The small but very well done GI Joe 50th Anniversary collection is out now at Toys R Us and select online retailers, and the new basic assortment features a pair of two-packs, following the good guy versus bad guy theme of the series. Also in line with the rest of the series, these sets see Hasbro accomplish two goals– deliver some all-new figures, and reissue hard to find figures of waves past.
In this mix, we have a fire theme set called “Heated Battle” and a sniper pack called “Night Marksmen.” While we technically only get one new figure amidst the four in this wave, most of the rest are welcome additions in their own right.
Heated Battle features the best and worst of the wave. The Cobra is an all-new figure, the HEAT Viper making his modern era debut. This figure features a lot of great new tooling on top of the bulky Airtight body which works well for his flamethrower background. He’s painted in his classic orange, purple and grey uniform, and it’s a testament to the quality of this sculpt that this guy can look so badass in such a goofy, illogical getup.
The HEAT Viper’s Joe opponent is Blowtorch, a straight reissue of the Pursuit of Cobra update of the team’s flame thrower soldier. He remains a decent figure, and I love the inclusion of a rifle and extra oxygen tank as accessories, but ultimately this Blowtorch seems like a total missed opportunity. During the Pursuit of Cobra years, a variant of this figure, in a new more realistic military color scheme, was revealed but never made it to stores. Joe collectors have been waiting patiently for this alternate Blowtorch to find a release, and this two-pack seemed like the perfect opportunity. Sadly, instead we get a straight repack of the figure in his POC colors, with all the same gear.
I guess he’s not an exact reissue, technically… There’s a weird stylistic flair with every toy in the 50th Anniversary collection, a small gold star for the Joes and gold snake for the Cobras. It’s worked into the design and decoration of each character in a way that’s never too obvious, and actually does a good job of unifying this batch of figures.
Our second two-pack features a pair or repacks, but since they were both incredibly hard to find, I’m perfectly okay with it. The Joe sniper is, obviously, Low-Light, based on his stunning Pursuit of Cobra release. He features the same amazing sculpt loaded with cool details and the same mind boggling volume of accessories. A lot of folks missed the opportunity to add this figure to their collection, so I’m very glad Hasbro re-released him here, instead of the millionth Snake Eyes variant.
Low-Light’s nemesis is the Night Viper, originally released at the tail end of the Retaliation movie collection as the lone army builder in the final assortment. This made him very tough to come by, so he also gets a second chance here. Unlike Low-Light, though, the Night Viper gets a new colorway, his green uniform now a nice shade of blood red. While less stealthy, the new colors work well, complimenting both the 50th Anniversary Eel and the red trim on Low-Light’s own uniform. While officially this guy is just another Night Viper, I’m personally taking his alternate colors to signify him as an officer.
Considering I already owned three quarters of these Joe figures, I’m surprised by how much I dig the new two-packs. Part of it was the reminder they served of just how great Hasbro’s GI Joe team is at designing their modern military figures, while the rest was the great price. These two-packs are tagged at $15 a pop, making them the best retail price we have seen for Joe toys in over half a decade.
These two-packs are labelled as Wave One, and two more sets– Baroness versus the Concept Case Lady Jaye and Snow Job versus an arctic deco BAT– were revealed at Toy Fair, presumably to appear as a second wave in this new collection. I hope so, because these new Joes are great toys at a great price, and even considering the limited scope of this exclusive series, if Hasbro can deliver that perfect Lady Jaye figure, there is no way to call 2014 a bad year for GI Joe.