Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 3
Cobra Elite Vanguard – Code name: Crimson Guard Immortal
I don’t know about you Fred, but for me growing up, I was never a fan of the Crimson Guards. I never thought they were that cool, so I could never jump on that bandwagon. Into adulthood my thoughts still haven’t changed. In fact, I feel the file card history about them is far more interesting than any physical representations. And considering practically every other specialized branch of Cobra is now considered “elite”, the CG’s have lost a lot of that elitist clout.
This is just proof that Chris isn’t a real G.I. Joe fan! I can still remember getting a phone from my childhood best friend the day he found a Crimson Guard at a local discount store back in 1986. As was our habit when either of us got a new Joe, he read the file card to me over the phone. I was enthralled as I eagerly devoured each detail—right down to the deep cover aspect of their mission. At that moment I was hooked—these guys were combat troops! They were infiltrators—moles within the very fabric of late Cold War society. (Even I got the Russian sleep agent analogy back then.) It wasn’t until they made their debut in the Marvel Comics series that I discovered that all of the CG’s were named “Fred.” Yep, the final stages of my conversion to being a fan were now complete! However, that was 1986 and by the time that 1991 rolled around, G.I. Joe wasn’t really on my radar anymore. As such, I didn’t discover the Crimson Guard Immortal until many years later as an adult collector. I don’t have the nostalgic attachment to them that many fans do so I find myself looking at them through a different set of lenses.
I have to say, I actually like the parts used to build this particular figure. I was a fan of the Retaliation Cobra Trooper when it debuted a few years ago, even if I viewed them more as paratroopers rather than standard grunts. Using the torso and arms of that particular figure gives the Crimson Guard Immortal a nice range of motion and the ability to hold his included weapons in some realistic poses. The addition of the hinged wrists to the figure’s hands is a welcome improvement to the source figure and is something that, in all honesty, should be standard on EVERY premium price Club figure. Some folks might note that the Retaliation Cobra Trooper torso looks nothing like the original 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal body but that’s where the vest from the Pursuit of Cobra Firefly figure comes in. The reuse of this particular accessory transforms an unlikely torso into a pretty solid match for the original design with no new tooling required.
For the deco, the figure is composed of a crimson scheme (obviously) with silver and black accents. The vest was thankfully toned down, so it’s more of a matte metallic gray than silver proper. That was a nice tweak, because bright silver may have worked on the original figure’s form fitting chest and groin armor, but it wouldn’t have worked as well with a bulky modern vest. As usual the weapon colors are dumb and non-tactical, and the Club will likely never change this absurd attitude out of stubborn pride, but that’s why we have vintage parts and Marauder John. An easy fix!
Freddie, for full disclosure, I did not open my figure, as I’m selling it to a friend who wants it MOC, so you’ll have to talk about the articulation and any issues it might have there.
For the legs, the Club once again dove back into the G.I. Joe Retaliation pool and snagged the legs from the first Snake Eyes released in that series. (It’s kind of sad that I have to refer to it as “the first Snake Eyes” from that series. Seriously Hasbro—stop it! We’re all done with Snake Eyes at this point. You’ve milked that Arashikage cow as much as it will produce. Move on!) The legs work surprisingly well with the torso and give the figure a more tactical look thanks to the sculpted cargo pockets on the thighs. Plus, the articulated ankles are a significant improvement over those used with the Retaliation Cobra Trooper.
All-in-all it’s a solid body design that goes a long way to winning me over on the concept of the Crimson Guard Immortal!
The CGI has a new head by Boss Fight Studios, but it isn’t flawless. The top pf the helmet is a little tall, thus it harkens a bit back to vintage Spearhead’s odd, high helmet—though not as extreme. The angle of the neck also forces his head to look slightly down instead of straight ahead. While not perfect, the head is never-the-less a welcome addition to this figure, and it really helps sell him as a CGI. The rest of his body is composed of kit-bashed parts that resemble the vintage one, but are not wholly accurate—especially the legs. Despite this, enough is carried over to convey the spirit of what this figure was supposed to be.
Aside from the resemblance to Darth Vader, I really like the new Boss Fight Studio head. Seriously—the figures from the GIJCC wouldn’t be nearly as desirable w/o the efforts of these talented sculptors. While the Club tried to diminish the importance of their work on Facebook this year by asserting that Boss Fight only works at the Club’s discretion and to the Club’s specifications, most folks in the fandom will agree that it’s the head sculpt that typically can make or break a particular figure. When Boss Fight Studio is involved, the figure ends up being a real winner, as is the case here.
The CGI’s firepower comes from a dual-tubed rocket launcher (remade from the vintage CGI) and a Russian ADS rifle. While adequate, care should be taken with the rifle as the barrel is very thin and prone to bending and breaking. A vest and ceremonial gear makes up the rest of his equipment. Nothing flashy, but then again, it shouldn’t be.
Honestly, it’s a nice solid kit with the exception of the vintage weapon. While it’s a nice nod to the original 1991 figure, the launcher really doesn’t fit well in the hands used for this particular figure. As a result the “launcher” (no springs to actually launch anything) ends up just flopping around uselessly in the figure’s hands. I’ve also noticed that the included Russian rifle is a bit flimsy; whether it’s the design or the quality of plastic used, the weapon is a bit too flexible for my liking. Thankfully I have a lot of good quality Marauder Gun Runners accessories that can substitute for the included weapon.
As kitschy as it may be, I find the included flag oddly appealing. Sure, there’s a file card rewrite to specifically make the Crimson Guard Immortal the “flag carrier” at Cobra rallies but I find that I really do like the accessory. It’s a surprisingly nice addition to the figure’s kit.
Overall this is a well-designed figure that suitably works for a modern update of the CGI, and the build is superior to the standard Crimson Guard we got in the tail-end of the Retaliation line. For those collectors who demand vintage accuracy, they will have plenty to complain about. But for the rest of us, this does a nice job of re-releasing this character as a modern update that is true enough to what came before. I will say I am not a fan of adding troop builders to the FSS sets because we have plenty of other individual Cobra who have not been made, but for what it’s worth, this is a decent figure.
At the end of the day, is the Crimson Guard Immortal worth a purchase? I’d have to say “yes”. The construction of the body is really quite nice and surprisingly functional. The new Boss Fight Studio head sculpt is a solid update of the original, even though it does remind me of a bit of Darth Vader’s helmet. The included kit is serviceable enough although the launcher is a bit lackluster. Even the figure’s color scheme is sharp and distinctive. My only regret is that this figure is only available through the FSS as a single carded figure. I hate to see potential troop builders relegated to an FSS roster simply because it makes owning more than one or two of them utterly cost prohibitive for many Joe fans out there. This figure would have been a fantastic inclusion to a “Crimson Strike Team 2” convention set in which three or six of them were included. However, that’s really my only complaint about this particular figure. I still don’t understand the concept of the Crimson Guard being used in combat but I like the design well enough to overlook that odd logical leap. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: One of the best figures in the entire FSS 3 lineup. The CGI had a solid design, great colors, and adequate gear. Highly recommended.