Walmart is Trolling GI Joe Retaliation…

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Yeah they are! They set the pegs for the new Retaliation figures and then filled them with Rise of Cobra figures. I made sure to get the Iron Man 3 and Dark Knight Rises figures in the shot to prove this isn’t an old photo. These things should have been clearanced out a year ago, but they obviously held on to them for just this occasion. And they’re $10 each. 

Maybe it’s a little hostility over getting tricked into buying all that Retaliation product last year only to have the movie get pushed back. Maybe they just wanted to take the opportunity to chip away at that pallet of ROC figures they still have in the backroom. Or, yes, maybe they’re just trolling Joe fans with this shit. I’ll go with the last one. I think this is a big middle finger to Hasbro.

GI JOE Retaliation: Cobra Trooper by Hasbro

As promised, its Monday and I’m back with another look at Hasbro’s tenuous and poorly timed launch of the Retaliation figures. I’m still not prepared to say whether or not you’ll be seeing any more of these figures featured here. Cobra Commander and this Trooper were the only two that jumped out at me, but if things don’t liven up around here in the toy aisles, I may be buying more of these out of sheer desparation. While Cobra Commander was a “must buy” for me, I just picked up Cobra Trooper so I’d have someone to stand beside him. I wasn’t completely sold on this guy when I saw him on the peg, so let’s see if he can win me over.

The packaging. Oh, god, the packaging. I ragged on it pretty good last time, so let’s just say it looks rushed and amateurish and leave it at that. The bubble shows off the figure very nicely and the insert has the figure’s name on it and shows a picture of the included parachute in action. Flip the card over and you’ve got a couple shots of the figure as well as three others in the line. There’s a pointless little blurb on the Cobtra Trooper and a couple points emphasizing that working parachute again. Let’s rip this guy open and see what we’ve got.
The obvious first impression is that this isn’t a traditional Cobra Trooper, but that’s fine, since this is a movie product. He comes sculpted with grey fatigues, a removable helmet, and removable webgear with a functional holster for his sidearm. The removable helmet is a very nice touch and it stays on surprisingly well. The removable webgear is now pretty standard fare for GI Joes, but in this case it allows you to swap it out and turn him into a paratrooper, which we’ll get to later. The sculpting on the webgear is exceptional. You can see all the texturing in the belts, the sculpted grenades, the clasps and pouches. Its very nice work.  The headsculpt consists of a mask and visor that looks a tad like paintball gear and covers every bit of the trooper’s face. I kind of like it. Its rather sinister.
Its on the coloring of the figure, where things break down for me a bit. The grey fatigues that comprise most of the figure’s body look great, but they really don’t feel like Cobra to me. The blue helmet and webgear help a bit, but I would have preferred blue fatigues, blue helmet, and black webgear. He has a nice Cobra emblem tampo on his helmet and his chest, but you can’t really see the one on his chest when he’s wearing the webgear. All of my issues with the coloring on the figure come from my personal conceptions on what a Cobra Trooper should look like. If I toss that aside, I think the colors on the figure work great for a military trooper.
The Cobra Troopers articulation is the same as what we saw with Cobra Commander. He has a ball jointed neck. His arms feature ball jointed shoulders, ball jointed elbows, and swivel wrists. His legs are ball jointed at the hips and hinged at the knees. Lastly, he can swivel just under his abdomin. Again, considering how upset collectors are over the cuts in articulation, this guy still has plenty of poseability. Sure, what’s missing sucks, but it is what it is.
You get some solid accessories with this figure. His weapons include a tiny little automatic pistol, which fits snugly into his holster. You also get a rather unusual looking assault rifle with some kind of canister coming off the stock. And then there’s the parachute. To work the parachute you swap out his webgear and clip the nylon cords onto the top straps of the webgear. It looks and works pretty great. I am particuarly impressed with the quality of the parachute. The material and cords are nice and heavy duty and the Cobra emblem printed on it is really cool. And yes, it works pretty well. I chucked him up into the air and it opened just fine.
Kudos, Hasbro. You were indeed able to win me over with this figure. I still would have preferred a more conventional Cobra paintjob, but what’s here works fine. Its a good design, a good sculpt, solid weapons, and the ability to convert him to a paratrooper is a really nice bonus. I’m not going to go army building this guy like I have in the past with the Vipers and the Crimson Guards, but I could see myself picking up one more just to display him as both regular trooper and paratrooper. He’s a solid figure and I’m really glad I picked him up.

GI JOE Retaliation: Cobra Commander by Hasbro

So the movie’s been delayed until next year, what about the toys? Well chances are if you’ve been in an action figure aisle, you noticed that the first run of the Retaliation toys are out. Hasbro opted to sell through what was shipped, but seeing as the other option was a economically crippling recall that would even further piss off their retail partners, it was really the only thing they could do. Future waves of the toys will be held back for the movie release next year. I already went on record about how underwhelmed I am with this line, but when I went hunting for new Avengers figures this morning I found that the pegs are still crammed with the same three non-movie versions of Iron Man, Cap and Thor, so I opted to pick up the only two Retaliation figures that I had much interest in. Today we’ll take a look at Cobra Commander.

There’s the packaging and oh lord is it terrible. Sure its a standard and perfectly functional Hasbro card and bubble, which displays the figure pretty well. There’s an insert that personalizes the package with the figure’s name and a shot of the figure deploying his token stupidly oversized and gimmicky weapon. Take note, my Cobra Commander is blue, but there appears to be a running change with a black variant.
The cardback is an atrocity. It really looks like Hasbro had someone in their art department hammer this out while on lunch. The logo and shots of Roadblock and Snake Eyes are poorly formated and look like they were clipped out of a magazine, whereas the orange yellow deco of the card makes the figure blend in with the knock-off military figures on the pegs next to it. The back of the card has a throwaway blurb about the character, but no file card. It shows the figure in three different poses, holding each of his weapons and there are shots of three other figures in the assortment off to the side. What’s with the Japanese lettering on the back? I’ll let y’all ponder that while I open my figure and then burn the packaging and bury the ashes in the backyard.
Out of the package, Cobra Commander is one very, very cool looking figure. Obviously, it helps when the toy is based on a good looking movie design and that appears to be the case here. If you like your Cobra Commander as a take charge, in the thick of things, terrorist leader, this version should really appeal to you, because he’s outfitted for action, rather than sitting on the throne. The head sculpt is extremely detailed and a nice evolution of his chrome faceplate design of old with the faceplate centered in what is made to look like a Cobra’s jaws. There’s a tiny sculpted Cobra on the top of the helmet and he has sculpted Cobra emblems on his kneepads. The rest of the figure is a pretty simple but effective sculpt.
His belt and bandolier strap are removable, which is a good thing. I like having the option of him wearing it, but I think its a little too bulky to make him look like a dignified leader. If Cobra Commander goes into battle, I’m sure he’ll be flanked by troops to carry his shit, so he shouldn’t need this many pouches. On the downside, the nice gold braid that loops around his right arm is part of the gear belt, so if you take it off, the braid goes with it.
The coloring on the figure is ok. I would have preferred a paler shade of blue, but what’s here is still good and I like the way it contrasts with the slightly glossier black of the boots and gloves. The Cobra Emblem tampo on his chest looks great. I definitely would have preferred his helmet be blue like his uniform, but its still plenty cool as it is.
Articulation? For all the bitching I have to say, the articulation here is not at all bad. You get a ball jointed neck. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, and again at the elbows. The wrists do swivel. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and feature hinged knees. He can swivel at the waist. Yeah, the lack of double hinges in the knees, and any articulation in the ankles will upset a lot of people. On the flipside, I was actually surprised that the wrists had swivels. What’s here is lacking, but its definitely not the stone age level of poseability a lot of collectors feared.
As far as accessories go, Cobra Commander comes with a simple assault carbine and a pistol. The pistol fits into the aforementioned leg holster. Both are decent sculpts and cast in pale grey plastic.  Of course, you also get the usual throwaway oversized gimmick weapon. In this case its a Cobra staff that shoots a giant missile. As a weapon its ridiculous, but I’m sure a lot of collectors could find a way to work it into their displays as decor for the Cobra Temple, Cobra Throneroom, or Cobra Smoking Lounge.
Cobra Commander cost me just under $9 at Walmart. That’s about right for figures these days and while he doesn’t come with the plethora of accessories and articulation that Joe fans have been getting these past couple of years, he’s still an excellent figure. Apart from the packaging, nothing about this figure feels cheap or scaled back to me. Still, I wouldn’t take this as praise for the line as a whole. I looked at all the figures today and Cobra Commander was the only one I was tempted to pick up. Roadblock actually looks good, but I can’t get past that big gunpart molded right into his hand. I wasn’t even too keen on the Cobra Trooper, but I bought him anyway and we’ll check him out on Monday.

GI JOE Retaliation Delayed…

Ok, so within about a month of its planned release, GI JOE: Retaliation has been inexplicably and bewilderingly pushed back to March of next year. Nine months delay for a movie that was supposed to be done and ready to go. The official reason: So it can be given the 3D treatment to improve overseas numbers. My initial two reactions? 1. Bullshit! 2. What about the toys?

Now, I don’t usually cover news here, but it seemed like I would be remiss if I didn’t weigh in on the whole GI JOE: Retaliation A-Bomb that Paramount and Hasbro dropped this week. Granted, you don’t see a lot of GI JOE figures covered on FigureFan these days, and that’s mostly because I’ve managed to convince myself that the 25th Anniversary figures are my definitive versions of these characters and while I concede that the figures (not necessarily the vehicles)coming out since has been in many ways superior, the designs just don’t do it for me. My days of buying 20 different versions of these characters are over. That having been said, I’ll pick up a figure or vehicle here and there if it strikes my fancy. I still need to pick up that blasted Sky Striker.

The way I see it, there’s three ways to attack this mess. One, how will it impact the movie. Two, how will it impact the toys. Three, how does it impact me. I’ll take the last one first.
It really doesn’t impact on me. I was planning on seeing the movie, and believe me when I say that’s high praise. I didn’t like the first one, and I don’t actually go to see movies unless I really want to see them extremely badly. I don’t enjoy the theater-going experience and for the price of a ticket and a coke, I can own the damn thing on Blu-Ray when its released. That having been said, I was going to see it, but I’m not heartbroken that I have to wait. I’d just as soon go see Avengers again. I have the same “Meh” reaction to the toys, which leads me back to Point Two…

I really wasn’t interested in the Retaliation toys. I will probably pick up a few Cobra figures, but that’s it. The designs of the figures don’t do a lot for me and I think the vehicles look terrible. Nonetheless, I still think that this decision to delay the movie will be disastrous for the toyline and pretty damaging to the toy brand as a whole. And let’s face it, GI JOE hasn’t been a particularly strong presence on the toyshelves in quite a while. The brand really needed this push to keep it alive so that retailers could recognize it as a viable, marketable toyline. We still don’t know what Hasbro will do vis-a-vis future waves, but the initial run of these toys are already in retailer stockrooms, and Hasbro is giving them the go ahead to break the street date.

This is a no-win situation for Hasbro. They’ve already seriously fucked over the retailers that bought these toys with the expectation of a multi-million dollar movie tie-in, which they see as advertising the brand. On those grounds alone, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some sort of opening for litigation here. If Hasbro holds back the rest of the toys for next year, they’re going to generate a lot of bad blood among their retail partners. Case in point: For a while now, Walmarts in my area stopped selling Joes altogether and only made an exception for the Rise of Cobra movie. If they made a similar exception for Retaliation only to have the movie delayed, its doubtful the retailer is ever going to have confidence in the line again.

As for the movie itself? Marketing budgets are figured carefully into the cost of movies and Paramount has already blown that budget on this one, not least of which a very pricey Super Bowl spot. All of that money is as good as flushed down the toilet. If Paramount is going to start the marketing juggernaut up again next year, its going to seriously cut into the film’s profits, but how can they not? And can that really expect to be reclaimed by making the movie 3D for foreign markets? Hey, these decisions were made by people who do this sort of shit for a living. I’m just a hack with a keyboard, so what do I know? But it all leads me back to my initial thought that the 3D excuse is bullshit.