GI JOE Classified: Snake Eyes by Hasbro

Well, it took a little longer than I thought, but the final figure from the first assortment of GI JOE Classified arrived a few days back. Snake Eyes was the first figure revealed and the hardest one for me to get. I think I still have the Deluxe version on pre-order on Hasbro Pulse, but since I haven’t had a lot of luck with those pre-orders, I was happy to pick up this vanilla release just in case.

How many times can I say it? I love this packaging! You get a very attractive and colorful window box that shows off the figure and is totally collector friendly. The side panel displays the character’s abilities with a fun system of iconography and there’s a beautiful mural of characters and vehicles on the back. I don’t have the same obsession with Snake Eyes that a lot of JOE fans seem to have. It’s probably blasphemy to say it, but I was never a big fan of them forcing him into the whole Ninja slot. When I was a kid playing with my JOEs he was just a kick ass Commando with an Uzi and not a Ninja at all.

It doesn’t take a second look for me to realize why they chose Snake Eyes as the initial reveal. Even setting aside how popular he is as a character, this is an amazing looking figure. Sure he’s mostly black, but the figure makes great use of both matte and high gloss finishes for different parts of his outfit, as well as some sparing hits of silver and red paint. Plus, there’s some fine texture work in the sculpt as well. And that sculpt! Holy crap there is a lot going on here! The base body has features sculpted pants with knee pads, a lot of chiseled musculature in the torso, and armor plates on the arms and shoulders, There’s also several pieces sculpted out of softer plastic and worn by the figure, like the bicep straps with pouches, doubled up belts on the waist, a shoulder strap with pouches and sculpted grenades, and a holster and sheath attached with straps around his thighs. This guy is clearly ready for anything.

And that mask! Part of me was a little worried we’d get some big goofy rubber lips like we did with Rise of Cobra, but nope. This mask is as classic as it gets. He has the iconic segmented visor and the breathing holes over the lower half of his face. I also really dig the sculpted stitching up the neck. Beautiful!

Snake Eyes has a hole in his back and through the shoulder strap that can be used for a few accessories, but primarily his backpack. It’s cast in matte black plastic and like the figure it’s loaded with detail. It also features some silver paint operations on the buckles and snaps. Unlike Duke’s backpack, this one stays on extremely well. It also has a peg hole on the side so you can attach the sword scabbard.

If you want Snake Eyes to travel more lightly, the peg hole in the back can be used to secure his sword alone, or even his larger gun. And since we’re now talking about accessories… Let’s check out those accessories!

This retail version of Snake Eyes comes with a collection of weapons that pales in comparison to the Deluxe version, but you still get some cool stuff. For starters, he has a combat knife that’s very similar in design to what we saw with Scarlett. It has a saw back and the blade swells near the tip. It’s a little small for the figure’s hand, but he can hold it fairly well. Unfortunately, this thing will not fit into the sheath. It goes in about three-quarters of the way and then just stops. I could take something and try to clean it out in there, but for now it’s just not going in.

Next up, he has a pistol with a detachable suppressor, both of which can fit into his holster separately and I really dig that! I’m a little less enamored with the gun itself, mainly because of the big hole in the center. This looks like it’s designed for storage on a peg, but other than being able to attach it to the bigger gun (and why would I want to do that?), I don’t see the reason for it and it just looks goofy. I’ll likely be raiding my Marvel Legends figures for some better weapons for this guy.

Next up is his bigger gun and again, I’m just not liking the design here. I think it’s supposed to be a sci-fi take on an assault carbine, but like the smaller one it has that big hole in the center which is so off-putting. He really does need a proper Uzi.

And finally, Snake Eyes comes with his sword and scabbard. The scabbard has a wonderful texture to it and features the Arashikage symbol printed in red near the throat. The sword is a lot more stylized than I’m used to seeing him carry, but I don’t mind. The elongated grip works with one or two hands, and there’s a tiny finger loop in the guard for his trigger finger. There’s a saw-back area of the blade near the hilt, which is a little weird, and the the blade terminates into a clipped point.

Snake Eyes turned out to be an excellent figure, but I really never doubted that. And remember my blasphemous Commando/Ninja comment? Well, one thing I really dig about this figure is how it strides the line between the two. I can load him up with his backpack and guns if I want him to be a Commando, or I can strap a sword on his back and make him a Ninja. Which brings me to my only real gripe here is that I wish he came with his old school explosives pack, because when I was a kid playing with him, he was constantly using that to blow up Cobra installations and vehicles. I used to stick it to HISS tanks with a little dab of silly putty!

And that’s the first assortment of GI JOE Classified. This line is not perfect. There were some design choices I’m not 100% on board with, but what i can’t deny is that each and every one of them are very fun figures. I think the one thing that’s been hard to get used to is the way the line seems to pick and choose between old and iconic and fresh and new. Part of me wishes all the figures had toed that Real American Hero line a little closer, but then even the new designs have been growing on me. All I can say is BRING ON THE NEXT ASSORTMENT AND YO JOE!!!

GI JOE Classified: Duke by Hasbro

At some point my Classified Snake Eyes may actually ship out and arrive, but until then I’m now down to opening my last GI JOE Classified figure from the initial assortment. I started with Scarlett because she was one of my more anticipated, but Duke was easily the second, so I saved him for last.

Once again, the packaging for this series has been first rate. It’s colorful, it’s collector friendly, you get plenty of great artwork, and even some details about the character expressed through creative use of iconography. I wish I had the room to keep all these boxes, but sadly I do not, so let’s tear this open and see what Sgt. Hauser is all about.

So far, Classified has been a mix of old and new, with Duke’s design falling a little more in line with the familiar. He’s sporting a beige shirt, similar to his rather iconic look from the original Real American Hero figure and the Sunbow cartoon. It’s got an open collar, some black trim on the shoulders, and his medal pinned to the right side of his chest. Duke has one piece of elbow armor on his left arm, which is admittedly kind of weird. His sleeves are sculpted to be rolled up to his elbows, making it look like Duke is ready to get down to business. And that business is punching in Cobra fangs. The trousers have sculpted pockets, some reinforced patches, and he’s got gold and silver armor on his knees and shins, which have some light blue accents. Yeah, the gold armor thing is kind of an odd ongoing style choice with these figures. I don’t hate it, but I could probably have done without it too. It felt a little more natural on Scarlett, but here it feels like something they just tacked on to give him more of a sci-fi flavor.

Duke’s uniform also features some pieces that are sculpted separately from the actual figure. These include his belt, pistol holster, and bandoleer strap. These are each cast in green plastic with sculpted pouches and some nice detailing. The belt has a silver buckle, and the chest strap has some fixtures sculpted up near his left shoulder, similar to what we saw on Roadblock. Overall I do like the look of his uniform, even with the armor pieces. When I look at him my mind still goes back to the Duke design that I knew and loved as a kid, plus there’s enough new elements to keep him fresh for a new generation of collectors. Personally, I just would have added an American flag patch to his shoulder.

Likewise, the portrait here is quite reminiscent of the Duke of old. I’m not going to lie, I would have loved if we got something with a little more resemblance to 80’s Sunbow Duke, but I still think that this is a great head sculpt for the character. The blonde hair is sculpted into a short regulation-style coif, his eyes are blue, and his chiseled features include a jawline that goes on for miles, a cleft chin, and a mouth that is pressed together and sealed with determination. I also really dig the scar over his right eyebrow. This portrait has a ton of personality and it works fine for me as the Duke Hauser of the current era.

Duke is sporting some excellent articulation, which results in just a couple of drawbacks. The shoulders have rotating hinges set into some rather limited lateral crunches. The elbows are double-hinged, and he has swivels in his biceps. The wrists are odd in that they’re pegged and can be removed, but he only comes with one set of hands. His torso sports a swivel at the waist, and an ab-crunch similar to what we see in the Marvel Legends line. His legs are set on two ball joints up in the hips, with double-hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers and the head is on both a hinge and a swivel. Besides the weird wrists, my only other gripe here is that the shoulders look odd at certain poses, like balls separated from their sockets. Sometimes it feels like Hasbro is experimenting with different articulation systems with this line and have yet to settle on a standard.

In terms of gear, Duke comes with a backpack, which is very reminiscent of the one that came with the original figure, and pegs right into his back. Unfortunately it has a habit of popping off on my figure. It might have helped if they had put a hole through the shoulder strap and have it line up with the hole in his back. The backpack is a very detailed sculpt with pouches and even two canteens, all cast in green plastic. There is also an entrenching tool (shovel!) in the middle of the pack, which is painted in a dark gray.

Duke comes with a set of binoculars, which can peg into the back left hole in his belt. This accessory is sculpted all in dark gray plastic and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot else I can say about it. It’s likely an homage to the more traditional binoculars that came with the original figure and could hang around his neck.

Next up is his pistol, which fits into his holster and can be held in either hand. It’s sculpted to look like a futuristic automatic with a gold slide. Hasbro seems to be content with giving all of these JOEs futuristic style weapons and quite frankly I’m fine with that. I grew up watching them fire laser guns in the cartoon, and the series cast off realism pretty early on in the game.

And finally, Duke comes with his rifle, which is clearly supposed to be some kind of laser gun because of the blue emitter at the muzzle. Happily, this weapon is also designed to look like it has ties to a realistic weapon with some AR-15 characteristics, so I’m OK with that. The level of detail is really nice. It has a skeletal style stock, a scope, a detailed magazine, and a foregrip. Like the pistol, the upper areas of this weapon are painted gold. I really appreciate that the figure’s articulation lets him draw the scope up to his eye for aiming poses. Very nice.

With Duke, Classified continues to toe that line between new and old. So far Destro is clearly the one figure that got the least amount of makeover, but Duke here isn’t all that much different to what I’m used to. And with four of these figures on my shelf I can safely say that I really like what we’ve got so far. Given my druthers, I would have preferred direct updates to the Real American Hero figures, or even realistic takes on the Sunbow designs, but I’ll still happily take these instead. They look great on display and are fun to play around with. Indeed, all the Classified JOEs have been residents of my desk since I got them. And I’ve had a blast fiddling about with them on my downtime. Hopefully I’ll be able to put Snake Eyes in the spotlight, if he ever does turn up.

GI JOE Classified: Roadblock by Hasbro

If you needed proof of how excited I am about Hasbro’s new 6-inch GI JOE Classified series, you need only look to the fact that I’m turning in my third Classified review in as many weeks. Hey, that’s pretty good for me! So far, I’ve checked out Scarlett and Destro, I’m still waiting on my Snake Eyes to show up, and today I’m opening up Roadblock! Out of my way you Cobra punk… I’m gonna kick Destro in the junk!

Have I told you how much I love the packaging? Yeah? Well here we go again! Literally, the only thing I would change here is to put the red, white, and blue back into the lines in the GI JOE logo. Otherwise, you get some bitchin’ character art on the front and right side panel, some specialty icons on the left side panel, and a great piece of artwork on the back teasing some classic JOE vehicles and some more characters. The packaging is collector friendly, and like the Star Wars Black Series, the figures are numbered based on release.

While Classified Roadblock is clearly a new design, it looks like Hasbro drew inspiration from the Real American Hero 1986 (v2) figure. Gone is his original camo tank top and instead we get a green tactical vest. It’s not the spitting image of the RAH design, but clearly the three red flaps, the left shoulder pad, the right pocket, and the knife and scabbard are all nods to that outfit. It’s true that the first version figure will always be my Roadblock, but with that having been said, I still dig this look a lot!

The vest is molded in soft plastic and worn over the buck, which gives him some appropriate levels of bulk. There are some excellent details in the vest’s sculpt, including what looks like a socket wrench on his right shoulder. I like that the colors are muted, with the exception of the gold, and the star on his pocket was a nice touch. Additionally, he has sculpted brown trousers with plenty of pouches and nice texturing. And finally some gold armor on his boots and left knee. That big gold knee-pad is really the only thing here I don’t care for. It’s not so much that it seems out of place, but that it’s so adhoc the way he just has the one. I know that by 1986, most JOEs just wore whatever crazy shit they wanted, but the one lone knee-pad seems contrary to military uniform design. But that’s just me nitpicking.

Roadblock has a sweet lion tattoo on his upper left arm and he’s got a pair of red and green gloves sculpted onto his hands. Overall, the paint detail on my figure is pretty sharp.

Hasbro has been doing a solid job with the portraits in this line, and I’m happy to say that Roadblock is no exception. He’s easily recognizable by me and I especially like the sculpting on his beard and mustache. Yeah, he does have a seam line running across his bald head, but it’s really faint and hard to notice with the naked eye.

The articulation here is quite similar to Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line. Indeed, the big departure comes in the torso where there are two ball joints: One in the waist and one again under the torso.

In addition to a little knife for the scabbard in his vest, Roadblock’s main accessory is his giant um… gun. Yeah, this giant laser(?) gun would not have been my first choice as a weapon. Hasbro’s got a ton of really good machine guns in this scale. Hell, they should have just pulled the one last seen with Crossbones in the Marvel Legends Thunderbolts SDCC set. I’m not saying this is a bad looking gun. It’s got plenty of detail, a nice silver finish, and some blue and red paint applications. If you’re a fan of that wacky sci-fi shit that eventually permeated the Real American Hero line, then this might be right up your alley.

The translucent blue plastic near the beam emitter is cool and the magazine (or in this case battery(?) is removable. He can hold it from the regular grip and trigger, but there are handles on the top so that he can also wield it like a chaingun, and I think that looks more credible, considering it’s taller than he is!

I’ll confess that my first thoughts upon seeing this figure teased was that he looked kind of generic. But once I got him in hand and started messing around with him, I found myself quickly impressed. Is he exactly what I would have asked for? Nah. I would have preferred the original RAH look and a conventional machine gun. But, this line is proving to be full of surprises and I’m willing to let my preconceptions go when presented with a fun and great looking figure like this one. Next week… Duke!

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 Classified: Scarlett by Hasbro

Folks, I can’t tell you how great it feels to be sitting down to review a brand new GI JOE figure from Hasbro. I have been a strong proponent for Hasbro to apply this once great franchise to their now tried-and-true 6-inch scale figure formula. I’ve been hoping against hope that we’d see familiar classic Real American Hero characters mixed with the accessories and play-ability of SIGMA SIX. Finally Hasbro listened and we have the new GI JOE Classified series. The first wave consists of Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, and Snake Eyes, and I’m kicking things off with a look at Scarlett. Did this line seem like it’s going to be all that I hoped it would be? Not exactly. Is she a great figure? Well, at the risk of spoiling the review… Heck, yeah!

For starters, Hasbro gets major props for this packaging, and since this is the first time seeing it, I’ll spend a little while with it. It’s a simple window box similar to their Star Wars Black Series, only now infused with some amazing colors and artwork. We get an original character portrait on the front and the GI JOE logo and character name at the bottom. My only complaint here is that the three bars after the logo aren’t in red, white and blue.

The left side panel shows that these figures are numbered and also introduces this cool iconography for the characters, which suggest their specialties, with some being more obvious than others. The right side panel has a beautiful montage of Scarlett in action. Saving the best for last, the back panel has a gorgeous piece of art showing off characters and vehicles and giving us a glimpse at what some other characters will look like in this line. I love how iconic the vehicles look, and I can only hope that we’re going to get a Trouble Bubble or RAM Cycle down the road. But that’s me getting way ahead of myself, because here we are at the very first wave. Let’s have a look at Scarlett…

I’m not going to lie, I was hoping for a straight up RAH revival that took the basic look of the originals and just infused them with more detail and tons of accessories. That’s not what we got here. Instead Scarlett’s design takes the broad strokes of the character and than goes off in its own direction. The result is a figure that is both familiar and different. This approach is likely to vary from character to character. With Scarlett, I was only fairly satisfied with what I saw in the original solicitation pictures, but with the figure in hand, I’m absolutely in love with it. Her outfit is a mix of tactical suit and armor. I can get a whiff of her old yellow-cream-colored tactical onesie, boots, and gauntlet in the yellow armor here. Her red shoulder pad has migrated to her left and evolved into a full on armor piece, but hey, she still has her row of shuriken-like weapons on her left gauntlet. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I feel like Hasbro might have retained an element or two from their Overwatch figures. Damn, I really need to finish reviewing those some day!

I do like the body sculpt here. Hasbro uses some subtle textures on the underlying suit for some areas, while others are smooth with quilted panel lines. The armor pieces feature various panels and raised areas, and the detail on her gloves is quite nice. She has a belt that hangs on her hips with a gold buckle and a sculpted pouch on her left hip. She also has a separate shoulder strap that supports the quiver on her back and a functional knife sheath on the front. About the only thing on the uniform I don’t care for is the left shoulder piece. The star looks great, but this piece pops up too awkwardly for my taste. I wish it cupped her shoulder more closely. As for the colors… she’s certainly a flashy figure and there are a lot of colors on her, far more than I’m used to seeing on Hasbro’s other 6-inch lines. The gold and yellow are vibrant, while the red and blue add a nice kick. It’s pleasing to look at, but I’d like to see this figure repainted with a more subdued color palate. And if I know Hasbro, I’ll probably get it.

The head sculpt is a total winner. She’s cute, with a confident expression. The hair is especially nice as it partially covers her right eye and spills out the back in a ponytail. I could have stood it to be more red than orange, but I’m not going to split hairs. HA! I really dig the printed facial features and the freckles are a nice touch. She even has little earrings, which I’d like to think are tracking devices or micro-explosives or some other kind of cool spy gear.

For articulation, we do get a few new surprises. Her ball jointed hips appear to be anchored with dog-bone-style joints giving them a little extra range of movement. Otherwise the legs follow the Marvel Legends model with swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. Being a girl, Hasbro doesn’t believe Scarlett should have double-hinges in the elbows, so instead she gets rotating hinges in the elbows and no bicep swivels. Boo! Her wrists are on rotating hinges, and she only comes with the one set of hands. She has two ball joints in the torso, one in the waist and another under her chest. Nice! And finally her neck is ball jointed. It’s not a huge departure from what Hasbro’s been delivering, but there are some improvements.

Scarlett comes with four accessories and three of them are knives. I don’t usually associate Scarlett with packing a lot of blades, but knives are cool! Knives come in handy in a fight. I like knives! The smallest of the three fits into the sheath across her chest. It has a curved sculpted grip and something like a drop-point blade. It’s cast entirely in black plastic and she can hold it well in either hand.

The other two are a matched set and oddly enough these fit into the top of her quiver. These pieces of cutlery have similar handles and bigger, more imposing blades with saw-backs. They’re also sculpted entirely in black and I’m tempted to take a silver sharpie to their blades to give them a little more oomph. Maybe Hasbro blew the budget on the figure’s paint operations and didn’t have anything left for the knives. Or maybe they’re intentionally black so they don’t glint off the moonlight in night missions.

And finally we have Scarlett’s trusty crossbow pistol. It’s a chunky and detailed sculpt that breaks down into two pieces. And like the knives it’s also cast all in black plastic either for tactical reasons or to keep costs down… you decide!!! I like that it’s stout and not all frail and bendy. The two pieces do come apart sometimes, and I’m tempted to use a spot of glue to keep them together as I really don’t see any reason to ever separate them. There are no loose bolts to load into it, but she does have some sculpted bolts coming out the bottom of her quiver.

Scarlett’s new design is likely to make her a divisive figure, but she did manage to win me over and I’m hoping she will have the same success with other collectors. Her outfit is not what I was hoping for, but she is an absolutely fantastic figure showing off some great sculpting, quality paint applications, and fun articulation. I do wish the accessories rose to meet the days of SIGMA SIX, instead we get a decent assortment, but nothing mind-blowing. I’m still waiting on my Snake Eyes, which has been bumped back time and again by Hasbro’s own Pulse Shop. Indeed, I had all these figures pre-ordered on Pulse, but wound up cancelling them when they showed up on Amazon with that Fast & Free Prime Shipping. In the end, I wound up getting them in hand from Amazon probably a solid week before they would have ever even shipped from Hasbro. And that, Hasbro, is why when my Free Premier Membership with Pulse expires, I won’t be renewing it with a paid one. In any event, I’ll be back next week with a look at another one of these new JOES!

GI JOE 25th Anniversary Dreadnoks by Hasbro

This Friday I’m putting the Sigma 6 line on hold to check out some 25th Anniversary stuff, which still happens to be my all time favorite line of modern JOEs. Completing my team of the original three Dreadnoks, however, was a real pain in my ass. The first two, Torch and Ripper, came in a Comic 2-Pack that was easy enough to score, but Buzzer came single carded and I could not find him anywhere. Even on the secondary market he was going for more than I wanted to spend on a lone JOE figure. Eventually, I bit the bullet, paid what I had to and added him to my collection. He’s hung in my Toy Closet ever since waiting for a time for me to open him up and take a look at all three. Well, grab your grape soda and chocy donuts, because that time is now!

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Buzzer comes on a gorgeous card with foil lettering and that always amazing character art. I’m rarely tempted to collect a line MoC, but if I had the extra money and the wallspace to hang them, this 25th Anni. line would be the one I would do it for. I almost hate to open this guy up, but dammit, my Dreadnoks need to be together! Not to be outdone, Torch and Ripper came as a pair in a Comic Pack, and sadly I don’t have an in-package shot to show you. Suffice it to say the presentation was flawless, complete with a reprint of GI JOE #30 as the backdrop. Let’s go ahead and start with Buzzer because I’ve been waiting a year or so to take the time and open him…

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Easily the most conservative looking of these three bastards, Buzzer dons a button down khaki shirt, blue pants and combat boots. His more mainstream look supports his backstory, although for some reason he thought it necessary to reinforce that one shoulder with a piece of plate armor and slap an elbow guard on his right arm.  The detail on Buzzer’s outfit is fantastic. You get some grenades sculpted onto his shoulder strap and belt and skulls sculpted onto his boots. But it’s the tiny silver skull and crossbones belt buckle on this guy that really impresses me.

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The portrait includes Buzzer’s silver sunglasses and his ponytail with some really nice sculpting on his hair and a little bit of paint for his tiny beard.
You’d have to be batshit crazy to go into a warzone with a gasoline tank strapped to your back, but Buzzer doesn’t care and he needs extra fuel for his only weapon, a custom chainsaw.

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This chainsaw remains one of my favorite GI JOE accessories of all time. It’s so lovingly crafted with so much detail and the flame deco on it is just icing on the cake. With a grip on the back and a side grab bar, Buzzer can wield it quite convincingly, which sadly wasn’t always the case with these 25th Anni. figures and their accessories.

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Moving on to Ripper, here we’re getting to what looks like an extra in a Mad Max movie. He sports a cut-off camo shirt with a sculpted combat knife on his shoulder strap and a pair of grenades clipped to his shirt. His right arm is bared to show a beautifully sharp tampo tattoo. Like Buzzer’s belt buckle, Ripper has a little skull hanging from a chain on his belt, which is such an awesome little detail. The sculpt below the waist is the same we saw with Buzzer, but with black boots and the skulls picked out with some silver paint.

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Ripper’s stocky meathead includes a full beard and a full head of hair styled into a mohawk. He has a pair of red punk glasses and a grimace that says he wants to murder you and possibly eat one or two of your internal organs.

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Ripper comes with an elaborate backpack and “jaws of life” rig, which I presume is for prying open vault doors or the cockpits of JOE vehicles, rather than saving lives. In theory, it’s a nice piece of kit, complete with a hose running from the hand unit to the backpack and you can store the hand unit on the backpack. It’s still not a favorite of mine, just because it’s so specialized and that hose is so unwieldy. The hose is so long that it’s obtrusive and it pops out all the time when I pose him.

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Fortunately, Ripper also comes with one of my favorite JOE accessories: That iconic Dreadnok rifle with curved bayonet. Man, I love this thing! I’ve always been a bit unsure about who this was intended for. It comes right in the middle of the tray and it looks like it’s positioned to favor Torch rather than Buzzer.

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And that brings us to Torch, who he is easily my favorite sculpt of the three figures. We’ve left Mad Max territory and gone to full on contemporary biker thug. Torch’s biker jacket is possibly one of the best executed outfits I can remember Hasbro ever doing in this scale. It’s sculpted separately and attached to the figure’s bare chested body and it looks amazing. The chains on the shoulders and the buckles on the front straps are neatly painted in silver and the back of the jacket is tampo’d with his gang emblem and “Melbourne Maulers.” It’s almost a shame to put his backpack on him and cover up that beautiful piece of work.

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The head sculpt here is pretty great too, with copious sideburns leading into his mustache, dark glasses, and a red bandanna. Torch even has a tiny tattoo tampo’d on his left forearm. Hasbro put so much love and detail into these guys!

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As his name suggests, Torch’s weapon of choice is a blowtorch, with a tank on his back. Jeez, don’t stand next to Torch or Buzzer when the bullets start flying! Unfortunately, a few things conspire to make Torch’s torch not so great. The plastic hose that connect the torch to the backpack is rather restrictive and his right hand isn’t sculpted to grip the handle very well. Getting him to hold this thing can be a chore. Fortunately, I have a spare one of those Dreadnok rifles to give him. There’s also a holster on his leg where you can clip the torch when it isn’t use.

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Articulation on all three of these figures is identical. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and ankles. The wrists swivel and the knees have double hinges. There are ball joints in the torsos and in the necks. While it all sounds good on paper, the 25th Anniversary figures have become notorious for some poor articulation designs. It’s virtually impossible to get these figures to hold rifles across their chests with both hands and the forearms are pegged in to allow the swivel and they frequently pop out. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that mar some otherwise great sculpts.

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With the Dreadnoks always being a favorite of mine, it’s great to finally have this trio together and on my JOE shelf. Considering how much I love the 25th Anni. line, it’s no small compliment when I say that I think these three are among the best this line has to offer. They capture everything I loved about the original characters, give them some highly detailed gear and made them lots of fun to play with. It’s a pity I’ll never pony up for that 25th Zaranna figure, but at some point I’ll still have to double back and pick up that Dreadnok 7-pack that Hasbro did a while back.

GI JOE SIgma 6: Tunnel Rat by Hasbro

I’m pressing on with this whole GI JOE thing on Fridays this Summer as I work my way through a box of Sigma 6 figures sprinkled with some 25th and 50th Anniversary stuff I never got around to looking at. I had so much fun playing with Snake Eyes last Friday that I decided to knock out another S6 figure and today it’s Tunnel Rat. There’s no packaged shot, so let’s get right to the figure…

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And here he is! Tunnel Rat is certainly no newcomer to the JOE team, but this S6 version of the character is a pretty big departure to what I’m used to. And that’s OK, because this line is all about new directions. Can I tell you right now how freaking terrified I am at the very concept of Tunnel Rat’s job. I’m not talking so much about the explosive ordinance disposal, although that’s pretty scary on its own. No, I mean the going through enemy tunnels shit. If you want some great nightmare fuel get yourself a copy of The Tunnels of Cu Chi. Holy shit! What? Oh yeah, back to the figure.

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TR features the standard buck that this line uses for the slighter built characters. It’s the same we saw for Snake Eyes only with orange highlights and a new pair of sculpted boots. The lean body works well as he has has to snake his way through some tight spots. He also has an equipment harness, which is a combination of elastic and plastic and buckles around his chest and waist. There are peg holes galore on both the body and the harness so you can stick accessories all over him.

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Since it’s the same body as Snake Eyes you also get the cool flip up arm computer. I love this thing!

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I like the head sculpt a lot. The features are particularly well defined, especially the nose and mouth and ears. The paint for the eyes and eyebrows is super crisp. He has a skull cap and a pair of goggles with an elastic strap, which can be worn up on his forehead, down around his neck, or over his eyes. Naturally, you also get the standard issue metal dog tag on chain for around his neck.

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Tunnel Rat features the same articulation as Snake Eyes, which means a ton of rotating hinges. You get them in his shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. He can swivel at the waist and you get ball joints in the torso and neck. As usual, the joints are strong and satisfying and the figure is wonderfully durable.

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GEAR!!! I love gear and weapons and accessories! Sigma 6 is a line that delivers and Tunnel Rat is no exception. The biggest showpiece in his collection is his sled-backpack. This thing clips onto his harness and while it’s fairly large and bulky it isn’t unreasonable as a backpack. I dig how the two snake lights angle up on his shoulders making them useful in both modes.

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When you take it off of him and extend out the lower wheels it becomes a sled similar to the creepers that mechanics use. He can use this to inch his way through tunnels or perhaps under explosive devices. Pretty neat.

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Next up, he has this totally bitchin butterfly knife that really works. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these included with an action figure before. It’s such a cool piece and I could imagine him using it to pry plates off of bomb casings, cut wires, or just fight with when he runs out of ammo.

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Grenades! Tunnel Rat comes with two grenades with pegs that allow them to be held on various parts of his body. These include some neon green paint that highlights most of his gear.

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And then we get to his guns. For starters, he has an automatic weapon with a peg so he can wear it on his hip or on his back. The tiny magazine is even removable. The gun works really well with the figure’s articulation. You can get all sorts of great poses out of him with it.

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And lastly, there’s his assault rifle. Again, some of the detail on this piece is picked out with neon green paint, which I think looks rather cool. Maybe it’s designed so he can find it in the dark. It includes a strap so you can sling it on his shoulder or across his back. Surpringly, the magazine does not come out. Weird that they would make that a feature on the tiny gun and not the larger weapon.

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So yeah… Tunnel Rat is all sorts of awesome. The sheer playability of his articulation combined with all that neat gear make him so much fun to pick up and so hard to put down. Even for a figure that shares almost an entire buck, he feels so unique and he’s loaded with personality. After a couple years of not having him, it’s damn good to welcome him back to the collection.

GI JOE SIgma 6: Snake Eyes by Hasbro

I realize that I’m at odds with a lot of JOE fans when I say that my love of Snake Eyes diminished the more the franchise went on. By the time I set toys aside for a while in the 90’s I had a bad case of Snake Eyes fatigue. The simple Commando that I knew and loved turned into some kind of uber-ninja. I won’t hold that against him as I check out the Sigma 6 version of the character, because I absolutely love this figure, which is probably evidenced by how long today’s entry wound up running and the fact that I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

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I’ve got no packaged shot, but now is as good a time as any to point out that the early figures in this series used plastic tops and bottoms for the blister cards and you could assemble these into a cool foot locker to keep the accessories. They had foam inserts to keep everything neat, but with a lot of the figures you had to gut out the foam inserts if you wanted to get all the accessories in there. It was always an impossible decision for me. As my collection grew, these began to take up a lot of room, but they also worked well as risers for displaying rows of figures behind others. This one is missing one of the locks and the foam is gone, but at least I can get all of Snake Eyes’ shit in there.

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And here he is… Snake Eyes is perfectly suited to a line like Sigma 6, which focuses on accessories and the creative ways in which they can interact with the figure. Taken on his own, Snake Eyes is about as simple a figure as you can get. He sports the angular and highly stylized aesthetic of the line with what looks like a hi-tech armored Ninja suit. His outfit is black with olive green accents. There’s some really nice texturing on some areas of the suit and he is covered with ports to peg in accessories. It’s taken right out of the old Centurions action figure line and I love it! Snake Eyes also sports a really cool set of soft goods web gear with shoulder pads and working buckles and the usual metal dog tag.

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One of my favorite little touches on this figure is the pop up computer on his left arm. I forgot all about this feature until it happened to pop open while I was playing with him. So damn cool!

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The portrait shows only a pair of rather large anime-style eyes with what looks like a hint of some creepy scarring. Frankly, I find unmasked Snake Eyes rather unsettling, but thankfully we can remedy that. You have three display options with Snake Eyes’ mask to cover up those creepy peepers. You get his traditional segmented visor, in this case painted silver. He also comes with a set of night vision goggles and a gas mask with a complete face shield. OK, the gas mask actually magnifies his scary eyes, so… nope. All three pieces fit the figure’s head quite well and will usually remain in place while I play around with him. s6eyes14

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Articulation consists of the usual medley of rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. You get a swivel at the waist and ball joints in the torso and neck. The joints all feel so wonderfully chunky and strong and he just invites you to play around with him and see what he can do. This must have been a great line for kids because the figures are very nearly indestructible.

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Let’s talk gear! For starters, Snake Eyes comes with no less than three blades: One short and two longer swords, all three of which come in plastic scabbards. The shorter weapon’s scabbard has an elastic strap to go around the figure’s leg, while the other two have pegs so you can put them on his hips or on his back. The pommels of the swords are also socket-ed so you can join either two swords together or the sword and the dagger to make a bitchin’ double bladed pole arm. Sweet!

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Snake Eyes also comes with his trademark Uzi. It’s gray and black and sports some really nice sculpted detail. There’s a peg to attach it to the figure and the magazine is removable with a tiny painted bullet at the top.

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You also get a plethora of other weird gear. There’s a set of grip bars for a zip-line and two giant suction cups for him to climb walls with.
And then there’s this crazy-ass thing. It’s like a giant yo-yo of death. It has retractable blades, but it’s so damn big, it isn’t of much use to me. There aren’t many accessories in this line that I have no use for, but Snake Eye’s yo-yo is one of them and it’s going into the dreaded Tote of Forgotten Accessories.

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Snake Eyes was one of those figures that I lost in the closet flood several years back. In fact, I believe he may have been the first figure I picked up in this line. While there are plenty of figures in S6 that have more interesting designs and more complex weapons, I’d dare say that if you were only going to get one figure to see what this line is all about that one should probably be Snake Eyes. He tells you all there is to know about the spirit of Sigma 6 and he is an absolute blast to play with. Naturally, I’m very happy to have him back in my collection. He’s a super fun figure that’t truly hard to put down. Now all I need to do is replace my Storm Shadow so I have someone for him to fight again… And maybe that Ninja Cycle… And a few of the other Sigma 6 versions of Snake Eyes…

GI JOE Sigma 6: Lockdown by Hasbro

It was about five years ago that I lost three banker boxes of toys to a minor flood in one of my closets. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had noticed earlier, but by the time I did the boxes and contents had mold damage and everything had to go. Among these boxes were the two that housed my entire collection of Sigma 6 figures. It was a sad day. I’ve finally begun not only replacing the ones I’ve lost, but picking up some that I never had that brings me to this week’s GI JOE content. Let’s check out Lockdown…

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I’ve got no packaged shot, so let’s get right to the figure, because this guy is one of my absolute favorites, and I’m going to try really hard to not say that in every S6 Feature that I do. While many of the JOES of S6 were re-imagined versions of what we all knew and loved, I believe SWAT officer Lockdown was a brand new character. I don’t recall him ever appearing in the cartoon and he was a rather late release in the line. It was a time when Hasbro was really exploring some great possibilities with this scale and format, but they also unfortunately discontinued the cool foot locker aspect of the packaging. Ah well, those things took up a lot of space anyway. Also, the Centurians-style peg system that let you attach stuff all over the figure seemed to take a backseat to the sculpts.

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The angular style and chunky proportions of these figures always reminded me a bit of Kenner’s Small Soldiers figures. It takes some getting used to and in truth it wasn’t until I had one of these figures in hand to play with that they really won me over. But despite the super stylized design, the sculpt on this guy is wonderfully detailed. The uniform includes folds, buttons, pouches, and belts. The blue and black color scheme is simple, but effective. And as with all of these guys, Lockdown features a metal dog tag on a chain around his neck.

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The head sculpt is loaded with personality and features a pair of permanent sculpted sunglasses. This guy looks like one tough customer. As much as I dig it, I will probably never display this figure without his kick ass helmet. It fits over the head beautifully and looks so great on him. OK, maybe I’ll display him holding the helmet in the crook of his elbow because that looks pretty great too.

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A huge part of Sigma 6’s appeal is the articulation and Lockdown doesn’t disappoint. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. There are swivels at the tops of the boots and hinges in the ankles. Lockdown can swivel at the waist and he has ball joints in the torso and neck. What’s even better is that every one of these joints is tight and effective making this figure crazy fun to play with. Also, the chunky boats and great balance makes Lockdown really good at holding poses.

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Of course, the main attraction of S6 is the gear. In true spirit of the original 70’s JOEs, these guys come with all sorts of neat equipment and weapons. Lockdown’s gear is great, but it tends to lack the customization that some of the earlier figures’ accessories had. Also, there’s not as much interactivity with the figure in terms of being able to attach it to his body, so we’ll have to look for that stuff in a future review. That having been said, there’s some neat stuff here. For starters, Lockdown features a chunky sub machine gun, which he can hold in either or both hands. This thing is wonderfully ridiculous and includes a silver and black deco with some blue and green accents.

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He also comes with a riot shield, which is designed to be held or stand up on its own as a barrier. It’s cast from a slab of blue plastic and has SWAT printed across the front.

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You also get a pair of handcuffs that work surprisingly well on the figures.

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And lastly, he features a huge spring-loaded battering ram for busting down doors. Knock-Knock, Cobra!

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It’s so hard for me to play with a figure like this and reconcile the hatred that so many fans have for this line. I like to think it goes back to a time when 3 3/4″ JOE was almost soley available through that Direct-To-Consumer line and longtime JOE fans saw these as weird and unworthy replacements. I can dig that. But as a fan who’s love for JOE predates the Real American Hero revival of the 80’s, I have nothing but love for these guys. Hasbro tried something incredibly original here and as far as I’m concerned it paid off big time. Give me a fun, poseable figure like this, a great assortment of gear, and I’m good to go for hours.

GI JOE 25th Anniversary Comic Pack: Tomax and Xamot by Hasbro

As promised, I’m going to be spreading some GI JOE love around FFZ this Summer, so look for this kind of thing popping up every Friday until I run out of stuff in my closet or just lose interest and move on. The main thrust of GI JOE Friday is going to be Sigma 6, but I plan on peppering it with some 25th and 50th Anniversary stuff just to mix things up. Also, because I realize a lot of people hate Sigma 6. Anywho, today I decided to go with the 25th Anniversary Collection’s release of Tomax and Xamot!

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Ah, The 25th Anniversary Comic Pack! How I adored you! Unlike the vintage-style JOE Comic 3-Packs from Hasbro, these 25th releases came with only two figures, but that made it a perfect venue to get The Crimson Twins out in this new format. Doubly so when you consider they were originally released as a 2-pack way back when. I can still remember when this deadly duo was released in 1985. I was first introduced to them as part of the Sunbow mini-series, Pyramids of Darkness, which was definitely the weakest of these mini-series for me, but made up for it by introducing Extensive Enterprises. These guys were like nothing in GI JOE before and who didn’t fall instantly in love with their elite troopers, The Crimson Guard? I can still remember finding the twins 2-pack at the mall and successfully begging my father to get them for me. There was a time when Tomax, Xamot, and hooded Cobra Commander were the upper echelons of my Cobra Command leading an army of (well, actually I only had two) Crimson Guards, leaving Destro and Baroness to take their boring old Cobra Troops and fend for themselves. I freaking loved these guys!!

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Oh, and f’ck me for not getting on board and ordering that Doc. What the hell was I thinking?

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I think a big part of the appeal for me here is the uniforms. Yeah, I thought it was cool how they mirrored each other, but more importantly they were just neat designs. The Twins were kind of like superhero villains the way they would appear all chill in their business suits in one scene and then be charging into battle in their costumes in the next. The sculpts on these guys are quite well done. The cobra-style knee and thigh armor is superb and I like how the shoulder armor is hinged and removable. It stays on pretty well too. And naturally they have to have make each other wear the silver codpieces, because if one gets kicked in the balls the other one feels it! You also get a nicely detailed combat knife and pistol, each sculpted onto the belt. To top it all off, you get some beautifully vibrant colors. The Cobra blue with the silver armor and red sash and accents makes for a fantastic deco. God, I love these uniforms!

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The portraits follow the same mirrored pattern as their costumes. It’s the same basic sculpt only with the facial scars on opposite cheeks. They also have the same strands of hair dropping down over the forehead, only on opposite sides. That always gives me a chuckle. Do they actually style it that way? Also, my loose Tomax has some weird black speckling around his mouth. My carded set doesn’t, but that’s not for opening, it’s for hanging on the wall and looking at.

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Articulation on these guys is pretty standard from what we got in the 25th Anniversary figures. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows. and swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, and rotating hinges in the ankles. You get a ball joint in the torso and another in the neck. It’s a far cry from the more modern JOES that have come out since, but it’s certainly serviceable. And fortunately, these guys don’t share the problem of arms popping out like some of the figures in this line do.

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Tomax and Xamot come with their signature weapons, which is something like a laser sub-machine gun. Obviously, they’re the same weapon because… twins! These feel a little oversized to me, but I still dig them well enough. They can comfortably grip them in either hand and witha litttle work you can get them to hold the weapon in both hands. You also get the standard 25th Anniversary Cobra figure stands, with the sculpted Cobra emblems and the personalized name plates. The only thing missing here is the zip line, which I recall coming with the original vintage two-pack.

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Yes, opening up this pack instantly transported me back to the glory days of 1985 when it was such an amazing time to be a JOE collector. We had brand new teams appear, like The Crimson Twins and The Dreadnoks, and the line was going into such creative and interesting new territory. The 25th Anniversary versions of these guys really scratched an itch and the fact that I found the 25th Crimson Guard figures to be relatively plentiful meant that I could finally have a little squad of these guys to go with my Tomax and Xamot. Ah, good times! Now, I really want to pick up a pair of Cobra Ferrets for these guys to drive around on.