G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary
Beachhead, Buzzer, Lady Jaye, and Serpentor

"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jerry Reed (not that Jerry Reed!) is back tonight with another guest review, this time covering several of the new Joes.  Take it away, Jerry! 

Hey all!
Jerry Reed here (AKA Barbecue17) with a review of four figures from the new G. I. Joe 25th anniversary wave 2! So far, I have managed to pick up Beachhead, Buzzer, Lady Jaye, and Serpentor, and am still looking for a Cobra Enemy, ( the 5 pack Cobra Trooper w/ silver chest emblem and a new gun) so if my review changes your life, and you feel led to send me one, please feel free to do so!
Most folks are probably already familiar with the 25th Anniversary line, as 1 wave has already been released, as well as the two boxed sets containing five figures each (1 for the Joes and 1 for Cobra.) From news gathered at the recent 2007 G.I. Joe Convention in Atlanta, GA, it appears that Hasbro has some exciting plans for this line, including many more figures, exclusive boxed sets of troop builders, vehicles, comic packs, and even mail away exclusives, just like the old days! In fact, wave 3 and a new Cobra 5 pack have already been hitting some areas, so as soon as I find those, Iíll try to review them as well!  

Lots of cool Joe product on the way, so if you want to get in on the ground floor of this new period in Joe figures, now is the time to do it! Believe me, these things are the ultimate nostalgia trip! From their shiny 80ís styled packaging to the retro appearances of the figures themselves, youíll want to jump into your G.I. Joe Under-Roos, watch some Saturday morning cartoons/ toy commercials, and vote for Reagan all over again! Enough chatter though, on to the toys!

Packaging - ***1/2
This just might be the factor that sells these figures more than anything: the packaging is just incredible! Nothing feels quite like walking into a toy aisle and seeing these guys on the shelves in their original styled packaging. The card art is beautiful, and is complimented by the foiled effect that makes these really stand out. Also, the card backs feature file cards and a display of all the single carded figures available in the series. 

Usually I just throw packaging away, but I have opted to keep these packages. In fact, if you are careful you can actually separate the side of the blister from the card and remove the figure without damaging the card. That way, you can freely display the figure inside the blister anytime you want. It is definitely a nice feature that adds to the appeal of this packaging. The pictures I have included of the packaged figures are actually repackaged. Toys rarely last 5 minutes in my house in their packaging, and if my wife is driving and Iím in the passenger seat, they usually donít even make it home! I wasnít super careful while opening these, but the repackaged figures still look pretty good. Spend a few minutes opening these up, and you can probably reinsert them to look near perfect!

Now I do have one problem with this packaging that caused me to cut off Ĺ a star from the score: It tends to get bent in shipping. It never fails that I find a new case of these guys, and a good number of the backer cards are bent on the corners. If you collect these with the intention of keeping them mint on the card, you might have to really look hard to find cards that meet your standards. A bent card has never kept me from picking up a figure I wanted, but it still is a little annoying in principle.

Sculpting - Beachhead *** Ĺ, Buzzer ***, Lady Jaye *** Ĺ, Serpentor ** Ĺ
I definitely think this wave improved on the sculpting of the first Joe pack. These guys all look pretty good for 3 ĺ- 4 inch figures based on cartoon characters. They feature lots of nice details and separately molded pieces that really add up to some nice looking figures.

Beachhead is definitely my favorite out of this wave, thanks in part to his abundance of sculpted details. His belt, leg holsters, and ankles, feature a variety of nasty sculpted on weapons that really help characterize the figure. With a knife in his boot, a nicely scaled working holster on his right thigh, some explosives on his left thigh, and the various pouches on his belt, Beachhead is ready to kick some Cobra tail without even equipping any of his accessories. The only poorly sculpted is Beachheadís grenade, which looks great from the front, but lacks any detail from the side. Throw in the removable vest (which Iíll discuss again in accessories, since it is removable, and you have perhaps the best 25th anniversary figure to date! Something interesting to note, the body for Beachhead will be reused in wave 3 for Firefly. 

The head sculpt is good, as well, especially the eyes. The eyes perfectly represent the crazed and menacing persona that Beachhead is known for. The ski mask looks good from the front, but when looking at it from the side, it looks a little strange. The ribbed material pattern almost appears to be circular, and makes the sides of his head look like thumbprints. To make up for that, take note of the high level of detail on Beachheadís boots! Just a little detail that you should appreciate!

Buzzer is another good sculpt. The head looks exactly like some of the Devilís Due Productions artwork of Buzzer seen in the newer G.I. Joe comics, and that is fine by me. I love his sour expression hidden by the round glasses. The rest of the body, although a little plain, works well and features some good detail. The bandolier and belt is one separately molded piece, but it is not easily removable. It features a nice skull belt buckle and some grenades.

One complaint I have about Buzzer is the way his thighs stick out from his waist. Most men just donít have hips like that. It almost looks like his waist piece is too small, and could stand to be a little larger. It does look like he would have an easier time riding a motorcycle, however, which is a good thing, as many fans will want their Dreadnoks to be posed on their bikes. 

Lady Jaye is my second favorite figure in this wave, and I think Hasbro did a great job on her. I have heard some people complaining about the face sculpt, but I really canít see why unless their complaints are about the fact that she is wearing a hat. You see, Lady Jaye didnít wear the hat in the cartoons, and many fans were hoping that that version would be represented. I admit I probably would have preferred that version as well, but still, what we got looks good. The body sculpt is excellent and very feminine for a 3 ĺ-4 inch figure, and perhaps shows the most skin of any G.I. Joe female before her. Seriously, Lady Jaye, I definitely think Flint knows you exist, so you can stop showing off now! Like the rest of the figures, there are plenty of cool details including a pistol and knife in her boot holsters, and a separately molded, non removable belt with plenty of bullets and a working holster.

Now here comes my least favorite figure of this wave: Serpentor. I love the Serpentor character, especially as he was portrayed by Larry Hama in the original Marvel comic series, but this version just does not cut it for me. Now I donít mind a uniform upgrade here and there: Sure, these figures are supposed to be tributes to the original figures, so most fans want purist interpretations, but Iím cool with a new appearance every now and then. What kills this figure for me, though, is the head sculpt. Serpentor is bald, has weak eyes, and a very questionable look on his face, like perhaps he just ate something that isnít agreeing with him. This is not the fierce Cobra emperor who inspires fear in his enemies and demands loyalty from his followers. This is a guy in a snake costume with zero self confidence. Seriously, he looks more like a Power Rangers villain.

Now most of his uniform is okay, but it is just not really inspired and rather plain. Maybe it is because of the colors. The cloth cape is a nice touch and a throwback to the original, although this one is not removable. Really, it is just the head sculpt that kills this guy for me, which is a shame. 

Paint - Beachhead *** Ĺ, Buzzer ***, Lady Jaye ***, Serpentor ** Ĺ
If you have the option, make sure to check the figures you buy to ensure you get a good paint job. Of the ones I purchased, Lady Jaye is the only one that actually has bad paint applications and errors. If you get a good lady Jaye, bump her score up to *** Ĺ. My lady Jaye has really bad blending on her hair and face. Some of her face has brown paint, some of her hair has flesh colored paint, and some of both parts are unpainted, leaving some green showing through from the plastic underneath. Also, while I think the painted flesh color looks good on her, it tends to have some defects. My Lady Jaye has a weird spot on her face and in the middle of her chest. If I see a Lady Jaye at the store with better paint, Iíll probably be inclined to pick her up.

Buzzer and Beachhead both look good, with lots of nice painted details, such as Beachheadís painted logo on his right arm and the excellent camouflage on his pants. Serpentor is the only figure that I docked the paint score on because I donít like the color scheme. The package art shows Serpentor wearing a mostly green uniform with gold highlights. In actuality, his uniform is a weird tan color with gold and green details. The tan and the gold are too similar and really conflict with each other, preventing the gold from standing out the way it should.

Articulation - Beachhead ** Ĺ, Buzzer ** Ĺ, Lady Jaye ***, Serpentor ** Ĺ 
All right, so by now everyone knows the dirty secret of the 25th anniversary Joes: they cannot sit properly and their elbows donít work all that well. Well, these figures donít remedy that problem too much, but I do think they feel more solid in terms of their articulation than the boxed set figures from the first wave.

Still, most figures have poor elbow articulation, which makes it difficult to hold weapons with two hands. In fact, my Buzzer has a left elbow that will not bend. This seems to be just a defective figure, and not representative of the overall run, but it is still a problem and worth noting.

The only two figures that can really sit usefully are Buzzer and Lady Jaye. Lady Jaye can assume some decent sitting and riding positions, and Buzzer can assume a good motorcycle riding position due to his extra wide hips, which I mentioned earlier.

According to Hasbro, the articulation issues will eventually be fixed, but we wonít see it until early next year. Still, it is nice to know that they will address the problem.

Accessories - Beachhead ****, Buzzer *** Ĺ , Lady Jaye ****, Serpentor *** Ĺ
All of these figures come fully loaded for battle with plenty of great accessories and a display stand with their name on it!. This is definitely one of the areas where this line truly shines!

Beachhead comes with a removable vest that is intricately sculpted and painted, a handgun (the same one that came with Snake-Eyes v1) a submachine gun, a backpack, and a 2 piece crossbow that fits onto the backpack! The crossbow on the backpack was a cool feature of the original Beachhead figure, and it is a great tribute to make it removable now. The crossbow seems to hold together quite nicely, unlike the crossbow that came with Scarlett.

Buzzer comes with a chainsaw which features some great paint applications (At first I thought it covered in blood, but it turns out it just has red saw teeth and a red flame pattern on it!) and a backpack holding a gas can, which is not removable. Both of Buzzerís accessories are excellent, and his chainsaw is perhaps the coolest chainsaw in this scale that I have ever seen! I was a little disappointed that the gas can is not removable, though, because the original one was. I would have also enjoyed the inclusion of the blade on a chain that came with the original Buzzer, but that is just me whining.

Lady Jaye includes her power javelin launcher, a reused .45 handgun, and a backpack that attaches via straps and not a peg. The backpack has some great detail, is easy to attach, and stays put very well. I love it, and hope to see more backpacks like it in the future! 

While Iím not a fan of this Serpentor figure, he does have some good accessories. His cape is not removable, but it is a cool addition to the figure, so Iíll mention it here again. His waist robe and helmet are also removable, and could easily be used by a customizer for another figure. Being much better armed than the original Serpentor figure with his little knife, this Serpentor comes with a sword and a double bladed hand dagger. These pieces are definitely some nasty melee weaponry that perfectly suit the personality of the Cobra emperor. Still, I miss the snake that the original figure came with. A snake javelin would have also been a nice touch, but Iím sure Duke requested that it be left out. (If that one went over your head, make sure to watch G. I. Joe: Movie!)

Fun Factor - ***
I canít really say that I play with these guys, but they sure are fun to pose and display! Will kids enjoy them? That really depends on the kid. If they know the characters, or like having large battles with lots of characters, then these might be for them. If they prefer action features and more recognizable characters, you might want to look elsewhere. 

Adult collectors who remember the original A Real American Hero figures will have plenty of fun with these toys! Seriously, nothing I have experienced this year has equaled the thrill I experienced when I found out I could finally remove Beachheadís crossbow! Nostalgia power!

Value - ***1/2
Honestly, there are not many toys you can buy these days for 5.99 or less, and that is about what these figures will cost you at most retailers. I picked them up at Wal-Mart for 4.99 plus tax, so if you get them for that price, you are getting a steal! Minor complaints aside, they still look great on display. If you like the character, you are definitely getting a cool toy/ display piece for 6 dollars or less. I can get behind that all the way!

Things to Watch Out For -
As I mentioned earlier, if you are a collector who keeps their toys in the package, make sure to check your packages before picking them up. And everyone should check the paint jobs to make sure that you are getting the best you can find.

Once removed from the packages, just try and keep all those little pieces somewhere safe. The pistols are really small, so use your holsters!

Overall - *** Ĺ all except Serpentor- ** Ĺ
Buying one of these guys will totally take you back to your childhood, and that is a feeling definitely worth the 5-6 dollars. This line appears to really be going somewhere, with the mention of never before produced characters and mail away figures, so I really want to get in there and support this next step in the life of the G.I. Joe brand!

Score Recap:
Packaging: ***1/2
Sculpt: Beachhead *** Ĺ, Buzzer ***, Lady Jaye *** Ĺ, Serpentor ** Ĺ
Paint: Beachhead *** Ĺ, Buzzer ***, Lady Jaye ***, Serpentor ** Ĺ
Articulation: Beachhead ** Ĺ, Buzzer ** Ĺ, Lady Jaye ***, Serpentor ** Ĺ 
Accessories: Beachhead ****, Buzzer *** Ĺ , Lady Jaye ****, Serpentor *** Ĺ
Fun Factor: ***
Value: ***1/2
Overall: *** Ĺ all except Serpentor- ** Ĺ

Figure from the collection of Jerry Reed.

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