There are certain characters in the GIJoe mythos that have always appealed to me. Back in 1982, my first single-carded GIJoe figure was none other than the team’s premiere Ranger Stalker. Standing out from his olive (and black) clad peers in his camouflage uniform, Stalker immediately captured my attention and held it steadfastly for 25 years. His portrayal in the Marvel Comics series as Hawk’s “go to” guy as well as his no-nonsense appearances in the Sunbow animated series helped to cement his place among my favorite all-time members of the GIJoe roster. When his shared history with both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is factored in, the result is a character that holds a unique role in the saga that is GIJoe: A Real American Hero. It seems only natural that Stalker takes his place among the figures updated in the 25 th Anniversary line.
One of the most interesting aspects of the “Original 13” for me has always been the “uniformity” of appearance that they all shared. Let’s be honest—back in 1982 Hasbro really wasn’t certain how well this “new breed” of GIJoe was going to sell. As such, a conservative approach to the line was taken and a minimum of molds was commissioned. The plan was to simply reuse the various parts to piece together different combinations in order to produce as many unique characters as possible. (Sound familiar?) Flash forward two-and-a-half decades and it seems only fitting that Stalker should share the same body as Snake Eyes, just as he did back in 1982. Rather than producing the body in charcoal gray, Hasbro instead molded Stalker in a greenish-hued plastic, adding an olive camouflage pattern over the top to complete Stalker’s debut look. The molded straps on his legs have been given a black paint application as have his boots, in keeping with the original character design of the figure. The small detonator located on the figure’s left thigh has been given a greenish-tan paint application with some touches of black. Aside from the painted skin tone on the figure’s hands, these are the only paint applications found on the figure’s body. Some fans might find minimalist approach to be a bit… well, minimal on Hasbro’s part but those of us “old fogeys” who were buying the figures back in 1982 will recognize the color scheme for what it is—a near perfect attempt to recreate the original figure’s colors. The harness that provides the rest of the torso detail is identical to the one that came with the Battle Pack release of Snake Eyes—which emulates the original figure’s molded web gear almost perfectly. The two pouches on the figure’s forearms are unpainted which seems an odd omission but it’s nothing to get too concerned with. There are a few “odd folds” on the back of Lonzo’s hands—a direct result of reusing the Snake Eyes mold which featured gloved hands. Apparently they don’t use Palmolive in the sinks back in Detroit as I’m not really certain how to explain the wrinkled digits otherwise. Again this is a minor nitpick but something that fans should be aware of before adding Lonzo to their collections. Otherwise, the body design is a fantastic update to the original figure and that’s what is going to draw the interest of most Joe fans.
I have to say that the design team did a great job in capturing the “look” of the original Stalker figure in this head sculpt. The expression is neutral without coming across as “vacant” and the proportions seem “spot on”. Stalker’s sporting some “mid ear” side burns and a moustache of a length that it believable for the early 80’s. His olive beret features a painted black band across the bottom as well as a red patch on the front. I’m not enough of a military uniform expert to be able to judge whether or not the beret is sculpted to resemble a properly worn beret or not but to my eyes it works well enough. For all intents and purposes, this is the version of Stalker that I had to have back in 1982 and the same holds true for 2007. Stalker’s included accessories are similar to those of the Battle Pack Snake Eyes with two exceptions: the exclusion of the Uzi and the demo pack in favor of an antiquated-looking machine gun. This is my only real grievance with this figure; his weapon, to quote young Indiana Jones looks like “it belongs in a museum”. I’m not certain why Hasbro chose a piece that looks like it would be part of the gear issues to Lee Marvin in “The Dirty Dozen” when there are so many other weapon choices already available to them. Again, I’m no expert on modern military weapons but this just seems like something I’d expect to see in “Band of Brothers” as opposed to “A Real American Hero”. Thankfully, I’ve got plenty of extra gear lying around and can give Specialist Wilkinson a weapon more fitting a Ranger of his caliber.
Stalker is actually available in two distinct versions—a green camouflaged version and a dark yellow camouflaged version. The second release appears to be the rarer having only shown up at Target stores to the best of my knowledge. The green version (pictured in this review) is the result of a running change and is the version that Hasbro considers to be the final version. It’s also one of the best updates to a classic character to be found in this entire line so far. It’s an efficient reuse of existing parts in a completely logical fashion as well as a faithful homage to the figure that captured my attention back in 1982. By using the Battle Pack Snake Eyes body, Hasbro ensured that Stalker was one of the most poseable figures in this line and that he would be hampered by articulation issues as were some of his peers. My recommendation is that if you’re going to only snag a few figures in this line, at least give Stalker some consideration. He’s a solid addition to the line and a figure that will be a welcome addition to any 25 th Anniversary collection.