2013 marked the launch of Hasbro’s GI Joe Kre-O series, and while the line is technically a Toys R Us exclusive, the GI Joe Club was able to release a cool convention-only set based on their “Nocturnal Fire” theme, to match their other exclusive souvenirs.
Packed in an oversized blind bag (spoiler– it’s actually the same six figures in each bag), this new set delivers three Night Force colored Joe Kreons, along with the villainous Cobra Mortal and two SAW Vipers. Overall, it’s a cool set, and we get five never before released characters to add to the Kre-O universe, which is awesome.
There’s a lot to love here, especially the heavy reliance on extra parts, so for that I totally give the Joe Club designers credit– details like Charbroil and the SAW Vipers’ armor could have easily been paint apps, but instead we get a separate vest piece which adds variety and depth to their appearances. Including multiple parts such as two helmets for Spearhead (one standard and one with flip-down night vision goggles) is another welcome attention to detail that make these some fun mini-figures.
It’s interesting that this set seems to use Transformers Kreon bucks instead of Joes– the blocky shoulders work for the armored characters like the SAW Vipers, but seem a little off for figures like Repeater or Mortal. It’s a small critique, especially when the final products are as fun as these guys.
There are, however, a few bigger concerns that keep these guys from being 100% win. The biggest is the lack of stands– each blind bagged Kreon typically gets a stand brick, which helps them from getting too top-heavy. With most of this lineup sporting some fairly heavy duty artillery, balance is not their strong suit, and stand bricks would have gone a long way in correcting this.
The other drawback is an issue that specifically plagues the SAW Viper, my favorite of the set. While his helmet fits nicely on the head and looks great, it doesn’t run flush with the eyes underneath, leaving them partially exposed underneath the visor. It’s not quite a dealbreaker as long as you look at him from the right angle, but the fraction of an inch too low the eyes are painted on the head is nonetheless a disappointing oversight.
The exclusivity of these figures doesn’t feel like a big issue– sticking to the Night Force theme for so many of this year’s souvenirs was a smart move on the Club’s part, as it kind of makes all these figures non-essential to all but the most die-hard of collectors. Folks might be off-put, had classic Kre-O takes on Charbroil, Spearhead and Repeater become Con exclusives, never to see the light of retail… but their Night Force deco’s make them much more ancillary. The only arguably essential core character in this set is the SAW Viper, really, and with two of him in each Con set, he’s proving to be fairly easy to chase down online.
Overall, the Joe Con Kre-O set does a great job of capturing the same fun, silly quality as the main Toys R Us line. With a cool but ultimately non-essential character selection, this set may not be a “must-buy,” but I’m certainly glad I did. It’s great to see the Joe Club really embrace this new corner of Hasbro’s GI Joe universe, and they turned out a very nice debut set.