Croc Master have the same level of articulation. They have ball joints in the neck. The arms have ball jointed shoulders and elbows and swivel wrists. The legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinged knees and ball jointed ankles. There’s also the ubiquitous swivel and ab crunch in torsos.

These guys set me back a whopping $3.99 each, which was the price of all their single carded 25th Anni figures. It was all I could do to resist grabbing a shopping cart and filling it with figures. If you’re looking for

GI JOE 25th Anniversary: Cobra Stinger with Driver by Hasbro

One of the great tragedies of my childhood was that I never owned the original Cobra Stinger. Yeah, so I guess my childhood was pretty good, but damn if I didn’t want the Stinger something fierce. At least a couple of my friends had them, so I got to play around with them from time to time. When Hasbro announced an updated version was coming out in the tail end of the 25th Anniversary series I was so excited. Then it was cancelled and reborn as a tough to get online exclusive. It was like the Toy God just wanted to taunt me and then punch me square in the balls. Needless to say, I was pretty amazed when I stumbled upon one at Ross nearly two years later. Collecting is funny that way.

The packaging is the same as the Arctic Hiss we looked at last time. Once again, the packaging looks great, but it’s pretty prone to damage. I’m thinking my Hiss and Stinger may have come out of the same case because the packages are both damaged in almost the same place. The cardboard insert is decked out with a cool animated desert motif to make for a nice diorama. The back panel shows photos of the vehicle and figure detailing the features. The bottom panel has filecards for both the vehicle and the figure.

As with the vintage version, this modern Cobra Stinger is a repaint/remold of the GI JOE Vamp. The most notable difference is the swivel gun has been replaced with a missile rack and there’s added armor plating around the cab. The doors swing up and all three pieces can be removed as they are just clipped onto the rollbars. The hood has been slightly resculpted. It no longer opens and instead of the shovel it now has a clip to hold an assault rifle. At the back of the vehicle, the gas cans on the Vamp have been replaced with a running board with pegs for two figures to ride on the back.

There aren’t really many paint apps to speak of, as everything is molded in black and grey. There’s just a couple of areas on the front painted silver.The Cobra emblems and the spider insignia are pre-applied stickers, but you get a nice sheet of stickers to apply yourself.

The missile rack turns 360 degrees and raises and lowers. The four missiles just peg into the rack. It will hold them in place, but it doesn’t take much to knock them askew or have them fall off altogether. As mentioned last time, the missiles and rack are the same setup that came with the Arctic HISS.

The Stinger Driver is almost a direct repack of the Stinger Driver that was released as part of the Cobra Legions 5-pack way back when. The most notable difference here is his mask is painted red instead of black and he has black webbing sculpted on his helmet. He also has a much bulkier set of webgear, complete with a pistol holster in the back. I found him to be very difficult to get seated in the vehicle unless I removed his webgear, but once I did that he fits in just fine. He comes with a figure stand, a dagger, a pistol and an assault rifle.

It’s always an amazing thing to pick up a toy that you wanted so bad as a kid, but for whatever reason never owned. It’s even better when you get it for such a steal. Granted, this isn’t the vintage one, but I’m content to own the 25th Anni. toys over the vintage stuff any day. In retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t just fork over the cash for this thing when it first came out, but it worked out in the end. Cobra has had a lot of great vehicles over the years, but this one remains one of my favorites.

GI JOE 25th Anniversary: Cobra Arctic Hiss with Driver by Hasbro

Remember the frustration around the last wave of the 25th Anniversary vehicles? First we got to salivate over the photos, then we got word that the wave was cancelled. Later, we were told that they would be sold through at some online retailers, only to find they were available in limited quantities and much higher price points. By the end, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to who was selling them and for how much. All I know is that I was never able to get one at a decent price. It wouldn’t have been so bad if one of these vehicles wasn’t the highly desireable update of Cobra’s Stinger Jeep and a brand new Arctic variant of the Hiss Tank. I long ago made my peace with the fact that I probably would never be getting these. And then one day I’m picking through the dreck at Ross’ Toy Department and there they both are… and for about nine bucks each. Um, yeah. Today we’ll take a look at the Arctic Hiss.

The vehicle comes in a largely clear box, sort of like a fishtank package framed in cardboard. It’s the same general package that Hasbro was using for all their 25th Anni. vehicles in this assortment. The interior inserts have a cool animated style arctic motif creating a diorama environment. It’s very nice for showing off the toy, but as you can see from my package, it was pretty fragile. I’m not sure if this was from getting beaten up in retail limbo for the past two years, but thankfully the toy is still packaged well so as not to get easily damaged when the box is distressed. The back shows off photos of the toy and details its features, while the bottom panel has filecards for both the driver and the vehicle.

This arctic version is a repaint and slight remold of the 25th Anniversary Hiss Tank, which in turn was basically the same as the vintage Hiss Tank only with a remolded cockpit to make it roomier for the larger modern-style Joe figures. Apart from the obvious white deco, the other most noticeable difference is that the traditional dual cannon has been removed from the turret and replaced with a missile launcher. The missile rack and missiles are exactly the same parts used for the Cobra Stinger.

The other change is the added parts on the sides. There is a rectangular collar piece that is fitted to lay around the top of the vehicle. The collar has notches in it where you can hang the equipment rack and the bedroll. They can be removed or hung on either side. The bedroll is just a molded piece of plastic, but it still looks pretty nice when put in place.

One of the really cool things about the variant parts on this Hiss Tank is that all of them are compatible with the regular Hiss. You can swap out the missile rack and hang the equipment collar, offering a number of options for customizing.

There’s not much to say about the paint deco on this toy. It’s basically molded in black and white and it makes for a striking combination, but apart from that there aren’t any actual paint apps. There are Cobra emblem stickers already applied, as well as a HUD sticker on the windshield, plus you get a sheet of stickers to put on yourself. Hasbro even included a bunch of numbers so that you can customize the ID number of your particular Hiss.

The Arctic Hiss comes with a Hiss Driver figure, which is repaint of the 25th Anni. Snow Serpent with different legs below the knee and a repaint of the regular Hiss Driver’s head. It makes for a nice figure and the new paint job is very cool indeed. The tiny gold paint apps on the buckles of his webgear is particularly amazing for such a seemingly insignificant little detail. His uniform is white with black fur bracers on his arms and black webgear. He comes with a personalized figure stand, a pair of binoculars and an assault rifle.

I don’t tend to go all ga-ga over Arctic themed vehicles in the Joe line, mainly because I don’t tend to buy a lot of the Arctic themed figures to go with them. That having been said, I’m pretty happy with this purchase. But at $8.99 how could I not be? The figure alone was pretty much worth the price of admission. And while I wasn’t planning on picking up many of the Pursuit of Cobra carded figures, I think I’m going to have to break down and buy that Arctic Destro just for this Hiss.

I’ll be back soon with a look at the Cobra Stinger.