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.
One of the great things about the original Valor vs. Venom era comic packs was that they offered fans the opportunity to own comic-accurate versions of most of the “Original 13”. When the line debuted in 1982 many of the original figures shared bodies and even headsculpts which made some of the early characters less distinctive when compared to the compatriots released in later waves. When the comic packs first hit shelves back in 2004, fans found themselves looking at figures that didn’t all appear to be outright carbon copies of each other; instead characters such as Clutch, Rock n Roll, and Breaker were no longer members of the “clone saga” but now stood out in their own right. It would that Hasbro once again using the comic pack series to release new versions of those debut Joes—including the team’s premiere communications specialist as well as an updated look for the world’s most renowned arms dealer.
As with “GIJoe Hawk”, Hasbro has found away around lost copyrights by including ranks and other nomenclature as part of the code names of familiar characters. In this case, “Breaker” is now “Corporal Breaker”. It’s not a major change and if it allows a figure to be released that would otherwise be tied up in a sea of red tape, I’m all for it. To release Breaker, Hasbro broke away from the pattern of simply reusing the 25A Snake Eyes body outright and instead opted to mix and match some of their newly designed parts. Breaker features the torso and waist of Snake Eyes and the arms and legs of Duke. The pieces have all been molded in an olive drab plastic and are covered over with an olive and black release of Snake Eyes’ web gear. The look is mostly successful in maintaining the uniformity of the “Original 13” while still giving the figure some distinctive aspects. Breaker was typically depicted in the comics with his sleeves rolled up and the Duke sleeves work well enough for this. It is a bit ironic that the team’s communications specialist is the first Joe in the new line to have two pistol holsters; I never pictured Breaker as the “John Woo’ type! This figure also features the new improved waist articulation that seems to have assuaged fan complaints about the limited poseability that seemed to plague this line from day one. Breaker can sit, crouch and bend with the best of the ARAH era figures. It is interesting to note, however, that Hasbro has not yet fixed the “arthritic elbows” that first debuted with the release of Duke. The picture of Breaker on his display base shows that the figure can barely bend his elbows at all. I’m going to have to spend some quality time with a dremel if the figure is to have any useful arm articulation at all. Do you have anything to add on the body construction, Justin?
As time has gone on I have become a bit more frustrated with the mid-arm mobility (or lack thereof) of many of the early Anniversary figures. Thankfully this looks to be getting changed as the line goes forward, but I have to agree, Duke can barely move his arms at the elbow at all, so as a result, Breaker has the same misfortune.
Besides that, I’m a big fan of the body chosen for this figure. The Snake Eyes figure was among one of the best sculpts of the initial run of 10 figures, so if they could choose any figures to use as a base for more characters, Snake Eyes is a great choice. The Commando-style shirt and collar is a great base for pretty much any character you can think of, so I love how it’s getting used in these early figures. With the adjusted articulation in the hips, the figure is all the better.
If I have one complaint it’s that Duke’s arms look a bit over-exaggerated on the Snake Eyes torso, and he almost seems to have some perceived monkey-arms thing going on here. That could just be a matter of perception, and the problem is pretty minor, but it is there.
If I’ve got a complaint about Breaker, it’s the size of his head. Normally this is the part of the review where I’d discuss the character’s head sculpt and how appropriate it is in terms of the character. However, I simply cannot get over one thing and that is the enormity of Alvin Kibbey’s head! When I first saw pictures of the figure I assumed that it was the amount of gear attached to the helmet that made Breaker’s cranium seem a bit larger than most. However, once I had the figure “in hand” I came to realize that his head really is significantly larger than the other heads found in this line. We’ve already seen some variance in head size in this line—with Roadblock on the tiny end and Flint on the larger side. However, Breaker’s cranium dwarfs them all! What is so frustrating about this is the lack of interchangeability in the line this scale issue represents. Instead of Hasbro simply sculpting one “classic” helmet and reusing it for all of the appropriate characters, the design team had to design a separate and unique piece of head gear for Breaker. So, instead of achieving the cost-effective variability of the original line, precious tooling dollars are being wasted on unique accessories that didn’t have to be made! This line has been winning me over more and more and yet it’s seemingly obvious design errors such as this that make me wonder just how much forethought is going into some of these figures. Hasbro takes the time to come up with an innovative approach to Breaker’s signature bubble gum and yet makes a head that is substantially larger than Destro’s! (His head is supposed to be larger—he’s wearing a mask!) It’s times like this that I wonder just how well thought-out this line really is.
I think that’s going a little bit too far. While I’m certainly no fan of the size of Breaker’s head, I don’t think the size of one figure’s head is any indication of the focus of the line as a whole. There have been so many great figures released in the last few months, and with so many more to come, I don’t think one mis-sized noggin is a call to panic. After all, it could have merely been a production error or tooling error that they ended up scrambling to fix by tooling him a larger helmet. After all, they could have just forgone the helmet altogether. Was it a waste of cash in the end? Yeah, I’m sure it was, but there are countless potential reasons for the mistake, I don’t think it’s any indication of the overall attention to detail on the Anniversary line at all.
With that out of the way, yes, this head is far too large. I’m not sure what happened, but it’s pretty damn big. The sculpting of the head itself works fairly well, though there’s nothing that necessarily screams “Breaker”. I love the new headgear and the way the bubble gum bubble attaches to his headset is pretty freaking brilliant. From the right angle, it looks like he’s blowing a bubble, yet we’re not stuck with some bizarre puckered lips, and the bubble isn’t permanently attached to his mouth or anything. It’s a very cool compromise. It doesn’t offset the strangely oversized head sculpt, but it’s a nice step in a positive direction.
There’s honestly not a lot to discuss when it comes to the Destro figure as this is the same Destro figure that we’ve seen released twice before only in different colors. (Three times if you count the Convention Exclusive “Pimp Daddy” version.) Rather than his signature black, Destro’s uniform is instead rendered in shades of blue-gray and purple, with red found on his signature wrist rockets and holster straps. James Cullen’s boots and belt have been given a purple-gray paint application and his gauntlets are rendered in a metallic turquoise. The odd thing is that this color combination isn’t nearly as bad as it might sound; in fact, it actually works quite well together. I’m not certain why but I actually don’t mind this Destro design as much as I thought I might. Make no mistake, there is exactly a snowball’s chance in Hades of this figure becoming my default anniversary Destro any time soon and I foresee precious little in this world that will cause me to change my mind. However, this design comes together far better than it really has any right to and that in itself is impressive. To be honest, most fans are not even going to look at this figure below the neck as this is the first 25A version of Destro available at regular retail to have a vac-metalized mask! No longer restricted to the convention exclusive PDD’s, this “uber-shiny” head is the one that many fans have been asking for from day one. Hasbro wisely held off releasing it on a single-carded figure to instead bolster sales of the comic packs and I feel that this is a move that will definitely produce some dividends for them. I do miss the painted green eyes of the first-released Destro but otherwise this is a very solid figure, even if his colors are bit different that one might expect.
I thought Destro looks pretty neat when I first saw the figure in pictures, but seeing him in hand has only made me love him more. This is a perfect example of how neat the different more “animated” colors can make a figure. The muted off-blue is a great uniform color and the metallic silver-ish color on his gauntlets and other trim is just terrific. It doesn’t take away any of the nice design aesthetic and adds a great “cartoon-ish” look without making him overly bright and obnoxious.
Then we’ve got the chrome-plated head which is the icing on the cake. I’d already swapped out the chrome head from the Silver Leopard Print Destro onto my Anniversary Destro, so I didn’t need to do that, instead I’m keeping this Destro as part of my Sunbow display. He’s a nicely different color scheme that really comes across surprisingly well in three-dimensional form.
This comic is an exercise in frustration for me. On one hand, I have another member of the “Original 13” in my hands as well as a chromed Destro head. On the other hand, I’ve got a Breaker head that is noticeably larger and that required extra tooling to properly accessorize. Many readers might be wondering why I’m so hung up on the extra tooling costs of one small helmet and the answer is relatively simple. Right now I’m willing to bet that the GIJoe line is on a semi-limited budget for producing new molds. As such, something as simple as sculpting an additional helmet might mean that another figure goes without a signature accessory. Stalker might have had a unique machine gun instead of being forced to use a cast-off from the forthcoming Indiana Jones line. It’s an example of production waste that didn’t have to happen if Hasbro simple adopted some standardized proportions for this line from the beginning. However, I’m starting to come off like a ranting fan boy so I’ll pass the keyboard over to Justin to close out this review. I do like this pack—more than I thought I would and far more than I do 25A Comic Pack #24, but I do think it could be a lot better.
I am a bit bummed about the size of Breaker’s head, but I’m not going all “Comic Book Guy” on it like Freddie up there. ;)
I can’t begin to understand all of the different tooling budgets and restrictions Hasbro’s design team is under, and I don’t know what is required as far as sizing goes. Perhaps Hasbro was able to use the existing tooling and just “upscale” it to fit Breaker’s head, requiring no extra tooling dollars, perhaps just more manufacturing costs? I don’t know if that’s possible. If not, well, mistakes happen, and I’m not going to start pointing fingers in that regard without knowing what the causes were. Hearing nightmares about factories in Asia over the past few years has taught me that anything can happen (and often does).
But that aside, I do share some of Fred’s frustration. Breaker’s construction does make him look a bit malproportioned, and he doesn’t move as well as I’d like. I don’t mind that he shares Flash’s backpack so much (since it’s rarely seen, mostly on his back), but the overall figure just doesn’t come across as smooth as some of the others. It’s a minor setback and not a major crisis to me, but it would have been nice to have Breaker a bit more “in tune” with the other Original 13. I still appreciate the fact that I’ve got him in my display, though!