NOTE: This “tag team” review features text by both Fred “Leonardo T Dragon” and Justin “General Hawk” Bell. Fred’s text appears in standard text while Justin’s will be rendered in bold.
I can still remember when the concept of a “comic pack” was a new idea. I first saw them in the whopping four hours that I spent at the GIJoe Collector’s Convention in Orlando in 2004. I had seen them tantalizingly close in the display case at the convention only to find them on the way home from the airport that evening. The concept was new and fresh— issue-specific figures (in some cases) packaged with a copy of a classic Marvel GIJoe comic book. Each figure featured classic parts and many featured brand-new updated head sculpts that more closely resembled their print media representations. It was a fantastic marketing idea and one that was sure to grab hold of the imaginations (and wallets) of fans everywhere. Now, with the 25 th Anniversary line in stores the comic packs are back—and what was old is new again… sort of.
I’ll be perfectly honest here—I’m going to have a horrible time reviewing this and a few other of the comic packs—only because I feel that I’ve done so several times before. While later waves are going to be showcasing new comic issues and even some new figures, this first set just is a bit harder to get excited about. This first figure—Agent Scarlett—is a prime example. Debuting the GIJoe Battle Pack and then being sold individually in the 25A reissue wave (wave 4), this is a figure that we’ve seen before. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say that this is a figure that we’ve seen “done better”. My biggest hope for figure repaints in the past has been that it offers the opportunity to re-release a figure with either a substantially different or substantially better color scheme. In the case of Scarlett, this pack accomplishes neither requirement. This is the previously-released Scarlett figure with her color scheme “all tooned up”. The red and beige of her original figure have been exaggerated into a bright red and a bright mustard yellow while the light blue of the figure’s legs and arms has been replaced by a lavender shade. The figure’s belt has been molded in the same bright mustard shade as the figure’s torso—with the molded pistol now unpainted. I know that this is supposed to be comic-accurate but it burns my eyes. Aside from the brighter shade of red paint used for the figure’s hair, I’m not a fan. However, I know that my illustrious co-reviewer likes neon on his Joes so maybe Justin will have a more positive take on this figure.
Well, let’s elaborate a little bit here…it’s not that I “like” neon on my figures, I just don’t think the bright colors necessarily take away from a good design. However, even though I love the late 90’s Battle Corps figures and others that go along with that, I’ll never argue that many of them would have been a LOT better with more subdued colors. I just don’t let the neon take away from my love of a figure’s sculpting.
That being said, there is a limit to my color-love…but Scarlett doesn’t quite hit it.
I do love certain aspects of these Comic Pack figures, and part of me enjoys the more “animated” color pallets. Scarlett especially seems eerily reminiscent of how she appeared in the DIC cartoon, and while I have no fond memories of that, I at least appreciate that there was some source material to pull from.
This version of Scarlett works well in a display with a few other figures to get a decent representation of an “animated” version of the character, which is cool in it’s own right. She will not, by any means, become my default version of the character, but part of me likes the more colorful version holding Snow Job’s laser rifle and standing in position with other cartoon-influenced figures. She works for me in that regard, but not as any permanent member of my core Joe figure collection.
Okay, let’s just be honest here for a moment—there is no one out there who is actually going to refer to this figure as “GIJoe Hawk”. The name change most likely occurred because Lanard apparently holds the copyright to the name “Hawk” these days and is using it in their “Corps” line of figures. Hasbro made a savvy move and used a different name to refer to the character of Clayton Abernathy. Personally, I’m glad that the gang in Pawtucket chose this route as the result is that I have another of the famed “Original 13” in my hands. Hawk, much like his original 1982 version, does not have a body that is unique to him. Instead, he shares the same mold and uniform as the team’s Commando and Ranger—and I’m perfectly okay with this. As I’ve covered in three other reviews of figures that use this body (Snake Eyes v1, Snake Eyes v2, Stalker), this is a very basic and practical design that works well for Colonel Hawk. (I’ll always refer to this figure by his original rank. I’ve no doubt that we’ll eventually see a “General Hawk” figure in the line some day.) By sharing a body with two of his teammates, Hawk maintains a uniformity that I would expect from the early days of a unit like GIJoe. The body is molded in olive drab plastic with silver highlights on the arm bands, sheath, and the straps on the left leg. The only other paint application to be found is in the use of black paint on the boots. While I would have preferred that Hawk’s gloves NOT be molded in olive drab like the rest of the body, I can live with the overall look of the figure that really does emulate the original 1982 Hawk figure pretty well. What’s your take on this, Justin?
Well, part of the beauty of the Original 13 was their uniformity. Back in 1982, toy buyers (especially those of us who were 8 years old at the time) consumers had no clue about “budgets”, “tooling dollars” or any of those manufacturing terms that relegated a lot of what we got on retail shelves even twenty-five years ago. Because of budget restrictions, Hasbro used a lot of common parts for those first 13 figures, but the end result was a mostly uniform, consistent squad of Special Forces troopers, so re-using the parts for updates twenty-five years later makes perfect sense.
From a character perspective, I would much rather have a version of Hawk in his familiar bomber jacket and camouflaged pants, but the Original 13 has a very prominent place in G.I. Joe lore, so I’m happy to see him getting his due as well. The Original 13 display just wouldn’t be complete without him.
Hawk’s head sculpt is a bit of a puzzler for me—in the fact that the head is molded in flesh tone plastic! So many of the other figures in this line that have a Caucasian flesh tone have painted skin (Duke, Scarlett, Shipwreck, Lady Jaye, Flint) and yet Hawk joins the few who only have painted hair. As such, his skin is a bit “shinier” than many of the other figures in this line. The expression on the face of the figure is decidedly stern—with a heavy-set brow and a clenched jaw. The cheekbones are a bit more prominent than I would have expected for the design of Clayton Abernathy but it’s not anything that I find too distracting. The size of the head seems proportionate to the rest of the body—although it is a bit smaller than the heads used for both Flint and Breaker. Overall—I couldn’t be more pleased with this figure which is surprising as I’ve never really been much of a fan of the original Hawk figure. Of course, I know that my cohort isn’t exactly unbiased when it comes to this character.
Yeah, as I said, I would have preferred the more iconic version with his bomber jacket and the whole nine yards, but I think this version has it’s place, too, and even with a minor change like a new head sculpt, the figure succeeds in really becoming a new character. I do like the head sculpt quite a bit, and while I don’t think I can dig into the details of the cheekbones and clenched jaw like my partner here, the head bears a nice resemblance to the colonel, anyway. ;)
I also really like what Hasbro did with the color scheme of the figure in general. The base gray/green uniform color is a dead set match for the vintage version, and I’m actually happy to see that Hasbro went with black webgear instead of the silver that the original did, just because it comes across more realistic. Hasbro did put some nice silver trim in other parts of the figure to make up for it, and the end result is pretty pleasing.
There is one down side about this comic pack that needs to be address and that is the return to the “banded weapons” on the card. I know that someone at Hasbro decided that more dynamic poses on card make the figures look more inviting to consumers. I can even agree with this logic as the comic packs make for great display pieces on card. It’s the use of those annoying clear rubber bands to secure the weapons down that I take issue with. While they may maintain an accessory’s position on the card they also help to warp the figure’s hands so that those weapons will be all but unmanageable once removed from the card. Colonel Hawk is a perfect example of this—the commander of the GIJoe team has a devil of a time holding his pistol in either hand. I’m going to have to try the old “heat and reshape” method to fix the good Colonel’s hands but the point is that I really shouldn’t have to. Anything to add on my packaging pet peeve Justin?
I couldn’t agree more. At least with the vintage style figures, the only plastic that got severely affected by the pre-posed packaging were the arms/hands (which is bad enough). With these Anniversary figures, the entire figure is made from the softer ABS plastic, so the figures who are twisted into these positions end up getting warped LIMBS, which is no good. The Hawk pack didn’t end up being so bad, but my Snake Eyes from Comic Pack #21 is totally bow-legged because of how he’s posed in the package. And of course, the hands end up getting stretched out and deformed as well.
I can understand the desire to have the packaging as appealing as possible for folks seeing them on pegs, but I just cringe every time I open these, just praying that nothing is warped or bent beyond repair inside. It’s pretty bad. I mean the presentation is risking the quality and construction of the product itself. Doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me.
All-in-all I find this particular comic pack to be a mixed bag. While I love the release of the “GIJoe Hawk” figure I’m extremely luke-warm on Scarlett. Yes, she’s the same figure we’ve seen before but I see her as a superfluous repaint. However, I’m also relatively certain based upon comments made at the Hasbro panel at the convention that this debut wave was released as a rapid-fire way to get retail space set aside for comic packs as opposed to any real indication of the type of releases we’ll be seeing in the future. Recent press images have indicated that, if anything, this wave is destined to be regarded as the least impressive of the comic pack waves and so I’m willing to wait for what is to come. In the mean time, I’ve got a killer Colonel Hawk to add to my ever-growing “Original 13” and a decent paint job on the Scarlett head. The rest of the body might be a bit more exaggerated in color than I’d like but it’s nowhere nearly as bad as either of the figures in comic pack #24. So, I’ll just pass the pen over to Justin for his final thoughts on this premiere comic pack in the 25th Anniversary line.
I have no doubt in my mind that this first trio of Comic Packs was rushed to production. I have a feeling the success of the Anniversary line took a lot of people by surprise, so they had to kind of gather things together pretty quickly to get product on the shelves. The result is repaints and re-releases, often in super-bright “animated” colors, which, for obvious reasons, have mixed success. Thankfully Hasbro is dealing with the color issues intelligently, by only putting the primary colors on re-released characters, and leaving the new released characters relatively intact.
Scarlett ends up being more appealing than I thought she might…her colors aren’t quite so obviously offensive. Still, the figure (being an initial release figure) immediately reveals how superior later release figures are and really makes the limitations of those initial releases more obvious. Her articulation restrictions, forced hunchback, and fall-apart crossbow just sort of exemplify a few of the “work in progress” issues we faced at the beginning. Thankfully Hasbro is making huge strides getting these problems worked out for future releases.
Thankfully, for this pack, anyway, Hawk ends up saving this two-pack. Great character, nice new head sculpt, good tooling choices…at least half of the pack is a high quality, great pack, and it ends up making this one worthwhile. It’s funny, I see the most complaints centering around Scarlett’s colors…they don’t bother me nearly as much as her structural limitations that are now more obvious with better figures released lately. Still, even with those limitations, she looks pretty nice standing in my “Sunbow” setup.