Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Mission Accepted Two Pack
PsyOps Command - Code name: Tombstone
Destro. The Baroness. Tomax & Xamot. Major Bludd. Zartan. Dr. Mindbender. These names, all part of the Cobra upper echelons to one extent, have been with the G.I. Joe brand for a long time. In fact, when it comes to the toy line, it’s a VERY long time since the high command of the “ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world” has seen any new blood. Sure, there have been characters like Crimson Asp, Cobra Mortal, and Steel Cobra but these are all Club convention exclusive figures and two of these three are merely international releases that have been incorporated into the American line. With the exception of Cesspool, there really hasn’t been an addition to the upper ranks of Cobra in decades… until now. In 2016, a new tactician has entered the ranks of Cobra and his name is Tombstone. Is he a worthy addition? Read on, Joe fan, and find out what two intrepid reviewers think of this new one-eyed menace!
Tombstone is a new come-out-of-nowhere leader character; who like Major Bludd; has a bum eye. But unlike Bludd, TS don’t need no stinkin’ eyepatch! Tombstone is also supposed to be the evil version of Duke, so that would mean he’s both highly skilled, and competent.
Tombstone is composed of:
He uses mostly the Firefly body, with the exception of Snake Eyes lower arms. This works very well: First off, the uniform has some great detailing even if it wasn’t all painted, so it’s a perfect base. Second, the body isn’t designed to be tall and buff, so that thankfully makes Tombstone “normal” sized. I was beginning to think Hasbro only did clichéd and stereotyped “big dudes” for their more recent Black characters, as that’s something they have seemingly been careless about perpetuating---Roadblock, Heavy Duty, Night Adder, Shadow Tracker, to name a few. My only complaint about the build is the J-grip hands with the thumbs pointing down. Whatever imbecile started this trend failed to realize when a figure doesn’t have a complete, functioning hand; it CAN’T hold a weapon. Grrr.
I know, Chris. It’s okay. Somehow, we’ll get through this.
Fred, we’ll get through this when Hasbro has some better quality control as to what comes out of Chicom factories, instead of simply clicking yes or no on an emailed image without actually physically handling the figure. Or, if this is a fault from Stateside, hiring better designers who have a proper grasp of human anatomy, because no one holds something in their hands with their thumbs pointed down. Duh!
At least his colors are better than his lame hands. Tombstone’s deco is typical Cobra colors---black and blue, but the hues are nicely offset with some white detailing on his pauldrons, and his silver Cobra sigil. The result is a simple palette, but also a pleasing and elegant one. If I had to pick a token deco gripe, I would have preferred the grenades to be painted a different color so they stood out a bit more. But that’s something I can easily do at home.
Freddy, how does he move?
Apparently, I’m the articulation guy now. Who knew?
You are because you’re more anal retentive about articulation than I am; plus you’re a bit more tolerant. If a figure disappoints me, it gets either sold, or tossed in the storage bin never to be looked at again. You’re more willing to display or set up a fig despite flaws. And that’s a compliment!
In terms of his range of motion, Tombstone has all the joints and articulation that modern Joe fans have come to expect. In addition to the usual suspects, he’s also one of the figures to have been blessed with hinged wrists, which make holding and posing with his included weapons a lot easier.
Something that I noticed on my figure is that the plastic used for his knee joints seems quite soft. This has the downside cause those joints to bow outward—at least on my figure. As a result, Tombstone is a bit knock-kneed which does diminish the figure’s “menace factor” a bit. It’s more of a problem on my figure’s right leg than it is on the left but it just leaves him looking a bit odd when standing upright.
Remember the 50th 3-packs? Most of them had really rubbery legs, with Destro being the prime offender. This was actually something we brought up to Hasbro at the Springfield JoeCon---and they had said they were aware of the problem and would try to fix it for future figures, but the reason for it was cost cutting to a less expensive plastic.
Moving on, Tombstone has a very impressive newly sculpted head; complete with a damaged right eye that is scarred shut. Ironically, he is the second figure in the 2016 wave (along with Stiletto) that has facial scarring across the eye. Not sure if this was coincidence, or if someone at Hasbro has an odd fetish. Either way, it adds a cool “tough guy” personality to him without being over burdensome or obnoxious.
I must admit—Cobra appears to be saving on vision insurance as two of their recent recruits are both missing one functioning eye. (Sorry kids, Stiletto is a Cobra character. I don’t care what the file card and stand say.) Along with Stiletto, we also have Major Bludd, Crimson Asp, and Zanzibar all suffering from some loss of vision. Call me crazy but it does seem a bit much.
The new head sculpt is quite nice. I love the fact that he’s got a calm almost smug expression. This conveys a feeling of superiority and control which only adds to the character’s mystique. As was the case with Stiletto, I wish that Hasbro had painted a scar or something over the damaged eye to further enhance the detail. Otherwise, it almost appears to be a missing paint application at first glance. Of course, they could have gone with an eye patch but where have I see a bald African-American man with an eye patch in a dark colored uniform before? Hmm…
Tombstone comes with the following accessories:
Tombstone’s weapons are an eclectic assortment of pop culture homages. While the Baur H-AR is an exact copy, the Appleseed “Seburo’s” ammo can is mounted opposite from the film, for whatever reason. (Fans will also note the Dingo light machine gun from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 carries a very similar look to the G.I. Joe version--- and the same game also featured a Manticore mech that looks strikingly similar to the ‘Joe Iron Hammer/Steel Marauder. Homages abound!)
His only real-world weapon is the G36. A recycled PoC Firefly tacvest rounds out his gear. Fred, I have no idea what that other “gun” is. Do you have a clue?
While it was originally included with the Pursuit of Cobra “Snake Skull” Cobra Commander figure, I’ve never really understood what the tri-blaster was supposed to be. With its apparent two-handed firing grip the weapon would be much more impressive if it were larger. Instead, it’s tiny size really does make it appear to be some sort of Dustbuster—a fact that may or may not be called out in a sight gag later in this review.
One thing that irks me, is, if you want the background of Tombstone, you’ll need to read the monthly G.I. Joe Club magazine. (Oh, and be a member.) Designer Mark Weber gives the character’s backstory. Normally that’s what file cards are for, so we can see how unfortunately dumbed-down those have become over the years. (Ironically file cards and card art is what sold a lot of us to the figures in the first place---a seemingly lost marketing avenue nowadays…)
Even that article is more about the design of Tombstone rather than revealing his backstory. I agree—I miss the days of real meaty file cards rather than the truncated synopsis that we get anymore. Even worse, the included file card wastes valuable text space mentioning Duke and their apparent rivalry. C’mon—save that text for the card back and give us more character details!!!
Overall Tombstone is a solid entry into the Cobra ranks, and he fulfills my two core criterions for “must own” figures---he has a newly tooled head, and he’s a new character. In that regard he’s an exciting new entry into the ‘Joe mythos and highly recommended. But Fred, I’ll be frank with ‘ya: While I can appreciate Tombstone’s ethnic diversity, I would really have liked to have seen a new Asian Cobra character in one of these slots who wasn’t a ninja, martial artist, or bladed weapon expert. (So yes, that rules out Stiletto.) Because those types of Oriental characters are almost non-existent on the ‘Joe or Cobra side; with Torpedo and Tunnel Rat being the few exceptions. Plus, out of the last four new named Cobra individuals Hasbro has released, three were Black (aforementioned Night Adder, Shadow Tracker, Tombstone), and one was White (Storm Rider). While this isn’t meant to diminish Tombstone’s ethnicity---something I certainly approve of, I do hope this opens up the doors for some new Asian or AmerInd Cobra characters that also get to go against the established Hasbro formula grains..
Is Colonel Fury… uh… Tombstone a worthy addition to a modern G.I. Joe Collection? The fact that he’s a new character with a new head sculpt makes any additional argument for his purchase almost moot. We live in a time of nostalgia-infused breadcrumbs when it comes to G.I. Joe so something as rare as a new addition to the line is automatically worthy of purchase. However, Tombstone is a solid figure in his own right. The parts build is good, he comes with a plethora of weapons, and he has a head sculpt that conveys a story—even if the file card doesn’t. Who is this new field commander? Where did he come from and how did he lose his eye? Even more interesting—why is a PsyOps tactician in the field?
To counter Psyche-Out?
There’s a story there and one I’d like to see explored. (I actually have an idea for a Kindle Worlds pieces but it remains to be seen if I ever let it see publication.) Regardless, I like Tombstone more than I initially thought I would and find that he is one of my favorite releases in this year’s line-up. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: Tombstone is a well-constructed and well-equipped figure that adds some much-needed new blood to the G.I. Joe line. Easily a recommended purchase.
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