Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Marine Devastation Gung-Ho
Everyone has a favorite Joe and for me it has always been Gung-Ho. While not the fastest, or the smartest, or even the “coolest” as far as the fandom is concerned, the never-give-up can-do attitude of the tough Marine from Fer-de-Lance Louisiana immediately made an impression on my young mind back in 1983. He was a central character in both the Sunbow series and the early Marvel Comics series by Larry Hama and those early appearances only bolstered my appreciation for the 80’s inspired action hero. Here was a Marine that was so proud of his affiliation that he charged into battle shirtless with a giant Marine Corps crest emblazoned across his chest. Apparently someone at Hasbro shared my appreciation for Gung-Ho as he was one of the first five Joes to be released in what is now dubbed the Generation 3 era of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero back in 2007. Yet, that initial figure was far from perfect and, aside from several repaints, it remained essentially the only version of the character available to fans of this current era of G.I. Joe. In 2013, in a last minute Concept Case reveal, the designers at Hasbro unveiled a brand-new Gung-Ho that corrected the flaws found in the 25th Anniversary version and had the potential to become the definitive version of the character. Now, after a long two-year wait, that figure is finally here with a retail release at Toys R Us. Was it worth the wait? Read on and find out one Gung-Ho fan’s opinion!
From head-to-toe, Gung-Ho appears to be composed of entirely new parts. I’m no customizer but this body, unlike that of his fellow Marine Leatherneck, is 100% original to the character. The new torso is the bulkiest bare chest yet released in the line and the new arms feature a powerful musculature that no other Gen 3 Joe possesses. The figure’s new legs give him enough height to fit in with his peers and yet still put him taller than average and the feet possess both rocker and hinged ankles. Even the plastic used to produce the figure feels sturdier—a much harder grade than what was used for the 50th’s first year Destro. Even the character’s flesh tone is more plausible this time around! Gung-Ho no longer appears to be the exsanguinated victim of a vampire bite with his grayish pallor.
The colors for this figure are a direct homage to the original 1983 figure. In fact, at Joe Con 2015 it was mentioned during the Hasbro panel that this release was an exact color match to the character’s debut back in 1983. While some fans have complained about the bright turquoise hue I find that I don’t mind it simply because it’s not without three decades of precedent. (One can only hope that given Hasbro’s penchant for repaints Gung-Ho will be another release in future—either in olive drab or even in never-before-done desert colors for this design!) The other paint apps are crisp and clean which is a VAST improvement over last year’s figures. (Poor Leatherneck… the factory did quite a hatchet job on him in terms of paint.) The only detail that seems a bit odd to be is the fact that the Marine Corps anchor tattoo is a bit higher up the torso than I recall seeing. This is a consequence of the mid-torso joint falling where it does; Hasbro elected not to break the logo across two separate pieces and so had to creep it up a bit. It’s hardly a deal-breaker but just worth noting.
FINALLY we have a decent head sculpt for Gung-Ho! Seriously—this isn’t a background character who was seldom seen in both the comics and the cartoons. This is Etienne R. LaFitte and he’s deserved a better head sculpt since 2007! This particular sculpt looks as those it was lifted directly from the original card art—right down to the strong jawline and the handlebar moustache! The figure’s hat is part of the head sculpt and is non-removable which is fine by me as it is keeping with the precedent of the original. Plus, it’s sculpted on STRAIGHT this time—unlike the 25th Anniversary version. (This continually bothered the OCD collector in me.) It’s a solid head sculpt that is both worthy of the character and unlikely to be repurposed for either Cutter or Leatherneck ever again!
When it comes to his kit, Gung-Ho is packing enough firepower to make Expendables team member Hale Caesar green with envy. (Sorry Terry Crews… it’s true.) Included with the figure are:
When I look at this kit I find that it really only lacks one thing: subtlety. Discounting the sidearm and knife, the “smallest” weapon in the kit is a grenade launcher which says to me that Gung-Ho isn’t one for taking the stealthy approach. His kit is more suited to the opening of Expendables 2 and I’m just fine with that. While I like the inclusion of the mini-gun I’ve found that the plastic of the figure’s hands are a bit too stiff to make using it an easy task. It’ll take a bit of work to get the dorsal grip in the hand easily and a bit more work to set the figure into a natural pose with it. However, that’s the only issue with the entire kit and it’s a pretty minor one. Personally, I’d have been happy to skip the mini-gun and instead include the same SAW as was packaged with the FSS 3 Repeater as an homage to the character’s appearance in G.I. Joe Resolute. Overall, the included kit is just what I’d expect for a character like Gung-Ho—big, loud, and capable of dealing a lot of damage.
At the end of the day, is this figure worth purchasing? This is amusing as I honestly cannot answer this objectively. Gung-Ho is a FANTASTIC update to a classic character that has long been side-lined in the modern line in favor of more recent additions. This figure not only takes him back to his ’83 roots but fixes EVERY issue that I had with the 2007 2 th Anniversary figure. The design is spot-on to his card art and media appearances, the construction is solid, the paint is crisp and, darn it—posing this figure takes me back to 1983 when, at the age of 10, I discovered my favorite G.I. Joe character. For a time while shooting this review I didn’t feel like a middle-aged website admin. Instead, it was as if I was once again a young Joe fan crawling around on the floor with Gung-Ho and Roadblock in tow, acting out action sequences that would have an Expendables director scrambling for pen and paper to take notes. This is the Gung-Ho that I’d hoped for back in 2007 and that I’ve been waiting for since 2013. Sadly, he’s only packed one-per-case with a popular troop builder so my advice is to grab him when you see him and know that you won’t be disappointed. Thank you, Hasbro! Thank you for treating my favorite Joe with the respect that he deserves!
The Bottom Line: This may become THE definitive version of the G.I. Joe team’s premiere Marine! 100% recommended! (And you can send any unwanted extras my way!)
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