The latest collection of GI Joe Retaliation figures– dubbed “the Legendary Series”– are split virtually down the middle between movie toys and figures from other corners of the Joe universe. And of the seven non-movie action figures in this series, there’s not a single weak link.
This new batch of Joe and Cobra figures sees the release of two long-awaited figures cancelled from the 30th Anniversary series, three “Ultimate” edition core characters and a few surprises thrown in to keep things interesting.
Fans have been waiting patiently for Kwinn, the mercenary tracker from the classic Marvel comics, to make his debut in the modern Joe collection. Originally planned for release under the 30th Anniversary banner, Kwinn was pushed back, but Hasbro’s brand manager Derryl DePriest has been promising to find a way to release this figure since, and he came through in a big way. Kwinn sports a great new portrait and all new shorts which fit his on-page look from the comics. He comes packing a hefty amount of tracking and hunting gear and he looks fantastic– this guy was worth the wait.
Along with Kwinn, the Data Viper was scrapped from the 30th line, but the hi-tech Cobra trooper found a perfect home in this assortment. This villain sports an intricate harness and controllers built into his armor, along with a removable helmet and a drone accessory. It’s a great concept, and he’s a very cool looking new troop builder for the Cobra legions. If I had one complaint about both these guys, it’s that some of their gear rests fairly loosely on them, making it a challenge to keep them intact when posing them. But they look so cool, and pack so much stuff into a basic figure it’s hard to gripe too much.
We’ve seen a lot of Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes figures over the years, but the Ultimate editions of all three included in this series are worth the price tag regardless– they really are among the best renditions we have ever seen of these characters in their classic 80s looks. Based on concept figures from the Hasbro Vault shown at Joe Con, it does not get better than the detail, the articulation and the plentiful accessories we get with this trio. Cobra Commander gets an all new sculpt which improves upon the 25th figure in every way imaginable. That the figure is all new, sports a chrome plated mask and removable helmet, and still manages to pack in a helicopter backpack is uncanny.
Not to be outdone, the former sword brothers Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow really shine here. Snake Eyes is depicted in his second, visored costume, with another all new body that does an amazing job of making him look athletic and incredibly fit, without becoming a super hero. The figure includes all the ninja and commando weapons you could hope for, as well as an all new Timber, with a great articulated head and a snarling face packed with personality. Storm Shadow is a masterpiece of a figure, with an insane amount of detail on every inch of his frame. From the folds of his gi to the texture of his wrist bandages, this figure looks absolutely incredible. Storm Shadow includes an alternate unmasked head, and more ninja weaponry than any other single carded Joe figure.
Rounding out the set, we get another Joe and one more Cobra trooper. On the Cobra side, the new Crimson Guard takes a more modern, militaristic approach to the elite guards. It’s a cool new figure, kitbashed from original CG and Alley Viper parts, mostly, and his all new helmeted head is a nice nod to the Sideshow 12″ version. He fits in perfectly with the realistic styling of the Pursuit of Cobra collection, and there’s plenty of opportunities to customize him with his arsenal of weapons and rank and insignia stickers which affix to his vest and shoulder.
Finally, we have Budo, the Joe team’s resident samurai, who gets a much more traditional look than his vintage figure. While the full-on samurai armor makes this guy appear kind of silly in a modern combat context, he’s a beautiful figure, loaded with gorgeous sculpted detail on his armor, robes and removable helmet. Despite his bulky appearance, Budo maintains most of his articulation, and he looks great posed with either or both of his swords, with or without his ornate demon-faced helm.
The Joe team at Hasbro has proven time and time again that when they want to deliver, they really deliver– the sheer amount of detail in the sculpts, paints, and accessories of these figures is mind boggling, especially considering their basic $10 price tag. Each of these figures is so good, so loaded with cool features and great sculpting and awesome accessories they are honestly worth double that price tag, so the fact that they saw release the way they did is amazing. It’s a shame most retailers have given up on the Retaliation line, limiting the release of this astonishing set of figures. If Hasbro had fired on all cylinders like this, and released toys this fantastic from the start of the line, there wouldn’t be a single retailer hesitating to carry the line anytime soon. But as it stands, this entire amazing set of figures is worth the hassle to chase down– this is the perfect wave of figures, with 12 all-new toys packed on to a case. They’re all awesome, and they all deserve a place in the collection of any Real American Hero fan.