“So this is how the exclusives end… not with a bang but a whimper.” The final Toys R Us exclusive 6-pack hit my local store last week and I immediately went it to pick it up. As I was leaving the store, I was hit with a sudden feeling of malaise. Was it because this was the last 6-pack that I’d be able run up to the store and buy in person? Partly—but it was mostly because the final exclusive pack to hit retail shelves is the most lackluster release yet from Hasbro. In many ways, it reminds me of the “final days” at a store that is closing—the employees are there in body but not in spirit. This set occupies the shelf space in body but the spirit just isn’t there. So, if you really want to know about the Heavy Assault Squad, read on.
Figuring out where to begin with this set is nearly impossible. According the package, there should be four named Joes (Duke, Snake Eyes, Ace, and Mutt) and two Greenshirts sealed inside—at least according to the file cards and card art. One look at this set, however, and you’ll see that Hasbro is batting 1 for 3 as only Duke and Snake Eyes are included. Somehow Roadblock slipped in with another Greenshirt and no one told Hasbro! In the past we’ve seen plenty of examples where the character depictions in the card art didn’t match the version of the character packaged inside. (Firefly in the Crimson Guard Force is a great example of this as is every Snake Eyes figure released thus far!) I can understand that sort of discrepancy as these packs are made up of existing molds and parts. If Hasbro wants to reuse artwork and save a few bucks, I could care less. However, when a 6-pack looks like a figure-swapper beat you to it, I take issue with the product. I expect that kind of sloppiness from companies like Lanard not one of America’s largest toy makers.
Now, let’s move on to the figures. Normally here’s where I’d write a detailed mini-review of each of the figures in the set—citing their good points and things that could be improved upon. The problem is that with these figures I’ve already done that! Roadblock, Duke, and Snake Eyes are virtually identical from the waist up to figures already released in other 6-packs! Duke and Roadblock are virtually identical to their Anti-Venom Task Force counterparts with changes only to the colors used in their lower bodies. The parts are all the same—only the colors have been changed to protect the innocent! Unfortunately I can’t be as nice to the rest of the set. I wasn’t a big fan of the Infantry Division (Greenshirts) 6-pack when it was first released. You can only imagine my utter “joy” at owning three more Greenshirts that are identical to figures included in that previously released set. Of the figures in this set, Duke and Roadblock are improved by the darker color scheme of their lower torsos. Snake Eyes looks a bit better than he did in the Desert Patrol set but the mottled camouflage used for his pants doesn’t match that of either Duke or Roadblock. The end result is the Snake Eyes is going out in his purple club pants and not on some type of infiltration mission. The Greenshirts are still Greenshirts so the less I say about them the better. To read my original thoughts on these figures, check out the Anti-Venom Task Force, Infantry Division, and Desert Patrol 6-pack reviews.
Okay, so the figures in this set are really nothing new. At least, there should be some great heavy weapons included in the ‘Heavy Assault Squad’, right? Wrong! This is where the set completely falls apart and never comes back together. There are a variety of weapons that could have been included in this set to help it live up to its designation. Roadblocks M2, Bazooka’s rocket launcher, the Rock Viper’s rifle that was packaged in the Cobra Infantry Forces set—any of these would have given the Heavy Assault Squad some serious firepower capabilities. Instead, we get a smattering of rifles that we’ve seen time and time again—a pair of UZI’s, the AK-47 with folding stock, the Desert Eagle, and my personal favorite—Zarana’s bladed weapon. That’s right, the Heavy Assault Squad cannot provide any form of “heavy assault”; instead one of the Greenshirts can trim your hedges with his Rotomatic Trimmer 6000. Why worry about laying down some heavy firepower when you can have the best-manicured shrubbery in town! Honestly, I’ve looked at this set again and again—and I eventually had to rearm them with weapons from the Target-exclusive bbi weapons packs. There is nothing in this gear that really lives up to the set’s name.
So, in the end we’ve got previously released figures with mis-matched card art and a hastily assembled set of weapons. If this set had included figure stands I could have found a positive aspect to it. There are only a few circumstances in which I can encourage someone to buy this set:
If you don’t meet any of these criteria, then my advice is to save your $20.00 and use the money to snag some of the uber-cool DTC product that is available online. It’s a shame that this is the last set to be released—especially after the slick Crimson Shadow Guard. Months from now, this set will still be languishing on the pegs and will serve as the average toy shoppers’ only example of GIJoe in stores.