They say “clothes make the man”. While I’ve never agreed with this statement it’s hard to dispute the fact that a solid costume design can make or break an otherwise good character design. How many classic figures have been released with an initial garish color scheme only to gain new appreciation later when released with an all-new deco? However, some designs are just so solid that they withstand the test of time with no charges required. Such is the case of the “Iron Grenadier Leader”—a metal-helmed individual known to GIJoe fans the world over at “Destro”. Debuting in 1988, the Iron Grenadiers were revealed to be the private army of the MARS Corporation. Clad in their signature black and red it seemed only fitting that their commanding officer also receive a similar update and thus, the most stylistically imposing version of Cobra’s chief armors supplier was born.
I have to wonder if the original designers at Hasbro knew that they had literally hit gold with this character design. Based entirely on the “strong” colors of red, black, and gold, Destro makes for quite the imposing figure. The figure’s uniform is almost entirely composed of a black jacket, black pants, and extremely high black boots. The shoulders are adorned with heavy black shoulder pads and the figure’s hands are encased in molded black gloves. In order to provide some contrast, the boots have been given a coat of glossy black paint. The only other color on the body itself is found in the silver rivets that adorn the top of the boots and in the silver medals placed on the left shoulder pad. Destro’s collar is open and a red ascot covers the figure’s neck below the base of the sculpted gold collar that forms the bottom of the Laird’s signature mask. In an interesting deviation from the original figure, Hasbro included a separate gold belt around the figure’s waist that is connected to an ornate gold scabbard that hangs from the figure’s waist. Whereas the original version of the figure had only a hook sculpted onto the left leg to hang his sword, this version is complete with a functional sheath for his rapier. (The hook has been replaced by a working holster for his sidearm.) To complete this “power uniform”, a red piece of fabric is attached by a bracket to the right shoulder pad, anchoring Destro’s half-cape firmly in place. While many fans regard the original 1983 leather jumpsuit as the signature “Destro look” I find that this uniform is much more befitting of a Scottish Laird that commands his own army. It is distinctive and yet oddly classic at the same time. This isn’t a 70’s jumpsuit with a high-back collar and a giant medallion that is reminiscent of the leisure suits worn by Mr. Furley on “Three’s Company”. Instead, this is a uniform that is practical and ceremonial—commanding and powerful. Hasbro has taken a classic design scheme and brought it firmly into the 21 st Century and I can only hope that when Destro makes his appearance on the big screen next year this is the uniform the director has chosen.
If this head sculpt looks familiar that’s because it is the same sculpt that has been used for every single version of Destro produced in this line to date. In fact, it’s identical to the one used for the gold-headed “Pimp Daddy” Convention Exclusive Destro figures that were the object of many collectors’ obsession last summer. The fact that this is the same head only leaves me to wonder just how many unscrupulous EBay sellers are taking the head from this figure, popping in onto the more common “silver headed” PDD figures and then selling them as “loose gold-headed Destro- RARE”, hoping to cash in on the high selling price of the limited convention exclusive. A note to all fans searching for that figure – if the figure doesn’t come with the included gold figure stand, it’s probably not worth the high price. Back on topic, the vac-metalized gold head works extremely well here to help complete the IG look of Destro, even if it is a bit out of proportion. Destro comes equipped with a particularly deadly-looking rapier as well as a gold version of the .38 special included with Snow Job. The sword is a fantastic inclusion and fits perfectly into the figure’s scabbard. The weapon itself fits solidly into the figure’s hands and does not suffer from the same “weak grip” issues as the Storm Shadow mold. Once the sword is placed in the hand it won’t fall out at a glance. My only issue with the pistol is that it seems a bit small for Destro. While I like the inclusion of the extra weapon, I’d expect Destro to carry something similar to the revolver that is included with the Crimson Guardsmen rather than this diminutive piece of hardware. The pistol works well enough for Snow Job but I think that Hasbro could have chosen something a bit more menacing for the leader of the Iron Grenadiers.
If you can’t tell already, this is my favorite figure of this entire wave. The sculpting is solid, the detailing in intricate yet faithful to the original, and the color scheme simply cannot be beat. The head shares the same proportion issues as previous releases but with the reuse of parts this is to be expected. The body tooling entirely new which, given Hasbro propensity for parts reuse, leads me to believe (read: HOPE) that an Iron Grenadier figure is coming at some point down the line. In fact, I could see such a release being unveiled at the annual Collector’s Convention which serves as a “Toy Fair, Part 2” for the Pawtucket toy maker. Regardless, if collectors were to only buy one figure from this wave, this would be the one. This is one of those “must own” updates of a core character that simply cannot be missed.