Review & pics by: Fred Meyer

G.I. Joe Retaliation: Firefly

  Review & pics by Fred Meyer

Firefly has to be one of the most popular of all of the individuals who have ever worked for Cobra. Typically clad head to toe in gray camouflage, this masked saboteur has a mysterious past and face that can’t be photographed. In many ways, he’s the Joe equivalent of another famous genre mercenary—Boba Fett! Both characters are used in moderation in their respective fictions and yet both have captured the imagination of a fandom. (We won’t discuss the whole “neon phase” that Firefly went through near the end of the ARAH line.) So, it came as no surprise that Firefly would eventually be on the shortlist to end up in a big screen adaptation of G.I. Joe. After all, not only is he one of the more mysterious of all Cobra’s operatives but he’s also one of the most realistic. He’s also part of the second wave of Retaliation figures scheduled to hit stores in the beginning of February. Does this new cinematic rendition of the Cobra Saboteur deserve a spot in a G.I. Joe collection? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s opinion!

As stated in the intro, Firefly’s signature look is a head-to-toe uniform based on gray camouflage, dating back to his first appearance in the ARAH line back in 1984. He’s had several looks over the years but fans seem hesitant to embrace anything that deviates too far from the core concept. For the film, the production team tried to embrace that initial design while still putting a Hollywood spin on the saboteur. Early trailers and production stills have shown Firefly wearing what appears to be a gray snakeskin jacket and his signature balaclava. For the action figure, Hasbro has taken a slightly different approach. Firefly is wearing what appears to be a detailed olive-drag jacket with what appears to be either a camouflage pattern or an attempt at recreating a snakeskin texture. When viewed from the front, the jacket appears to be more of a camouflage; however when rotated 180 degrees it becomes obvious that the back of the jacket is painted tan with some sort of black pattern on the sides. The figure’s sleeves appear to be textured in a way that resembles a thermal undershirt which leads me to believe that this is supposed to be a vest worn over a long sleeve shirt. However, with the front of the torso molded olive and the back painted brown I’m not entirely certain what’s going on here. I must point out that some variety is added in the form a sculpted high collar around the character’s neck. It’s this collar that actually helps save the upper torso design in my eyes.

The rest of the figure is just as puzzling in terms of overall color scheme and design. The figure’s lower body appears to be wearing gray pants with two attached holsters and a pair of brown shoes. It’s an insanely varied color scheme for a figure that has been traditionally rendered almost completely in the color gray. The shoes are especially puzzling as they match no other part of the figure’s color scheme. It’s as if Firefly was running late and got ready in a hurry only to realize later that he put on his Dexter’s instead of his combat boots! I must say that there are some nice sculpting details on the body—such as the straps at the bottom of what I’m going to call his vest over the top of a painted belt! Plus both the torso and legs sport simulated folds in the fabric of his battle uniform. It is this type of detail that showcases the care that the Hasbro team puts into each figure sculpt.

For the head sculpt, Hasbro chose to appeal to both fans of the film and fans of the character. It seems to be a common conceit in Hollywood that actors cannot play masked characters for more than a few minutes without revealing their faces. This was the case with cinematic adaptations of Batman, The Shadow, Judge Dredd (the Stallone version), and even Spider-man. The trailers for Retaliation show Firefly both masked and unmasked and the figure reflects that with the inclusion of two heads! One features a sculpted head in a balaclava colored to match the olive color of the torso while the other is a pretty decent representation of actor Ray Stevenson. Fans of Marvel movies might recognize him from the Punisher War Zone film and I can only imagine that few Punisher customs will come out of this extra head. The likeness is pretty accurate to what we’ve seen the trailer—with Firefly have a grim expression, close cropped hair, and a slightly scarred left side. You’ll have to look closely to see the scars as they’re not nearly as prominent as on figures such as Cesspool nor do they have any paint apps as found on Xamot. The figure comes packaged with the Stevenson head on and so far that’s how I’ve left him. It works well in a movie context and helps give him a bit more personality than the neutral expression found on the masked head. One thing to note due to Hasbro’s unfortunate tendency of late, the figure’s neck is jutting forward over the top of his raised color. It’s not nearly as bad as what was found on the Pursuit of Cobra Recondo but it’s not as well balanced as the Joe Colton figure either.

Firefly comes equipped with a whopping four pieces of equipment, aside from the extra head. Included with the figure are the two pistols that came with the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper. They work well enough but I’d almost rather see him come with some sort of automatic rifle. However, I think the reason his weapons are so slight is because of the other accessories that are included. Back in the Spy Troops era, Hasbro released a vehicle called that Battle Blitz that was notorious for two reasons. The first was that it was really a pretty sad lump of plastic and the second was that it has one of the most unintentionally hilarious gimmicks found in the line—in the form of “Battle Luge Guy”. The board members of ran with the concept and BLG became a popular meme on the board for some time. Not learning the lesson that “motorized luges are really dull”, Hasbro released Firefly with an enormous three-wheeled “blast board” street luge. Even more interesting is that the luge has an “action feature” that ties into the figure. To use the feature, Firefly is placed onto the “blast board” with all of the dignity of a woman undergoing a pelvic examination. Press the button just in front of the rear wheel and the board’s handles light up. This ties into the Firefly figure (in theory) because the figure’s forearms are actually molded from translucent plastic. The light from the handles is meant to shine through the forearms and emanate from the unpainted outer sleeves. In reality, it doesn’t work at all—except in a really really dark room and even then it lights up with all of the conviction of Manti T’eo mourning his allegedly dead girlfriend. The lights just aren’t bright enough and sadly the inclusion of the gimmick on the figure means that Firefly’s wrists do not rotate. The figure’s other accessory is a translucent yellow container similar to what the artificial fireflies in the trailer emerge from.

Now, I’m going to say this—while I find the “battle board” or street luge’s action feature to be sadly lacking it is at least different from the multitude of zip lines that have been included with other figures in the line. It is also a far superior accessory than the “Blast-o-Matic 6000” missile firing cannons that both the initial Duke and Joe Colton figures were saddled with. The battle board has some nice sculpted detail and even holds Firefly’s “bug jar” in a sculpted cradle along its front fender. My only real issue with it is that there is simply no way that the figure can sit on this in anything resembling a dignified manner. No matter how many times I’ve placed him on it I keep expecting Mindbender to walk into the room, don a rubber glove, and tell him just relax for a moment. I find myself wishing that the figure had instead been packaged with a detailed version of the motorcycle that Firefly is seen riding in the trailers. Still, it’s better than Sound Attack so I’m going to move on.

At the end of the day is Firefly worth picking up? He’s got an undignified mode of transport and an anemic action feature that prevents him from having the swivel wrist that fans have come to expect and yet I still find him oddly interesting. Maybe it’s the Ray Stevenson head sculpt or maybe it’s the high-collared vest but something in this figure’s design appeals to me. My Firefly arrived around the same time as my Joe Colton action figure and immediately became the terrorist nemesis of the 1:18 representation of John McClane. As such, I’ve found that I like him more than I would have expected. Even with the reduced articulation and puzzling color scheme he’s an interesting figure. In fact, once the balaclava head is placed on him he’s immediately recognizable as Firefly—something that wasn’t as obvious in many of the character designs from the first film. With the announcement at Toy Fair that a more-movie accurate version of “Ultimate Firefly” is coming down the road, I find that this figure will most likely end up as my unmasked Firefly. I prefer the Ray Stevenson head over the more traditional look which means he can stand side-by-side with Ultimate Firefly as a unique character if need be. So, at the end of the day, I’ll say this: if you’re only going to buy one Firefly in his movie-inspired design, hold off for Ultimate Firefly. However, if you’d like another stylish terrorist figure in your collection, snag this one, leave the actor-accurate head on, and enjoy! Of course, that’s just one Joe fan’s opinion…




Copyright 2003