Now that the movie is back on track, the new wave of GI Joe Retaliation toys has finally hit retail. Just like the movie, the follow-up set of action figures was clearly a work in progress, and it shows, with an uneven, but by no means terrible assortment of figures.
When Hasbro first revealed their GI Joe Retaliation line at Toy Fair 2012, many of the figures fell victim to the cuts in articulation and overall quality seen across virtually all of Hasbro’s toy lines. To their credit, the Joe team was very quick to course-correct after receiving feedback from the Joe collecting community, but the first few waves of movie toys were too far along to fix. As such, much like the first wave that hit last May, this new set of Joe and Cobra figures is all over the place– some are amazing, with the same caliber of detail and quality seen in the best GI Joe toys, and others definitely fall short.
The latter category in this wave is made up of the disappointing Flint and Firefly figures. Flint shares many parts with the Wave One Duke figure, a completely kitbashed body with a new head sporting a nice portrait of actor D.J. Cotrona and a removable beret. But these details along aren’t enough to give this guy a pass. Similarly, Firefly gets his first movie figure, with excellent alternate masked and unmasked heads, and a gorgeous tampo design on the back of his jacket. While he only packs two pistols, the Cobra saboteur includes a very large street sled which he can pilot, the largest accessory I’ve ever seen packed with a basic Joe figure. The sled also lights up, and the lights carry through into Firefly’s translucent wrists, which is a neat– if unnecessary– gimmick. The downside of this massive accessory, however, is the villain’s lackluster articulation, with single knees, no elbows and no wrist movement.
The other three new figures, however, fare much better. The new Sneak Attack Storm Shadow is very cool, with some great webgear, a removable hood and tons of ninja accessories, plus a fun backpack with a pop-out ascension winch. The figure blends the Cobra ninja’s movie look with a vintage “Version Two” style, with a dark grey camo pattern on his white outfit. Ninja Duel Snake Eyes is an even better counter to the white ninja– this new take on the ninja commando features his definitive Retaliation movie look, and the all-new figure is packed to the gills with awesome detailing etched into his armor, a beautiful paint job with varying levels of gloss and matte finish to texturize it, and lots of cool accessories. I’m aware this is the umpteenth Snake Eyes in the Joe collection, but this figure is so good, he’s still a must-buy for any Joe fan.
Rounding out the wave is my favorite, Battle Kata Roadblock. The first figure to employ the supposedly in-movie “Battle Kata” practice, this new Roadblock sports two modular gun handle accessories, onto which a whole variety of other weapons can plug in. From guns to knives to a sword, each modular piece of artillery stored on the Joe’s vest can be removed and popped onto his handles. It’s a neat function and lots of fun to play around with… and the fact that it comes with an all-new sculpt with a vastly improved portrait of The Rock, a movie-accurate costume and ample articulation is even better. This Roadblock looks great and plays great, and he is all-around one of the best toys in the overall modern GI Joe series.
I’m very grateful that Hasbro’s Joe team really listens to their fans, and set about course-correcting their earlier mistakes. While some of these figures weren’t fixed in time, they will be getting vastly improved upgrades later this year, and for the best figures in this assortment… there’s really no room for improvement– Snake Eyes and Roadblock are the first two excellent Retaliation movie figures, and I can’t wait to get more movie characters realized this perfectly.