So once again, just like with the Dreadnoks, I will have a few references to Alexx's review on JBL.
Now in case everyone is wondering why my reviews have been so sparse, I've been working on getting a novel published. I have some stuff posted online (Link to the FB page below right beside Scale Wars). Check it out if you are so inclined. I have character profiles, some short stories set in the same setting, and the first chapter posted.
OK on to the review now LOL.
So did anyone doubt this review was going to be a short time after the Dreadnoks review, well one person did, ME. I was going to try to piecemeal this set on the second hand market and avoid some rehashes in the process. However fortune (in the form of an extra $50) shined on me and I pulled the trigger on the entire set (After attempting to get Mercer/Mercenary on his own with little success). Up front I'm going to say I was really only gunning for 5 of these figures which I also admit is effecting scores here. I will openly admit that unnecessary repaints are getting to be my bane in modern collecting and this set has at least two (some could argue three). Right there I am knocking a star off because if I had it already what's the danged point. The Dreadnok set was pretty awesome just for the simple fact all of the characters were "new" where as this set has several rehashes. I'm not going to say never, ever, ever do a rehash but Hasbro has taken the idea and gone too far with it in recent years and across all their lines. I've heard all the "cost cutting" excuses and to be honest I would rather the lines just cut back, which is a whole other story.
Also I am tackling this differently, I am going to start of with the Marauders in order of preference and then move to the Renegades in order of preference.
Also, I'm just going to get it out of the way now, Slaughter should have been in this set. I know there is supposition about legality and all, but really there should have been a way for Hasbro to keep that promise of getting him out to us, oh well.
Anyway wanted to get that big elephant off the couch first.
So back in the day I wasn't a huge fan of Slaughter's Marauders. I had all the characters and really the camouflage pattern was a turn off. It was years later I found out that the figures were also brittle as hell. I felt similarly about Tiger Force but I justified Python Patrol being Serpantor's personal army just to increase my Cobra forces.
I did however LOVE those tanks, they were cool. Not sure how the tanks ended up being so cool while the figures didn't but there it is.
Renegades (the real Renegades, not that cartoon from last year) is a different story I will tackle in just a bit down the page.
First, the figure that most disappointed me of this entire set.
So while this is an attempt to clean up the less than spectacular first try at Flacon from a comic pack way back when it fails on a ton of levels I have not noticed anyone mentioning on other reviews of the figure. First off let's look at this figure from pure esthetics. Just look at him for a minute and see if you spot something that stuck out to me 3 seconds after he escaped the package.
Did you see it, ok well look at the torso, then the draping whatever and then the sleeves. So is wearing a jacket with sleeves rolled up to his biceps? It could be a shirt but untucked like that for a soldier I kind of doubt it (unless he was a battle damaged figure). Plus those shoulder pads seem to imply jacket as well. It's a weird look to say the least. I'm sure someone can make a justification for it but it really bugged me when I looked at him.
What happened is that Hasbro used two versions of Dusty to make this figure but never thought about the long sleeves verses short sleeves issue. I think if they just went with the same long sleeves that went with the torso the figure would be better. Also Dusty is where the "skirt" comes from and yes, he was wearing a desert jacket.
Another buggy choice for me was the color pallet. I mean that is one really bright green. I think just a few shades darker and I would be fine with it, but as it stands it's too close to "Lime green" for me to work with. Now something kind of related to the palette but not directly is the blue with red ascot. There is something about that combination that makes me think British SAS and not Real American Hero. Granted in recent years that ARAH distinction is less distinct, but I hope you get where I'm going here.
Astute readers will note that I gave Falcon the shotgun that is actually located beside of Mercer. I just felt it fit him better. He came with a gun that some insist is also a shotgun but to me it looks a bit odd and more machine-gun like. That went over to Barbeque (see below). In addition he has the flip grenade launcher which is a weapon I really dig but I should point out that this one is more fragile than most I have gotten in the Joe line. Still I like it and it's functional so there we are.
So is there any good to the figure, yes. I love the mold (minus the rolled up sleeves) and it could work for a great many things. The harness is simple yet effective. I think something to either darken or break up the torso would work wonders here. The head sculpt is 100 times better than the first Falcon and the removable hat is a nice touch.
I'm really disappointed in this one just because I really wanted a cool Falcon. He's functional and works but could have been so much better if not for some minor issues that just compounded to make a bigger one. I also think he was just kind of tossed in here to fill a spot (and only because of his appearance in the movie with the Renegades). To me it's a bit of a stretch, but I guess that is the way toy world logic works.
Now on to the guy people think is unnecessary in GI Joe, that is until they have a fire.
OK so here is the first figure I am cutting a star off of for not being necessary. There are some improvements to the figure from the original but they are not drastic nor necessary. The basic change is that they added Airtight's arms and thighs to the mix. Ok so now he has more wrinkles in his pants and sleeves, big whoop. Another big issue I had with this mold when it first hit was the huge tank on the front, I mean it's drastically oversized. Somewhat smaller I would have been pretty cool with it.
The way the torso and chest fit you can't help but look at the fig at some angles and believe he hangs at the donut shop a bit too much. It's not always there but you see it enough to notice and has plagued any figure using that torso combo (thankfully in a rare move on Hasbro's part, the torso hasn't been too overused).
So now he has a new camouflage pattern rather than the red. I admit it's a better choice than the old Slaughters Marauders weird camo but at the same time it's kind of odd. I mean are we planning on fighting fires in the woods? If you really think about it red is camouflage in fire. In all seriousness I kind of prefer the red.
Now, I'm not one of those fans who gripe "A firefighter isn't cool/necessary in a military toy line." I always kind of felt like Barbeque was cool, I mean he has a big honking axe that you can use to split Viper's skulls. I re-outfitted him a bit just to have a gun, but really I have always felt he works on a ton of levels (practically, accessories, just plain fun). To Hades with what others say, I like Barbeque, I just don't feel we needed another one.
So while I don't hate this figure I can't help but think this slot would have been better served for someone like Footloose that we have never seen. Oh I know "The Club's massively overpriced freebie figure." Please, Footloose deserves a wide release and this was the place to do it. They even could have gotten away with the same camo pattern. At least it would have been something fresh.
Speaking of not so fresh,
I figure I'll get some heat for this one because so many have gushed over this verso because he has "more realistic camouflage." So I am going to rub against the grain and point out that there is a ton of lost detail here. The big pads on the forearms, the holsters and such on the legs had to be ignored to get that camo pattern and as such robs the overall look of the figure of what made the original great. The brown of the vest is not a flattering color (even though it harks back to the original SM colors. To me this is a lesson in just cause it can doesn't mean it should.
It appears they have painted the lower legs for some inexplicable reason. I just think it's weird that this specific detail has pretty much gone without a major color add for so long and now we feel this is the detail to bring out, really.
Again he's not all bad. Like Alexx I actually like the gun a bit better just because it's more stable and I think it should have been an extra for the first release.
He pretty much is a straight up repaint of the POC Low Light, which used a great deal of parts from POC Beachead and some parts from POC Jungle Viper. As such Hasbro has already gotten some mileage out of the parts and a straight repaint seems unneeded. I guess I can see an argument though since so many had such struggles finding the first release due to it being in the fourth wave which is always notoriously hard to find for most Hasbro products.
But of course what Hasbro did here was cheap out and only included a rifle BASED off the first releases rifle. They didn't even bother with a knife for his hip sheath. While all the arguments on the cutbacks in accessories continue (and I really still don't understand how cutting accessories and articulation raise the prices almost $3, that's another story I guess), the fact remains that the accessories POC Low Light was packed with turned a good figure into a great figure. I mean we have kind of begrudgingly accepted the fewer accessories in most cases but it really shines through on a figure like this where we HAD a great release with great accessories. Such is life I guess.
I guess if you never got the original he is a good sub. Stull I feel he is a shadow of the first figure, a bit of lost potential with nifty little thigh spots and nothing to go there. Sure you can re-outfit him with the first figs accessories if you have them, but that does kind of defeat the purpose of him in this set.
Next up is the guy with the leer.
So while I did find Quick Kick TRU Exclusive I was never able to track down Spirit. As such this figure probably seems a lot more fresh to me than Barbeque and Low Light. It also appears they have tried to do something different with this version of Spirit compared to the last. While it seems to be an improvement (I won;t say for certain since I never found the first one) there is still the issue of that expression (see Alexx's review for some great interpretations of that BTW).
Astute readers are going to notice I gave Spirit a gun that was sitting with Low Light. I just felt it worked better with Spirit and let's face it the accessories in this set are all over the place. I kind of like the fact that they used Snake Eyes part along with POC Duke's accessories here. It's and unexpected combonation. Of course we don't have nearly the cool accessories we had with the TRU release which is really my big knock to the figure. I think the bow and arrow pack should have been added, I mean is it really that much to add an accessory they already made a few times over?
Of course there is that dumbfounded leer. It's not as bad as the TRU version which was down right creepy but it's still there. I can live with it though but I have to admit that Alexx's repeated jokes have me laughing every time I look at this figure.
Besides the knife he comes with the arrow gun he had with his 25th version. I always though the arrow gun was kind of cool if not unusual even as far back as the original Spirit's release. It's not my favorite accessory but I have seen worse in the line so I can live with it. Also it is the version that has a removable clip so there is that nice addition. Again not sue why Hasbro didn't spring for the backpack too, cheapskates.
Well at least one of the Marauders is redeemable, right now if you are keeping score the Dred set has been demolishing this one. Will that trend continue with the Renegades, scroll to find out:
Back in the day when I first saw Slaughter's Renegades I kind of got excited. In my mind I had this idea that the Renegades were a foil to the Dreadnoks. I mean there were three original members and they all had some toughness to them. I had this hope that the Renegades would be it's own sub-group with just as impressive of a roster as the Dreadnoks. Well that never happened and the Renegades ended up being somewhat lost to obscurity for several years. Mercer was the only guy to get a Version 2 but oddly the file card changed his name. Fans have gone to great lengths to explain this from saying that his original file name was an alias to claiming the name "Mercer" was a title rather than a code name. Most didn't seem to concerned with the other two (except me who thought they rounded out the team perfectly).
So now finally we have Modern version of the figures. How do they measure up-OH BOY, here we go again.
First, anyone notice that he got Road Pig's sword, I mean what is Road Pig doing with a sword, really.
Up front I will state for the record, I really wanted to like this figure. I dig Taurus and loved his version 1 a great deal. What happened? Well that is a very good question. I think the BIG issue here is parts choice. The arms are half POC Recondo and half ROC Night Adder but they don't complement each other well at all. They look exaggerated and out of proportion. Some like this mild "Popeye" look but I have to say I don't like it too much. However that is mild when we talk about the legs.
Yojoe.com reports that the upper legs are Comic pack Ace and the lower are ROC Wild Bill. However when I look at the figures it looks to me to be the other way around (or maybe the whole leg is Wild Bill's, hard to tell). The real fact here is that the two do not go together well. It's very hard to get Taurus to stand up straight as a result and in most static poses he has to lean forward just to stand (Look at the group shot). At first I thought this might be just mine but a buddy of mine confirmed the parts simply do not go together.
In addition he appears to believe he is Wild Bill with two six shooters. That wouldn't be so bad if there was some reason for it, but really WTF. Of course I had to grab his sword from Road Pig which really the Sword just screams Taurus. It's hard for me to imagine that meeting where they said "No, that works better with Road Pig, really." Then there is that mug.
I'm seeing Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, anyone else, ok just me.
Really I am not sure of the logic of not having that mustache and I know it seems so minor of a gripe but really with everything else it just sticks out like a sore thumb.
So I uncharacteristically read a review on this set a while back and the reviewer was bragging about the holsters-WHAT!? Now they said the thigh holster fit suggly, when I tried to use the thigh holster the too small six shooter fell out when I moved Taurus around. As you can see above, the chest holster really, really sucks. And yes I saw this same reviewer talk pics that lessened the affect with angles, like no one will ever notice.
But one thing that has stuck out to me more than anything that I have not seen any reviewer say is the fact that the chest peice is the exact same one from Zanzibar in the Dreadnok pack. So my first thought was "How did anyone miss this?' BTW, the solution for Zanzibar doesn't work with those six shooters. The gun won't fit in any other way than the way it is above. Essentially you either knock him in the face all the time or you have a non-functional holster (which I think I could live with the non-functional part honestly). Really, it's not a huge deal that they recycled a part but I found if funny no one mentioned the same part in two packs.
Taurus also has a sub-machine gun that is kind of painted like his original gun. They really look different though but I don't doubt someone thought it was perfect.
Of course there is the whole "Bull" thing too. Of course I bet someone thought "Hey, Taurus is the sign of the bull in astrology" but of course no one thought of the fact of what it might mean otherwise, if you don't know I will just let you figure it out on your own, this is a family show. Thus, I am sticking to Taurus.
Of course one of the best aspects of him is the file card in which he impressed GI Joe brass by breaking 2 x 4's with his face LOL. You can't make this stuff up. Alexx did a great joke on this and really that makes the character very redeemable even if the fig is less than stellar.
Really I dig Taurus but this figure is a letdown in epic ways.
Well the next guy they went in a whole other direction with.
So now Red Dog sports a beard (get it, sports LOL). Not a bad thing really but his offensive capabilities leave a little to be desired.
So he only comes with a gun and a football The gun kind of harks back to his original figure and the football of course relates to the fact he was "too mean for football." Not sure why he would want to keep playing if he was kicked out for being to mean but there you go.
When I saw the football on thought came to my mind:
Yep, that's his offensive weaponry.
In all seriousness, he cannot hold his gun properly at all so really this is his only offensive weapon when you get down to it. The mold used here is a strange mix with Bazooka providing the upper portions combined with the legs of Shadow Tracker. Surprisingly it kind of works minus the huge flaws on Bazooka.
I said it along time ago, the big issue with this torso is the way they painted it, and that same problem shows up again with Red Dog. The number gets cut in two with any sort of swivel and really detracts from the figure. Nevermnd the HUGE man boobs issue this type of mold creates.
I remember way back when trying to explain to a guy how the torso joint kept disrupting lines of form. His response was something akin to the waste joint screwing up lines, I said what lines and he responded the lines on the figure. Clearly he had no clue what I was talking about.
Unfortunately when you add something like a number to this type of articulation that has to be broken in the center it really disrupts the form lines of the body and that is still true with Red Dog as it was with Bazooka. Some think it's not a huge deal but to me it sticks out and really disrupts an otherwise good figure.
Beyond that major flaw I do think the mold works on a great many levels.
But somehow, someway Red Dog just doesn't look like Red Dog anymore and that is bothersome. Taurus had a resemblance and so does Mercer. Even Low Light, Spirit, and Falcon had resemblances to their original figures. Red Dog looks like someone else entirely and it's more than just the beard. He just looks like someone else came in and took over the Red Dog name. Might be an explanation as to why the jersey is white (Although I think that is because they were avoiding the similarities to Bazooka).
Personally I think they should have gone with Taurus's torso for this one. Suits the original mold better and frees up Taurus for a more appropriate mold IMO.
Another essential character falls short of the goal line. So now what, we pack it up and go home. No there is still one more to go and he is probably the most popular of the Renegades.
So before I go any further I have to speak on Hasbro's renaming practices. Really changing Mercer's name to Mercenary? I mean what part of Mercer's character ever fit that role? I know they labeled him such in his second release but really he never really was a mercenary in the normal sense of the world so changing his name to that was pretty lame. Plus who the hell really is after the name "Mercer" it's only part of a word. Can't be because someone copywrited Mercenary since that's his name. Just a lame thing to do Hasbro.
Otherwise-GREAT JOB ON THIS ONE!
Mercer is probably the most popular of the Renegades probably because he had a separate single packed figure a few years after his first release. I think part of that popularity stems from him being an ex-Viper which is something that has confounded me over the years. How exactly does being an ex-Viper qualify one for "bad-arse" status? I mean aren't those the Storm Troopers of GI Joe that get shot so that the big guys can fight another day? I suppose we should celebrate the fact he did so well for a bit of cannon fodder. I just hope Slaughter gave him some targeting lessons before sending him out on the feild.
Yes, I kid.
But in all seriousness, how does being a Viper qualify one to be tough, maybe taking a beating? Really, we all joke about how they can't hit the broad side of a barn. I mean they are the Storm Troopers of GI Joe and only effective against Jawas.
So he doesn't quite look like Kurt Russell as much as his original figure but he still fits the part well. He has those gangly biceps that I kind of hate but that is really my one minor knock on the figure. He seems to be a bit smaller in stature than both Taurus and Red Dog which actually works for him. The vest is very reminiscent of the first version as are the reuse of the Viper parts. This is much better than that unmask able Viper from a few years ago with the repaint head. I've had a pinch of trouble with the knife and the sheath but nothing so major I would write home about it.
He gets a Viper gun which is kind of questionable given the track record but I suppose it works. He has a silenced pistol like his original did but thankfully he isn't shafted with just that weapon this time. In fact he appears to be the one with the most weapons by the way they are set in the package. Also he has that nifty viper tattoo with a circle slash through it on the arm, interesting to say the least.
So no contest, Mercer is the darling of this set despite being misnamed and a few minor flaws. Really this set is a huge let down after the great Dreadnoks set but also does contain a few essential characters that one may have missed or some that may never see the light of day again. It's a tough call, I like the set overall but it has some glairing flaws along with it. I suppose in the end it's up to the individual. My opinion is I wouldn't pass on it but I wouldn't spend that much if you you cold avoid it. These sets are notorious for clearance so we need to keep that in mind as well (That's how I got my winter ops set).
OK that wraps this one up, sorry for less than definitive answers on some of this but that is the way it goes. Until next time-Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
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