A special thanks to Yo Joe and The Joe Index for posting their archives which helped assist with these reviews.
The purpose of the "Many Faces of..." series is actually multi-fold (yes I realize that is not a word). First, it is a review of many of the versions of characters over the years. Second, and somewhat more importantly, it is housecleaning for me. A chance to look over my collection and evaluate why certain figures are within it. Lastly, there is somewhat a catharsis here. Some of these figures are not going to be in my collection after I write this up. I am evaluating why I purchased them, why I kept them, and why I now don't want them or want them. I am re-evaluating my action figures because, well it's time to do it.
With some of these write ups I have switched out the accessories, especially with figures like Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes (The first two in the series). So if you see some accessories on the wrong figure that is why. It is a bad habit of mine, especially with figures that have had very cool accessories but are less than what they could be. Also I am not at all planning to touch on figures I have already reviewed. For those use the quick links section of the review section. In some ways I wish I had done this last year with my first "purge" of action figures. I could have really covered a great deal of ground and been more comprehensive.
Also this series is purposefully made that I can add to it later. So if you ever come back and re-read them and they are additions, that is why.
A last note, I said some of these figures are leaving, but by the time I post this they are most likely going to be gone, so do not take this as a trade or for sale post.
NOTE: POC Firefly was reviewed here
Inevitably it happens, whenever you get GI Joe fans together eventually the subject turns to who is your favorite Joe and Cobra. For Cobra my personal favorite has always been Firefly. There are a lot of reasons for him being my favorite, but the major one is that in the cartoon he said very little but when he did something it was devastating. He once melted the side of a mountain with a flamethrower to flood the Joes (unrealistic I know, but very cool). He took out the entire Joe Air Force by adding acid to the fuel tanks. He blocked a convoy with grenades that shot fire so high even the Sky Hawks had to go around. If he did talk it was usually something to do with being paid. He was just a demolition man, which is perfect for a saboteur.
When I first saw a picture of the Firefly figure and his specialty, I thought he was the perfect arch-enemy of Snake Eyes. Keep in mind I never read the comics at that time and "Ninja Snake Eyes" (Version 2) did not come out until the following year after Firefly. I thought their specialties both complemented and contrasted each other perfectly and Firefly's gray camouflage matched Snake Eye's all black look while being distinct from it. I grabbed Firefly first that year and actually waited to get Storm Shadow (thus I never read his file card to know that SE and SS were from the same ninja clan). When I got Storm Shadow and realized he and Snake Eyes had a shared past, I simply ignored it because I had already set up Snake Eyes and Firefly as enemies. Eventually I did read the comic and Firefly and Snake Eyes feud kind of fell to the side, but to this day I still feel that they were better arch-enemies just from how they both were originally presented.
Speaking of the comic, Firefly is one of the main reasons I ended up rejecting most of the comic continuity as well as finally stopping reading the comic. When Firefly's past got tied in with Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's I felt it was just tossed in rather than being an organic part of the story. Simply just a way to tie them together. Suddenly Firefly was a sword master even though he had never used a sword previous to that moment. Never mind the god awful green outfit, it really annoyed me that suddenly he was so against character. While I didn't mind a Snake Eyes and Firefly rivalry I didn't want it at the expense of my favorite character. That combined with the deaths of some of my favorite Joes (Quick Kick, Doc, Breaker) just caused me to quit reading the Marvel Comic entirely.
Later media portrayals of Firefly have not been too appealing to me as well. The Devil's Due series seemed to try to get Firefly back to his Saboteur roots but the "Ninja" stuff was still there. I despise what the resent cartoon "Renegades" did to him, turning him into a psychotic pyromaniac, again just goes against what I love about the character. To me he is cold and calculating and not insane in the slightest. Granted I go against that as well in my own webcomic, but then again I am trying to be comedic rather than serious.
In my webcomic, when I put Firefly in I just decided to tag on John Tutturo's line from "Mr. Deeds" to try to turn Firefly comedic. "You underestimate the power of the sneaky" just fit Firefly in that context I thought. It ended up being that Firefly was too enjoyable of a character for me and I made him a good guy on the grounds that he wasn't being paid by Cobra. Not that the good guys paid him, but they were honest about it.
So over the years, Firefly has had a huge presence in my action figure collection. He is one of those characters I have lots of figures of, not all, but a significant number. At one point I said I would have all the Firefly's ever made, but then Hasbro decided to make him over and over, and I dropped that idea. Still he is one of my favorite figures and characters.
On to the figures.
Way back in the day, I would buy a small vehicle or playset for GI Joe just for those little booklets to see what was coming for the next year. When I opened the booklet up for 1984 I saw Firefly and it was like when Jack Nickleson was playing the Joker in Batman. "Who's that" I said, seriously.
To me this is one of the few action figures that was dead on perfect right from the start. I loved the urban camouflage (even though I didn't know that is what you would call it back then) and the details on the torso. He looked like he was ready for a war with grenades, knife, what appeared to be bombs on the side, just everything about him screamed "Badass" and to this day I still think the figure does. As I mentioned above, I thought with his look and specialty that he was going to be the arch-enemy of Snake Eyes. I still think that they should have been because the way both were originally presented, but that is a whole other story which is detailed above.
Firefly of course came with his signature backpack, gun and what many refer to as "cell phone." The cell phone was originally a walkie talkie but nowadays people refer to it as a cell phone, which it does kind of look like one. Times change, technology advances, but it is cool that the design was such that the figure could seem still relevant all these years later. The walkie talkie is one of those accessories that is lost easily and thus becomes a huge find but fetches some high prices for such a small item. The presence of it can nearly double the V1 Firefly. Just to note, Yes I do have the green walkie talkie but keep it stored with Firefly's other accessories for the photos here.
My original Firefly got stolen from me around 1989, no joke some kids broke into my house and swiped some Joes from me. I did replace him finally in 1995 but it took a long while to find the figure NOT massively overpriced due to some on the secondary market thinking he was worth way more than he was. I suppose that struggle made this figure all the more enjoyable to me.
Again on of my absolute favorite figures of all time as well as an awesome sculpt that, IMO, has held up over the years. He was unique in the earliest days of GI Joe and really stands out as one of the top figures of that line.
Ironically we go from the top to the bottom, a figure that stands out but for very different reasons.
What on earth were the designers at Hasbro thinking here, LIME GREEN! I mean this is supposed to be a guy who sneaks around right? This is also the point in the comic that Firefly becomes a sword master, so he is also a ninja-in LIME GREEN! No the figure doesn't come with a sword either, he has a spinning top which is supposed to be a blade launcher, no I am not kidding.
There was a very sharp change in GI Joe in 1991, I am not sure exactly what happened to the toy line but it is clear that there was a marked change that got worse each year. This figure is from 1992 which was a horrible year for GI Joe. Not only are characters repeated almost as bad as they are currently but most of them (not all) have inexplicable bright colors that go against all the established designs of the previous years. Now I will say the mold itself isn't that bad, not exactly what I feel is "Firefly" but not horrible. The color choice is strikingly bad though and really ruins this figure.
At one point I had this figure as Firefly's personal soldiers, which is still lame cause-DAY GLOW LIME GREEN! I really grabbed this one in my quest for "all the Firefly's ever made" but honestly this one and the V3 (which is the same figure with black instead of gray, l slightly better but not much) really showed me the folly of that idea.
As I mentioned the V3 is the same figure with black instead of gray. For the longest time I thought this was a variant but apparently Yo Joe lists it as another version entirely, version 3. There appears to be some debate on the later figure, honestly I don't care, both are horrible.
What is kind of funny is I keep stumbling across this figure, apparently I have gotten him several times in lots (trying to get other figures I want) so I have more than I thought. At any rate he is out the door each time I see him, I have gotten rid of 3 so far. Man what a waste.
Moving on though is a very interesting and cool (pun intended) figure.
While a simple repaint one of the major things this figure does is bring out the details of the original mold. It is striking how much detail is brought out in this version of Firefly. Obviously he is intended for Artic missions thus he was in the Artic pack with Snow Serpents and Artic Night Creepers at TRU. But more so than that Hasbro really took the time and effort to really bring this figure out this time.
It made sense with the original to paint one pattern over him and it would have been easy to do here. Hasbro probably could have gotten away with a simple gray and white camo pattern and still had a dynamic figure, yet they didn't and this figure, more than any other version of Firefly, shows what it is I love about this mold.
At one point I had the idea of the repaints of Firefly being his troopers, this one was of course his polar expert. I dubbed him "Freeze Frame" briefly but when the versions of Firefly just got a bit out of control I ended the idea and this figure is back to being Firefly in the snow.
Same mold but a dynamic paint job make this a must have for most Firefly fans I would think
But Hasbro wasn't done yet with environmental specific Firefly's
I sometimes think it's rather ironic when you look back and see these environment specific version of Firefly and realize that is exactly what is going on in the Pursuit of Cobra line, what is old is new again.
While not as much detail is brought out in this figure as the Polar set one, this one has plenty of detail in the grenades and chest (which now kind of resembles dynamite sticks).
My only real knock on the figure is the fact that for some reason Hasbro decided that painted a strap between his eyes where it is obvious he shouldn't have one. The mask is a major distraction from an otherwise great figure and really could have been a simpler paint job. Another knock that is very minor is the lack of gloves on the figure. This is only because of what Firefly does and how he does it, you would think he would try to conceal his identity. Not a major thing but something of note with the paint job.
Even with those knocks he is a very cool figure and a great variation of the old mold. Not perfect but pretty darn good.
Of course that mold couldn't be his mold forever so we got this:
This comes from the "Joe vs. Cobra" relaunch and was packed with Nunchuck (who many speculate was originally a redo of Quick Kick). This figure was loaded with potential as he had thigh swivels and ankle articulation. He is not nearly as bad on proportions as many of the JVC figures, but his head is just too small for his body. The lower torso also skinny's down a great deal, not as noticeable as the head but something noteworthy none the less.
I think what actually kills this figure is the generic look of him, there is nothing about him that truly screams "FIREFLY" and really he could be anyone doing anything. While I do like the guns on the chest, he really has nothing distinct about him, just a guy in a black suit with forearm and shin guards. He realistically could have been a black ops Duke, a night missions Snake Eyes, A night ops Alley Viper or any number of other figures and no one would have been the wiser. While this generic quality might be appealing on a customizing level, it really hurts the figure overall as being a version of Firefly.
So with such a generic quality to this figure he is an easy "get rid of" for me. There is nothing really distinct about him to keep him in my collection
However, the next figure is the first step into what would later become "overkill of the Firefly V1 mold."
This figure is from the "BJ's Exclusive" pack which featured Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Fast Blast Viper (HEAT Viper with new head), Wet Suit, Dial Tone, Undertow, and Roadblock. The set was weird to say the least with some very odd colors including the Firefly above. Beyond the odd colors is also the fact that the mask, gloves and boots do not match at all. Also the figure comes across as very cheap in that many of the details brought out by even the camouflaged Firefly are completely ignored with the exception of the grenades.
Color alone is a great reason to stay away from this figure, the only thing from the BJ's pack I kept was Wet Suit (which was interesting to say the least), but the rest seemed like garish repaints of worn out figures. There was also a mystery figure that was just like this except he was green, speculation about that figure was it was a prototype or early design that was produced in limited amounts. Whatever the case it is about equal to the one above and is completely avoidable.
While not a version of Firefly, the mold was used once again for the TRU Tiger Force 6-pack as a new character named Wreckage
Now if you don't know your GI Joe Lore, you might be confused at this point, so let me give a quickie explanation. When Tiger Force was still in the prototype stage, there was a figure not included with the regular retail releases that was a direct repaint of Firefly (fuzzy picture below). This figure, renamed Wreckage due to copyright issues with the comic character of the same name, was pretty well harking back to that design that had some levels of infamy in the GI Joe Community.
But, I do feel a huge need to mention this figure even though I am not reviewing it, there is something about that V1 mold which will become apparent as I continue through. I will say I kind of like Wreckage overall, but I also would have liked to have seen a Python Patrol version in the companion Python Patrol pack, then again I love Firefly so there you go.
At this point, my memory seems to be flawed from the listings, as I remember these next guys a bit later than listed. Still there is ton of repetition here (as you will see) so it is easy to get a bit lost in it.
These two versions of Firefly came together in a two pack from the GI Joe Convention in 2003. What becomes semi-important about these two is the fact that, at the time, there were those in the GI Joe Community defending Master Collector's inflated prices for their exclusives on the fact that MC used more paint applications than regular standard releases. Of course one look at these two shows that the Polar Firefly had much more detailed paint applications, but hey don't let that get in the way of an excuse right. Now a days the even higher prices are defended by the idea that the figures are produced in limited quantities which is another issue entirely that will get me way off track anyway (more so than I already am).
I managed to get these two at cost from a friend of mine, which is one of the few MC items I have went to that much trouble for because it was Firefly. The Version 8 is a cool night ops Version and the version 9 does somewhat resemble the Tiger Force Wreckage, it is unknown if the similarities are purposeful or not. The figures are cool but there is a catch, price. These show up on the secondary market here and there and go for quite a bit still today. They are cool, but I have seen prices of around $100 for them, and I have to say they are not worth that much IMO. When I did a search for them I saw a loose 2-pack listed with a Buy it Now price of $150, but as we all know that doesn't mean they are selling for that much.
Still they are pretty hefty on the second hand market so the verdict is kind of up in the air depending on how you feel on prices.
These are listed as having been limited to 400 sets, however I swear I have seen more than 400 on ebay before when looking for other things Firefly related, but I could be way off base as I wasn't keeping count. This is one of those sets that if you have the extra money and are not too uptight about spending that much for a small figure, then go for it. Otherwise I would say pass unless you find a way to get it cheaper.
Moving along we reach the Valor vs. Venom era:
This, like the JVC version, is kind of a study in potential. He has a nice chest holster for his gun, and the gun is removable. However, like the V2 he is in a color that just boggles the mind. I will never forget the early days of the GI Joe Q&A's someone asked about the color choice of Purple and the PR rep responded it was actually midnight blue. Either way it looks purple and really doesn't suit Firefly, granted it is still ten times better than LIME GREEN!
The major flaw is the same for this figure as it was for many from this era, the proportions. Arms are too long, the waist is too tiny, the head is sort of "pinheaded" especially against the overly broad shoulders. In simplest terms, he is a mis -proportioned mess. Color really doesn't enter into that idea. Of course this was still when Hasbro was insisting that Joes and Cobras wouldn't sell unless they were in a two pack, so with this figure came an ok Stalker. Still that wasn't enough incentive to keep this figure.
Just for the proportions he is an easy toss out the door. I think if the designers had tailored it back he would be awesome, but as it is he looks like a reject form a very bad animie, or at least a Rob Liefeild drawing.
One figure that popped up in this is not listed in the "regular" versions of Firefly, the Built to Rule version:
There are actually two versions, one light (above) came with the Sand Snake (Which honestly was one of the better vehicles of that line) and the second darker version with red highlights came with the harder to find Venom Striker. The basic premise of Built to Rule was GI Joe type figures with Lego-esque vehicles. The idea was ok, but not something to write home about, partly because the designs fell a bit flat from their original ideas and as such gathered dust on the shelves. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but in hindsight it was a bit weird. But not as bad as the Transformers versions I suppose.
The one thing I like about the figure was the detail of the cobra signs on the grenades. While the figure still has proportion problems, they are not nearly as pronounced as the previous VvV version.
Still, to be blunt, the Lego like stubs on the forearms and the legs are just lame so he is out the door. As far as this figure goes, you need to really love the Built to rule idea to justify him being in existence in your collection IMO. Also for those who are looking at the torso for customizing it should be pointed out that the torso is glued together making disassembly very difficult.
Next, the version 1 body still had some more juice to it:
Version 11 is from the TRU Urban 6-pack which featured repaints of Alley Viper, Nullifier (Actually a repaint Flak Viper), Storm Shadow, Night Creepers, and Scrap Iron. It was a pretty cool set and even though this mold of Firefly was getting tired, it is one of the better paintjobs given to it in recent years. However that mold was wearing itself on the GI Joe fans around the world.
Still it is one of my favorite paint jobs of the mold, just for the variety of colors while still remaining true to Firefly's character. There is enough detail brought out of the mold to make it very worthwhile. This paint is so good I even ignore the strap between the eyes. Ironically much of the rest of the pack suffered because of this as they all appeared as simply black and brown versions of the previous molds. The excuse being that Hasbro ran out of money for paint, again why not hold off on the pack until you can get it right, oh well.
This is defiantly one to pick up, and a definite keeper in my collection, but this mold isn't done yet:
From the comic pack with Scrap Iron and a very strange Serpantor comes another Firefly. This one still used the old mold but also added a new head sculpt. The sculpt is very cool and fits Firefly perfectly.
The one downside to this figure is the bright colors which was a problem for all the comic packs of this time period. While being comic accurate, the colors do take away from certain molds. It is hard to believe that Hasbro found a way to make gray to be so bright, but they did. It isn't nearly as bad as some of the figures from other comic packs including the ones Firefly came with. That Serpantor is quite possibly the worst version of that character ever.
My other complaint about the figure is the Cobra Sigil being on the side of his arm rather than the front as with the Version 1. Normally I wouldn't care but the seem of the forearm goes right down the middle making the sigil a bit less than what it could be.
But still I really like this figure, he does hark back to the version 1 but manages to stay his own. The brightness keeps him from being as good as he could be, but still not at all terrible
AAAAND yes, the V1 mold keeps going:
So at this point I hope people realize how much this mold is wearing on everyone. This is from the Crimson Guard 6-pack again from Toy R' Us. Sometime at this point I remember someone saying (and I don't remember who) saying the Firefly V1 mold must be "...the hardest working mold in GI Joe, it's everywhere." Thing is that this statement isn't far off track when you think about it. Tiger Force, Con Exclusive, Collectors editions, Urban set, why again? Be that as it may he was here.
Still I have to admit I like the figure, the paint is very close to the Urban set but red instead of blue and less of the lighter colors. While it was worn down by this point, it is a great variation of a tired trick, and when you think about it there have been plenty worse before it.
The "Crimson Guard" Firefly is kind of easy to find still, mostly due to army builders who grabbed up the packs for Crimson Guards had extra Firefly's as a result so getting him on the secondary market isn't too difficult. I would say get it, its really a good rendition and worthwhile, even though the time it came out it was really wearing on the mold.
Now on to the 25 anniversary version.
This is a figure I bought simply because of who he was, it was also the time I realized the 25th anniversary figures were not the superior molds that many had made them out to be.
One of the major issues with this figure is the scrawny arms. Now some like to argue about this fact and all I can say is study some male anatomy, you'll see it then. Missing from the forearm is the signature knife as well, which might have been pretty cool to have a removable knife there. The most glaring problem has to be the equipment on the chest which sneaks up and looks as if it is choking Firefly. It is a flaw that is very hard to ignore even on the best levels. Of course the color is much closer to the comic pack release than it is to the original one as well, but there was the Hall of Heroes repaint but the flaws are more glaring than that.
That isn't to say the figure is all bad, the details on the legs are great especially the little timer like devices his left thigh.
This figure had a much darker repaint (with some of the accessories below) and was repainted again (inexpiably to me) in blue, he also appeared blue in a TRU pack but I never notice exactly what the differences was, but then again I never owned either. This figure should and could be awesome, but just falls short due to some design flaws.
What happens next is proof that some creative ideas can overcome many design flaws:
This is essentially the same figure as above with some new gear, what that gear does is not only completely hide the chest hump but also fits much better than the previous bandolier.
In addition this figure has some very interesting accessories, including a backpack containing plastic explosives and a gas can. These same accessories come with the Hall of Heroes version as well, but the vest is much better with the comic pack one. These accessories also come with TRU Exclusive Doc, cause apparently plastic explosives are a cure for many ailments.
The accessories were repeated again for one of the Rise of Cobra versions of Firefly which did have a slightly different body but overall looked the same as this in different colors. It was ok but not near as good as this one.
Of the new generations of Firefly, this one it the top IMO. He has all the elements and only a few flaws.
There was also a Resolute pack Firefly, I never got that one because his vest looked rather odd coming down over his crotch.
Also there was a pilot version for ROC, but I never got the vehicle, although it is on clearance near me and I keep debating it.
So that wraps up MOST of the Firefly versions out there, or at least a significant chunk. Many attempts, some successes and some "WTF" moments in there.
Next time I will take a look at that king of adventure himself, Indiana Jones, which might seem a bit repetitive, but then again no more so than so many Firefly Version 1 repaints, until next time-Insert own catch phrase here.