Of all of the subsets that are part of the GIJoe line, Night Force always made the most sense to me. The original NF figures came out at a time when I was no longer collecting Joe but I can still remember seeing them at TRU and thinking that this was a logical theme. The Joes conduct missions at night—darker colors allow you to blend in the darkness, etc. NF didn’t seem like just a series of repaints for a store exclusive and years later they became a subset that I tried to track down. However, since the relaunch, Hasbro has kept Night Force alive and updated with new members, new color schemes, and even new molds—and I love it!
I’ll be blunt—I wasn’t thrilled with the first version of this mold. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice sculpt with lots of great detailing but something was off. This figure originally came out at a time when the proportions in the series were in massive flux—torsos were shrinking and legs were getting longer and Gung Ho suffered from both of those issues. I think what really threw the mold off for me was the simple fact that Gung Ho had blue eyes. It’s amazing that such a minute detail could throw off an entire figure for me. Thankfully Hasbro gave my favorite Cajun not only a darker color scheme but darker eyes as well and the result is a much more “hard-edged” take on a familiar character.
This mold works in darker colors. The olive drab shirt, the green quilted vest, the black and gray camo pants and even the grey belt and harness combine to give Gung Ho a much harder more military look. Combine this with the fact that this figure is done in similar colors to the rest of the TRU Night Force six-pack that was released earlier this year and you’ve got a figure that has a definite place in my collection. In fact, it’s the emerging unified color scheme of Night Force (absent only now from Crosshairs and Nunchuck) that gives me a whole new level of appreciation for this figure. While the mold isn’t as perfect a design as the VvV wave 4 version, it is still one of the better character updates that we’ve had in the line to date. There is only one minor detail that bothers me about both this figure and Grunt and that is the camouflage face paint used on the figures. I have no problem with the paint application or design used on either of the figure’s heads. It’s actually really well applied and adds a lot to the appearance of the figure. What bothers me is the simple fact that this paint application is conspicuously absent from the arms of the figures. I don’t know if this is proper military procedure or not to apply this paint to areas other than your face but it seems odd to me to go to all of the trouble of masking your face but leaving your flesh-tone arms exposed. I guess it’s done to give Blackout something to shoot at.
Grunt is another GvC mold that is greatly improved by the NF color scheme. I refused to get the first Grunt figure, as I couldn’t bring myself to buy the Battle Blitz. I may be a huge (and obsessive) Joe fan but I’m not THAT much of a completist that I would ever buy that particular vehicle. Thankfully Hasbro released Grunt in a two pack with Destro and so the original infantryman joined my GvC collection. I also passed on the repainted Battle Blitz and so missed my opportunity to own the first unofficial NF version of Grunt. Honestly, I’m glad I waited, as there’s a lot to like about this figure.
Say it with me “darker colors good, lighter colors bad”. Okay, this isn’t always the case but the whole “darkening” of Grunt’s color scheme works. His hair is darker, his eyes are darker and he now looks a lot less like Will Farrell than he did before. Like his pack-mate, Grunt’s color scheme also matches the TRU Night Force six-pack that allows him to blend in perfectly with an existing part of my collection. Like Gung Ho, Grunt also has the camo face paint although his also extends to his upper chest as well. Sadly his arms are still left un-altered. Another nice side effect of this figure being painted in NF colors is that his helmet, with night vision sights, now makes sense. Overall, this is a fantastic repaint that NF fans are going to want to grab.
My only real issue with Grunt is that he is a Spy Troops figure who is closer to 4” packaged with a figure that is 3.75”. It’s an unfortunate side effect of Hasbro’s scale switch that occurred with Spy Troops that leaves some figures too tall when compared with their teammates. Now, this isn’t bad on every figure as my Spy Troops Roadblock is perfect when compared to the rest of 3.75” team. It’s simply that I never pictured Grunt as being exceptionally tall. If anything Gung Ho would be the taller figure in my mindset. Still, if this is the last “new sculpt” Grunt Hasbro releases I can be happy.
Of all of the “sub group” packs in this wave, this is my hands-down favorite. While the pictures didn’t come out as well as I would have liked, these two looked fantastic when posed with my PTE Blackhawk out in the yard in the dark. If these two are any indication that we’ll be getting more Night Force figures (just look at the most recent Tunnel Rat figure) then I say, “Bring them on!” If you’re looking to grab these guys and add them to your troops, head on over to GIJoeHQ.com!