Over the past few weeks, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club has been slowly revealing all twelve figures from their third iteration of the Figure Subscription Service, to mixed reactions across the web. Today we actually got a peek at the digital head sculpts for Big Ben, Bombstrike, and Crimson Guard Immortal by the imminently talented folks at Boss Fight Studio. So it seemed like a good time to begin taking a look at these twelve figures. After all, taking an in depth look at Photoshop mock ups always turns out well, right?
While I’m a huge fan of the new sculpt era conceptually, I won’t argue that there were some structural issues throughout most of the line, with crazy proportions and an odd mix of detail throughout the sculpts. Anyone who has seen the actual concept artwork would agree that many of these designs were truly inspired, but didn’t come across in execution all that well.
The original Modern Era Alpine was released near the end of the 25th Anniversary line in a DVD Battle Pack that got short shipped and missed many retailers entirely, thus inflating the overall value of the figure beyond many collectors’ means. Whether or not the Club was trying to rectify that is unknown, but it’s easy to see that the head sculpt enlisted by Boss Fight Studio was certainly inspired by the original ’85 look and feel.
Using the Valor Vs. Venom version as a model gives the Club a unique opportunity to take a figure held down by proportion issues and update him nicely for the modern collectors, while possibly filling a hole in collections, at least from a character standpoint, if not by specific version. It doesn’t hurt that they use some excellent parts, with a mixture of Kwinn and Firefly. This Alpine takes all the fun from the Valor Vs. Venom design and infuses it with the great modern parts library giving us a really nice update to the G.I. Joe mountaineering specialist.
Anyone reading this who was a collector in the early 2000’s will join me in feeling amusement at the fact that Big Ben is a highly desirable figure here in 2014. Back in those days you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a peg warming Big Ben figure …they were everywhere.
Credit goes once again to the impressive Hasbro parts library and the ability of the Club to choose some fantastic parts to put this figure together (the awesome Boss Fight head sculpt doesn’t hurt). Speaking of that head sculpt, how about that Bluetooth ear piece? Holy shnoikes.
It’s almost funny, though, when you look at the parts library, that more obscure characters end up having the most impressive recipes, because they weren’t popular enough to be done in the early days when the design aesthetic was still learning its way. We have fantastic and long established characters like Major Bludd, Zartan, Dr. Mindbender, Duke, and Scarlett who are desperately in need of some newer “ultimate” versions, yet we have a relative unknown like Big Ben who is an absolute home run. And yeah, this figure is a home run. Great head sculpt, an immaculate mixture of great modern parts, really nice color scheme, and a great assortment of fun accessories. This one is a winner.
Speaking of winners, the third sibling from the Stall family certainly qualifies. Joining her two brothers, both from FSS 1.0, the Stall sister gets a spectacular recipe and an equally spectacular new head sculpt from BFS.
The Renegades Scarlett torso gives Bombstrike the familiar G.I. Joe logo emblazoned on her chest, yet the great black undershirt is an awesome contrast. Rise of Cobra Cover Girl arms and legs compliment the look amazingly well, and you have a great update to a new sculpt era character that pays tribute, yet also goes in fantastic new directions.
Don’t even get me started on those terrific accessories… she is loaded with a great gear load out, and will make for a heck of an addition to a growing G.I. Joe modern era roster.
Crimson Guard Immortal
In order for there to be winners, I suppose there also have to be losers, and unfortunately the Crimson Guard Immortal falls into that realm, in my opinion. He was one of the Concept Case figures that never really appealed to me, as the PoC Firefly vest isn’t the best approximation of the Crimson Guard Immortal chest armor.
I will agree it was probably the best thing available, but in some cases I’d love to see either new tooling, or perhaps choose an armored torso that doesn’t require a secondary on top of it (see the 2014 Convention Toxo Vipers).
But I don’t blame the Club, simply because unlike Hit & Run’s initial deco (which I’ll talk about in just a few seconds) they went with the Concept Case look to appease the fans, it’s just in my opinion that original concept wasn’t anything special, which hurts me to say, considering the Crimson Guard Immortal is one of my all time favorite figures.
Hit & Run
Where to begin with this guy? When he was revealed at JoeCon, using a photo from the infamous Hasbro Concept Case, I’m not afraid to say I yelped like a little girl. But I don’t think I was the only one. In fact, the Concept Case Hit & Run scored in the Top 3 of the Concept Case survey (behind only Kwinn and Flint, two other figures that either have been released, or will be within the next month).
So when the Club revealed their initial deco, I voiced my objections, though was sure to do it respectfully. Much to my surprise, many other fans joined in, expressing a desire to see green camouflage skin and some parts tweaks if possible. Thankfully, the Collectors Club took the feedback in, considered it, and acquiesced, finally revealing the more finished mock up last Friday to much well-deserved fandom applause. Granted, there were a number of people pointing to the Brazil release Alpinista as an inspiration, and that does make some sense, but in my mind, we were promised a modern rendition of Hit & Run, and that's what many folks wanted. At the end of the day, I think most folks were quite pleased by the Club's decision.
Listen, I know… I’ve heard it already. Hit & Run is an obscure character that we were pretty lucky to get one version of, much less two (four if you include a Kre-On and Micro Force) and the fact that we were getting another modern era version seemed to be a matter of some debate. I’m not shy in proclaiming Hit & Run as one of my favorite characters, and I must not be alone. At the end of the day, I do wish we had been able to get the Firefly torso and an exact match for the Concept Case, but the most recent mock up is still a fantastic figure, and I’m thrilled to be getting him as part of this FSS.
Along with Hit & Run, Muskrat initially hit in 1988 and added to an extremely impressive roster of great new characters. Seriously, I think that year is pretty unheralded in the G.I. Joe fandom even though we got this character, Shockwave, Hit & Run, Budo, Repeater, and the Iron Grenadiers. I loved the Night Force version of Muskrat, and they took all the best parts of that figure, then made him more vintage…great steps in my opinion, and something the fans had been asking for.
The deco changes weren’t the big story, though, the big story had to be the newly tooled boogie board which is now included with the figure, that just perfectly finishes off what was already a great FSS addition. Terrific entry by the Collectors Club.
Night Creeper Leader
The Night Creeper Leader provided, I must admit, a surprising enthusiasm from a fandom that I thought more or less discarded anything produced after 1992. The visceral reaction from fans to the yellow and purple color scheme, and the number of people clamoring for the orange tiger stripe version was surprising to me, simply because I wasn’t sure anyone cared that much. I do admit that I have a preference to the orange and black paint job, but I’m not drastically opposed to the yellow and purple version either.
The parts recipe is a good one, even with no new parts, and I think the color apps really apply nicely to these parts. I’m pretty surprised that the Club dipped into the Night Creeper Leader well, but I do like the end result, even if it’s not the color scheme I would have preferred. It should be noted that even though the Collectors Club didn't go whole hog into the tiger stripe version of the figure, they did appear to add the much requested skullcap, so hopefully that makes some fans a little more happy. While not visible in individual shots, the group image the Club posted shows the skull cap clearly.
Another repaint from the Nocturnal Fire Convention Set, Psyche Out uses the exact same recipe as the previous figure, with some paint alterations to replicate his long gray sleeves. I will admit I preferred the backpack from the Night Force version, but the basic parts recipe is the same. Now I’m not really a huge Psyche Out fan to begin with, so there’s little attachment for me character-wise, but the conversion from Night Force to standard deco is something fans have been looking for.
It’s a fine figure, and I can see why the Club is doing it, it’s just not one of my favorites in this third FSS assortment.
Repeater was pretty much my favorite figure in the Nocturnal Fire Convention Set, just barely edging out Muskrat, and I’m really happy the Club is pulling that figure back out in his standard deco. The funny thing is, I really prefer the Night Force deco to this strange pseudo-desert camouflage, but I’m thrilled this figure is back out there.
From the fantastic new head sculpt, which was first used in the aforementioned Night Force version, to the great web gear and the awesome Ultimate Roadblock body underneath, Repeater is fantastic head-to-toe. There has been some debate about Repeater’s infamous “Stedi-Cam” machine gun, but I don’t see any real way the Club could have feasibly approximated that weapon. The Convention version’s gun was okay, but not perfect. Ultimately, to me, the weapon doesn’t make the man, and I’m good with Repeater as is.
Ever since Dice first appeared in FSS 1.0 (as one of the first figures, actually) the rumors have rumbled about Slice joining his Ninja Force partner. Interestingly, Slice’s mask has surfaced a number of times since the Pursuit of Cobra run, and now that we’re finally getting the character, he’s got a new head sculpt entirely. Considering the fantastic Boss Fight work on the head, though, I’m certainly not going to complain.
The rest of the figure is pretty great as well, using mostly the Retaliation Red Ninja base. I’ve long been a fan of the 90s, I think most folks realize that, but Ninja Force never captured me, mostly because of the play features hindering articulation. There’s no worry about that here, and the figure is really great. Now we need some more characters besides TJBang, Storm Shadow, and T’Ginzu (sort of) to fight him!
Spearhead was one of those figures whose character appealed to me way more than the actual figure did. The idea of a point person leading the charge is a great one, but for some reason the design aesthetic for Spearhead left me cold. Whether it was his weird quilted torso or strange orange color scheme, there wasn’t much there that resonated with me. Like the vintage version, there are several reasons why this figure doesn’t work for me, most of which involve the use of the Firefly/Shockwave vest that doesn’t fit especially well. The base figure is decent, using mostly Shock Trooper parts, but the weird colors and the vest hurts the impact.
He comes with some decent accessories, including a repainted Max the Bobcat and an assortment of weaponry, but it’s a character and a build that just doesn’t leave a mark.
Maybe it’s because I’m currently neck deep in my latest Dio-Story, but I couldn’t help but get a huge grin on my face when not only Hit & Run, but also Vypra were included in the third Figure Subscription Service. Both characters are very important elements of my dio-story universe, and having them both fall within the same FSS makes me immeasurably happy, even if it’s just happy coincidence.
Unfortunately I’m not quite so happy with Vypra’s execution, though it may be a result of my own expectations rather than the reality of what we should come to expect from these series. When Vypra’s name was revealed, I was hoping perhaps the Collectors Club would give her a more unique aesthetic. She was never a “ninja” so being a Jinx repaint didn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense in the first place. I thought this was the perfect chance to take a fun new character with a blank slate and give her a unique identity. Instead she once again got saddled as a (more or less) Jinx repaint.
Yes, I realize she has the combat boots, which is a nice addition, to be sure, I just would have loved to have seen her evolve a little more beyond the ninja-like look. But I do realize that these days what most fans want are modern versions of older figures, and that’s what the Club is delivering, to their credit. Maybe eventually we’ll get to the same point we were at with the o-ring figures where they can think outside the box a little and develop some cool new twists to expand the G.I. Joe universe instead of just rebuilding on top of it.
Ultimately, though, this third Figure Subscription Service strikes me as being the best one we’ve seen yet. I know folks have been complaining a bit about several Night Force repaints in one series, but they’ve been hotly demanded by the fans, why not jump in and satisfy those demands all at once? If nothing else, it leaves a whole lot to the imagination for FSS 4.0.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this premature look at the upcoming third Figure Subscription Service… like what you see? ORDER NOW!