Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Social Clash Baroness
There are few characters that are as quintessentially Cobra as the Baroness. She made her print debut in the first issue of Larry Hama’s epic run on Marvel Comics’ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and her animation debut in the first episode of the Sunbow MASS Device mini-series. She’s the ultimate Cobra femme fatale, a member of the organizations’ inner circle, and one of its most feared field commanders. Yet, in the entire ARAH line, the Baroness only received a single figure release in 1984. When it came time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the G.I. Joe in a wholly Real American Hero-centric fashion, the Baroness was a logical inclusion to the line. Hasbro delved back into the pool of previous releases and resurrected a figure that they felt captured the essence of this evil mistress of intelligence. Is this Baroness up to the task? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s rambling opinion!
This particular Baroness figure debuted near the end of the 25th Anniversary collection. Up until that point, Hasbro had produced some pretty sketchy versions of the character. The initial 25th Anniversary Baroness looked more like a caricature of Anastasia DeCobray while the second version featured an updated head sculpt on a garishly-colored re-release of that same body! It wasn’t until 2009 when the final Cobra Battle Pack was released that the Baroness was given a proper update that included brand new body and head sculpts! This body became the default build for the character (with good reason) and was used for for the Resolute Baroness as well as the 2013 SDCC version.
This body design is near perfection when it comes to depicting the traditional appearance of the Baroness. The design simulates everything that made the original 1984 version so distinctive; from the simulated thigh-high boots to the simulated leather corset to the raised Cobra sigil emblazoned across her chest the design is everything that fans could ask for. The sculpted boots with the insanely high stiletto heels even have footpegs drilled into the bottom to facilitate displaying the figure along with the rest of your collection. The only design element that is really lacking when compared to more recent releases are the hinged wrists that I seem to continually mention but that’s only because the inclusion of that articulation would make this body design plastic perfection! Truly, this is THE best Baroness design of the generation 3 era. I have noticed that the plastic quality in the 50th Anniversary version feels noticeably lighter in weight than the previous 25th Anniversary version but fortunately I’ve not any issues with the figure as result of this. Also, the silver paint apps in the sculpted seams of her uniform don’t always line up but then again dodgy paint apps do seem to be the norm with this celebratory series. If you find more than one of these in the store, take some extra care to inspect the paint apps prior to checkout.
There are folks out in the fandom that prefer the 2013 SDCC release of the Baroness to this version with it’s larger updated head sculpt. I am not one of those fans. To me, this is a near perfect sculpt to capture the essence of Destro’s paramour. The Baroness has always been portrayed as having ice in her veins-- cold, calculating, and utterly ruthless with only the Scottish Laird able to truly thaw her frozen exterior. To the eyes of this Joe fan, the sculpt captures that attitude perfectly. Yet, this being the 50th Anniversary line it seemed inevitable that some small change would be made. In this case, the figure’s painted skin ton is both thicker in coating and lighter in color. Also, the painted lips are significantly smaller than on the original release, giving the poor Baroness a “duckface” expression which is utterly contrary to the concept of the character as a member of sophisticated European aristocracy. The paint apps both on the skin and the lips leave me with this image from Jack Nicholson’s superb portrayal of the Joker in classic 1989 Batman. It’s from a sequence where the Clown Prince of Crime is masquerading as a mime to get close to an informant that needs to be dealt with. This is NOT a flattering image to be associated with the Baroness. Sadly, dicey paint apps dampen my enthusiasm from an otherwise solid head sculpt. (This seems to be par for the course in the 50th Anniversary line, however.)
The Baroness, like her two-packmate Lady Jaye, comes with gear recycling from a previous release of the character. (“Two-packmate” is now a term, BTW.) However, possibly befitting her “social status”, this particular version of Anastasia DeCobray borrows from now one but two previous versions of, well, herself. The included kit is a combo of what was packaged with Baroness v12 and the Rise of Cobra “Attack on the Pit” Baroness. As a result, the figure is packaged with items that it cannot make full use of! Included with the Baroness are the following items:
This might seem like a decent assortment of gear save for a few small details. First off, the pistols are sculpted with posts that are designed to plug into ports on the figure’s legs—except that those ports aren’t present in this mold. Secondly, the grappling hook was designed to work with the RoC Cobra Gunship—except that there isn’t one in the 50th collection. Even better, the footpegs on the platform are too small to work with the peg holes in her boots. However, at least she’s got that snazzy briefcase, right? The one that’s designed to hold… the nano-mite warheads that aren’t part of the 50th Anniversary collection. See a pattern here? Once again it’s as if whomever was tasked with putting this assortment together simply looked at previous figures and said “I’ll take what she came with.” Sure, the Baroness can still hold the pistols but the posts on the grips look odd when they’re not plugged into the RoC Baroness’ legs. The suitcase fits well in her hand but it doesn’t come with what it was designed to hold. At the end of the day she’s got a functional assault rifle and a grappling hook with a lift platform that just seems—well, odd without the RoC Gunship. In all honesty, the kit just feels phoned in—and the Baroness deserves better than that.
At the end of the day, is this figure worth acquiring? It all depends on whether or not a fan is interested in purchasing the Social Clash two-pack for Lady Jaye. If the former is the case, then an extra Baroness is always good for custom fodder as the body is soundly constructed. If, however, you’re looking for the definitive 1:18 scale Baroness, I’d suggest tracking down the original five pack release of this same figure. The 50th version has some questionable paint applications both on the body and the head and the quality of the plastic just feels lighter to me. She’s got a varied kit of gear but much of it has seen release before and it really adds little value in making this version stand out from the pack. Of course, she does have the gold anniversary faction symbol on her arm but that’s not enough to compensate for the “Duckface” lip paint application I’ve seen on these figures. Ultimately, if you’re just looking for the Baroness, track down one of the previous versions. Otherwise, enjoy the two-pack and this figure for what it is-- part of a hastily-conceived anniversary line that isn’t quite up to the standards of the last few years.
The Bottom Line: An “okay” re-release of a stellar figure from the 25th line that is hindered by dodgy paint apps and lighter quality plastic. Good but not great and certainly not worthy of a half-century celebration.
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