Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
I’ll admit this now—I was a bit surprised when the Crimson Strike set was announced at the 2015 G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention in Springfield, IL for several reasons. First and foremost—there hadn’t been a big G.I. Joe exclusive item since SDCC 2013 and that was the last of a set of shared G.I. Joe/Transformers exclusives. (Last year's Danger at the Docks set was much smaller in scale.) Secondly, there was a new brand manager on board at Hasbro and I had just assumed that the folks in Pawtucket would take their time with the onboarding process. Lastly, and don’t throw stones at me for this, I had just assumed that G.I. Joe wasn’t much of a priority for Hasbro right now. Movie #3 seems perpetually stuck in development and the 50 th Anniversary line was only carried at Toys R Us. Overall interest in Joe just seemed to be at a low. Yet, during the Hasbro panel at Joe Con 2015, Mark Weber and Derryl DePriest managed to surprise the crowd with the announcement of the Crimson Strike set.
Note: To make this easier to navigate I’ve split each component of the Crimson Strike set onto its own page. If you just want to jump to a favorite item, use the individual links below. Otherwise, there’s a “Next Page” link at the bottom of each page.
The past few years Hasbro has set the standard pretty high when it comes to G.I. Joe exclusive packaging. Each of the three G.I. Joe vs. Transformers sets featured a retro-style packaging with a “What if” comic cover done in the style of the 1980’s Marvel Comics mini-series. Yet for the Crimson Strike, Hasbro took things a step further. This set features a highly detailed slipcover that simulates burnished metal with a few combat-action bullet holes. For a slip cover, it’s pretty impressive and honestly puts to shame the box art of the past few Joe Con sets. However, as nice as this slip case is, the actual set box is even better.
I’m not usually a big packaging enthusiast anymore. Back in the 1980’s, all of the G.I. Joe packages featured original painted artwork that really helped bring the contents to life. Those days, sadly, are behind now and packages just don’t have that creative spark anymore… until now! The Crimson Strike set box features an amazingly dynamic piece of artwork that showcases every included figure and vehicle in a giant action sequence! There’s Steeler in the Chimera blasting away at the Cobra Scythe while Grunt gets up close and personal with the Alley Viper Officer! Even the new AVAC is shown on the ground firing his SMG! (Which begs the question—WHO is flying the Scythe?) It’s a fantastic piece of original artwork that takes me back to those amazing pieces of package art from my childhood. How can someone look at this and NOT get excited about the contents? Seriously?
The story for the set is pretty basic: a Cobra jet attacks a G.I. Joe tank. This is the one piece of the packaging that is honestly a bit lacking for me. That’s it? That’s the best you could come up with? Granted, considering the multi-lingual packaging a story any longer would take up too much panel space but I was hoping for something a bit more considering that this set features Joe and Cobra vehicles on opposite sides of the norm. Personally I think to think that Steeler and Grunt are taking a captured prototype HISS out to the practice range to assess its full capabilities. Cobra Commander can’t let the Joes get a good look at the new rail gun system so he assigns a high-ranking AVAC to fly a capture Skystriker through the US radar defenses to destroy the tank before Cobra’s technological secrets are further compromised. The Alley Viper Officer is on hand to retrieve the AVAC should the Skystriker go down and secure ground transport for exfiltration. (Okay, that last part’s a bit of a stretch but I’m still trying to rationalize the Alley Viper in this set!)
All-in-all, some solid packaging that is extremely collector-friendly to open! I just wish I could buy a print of the box art to hang up on the wall!
Now, enough about the box—let’s get on to the contents!
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