GI JOE Classified: Alley Viper by Hasbro

GI JOE Classified has been a dangerously expensive line for me to collect, because it’s full of so many darn troop builders! And troop building is one of those ultimate expressions of excess that I wished I could do as a kid. I can remember asking for another Cobra Trooper or Stormtrooper and being told, “No! You already have that one!” But, now I’m an adult with disposable income, and it’s only natural that I went kind of crazy with the Cobra Infantry and Battle Android Troopers, so I tried to restrain myself when it came to the Alley Viper. Three seemed like a good number, and that’s how many I wound up with… for now!

Truth be told, the original Alley Viper was first released during that Dark Age between when I was no longer getting toys to play with as a kid, and had not yet discovered buying toys to collect them as an adult. This guy first appeared on the shelves in 1989, which would have been the year before I went to college. As a result, I wasn’t even really aware that Cobra had an Urban Assault Trooper until I got back into collecting GI JOE around 1999 or so. And I’m all for getting to experience some Classified figures that I didn’t have as a kid! As always, the box is nice and colorful, his large array of weapons is laid out around him, and the character art even pictures a couple Alley Vipers to subliminally tell you to buy more than one!

Out of the package, it’s hard to first notice anything but the colors… Oh, the colors! The Alley Viper fatigues consists of an retina-sizzling orange and blue camo, with some black and brown thrown in just to keep things somewhat grounded. Love it or hate it, GI JOE Series Eight was knocking on the 1990’s door, ushering in an age of obnoxious toy colors. The Alley Vipers were billed as being brave, and let’s face it, you’d have to be to go into battle wearing this! Once we’re past the deco, I have to admire the attention to detail that went into the fatigues and gear. His vest is a veritable slab of pouches, which extends to his right shoulder. He’s got more pouches on his belt, sheathes for his knives on his right forearm and left shoulder, and a holster for his pistol on his right thigh. And then there’s that gorgeous blue shoulder pouch with the orange Cobra insignia! It’s a lot to take in all at once, and before you can process it all, he’s probably already killed you.

The Alley Viper’s head is encased in a form-fitting, open-faced helmet. with snake fangs emerging from the chin guard, and a textured blue mask beneath it, showing only his determined and hate-filled eyes. There’s a hinged visor, which can be lowered to shield his face, and has only a circular screen in the center for detail. I presume this is some type of imaging sensor that allows him to see, but it sure makes him look creepy and inhuman. The black embossed Cobra emblem at the forehead is a nice touch as well!

The black backpack pegs into the back of the figure and is a superb nod back to the original figure’s backpack. Like the Viper’s fatigues, there’s a crazy amount of detail in the sculpt. In addition to the Cobra emblem at the top, there are magazines sculpted into the sides, a cluster of grenades down at the bottom, more pouches, and what looks like a landmine in the center. The grapple gun, which I believe was sculpted into the original figure’s backpack, is even removable here.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a dedicated grapple gun, or just a rifle that also has the ability to fire the hook, but I’m leaning toward the later, because it seems like a pretty big piece of kit to haul around just for those times when you need to grapple somewhere. Regardless, the rifle has a scope, as well as a ring at the muzzle to attach a string (not included). The hook is removable, and it also has a ring to attach the other end of the string (still not included). Let’s check out what else this guy’s got!

Well, any good Urban Commando needs some blades, and the Alley Viper comes with two identical knives that fit in the aforementioned sheathes. I’m a big fan of the one on his shoulder, as it’s well placed and stays put, because it’s secured to the vest. The one on his right forearm is a lot more floaty. It tends to swivel on his wrist, and slide as well. It is removable, and while it hasn’t annoyed me enough to do that yet, it’s nice to have it as an option. Knife accessories in this scale are seldom all that interesting, but I still enjoy getting them.

Next up is his pistol, which fits very well in his thigh holster, as well as in either hand. I really dig this design, as it’s not too sci-fi-y, but rather looks like a fairly credible real-world design. I’ve got nothing much else to say about it, other than it gets my stamp of approval.

Now we’re moving into the heavier hardware with this compact bullpup-style carbine. This is a nice update to the weapon that came with the original Alley Viper, complete with a scope, foregrip, and a crazy positioning of the magazine, which juts out the back at an angle. The weapon is cast entirely in black plastic, the sculpt is great, and while I personally am not a fan of the design, it’s still a great-looking weapon. I was thrilled to see that the magazine was removable too!

And finally, the Alley Viper comes with a more traditional rifle featuring a detachable magazine in front of the grip, just the way I like them. Like the previous carbine, this rifle is cast all in black plastic and has some wonderful detail in the sculpt. This is probably the gun I’ll have these guys carrying most of the time for display purposes. My only nitpick with the Alley Viper and his arsenal is there’s no way for him to carry everything, or even anywhere to attach any of his rifles, except for the grapple gun.

I’ve saved the Alley Viper’s most iconic piece of kit for last, and that’s his riot shield, and boy is it a beauty. This defensive shield shares the same orange and blue deco as the Viper’s fatigues, and has a bold and beautiful Cobra emblem sculpted into the top center. It attaches to the figure’s arm with a pair of straps, and even has a pivot, so it can be positioned in a variety of ways independent of how the figure is posed. It also has a sticker on the interior side, which I presume is a viewscreen, so the Viper can still see what’s happening when taking cover behind it. A lot more safe and secure than the slits in conventional riot shields!

As I mentioned at the start, the Alley Viper is my first Cobra troop builder in the Classified line based off a figure I did not own as a kid, and that makes him a real treat. I wasn’t sure how I would take to the crazy colors, but now that he’s in hand I have to admit that he’s got an unabashed beauty about him that I wouldn’t dare change. There’s a sublime variety of weaponry packed in with him, that makes it possible to kit out multiple figures with some variety, and that’s always a plus. But whatever weapons I give him, that beautiful shield will always be a must! Hasbro hit an absolute home run with this figure, and it’ll take some serious restraint to keep me from getting a few more!

GI JOE Classified: B.A.T. (Battle Android Trooper) by Hasbro

When I look back at Sunbow’s GI JOE cartoon, it’s amazing how they managed to make it so exciting when everyone was firing guns at everyone else, but nobody was hitting anyone. Sure, they found creative ways around this by featuring more melee combat. But the ultimate workaround was the introduction of the Battle Android Troopers. The BATs put the JOEs up against enemy robot soldiers that they could shoot, blow up, tear apart, and smash to pieces. As a kid, I loved the BATs, and I especially loved how it made the combat in the cartoon far more visceral.

It was only a matter of time before the BATs found their way into the 6-inch Classified line, and here they are! I actually have a ton of these on pre-order through a bunch of online retailers, but Amazon had some BATs in Stock last week and I was able to get an order in for one, which arrived a couple days ago. I was going to wait to review him until the rest of my BATs arrived, but who knows when that will be, so let’s go ahead and check out this lone BAT.

As time rolls on, The Classified series seems to be more confident with sticking to the original Real American Hero designs, and that’s quite evident with this BAT figure. There is one major difference, and that’s the armored chest plate that covers the window of circuitry that was always on display in the original figure. Of course, it was important to show that circuit panel in the cartoon so nobody could mistake them as real people. With that not being an issue any longer, Hasbro decided to button these guys up!

But when you take it off, you still get that panel of exposed circuits, including some prominent red and yellow components. I actually like the idea of the armor plate option, but I would have preferred an additional transparent chest plate for the more classic look. In fact, not including such a piece seems like a really big oversight. Sure, you can just go without the plate at all, but then you’ve got nothing protecting all that stuff, and I assume it’s probably pretty important to the BATs functions.

Everything else here is pretty much on point! The BAT wears black fatigues with bright yellow boots, belt, and holster with thigh strap. His other thigh is encircled with a silver strap. He has a yellow sholder strap to the left of his chest holding a pair of canister-style grenades, both left as bare gray plastic. I don’t know that these colors ever made any sense, but they sure look so iconic and snappy together. The sculpt features all the usual rumples and wrinkles in the fatigues, and I especially love all the fine detail in his robotic arms, which are exposed from the elbows down.

The head retains all the classic charm of the original RAH design. Was the featureless silver face plate supposed to be a tribute to Cobra Commander? I dunno. But the lack of any semblance of a face is both creepy and badass. There are two silver vents on the back of the helmet and a crested comb running up the middle of the helmet, and the whole thing looks slightly (and appropriately) too small to have an actual human head in it. It’s simple and absolutely awesome!

The backpack offers storage for all three of the BAT’s arm attachments. Two can plug into the top compartments and one can plug up into the side. The Classified BAT has two detachable fists, so you can equip the extra attachments on the left or right arm, or have him dual-wield!

Similar to the RAH figure, the attachments include a laser gun, a powerful looking pincer-claw, and a torch. These are easy to pop on and off, and they look really good. I’m particularly excited about getting some more BATs so I can make specialists like Double-Claw BAT, Double Laser Gun BAT, and… well, you get the idea.

The BAT also comes with a pistol, which fits into his holster and can be wielded in either of his normal hands.

The articulation here is pretty standard stuff for this line. The double jointing in the elbows is made very obvious because of the exposed robot arms. The dog-bone connectors in the hips on my figure are a little tight. But the one wonderful surprise here was the inclusion of the extra crunches in the shoulders. I don’t think I caught that in the promo pictures, and I was delighted to see it when I got the figure in hand.

And finally, The BAT includes two battle damaged pieces, which include a second chest piece and head. I like the head a lot, especially the way it shows off one of the eyes behind the damaged faceplate. The chest piece is well done also, with some tears to the metal and an impact crater that looks like he took a dead-on punch from Sgt. Slaughter himself! Still, I wish we got a chest piece that was a bit more damaged and showed a bit more of that circuitry underneath. A damaged arm attachment would have been pretty cool too. Hell, if Hasbro wants to double-dip, I’d be down for a two-pack of BATs with more interchangeable damaged parts.

“Stay behind him… he’s deflecting all the bullets!”

In the end, this is an absolutely fantastic figure! Indeed, I’d say the only thing that holds it back from being a Perfect Ten would be the lack of a clear chest plate. Still, I have to tell myself this is the Classified version, and these guys just aren’t supposed to go into action with their circuitry on display. I think the best compliment I can pay the Classified BAT is that after getting one in hand, I’m happy to have a bunch more pre-ordered and on the way! This may be one of my favorite figures the line has produced yet.

G.I. Joe Classified (Cobra Island): Major Bludd by Hasbro

It’s Friday! And what better way to kick off the weekend than by opening a brand new GI JOE: Classified figure! As regular readers will no doubt know I am enjoying the hell out of these figures, but not so much the distribution. Today’s figure, Major Sebastian Bludd was another one of them Cobra Island Target Exclusives, and I still think it was dumb luck that I happened upon this guy when I was buying Litter for the kitty-cats! Although, I’ve seen a few pictures on Twitter showing full pegs of Bludd, so maybe things are looking up. Either way, I was stoked to get him in hand.

Here he is in the package, sporting some absolutely killer character art. I don’t save the packaging for a lot of these figures, but I may just hang on to this one. So, before we get started, here’s a quick disclaimer. If you look at the top packaged shot, you’ll see that Sebastian has a copious amount of dog tags hanging around his neck. As I was playing around with the figure, I found these to be a bit cumbersome and distracting, so I took them off and wound up leaving them off for pretty much the entire shoot. They will make a return at the end for a little discussion. I just didn’t want you to think poor old Jameson-addled Dave forgot about them. And with that said, let’s get The Major out and have a look!

Holy shit! What a figure!!! When I reviewed Zartan, I believe I commented about how I could see more than a bit of Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale figure in there, and that happens to be the case with this one as well. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, but I wholeheartedly approve of the design choices here. Bludd is clad in dark brown fatigues, reinforced with an armored cuirass and kneepads. His high boots include reinforced plates on the shins and toes for administering those proper ass-kickings. He has a low slung gun belt with sculpted canisters (grenades?) and a working holster for his sidearm, secured with a thigh-strap. I particularly love the sculpting on the cuirass, which includes vents and, sculpted straps, and painted buckles.

The Major is also sporting an artificial right arm, socketed in under a rather pronounced piece of shoulder armor. The sculpting on the arm is very stylized and, dare I say it? It reminds me a bit of the styling on some of the Sigma Six figures. Whatever the case, it accentuates the fact that it’s a mechanical arm, and I dig that. Every thing about Bludd’s costume screams battle-hardened mercenary. It marries elements of the original design with rugged realism. There’s no doubt he is instantly recognizable, and yet still feels like fresh and new. As far as I’m concerned, this is a textbook example of the proper way to update an iconic design.

The head sculpt is an absolute work of art for this scale. Like his outfit, Bludd’s face looks rugged and battle worn. This is a guy who’s seen shit and done terrible things for a paycheck. Besides being loaded with personality, the face is cast in one of the most realistic plastic skin-tones I’ve seen in this scale. Extra paint denoting his stubble and his puckering scars complete the picture. His long, downturned mustache and snarling mouth reinforces his villainy, as does his rectangular eyepatch, which looks like it might contain some kind of tech. God damn, this is a wonderful portrait.

The helmet is also removable, which reveals Sebastian’s mohawk, complete with a gray streak in it. It also shows just how fearsome the scars that claimed his left eye really are, as one of them trails all the way up to his mohawk. Go ahead and compare this $20 figure’s portrait to the portraits that Mezco is doing for the One:12 figures at five times the price. I think this one wins the day. OK, let’s take a look at his gear!

For starters, Bludd is armed with a revolver that has a rather beefy frame to say the least, and boy do I love this design! It’s like someone mated a .44 Magnum with Robocop’s Auto-9. It’s what you might call a bold statement, or perhaps an attention-getter. In addition to having a silver painted cylinder, it’s got a top rail so The Major could toss some optics on there if he’s so inclined. Some of the Classified weapons have left me a little cold, but this beauty is right up my ally!

Next up, The Major comes with his rather distinctive rocket pistol. This devastating little bit or ordinance has a socket in the barrel, so you can load it by plugging the rockets into. Bludd comes with two rockets and they are both stored on his backpack simply by clipping them into the channels. There’s also a hole in the side so you can peg the pistol into it for storage.

Now, I’ll concede that this design isn’t as compact or elegant as the one that came with the original Real American Hero figure, but I do enjoy the fact that you can load the rockets into the gun, even if it does look a tad ridiculous when it’s loaded. It’s also a lot closer to the original design than the full-on rocket launcher that Sideshow designed with their figure. I’d venture to guess that any JOE that’s snickering at it, won’t be doing so for long. Either way, I love all the different takes we’ve seen over the years on this weapon.

As promised, our last stop is the dog tags. I commend Hasbro for including these with the figure, as it no doubt leads to great learning moments in the toy aisle:

Mommy, why does Major Bludd have so many medals around his neck?”

“Those are Dog Tags, Jimmy. They’re his trophies! He’s taken them off the cold dead bodies of all the JOEs that he’s murdered over his long and bloody career as a mercenary!”

“Gee!!!”

Yeah! I think Hasbro did a fine job on these, considering the scale and the decision to mold them all in plastic. Yes, Sigma Six figures came with actual chain dog tags, and maybe that would have been a better way to go. Either way, I’m glad he has them, and I will be displaying the figure with him. But when I’m playing around with him, they tended to flop around and get in the way. Maybe if I find another Bludd figure, I’ll consider getting a second and gluing the tags down, but for now I’m content to leave them be.

In case you can’t tell, I am totally in love with this figure! I mean, holy shit, did Hasbro knock this one out of the park. While I’ve enjoyed pretty much all the figures in this line so far, I feel as if the Cobra designs are getting most of the real love and passion. To me, Classified figures like Major Bludd, Zartan, or even the Cobra Infantry really stand out as six-inch masterpieces. I just don’t think we’ve seen anyone on the JOE side quite approach this level of execution. Granted, I’ve grown more partial to Cobra designs over the years. Back in the Real American Hero days, I was equally enamored with both the JOEs and Cobra, but by the time I got to collecting the Sideshow Sixth-Scale figures, I found myself only buying the Cobra releases. Either way, I’m happy to see reports that this guy is turning up more at the pegs, because everyone should have a chance to get him!

GI JOE Classified: Cobra Infantry by Hasbro

I probably don’t need rehash all the anger and frustration that came with making the first release of the Cobra Trooper in the Classified line a hard to get Target Exclusive. It was a bad move on Hasbro’s part, more so because at the time, I’m not sure anyone knew that the figure would get a variant widespread release in the near future. I was lucky enough to get one of those Cobra Troopers, and I was happy for it, but sure I wanted a couple more. OK, maybe a couple dozen more. Well, fast forward to now, and I was thankfully able to pre-order six of the new release of these bad boys. I have four in hand, and two more on the way, so let’s check this figure out by way of comparison to the Cobra Island version I reviewed a little while back.

The packaging looks as great as ever. Maybe I’ll keep one of their boxes, but with space being a premium around here, I probably won’t.

The figure is the exact same sculpt as the Cobra Island release, and I’ll reiterate here how awesome a sculpt it is! To me, this is a perfect imagining of the Cobra Trooper. It captures all the necessary beats of the classic uniform, but gives it a double injection of realism and hyper detail. You get texturing throughout the uniform, including some reinforced patches. There are armor plates on the shins, knees, and forearms, and some cool extra little touches like the sculpted Cobra emblems on the backs of the gloves. The uniform itself is about the same color as the Exclusive release, maybe just a touch paler blue. This fellow does have black painted pads on the outsides of his hips and upper legs, and some gray paint around the edges of his kneepads.

The figure is wearing the same tactical vest as the previous release as well, which encompasses the entire torso and includes the waist belt. This features sculpted straps and pouches, a working holster and sheath on the front, another working holster on the back, and some peg holes on the back to peg in extra gear. Finally, there’s a Cobra emblem embossed and painted on the chest. The only difference here comes in the coloring. It was previously black, now it’s pale blue with gray paint on the belts and straps. I think I prefer this deco on the vest, as it keeps faith with the original Cobra uniform deco just a bit more.

The head sculpt is also identical, with the only discernable difference being the skin color on the new figure being a little darker. The helmet is once again removable, and friction does a nice job of keeping it in place, even when I’m posing the figure.

So what else is different? Only the omission of some gear. The new figure still comes with the knife, twin pistols and the sub-machine gun, but lacks the goggles, larger rifle and the arm-band. Yeah, it’s a shame the rifle couldn’t have been included, as I think the arm-band would have been enough to make the Cobra Island an exclusive, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me.

This is an absolutely amazing figure, and without a doubt my favorite iteration of the Cobra Trooper to date. I was strongly tempted to pay out the nose for two more of the Cobra Island Troopers, and now I’m so glad that I didn’t. I’m perfectly happy with my single figure, who’s arm band serves to identify him as the Commander of the rest of my troops. I’ll probably give his rifle to one of these new ones and make him a sharpshooter. What’s more, these seem to be pretty obtainable, with pre-orders still open at a number of online retailers. Alls well that ends well, I guess. But I think Hasbro could have saved themselves a lot of fan anger had they just labeled the Cobra Island version as an Officer and assured fans that the troops would be coming in wider release and better supply.

GI JOE Classified: Cobra Commander by Hasbro

After the frustrating hunt that was the Cobra Island exclusives, it feels like I’m suddenly getting hit with a whole bunch of great figures from the new GI JOE Classified series. I just reviewed Gung Ho last week, finally found a Baroness at Target, and got my pre-ordered Arctic Storm Shadow. But I don’t think I was anticipating any figure more than old Bumper Face himself! Let’s take a look at Cobra Commander!  “…Wasssss once a man…” Holy shit, that still creeps me out every time I think about it.

That’s right, fans of the hooded serpent will be disappointed, but that’s OK, because I’m sure we’ll get that variant eventually. I’ve always liked both looks, but you only have to look to the Sideshow Cobra Commander that I have to realize that when given both options, I do prefer the helmet and chrome face shield. Maybe they could have tossed in a hooded head with this one, as I think the hood would look fine on this body. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a shot of him in the package, and everything looks as great as ever. Hasbro continues to number these, and Cobra Commander ranks in as Figure Number 6, but the actual system for numbering them doesn’t always make a lot of sense.

The box features some really nice wrap-around art, which surprisingly gets a lot of the coloring on the figure completely wrong. In the artwork, the silver trim on the figure is replaced by gold. That’s really odd, considering this is an original design, but whatever. I also really dig his skill icons. The puppet icon is hilarious, but what the hell is the lightning bolt brain supposed to be? Mind control, maybe?

Classified Cobra Commander looks regal as all hell, and I love that! While I may waffle between hood and helmet sometimes, I was never a fan of Battle Armor Commander. To me The Commander is all about puffing himself up on pomp and circumstance and shouting at his troops from as far away from the battlefield as possible. And boy does this figure design fit that bill perfectly. Yeah, I’ll admit that I was worried about what we were going to get for Cobra Commander, because a couple of the designs choices have strayed a little too far from the Real American Hero originals than I would like. Turns out I worried for nothing, because this guy looks amazing.

Our Leader sports a dress uniform with a very spiffy tunic, complete with silver lined front flap and two rows of buttons that may or may not be painted to look like serpent eyes. I’m going to just give Hasbro the credit and say that’s intentional.The shoulder area has a snake scale texture to it, as does the panels on the sides of the tunic, and the red stripes running down the sides of his trouser and disappearing into his high boots. The Cobra insignia is printed in red on his chest and partially covered by a gold ornamental chain. His forearms have silver bordered bracers, each with their own Cobra insignia as well. This is a snappy uniform and I absolutely love it. My only gripe is that I wish the blue were a tad lighter. Based on leaked pictures, it seems like we may be getting a brighter repaint, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see. The Commander has a double belt and shoulder strap, which connects to a left pauldron, which also secures his half-cape. The pauldron sports some silver paint and there’s a golden Cobra fixture holding it in place, while the cape is black on the outside with a painted red liner. The belts all have a snake-skin pattern to them. Nice!

The helmet is very form fitting and I dig how the sides are separate from the face shield. The silver “mohawk” is there as well as some black cut-outs above the ears and a silver border painted along the bottom edge. The helmet looks great, but the paint on mine is a little disappointing here, as there’s a bit of silver slop on the side. I do like the finish they used for the shield quite a bit. It’s obviously not a mirror polish, but it does have a nice luster to it.

I won’t run through all the articulation here, because it’s pretty much identical to the Classified male figures we’ve seen so far, and that means it’s very good. The lower part of the tunic does inhibit his leg movement a bit at the hips, but not terribly so. Cobra Commander comes with two sets of hands. These are a right accessory holding hand, a right pointing finger, a left grasping hand, and a left fist. I’m always grateful for extra hands, but I believe it was a rather big omission to not give him a left accessory holding hand when he comes with two accessories. I would have much rather had that than the fist. So, let’s talk about those accessories!

First up, Cobra Commander comes with a bitchin’ sword with a gold cobra-head hilt. I love the hilt, but the blade is super funky. I’m sure Hasbro was going for something highly stylized, futuristic, and cool, but I would have preferred a standard saber. This thing just looks so crazy and impractical that it took me a little while to decide which side is supposed to be the edge. It also doesn’t fit very well in the included scabbard. The scabbard actually has a slit cut in it to allow the blade to protrude out, but I think the idea is that part of the blade is meant to protrude out the top. I’ve tried it in the scabbard both ways, and concluded that the best way to go has the snake head facing forward. I don’t want to come down too hard on this piece. It’s still pretty cool, but I would have gone in a different direction with the blade.

Next up is his pistol, and holy shit this thing is all sorts of awesome. It’s basically a silver-plated flintlock with an over-the-top snake motif going on. It’s obviously a far cry from his old iconic hair dryer pistol, but as impractical and crazy as this thing looks, I think it perfectly suits the Commander. I can picture him firing off his one shot at a battle and then shouting to his troops to finish the job. while he retreats to the safety of his command center. Ugh, the lack of a second accessory hand is killing me here. I want to pose him holding his sword aloft and firing this thing. Maybe I can rig something up with one of the Snake Eyes hands. Also, notice he doesn’t have a holster for this gun. Another disappointing omission.

Clearly, I’ve had a few nitpicks here, but all those issues have just been things that I think could have made this excellent figure so much better. OK, so the one accessory hand is a pretty big gaffe on Hasbro’s part, but I don’t want to let those things detract from how much I love this Cobra Commander! The dress uniform characterizes him perfectly and it looks damn sharp. The accessories are crazy in almost every good way, and he looks fantastic standing next to Destro and barking orders. The only downside is now more than ever I want to get a second Cobra Trooper to display behind him. COBRA!!!

GI JOE Classified: Destro by Hasbro

GI JOE is back in the toy aisles, sporting some new designs and a six-inch scale! Last week I checked out Scarlett and this week I was originally going to open up Duke or Roadblock, but then Cobra’s Weapons Supplier showed up at my door and I just had to push Destro to the front of the line. Sorry guys, you’ll get your turn.

Once again, the packaging kicks ass. We get some wonderful colors and artwork, which separates these boxes from the boring presentation of Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars line by leaps and bounds. Destro’s character art is freaking amazing, and I really dig the way it wraps around the corner of the box. Plus you get the iconography on the side panel showing the characters specialties. Destro’s appears to be all about making weapons and money!

And here he is freed from his box and ready to supply you with all your terrorist needs! While Scarlett was a complete modern redesign, Destro is more of a touch up, as he retains everything about his Real American Hero look that makes him so iconic. The black suit includes sculpted combat boots, knee-pads, and some reinforced patches on his chest, back, and shoulders. Destro has a metallic gray belt with some red accents, metallic gray bracers on his forearms, and red rockets mounted on his right arm. Oh man, I’m glad Hasbro kept those! Finally, he has a red holster on his right hip, which is attached to his belt, wrapping around his right thigh with a molded pouch. I love this look so much and I’m so happy that Hasbro didn’t mess with it.

But what makes this figure truly iconic is his portrait. The silver metal mask is a combination of organic curves and chiseled features with some subtle panel lining on top. It extends down to the base of his neck, where it is secured with a ring of bolts. His chest is exposed, and he flaunts his high collar with a red interior that’s evocative of a cobra’s hood. The look is tied together by his amulet and chain, which is sculpted as a separate piece and hung around his neck. Yup, that’s my Destro!!!

The articulation here is Marvel Legends through and through. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders and wrists, the elbows are double-hinged, and there are swivels at the biceps. He has a swivel at the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed and hinged. The joints all feel great and he is loads of fun to play with.

As for accessories, Destro comes with two guns and a briefcase. I was a little surprised he didn’t get a backpack, but what we got is still plenty good. His primary sidearm is very reminiscent of the weapon he carried during the RAH years. It has a long barrel, a scope, and a decidedly sci-fi feel to it. It sports some excellent detail and feature some red paint applications to give it some character and match it to his outfit. Destro has two trigger finger hands, so he can wield the weapon in either one, and it also fits in his holster.

His second weapon is a much smaller gold pistol, no doubt to be kept hidden as a back-up. Again, it has a strong sci-fi element to its design, and Hasbro packed a lot of detail into it’s sculpt.

Finally, Destro comes with a Cobra-branded briefcase. The Cobra emblem is sculpted into both sides, but only painted on one. Open it up and there’s a computer on one side and a bunch of money on the other. The computer side is pretty well detailed, but sadly they didn’t print any details on the money. His gold pistol can also fit inside the case.. The only downside of this case is that the hinge is just bendy plastic, so it will likely stress and probably break after a lot of opening and closing.

While Scarlett represented a complete modern redesign of her character, Destro here is just a touch-up. And a refreshing one at that! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Destro appear sporting the design I’ve known and loved since I was a small child. It also sends a clear message that Hasbro is not looking to ignore the RAH roots. Indeed, Destro here is everything I could have hoped for in this line. He’s damn near perfection. We’ve also had some new revelations this past week, namely Gung-Ho and Cobra Commander, and I really like what I’m seeing. It feels great to want to shout YO JOE!!!! again!

GI JOE: Destro (Enemy Weapons Supplier) Sixth-Scale Figure by Sideshow, Part 2

Alrighty, I’m back to wrap up this long overdue look at Sideshow’s Destro figure. I went really long yesterday and it’s Saturday so I’m already in overtime for the week. With those things in mind I’m going to try to be brief today while still giving all of Destro’s cool stuff their proper due. Let’s start with the weapons!

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Destro comes with his trusty chrome finish automatic pistol which fits nicely into the holster on his right hip and I’m not surprised to find that the sculpting on the weapon is every bit as good as what I’m used to seeing in Sideshow’s sixth-scale arsenals. Really, these guys do a great job on the firearms!

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The slide on the gun is articulated and pulls back to reveal a painted bullet in the chamber. The magazine is removable, again showing a painted bullet at the top. You also get two more mags, which can be stored in the ammo pouches on Destro’s left hip. It sounds like a little throwaway thing, but the ability to store extra mags on their person is one of my favorite little things about many of these Sideshow Cobras. I’m also really pleased to see that Sideshow is sticking with magnets to secure the straps on the ammo pouches and holster, rather than working snaps, which tend to tear the fragile leather. These are easy to get in and out of and I’m not afraid to use them. This is a key reason as to why I almost never take the pistol out of my Hot Toys Captain America figure. Stupid fragile snaps!

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Destro’s other weapon is his laser pistol and man do I love this thing. Some may remember that I was a little put out by the fact that Cobra Commander didn’t come with his iconic hair-dryer pistol. It’s nice to see that wasn’t the case with Destro as his primary weapon is a gorgeous sixth-scale interpretation of the laser pistol that came with the vintage figure. It’s a highly detailed and very realistic looking design or a fictional gun and it includes a scope and a detachable magazine. Everything on this weapon is beautiful right down to the coloring. Since it’s a laser gun, I’m assuming that in this case the magazine is some kind of replaceable battery. Either way Destro looks great brandishing this beauty.

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The next big item on the agenda is his MARS briefcase and this thing is just full of surprises. It’s got a matte green finish, a hinged handle and has two strong hinged catches on one side to open it up. It opens to reveal…

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A satellite guidance computer! The LCD screen graphics look really nice, but we’re not done yet, because the bottom plate lifts out to reveal…

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Yeah! A hidden compartment for his laser pistol. The gun breaks down into four pieces and each piece fits snugly into the plastic cutouts that are made to look like foam. I love this little extra as it gives Destro an option for when those sketchy arms deals go south and he needs to blast his way out.

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One of the simplest and yet coolest extras in the set is this tiny manila folder full of one-sheet blueprints for some of Cobra’s most iconic weapon systems. You get one for the HISS, one for the ASP, and one for the FANG. All three fit into the folder and the folder can be placed into the briefcase. Brilliant! I don’t know who had the idea to include something like this with the figure, but I’d sure like to shake his hand!

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To go along with the Satellite Guidance Computer, Destro comes with a PDA-style satellite tracking device. This simple piece clips onto his belt and features a graphic to simulate the LCD screen. I don’t have much else to say about this piece, but it does look nice clipped to his belt.

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The last thing I have to mention is the key. I have absolutely no idea what this is, but I’m guessing that, like the ruby medallion, this is some kind of McCullen family heirloom. It can be worn around Destro’s neck, but I have no use for it, so it’ll stay in the box.

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I mentioned yesterday that Destro is sadly the last of the sixth-scale Cobra figures that Sideshow has planned as the line is going on hiatus. As sad as that might be, I’d prefer to focus on the awesome figures that we got in this line, rather than what’s been left behind on the table. Sure, it’s always possible that Sideshow may come back and give us some more figures, but with the sad state of the GI JOE franchise right now, that sort of thing seems unlikely to happen. I would have loved a Serpentor, Scrap Iron and even a Tele-Viper to go with this collection, but as things stand, I’m sure glad that we got what we did. Sideshow did a beautiful job with these figures and I think more than anything else, they show how much the company has evolved in their craft. One things for sure, these figures will always have a place of honor secured on my display shelves. COBRA!!!!!!

 

GI JOE: The Baroness (Intelligence Officer) Sixth-Scale Figure by Sideshow Toys, Part 2

Yesterday I checked out Sideshow’s Baroness figure and the two beautiful portraits, today we’re going to run down her inventory of goodies. Before getting into the hardware, let’s talk hands!

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If you read my look at Cobra Commander, you may recall how impressed I was that each of his extra hands came with its own post. Well, unfortunately that might have been a one-shot deal because Baroness’ hands all require you to share the two posts that come on the figure. You do get an extra pair of replacement posts in case you snap some, but swapping hands isn’t as simple this time around. Is it a big deal? Probably not. At no point did the posts feel like they were going to snap nor did they give me any trouble coming out or going back in. I just thought it was worth mentioning. The Baroness comes with a pair of fists attached and you get three additional pairs. Two are designed for holding her accessories and the last are in with the fingers straight out and together as if she is going to karate chop you.

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The biggest weapon in Baroness’ arsenal is her assault rifle, which features the “bullpup” configuration with the action behind the trigger housing. It’s a very modern looking weapon and I think it’s a good choice for her. The weapon features the usual superb sculpt that I expect out of Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale guns. The scope mount does not seem to be removable, however the silencer can be slipped off and the site can be flipped up. The magazine can be removed to expose the tiny painted bullet waiting to enter the chamber. An extra magazine would have been nice, but considering Baroness has a nice accessory load-out, I won’t complain. What I will gripe about is the lack of a shoulder strap for the rifle, only because it was pictured in some of the promo-pics. I’m sure I can cobble something together from some of my other Sixth-Scale weapons.

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Next up, The Baroness features a Sub-Machine pistol, which I believe is supposed to be a MAC-10, but my firearms expertise tends to lean more toward the WWII period and earlier so I could be wrong there. This weapon is a very simple, but realistic looking accessory. There’s no action or moving parts, but the magazine is removable and you get an extra mag as well. The two magazines can store in the pouches on Baroness belt just above the holster. God, I love that! The pistol itself fits snugly into the sculpted holster, and when I say snugly I do mean it! If you want to get the retaining strap to fasten the pistol needs to get pushed pretty far in and it is hard to get out afterwards.

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The final piece of Baroness’ arsenal is a nice, serviceable combat knife that fits into the scabbard on her right hip. There’s not much else to say about it, other than it fits really well into one of the extra hands.

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And lastly, you get the same figure stand with the red Cobra emblem on it. It’s the exact same stand that came with all the past Cobra releases in the line. Sideshow is now selling more elaborate stands for their Cobra figures with a raised and sculpted base with a drawer to fit extra accessories. It’s a cool idea, but I really like the simple elegance of the stock stands.

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Sideshow’s Real American Hero line continues to creep up in price and so The Baroness retailed at $179.99, the same price point as Cobra Commander. As I said last time, I was much more comfortable paying $159.99 for these figures, and while the $180 was pushing it for Cobra Commander, I have to say Baroness still feels like a solid value. Besides just being a drop-dead gorgeous figure, the costume is suitably complex and well-crafted and the selection of weapons and gear feels right. I also can’t deny the extra portrait adds a lot of value and I can’t stress enough about how the Sideshow Exclusive version has to be the way to go on this one, especially since she is still available on Sideshow’s site and most re-sellers are asking the same price for her anyway. Not to mention you earn points! Precious, precious points! So far, I haven’t regretted getting into this line and I’m really excited to see what else Sideshow can do with it. The next release will be Destro, sometime in the Summer, but in a week or so, I’ll be taking a step backwards to look at an older release that I just picked up… Zartan!

GI JOE: The Baroness (Intelligence Officer) Sixth-Scale Figure by Sideshow Toys, Part 1

Last month Sideshow Toys hit us with Joe fans with a one-two punch of Sixth-Scale Cobra awesomeness. I’ve already featured Cobra Commander and now it’s time to check out that sultry and exotic vixen of mayhem, The Baroness. As usual, I’m going to break down this feature into two parts. Today we’ll check out the packaging, the base figure, and the alternate portrait and tomorrow we’ll look at all the great stuff she comes with. To the packaging!

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If you read my look at Cobra Commander than you’ll be readily familiar with what to expect here. Baroness comes in a gorgeous retro-style box that captures everything that made the old Joe cardbacks so great. You get the character artwork set atop an animated explosive field and a filecard that is positively dripping with nostalgia.

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The front flap is secured with a magnet and opens to reveal the window and the figure inside. Baroness is packaged with her alternate, Sideshow exclusive head beside her and her extra bits fanned out around her. There’s a second tray under that one with the bulk of her weapons. If you lift out the plastic trays you are treated to some more excellent artwork on the cardboard underneath. All in all the packaging here fuses a wonderful style with a good economy of space and a convenient place to keep your extra pieces or store the figure when she’s not being displayed. But why would you not want to display her when she looks like this…

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Ooooh my! Out of the box, Baroness is indeed a stunning figure. Let’s kick things off with a look at the outfit, which manages to stride that line between iconic and modern update quite brilliantly. The shapely female buck is clad in a tight black cloth body suit that has a bit of sheen to it. It doesn’t simulate leather, but it looks good, and I like to think it’s some kind of secret bullet retardant fabric that’s been cooked up in Cobra Labs. Maybe it’s a special side project that Baroness convinced one of the lab geeks to make for her with the promise of certain… favors. Maybe I’m thinking too much about this. Her chest, back, and shoulder armor are all sculpted in plastic and held together with straps to make one rig. It fits the figure quite nicely and the sculpted front allows her to show off her lovely assets while also proudly and stylishly advertising her Cobra allegiance. Yes, kids, come work for Cobra… we have boobs! Baroness’ arms feature pleather bracers with sculpted Cobra styled guards and end in gloved hands. We’ll look at the hands more in depth tomorrow when we talk about accessories.

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Moving on down, The Baroness is sporting a complex belt rig with a low-slung sculpted Cobra emblem that is positioned in a rather obviously strategic place. The main belt is a V-Style configuration that rides up on her hips and includes a number of faux pouches with sculpted straps and painted buttons. The belt includes thigh straps as well as a holster for her Sub-Machine pistol and a sheath for her combat knife. The Baroness’ legs feature pleather boots with scalloped fronts that run all the way up her thighs. The fronts of her legs are covered with sculpted armor plates, each of which is held in place by nearly a half-dozen buckling straps. Yup, this figure has a lot of straps and buckles giving The Baroness that not-so-subtle whiff of S&M style that all the Cobra bad girls love to flaunt.

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The head that comes on the figure is absolutely fantastic. Baroness looks beautiful, seductive, and has the hint of a smirk as if she knows something you don’t… like maybe she just slipped a live grenade down your shorts. She has high arching eyebrows and clean paintwork for her eyes and lips. The rounded glasses are made of wire and do not have lenses. They also feel as if they are removable, but I don’t plan on risking it because they are made of very thin wire. The sculpted hair falls straight down to her shoulders and sweeps back. I find sculpted hair is tough to do at this price-point because you expect a certain degree of realism. I’d say Sideshow nailed it. Also, the plastic is very soft and it does not impede the head articulation at all.

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Of course, if you picked up this figure through Sideshow, you also get the exclusive extra head, which offers a more dynamic portrait and some minor differences. You just pop Baroness’ noggin off the ball joint post and push the other one on there. The exclusive head comes without her glasses on, but they are located in the tray of parts. This pair features smaller, rectangular frames and the arms slide into gaps above her ears and hair. The face itself is pretty much the same excellent sculpt as the regular head, but features the sculpted hair blowing off to the side. It’s both fabulous and frustrating at the same time, because I honestly can’t decide which head to display her with.

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And that’s where I’m going to break for today. I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll start checking out all the extra goodies that come with this lovely figure!

GI JOE: Cobra Commander (The Dictator) by Sideshow Toys, Part 1

It seems like an eternity ago that I dropped pre-orders on Sideshow’s Cobra Commander and Baroness Sixth-Scale figures. Well, now they’re finally here and I’m beyond excited! Originally planned as a December release, The Commander got delayed a month and so he arrived at my doorstep last week along with the more punctual Baroness. I thought it would be a tough choice to decide which one of these figures to feature first, but in the end it was surprisingly easy… it simply had to be Cobra Commander. With two portraits and an assortment of gear, there’s a lot to talk about, so I’m going to take a look at the packaging and the base figure today and tomorrow we’ll check out the alternate portrait and all the extra goodies he comes with.

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If you read my features on Sideshow’s Crimson Guard and Major Bludd than you already know how much affection I have for the packaging used for this line and I was relieved to see that Sideshow hasn’t tampered with what is quite nearly perfection. The box features a classic Real American Hero deco complete with the “Cobra: The Enemy” stamp, old school file card, and the same vintage style card art that always got me begging my parents for a fiver whenever we passed an action figure aisle. This package is pure nostalgia and I love it!

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The front flap of the box is held in place by a magnet and opens to reveal the window. Cobra Commander comes packaged with his helmeted head on the figure and the hooded portrait beside him. Also surrounding him are his personal weapons. There’s an additional tray under that one, which holds the figure stand, staff, and his array of hands. I’ll note here how happy I am that Sideshow started packaging the stands differently. Previous figures had the wire post slipped through the hole in the base. Getting them separated was a precarious affair that always made me feel like I was going to snap the stand in half. Now the post comes completely separate from the stand and that’s a good thing. Last up, you get a baggie containing his folded cape. Also, behind the tray is some very cool character art. Let’s bust this guy out!

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Holy shit, I’m in love!!! There have been plenty of very cool designs of Cobra Commander over the years, but the original Sunbow version will always be my Cobra Commander. I’m happy to see that Sideshow mined that version the most for the inspiration for this figure. It’s certainly not an exact copy of the cartoon source material, but it borrows just enough from it and mixes it with a hearty dose of realism to create what I think Cobra Commander should have looked like in any live action Joe film. You get the regal overcoat with button down flap, classy dictator epaulettes, black leather gauntlets and boots, and naturally the red piping down the trousers. The entire outfit is punctuated with a belt and shoulder harness, strap down holster, dagger with scabbard, and sculpted Cobra belt buckle, which surely can only be purchased at the Gift Shop while exiting Cobra Island. The stitching on The Commander’s uniform is all nicely done and the outfit fits him quite well.

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Some initial shots of the helmeted head had me worried, but with the figure in hand, I think it came out nearly perfect. The off-white crest running down the top of the helmet matches the Sunbow style quite nicely as does the way the sides of the helmet flare out in a manner not unlike the helmet of a certain Sith Lord we all know and love. The face plate features a perfect mirror finish, which does not translate well in photography, but rest assured you can see yourself in it in the same manner that the animators of the original cartoon often depicted other characters reflected in it. Old bumper face has never looked better!

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YOU WANT HANDS???  Some of you may know by now that I’m not a real stickler about getting a ton of extra hands with my figures. If I need to swap them out to hold the gear, that’s fine, but I generally don’t consider a lot of swappable hands to be a necessity. The Commander here, however, may have won me over on this subject. Not only are all of these hands really useful, but Sideshow provided each one with their own peg. I can’t tell you how amazing that is, because it makes swapping the hands an absolute breeze. A big part of why I don’t use a lot of the extra hands for my Hot Toys figures is because it’s just too much of a pain to change them. With Cobra Commander, I can literally unplug his hands and plug in new ones without even having to pick up the figure. When you consider how much Hot Toys charges for their figures, I can’t believe they don’t do this. It’s the equivalent of getting an extra six posts in case you break one, as opposed to the two extras that come with your average Hot Toys figure.

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Ok, my hand rant is over. Besides the accessory specific hands, you also get the ubiquitous clenched fist hand for punctuating demands while on national television. You get the pointing finger hand for poking into Destro’s chest. You also get a pair of angry clutching hands, which can be used for everything from frightening children to grabbing for The Baroness’ boobs. These are great hands. There’s one more to talk about, but I’m going to save that for when we look at the accessories.

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Before breaking for the day, I’ll go ahead and give mention to the figure stand, which is identical to the ones that came with Major Bludd and the Crimson Guard figure. It’s a black disc with the Cobra emblem on it and a wire crotch-cradle. It’s simple enough enough so that it doesn’t detract from the figure, but the personalized Cobra emblem is a great embellishment and I’m happy to see that the stands for this collection remain uniform with each other. And that’s where I’ll wrap up today. Tomorrow we’ll check out The Commander’s accessories, as well as his extra noggin and his cloak.

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COOOOBRAAAAAAA!!!