Ending our look at GI Joe Retaliation Wave One, we’ve got a pair of troop builders that complete the collection, and quite frankly, put the rest of the line to shame. The GI Joe Trooper and the Red Ninja remind us that when Hasbro wants to bring their “A” game, they still can– these figures are sure to be the most popular in the assortment.
Light years ahead of the rest of the Retaliation line, the Red Ninja is the best bad guy troop builder in the assortment. Using the same wonderful base as the 30th Anniversary Storm Shadow, the Red Ninja is insanely poseable and looks quite menacing. His masked face lends him to being a fantastic army builder, and he’s so good I’m half-tempted to build him up as not only my Joe Red Ninja army, but as a replacement for my Hand Ninjas in Marvel Universe.
The Red Ninja includes two swords, as well as a zip line accessory that is completely fun to play with– the zip itself clips onto the figure’s arm, and he can repel back and forth from either end, which include sturdy clips that fasten to most surfaces. I’m a little ashamed by how much time I spent playing with this feature as an adult in his 30’s, but it’s so fun there’s no real way not to.
Also in the first wave is the GI Joe Trooper, the new Joe army builder. To call this figure the highlight of Retaliation Wave one isn’t enough to do him justice– he is already a serious contender for best figure of the year! Packed with great articulation, tons of gear and lots of cool accessories to customize the look of your soldiers, the new Joe Trooper is one of the finest Joes ever made.
We get full modern articulation here, complete with the rocker ankles the kids love so much, and hinged wrists. On top of that he packs two swappable heads, a helmeted look (that’s really flirting with Halo copyright infringement) and an unmasked look sporting a mohawk (!). The Trooper also includes a gas mask which can be worn over the unmasked head, for a total of three unique head styles for one figure. He also packs a removable harsh weather cloak which clips snugly to his collar and drapes nicely over one arm, three rifles, two knives with sheaths on his belt, and the coolest backpack ever conceived.
The pack is decked out with a removable shovel, two clips to house the rifles the trooper isn’t holding, and FOUR handguns with holsters. It’s an insanely cool and badass accessory, that houses a ton of gear (there is even a plug for the gas mask on top), and looks plenty imposing on top of that.
With a great design, tons of articulation and a huge variety of uniform options, the Joe Trooper really is one of the coolest, toughest-looking and overall best Joe figures I’ve ever seen. I’m hoping he’s less “concept” than the rest of this wave, because after seeing how cool this guy and his gear are, I can only dream we get to see him in action on the big screen!
Overall Wave One of Hasbro’s Retaliation series has been a mixed bag. With some hasty decisions such as cutting articulation and up-sizing the weapons, many seem like a clear step down from the last five years of insanely great Joe toys. However Hasbro can then turn around and remind us why they’re the kings of 3 3/4″ with brilliant figures like Snake Eyes, the Red Ninja and the Joe Trooper… it’s proof positive Hasbro still knows how to make a truly kick-ass action figure, and I can only hope that when it comes to future assortments of the toy line, Hasbro will keep pushing the envelope with these killer figures, and lay off on the lazy, dumbed-down filler.