“The review you are about to read is true. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.” It’s summer—the mercury is starting to climb in the thermometer and the afternoons are filled with the sounds of lawn mowers, children playing, and other such warm weather activities. Yet, something at TRU is amiss; a group of six Joes has just arrived clad in artic gear and ready to take on Cobra’s hordes of Snow Serpents and Snow Wolves. Upon closer inspection some of these Joes appear to be familiar yet for some reason they’re using different code names. Is this some insidious plot by that “Ruthless Terrorist Organization” we all know and fear? Actually, it’s just the latest TRU exclusive six-pack that’s hitting shelves now. So, how are these seasonally displaced defenders of freedom? Read on…
If you’re like me, then you grew up a fan of this mold. Elegantly simple in its design, the Snow Job mold epitomizes the arctic trooper for me. From the padded coat and pants to the fur-lined hood I can’t imagine a more ideally suited snow troop. However the name Snow Job seems to one that Hasbro isn’t using anymore. Back in the RAHC collection, Snow Job became White Out and in GIJoe vs. Cobra he’s become Frostbite. With the figure’s name change has come a change in uniform colors as well. The original Snow Job was clad entirely in white while this latest repaint now features a blue ski jacket over white-on-white camouflage pants. The snow camo may seem a bit odd at first but it helps to break up what would be an otherwise bland color scheme. The blue ski jacket, however, doesn’t seem terrible practical for use in a snowy environment. I’m not opposed to adding color to arctic troops but the blue seems to paint a giant bulls eye across the torso of Frostbite. Granted Cobra doesn’t have the best snipers in the business but I fail to see how anyone could miss this bright blue patch! Still, I do understand Hasbro’s logic in the color scheme. It differentiates this version of Frostbite from previous versions. So, while I’d have preferred a color scheme similar to the one used on Short Fuze, I can live with this. If you’ve never owned this mold before then this is a good chance to pick it up.
Backblast is another example of a familiar face in an unfamiliar package. Up until about a year ago, I never owned a single Battle Force 2000 figure and when I did pick them up, I passed on Avalanche. There was just something about the figure that didn’t gel with me. I don’t know if it was the oversized helmet that reminded me of “Space Balls” or the bland color scheme but Avalanche was skipped over. So, in theory I should dislike this version of Backblast which uses that same mold… and yet I find him more tolerable now. I’ve wracked my brain for the reason why I like this figure and the realization hit me that it was his color scheme that saved the day.
Yeah, I know… I complained a bit about Frostbite’s colors sticking out in an arctic background but I like Backblast? Stranger things have happened in this world before. Backblast’s primary color is black—which tends to make objects look smaller than they actually are. As a result, his enormous helmet doesn’t seem quite so enormous. Secondly, the orange piping on the uniform breaks up the black rather nicely without being overdone. It adds just the right amount of color to offset the otherwise stark appearance. Lastly, the silver highlights on the torso and “snow camo” on the pants round the design quite nicely. So, instead of typing about how impractical this color scheme is I find myself oddly fascinated with this figure. Perhaps it is due to the fact that this is the first repaint we’ve had of his mold since the relaunch of the line and therefore this figure appears as a fresh face in my collection. Regardless of the reasons, Backblast (who I’m referring to as Avalanche) is a welcome addition to my collection and to my fledgling Battle Force 2000. My only real complaint about this figure concerns the paint applications used on his face. The color of paint used for the eyes is a bit light and the end result is a very bland facial expression. Also, on my figure and most of the ones I saw, the eyes were actually crooked which makes the facial expression seem a bit more “off”. So, if you can get past his odd visage you just might find that Backblast is a welcome addition to any Joe collection.
I actually have to applaud Hasbro—up until now they’ve really not abused the character of Snake Eyes in their six packs. Sure he seems to appear in one comic pack per wave but he’s only been including in one other TRU set—the Desert Patrol. As such, he’s not a victim of over exposure. However, I cannot seem to get as excited about this version of the GIJoe Commando as I can previous versions- including the Desert Patrol version. Utilizing the head of Snake Eyes version 4, this figure presents “the Silent Master” as a black-clad arctic commando. His uniform is predominantly black with some green detailing and gray piping. His pants are black with white camouflage added for some color variance. It’s not a bad overall design but it is not as tight a combination as many of the other Snake Eyes figures I’ve seen. Some of this could come from the fact that the torso used for the figure didn’t originally belong to Snake Eyes and as a result the figure’s head sits extremely low on the shoulders. For whatever reason, there’s just not much I can say about this figure. It doesn’t sit entirely well with me. Again, as I’m fond of saying in these reviews, it’s not a bad figure but it is not a great figure either. Honestly, my favorite “arctic” version of SE is found in Comic Pack #2. So, if you’re a SE completionist, then you’ll have to have this figure. Otherwise, this SE is one of the figures that you could skip from this set and be entirely happy.
Poor Mirage—he suffers from the distinction of being one of the figures that most Joe fans have FAR to many of. It’s not because he was released in endless versions since 1982. (He’s only had 4 that I’m aware of.) Mirage was packed with the Viper repaints that came out at the beginning of the relaunch and as such is one figure that every army builder has in surplus. So, why would any Joe collector want this version of Mirage? Hasn’t he been done to death? Possibly—but never like this. Someone at Hasbro apparently took one look at the figure’s code name and decided that it was time that ole Mirage here lived up to the moniker. That’s right—Mirage is a CLEAR figure and I absolutely love it! I’ve often wondered where Hasbro was going with the Mega-Marine concept. Were they just meant to be guys with extra armor and really big guns or were they more akin to Battle Force 2000? Were these the guys who were issued the new prototype weapons and gear and were then sent into the thick of combat to give their equipment a real trial by fire? If this theory is correct (and in my head it is) then Mirage represents the Joe’s attempt to replicate Zartan’s cloaking abilities. It’s not a perfect system as you can tell by the amount of color that Hasbro chose to put on this figure. However, in a snowfall or fog or any type of poor visibility it will give Mirage an edge over his foes. My only complaint about this figure is that I think Hasbro used too many paint applications on him. Honestly, this figure could have been released without a drop of extra paint and I’d be completely happy. Maybe it’s the influence of some of my fellow Joe fans but I’m really starting to like the more “unique” figures in the line and Mirage is certainly one of them. This figure is a terrific variation on a familiar figure and one that I think a lot of people are going to like once they see him in person!
Like many of the figures in this set, Short Fuze seems to be suffering an identity crisis, as he is a ‘dead ringer’ for Blizzard. Perhaps, due to the association with a certain frozen treat, the name is no longer available. For whatever reason, Short Fuze has undergone quite a transformation from his last appearance in the GIJoe Night Force set. In fact, it’s ironic that Hasbro chose the moniker of Short Fuze for this figure as he is packaged not with a mortar but with Blizzard’s skis and snow cleats. Regardless of whom you end up referring to this figure as, he’s my favorite in the entire set. The color scheme is subdued—tan quilted jacket with white snow camo pants. It’s practical without being gaudy—subdued without being bland. Add in the black highlights to the uniform and you’re left with a figure that works. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if more of the figures in this set shared this color scheme I think I’d be a lot happier with the set in general but that’s a topic for another day. This figure is solid in terms of design and colors. My only real disappointment with this figure is that his original helmet is missing. It seems a bit odd for a cold weather specialist to run around with his head completely uncovered but then again this is the same team that found their Silent Weapons specialist in the arctic in bare feet! This figure (whom I’m going to refer to as Blizzard) is a terrific reissue in a color scheme that bests the original in my opinion. So, if you’ve got an extra Blizzard helmet lying around, you’re all set. This is easily my favorite figure of the entire set.
Lonzo R. Wilkinson seems to get around as the Joe team’s original Ranger. His second version back in 1989 was considered a “tundra ranger” and that is the version that we see repainted here. It’s a great mold that is loaded with detail—especially in the dual layer jacket and vest that Lonzo is wearing. It is a design that is both realistic and yet visually exciting and it is no wonder that this version of Stalker has been a favorite of fans over the years. Stalker, like the rest of the Winter Operations team is wearing the white pants with the snow camouflage and seems well equipped for any cold weather mission. The color choice of his coat is a bit odd—turquoise and purple as it gives the impression more of a ski lodge than a military base. In fact, when I first saw this figure I pictured him sitting up at the lodge, sipping cocoa by the fire with Scarlet, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye while the rest of the Joes were out shoveling the sidewalks. It’s not a bad color scheme but it is one that seems to belong more on a jacket that you’d find at the North Face than something that would be issued to a Ranger of Stalker’s repute. It’s not enough to diminish my enjoyment of the figure but it does lead to some interesting “off duty” dio-story possibilities. Otherwise this is a solid figure in terms of design and colors and one that most Joe fans won’t regret owning.
I’d also be remiss in my writing if I neglected to mention that all of the figures in this set save Mirage are sporting a team logo on one of their biceps. It’s a detail that began with the Night Force set and one that I’m glad to see Hasbro continuing in these later sets.
Normally I’d make an attempt to break down the various gear that is packaged in this set and assign it to the various personnel but this time I just can’t. The use of the names and specialties of “Backblast” and “Short Fuze” simply aren’t represented in the equipment that accompanies the figures. There is nary a mortar or anti-aircraft weapon to be found unless that crossbow is packing some “Rambo” quarrels. So, as such I’ve simply shot pics of all of the included gear that is a continual strong suit of the TRU six packs. Sure, you may not get the gear that should come with the included figures but I challenge anyone to say that Hasbro skimps on the accessories in these sets. In fact, there is a noteworthy addition to the equipment in this set: the original Lowlight sniper rifle with bipod! It’s a weapon that hasn’t seen reissue in some time and will be a welcome addition to many Joe fans’ collections. Also of note is the use of Blizzard’s snow cleats with five of the figures. (Sorry Mirage!) All of the non-clear figures are packaged wearing the snow cleats that serve as a nice unifying element. So, while the equipment choices aren’t perfect for the code names used, it’s a nice variety of rifles, skis, cleats, and automatics to make most Joe fans smile as they immediately re-equip all of the figures.
So, in the end is this set worth it? I’d have to say yes. I’m not as enthusiastic as I was about previous sets but it is MILES better than the Infantry Division (Greenshirts) pack that came out earlier this year. This set has some great reissues in the form of the Blizzard and Avalanche molds as well as fun new take on Mirage. The Frostbite repaint isn’t bad (although I wish his beard was orange) and the Stalker is a decent reissue. I found the Snake Eyes to be a bit bland but I’m sure a lot of collectors out there find some use for him. When factor in the gear you’ve got a set that is worth the $20.00 price point at TRU. I wouldn’t pay too much more than that but for six figures it really is quite a deal.