My favorite part of the GI Joe 50th Anniversary collection is the return of a practical “Joe vs Cobra” theme. From the vehicle packs to the figures, each release in this series pits a good guy and a bad guy against each other in the same box, which is totally appropriate to the source material and has made for some truly fun new releases.
The best of these concepts, in my opinion, has been the “Outnumbered three packs,” a three pack of figures with one side being outnumbered two-to-one. There’s two of these sets out now, available at Toys R Us as well as specialty retailers online, and both sets are winners. The Eagle’s Edge sees Destro facing off against General Hawk and Leatherneck, while The Viper’s Pit features Beachhead as he encounters a Cobra Trooper and a Viper Commander.
Eagle’s Edge will be the most exciting set for long-time Joe collectors, as it delivers two of Hasbro’s previously cancelled “Concept Case” figures to the modern era. Destro is an all new sculpt, and clearly part of the same creative output responsible for the Ultimate Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow and Destro from the Retaliation collection. This new Destro is BIG and dangerous looking, with an awesome angular design to the facial features on his metal mask and beady eyes reminiscent of his cartoon appearance. I can’t imagine a better looking classic Destro than this, and he fits brilliantly towering over his fellow Ultimate figures.
Leatherneck is also new, featuring a new head and vest on top of the cleverly reused The Rock as Roadblock body. The result is a figure loaded with the detail of that intricate sculpt, lots of useful articulation, and a considerable height… this guy is huge! Some collectors have taken issue with Leatherneck’s size, but I like that we have another really tall Joe, and his background as a front line Marine makes his size seem all the more fitting. The GI Joe Club already released a classic colors Leatherneck in one of their Convention sets, but this new Hasbro version is a total improvement in every way possible.
The set is rounded out by a reissue of the Pursuit of Cobra General Hawk. Based on the box art, I’m guessing Hasbro way trying to put together an update of the classic bomber jacket Hawk instead (he’s the only figure who looks different than his card art illustration), but the POC version has a cool real-world military feel and remains a worthy figure.
The Viper’s Pit is also very cool, but in a more subtle way. I didn’t feel a strong need for a new Beachhead… until I opened this figure. He is awesome! The latest update of the Ranger features the Ultimate commando Snake Eyes base body, with very nice new web gear and a reused Cobra Shock Trooper masked head. It’s obviously still Beachhead– the colors, the rifle, the backpack with crossbow are all perfect signifiers– but the small improvements of this new base body go a long way in making this the best looking and most fun version of the character ever released.
Of the two Cobra figures, which one is your favorite will depend on your prerogative. It’s hard to turn down an army builder, especially one as nice as the modern style Cobra soldier, so he’s quite welcome here. The Viper, based on his Pursuit of Cobra update, is also a great sculpt, and I like how different his Officer uniform colors are than the standard troops. The grey and maroon with gold faceplate works well here, the mask a nod to the Viper Pit box set and the uniform colors almost feeling like a nod to the Spy Troops Venom Cycle driver.
Both of these Joe sets are cool, and with a retail cost of $20 each, they’re a total steal as well. I love that even if we’re not seeing a huge amount of Joe toys this year, Hasbro is making sure each release packs a punch. The three-packs, in total, deliver two more highly desired Concept Case figures, a surprisingly great Beachhead update, a cool new troop commander, an army builder and a reissue of one of the best Pursuit of Cobra figures, all for less than $50. It’s hard not to call that a win!