Raphael "Zap" Melendez, Grunt, Snake Eyes
One of the best ideas to come out of Hasbro in recent years is the series of GIJoe comic three packs. As a young Joe fan, I was always partial to the “Original 13” and frequently used them on missions too tough for the rest of the team. They were some of my absolute favorite figs yet I always wished that they looked more like they did in the comics. Now, some twenty-odd years later, I am a happy Joe collector and here’s why!
Raphael “Zap” Melendez:
Zap is one of those early Joes that desperately needed a new head sculpt. I understand that in the first wave of the line Hasbro didn’t know that Joe was going to be a success and so a great many parts were reused for multiple characters. However, it was a bit odd having both Zap, Grunt, and Grand Slam all be fraternal twins. This new head makes Zap into a distinct character and not just a clone. The combed-back hair, mustache, and high cheekbones give him a look that is uniquely his. It’s also extremely close to the original artwork featured in the Marvel series. As a result, Zap has one of the best head redesigns of all of the Joes released thus far.
Zap’s body is a bit of a conundrum. In the original line, Zap, Short-Fuze, and Hawk all shared the same torso. However, in the comic line, Zap is sporting the same torso used by Snake Eyes, Stalker, and Grunt. As a result, he just looks a bit off when compared to how I remember him. In fact, he’s completely inaccurate to how he is drawn in the enclosed comic book. Add in the fact that he has the same o-ring problem that plagued the Joes in Comic Pack #3 and you’ve got a figure that isn’t quite as good as I’d hoped he’d be. My advice is to snag an extra comic pack #8 and put the Zap head on the Short-Fuze body for a more accurate representation of the character. Zap also has some puzzling accessories. He comes equipped with a M-16, sniper rifle, and the same heavy weapon that the CLAWS recently came packaged with. I think it’s safe to assume that his original rocket launcher has been lost.
Finally! Finally there is a head sculpt of Grunt that doesn’t make me cringe. Don’t get me wrong—the Wave 5 Night Force Grunt is a good likeness of the character but the nearly 4” scale throws him off. (The less said about the Battle Corps Grunt the better.) With this comic pack, I’ve found my definitive likeness for the Joe team’s first trooper! Right out of the package I noticed that this head sculpt is a dead ringer for his likeness in issue 4. In fact, he reminds me a great deal of a young Robert Redford, but that’s just my opinion. Regardless, this is a solid head sculpt!
Grunt is one of the figures in the series that is “issue specific”. In this case, he’s wearing the uniform of the “brown shirts” of Wingfield’s paramilitary camp. The body mold is from the 1994 Action Soldier and it does a fairly good job of capturing the feel of the militia group’s standard dress. There are some nice folds molded into the fabric of the shirt and the torso actually gives Grunt some added muscle mass that the original figure was desperately missing. Overall this is a pretty solid figure—just as long as we get a classic uniform Grunt down the line. As nice as this figure is, I know I’m not alone in wanting to be able to acquire comic-accurate versions of the original 13 Joes in their standard uniforms. Grunt is loaded with gear including an M-16, backpack, Uzi, an combat knife.
I used to be a huge Snake Eyes fan when I was younger. There was something about the original mold—with its complete absence of paint applications that just made it cool. Since the relaunch, however, this mold has been done-to-death in recent years and I’m just not excited by it any more. In fact, every part of this figure seems to come from the original mold with the exception of the crotch. This is worth mentioning as the ill-fit between the crotch and the legs causes the entire figure to cant as additional stress is placed upon the O-ring. The result is a Snake Eyes figure that, in my case, is completely incapable of standing up straight. Honestly, I wish there was more that I could say about this figure—something to end this review on a positive note but I honestly can’t. This is possibly the worst reissue of Snake Eyes yet. He can’t stand and his mold has been over-used to the point that fans are starting to get really and truly sick of him. Hasbro—just ease off on the Snake Eyes over-exposure. I’m hoping that the forthcoming “Silent Issue” pack fixes the issues of this figure so that I can discard this figure like the over-used cliché he has become.
Wow, this pack is really hit-or-miss. Zap has a great head sculpt but the wrong body, Grunt has a fantastic head sculpt and a very “issue specific” body, and poor old Snake Eyes needs to be sent off to the retirement home until he can stand up straight. Of all of the comic packs thus far, this one is the weakest. It’s almost as if the design team just decided to sit back and let this one build itself. If you’re going to get it—get it for Zap and for Grunt. Snake Eyes honestly isn’t worth it.