When I was kid I had a whopping one Crimson Guard. He was the one who always ended up dying to protect the Commander, or ended up getting captured by the Joes. This poor guy suffered through many a humiliating defeat as the sole representative of his order. A few years ago I managed to buy a second mint CG and ended up having a whole two in my collection. I’d literally doubled my force in one purchase! However, I had the army-building bug and set out to acquire more, but Joe was getting popular again and the public was just discovering Ebay. Prices soared on CG’s and so it just wasn’t meant to be—until now. In the past year we’ve had a mail-away Agent Faces as a Crimson Guard, the phenomenal Operation: Crimson Sabotage set (which gave many of us the chance to own a reasonably priced Crimson HISS) and now, thanks to Toys R Us, we have the Crimson Guard Force!
[Note: There are two versions of this set—each packaged with a different “Crimson Twin”. For all intents and purposes the two sets are otherwise identical and therefore lumped into a single review.]
Tomax & Xamot:
I can still remember getting these two figures as a kid. The cool package with the mirrors on the sides, the skyhook and line, and those two giant pistols made these two a distinctive new addition to the Joe mythos. Add in the fact that they were the leaders of the elite Crimson Guard and you had two figures that were sure to be a hit with most little Joe fans. As exciting as these two were, however, I was never crazy about their uniforms. The “off the shoulder” unitard worn by the twins had some great colors, but it never really seemed suited to two individuals that were more corporate raiders than field commanders. I realize that, according to their file cards, the twins had quite the mercenary past but they had moved past that. Now, their battlefield was the boardroom and so I longed for a set of them in their business attire. This set answers that childhood longing by utilizing another repaint of the Headman body!
The blue suits are fantastic! They’re vaguely metallic in color, stylized enough to appear trend, and completely functional in appearance. In fact, this is the best re-use of the Headman body that Hasbro has yet released! The paint applications are simple, yet elegant—red handkerchiefs, and silver-toed shoes and black buttons adorning the jacket. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with this if they’d painted the ties on the shirt collars. As it is, these suits have a very “Arvin Sloane” look from Alias. I can easily see Tomax and Xamot in a tactical command center making decisions based on statistics rather than the lives of their men—and I can see them wearing these suits when they do so. While I do prefer the repaint of the Scalpel head that was used for the twins in the Crimson Command Copter, I think that this pair of figures has become my definitive Tomax and Xamot. In my opinion, they are superior to every version of the twins ever released.
If this CG looks familiar you’ve seen him in the Operation: Crimson Sabotage set. The red-haired Caucasian CG seems to be the “Fred” of the new millennium. Overall, the figure is identical to the OCS CG but for a few color changes in the uniform. However, these color changes are a dramatic improvement over the previous releases. First, take a good look at the Cobra sigil on the CG’s chest. It’s no longer orange but now an elegant shade of gold. The same holds true for the braid over the right shoulder—gold as well. Next, (and this could just be the case with my sets) the medals on the CG’s chest are a darker shade of silver, conveying a much more realistic appearance. Lastly, the hair is now a more dramatic shade of reddish-brown. Also, these figures are missing the “Crimson Division” patches that were found on the shoulders of the OCS sets. While not the blond “Fred” series CG of the Marvel comics run, these figures represent a great opportunity to troop build for everyone who didn’t have a nearby KB Toys when the OCS sets were released.
I remember when Firefly was cool. He was mysterious and had one of the “coolest” sculpts in all of GIJoe. I remember when he only had two versions—and one of those was neon green. I can remember when I was excited about a new Firefly figure. However, today is not that day.
I don’t own every version of Firefly released. I don’t have the TRU arctic set from the RAHC collection. I don’t own the convention-exclusive two-pack from two years ago. That being said, I’ve still got too many Firefly figures floating around the house. This figure, like the Cobra Infantry Forces- Urban Division release before him, is adorned in his trademark camouflage with a dash of the set-unifying color thrown in. Sure, it’s nice to have a Firefly with blue and a Firefly with red highlights—it will make for a nice Fourth of July display. However, I never pictured Firefly being as big a “clothes horse” as the title character of the cult “super-spy” film “Diabolik”. For heaven’s sake, stop releasing this mold! Just take the mold and set is aside for a while. Trust me, no one is going to miss it. I actually wish that Hasbro had broken with tradition and instead given us a repaint of the figure featured in the card art—the Valor vs. Venom Firefly. At least then it would be a version of the character I could get excited about.
So, in this set you’ve got 5 winners and one space-consumer. The Twins (one in each set) and the four CG’s are a fantastic bargain for $20.00. In fact, this set would be an ever better bargain if Firefly had been pulled and a Crimson Guard Immortal substituted in his place. Still, I can fulfill a childhood dream of giving Cobra Commander the Elite Guard he was always meant to have. So, in the end, I consider this set a “must buy”! Sure, if you’re troop building, you’ll get stuck with some extra Fireflies but he at least makes some good custom fodder! Buy this NOW!