Scrap-Iron, Serpentor, & Firefly
Sometimes I’ve given up on trying to figure out just exactly why certain figures are in certain comic packs. Instead of trying to make sense of the whole process, it’s simply easier to enjoy the figures themselves. Take Marvel issue #49 as an example. Firefly and Scrap Iron are both in this issue, but they’re not the focal characters. Serpentor is created in the issue, but doesn’t wear the packaged attire until several issues later upon his arrival on Cobra Island. Still, casting issues aside, does this pack which features two figures recently reissued together make the grade? Surprisingly, it does.
In the case of this pack, it’s easiest to start with the least changed and work our way up. Did you buy the Cobra Strike Team - Urban Division six-pack that was available at TRU in 2004? If you did, then you already have a Scrap Iron reissue in good colors. For this comic pack, Hasbro made no alterations to the classic Scrap Iron mold—and that’s just fine with me. I’ve always loved the design; from his padded vest, molded grenades, kneepads, and solid helmet, Scrap Iron has always been one of my favorite figures. The fact that no alterations were made to the mold would normally bother me—except that SI didn’t see reissue until just recently and he’s only ever had one version produced. So, as far as his reissue goes, I’m okay with it. The accessories that come with Scrap Iron are “okay”. They’re not enough to detract from the figure but they’re nowhere near as exciting as the missile launcher that came with the original.
If Scrap Iron has one detractor it’s his color scheme. The original figure was clad in navy blue and maroon; the Urban Forces reissue wore black and red, with some gray and brown highlights. This version seems to come more from the Sunbow Animation than from the comic book. While he retails the same basic color scheme as the original version the colors themselves are far too pastel for me to take them seriously. His red is now an extremely bright red and the blue is extremely bright as well. It’s almost as if someone were going for a “more child friendly” Anti Armor Specialist. I realize that these colors are supposed to better approximate the colors used in the comic series but I wouldn’t mind if a little creative license was taken to make the figure more believable. Really—I can take. The other odd little detail about this version as well as the urban version is that Hasbro has never painted Scrap Iron’s hair. If you look at the back of his head, just above the collar, you’ll see some exposed hair. On the original figure this hair was colored black to match the helmet; on the urban version, the hair was gray. However, this time around his helmet is blue and so it would seem that Scrap Iron is either a lot older than we’ve all realized or someone’s been tampering with his bottle of Prell again. That’s right, Scrap Iron has BLUE HAIR! It’s an odd oversight and one that is easily fixed but I’m surprised that no one has made mention of this before now.
If you’ve read either my reviews or General Hawk’s reviews over at GeneralsJoes.com, then you know that we’re both tired of Firefly reissues. I don’t have every version of this figure that has released since the relaunch but after Wreckage, Crimson Firefly, and Urban Firefly, I was ready for a break. Hasbro took what was once one of the “coolest” Cobra characters and turned him into a bigger clotheshorse than Diabolik! (If you haven’t seen this film, you really should. Cheesy Italian super-villiany at its best!) I should be ranting about yet another reissue of the Cobra Saboteur… and yet I’m not. Why? Hasbro has seen fit to do two things for the fans: release Firefly in a classic camouflage pattern once more and give him the best head sculpt he’s EVER had. In fact, aside from his slightly lighter base gray, I’ll go as far as to say that this figure is actually SUPERIOR to the original release!
How can I make such a bold statement? Just look at the figure and you’ll for yourself. This reissue has more paint detailing than the original. All of the molded straps and belt are now painted black. His grenades have been painted silver and the Cobra sigil on his right arm is more prominent than ever. Yet this all pales in comparison to the fantastic new head sculpt that Firefly is sporting. The original head sculpt from the Real American Hero line was good but always seemed a bit aloof. It was as if it were beneath Firefly to convey any emotion regarding the tasks he was performing in the service of Cobra. The new sculpt takes away that emotional distance and leaves you with a cold-blooded killer. The furrowed brow, the arched eyebrows, and the cold blue eyes—all of this combines to give you a masked visage that is pure ice. It’s a piercing gaze reminiscent of Jack Bristow from “Alias”. It is the face of a consummate professional who will take on any task, any job and perform it to perfection—if the price is right. Armed with ALL of the original Firefly’s accessories, this new comic pack version is everything that a reissue figure should be—faithful to the original but with some new improvement that showcases just how far Hasbro’s designers and sculptors have come since the 1980’s.
It’s time to save the best for last. Honestly, I never was a huge fan of Serpentor as a kid. Sure, he had a great debut in the comic series but his portrayal in the cartoon series and his replacement of Cobra Commander made him an instant write-off for me. He was around, and he was used now and then but he ended up captured by the Joes far more than he led Cobra. As with Firefly, this version showcases all that was good about the original but then hits one out of the park with “that comic pack touch.” The original mold of Serpentor is a pretty terrific mold, loaded with fantastic detailing and design elements. From the cobras adorning his shoulders to the snakehead gauntlets to the scales on the armor, this is mold that has stood the test of time. As is the case with many of the comic pack figures, I’m not a huge fan of the color scheme but it’s something I can learn to live with. Honestly, I’d have preferred this figure with a much darker color palate—the main body in dark green with bronze highlights. Instead, we have a much lighter color scheme that gives the figure a more “cartoon than comic” appearance. It is worth noting that the mustard-yellow paint applications are a bit heavy—much as they were with figures like Hard Drive in the Valor vs. Venom series. I’m not certain what it is about this particular color but it always seems to be put on a bit thick. Other than the colors, this is a figure mold that I have NO complaints about. (I still hate the goofy snake cowl and cloak but I don’t have to use those.)
Serpentor, much like Firefly, is a perfect example of what a comic pack figure should be. He’s essentially a reissue of a classic mold but with a fantastic new twist. Hasbro went all out with this figure and, rather than just giving us a new head sculpt, we we’re also treated to a removable helmet for the Cobra Emperor! The helmet itself is uncannily similar to the original molded headgear of the first version of Serpentor. Fans of the original figure won’t be disappointed by a reissue that bears little resemblance to the source material; this is as close as you can get to the v1 figure! It is the new head sculpt, however, that absolutely makes this figure. For the first time, we can really see Serpentor’s face. I’m not referring to a half-glimpsed generic visage—I’m talking about a brand-new full on sculpt that, for the first time, gives Serpentor a real presence. The eyes are maniacal, the jaw line strong, and the mouth is turned in to an almost ferocious snarl. While not 100% accurate to the comics, it is a sculpt befitting Serpentor. It is only the uncanny resemblance to actor Bruce Campbell that keeps me regarding this as the 100% definitive Serpentor head. Just take one good long look at the head— and you’ll hear the immortal words “Hail to the king, baby!” I know that a lot of head sculpts are based on real people—sculptors, employees, friends so it’s not such a wild leap to guess that someone is a fan of Bruce over at Hasbro. In my opinion, the resemblance doesn’t seriously detract from the figure and instead opens up all sorts of new dio-story possibilities. The funniest thing about this resemblance is that it is a much better likeness than Palisades produced in their Army of Darkness figure series! Hail to the Emperor, baby!
Of the three latest comic packs, this is the one that I was most looking forward to. After the extremely lackluster Comic Pack #21, Hasbro reaffirmed my faith in the comic pack concept with this pack. In one single package, I was able to obtain the perfect Firefly, the best Serpentor sculpt yet, and a reissue of Scrap Iron. Two out of the three figures have been changed enough that fans are going to genuinely want to add them to their collections. (Just NEVER release another Firefly reissue again!) As I’ve said previously, this pack represents what a comic pack should be—a chance to own fresh takes on familiar characters showcasing just Hasbro’s techniques have improved since the 1980’s. In fact, this is a pack that I’d consider buying extra of just to have a spare Firefly and Serpentor for my desk. So, go out and grab this pack now! You won’t be disappointed one bit—THIS I COMMAND!