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: Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly by Hasbro

It’s hard to believe that it’s been months since I last checked in with Hasbro’s excellent GI JOE Classified line. Needless to say, I’ve got more than a few figures waiting for the spotlight. But since it’s Saturday and the weekend is upon us, how about a Barbecue!

Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly released under the Cobra Island tag, which meant that it’s another one of those pesky Target Exclusives. This one, however, was super easy to get thanks to a pre-order window that stayed open for considerably more than a nano-second. And it’s a good thing too, because I’ve yet to see him on the pegs at my local Target. I got the original Barbecue for my 13th birthday, along with a bunch of the other amazing figures released that year. It’s a testament to what a great figure he was, that he stood out among releases like Flint, Lady Jaye, Dusty, Bazooka, and Alpine. Wow! What a great year! Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to check out this new Classified version! After all, what’s even more badass than a firefighter? Someone who’s trained to do it while getting shot at!

I’m happy to say that Hasbro stuck pretty close to the original figure’s design, and boy does he look great! Barbecue sports his bright orange fire retardant jumpsuit with black boots and gloves. He’s got some gear strapped to his waist, a rather complex looking breather apparatus on his chest, and a black protective gorget. It’s a superb update that hits all the beats of my childhood figure and just refines it to accommodate the larger scale with a bit more detail and realism. And while there isn’t a whole lot of diversity to the color palate here, the black and orange really look quite striking together!

There’s an unwritten rule for when you’re 12 years old and playing with action figures… helmets and masks are cool, and Barbecue’s kick-ass head gear oozes that cool appeal. Sure, he wears it as protective gear, but it certainly has a palpable intimidation factor to it. The blacked out visor and the silver face plate would have no problem striking fear into the hearts of Cobra firebugs. Sure, I would have loved to get an un-helmeted head as well, or a removable face plate, but such things seem to be few and far between in the Classified line, and I guess that’s understandable. I’ll just have to wait for Super7’s inevitable release of Ultimate Barbecue to be able to get a look at Gabriel’s handsome mug.

The centerpiece of Barbecue’s equipment is his foam-dispensing backpack, and it is no small piece of kit! It consists of three red tanks protruding from the top of the black frame. Unlike the original figure, this is all one piece, but the detail is fantastic. You get valves, vents, pipes, and even little caution “stickers” printed on the middle tank. A flexible hose runs out the left side of the tank and connects to the pistol-nozzle, which can be stored in a holster on his left thigh. The hose is flexible enough for the nozzle to work in either hand, but I like him as a lefty, as it frees his right hand up for the chopping implements!

Because Barbecue also comes with a pair of axes! Both of these can be stored on his person, and I can’t tell you enough how much I love figures that can carry all their accessories at once. The smaller ax is patterned after the one that came with the original figure. It’s short, and has a studded knuckle-guard, making it quick to wield, and useful in a fight. This one clips to the strap on his right thigh.

The second ax is longer and more like a traditional fireman’s ax. I dig the fierce looking head on this thing, and it’s got sculpted grips for two hands. This beauty would be perfect for chopping down locked doors in a rescue situation, or Cobra fortifications in an attack. And if a Cobra Trooper should happen to lose his head along the way… well, sometimes shit happens!

I often thought it was cool that Hasbro peppered the GI JOE team with so many practical specialists, and Barbecue is easily one of the coolest of the bunch. As a kid, when a damaged SkyStriker made its controlled crash on the deck of the USS Flagg (but really our coffee table), Barbecue would be first on the scene to douse the flames and get those JOEs out of the cockpit safely. But because he was so cool looking, I often had him accompany squads on dangerous missions. Naturally, these missions often ended with him having a showdown with Torch! And while I was surprised to see Barbecue hit Classified so soon, I ain’t about to complain about it. He’s an excellent figure and pretty much a perfect homage to the original.

G.I. JOE Classified: Baroness & Cobra COIL by Hasbro


Last week, Hasbro got some more of their now infamous Target Exclusive Cobra Island figures back up for order/pre-order. At first, it seemed like another shit-show, but over the course of about 48 hours they seemed to fix things. By the end, I managed to get everything I was missing, and it dawned on me that while I scored a Baroness the first time around, I had not yet featured her here, so let’s resolve that today with a look at this magnificent set!

This set is similar to the Deluxe Riders that Hasbro has been putting out in the Marvel Legends line, as most of those included a motorcycle. I’ve gushed on and on about how much I love the Classified packaging, and it looks even better in this bigger format. You get some great character art, a big map on the back panel, and the window shows off the figure, the bike, and all the extra goodies. Let’s start with The Baroness!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it seems like Hasbro is taking a page from Sideshow’s book when it comes to designing their Cobra figures. Zartan and Major Bludd both had similarities to those Sixth-Scale figures, and now Baroness does to. And boy, that sure ain’t a bad thing! Like her original vintage figure, Baroness is reinforced with some sleek black armor to protect her in the never ending fight against the JOEs. Her legs are entire encased in the stuff, from her pointed-toe boots to the pointed, scalloped pieces that run up to her thighs. She has a breast plate, arm bracers, and asymmetrical shoulder pieces, with the left one being a serpent head!

In-between all that shiny armor, you can see her textured body suit with reinforced patches in all the high-friction areas. There’s some great Cobra branding on her outfit, consisting of embossed red Cobra emblems on her chest plate, her arm bracers, and her belt buckle. Baroness is sporting a crisscrossed gun belt with holsters on the back to hold her pistols out at angles. I’d like to think that this is a callback to the Sienna Miller Baroness from the Rise of Cobra film, as that Baroness also carried her guns this way. Finally, The Queen of Cobra has a sheath for her combat knife secured to her left thigh.

The head sculpt is quite good, although I’m not sure that I would rank this one as one of Classified’s best, but seeing as how good some of this line’s portraits are, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The likeness certainly suits the character, and I love the little part in her lips. The printing for her facial features looks great, and I think the glasses here are quite an achievement. It’s got to be so hard to do glasses in this scale, but these turned out great. The lenses are fairly clear and I like the gold accents at the corners of the frames. I think these are supposed to be removable, but mine are stuck pretty good. Unless I score a second Baroness, I’m not about to try to force them out. The hair sculpt is pretty simple, it’s straight and cascades down her back.

As for articulation, everything is fine here, except for the rotating hinges in the elbows, which can’t quite do a 90-degree bend. It’s hard to tell if that’s because of the sculpt or the joints aren’t cut right, but I definitely wanted a better range of motion there. Everything else here is fine, and what you would expect to see in a Hasbro 6-inch figure these days. Baroness is loads of fun to play with, and she’s fairly well balanced, despite her rather small feet.

As for weapons, Baroness comes with a cool little black combat knife with a golden Cobra protruding from the pommel. It’s an exceptional bit of sculpt for such a tiny weapon. Part of me continues to wish Hasbro would paint the blades on these silver, but then having a matte black blade makes sense in a lot of combat situations where stealth is warranted. Despite having only gun-hands, Baroness can hold this little piece of cutlery surprisingly well.

Her matched set of golden pistols are certainly distinctive! No doubt, these were a birthday present from Pimp Daddy Destro. I really dig these, as the designs aren’t too crazy and they basically just look like legit automatic pistols, albeit all blinged out. I could definitely see her fighting her way to a Rattler with these after an operation went sour.

And then there’s this thing. I wouldn’t have any idea what it was if there wasn’t a picture of her on the box firing a laser out of it, so yeah… Laser Snake Gun! I honestly love this thing. Yeah, it’s balls-out weird and totally impractical, but the sculpt and paint on are just so damn good. It coils around her arm and she holds it right at the base of the Cobra’s head. I’m guessing she just squeezes it to fire. I can imagine the scene now. She pulls this thing out and Flash sees it, laughs, and shouts “What the hell are you going to do with that?” right before she uses it to burn a hole through Beachhead’s torso and he screams, “SWEET LASER JESUS!!!” Yeah, I put a lot of thought into it. OK, let’s check out the bike!

The Cobra COIL is a callback to the COBRA Coils, which were Cobra’s elite motorcycle drivers, and this thing is one sexy ride quite befitting its sexy driver. It even outclasses the Deluxe Riders Black Widow motorcycle by a long mile. The red and black bike looks sleek and mean, with it’s aggressively placed front wheel, tinted green windshield, and silver detailed engine. There’s a textured seat, Cobra emblem’s embossed near the handlebars, side mounted machine guns, and a folding kickstand to keep it upright.

You don’t get a whole lot of detail in the instruments, just some green fluorescent paint, but the handlebars are ball jointed to allow them to more easily fit the Baroness’ grip. Oh yeah, and she also comes with a swap out motorcycle helmet head, which is such a wonderful bonus! The colors, build, and overall quality of this bike is excellent for a pack-in vehicle!

And The Baroness rides it pretty well. There are pegs on the foot pedals for Baroness’ feet, but I find it better not to bother with them.

The side-mounted weapons on the motorcycle can also be removed and used as rifles, which is pretty damn cool.

To be honest, at first I thought this was a strange mash-up, as I never really associate Baroness riding a superbike, but Hasbro really sold the idea with this set. She looks simply amazing on the COIL with her bitchin armor and her helmet on, and I would not be opposed to seeing this bike re-released in a more traditional blue and black with a male Cobra COILS update.

As amazing as this figure and bike turned out, it’s obviously been a sore spot for collectors. Maybe if the figure alone got a separate wide release without the motorcycle and helmet, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But making The Baroness a retail exclusive was a terrible idea, and scalpers just poured salt in the wound by buying them all up and asking crazy prices on Ebay. And even after the recent online re-stock, this set is selling for up to $100, which is more than double. I was lucky enough to get mine at cost the first time around, but I probably would have gone $20 over the MSRP, I had to and I’m not proud to admit that, but heck… It really is a fantastic set.

G.I. JOE Classified: Lady Jaye by Hasbro

It’s Friday, and I’m in the middle of a delightful little four-day weekend, and I’m all kinds of excited to open up a brand new GI JOE figure! Yeah, it seems like FFZ is 90% Hasbro these days, but what can I tell ya? I talk about what I’m collecting, and that happens to be where a lot of the money is going these days. Today I’m cracking open the latest female addition to the JOE Team, and it is none other than Lady Jaye!

As always, the packaging here looks great, even if I constantly want to take a couple of colored sharpies and make the top bar after GI JOE red and the bottom one blue. But what can I say? GI JOE will always be the real AMERICAN hero to me. The character art on the package is excellent, but I feel like it’s a little understated here, but I don’t want to get all nit-picky. The box is collector friendly, but I got no room, so most of these packages go straight into the bin. I’ll note here that as a kid I didn’t get the original Lady Jaye figure until pretty late in the game. So when she was soaking up all of Scarlet’s screen time in the cartoon, it wasn’t until later that she would make it into my personal ranks. At that point I think I was mostly getting JOE’s to collect them rather than play with them.

Here’s Alison out of the package, and I’m digging her quite a bit. She is without a doubt one of the most traditional looking figures in this entire line so far. And by that I mean, she doesn’t have extra armor bits tacked onto her. Her outfit is comprised of some straight up green fatigues, high black combat boots, and black gloves. She’s got a brown double belt hanging on her waist, which has a sculpted pouch and a sheath for her combat knife, as well as a brown shoulder strap. The fatigues feature some nice texturing, reinforced pads on the fronts of her thighs, a blue shoulder patch, and a golden pin on the right side of her chest. Her sleeves are rolled up, her collar is popped, and the front of her fatigues are open pretty low. She is all around excellent!

I started off with Lady Jaye wearing her ball cap, which is a solid nod back to the original figure. It’s blue and features the GI JOE star emblem with the three trailing bars behind it, along with her short cropped hair peaking out from under. The head sculpt is a slam dunk. She’s pretty with a modest and confident smile. The eyes, eyebrows, and lips are printed on, and other than a wee bit of mold flashing along the jawline and ears, I have no complaints. Now, we’ve seen a few removable hats in this line, but Lady Jaye’s does things a little differently.

The hair is actually part of the hat, which all comes off at once, which can be a little unsettling the first time you see it. It’s a creative way to give Lady Jaye the option of going hatless without having to include an entirely separate head. Instead, you just pop off the hat piece and put on her hair piece.

Both the hat and hair stay on very well, and I think the hair sculpt is a pretty good likeness to her Sunbow design. As I said earlier, I have more experience with Lady Jaye from the cartoon than I do with the figure, so I’ll likely display her most of the time without the hat. But that’s not to say I don’t like the way it looks on her, and I try to switch it in and out throughout the rest of the photos.

Moving on to accessories, Lady Jaye comes with a backpack that performs a few functions. For starters, it has an articulated camera on one side, which is a modern update to the camera that came with the original figure. It’s a cool idea and a creative update, but it looks a bit awkward and cumbersome to me, so I tend to leave it down at the side. Besides, you can’t have it recording when you’re shooting Cobra troopers in the knees in order to get classified information off of them. Or forcing Cobra scientists to drink their own diabolical concoctions to wash down a meal-sized serving of piping hot justice. General Hawk doesn’t want to see or know anything about any of that shit!

There’s a clip on the other side to hold one of Lady Jaye’s trademark javelins. Yup, it only holds one, but you actually get two with the figure. Would I rather have had another javelin clip on the other side instead of that camera? Eh, maybe. Either way, I’m not too upset over it. Anyway, the pack itself has some very nice sculpted detail, featuring texturing, straps, and extra pouches. There’s also a carry loop on top.

Take it off and flip it around, and you get compartments to store two javelin heads inside, and that is a very awesome little feature indeed! I have had a few issues with some of the backpacks in this line staying put, but Lady Jaye’s pegs in pretty firmly and doesn’t fall out.

So, you get two javelins and three interchangeable tips: Two with blades, and one with a grenade. These are all pretty simple, but they work just fine. Didn’t she have some kind of magically telescoping one that she used to pole-vault over chasms in the cartoon? Well, if she did, it isn’t included here.

What you do get is a gun for launching them, and that’s pretty cool! It’s a wonderful update to the gun that came with the original figure.

And last, and very probably least, she comes with a little combat knife that fits into the sheath on her belt. It’s nothing to get excited about, but at the same time I don’t want to diminish it. Knives are great extras… especially when you’ve thrown or shot your only two javelins! The knife is all black, which makes sense to keep it from flashing during those night ops, and it also saves Hasbro the money of having to paint the blade. I may do mine up with a silver Sharpie.

While I’ve enjoyed just about all of the designs in this line to some degree, Lady Jaye is just so refreshingly loyal to her original design. Despite not having a huge connection with the original figure, I’m really thrilled to have this version in my collection. She looks great and Hasbro put some thoughtful touches into her weapons and gear. Now, I know the next obvious choice for a Femme-JOE is going to be Cover Girl, but I’m really hoping Hasbro decides to give us a Classified version of Bombstrike. She was easily one of my favorite figures from the Valor Vs Venom line, and I think she’s overdue for another update.

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!

G.I. JOE Classified: Flint by Hasbro

I really like Hasbro’s pacing on the Classified line. The releases have been spaced out nicely and not making me lose my mind like the rapid-fire releases of Marvel Legends. Some may say that’s because so many releases are exclusives that are impossible to find, but it’s really just a handful. Not that it makes having a character like Major Bludd be so elusive any better. Anywho… this has been an easy to manage line to collect and after a little bit of quiet time, I got a couple of new figures to look at last week.

Here’s Flint in yet another example of the awesome Classified packaging! In 1985, it seemed like you were either a Duke guy or a Flint guy. I had friends who tossed Duke aside for Flint once he showed up, but I actually stuck to Duke as my defacto leader. After all, I had the mail-away Duke and waiting an eternity for that figure to arrive created a strong bond between us. So even when Flint joined the ranks a few years later, he often stayed at HQ while Duke reveled in the adventures. Keep in mind, as a kid, I’m not sure I realized at the time that Flint technically outranked Duke, so that was just me playing favorites.

Classified Duke looks to be based mostly on that original figure, and I’m all for that! It’s a cool blending of classic military look with a little modern flavoring. He retains the camo trousers and the black shirt with rolled up sleeves. He also has the two green suspender-straps, gloves, and his black beret. The trousers are now augmented with black matte knee and shin armor, and his suspender straps are lined with individually painted shotgun shells, along with some extra sculpted pouches. The pouches and straps are sculpted as part of black chest and back armor with green trim around the edges. Everything about this Classified design pays respect to the original and just adds some embellishments.

I really dig the brown gun belts, which include a gold buckle, some more pouches and a brace of stocked ammo loops. He also has a functional holster strapped to his right thigh and a scabbard on his back for his primary weapon. Dammit, I love when a figure can carry all his weapons! The black watch on his right wrist is another great little touch. Like the other JOE’s, Flint has a silver device with a pale blue paint app, which I presume is supposed to be a light. In Flint’s case it’s sculpted onto his left shoulder strap, and I still have no idea what these are intended to be.

I think the portrait turned out great. Flint has a strong jawline, and a characteristic scar running down his left eye. He’s got one brow slightly arched and he’s offering a hint of a smile. He looks battle hardened, but at the same time like a friendly fellow who’d be fun to have a beer with and hear war stories from. “So, there I was in candy forest, wrestling with The Baroness in her bikini and Cobra Commander comes up and tries to clobber me with a giant candy cane. I shit you not!” I love that they made the beret removable. It fits him really well and looks so good, I could easily be convinced it was part of the head sculpt, if I didn’t know better.

Flint comes with two weapons, the first being his pistol. It definitely has a sci-fi element to it’s design, as seems to be the case with a majority of the weapons in this line. Still, it’s not too crazy and I suppose it could pass as a modern design. Part of me thinks Hasbro is going sci-fi with these weapons to avoid controversy, but then so many of the Marvel Legends weapons have been realistic designs, so maybe it really is just a style choice.

Next up is his shotgun, which is obviously a reference to the original figure coming with a shotgun, but that’s where the similarities end. I’d call this a Model C, where the C stands for Chonks! It’s a boxy and chunky pump action scatter gun with no stock, a rail on the top, and four extra shells stored near the back. I actually dig this weapon a lot, and like the pistol it isn’t so out there in design that I couldn’t imagine it being a modern real world weapon. His left hand is sculpted so he can cradle the fore grip, but it can also double as a second gun hand, if you want Flint to dual-wield.

The shotgun is also hinged, so it can break open for loading, which is a magnificent little touch! I love seeing articulation and functionality on weapons in this scale.

Classified Flint gets a big YO JOE! from me. He’s what I consider a perfect example of taking an original design and injecting just enough newness to make it distinctive for a modern line. And to me, that’s when this line is at it’s best. My only minor gripe here is that I wish he came with a backpack, but at the same time, I don’t feel like they cheaped out on him either. Opening Flint has made me excited for checking out his other half, Lady Jaye, and I hope to get around to her next week!

GI JOE Classified: Zartan by Hasbro

Ah, Zartan! He was one of my favorite characters back in the day. His figure was cool enough, with his color-changing skin and his swamp skimmer vehicle, but I think it was his appearance in The Revenge of Cobra mini-series that really sold me on the character. He was a mercenary, he was leader of a biker gang, he was a master of disguise, and his daring rescue of Cobra Commander from Blackwater Prison is still among my favorite GI JOE Sunbow moments. Needless to say, I was hotly anticipating his appearance in the new Classified series, and was happy that Hasbro didn’t keep me waiting long.

OK, so I’m a little mad at Hasbro for not releasing Zartan as a Deluxe with his swamp skimmer. The Chameleon hasn’t gotten a lot of love over the years, and it would have been the perfect vehicle for the 6-inch scale. But I suppose that’s not out of the question for a future re-release. Besides, one look at this figure in the package, and all was forgiven. The character art on the package is amazing, and the looks to be no slouch either. Let’s get him out of his box and check him out!

Most of the Classified figures have been marrying old and new design elements, but Zartan feels like he has his feet firmly planted in tradition. Indeed, he kind of looks like he borrows elements from the original figure and Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale version, which happens to be my favorite look for the character. He dons a pair of dark brown trousers with chunky combat boots and while he isn’t wearing a shirt, he does have armor on his chest, shoulders, and a pair of armored gauntlets. There’s some excellent attention to detail here, including the texturing on his trousers, the sculpted straps holding his armor pieces on, and even the tiny sculpted rivets that secure his chest piece. He’s got a belt that hangs around his waist, as well as a sculpted one with a Dreadnok-themed skull buckle. Everything about him looks rugged and ready for action!

The portrait is also excellent! The original figure and cartoon always had me wondering whether that thing on his head was a hood or his hair, but that’s been long since answered and here we can easily tell he’s a bald man wearing a hood. The hood is pretty rigid and stays on well. It features some reinforced areas that resemble some kind of reptile scale hide. Zartan is also sporting a brown scarf around his neck, which can be removed.

With the hood off, we can get a better look at the head sculpt. Zartan is sporting a little smirk and some really nice definition to his facial features. He’s also got a little Robert Z’Dar action going on with his chin. Naturally he has his iconic eye tatts, painted in a glossy black, and his eyes have a not-quite human appearance to them.

Zartan’s belt includes a sheath for his rather large combat knife. The sheath is textured to resemble alligator hide and the curved grip includes a finger loop, which works with the trigger finger on his right hand. The black blade is a nasty piece of business, with a slight swell to the edge and a serrated back.

His belt also has holes to peg in these two… I dunno, trophies? One is a snake’s head with its mouth wide open and about to strike, the other looks like a monkey hand. I’m really not sure if these are supposed to be trophies or part of some kind of swamp mojo fetishes, but they look cool and add a lot of character to the figure. And if you don’t like them, you can easily remove them and toss them in a bin.

Next up is his trusty pistol, and the design of this one is clearly influenced by the sidearm that came with the original figure. It’s a rather boxy looking design, and I absolutely love it. Sadly he has no holster for it, but it can be clipped to the side of his backpack. Backpack? Let’s check out the backpack!

The backpack is another accessory heavily influenced by the original figure. It’s large and bulky and contains one of Zartan’s masks. This large and boxy piece of kit opens to reveal some beautiful sculpted details, including some licks of red paint on the interior. The mask fits snugly in the compartment and can be worn by Zartan in conjunction with his hood, just like on the original Real American Hero figure. Nope, clearly that is not Zartan. It’s just some other guy wearing his clothes!

As far as I’m concerned, Classified Zartan is another direct hit for this series! Hasbro kept pretty faithful to his original design, while mixing in some gritty realism, and the result is spectacular. There’s some beautiful detail work on his armor, his accessories are all on point, and he looks great when displayed with Classified Cobra Commander and Destro. And yes, I’d still like to see a Deluxe version of Zartan with The Chameleon, although if we do get him packed with a ride, it’ll probably be just a recycled motorcycle from the Marvel Legends line.

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: Destro (Profit Director) by Hasbro

What’s this? A midweek review? Am I actually getting back on track in this undiscovered country we call 2021? Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but I am trying! Goddammit, I’m trying! Now, it’s no secret that I’m falling behind in all of my reviews, but I was particularly aghast to find that I last visited with the GI JOE Classified line all the way back in September of last year when I checked out Cobra Commander. Holy shit, that seems like forever ago! OK, so I won’t deny that the rough distribution of this line maybe soured me on it for a bit, but it hasn’t stopped me from grabbing up every new figure I could find. So, let’s try to make up for lost time and have a look at Destro’s second appearance in the line. It’s Profit Director Destro!

Normally I’d be crying foul at a repaint this soon, but it’s hard to get worked up when we’re talking about a direct homage to Hasbro’s rare and infamous Pimp Daddy Destro from the late 90’s. From my understanding, there were only a limited number of the original figure made, and even fewer actually got into packages. And speaking of which… just look at that new packaging! We get all new highly stylized character art, a crazy color scheme, and some gorgeous gold foil lettering for what is the fifteenth numbered figure in the series! Most of you probably know that I don’t keep the packaging for most of my figures, but I do believe I’ll make an exception with this one. It just looks great! So let’s carefully open this up and check out the goods!

Basically this is a repaint of the regular Destro we got, with some extras to sweeten the deal. And what a repaint it is! His classic black suit has been replaced with a maroon one, with leopard patches around the waist, on the upper legs. and lining that high collar. He’s got some gray in the belt and knee pads, and his boots are now fitted with golden toes! His arm bracers are now bright red, as is his holster and thigh rig, and the rockets on his right bracer are pure gold! As if his repainted suit wasn’t audacious enough, Destro now comes with a bright red cape partially covered in a leopard skin, complete with the paws resting on his shoulders and a gold chain holding it across his chest. This is definitely not Covert Ops Destro! Hell, I’d like to imagine that he bagged that leopard himself and drove it home strapped to the canopy of a HISS tank. I also have to say that I love the way the cape snaps under the high collar. It fits very well!

If you’re going to dress like a pimp and you happen to wear a metal mask, why not complete the look by going gold, right? Well, that’s exactly what Destro did and the result is quite stunning. Part of me wishes they had gone all in and vac-metaled the shit out that helmet, but what we got still looks great, and it’ll likely last a lot longer. Indeed, the gold paint has a nice sheen to it and it brings out all the details in the facial sculpt quite nicely. All he’s missing is a wide-brimmed hat and some shades!

Well, there’s no hat, but he does come with a pair of sunglasses! Are the shades a bit too much? I think they are. They kinda cross the line. The outfit mingles with parody, but I think the glasses embrace it. I don’t know that I’m going to use them much.

I’ve already covered the articulation the when I looked at the original Destro release, so I won’t run through it again here. Suffice it to say, Destro’s got all the points we come to expect from Hasbro’s 6-inch lines, plus a few extra surprises. The shoulders on that cape do inhibit his range of motion in the upper arms a bit, but if you want him to get down and dirty and be more agile in a fight, he can always cast off the cape.

Moving on to accessories, This Destro exchanges the larger gun that came with the first release for a flaming handful of cash. I’m not sure what profit there is in burning money, but it definitely makes for a strong statement. Sure, the flame effect is rubbish and they really should have gone with some translucent orange plastic instead of paint, but it’s still a fun extra to pose him with. What’s the point of it? He’s got so much money, he can afford to burn it, I guess? Or maybe it’s just a gangsta thing the kids are doing these days.

So yeah, Pimp Destro is down to one weapon and that’s the small pistol. It’s the same sculpt as last time, and since it was already blinged out in gold, Hasbro didn’t have to repaint it to match the new outfit. He has a trigger finger on both hands, so he can brandish this pistol left or right, and it also fits nicely into his holster.

The final accessory is the same briefcase we saw last time, but it too has been hit by the Midas touch and repainted in gold. It’s got some Cobra emblems sculpted into the sides, and it opens to reveal a sculpted computer on one side and some very unconvincing cash on the other.

If memory serves, this Destro was an Amazon exclusive and either way it’s still available on the site for $25. No, this is figure is not everyone’s cup of tea. And people who are new to GI JOE or casual collectors may be bewildered by the sight of it. But it does represent a cool and unusual variant in the line’s history. I’ll admit that I mostly bought it as a curiosity, but I do find the repaint to be pretty compelling. I think the only thing that detracts from it is the bright red plastic used for the holster. I don’t mind it on the arm bracers, but the holster and thigh rig do look a little cheap in this color. Granted, I do not plan on this figure representing Destro on my shelf, but I do think it’s fun and I’m happy to own it. All the more reason to keep that box, as I’ll likely wind up displaying him in it. And… yeah, since I used a picture of Baroness in this review, I guess I should finally get around to reviewing her next week.

G.I. JOE (Retro Collection) AWE Striker and Crankcase by Hasbro

The love that GI JOE has been getting these days is causing my heart to swell, and I’ve been doing my part to support the return of the Real American Hero in every way possible. Case in point, I probably have five or six AWE Strikers in storage and yet I simply could not resist picking up another one when I saw it on the shelf. I was also surprised to see that I had never reviewed any of the pass releases here, so this one got pushed to the head of the line.

The original Real American Hero line had some of my favorite package art, and that’s really saying something, because the 80’s had a ton of toy lines with great looking packages. But the GI JOE stuff felt so iconic to me, even back then, and the action scenes on the front of the boxes and cards always made me want to play with the toys. This 2020 release of the AWE Striker mimics the original 1985 box quite well. From the artwork and window for the figure on the front to the filecard on the back, Hasbro nailed it.

The box even feels like it’s made out of the heavier corrugate stock they used to use as opposed to the flimsy cardboard employed now. My only complaint is that Crankcase’s filecard is multi-lingual and rather abbreviated. Inside the box, the vehicle comes wrapped in plastic and in need of some assembly and it even includes a sticker sheet! But before I put it together, let’s have a look at the figure.

Crankcase is styled to fit right in with the modern JOES introduced in the 25th Anniversary Collection, meaning that they are a bit bigger than the vintage JOEs and a little better proportioned. I’m thrilled they went this way because I don’t think they plan on releasing a lot of figures in the Retro line and so these toys can just slide right into my existing collection. Heck, Crankcase even comes with the same style of personalized stand that we got with those 25th Anniversary figures! I’m happy to say that this new figure’s design sticks close with the ’85 version of Crankcase. He has the same green top, with sleeves rolled up, black gloves, khaki trousers, and brown boots. He also has brown web gear, which is removable, although the gun sculpted in the holster is not. And that’s the only shame about this figure: He doesn’t come with any weapons.

He does have a removable helmet and an excellent head sculpt. The detail is great and his orange hair color matches that of his predecessor. The only big difference is this version has a beard, where I’m pretty sure ’85 Crankcase just had a mustache. OK, let’s move on to the AWE Striker…

The required assembly is quite simple. You just have to snap on the roll cage, attach the wheels, and pop on the cannon, antennae, and a hose. Then slap on the stickers and she’s good to go! It’s hard for me to think of a more versatile and fun vehicle for the JOEs. Oh, there were plenty of vehicles that I liked more, but you’d be hard pressed to pick a better all-purpose way to get your JOEs into trouble.

It’s been a long time since I played with the original toy, but this one looks like the spitting image of what I remembered. Is it the same mold? That I couldn’t tell you, but it is date stamped 1985 on the undercarriage. I can say that it looks nearly identical to the 25th Anniversary release, with the most notable change being the color of the seats. [Sadly, I don’t have easy access to that vehicle right now, but I do plan on digging it out of storage in the near future and I will update with comparison shots when I do!] Either way, I cannot overstate how impressed I am with the detail on this vehicle. For what is a rather small and inexpensive toy, the designers went absolutely crazy making sure every little bit was crafted with a sense of purpose and realism.

For starters, the AWE Striker has a working suspension, which you can test just by pushing down on the chassis. The front wheels do turn, as does the steering wheel, but they are not linked together. The front ramming bar has two headlamps with clear plastic on the fronts, there are mesh running boards on the sides for JOEs to ride on, and the engine cover can be removed to show a very detailed engine under it. That’s a nice touch if you want to have your JOEs performing maintenance or have it blown off by a direct hit from a Cobra weapon.

 

The cabin has sculpted padding in the seats, a static shifter, and the passenger side has a targeting camera which connects to the cannon on top with a hose. The cannon cannot only rotate, but also pivot up and down a bit, and I can’t say enough how happy I am that Hasbro resisted putting a giant missile into this weapon. Indeed, there are no play gimmicks, no bells or whistles, no lights, just pure 100% fun!

The AWE Striker set me back $24.99 at Walmart and I think that’s a great value. The craftsmanship on display here is top notch and with a figure included, you’ve got everything you need to go on some adventures in the backyard. You’re even better off if you can dig out three 25th Anniversary figures and load this puppy up! Sadly, this vehicle sold out damn fast on Walmart’s site and my store hasn’t restocked. I was smart enough to pick up two of the HISS Tanks (review coming soon!), but I really wish I had grabbed one more of these as well!