Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
Night Force Commander – Code name: Lt. Falcon
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 2.0
Several years ago, before my self-imposed hiatus from the fandom I sat down and reviewed the original 1988 Night Force Falcon . I had stumbled across a set of the original wave of the Night Force figures at a local comic shop for a whopping $40.00 and couldn’t pass them up. While I’d always liked the color scheme of the original figure I found that this was a rare instance where the repaint was just as solid as the original. The colors really popped and helped the design come alive in a way that I’d not thought possible. Flash forward a few years and the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club has once again given fans the opportunity to own a Night Force Lt. Falcon—this time in the ARAH generation 3 construction style. Is he worth snagging or is this just another repaint designed to milk hard-earned dollars out of collectors? Read on and find out two Joe fans’ opinions!
Once again, I’m joined by visiting professors of G.I. Joe-ology from the University of JoeSightings.com Chris “Werecat” Chung. As always, Chris’ comments will appear in bold—probably because he’s sabotaged my keyboard somehow.
I’ll be honest—the 2008 25 th Anniversary Lt. Falcon was one of the reasons I took a hiatus from both collecting and reviewing G.I. Joe figures. Back then, the line was selling quite well and the marketing team at Hasbro was milking that retail success for everything they could. Stores and fans were inundated with new product at a pace than Hasbro could feasibly sustain with any quality. As such, some real clunkers started to slip out—and the 25 th Lt. Falcon was one of those. The body was a lazy repaint and the less said about the head sculpt used, the better. It wasn’t until 2011 and the release of the Slaughter’s Marauder’s 7 pack that was exclusive that Lt. Falcon was redeemed in my eyes. He wasn’t the reason I bought the set (HELLO RENEGADES!) but he rapidly became one of my favorite pieces in the set. Comprised of parts from two different Dusty figures, this simple and effective parts combination made for a solid update to the Green Beret that has previously been given a particular hideous release. Combined with a brand new head that figure gave fans a Falcon that they wouldn’t have to hide behind other figures. Sure, his color scheme was a bit non-traditional as Falcon had never been a part of Slaughter’s Marauders before but he was the logical tie-in between that sub-team and the original Renegades.
What’s all this have to do with the Night Force version? Pretty much everything—as this figure is essentially a near-straight repaint of that previous release. The overall color scheme has been adjusted to closely mirror the original Toys R Us exclusive Night Force Lt. Falcon with some concessions made for the updated sculpt used. (The addition of knee pads, gloves, and armored panels on the shoulders being the most noticeable.) Even with the small changes this is a figure that is not only remarkably faithful to the original source material but also blends in almost perfectly with the recent Nocturnal Fire Night Force-themed Joe Con set. One change to point out is the use of the 30 th Anniversary Cobra Trooper web gear which more closely resembles the original figure than what was used for the Slaughter’s Marauder’s version. This does mean that the “rubber skirt” that extended below the figure’s waist is now gone and this leaves a large inset gap in the torso which was original sculpted for the skirt. Thankfully, the new web gear hides this pretty well in my opinion. However, your mileage may vary. What are your thoughts, Chris?
Falcon is a direct repaint of the Big Bad Toy Store Slaughter’s Marauders 7-pack version, except this one does not come with the shirt skirt or the same accessories. As a tried and true figure, he works, albeit even this version; like the BBTS version, is still a bit on the plain side.
As for deco, Falcon’s colors are close match for the original version, though his gray shirt sleeves are much darker than the O-ring version, making a bit more sense tactically. The Club also corrected the mistaken black hair color on the BBTS 7-pack by giving this new version his proper brown hair, so that was much appreciated. The paint applications were also well applied, though I have heard some complaints from other people that the shoulder and upper arm paint tends to chip off the moving parts. The only real departure from the original figure is the backpack. The original’s was solid black, but the Club updated (for the better) his backpack by making it O.D. green, changing the radio, antenna, and knife blade to silver, and painting the rope detailing a light tan. I would have preferred it if the radio and antenna were O.D. green as well—as that is more real-world coloration, but regardless, the silver breaks up the monotony.
While an acceptable tribute to the original, the web gear he uses is from the 25th Cobra Trooper, and it was a poor choice in my opinion, as it was too boring looking and too dated. It also doesn’t stay on that well, as it is prone to sliding around. (Though to be fair, the original 25 th Falcon web gear would not fit on this body’s larger frame.) While I can appreciate the Club’s desire to make him a close-as-possible to match the original, there are dozens of different sets of web gear and vests they could have used to make him look a bit more “prepared” for battle by having web pouches filled with ammo and gear, but that’s an easy enough fix on our own. On the plus side, the Cobra Trooper web fits in the waist slot that originally held his skirt, so thankfully that worked to conceal a potentially odd or barren area if a different part was used.
Normally, this is the portion of the review in which I’d talk about the figure’s head sculpt. However, in this case, the head sculpt, like the rest of the figure, has already seen release as in the Slaughter’s Marauder’s 7-pack. The only change is that this time around Falcon has been released with brown hair which is accurate to his original ARAH release. It’s a solid sculpt and I love the fact that the removable beret stays on the head even when the figure is inverted. Aside from my stray paint splatter on my figure, I’ve ZERO complaints about the sculpt and find it to be an IMMENSE improvement over the ham-fisted attempt that was the 25th Anniversary Falcon. Anything to add, Chris?
As for deco, Falcon’s colors are close match for the original version, though his gray shirt sleeves are much darker than the O-ring version, making a bit more sense tactically. The Club also corrected the mistaken black hair color on the BBTS 7-pack by giving this new version his proper brown hair, so that was cool. However with that said, I must confess I’m not a fan of that head, and I wish Boss Fight would have created a new one. As he currently stands, Falcon looks much older than what he should be. Or ironically, his current face reminds me of younger Johnny Cash, or even the fictional Silver John (John the Balladeer) from the Manly Wade Wellman novels. The original Falcon’s face was smooth and youthful in a generic way, and for that, I had always thought the RoC Sgt. Stone head would have made a better choice because he has more resemblance in lieu of a new head sculpt. But it is what it is.
The paint applications were also well applied, though I have heard some complaints from other people that the shoulder and upper arm paint tends to chip off the moving parts. The only real departure from the original figure is the backpack. The original’s was solid black, but the Club updated (for the better) his backpack by making it O.D. green, changing the radio, antenna, and knife blade to silver, and painting the rope detailing a light tan. I would have preferred it if the radio and antenna were O.D. green as well—as that is more real-world coloration, but regardless, the silver breaks up the monotony.
In terms of gear, Falcon comes equipped with two shotguns (which Chris identifies below), a knife, backpack, and a radio. Some of this gear should be familiar as it was originally released with the HORRIFIC 25th Anniversary Falcon. Thankfully, this time around it has found a much stronger figure to accompany. The only accessory that doesn’t quite work for me is the automatic shotgun simply because the figure has difficulty holding it any type of two-handed grip. It’s a bit frustrating only because I really would love to use that as his default weapon but for now I’ve made due with the standard pump action shotgun. (The fact that I’d just re-watched Predators again for the 2,000 th time right before this figure arrived might have influenced my feelings on the automatic shotgun. After seeing Adrian Brody wield it with scalpel-like surgical precision I was hoping that Falcon could do the same.) At least he’s able to hold all of his gear on the figure with no extra pieces left lying about. Otherwise, I’ve really got no other comments about the gear. Chris?
He comes with a Daewoo USAS-12 automatic shotgun with an under-mounted grenade launcher, a Benelli M4 Shotgun (ironically the M4 Civilian Tactical model) with under-mounted flashlight, beret, web gear, stand, scarf, backpack, and radio with antenna. The USAS-12 is a cool weapon, but like with many of the RoC firearms, the butt stock is too long to be properly carried in a firing position, and the grip is too short and thin, so this is not an ideal weapon for him to be used with Falcon’s arms or hands. Thankfully the M4 works perfectly.
One small gripe would be his file card. He is listed as the “Night Force Commander”, but the ranking officer would actually be Psyche-Out. Both Falcon and Psyche-Out were 1 st LTs when Night Force debuted, but Psyche-Out was later promoted to a Captain, so he would technically be the commander, especially when Falcon’s new file card acknowledges the passage of time from his younger days on the team until now. But this is a moot point, and not at all a big deal. It’s more of a point of trivia than anything substantial.
I wasn’t too upset when the final wave of single-carded 25th Anniversary figures was cancelled only because I really didn’t want to see another release of the then-current Lt. Falcon sculpt. Thankfully the good folks at the GIJCC had similar thoughts because this figure is quite honestly one of the reasons that I signed up for the FSS 2.0. For the most part, having the figure “in hand” proved that this was one case in which the anticipation did not exceed the realization. Granted, my figure has the sloppiest paint I’ve yet received in a single FSS figure but I figure that this is one case in which I just drew the short straw. Falcon isn’t perfect—and I’ll repeat my oft-stated mantra about “I wish he had hinged wrists” but otherwise he’s everything that I was hoping for. Honestly—this is one of the best pieces in the second round of the FSS so far and one that is very much worth tracking down! Consider him fully endorsed, but that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: My personal favorite in the FSS 2.0 thus far. A solid figure with great colors and articulation. He’s worth tracking down to add to the Night Force roster.
Chris, any closing thoughts?
Overall Falcon is a solid figure, and the aforementioned notwithstanding, there are very few debilitating issues with him that can’t be easily fixed at home. As stated, he fits nicely into the Night Force team, he fits nicely into the general modern line, and while not the tallest of the team, his proportions are never-the-less correct without making him look like a dwarf. His webgear could have been better, but what he does come with does harken back to the original. I would highly recommend this figure.
Final Grade: A-