Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
|Figure Subscription Service Tiger Force Shipwreck:
When folks think of the Sunbow-produced animated adventures of G.I. Joe certain core characters spring to mind. Flint, Lady Jaye, Duke, Scarlett, Gung-Ho, Roadblock, and Shipwreck were all dominant personas in those animated adventures which has, for the most part, ensured the enduring popularity of the characters. As such, when Hasbro was licensing out G.I. Joe molds to toy companies around the world it made sense for a few of those familiar faces to see release in countries other than the United States with names that many US fans might not be familiar with. However, when the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club announced the second batch of their Figure Subscription Service, the international flavor was in full force. While not an International collector myself, I recognized the popularity of some of these designs even if they weren’t my “cup of Joe”. When I learned that the first shipment was Tiger Force centric my reaction was a bit lukewarm at best. Yet, sometimes having the figure in hand can lend a new perspective. Was that the case here? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s opinion.
In 1988, Hasbro added several sub-teams to the G.I. Joe roster. Each was comprised of familiar characters in new deco’s befitting their revised assignments. It was a brilliant move that allowed that Pawtucket toymaker to gain additional use of unique tooling and keep costs down. It also allowed fans to have “one more chance” to purchase a new version of a favorite figure. In the United States, Tiger Force initially consisted of 10 figures released in 1988. However, as Hasbro increased the global presence of the brand, the roster grew to include 13 addition releases. Many were repaints with familiar names but in the case of those figures produced by the Estrela Toy Company in South America, the names were changed to reflect the locale. This figure marks the first release of “Tiger Force Shipwreck” whose color scheme initially debuted as “Marujo” (Sailor) as part of the “Forca Tigre” in 1991.
Now that the history lesson is out of the way, let’s take a look at the actual figure released by the Collector’s Club. For the most part, this figure is constructed from the 2009 Shipwreck v13 figure that was released in the second G.I. Joe 25 th Anniversary five pack along with Flint, Lady Jaye, General Hawk, and Snake Eyes. The head, upper and lower torso, and legs are all from this version of the Joe team’s salty sailor while the arms are newer and feature additional wrist articulation found on so many figures from the 30 th Anniversary line onwards. It’s a decent parts combination that takes a 25th Anniversary mold and helps bring it further forward in terms of poseability. (It that’s not real word it will be by the time I’m done with it!) I’ll be honest—I’m more of a fan of the original 25th Anniversary version of Shipwreck body and so I wasn’t initially thrilled with the unveiling of this figure. Where the original Generation 3 version of Hector X. Delgado might seem a bit slight by current standards this one was always a bit “chunky” for my tastes—as if Shipwreck found the last case of Twinkies and decided not to share. Also, the head sculpt, which I assume is meant to emulate the Sunbow version of the character, is almost a bit too “smiley” for my tastes. However, I have to admit that the body has grown on me thanks to this particular version—probably due to the color scheme. (More on that in a moment.)
No one can ever accuse any of the South American Forca Tigre members of being ashamed of their unit theme. These figures wear their bright and garish colors like a badge of honor. Bright yellows emblazoned with Tiger striping embodies the more colorful sensibilities of the region in which they were released and the Collector’s Club has recreated that exactly. With his black cap and pants, good ole Shipwreck would almost appear to have raided Cover Girl’s wardrobe for his shirt which would seem more at home on a gorgeous fashion model than on a smart-mouthed sailor. However, the GIJCC seems to have run with this in terms of the file card indicating that Shipwreck has been assigned to the Tiger Force “to smooth things over”. In many ways this reminds me of the introduction of Bruce Campbell’s former SEAL as portrayed in the Burn Notice telefilm “The Rise and Fall of Sam Axe.” With that single line, the clever folks at the GIJCC have taken what, to American sensibilities, is a pretty garish uniform and turned it into a symbol of his disciplinary action. It’s not exactly easy on the eyes but somehow it fits with the snarky cocky sailor we all saw in the Sunbow animated adventures.
In terms of gear, there’s not much to see here. Shipwreck comes equipped with an assault rifle, harpoon gun, shoulder satchel, mooring hook, and his ever-present sidekick Polly. The parrot in particular was given a bit of a color upgrade in this version which additional paint apps breathing more life into the bird. (As they say in Monty Python’s ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’: “Beautiful plumage!”) However, cost-cutting measures are in effect and Polly has been manufactured in a significantly softer plastic than the original. As such, it makes perching the mouthy macaw on the satchel mount a bit tricky as the talons are prone to caving inwards rather than snapping right over the two small pegs. It was a bit frustrating for a bit but eventually I was able to make it work.
So, here’s the question: is this figure worth acquiring? I’ll admit—I find the answer a bit difficult. This figure isn’t as visually exciting as his shipment-mate Tiger Force Airtight whose color scheme seemed more practical. Perhaps it’s the black sailor cap and the “striped blouse” but I find that I have a hard time taking this particular figure seriously. However, the file card text helps to rationalize this figure more as a comedy prop than as a serious upgrade to the character. He’s a solid homage to the International release of Marujo which is great if that’s your “cup-o-Joe”. However, for this particular Joe fan he’s purely optional. I don’t know if I’d actually have bought him had I stumbled across him sitting on a store peg at regular retail price. As such, I’d recommend him to either die-hard fans of the character or to Internationally-interested collectors but for the more casual Joe fans I’d say stick with the Dollar General repaints if you’re looking for a nice modern take on the character. Of course, that’s just one Joe fan’s opinion.
The bottom line: While he’s appealing to International figure collectors and Tiger Force fanatics, he’s purely optional for most Joe fans.