It’s a shame that 2014 has been such an off year for GI Joe, especially since this marks the 50th Anniversary of the brand. But while stupid retail buyers at big box stores– still in a huff over the year-long delay of GI Joe Retaliation which left them with toys on the shelf and no media support in 2012– opted out of Joe products for this year, Toys R Us and specialty retailers were more than happy to carry the flag with a new 50th Anniversary collection, which made its debut at Comic Con with the Danger at the Docks box set.
The concept here is fantastic– rather than release just a vehicle (or even vehicle with a driver) the 50th Joe sets take a page from the popular Kre-O collection and provide “a battle in a box,” pitting a Joe vehicle and figure against a Cobra. This set in particular includes Flint in his classic colors, a VAMP Jeep in a new brown deco, a modernized Cobra eel and the Night Landing Raft, which includes an enormous footlocker filled with weaponry.
Considering the $30 price tag, that’s a lot of stuff for one set! And Joe die-hards might recognize a lot of these pieces– The Eel and raft set was originally intended for the Retaliation movie line, but never saw release until now. And this Flint made his debut in the infamous “Concept Case” that Hasbro featured at GI Joe Con a few years ago.
We’ve seen some of those sculpts carry over to the Retaliation line in the form of the Ultimate Cobra Commander, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, and now what we get here effectively serves as an “Ultimate” Flint. His colors are great, the new head looks awesome and the design is strong. I was pleasantly surprised to see a new sculpt for Flint’s web gear, and the hinged wrists go a long way in getting some great poses with the iconic shotgun. As much as I like him, I can’t get past the sleeves, which are rolled quarter length instead of short sleeved. When the rest of the figure is so painstakingly devoted to capturing Flint’s vintage look, I can’t understand why he wasn’t given his classic style shirt?
The Eel, I was much less excited by at first, especially since his 25th Anniversary figure remains one of the best in that collection. But I was taken aback by how much the small tweaks in this figure’s design make him infinitely better. The new Eel is a mash up of 25th Eel parts and Retaliation Snake Eyes, which adds a great realism to the figure. The classic oxygen tank and helmet also pair very nicely with the SEAL style modern flippers this figure includes, and I even like the new, simplified black and red coloring on his uniform.
The Night Landing Raft is just as cool as its driver. This boat is based on the Real American Hero era vehicle, now cast in black instead of navy blue. It still features the motor with removable hatch and two mounted oars on the side, and can easily seat the Eel and a few more modern Joe figures. The foot locker itself is fairly plain, all black with a simple removable top, but inside is a trove of weaponry which is actually quite impressive. Hasbro could have cheaped out and given us an empty box, but they went the extra mile and loaded it with more gear to play with.
I think the VAMP is the loser of the set, if only by default. It remains a nice vehicle, and the brown colorway works well for the traditional military style jeep, but we’ve seen this mold used SO many times now, it honestly feels a bit boring. Even disregarding the VAMP, $30 feels like a fair price for the raft and the two new figures, so I’d still call the set a win, even without this added vehicle.
This version of the Danger at the Docks set was exclusive to the Entertainment Earth booth at Comic Con, but a different colorway is available at Toys R Us stores now. The retail edition features an Eel in his RAH black, grey and red colors, and a Flint with blue camo pants. Why Hasbro opted to make the classic Flint– easily the most desirable of these four figures– the SDCC version is a mystery. It’s like a repeat of the Marvel Universe Sentinel, which saw the classic colors at the Con and a variant blue and silver figure at retail.
Of the two variants, I prefer the Comic Con set, but even the retail version of Danger at the Docks is a great toy at a great price. It delivers one of the most in-demand Joe updates of the past few years, alongside a very smart update to the Cobra diver, and two nice new vehicles to round out each army’s fleet. GI Joe’s 50th Anniversary party may be short… but I’m very glad Hasbro made sure it was also as sweet as possible.