He’s a former Navy SEAL kick boxer who became a veterinarian. He’s a member of a top-secret high-tech ninja clan who serve as the world’s most elusive information broker. Together, they fight crime! Okay, not really but this has to be one of the oddest pairings since Felix and Oscar decided to move in together. Either way, they’re another two pack in Valor vs. Venom Wave 4.
It’s amazing how seeing a character in a movie can change your entire opinion of that particular character. Link is an example of this. When I saw him at the Joe Collector’s Convention, I was relatively unimpressed. He was in the back of the case and hard to photograph and he just seemed rather plain compared to all of the other figures. However, along comes a certain DVD featuring this character and suddenly I’m reevaluating my opinion. Sure, he’s an odd fit for the Joe team but he’s not a bad figure at all. Let’s start, as always, with the head sculpt of the figure. The most prominent feature of Link is the cornrow hairstyle he’s sporting. It’s not bad, although I have to say the braids are a bit far apart on his head. The lines are painted cleanly—almost too cleanly which gives the appearance of a striped head. I’ve known people who’ve had this particular hairstyle and none of their dos were this spread out. Aside from his hair, however, you’ve got a solid head sculpt. Good facial definition, good spacing of the eyes—all in all, he’s a sharp looking figure.
For a vet, Link is pretty buff. Just take one look at his chest and you can tell the good doctor works out. One particularly nice detail is his tank top, which shows that he was in the 2003 Navy Kung-Fu championships. Now, I have no idea whether this is a real event or not but I do know that it adds a nice amount of detail to the figure. The rest of the body is pretty ordinary with one exception. See, ole Link here is a magician. Why do I say that? Simple, he’s able to wear elbow pads that are free-floating on his arms. That’s right, the mold for Link features elbow pads yet Link is bare-armed. How these pads are staying on is a mystery to me. His accessories are minimal; he comes packaged with a single rifle. In my Joe universe Link may end up not as a veterinarian but instead as a medic. This will make is much easier to justify keeping this figure around as part of the Joe team.
As I’ve said before it’s amazing just what a repaint can do for a character. This particular Night Creeper mold was released once before—back with GvC’s first Kamakura figure. This time around the Night Creeper is molded in a much darker color scheme. The body is a dark gray/green, the pads are a metallic gray, and his straps and belts are brown. The biggest difference however is found in the NC’s face. The previous incarnation of this figure featured an open balaclava mask, revealing the eyes of the NC. Now, the mask is closed and the eyes have been replaced with green lenses. Honestly, I prefer this look as it gives the Night Creeper more of a ‘night ops’ feel—allowing him to live up to his name. Don’t get me wrong; there was nothing wrong with the previous version. It’s just that the NC works much better in a darker scheme. It’s because of this figure and all of the army builders out there that I see this particular two pack being hard to locate. The Night Creeper is woefully under equipped with just a single bolt-action rifle.
Featured prominently in the establishing shots of Valor vs. Venom, it was only a matter of time before the Venom drones were released as a figure accessory. Initially shown at the Collector’s Convention on a clear display rod, the drones are supposed to make up for the lack of accessories in this pack. The body design of the drone is sharp—almost completely on model for what was shown in the film. The biggest difference from the film and the toy is found in the drone’s legs. The found plastic limbs that come packaged with the drone are EXTREMELY flimsy so forget trying to stand the drone on them. Doing so just results in this piece hardware rolling over and ‘playing dead.’ So, you’re probably thinking that you can just display him on the clear stand that was shown at the convention, right? Wrong. If there had been a stand packaged with the drone then I could really get behind the concept of packaging these with figures in each subsequent wave. Instead, the drone is left to fend for himself on the ground with only his inadequate limbs to support him. Now, the drone does have on “redeeming” quality. It comes equipped with a winch and foot brace for your Night Creeper. Simply hook your ninja up to the base and using the thumb wheel you can reel him to safety. It’s a cute gimmick but it really doesn’t make up for the lack of base. My advice—toss these guys in a parts bin once you get them and then trade them off for more NC’s.
All in all, this two pack surprised me. While the Venom drone is nicely detailed but altogether useless, the Night Creeper and Link are two decent figures. I’m a fan of the new Night Creeper sculpt so I know that I’ll be picking up a couple more when I find them just to augment the troops. Somehow I get the feeling I’m not alone and that means poor link with join the ranks of Mirage, Redspot, and other figures who’ve been packed with troop builders and will end up on Ebay in lots of five. It is a sad fate for such a decent figure.