Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary
Cobra Reptile Trainer - Code name: Croc Master
There’s just something about the Croc Master that you have to admire. Other security specialists work with highly trained dogs such as Dobermans or even German Shepherds. It takes a special kind of individual to decide that traditional canine units just aren’t secure enough. Someone who feels that if an area is to be considered truly secure, it must be guarded by something deadlier—more primordial. Say, for example, something from the Eocene epoch—a predator that’s roughly 55 million years old. If this fits the level of security need, then it’s time to call one individual. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about the Croc Master!
The 25 th Anniversary Croc Master has the distinction of being part of 2008, Wave 9 which is the last wave of 25th Anniversary figures that I photographed back in 2008. This was the period of my own personal hiatus from the brand and so I never reviewed the original figure until now. The reason I mention this is not to draw attention to my own personal experiences as a Joe fan but rather to highlight the fact that this figure is essentially a 25th Anniversary construct with new colors. This might seem obvious to most folks but it is important to note given the improvements in the design of the line in the years since. The 25th figures were groundbreaking in their day but it’s amazing how a period of just eight years can make some parts seem old and dated. Fortunately, the Croc Master fares better than some of his contemporaries in that respect.
When it comes to the sculpting and design, the Croc Master takes what should be a very simple uniform and breathes a great deal of life into the details. The figure’s boots and tank top are sculpted in to represent alligator/crocodile hide and are covered in asymmetrical scales. This detail gives the figure more texture than you’d expect and really helps him to stand out among many of the later 25 th era figures. Even the figure’s left forearm brace and side holster are sculpted to represent this hide texture although one has to wonder how this resonates with the Master’s pet crocs. There’s also the figure’s belt buckle which appears to be a simulated crocodile eye. (Either that or Croc Master is secretly an agent of Sauron. Hmm…)
Another sculpted detail that is worth noting is the subtle bit scars found on the figure’s right bicep. Working with crocodiles isn’t without its challenges and even experts are bound to get nicked now and then. A series of sculpted tooth marks starts just below the figure’s shoulder and continues all the way down to just above the right forearm brace. It’s a terrific bit of detailing that adds a bit more character to the Croc Master.
I mentioned before that the figure designs of the 25th Anniversary now seem a bit dated when compared to more recent offerings and that’s true of some extent when it comes to the Croc Master. The 25th era figures are of a much more slender build than their brand successors which means that a figure that larger in the 25th era is now much more average in appearance when compared to more recent additions like the Retaliation Ultimate Roadblock. Even when compared to figures like the FSS Big Boa which uses the Resolute Roadblock body, the Croc Master seems a bit on the lean side. This is more of a personal preference than anything else but IF Hasbro is to try and squeeze and more reuses out of these parts I might suggest substituting the current arms for a set of the new 50th Gung-Ho arms just to give the character more mass.
I can’t look at the Croc Master and not think of the DC Comics character Bane. The masked Batman foe debuted in 1993, nearly seven years after the Croc Master first menaced the G.I. Joe team and the resemblance is somewhat striking. Most of this is due to the luchador-style mask and the rebreather that are the signature elements of an otherwise basic head sculpt. The tube from the rebreather connects to a small tank that is attached to the figure’s back. Fortunately, the original designers had the foresight to include enough simulated tubing so as not to limit the head’s range of motion. It’s a decent head sculpt—albeit a bit plain when compared to other members of Cobra. No complaints here at all.
When it comes to gear, the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is apropos. This particular release of the Croc Master repeats the kit of the Pursuit of Cobra version from a few years ago, with one notable exception. Here’s the breakdown:
All of this was included with the last “tan release” of the character but this time around it seem that “Croc-mite” has gotten into the food coloring and changed her hue from green to red. I’m not entirely certain of the logic behind this variance in color palate other than the fact that the Croc Master is a fashionista who insists that his animals color coordinate with his shirts. (Thank Hasbro he’s not wearing plaid!) As such, his poor pet ends up resembling a future member of the Deadpool Corps more than it does a traditional baby crocodile but then again this is the same franchise that gave us Fatal Furries so who am I to judge. It’s a decent kit overall although I don’t know why the “master of crocodiles” has so much gear devoted to the capture and study of snakes.
This particular version of the Croc Master, like his “Swamp Steam” pack-mate Blowtorch has a bit of an interesting history. Back in 2011, the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club showcased two new “coming soon” figures that were to see release at the end of the Pursuit of Cobra line. One was the green and tan Blowtorch and the other was this “Python Patrol” inspired Croc Master. However, interest in both the line and the brand in general had taken a nose dive ever seen the release of G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra and its subsequent over-saturation of the figure market with product and so these two figures were cancelled. As I mention in the Blowtorch review, the cancellation of a figure immediately activates a trigger in some collector’s minds which causes them to immediately want what they cannot have and so carded samples of both Blowtorch and Croc Master were suddenly some of the more sought-after pieces in the generation 3 era. Folks at Hasbro decided to give the fans what they wanted and so the “Swamp Steam” two-pack was unveiled at Joe Con 2015.
At the end of the day, is the Swamp Steam Croc Master worth a purchase? I’ll be honest—of all of the two-packs in the 2015 offerings, this is possibly the second-most skippable. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of either of the characters included or just really want to flesh out the ranks of your Python Patrol then this set is an easy pass. Yes, it’s another release of the Croc Master who was a decent 25th Anniversary figure at the time the figure’s sculpt does look a bit lean and dated when compared to the scant offerings of the past few years. The 25th Anniversary era helped put the ARAH era back on the map for a lot of people but it’s time to move on from those designs and, while this particular figure is a nice way to get that cancelled figure into the hands of collectors, he’s far from essential in my book. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: An easy pass for most collectors, this version of the Croc Master brings nothing new to the table save for his color scheme.
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