New characters are always a welcome addition to my Joe collection. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing updates to my favorite RAH characters but there’s just something about a brand-new character that brings out the fan boy in me. New characters represent new storylines, new personalities, and new life breathed into an already diverse group of characters. This pack delivers on that feeling of “new-ness” with the debut of one entirely original character and a new take on a familiar face. That’s right—I’m talking about Bombstrike and the Croc Master.
Alyssa Renee Stall isn’t a completely unfamiliar name around the GIJoe base. Originally dubbed “Cadet Bombshell”, she was part of the saga of the Stall family that began with Blackout’s file card. The sister of Blackout & Barrel Roll, her disappearance leads the brothers down a destructive path of vengeance and betrayal, or at least that’s the indication. Regardless, Bombstrike is the first female figure in the line to incorporate both the new shoulder and elbow joints. She’s also one of the more realistically proportioned female figures we’ve had in the line. Whereas Lady Jaye suffered from “pygmy head syndrome”, Bombstrike seems a bit more in the line with the rest of the human race. The overall character design is simple—t-shirt and fatigues. Emblazoned across the front of the shirt is the GIJoe “stars & stripes” logo. The rest of her uniform is surprisingly realistic; no odd color choices, no futuristic straps and buckles. In other words, she’s dressed as if she was part of the real world and this is an approach that I like. I’ve always thought that members of the Joe team should be grounded in reality while the more fantastical elements belonged to Cobra. It’s nice to see that someone at Hasbro shares this vision.
With the 3.75” temporarily “on hiatus” there’s been a great of speculation as to “what might have been” and Bombstrike has contributed her fair share to that discussion. Her gear is pretty straightforward: pistol, rifle, gauntlet, radio, and backpack. What causes so much speculation is the large hole cut into the back of her pack. It doesn’t interact with any of her present accessories so one can only speculate as to what type of gear might have attached to this “hard point”. It’s not enough to detract from the overall effect of the figure, but it certain does bear examination. It’s nice to see some new weapons and accessories being used with the figures again; every piece of Bombstrike’s gear is original to her. This brings back memories of opening RAH figures as a kid and having to remember which rifle went with which Joe as very few figures shared common weapons. If Bombstrike is any indication of what we could see post hiatus, consider my curiosity piqued!
This is a figure that has caused me to do a rapid reversal of opinion. When I first opened this two pack, I could have given you two cents for Croc Master. I never had the original figure so I had ZERO attachment to the character. However, after having him for a few weeks my opinion has done a complete 180! First off, the sculpting on this figure just stands up on the table and screams “MENACING!” From the massive torso to the viciously cold predator gaze to the green muzzle across his mouth, this guy is NOT someone a Joe would like to meet in a dark and lonely swamp. Add in the fact that he’s got a large gator hide vest (with gator head across the back), and you’ve got a figure that, in my opinion, lives up to the legacy of the original character. I even like the greenish tinge to his skin. In my Joe-verse, he was a trooper that volunteered for the venomization process as it made him closer to the animals he sought to dominate. How better to lead the pack than to become the alpha male. The more I look at this figure, the more I realize that he’s my favorite of the potential V-troops.
Croc Master’s accessories are a bit thin—he comes with a large machete and a tiny rubber croc. The machete is great but it’s the Croc that I’ve seen cause the most discussion. I always hated the original Croc Master’s animal, as he was too undersized to be considered really menacing. The size issue holds true for this croc as well but that’s not all that takes away from his menace. This little amphibian sports a hue much closer to Kermit the Frog than the object of Steve Irwin’s obsession. The result is an animal that comes across more as “cute” than menacing. In fact, when looking at him with the Croc Master I had the image of Dr. Evil from Austin Powers and his cat Mr. Bigglesworth. This isn’t one of his terrifying swamp creatures—this is his little pride and joy, his pet. However, don’t make Mr. Bigglesworth angry as when Mr. Bigglesworth gets angry PEOPLE DIE! Still, the baby croc ends up more as a comedy piece than a real detractor and doesn’t diminish my love of this figure one iota.
I love this set, plain and simple. Bombstrike is not only a great new female figure but she also adds to the character appeal of both Barrel Roll and Blackout. The Croc Master isn’t so much of a replacement for the original character as he is “the next generation”. The end result is a two pack that, in my opinion, hits the gate running. It’s packs like this and pretty much the rest of Wave 7 that make me eagerly anticipate the end of the “hiatus” as I think the best is yet to come from Hasbro.