Review & pics by Fred Meyer & Justin Bell

25th Anniversary Comic Pack #36.5 - “A Bad Day at the Circus”

  Review & pics by Fred Meyer & Justin Bell


I can still remember the day that my father brought home the original Crimson Guard Commanders. I was home, having just had a particularly good report card, and Dad has said that if my grades were good then I’d have earned something extra. I wasn’t certain why he’d had in mind by my young psyche nearly overloaded at the site of the mirror-imaged twins who had come to play such a prominent role in the Sunbow animated series. With their distinctive “mirror speech” and their haughty mannerisms, the dynamic commanders were truly formidable opponents—both in the boardroom and on the battle field. Their introduction changed the very nature of the stories that could be told for Cobra; now the corporate world had become another battlefield for the shadow organization. Over the years, Hasbro has been fairly conservative when it comes to updates of the “Corsican Twins”—with re-releases consisting of either reissues of the original figure or reused parts combinations with new color schemes. However, in the 25 th Anniversary line Tomax and Xamot are finally given an updated release that treats the source material with the respect that it so richly deserves.


Tomax and Xamot have a pretty central focus in my G.I. Joe history as well. While the first G.I. Joe comic I ever read was Issue #1, I didn’t start buying it regularly until I found it in my local general store at issue #37. And of course, Issue #37 was where the Twins get their infamous introduction (not to mention classic characters like Flint and Footloose). I was immediately endeared to the Corsican Twins, and to my most pleasant surprise I found them at a local hardware store of all places, a few weeks after I grabbed the comic off the shelves. Their portrayal in the cartoons just cemented their coolness in my mind. For whatever reason I just really loved the acrobatic nature of these two operatives, and how they were flipping off of Ferrets one minute, and at a stock broker’s meeting the next. Very cool characters that have become essential to the COBRA mythos.


Tomax & Xamot:

There’s not much point in writing up each twin separately. In releasing this pair of figures, Hasbro wisely designed a body that would work for both of the twins with only the slightly modifications. The body design is simple in nature—a sleeveless v-neck shirt with a pair of blue pants and ornately Cobra-themed silver boots. The bodies are primarily molded in navy blue with silver highlights on the collar, Cobra sigil, belt, cod piece, and armored Cobra boots. Maroon paint has been added onto the kneepads as well as onto the laces of the boots and the side trim of the soles. (Also, when examining the figures fans should take a look at the cool Cobra sigil set into the back of the heel!) Each figure’s arms are molded in flesh tone plastic (as are the heads) with identical molded black plastic gloves on each hand. Both of the figure bodies are completely identical.

Now, I can see where this is headed. Anyone looking at the pictures posted in this review is going to take issue with the last statement of the last paragraph. However, just bear with me a moment and you’ll see what I’m getting at. The basic bodies are completely identical—it’s the accoutrements that are added onto them that give each twin their unique look. It’s a well established fact that the twins’ original uniforms are designed as mirror images of each other—something that even the packaging took advantage of. To accomplish this mirroring effect, Hasbro uses additional molding attachments to render two characters from the same body. For example, the high collar and armored pauldron that both Tomax and Xamot wear are additional pieces that are added onto the figure’s body. In this case, the collar, shoulder armor mount, and crimson sash are all molded into a single piece that free floats over the figure’s shoulder. The armored panel on each shoulder is attached at the shoulder by a hinge joint which allows it to move up and down with each figure’s arms. The small communicator that each twin wears on their wrist is molded onto a separate piece of plastic that is attached over the arm. (These are presumably placed onto the arms before the hands are attached during the assembly process.) The knife and pistol holster that each twin wears are actually separate pieces from the legs that are glued into place. So, with a few minor additions to a basic mold, Hasbro has managed to produce the signature “mirror image” look of the twins from a basic body. My hat is off to whoever came up with method of producing the twins—as it produces two figures from one primary tooling. So, what are your thoughts on the construction of the “Corsican Twins”, Justin?


Absolutely brilliant. By creating one basic “tool” that works for both Twins, the ingenious designers managed to save money, yet still make the figures authentic to their source material. The “blank slate” nature of the jumpsuit is a perfect way to give us both brothers without investing a lot of money in extraneous tooling that would essentially just be the reverse of what we’ve got. By generating removable secondary pieces, we’ve got great representations of Tomax and Xamot, but also a wealth of customizing options as well.

The way the Twins are built just shows that this Anniversary style lends itself very well to tool re-use and shows just how revolutionary it is with the removable parts and pieces that save Hasbro money, but also give us some great customizing options. I’d say, almost without question, that the construction of the Twins is about as good as I’ve seen in the Anniversary line to date.

But the best things about these figures are the little details…the “Extensive Enterprises” logo as a belt buckle? Pure brilliance. The COBRA cartoon rifles? Fantastic idea. We’ve finally got a set of great bare arms for customizing purposes (though a word of wisdom on the gloves, for those folks planning on using them for other figures…the pegs are actually in the arms, not in the hands, unlike the other Anniversary figures). Just something to keep in mind for folks wanting to equip some of their figures with gloves.

What it boils down to is whether you’re looking at the obvious or the subtle, the designers covered all bases with these two figures, and they are simply amazing. Some of the best of the best we’ve seen in Anniversary form to date.

When it comes to the head sculpts of the characters I’m not entirely certain whether I like them or not. The features on each head are very elongated and angular which gives them a very distinctive aspect. The proportion of the head to the body is darned near perfect and neither of them comes across like “Mentat the Destroyer”—aka Breaker from Comic Pack #14. (Seriously—what the heck happened there?) The only reason I hesitate before stating that I like these heads is that they walk a fine line between being stylized and almost too elongated. The original figures of the Twins featured very rounded soft features—which never really seemed appropriate to me. This set, however, almost takes things too far in the other direction and instead leaves Tomax & Xamot almost a big gaunt in appearance. The heads themselves are not completely identical in appearance—Tomax’s hair appears to have a bit more of wave to the way it falls across his forehead while Xamot’s is much straighter. Also, Xamot’s left cheekbone is more pronounced than that of his brother. However, these are minor details that I’m pointing out as the over all effect is that of one figure looking into a scarred mirror. Bravo, Hasbro! The twins come with but a single accessory (not counting their figure stands)—a brand new SMG that resembles the standard Cobra-issue weapon seen in the Sunbow animated series. If Hasbro sold these weapons in bags of 10 a great many cartoon fans would be re-arming their collections! Anything to add to my over-zealous analysis of the head sculpts, Justin?


The head sculpts are nearly as amazing as the bodies themselves. I do agree, they have an almost elongated nature, and the face sculpts look Eastern European in appearance, so that works flawlessly considering that they’re from the Mediterranean. From their hair to the thick metal toes on those silver boots, Tomax and Xamot are simply fantastic.

As if the figures themselves weren’t great enough, Hasbro found a way to not only get rid of those obnoxious oversized laser pistols, but to also give us a very cool set of new weaponry! Giving the Twins the laser rifles that the cartoon Troopers run around with is a fantastic idea. Considering how many people will likely be buying the Tomax/Xamot pack for customizing purposes alone (with those great arms) this gives folks yet another reason to stock up.

Included in this comic pack is the third of the three brand-new comics from Larry Hama. “A Bad Day at the Circus” is an issue that falls squarely between issues #36 & #37 of the Marvel series; it actually functions better as a prelude to #37 as this is what most of the action is tied to. Readers are given a very brief glimpse at Cobra Commander’s introduction of the twins into the Cobra hierarchy, as well as some setup for the events of issue #37. We see Flint asking Duke about this new unit of his, we see the HISS Tanks deployed to the range in preparation for the testing of the Armadillo. We’re also given a glimpse of a past “pre-Joe” mission involving Flint, Roadblock, and Duke encountering the twins in Trucial Abysmia. More importantly, we’re given a glimpse at the training facility for the Fred series Crimson Guards as the twins perform their first inspection of the facility. It’s especially interesting to watch the plastic surgeon describe the procedure that the candidates undergo when they give up their previous identity in the service of Cobra. (In many ways I’m reminded of the story of Jason Bourne as depicted in the recent series of “Bourne” movies.) While not a stand-alone issue, it’s a solid story that nicely fills in the gaps between the classic Marvel issues and offering a bit more insight into the world of Cobra. It also features better art than the final “World War 3” arc from Devil’s Due which is rather telling. After all, shouldn’t the comic publisher feature better artwork than the toy company? I’m sure that Justin will have more to add to this brief synopsis.


Yeah, unlike issue #32.5, Larry Hama seems more able to seamlessly fit this issue alongside regular continuity and not disrupt the pattern of things too much. Seeing the familiar faces of old school Destro, Major Bludd, and the Baroness as they react to the quick promotion of the Crimson Twins was great. A nice little glimpse of Storm Shadow is his classic COBRA goodness is always a very cool sight as well.

We get little peeks at Flint and Roadblock, as I’ve said, the issue fits perfectly right alongside the regular Marvel run. A nice issue that is just what I had in mind when we first heard about this project. While issue #21.5 was almost too intertwined and too convoluted, and Issue #32.5 was too loose with the timeline, issue #36.5 seems to hit just the right note, giving us familiar characters, but a new untold story.

In the end, this is the comic pack that is going to fly off of store shelves first. Despite having NO troop-builders whatsoever, comic pack #36.5 shows just what happens when a highly-detailed and yet faithful update to two popular classic characters occurs. The few times I’ve seen the third wave of the comic packs in stores this is always the set that’s missing—or at least getting grabbed almost immediately. Tomax & Xamot have been begging for an update since their original release and, while Hasbro made an attempt with the Crimson Command Copter, the figures came across as what they were—repaints and reuses rather than new original figures. Whoever designed the twins should be proud—this is the most perfect set of figures in the entire 25A line-up with great proportions, some ingenious construction, and some utterly fantastic detail applied to a fairly simple design. Honestly, if the designer that produced these two figures was made “lead designer” over this new construction line I think that we’d have fewer “giant noggin Breakers” and more figures like this—which would make me one happy Joe fan among many. I’m curious to read Justin’s closing thoughts as I know that he’s a bigger fan of this line than I am currently. Take it away, General Hawk!


Tomax and Xamot first appeared in 1985, and have gotten their fair share of retries since then, but the Anniversary versions just seem to succeed on every level where others might have fallen short. From fantastic new head sculpts, to a nearly perfect body style with excellent gear, Tomax and Xamot get the new updates they’ve deserved. Not only are these terrific renditions of the Twins, but they are two of the best Anniversary figures released to date. With great articulation, simplified (but excellent) gear, awesome sculpts, an entertaining comic, and a great concept, this version of Tomax and Xamot hits a home run at every step to the plate.

Do not hesitate. This is the cream of the crop…great figures, and a must buy, for sure!




Copyright 2003