Secret Planet of Xenome
G.I. Joe

Hasbro has been trying a few different things this year, expanding even further on the 'adventure team' concept.  And so for the first time in a very long time, we have a new outer space set, very reminiscent of 70's space lines.

The set is called Secret of Planet Xenome, and there are three distinct sets, each with a Joe Astronaut figure and a different alien.  The aliens have unique colors - red, gold and blue - and unique head and hand sculpts.

Most recent Joe concepts are more reality based, sort of like our television shows these days.  But this set is pure fantasy, from the alien to the outfit. 

The Joes in each set are identical except for the usual skin color/hair style combinations.  There's all the usual ethnic variations with various colors of flocked hair and facial hair.

The set's suggested retail is about $30, but if you shop around you can find a good sale.  I haven't seen them on clearance at Target yet, but Target and Toys R Us carry this set. 

Packaging - **1/2
This is a fairly heavy set, and the box is a little weak.  Shelf wear and damage are likely.  The graphics are decent though, and the star field background fits in nicely with the science fantasy theme.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Most of the sculpting is in the Alien, and the theme and design fit nicely.  He's very much like the toy lines of the 70's, when Adventure Team was in its hey day.  He reminds me a lot of something you might have seen in the Major Matt Mason line or Colorforms aliens, just bigger.

One big difference is in the amount of detail in the sculpt.  While the general design is similar, there's far more intricate work in his face and body, giving him an updated look on a classic style.

Paint - ***
The paint work is fairly straight forward, and encompasses very little detail.  The broad colors are all clean and neat though, with good consistency.  A wash is used on the alien to bring out the sculpting detail, and his skin colors work well with the overall fantasy concept.

Joe has his painted face, and it's neat and clean.  There's not much to say with most Joes in this category, but the eyes and face are done well.

Articulation - **
Both figures are articulated, although very differently.

Joe has the newest Hasbro body, with all those extra joints we've come to expect - ball jointed and cut neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, double jointed elbows and knees, chest, waist, wrists, ankles, and I'm probably forgetting a couple.

So why the low score?  Poor Joe suffers from floppy joints.  His knees and hips are extremely loose, and with the weight of the helmet and plastic body suit, he has a very tough time standing up.

The alien has far fewer joints.  Neck, cut shoulders, wrists, and hips are the major joints.  He also has a nifty jointed middle finger that works great and is a great addition.  Even with the fewer joints, he stands great on his own.  That probably has a lot to do with his massive feet!

Lots of joints in the alien would have been tough, but he needs a few more.  Cut elbows would have been a fantastic addition, and wouldn't have been to hard or expensive to add.  Cut ankles would have been nice as well.

Accessories - **1/2
There's only one accessory - Joe's gun.  It fits fine in his hands, and fires a red projectile.  It's not strong enough to know the alien over, but that's not Hasbro's fault.

What is Hasbro's fault is that this weapon is a re-use, or at least I think it is.  I couldn't tell you just what set I've seen this in, but I'm pretty sure Hasbro has used this gun before, maybe more than once.

Outfit - ***1/2
If you like old science fiction, you'll like this outfit.  Here again we see more fantasy than reality in the goofy body suit, helmet and air tank.

The helmet is very large, and includes the clear inner visor, plus the retractable solar visor.  It attached to the shoulders of the plastic body 'shell' with two clips.  They pop in and out easily, and it fits very tightly.

The air tank attaches to the back of the shell, and two soft rubber hoses attach to the helmet.  It goes on and off easily as well, and the suit is extremely well designed for easy removal.

The shell simply snaps together, and comes off last.  Underneath is a soft blue body suit.  The boots and gloves are a good sculpt, and work well - the boots provide a good base for standing, and the gloves are sculpted to hold the gun and other items.

Fun Factor - ***
This is a fun toy for kids and adults.  Adults will enjoy the nostalgia factor, and kids will love the great astronaut costume and goofy alien.

The only thing holding this back from a higher fun factor is the articulation - a couple more joints for the alien, and tighter ones for Joe, and this would have been a much better toy.

Value - ***
I'm scoring this on retail. At thirty bucks, you're getting two 12" figures, which is a pretty good deal by any standard.  Of course, they aren't licensed, and the lack of accessories hurts a little, but as value goes, it comes out slightly better than average.

Overall - ***
This is scored in comparison to other sixth scale product, not all other product in general.  You can't compare this to McToys Tortured Souls, or Mezco's Gangstas, because the styles and intent are too far apart.  But stacked up against other kid/collector based sixth scale product, this duo is a lot of fun.

I was very disappointed by the floppy joints though.  That really hurts what could have been a much better set.  I suspect that the adults that remember the 70's, and kid's with a penchant for quirky aliens, will enjoy this set much better than most others.

Where to Buy - 
Regular retailers that carry Joe stuff are likely to carry this set.  If you're lucky, you'll find it on sale like I did (I picked it up for a mere ten bucks!), especially in the coming weeks as stores like Target begin to get ready for the fall.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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