G.I. Joe: Real American Hero

Colin Gill is back with another great guest review, this time of all 10 G.I. Joe RAH figures.  Take it away, Colin!

This is Colin again and today I'm reviewing the new G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero vs. Cobra action figures.  There are 12 figures in the first assortment, quite a large assortment by today's standard half dozen or so.  Figures are packaged in a good versus evil pairing.  The packages are Destro and Gung-Ho, Wet Suit and Cobra Moray, Snake-Eyes and StormShadow, Heavy Duty and Cobra C.L.A.W.S., Frostbite and Neo-Viper, and Duke and Cobra Commander.  This series is using a number of characters from the original line.  As of this writing, production problems have delayed the Duke and Cobra Commander 2-pack.  There are also a couple of vehicles that I have not seen yet.  One is the Dominator with a repainted Destro and the other is the Brawler with an alternate Heavy Duty.

Packaging - **
The packaging is sort of cartoony.  The art looks like it was done by the same artists who are doing the new G.I. Joe comic.  The bubble containing the two figures takes up about 2/3 of the card. The logo and a picture of Duke and Cobra Commander locked in mortal combat are above the blister. The figures are in action poses facing each other.  Accessories are displayed in the plastic tray with the figures.  Some of the figures are clearly seen while others, most notably the Moray, are difficult to see (he is turned away from the consumer).  

The back of the card shows comic book styled drawings of the characters from this first assortment. Flag Points are apparently a thing of the past as there are none on the package.  Instead there is a UPC code that tells which figure you have bought.  

The cards are generic within the assortment.  This is disappointing when compared with the packaging of the original figures.  Also disappointing was the absence of the file cards  on the card back giving bios of the characters.  File cards are instead found on the paper insert giving the character names in the front of the package. They are a little less detailed than the originals but it just wouldn't be G.I. Joe without them.  Each 2-pack has an individualized comic style drawing/backdrop behind the two figures. The packaging works but does not stand out.  I almost missed these on the shelf. Selling them 2 to a pack cuts down on the cost of packaging the figures but is sort of bad for people who want to build Cobra armies.  As a kid, I had a couple of extras of several Cobras since they were generic soldiers.  Now if I want to do this, I have to spend twice as much and have an extra non-generic Joe that can only go into storage or ebay.

Sculpting - ***
The sculpting on these figures is hit or miss.  While the detail is generally good, the proportions seem odd on some figures.  On many, the heads look too small for the physique.

The Cobra Moray is the strongest of this bunch and Destro is the weakest. Hasbro has taken lessons that they learned in Star Wars and has applied them here.  These figures are sort of like the love child of a 3 3/4" Joe and a 3 3/4" Star Wars figure whose first cousin was Galoob's Jonny Quest. Most of these characters have bulky belts at their waists to hide articulation.  Some characters also have holsters and sheaths built in to hold weapons.  These work well although some of the weapons look abnormally large when holstered. 

All in all, they look good, but not as good as a re-launch of this line could or should have looked.

Paint - ***
The paint on these figures is generally okay but there are a number of places where there is bleed or a nick in the paint.  I had to look through a couple of sets of Frostbite/ Neo-Viper before I found a Frostbite with a good face. Otherwise, the only paint flaws that I found were because I was looking very closely.

Articulation - ***1/2
These figures have 10 points of articulation: knee, hip, waist, elbow, bicep, simulated ball jointed shoulder, and ball jointed neck.

Considering the size of these figures, the articulation is good, but not as good as it used to be.  The much valued O-Ring has been removed from the torso as a cost cutting measure. Previous Joe figures had a rubber ring and a metal T joint inside that allowed for ball jointed hips.  This is a change that a lot of the Joe collectors are not happy with.  Joe's legs now move only forward and back and still have bending knees.  The only figures in this size that are more articulated right now are Gundam suits. There are rumors that the O-ring will return in future assortments.

Accessories - ***
While the figures are all new sculpts, the weapons are all from previous series.  This isn't a problem as backwards compatibility is a very insightful inclusion here, especially with the recent releases of re-decoed Joes.  These figures will work with most, if not all, of the old series' weapons and vehicles.  I have had some problems with the figures holding their weapons because of the positions of hand sculpting.

Frostbite's backpack will not stay in his back at all. Some of the more dynamic poses may prevent some of the figures from using certain more restrictive vehicles; i.e. places where the legs have to be squeezed together.  Everyone comes with plenty of accessories, only some don't make a lot of sense.  The Neo-Viper comes with bazooka shells but not a weapon that would launch them.  C.L.A.W.S. comes with the weapon that originally went with them.  For the most part, the accessories are decent and appropriate.

Value - ***
These were $7.73 at Wal-Mart.  Considering that the nearest equivalent toy, Gundam, is $6 a pop, this doesn't seem too bad.  The originals were $3 a piece and the re-issues ranged from $5 to $8 for a 2-pack.  Getting two figures for this makes it a bit more palatable.  Again, these lose a little bit, probably a half star or so for making things difficult on the army builder. When I was a kid, my mom might have spent $3 to slake my thirst for toys on a trip to the store, but it is doubtful that she would have splurged $8.

Playability - ***1/2
I'm taking some liberties here and am adding another category.  If I were a 10 year old kid instead of a 30 year old kid, I would want to play with these toys. I would play with them a lot. They seem fairly sturdy and come with a good number of accessories and they are small enough that vehicles and playsets for them are manageable. In other words, these were made to be played with and that means the world to kids and parents. While the originals would have netted an easy four stars here, the lack of being able to make a ninja perform a side kick causes a loss of a half a star.  I really respect Hasbro for making a line for the kids that isn't catering mostly to the collector by reducing the articulation and jacking up the price.  Playmates did the same thing several years back with Exo-Squad where it was a great line for the kids that had little collector interest.

Overall - ***
While this isn't the strongest showing Joe has ever had, it is a somewhat decent one.  With vehicles and another assortment that includes Scarlett and Zartan waiting in the wings, this line has a lot of potential. It's not living up to its full potential now, but the original Joe line didn't come into its own until the second year when characters started having more individualized body parts and swivel-arm battle grip. I have been looking forward to these for quite a while and with the possible exception of Destro(who was one of my favorite original characters) am glad that I picked up the new set of Joes. 

Where to Buy
I found mine at Wal-Mart, where the supply was fairly limited on the initial shipment.  Toys R Us, KB, Target, and a slew of other major retailers will most likely carry them very soon.

Figure from the collection of Colin Gill.

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