It’s hard to argue that the most charming and silly exclusives Hasbro brought to Comic-Con this year were their Kre-O sets. There was the 1985 Transformers Yearbook, filled with lots of neat mid-80s in jokes, and then there was the GI Joe set, starring Sgt. Slaughter and his Marauders, facing off against a small brick army of Destro’s Iron Grenadiers. It’s a great concept, and delivers an army of all new Kre-O mini figures, along with a build of Sarge’s Triple T tank.
For the past few years, we’ve seen GI Joe Con offer Joe and Cobra sub-teams as their exclusives, and I love that Hasbro borrowed this idea for SDCC. While the necessity of Slaughter himself (or your Voltar’s and Darklon’s) in the Kre-O collection is debatable, having each figure assigned to a specific sub-team intrinsically makes them seem more tangential. Of course, I don’t mean that as a dig, I think it’s great! Not everyone has the opportunity to attend every convention, and I always think it sucks when something integral and important to a long-running collection gets this sort of limited release. The best convention exclusives are cool and clever, but something any reasonable collector can still live without. This Kre-O set nails that description. to a (Triple) T.
On the Joe side of the set, we get Sarge in his team-specific blue tank top. He comes packed with a removable drill sergeant hat, baton and pistol, and he’s a really cool new addition to the Kre-O army. Sarge’s team is well represented, with Spirit, Barbecue, Low Light, Footloose and Mutt and Junkyard. Each trooper features the same blue-brown-green-grey deco as their vintage figure, and each includes a few relevant accessories. Destro’s Iron Grenadiers are a formidable opponent for Slaughter’s team, featuring the man in the metal mask himself (sporting his “Pimp Daddy” deco), along with his general Voltar, Darklon, an Iron Grenadiers Officer and two Grenadier soldiers.
The final piece of this set is the Triple T, which is a very cool build. Sarge’s tank is made up of 200-someodd parts, and is fairly easy to assemble. I might be in the minority on this, but I love that Hasbro placed the stickers on the parts in advance, because they are much more precise than the ones I tend to apply myself. The final tank also features a few movable cannons and working tank treads, which add to the playability of the vehicle itself.
When it comes to Comic-Con, Hasbro goes all out on their packaging design, and the Slaughter set is one of the most inventive and fun they’ve ever done. The three portions of the set– the two teams of six figures, and the tank– are each packed in a slip case that replicates one of the vintage 80s GI Joe VHS tapes. The cover art and “screen shots” on the back are, of course, replicated with Kre-O designs, but the overall effect is instantly recognizable. All three cases fit in an outer cover which again emulates the look of an old VHS box set package. But it doesn’t end there! Beneath the VHS-style spines of these boxes lie more box art, made to replicate the Real American Hero art from Hasbro’s original toy line. The Triple T features a front cover painting of a brick version of the vehicle in front of that iconic orange explosion on a black backdrop. The figure sets, meanwhile, are packed on modified blister cards that harken back to the short-lived GI Joe 3-packs from the late 80s.
While I’m an opener, through and through, I always appreciate smart and cool packaging, and the double layer of meta references in the Sgt Slaughter Kre-O set totally fits the bill. The Kre-O team have a great sense of humor, and they insert that silliness into almost every detail of their toy lines. While the Slaughter sets mostly play it straight, this fun packaging is the perfect venue for the Kre-O team to still get their goof on.
The latest Joe Kre-O set should appeal to both Real American Hero collectors, as well as old school wrestling fans, meaning I tend to think this set will disappear quickly. With Comic-Con over, the options to purchase one of these sets is getting smaller… but you can check out HasbroToyShop.com this Tuesday, when what’s left of the Comic-Con exclusives will go for sale to the public. Good luck!