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01-27-2007, 01:45 AM
Commando Wave 107 Review
NOTE: Lots of large pics at the links below!

If your biggest complaint about Sigma Six has been that there have not been nearly enough Duke, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow figures, this is the wave for you. Up to now, every wave has featured at least one of these characters, but this is the first assortment since the very first to feature all three characters. Currently there are 16 different versions of these three characters available for the 8 inch line, making up nearly half of all the figures released to date. Suffice it to say, your interest in this line will be primarily influenced by your interest in redecos.

The other feature of this wave is the large, gimmick based accessories. Usually accessories are pretty mixed in each wave - some feature a large, gimmicked accessory (Heavy Duty, Long Range), others a multitude of small accessories (Tunnel Rat, Firefly), with most somewhere in between (Duke). This time, all four figures opt for the big and flashy gear. This is not to say they are lacking in other things, but if you don't like their main accessory, there just isn't enough left over to recommend dropping the $15.

Packaging continues to evolve with this set. The blinkee light remains, as does the footlocker, though it is now silver. Gone is the foam packaging and the "secret messages" of the Stone wave. To make up for this, Hasbro has given each figure a painted backdrop: Grand Slam in a locker room, Duke before a mountainous battle scene, Snake Eyes in a Cobra control room, and Storm Shadow in a dojo. To those of us who toss our packages, the change is incidental, but I think it'll be a blessing to the MISB crowd as the new packaging highlights the figures well (even if most of it is obscured by the wave's massive accessories).

I'd say its an average wave, a good one to pick and choose carefully before purchasing. None of the figures are as strong as Stone or Long Range, nor are they as weak as Demolition Gear Tunnel Rat or Red Ninja Storm Shadow. Each figure has neat features and some important flaws or oversights. It's most notable feature is the new ninja body on SE and SS, but since we can expect these to pop up in later waves as well, they are not enough of a reason to grab the set.

Grand Slam

The only new character in the first commando wave of 2007, he is the figure most highly anticipated by collectors. I think it's fair to say that he's the best of the wave, though not by much. There's some small oversights that keep him from being an "A" figure in my book.

Despite obviously belonging to the Sigma 6 world, GS's design feels different. Maybe it's his size and lack of a cloth accessory. The only other S6 figures in his size range were well covered by clothes and accessories. To see him standing next to another character in nothing but his nekkid sculpt, he looks like a different scale. Otherwise I like the sculpt and paint apps. While he is wearing a Sigma suit, the simple black top and sculpted khaki’s make it look like a fairly standard soldier outfit. The loss of cloth pants is disappointing, but the sculpted ones look pretty good on their own. A reasonable amount of wrinkles gives a baggy look, and seams, pockets, knee pads and belt add needed detail.

The head sculpt is a little bland, but it fits my perception of the character as a strong, introspective type.

Grand Slam’s look can be enhanced by two accessories – a battlefield helmet and an ammo bandolier. The helmet is a reasonable extrapolation of modern ones. It includes a translucent green visor, sculpted com gear, and even sculpted chin straps hanging off the sides (they don’t work). The bandolier is elastic with two sets of plastic ammo clips. Honestly I can’t help but think of Chewbacca. Given Grand Slam’s prior history as a SF lover, I wonder if that’s just a coincidence.

Two “small” weapons are included, though to be fair these would be “medium” sized weapons with anyone else. There’s a very wicked looking knife with a serrated blade. It comes with a clip on sheath, and includes a “tab” on the handle, perhaps to be carried on Duke v1’s vest, or attached as a bayonet. Unfortunately, none of GS’s other weapons can take advantage of this feature, which is a little annoying.

His personal side arm (something most of us clamored for with Heavy Duty) is a very modern automatic rifle. It’s a great design, but I fear just a little too small for so big a figure. The gun has two tabs on top so you can attach the rocket launcher’s handle to it. That’s one of those nice “details” that drew many of us to the S6 line, but, again, if they could do that, how could they have missed an opportunity to combine it with the knife too?

Grand Slam’s main attraction is his Kickback Blaster (KBB), a one man rocket launcher. The file card makes a big deal of this; obviously the writer missed the one man rocket launcher carried by Destro. And Desert Long Range. And Artic Duke. And Battlefield General Cobra Commander (am I missing anyone?). Anyway, if you like to shoot missiles at your toys or pets, the KBB is about as cool as you can get. Pull out the barrel, load the rocket in front and three shells in the back. Push the button and the barrel recoils, and the rear chambers rotate, ejecting one of the three shells.

The KBB comes with a few accessories. In addition to the shells and rockets, it has three removable pieces - a small stand that goes under the barrel, a telescopic sight, and handle (which, as said above, attaches to the assault rifle). One quibble with the design is the handle. It’s fixed on the left side of the launcher. I would have liked the option to move it to the opposite side, ala Destro’s.

Grand Slam is a solid figure, and probably best of the wave, and not just because he’s a new character. He gives plenty of new accessories, and what flaws he has a very minor. Any collector or kid looking for a more traditional soldier should be thrilled with him.
Grade: B+

Frontal Assault Duke

Also known as Duke 8.0. As good as the Duke figures have been – and most have been very, very good – I am glad this will be the last one for some time.
As I said there’s already been plenty of Duke’s released the past year, and it’s going to be tough to convince many people to get yet one more. If there’s anything that should make collectors look twice it’s the fact that FAD is a relatively radical departure for the character. Where previous figures almost all went with a blue Sigma suit, FAD goes for black and khaki. The lack of body paint apps would normally be a detriment, but in this case it helps hide the Sigma suit. Like Grand Slam, it makes him look a bit more “standard military,” at least until he gets his gear on. The use of Firefly’s legs further distinguishes this Duke from his predecessors.

The most important change is in Duke’s head. Much I have loved the Duke figures, I have never like the “Chip Hazard” head sculpt. The new design is leaner, smaller, more scruffy looking. Even his beard stubble is sculpted on. Top it off with tussled hair and a sneering lip, and it’s obvious FAD is not in the mood to be messed with. I’ve often criticized the character as being bland, but this head adds a wealth of character to the figure. I only wish I could retrograde the other 7 versions.

The Pulseshot Blaster (PSB) is Duke’s featured weapon. This rather large, bulky device features a pair reciprocating cannon barrels, which work with a wind-up device. When wound completely, the barrels will pulse in and out for a little over 10 seconds. It’s kind of neat, but I hope kids are more impressed than I was. The cannon is a little awkward for Duke to hold, so it comes with a removable plastic neck strap for added support.

A yellow ammo belt leads out of the PSB, and can be connect to a Thermovolt Pack (TVP). The TVP attaches to Duke’s back with the standard 3 pegs. There are no straps to secure it, but they don’t seem to be needed. The ammo belt clips into the bottom in a manner similar to that use by Heavy Duty v1 (though more secure). As an accessory the TVP has little to offer. There are two removable, neon green power cells, which I suppose add some play value, but otherwise the pack is more functional than fun.

Duke has only 3 more accessories, but they are quite nice. First is a clip on face mask. Though similar to the mask used by Artic Duke, this is an all new design. Where AD’s mask was rounded, the new mask is more angular. The front plate is also painted gray, which helps add a little extra color to the figure.

Duke’s sidearm is an automatic pistol with a much more blocky design that the sleek switchfires he’s had up to now. This is an absolutely awesome design, and I have to confess that this sold me on the figure far more than the oversized cannon.

For some reason, Duke always gets the best holsters, and his latest may be his best. It’s has to be a little large to fit the pistol, but this allows them to add some sculpting. It has two straps to hold it to Duke’s leg. The upper strap is a standard elastic belt with plastic buckle. The lower strap is soft plastic, with molded ammo pouches.

It’s tough to put a final score on this one. He may be the weakest Duke figure (which isn’t hard given the quality of his predecessors), but he’s so different from the others it’s easy to make a case for putting him closer to the front of the line. And then there are those little things it gets right. I’m sure Hasbro’s marketing department would be ****ed to hear this, but forget the PSB. It doesn’t suck by any means, but it’s the head, mask, pistol and holster that really make this figure. Now $15 is a lot to ask for just those things. If you had no plans to get him, I’m not sure I’d say this is worth changing your mind for. But if in a few months you see him on sale for $10, maybe you’ll reconsider.
Grade: B-

Windblade Snake Eyes

This is Snake Eyes’ seventh go ‘round, and like Duke, he’s bringing something new to the party. In this case, it’s a brand new body with Ninja Articulation (which is the cousin, once removed, of Kung Fu Grip). This is another tough review. On the one hand there’s the new body, and on the other, there’s the rest.

Let’s start with the new body. It’s a success. Double jointed elbows and knees, a side-to-side joint on the right wrist (left wrist keeps up-down) and more flexible ankles have been added to what is otherwise a fairly standard SE body. The new joints don’t improve articulation greatly – after all the basic body was already pretty articulated- but it gives the figure just enough extra range to get some pretty nice poses. The only drawback is that the leg joints are a little weaker than usual (though they are not loose or floppy by any means). This might not matter with some of the older figures, but WBSE’s accessories are so heavy it’s easy for him to tip over.

In the last 12 months we’ve seen SE sport neon green stripes, urban camo, dark green, and even white and purple artic gear. WBSE is a return to basics, using a standard black Sigma suit with gray highlights. This will make it attractive for anyone looking to make him a “standard” SE. Unfortunately his head still has the molded visor, but at this point I’m resigned to the fact that we may never see the visor-less head again.

WBSE comes with a wider array of accessories than any other figure in this wave. I’m just not sure that the quality is all it could be.

First we get the standard tonfa swords, which make their 4th appearance (6th, if you count the minor variations in JSE and NOSE). This is accessory abuse. They were very cool back in 2005, but it’s time to move on. Maybe we can get some swords with handles that don’t stretch out SE’s hands? Then there is the standard black, pegged sheath. A sheath. As in one. For two swords. Maybe we’re lucky just to get that one, but I have to think, if there are two swords, there ought to be two scabbards, or none at all. Honestly I’d rather one new sword to all three of these, but to be fair, I can say that because I have all the other SEs. If WBSE is someone’s first figure, I imagine they’d be quite puzzled by my griping.

Then there’s the “RB2 system” gun/knife thing. I confess I don’t quite know what the **** it’s supposed to be. On end has a rotating barrel, like a Gatling gun. The other has an extendable knife blade. In the middle is a large plate, which is… I’m not sure. Heck, I don’t even know how he’s supposed to old it. Promo pics have him holding it like a traditional gun, but the handle has a trigger at the “bottom.” I’m thinking maybe he holds it slung under his arm, with the handle acting as a joystick to control the hoverpack. But that’s totally a guess. Oh, and lest you were worried that they’ve got the handle thing straight, no way can SE hold this after he’s held the tonfa sword. It’s just too slim to fit in a stretched out hand. Now, as big a mess as this thing is, I must admit I find myself drawn to it. Maybe my brain thinks it can figure it out if I play with it enough. I don’t know. But this is why, while I can call the thing a confused mess, I’m reluctant to say that it sucks completely. Take that for what you will.

Moving on to armor, WBSE has chest armor which is used to anchor the hoverpack. I actually like the way it looks on its own, though it’s a bit too loose like that. A ring-visor (HUD presumably) plugs into the armor’s collar, and gets placed over SE’s visor. It looks ok, though not as good as many of SE’s other visors, and very much restricts his head movement.

Now we come to the main attraction, the helicopter backpack. There’s been one of these in every incarnation of GI Joe, so while I grant the silliness of the device, I am more than happy to bow to tradition. In fact, I’m pleasantly surprised at how well they pulled this off.

The pack attaches to SE’s armor with straps and pegs. The design holds firmly, and makes the whole system appear integrated. The rotor can be rotated 90 degrees, so the blades may be behind SE’s back or over his head. The blades themselves can fold up, making the system somewhat more portable for out stealthy infiltrator. I appreciate the fact that the blades are given intricate designs; it would have been very easy to fall back on non-descript designs, and it’s unlikely any one would have complained. The pack itself has a nice bonus feature I don’t recall seeing before now – a dropdown hatch concealing two bombs. The only complaint I have is the large trigger sticking out the side. I know it’s needed to make the blades go ‘round, and this a toy for the kids, but since I don’t plan on pushing the thing in over and over like a demented monkey, I just see it as a necessary eye sore.

For all the problems WBSE has with the RB2 system, I think they’ve done a great job with both the figure and the hoverpack. My main problem is that I don’t think the two go together very well. Were this a T-Rat figure (which would make sense given the bombs), I’d say great. Were this a new soldier SE figure with swords and funky gun, I’d also not hesitate to recommend it. But these are not necessarily two tastes that go great together.

If you already have a half dozen SE’s, I’m not sure you need one with a whirlybird on his back. If you are not interested in the hoverpack, I imagine it doesn’t matter if it’s well done or not. Unfortunately there’s no guarantee we’ll see this same body in traditional colors either. We know we’ll see it again soon, but for all we know it could be day-glo purple. As with Duke, you’ll need to weigh your priorities before purchasing. Like Duke, I think this would be a no-brainer at a Soldier price, so maybe patience is the prudent choice here.
Grade (body): A-
Grade (hoverpack): B
Grade (overall): B-

Razor Ninja Storm Shadow

Do I need to repeat myself here? Pretty much everything I said in my intro to WBSE applies here, as we are presented with the cool new body saddled with some funky accessories.

Let’s start with the body again. Basically the same as WBSE in terms of joints, but the figure is more muscular, which limits the articulation just a little bit more, but otherwise this is a solid mold. Unfortunately, if you strip the figure bare, you won’t find much. Almost all white save his mask, boots and arm wraps, this is the blandest SS design yet. Not to say it’s ugly, just dull, especially compared to the bold colors on Red Pants SS. If you are making a ninja army (and in today’s world, should we all be assembling a private ninja army?) the figure should be great for customizing, but I find him just a little too plain to use as a new default Storm Shadow. However, once RNSS is decked out in his gear, he looks much better. The white cloth tunic looks very good, much better than early pics suggested, and the red belt and harness effectively break up the vast fields of white.

The gear is a mixed bag. As with Snake Eyes, the designers have been criminally overusing some of Storm Shadow’s equipment. In this case it’s the bladed nunchucks. They’ve made an appearance in 3 of the 4 SS figures, as well as SS’s hovercycle. I think it’s time to put them away.

We also get two sais, which I think are the same ones from the first to SS’s. The problem here is that the handles are too small to fit in his hands (SS has always been the character most plagued by hand/handle problems). Thankfully they can be used as fashion accessories, as SS’s belt has slots to holster the weapons. Honestly, they look pretty cool that way.

Our third and final melee weapon is a blade staff, a more practical derivation of the nunchucks. This is a solid improvement on both the nunchucks and the staff from the first two SS’s. It’ll be my default weapon for this figure, and at the risk of sounding hypocritical, I wouldn’t mind seeing it pop up again down the road.

Finally, and I do mean finally (I’ve been writing these reviews for four hours now) we get to his Bladepack, his answer to Snake Eyes’ whirlybird. It attaches to SS with plastic snaps, but there is also the standard triple peg, so it can be used with the Joes as well. If you can get past the fact that it would never get off the ground, it’s a cool design. It sports a sleek, angular design with lots of sculpted details, including a pair of forward mounted guns. Why a ninja would use something like this I’ll never know, but that’s why we have imaginations, no? Like Duke’s PSB, the Bladepack works on a wind up mechanism which can keep the blades spinning for well over thirty seconds. Unfortunately that’s all there is to it, and the lack of extra features (like WBSE’s bomb bay) hurts. With RNSS, what you see is what you get, and for a S6 figure, that’s disappointing.

RNSS was the figure I was most looking forward to, because my ninja army always needs more recruits (I shall call him... Airrazor!). But now that I’ve got him… meh. He doesn’t suck, and I don’t regret the purchase, but of all the figures he’s the hardest to recommend. I could at least recommend WBSE for the body, but I suspect there’s a good chance we’ll get a better version of this SS sometime down the road.

Grade: C+

01-29-2007, 04:42 PM
Nice job, good reviews. I look forward to seeing more about Shipwreck and Firefly though - the Commando wave doesn't do much for me (which makes my wallet happy!).

I like your pic of Grand Slam and Heavy Duty. I can see Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Wha's tha mattuh? Tha C I A got you pushin' too many pencils? :D

01-30-2007, 10:06 PM
Nice job, good reviews. I look forward to seeing more about Shipwreck and Firefly though - the Commando wave doesn't do much for me (which makes my wallet happy!).

I like your pic of Grand Slam and Heavy Duty. I can see Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Wha's tha mattuh? Tha C I A got you pushin' too many pencils? :D

Glad someone got it.

01-30-2007, 10:25 PM
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01-31-2007, 10:34 PM
Probably beating a dead horse here but are these "commando wave" figures $15 a shot?

Yep,just like all the Commandos. As I said, this is certainly a wave worth picking and choosing. There's stuff to recommend in all the figures, but I don't think any of them are must haves (though Grand Slam comes close). I'm a relative completist. I'm happy I have the figures, but I wouldn't say picky collectors are nuts for passing these over.

01-31-2007, 11:23 PM
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