I can count the number of named Cobra female figures on one hand: Baroness, and Zarana. While Cobra had a number of other female characters such as Dr. Biggles-Jones, Evy the Range Viper, and even Pythona, only two of those characters ever saw any sort of release in plastic form. At Toy Fair 2006, Hasbro unveiled a new “femme fatale” for Cobra—a darkly clad woman with a gun that most Dreadnoks would gladly trade their motorcycle for.
And I’ve gotta interrupt here for a second and say this is a huge selling point to me on this figure in general. A lot of the online fans seem content and eager to just continue to get repaints and retools of existing characters, but to me, G.I. Joe has survived for twenty-five years based on the strength of their new characters and widely expanded roster. While Munitia is mostly a retooled Baroness (though she ends up having more new parts than I initially thought) she gains lots of bonus points purely because she is someone new with a blank slate and tons of potential as a new character.
If Munitia’s body construction seems familiar, it’s because it’s based upon the Valor vs. Venom Baroness sculpt that was released back in 2004. Utilizing the same torso, waist, upper legs, and belt as Anastasia DeCobray, Munitia is clad in a form-fitting black uniform that is almost completely devoid of superfluous details. The character design still retains the raised Cobra sigil across the chest, and still makes use of the sculpted upper boots but is otherwise devoid of the typical molded grenades, knives, and pistols that seem to predominate Joe sculpts. The molded zipper on the chest is painted silver to add in some color in an otherwise unified “sea of black” but overall her battle uniform is as plain as an RAH ’82 Joe. So General Hawk, what say you?
Well, I was one of the few perhaps who really loved that Baroness mold, but you have to admit that the sculpt was very indicative of the Baroness character and is pretty unique to her. The “First Lady” of COBRA has always had that distinct look, so I wasn’t sure at first if it would work being reused for another character. But Hasbro did a great job with the new parts they ended up tooling, and managed to eliminate all of that familiar angled armor that distinguished the figure as the Baroness. The result is a character that reuses a lot of parts, but has enough unique parts added that she totally works as a different character.
Oddly enough, her whole uniform reminds me of the “Mysterious Woman” character from the pulp-homage film “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” but more on that later. One detail that piques my interest is the fact that Munitia has newly sculpted boots. Metal-plated across the foot and shin and open on the sides, this new footwear helps to further set her apart from her body source. I’m not certain of the practicality of having exposed flesh covered only by criss-cross laces as part of your uniform but it certainly gives the character a bit of an edge. Anything else to add, General Hawk?
Yeah, that fishnet look is really out there and I’m not sure how that comes into play other than trying to “sex up” the figure a bit for us older perverted fanboys. It’s one part of the figure that really doesn’t work that well, but thankfully it’s a minor component to what is otherwise a pretty solid looking figure. Besides that I do really like those retooled boots and the retooled parts in general.
This figure is interesting in that it represents an attempt to combine a fair number of new parts with previously existing pieces. As stated above, the framework of this figure comes from the Baroness and yet Hasbro added in just enough new pieces to ensure that this newest member of Cobra isn’t simply a “body clone”. Munitia sports all-new arms that feature the new “swivel elbow” joint that has replaced the signature “swivel arm battle grip” cut joint. Her hands are sculpted specifically to hold weapons and still look natural; careful observation will reveal that her pistol is designed to be held in the left hand as indicated by the slightly extended trigger finger. Her forearms are protected by metallic bands that run from her wrist nearly to her elbow and a silver Cobra sigil is worn on her left armband. It is interesting to note that the arms aren’t a perfect fit with the torso and sit out from the body a bit more than the Baroness’ did. This “odd fit” seems be the result of using significantly smaller rivet-less shoulder joints on a figure that wasn’t designed for them. The original Baroness figure suffered slightly from “linebacker” syndrome and had a set of shoulders that only the Russian Women’s Weight Lifting team would find “feminine”. Munitia has a significantly smaller build and therefore the gaping in the shoulders occurs. It’s not terribly noticeably and the figure’s are not “loose and floppy” as you might expect. All-in-all, it’s a nice change and a positive sign that Hasbro, should the line continue, could conceivably overhaul additional older sculpts. What’s your take on the new arms, Justin?
The arms are moderately successful. They do come across as oddly lanky and slim, but still are right in tune with the rest of the figure. Permanently sculpted trigger fingers in general are somewhat hit or miss, though I think the fingers here are somewhat overdone. While she looks very cool holding her pistol, without anything in her hands, the well defined shape of her grips looks a bit out of place, in my opinion. Not enough to really make the figure stand out too much, but it is something that you can’t help but notice. Still, these are minor complaints to an otherwise fairly solid figure.
When it comes to head sculpts I have to say that Munitia is a bit of a surprise. When I saw the figure at the 2006 Collector’s Convention I had assumed she was wearing a leather cowl (similar to those of WW1 era pilots) and that her long hair was hanging out the back. Closer inspection of the actual figure instead reveals that what first appeared to be hair is actually a long flap of fabric that hangs just below her shoulders. I’m not certain as to why she’d be wearing this particular piece of decoration but it adds a nice touch of character to the design. Munitia’s head sculpt actual reveals very little about the character; as stated earlier, her head is covered in a form-fitting cap which hides her hair entirely. Her facial features reveal a woman with an oval-shaped face with evenly-spaced features and a fairly cold gaze. Her ethnicity is unknown although I’d hazard a guess that she might have been intended to have some Middle-Eastern ancestry. When I look at Munitia I’m reminded more and more of Bai Ling’s “Mysterious Woman” character from “Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow”. Between the black leather body suit, the cowl, and the visor (more on this in a moment), I’m left with the impression of the cold silent mercenary who thwarted Jude Law’s character at every turn. Early text of her file card that leaked onto the web suggested that Munitia was part of a trio known as “The Hiss”. Comprised of Blackout, Firefly, and Munitia, they were to be an elite mercenary unit for Cobra—able to accomplish those jobs that were just too complicated for the Cobra regulars. When I look at this head sculpt I’m left with the impression of a cold heartless killer who has no room for emotions of any kind in her work. Of course, Justin can say whether I’m reading too much into this or not.
Well, I’ve never seen Sky Captain, so I can’t comment on that part of it, but I do agree that this newly tooled head sculpt is a very nice one. She’s got distinctive facial features and at first I was kind of thrown by the long hair, too. Seeing it up close and finding that the extended portion of her headgear is just cloth and not hair at all does add a bit of character to her, believe it or not. For all we know she could be shaved bald under the skull cap, and nothing is more bad ass than a girl mercenary with a shaved head. ;) In all seriousness, her grim appearance and her headgear to add a bit of sinister mystery to the character, and I definitely approve of the work done on this new head sculpt. It tops the figure off very well.
When it comes to accessories, Munitia is given a pretty light kit. Included with my figure was an optics band that would make Geordi LaForge green with envy and a bladed pistol that appears to be straight out of Blade 2. The optics rig is actually pretty nicely detailed although almost a bit too complex. With asymmetrical sensory inputs, I’m not entirely certain as to what kind of work this is suited for. Does it offer night vision capabilities? Does it have a HUD useful for accessing building schematics, maps, etc? Is it composed of ruby quartz used to hold back her uncontrollable optic blasts? Regardless of how the visor is used, I’m finding myself liking it more and more. I see it as “Munitia’s edge” when on a mission. Before departure, she’ll download critical maps and schematics into a small flash drive built into the unit. Once the operation begins she can take advantage of the visor’s passive night vision and thermal optics to locate her targets and complete her operation. Post-operation debriefs are made much simpler when Munitia reviews the data recorded by the visor’s built-in CCD camera. I see this as the most essential piece of gear that she takes with her on any mission, enhancing her already deadly skills. Her pistol, on the other hand, almost takes “form over function” a bit too far. Resembling the full-automatic pistols found in “Far Cry: Instincts”, it’s a solid and deadly-looking weapon that fits PERFECTLY in Munitia’s left hand. The real “head-scratching” aspect of the weapon is found in the curved blade mounted below the barrel. There’s no other way to put it: the blade is HUGE. We’re not talking “Duane ‘The Rock’ Johnson” large—we’re talking about “Mike Tyson on steroids” huge. It’s so large that it walks that fine line between ominous and ridiculous and it definitely teeters toward the latter. There is no way that this weapon could ever be practically holstered and I’ve yet to find a way that the blade can be used believably. As I mentioned earlier, a similar concept was used in the movie “Blade 2”—yet the blade was significantly smaller than seen here. I’m not really certain what the designers in Pawtucket were going for but I think they went a bit overboard with this one. Of course, my esteemed colleague might feel differently about this.
I hold your opinion on the visor, that it is very intricately sculpted nicely detailed and adds some mystery to the character again. Where does she get these technical marvels? What exactly does she use it for? I think the idea that her, Firefly, and Blackout have some secret source for highly advanced technology is a pretty neat one. I can see these goggles serving many purposes, but the most important purpose is looking good, and they definitely do. As Fred says, they do almost seem TOO detailed, but they fit over her eyes pretty seamlessly and end up looking very nice.
The pistol I think we definitely disagree on. I really love the sculpt and shape of the weapon itself, and there is something inherently nasty about a long curved blade mounted to the bottom. The blade is a little oversized, but really, I kinda dig it. I can see Munitia jumping into battle and fighting her way through some opponent soldiers, just to run out of ammo as she gets in the middle of the action. Seeing her problem, some guys move in to take out “the little girl”. Well, a few well-placed swipes of this bladed pistol, and they all learn their mistake. It’s a very neat combination of weapons, and ultimately while it’s totally unrealistic, I do think it’s very fun, and works well.
In the end, I’ve got to say that I’m more excited about Munitia than I’ve been about a new figure in a long time. A female mercenary is something that COBRA has had in short supply and the prospect of a brand-new character without 20+ years of baggage makes the fan boy in me giddy with anticipation. Sure, she reuses a fair amount of the popular Valor vs. Venom Baroness sculpt, but there are enough new parts added to the mix that the resemblance isn’t nearly as strong as you’d think. Even when compared to my single pack black Baroness Munitia appears to be a trooper in a similar uniform more than she resembles a “body clone”. With the fate of this wave still uncertain, I feel it would be a real shame for this figure to not see mass release. New blood is something that has been desperately needed in the GIJoe franchise for some time now and Munitia brings that to the table in spades. I realize that many fans would just rather see yet another classic character updated in new sculpt form but if the line is to survive then it must continue to grow and innovate. If such innovation involves “Franken-Joe” figures like Munitia, then I’m all for it—just as long as the parts combination is more than just a simple “lazy boy custom”. If and when Munitia sees release I can whole-heartedly recommend this figure to Joe fans everywhere. I have the feeling that Justin is going to back me up on this one as well.
Yup, I absolutely have Fred’s back on this. In fact, Munitia has really made me reflect a bit on the last run of new sculpt Joes we’ve seen over the past couple of years and has made me somewhat sad. Even as the DTC line was sputtering a bit from a creative standpoint, it’s easy to see that the figures themselves were quite nicely conceived, well designed, and well thought out, especially for using a bunch of rehashed parts. Wave 4 seemed to have a bit of a lull in early pictures, but now that I’ve seen some of these guys up close and personal, it really makes me disappointed that this is most likely the end of the Direct To Consumer “experiment”. Even if Wave 4 does see release (which is up in the air at the moment), there will likely not be a Wave 5, and if that’s the case, the days of getting new sculpt 3 ¾” new characters are probably over for the time being. While I’m certain the 25 th Anniversary stuff will kick a whole lot of ass, it’s going to be modern representations of everyone’s favorite classic characters, and the new characters will simply cease to exist. We will be getting some great stuff from the Collectors’ Club I’m sure, but from a straight retail standpoint, the time has come. No matter what your opinions are on Wave 4 in general, you cannot argue that this is somewhat disappointing.
But who knows? If the 25th Anniversary stuff really kicks up interest in the retail market, perhaps we will end up seeing what “could have been” from later DTC waves, and maybe the days of new sculpts and new characters aren’t quite over yet.
I would personally like to thank Hasbro for their 25 years of dedication to the Real American Hero brand and for their obvious hard work on the DTC line of toys, even if it ended with mixed results. I know they put a lot of effort into it, and I only hope everyone gets a chance to own this last wave of toys, as it ended up being better than advertised, in my opinion.