“So this is how the world ends. Not with a ‘bang’, but with a whimper.” While not entirely accurate, this quote could apply to DTC. When DTC wave 4 debuted at the 2006 International Toy Fair in New York, fan reaction was luke-warm at best. The wave was once again shown at the 2006 Collector’s Convention in New Orleans yet a release date was never announced. It was several months later when the news broke that wave 4 would follow in the footsteps of the 1995 series of the classic GIJoe: A Real American Hero line and not be released. General Hawk and I had pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that this wave would be something that we’d never get the chance to review—and we were mostly correct as an incomplete set of figures was offered on Ebay. Now, thanks to the efforts of a very generous GIJoe fan, we’re able to add the final two components of wave 4 to the DTC Review Index here at JBL.
If the concept of the DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) line proved nothing else, it showed that careful reuse of existing molds opens up a wide range of character possibilities. If Falcon’s body appears familiar, it’s because this body mold debuted back in Valor vs. Venom wave 4 as the mold for the General Abernathy figure. The design team in Pawtucket reused the entire body mold for the fan-favorite Falcon with an entirely new color scheme. The uniform design for the figure is based around a pair of BDU pants (with knee pads—apparently Hasbro just loves knee pads), boots, and a double-breasted field jacket worn over a white collar-less shirt. Worn over the jacket is a combat harness which features a molded automatic pistol on the right side and a pair of grenades on the left. Attached to the dark gray belt are several utility pouches, which convey the impression of field gear rather than dress uniform. The figure’s hands are painted with the same gray that was used for the combat harness and Falcon’s head is topped by his signature beret. Overall this sounds like a pretty solid parts combination for a new sculpt version of Lt. Falcon, and the uniform very nearly succeeds in that fashion. However, “almost” is the key term here; the success of the body mold all depends upon how Falcon is regarded in terms of the GIJoe universe. This body mold worked as a practical yet unconventional update for General Abernathy (who will be referred to as “Hawk” for the remainder of this review) in the sense that Hawk is a commanding officer who would not be seeing much front line combat. The molded jacket made use of the dreaded “rubber skirt” that marked a design experiment in the VvV line, seemingly extending design aspects beyond the limitations of the torso. The side effect of this skirt is a complete inoperability of the figure’s hip joints; the skirt prohibited any type of use of the hip articulation without several modifications. As such, my Hawk figure was pretty much restricted to standing around with his hands folded behind his back in a commanding fashion. What are your thoughts, Justin?
You pretty much took the words out of my mouth, Fred, and everything you say here echoes my opinion.
From a technical perspective, the sculpt is nice. A solid, well-detailed winter overcoat, with rubber "coat tails", and some simple straps with grenades and a pistol in its holster adds some slight touches of realism as well. I really like the sculpting on the pants, too, which have some nicely armored kneepads, realistic looking military boots and two thick pouches on the upper legs. If you look at it purely from a quality perspective, the parts are really very nice. My only issue is that I see Falcon as a tough-as-nails, in the field Green Beret, and the mold chosen here really seems more like an "off the field" commander, or someone who doesn't see much action, both of which are qualities that really do not fit Falcon's MO, in my opinion. So while I can't fault Hasbro for choosing this tooling because it looks good, I do have an issue with them using it for Falcon, because it really doesn't suit him well.
I really see where you’re coming from with the quality of the tooling chosen, and the very military look that this sculpt has, which all should suit Falcon well. But I need my Green Berets able to move, run, and get dirty, which it doesn’t look like this figure will do.
The problem that I have with this design’s use for Falcon is two-fold: if Falcon is seen as a commanding officer, the mold is fine. However, it does not seem a practical uniform for someone conducting field operations. This is just my perception of the figure but the cut of the jacket just doesn’t scream “field attire” like the original RAH-era Falcon’s design did. My second issue is found in the color scheme used for the figure. Falcon is molded in a greenish-tan plastic with a dark brown camouflage pattern painted over the top. His beret is a shade of gray/brown whish a red emblem painted along the bottom seam. It’s a solid color scheme and it worked quite well to convey a sense of military realism. Unfortunately, it’s just not evocative of the United States military. Falcon’s colors remind me quite a bit of the uniforms worn by soldiers of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. (If you watched “The Living Daylights” it’s pretty much what all of the Soviet Army troops at the Afghan air base are wearing.) This leaves me a bit cold as to whether this is a good Falcon figure or an even better new sculpt Oktober Guard member. It’s not that this is in any way a bad figure or color scheme—it’s just not the one that I would have chosen for the update to Falcon.
Once again we’re in agreement.
For the paint applications we have another case of quality being great, but not really fitting the character. Not really fitting much, unfortunately. The tooling looks like a wintery overcoat kind of, yet he's painted in desert camouflage...that seems like a pretty big conflict there. Also, as I mentioned, the tooling looks to be an off-the-field type of officer, yet the uniform is painted as if he's crawling through the sand on the front lines...it just doesn't fit. Not to mention the fact that Falcon has always been a jungle operations specialist in my world, so I'm not quite ready to see him in desert fatigues, though I'm well aware that Green Berets operate in all environments.
Forgetting the fact that the camouflage doesn't really fit the functionality of the uniform, the paint applications themselves are pretty nicely done. There's a nice light tan base colors, and the steel gray straps, belts, pads, and boots set that color off well and look nice. The dark brown splotches of camouflage are not based on any real-world camouflage pattern, but they still look neat and are well done.
I have to say that Falcon has one of the best “updated” head sculpts since the GvC revival line debuted. The original Falcon figure had a rather wide face with softer features than many of his contemporaries. Not nearly as “sharp-edged” as figures like Outback, the LT conveyed the impression of both scholar and soldier. In other words, he was almost the poster child for the term “officer material”. This new Falcon takes those same characteristics and serves them up with a more seasoned look. In contrast to his playboy appearance in GIJoe: The Movie, this is the face of someone who is quite capable of filling Hawk’s shoes as the eventual leader of the GIJoe team. (I’ve oft wondered if the rumors of Falcon being intended as Hawk’s son are correct. The similarity in their code names would lend a great deal of credence to this theory. After all, they have the only two “avian species” code names in the GIJoe roster.) If the body of the figure left me a bit uncertain as to the success of this particular character update, it’s the head sculpt that brings back to the table, ready to sign the letter of acceptance. It’s really a shame that this figure hasn’t seen production at this point as this head sculpt really is the update of Lt. Falcon (the comic version, IMHO) that I’ve wanted since the line restarted. Insightful and intelligent, commanding yet approachable, this is the countenance of a man who could lead this team into battle and know that the men and women under his command would follow his every order. I’m not quite certain why exactly Falcon changed his style of beret but it’s a minor nitpick. This would have been my new sculpt Falcon.
This is where our opinions differ a little bit. The one part of new tooling in this figure is the head sculpt, and again, I have a hard time seeing this as Falcon as he's portrayed. While I don't think anyone will argue that the head sculpt is fantastic, really retaining lots of great detail, I think he looks a little bit old to be that "gold-plated goof off" that a lot of folks know Falcon for. I detest that classification personally, but something just doesn't seem quite right character-wise about the facial features. Don't get me wrong, it looks great, and almost seems like a kind of homage to John Wayne, but it doesn't necessarily fit with what we've known in the past.
It almost seems like Falcon was “re-imagined” for this wave into a more seasoned field commander, which is all well and good, but it’s not how I personally envision Falcon, and as good as this figure might be technically, it doesn’t fit my opinion of the character in any way.
DTC Wave 4 is an exercise in frustration for me. Honestly, while I’m not a fan of the Cobra Officer and I think that Airtight is the worst update in the line to date, Munitia, the Night Viper, and Falcon have really won me over. While the online fandom initially greeted this wave with a fair degree of scorn and even contempt, I think that this wave would have been more well-received that most individuals would care to admit. The wave was a good mix of updates, new characters, and troop-builders. Falcon is one of those figures that I initially discounted as “crap” (eloquent, aren’t I) and was ready to pass up. Granted, I’m still not entirely crazy about the body coloration and the limitations of the dreaded rubber skirt yet I do see some redeeming qualities—particularly in the updated head sculpt. Regrettably, the figure I was able to procure on loan did not come with any of the new accessories shown at the convention—both the shotgun and the tripod-mounted weapon had me drooling in anticipation. Fans of the new sculpt line can only hope that these figures do see eventual release—either as Collector’s Club exclusives (renewal figures, perhaps) or even as mail-away premiums. The impending release of the 25th Anniversary line, however, makes the possibility of this happening a bit more remote. It may be that DTC Wave 4 follows in the footsteps of the ill-fated 1995 line-up and fades into fandom obscurity, held only by hard-core collectors who search out the perceived rarities like the Knights Templar quested for the Holy Grail. Regardless, Falcon is a solid update to a fan favorite figure. (Now I’ve just got to track down one of my own!)
In some ways I agree with you, on this one, Fred. I think “frustration” is an apt phrase for this particular wave. I stand by my thoughts that if Wave 4 had actually seen release, I think it would have been panned by the majority of collectors out there. But people in general often have an optimistic view of “what might have been” so, as a result everyone is pretty upset about the cancellation of Wave 4. I find myself a bit disturbed about it as well, though not because of Falcon.
Falcon has long since been one of my all time favorite characters, and I have a very specific characterization for him in mind, which involves being in the field, waist deep in the jungle swamps, leading recon teams, tossing down firefight, and getting down and dirty. This figure does not represent any of that to me. Sure, it’s possible that the character has received somewhat of an update story-wise, which is fine. But it’s not the Falcon I’ve loved since 1987, so as a fan, I don’t feel like I’m missing much with this figure, even as much as I’ve been dying for a Falcon update for a long, long time.