I remember when I was a young(er) Joe fan thinking that the Crimson Guard were the elite of the Cobra organization. They were small in number but they were also the most loyal fanatical followers of Cobra Commander and his ideas. With a few exceptions, most Joe fans I knew only had a few of these figures and secretly longed for more. Of course, this was before the Agent Faces mail-away figure, the Operation: Crimson Sabotage set, and the Crimson Guard Force sets. Now it seems that everyone has a “Crimson Army” and that if a Cobra civil war were to break out between the CG’s and the regular blueshirt troops it would be Red vs. Blue all over again. So why after so many recent reissues did Hasbro feel the need to give us yet another CG and how does he fit into an existing army? Read on….
When Hasbro went to Direct-to-Consumer (DTC), we knew there would be an inevitable reuse of parts to “Frankenstein” new figures. If the body of this figure looks familiar, it is. You’re looking at the CLAWS Commander body that was released at the end of Spy Troops; this body was also used for the Tomax & Xamot figures that were packaged with the Crimson Command Copter. As such it’s only logical to see this same body reused for Crimson Guards with a few minor changes. Whereas the twins and the CLAWS Commander had entirely red uniforms, the CG’s sport a red jacket and maroon pants. Tomax & Xamot also had black lapels on their jackets where the new CG has an entirely red jacket. A silver Cobra sigil has been added to the left arm where the twins had it on the right. Otherwise the body is unchanged and it mostly works for a Crimson Guardsman.
The CG’s finally have an updated head sculpt in the form of this new figure. (I’m not counting the removable helmets that we’ve had in the last year or so.) In fact, I was hard-pressed to tell the difference between this head and an original CG helmet. Hasbro (and I suspect Dwight’s handiwork in this) really produced a very classic-looking CG helmet that is highlighted by just a touch of silver paint. So, why am I not more excited about this figure? C’mon—as I’ve stated in just about every Crimson Guard review I never had more than one of these guys as a kid. I should be jumping for joy at the chance to army-build more of them. Oh wait—I already have. The problem for me is that I’ve already amassed all of the CG’s that I could ever want in the past year or so. Between the KB, TRU, and mail-away exclusives, I’ve got quite a sizeable Crimson Guard for Cobra Commander and those figures all blend in with each other. The thought of adding in a new design or even worse replacing all of my existing CG’s with new figures just doesn’t appeal to me. (However, if anyone IS thinking of doing this—let me know. I just might be able to help you get rid of your removable helmet versions!) Also, while the new head sculpt looks completely classic, it strikes me as being too small. Like many other figures in the line that are wearing helmets, Hasbro has produced a head that is the same size as many other figures’ bare heads. In other words, you’d have to be the Spy Troops version of Lady Jaye for your head to fit inside of this helmet. I know that a lot of people dislike the removable helmet version CG’s but for me the proportions make sense. As such, I’m happy with a relatively small number of these figures to be used as a “traveling entourage” or perhaps as CG officers.
Army builders are going to love being able to get a single-pack Crimson Guard figure—especially those collectors who don’t mix old sculpts and new sculpts. However, I don’t see this figure having the appeal that it would have had the various other Crimson Guard exclusives not already been released. It’s not that this is bad figure in any way—it’s really a pretty terrific action figure and it looks great with the other GIJoe vs. Cobra era figures. For me, it will never be my definitive elite trooper but that’s just one man’s opinion and I have the feeling that a lot of other collectors are going to be scooping these up by the arm full.