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Author Topic: Review - "Dollar Store Exclusive" Joes!  (Read 1997 times)


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Review - "Dollar Store Exclusive" Joes!
« on: June 14, 2012, 12:47:57 AM »

Review – “Dollar Store” Joes!

The Highs: Hey, it’s more 25th-style Joes!  Unlabeled stands good for customizing.

The Lows: Nothing truly new, minimal accessories, somewhat limited distribution.

The Verdict: “Must-haves” if you can find them for US $6 a pop.

When the GI Joe: Retaliation toy line-up was first announced at Toy Fair International, Joe fans were a bit disappointed by the lack of throwback Joes.  Sure, there was the Comic-Con exclusive Jinx, but…not much else.  In April rumors started swirling about some classic-styled Joes being released…but as dollar store exclusives.  Wait, what?  That can’t be right, can it?  Would they be true GI Joe figures?  Or would they be like the terrible dollar store Marvel Universe figures, with no accessories and just 5 terrible points of articulation for US $6?

Turns out, the rumors were correct, and these aren’t terrible figures, either.  Truth be told, there have been some horrible “Dollar Store Exclusive” Joes out there for a while.  The “Dollar Joes” available until very recently were reissued or repainted Spy Troops/Valor vs Venom figures on tiny cards and with no accessories.  Can’t get much worse than that.  Well, someone at Hasbro figured out that with the mass of 25th style parts that Hasbro has been building inventory of since 2007, they could get new Joes into the dollar stores, throw in some nods to classic figures, and still make profitable, fully articulated Joes (they even have the up/down wrist articulation!) with just a few sacrifices. 

The figures we ended up with are some we’ve all seen before and have plenty of versions of, but these new Dollar Joes are unique figures.  We get stalwarts Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander, Duke, Shipwreck, and a Cobra Officer.  While these are nice new versions, don’t get me wrong…there ARE sacrifices made on these figures.  These new Joes come on smaller cards without filecards, they have limited paint apps, and their accessories are limited, all in the name of profitability.  Strangely enough, Hasbro still includes figure stands with these Joes, though the characters’ code names are no longer printed on the front.  I find this an odd choice and would prefer a few more weapons. 

I’ll start with Cobra Commander.  This figure is a nod to the 1993 black hooded Commander from the days of Battle Corps, and he sports a black uniform with silver epaulets, belt, holster, and scabbard that are remade from the ’08 comic pack Commander.  He’s constructed using a Crimson Guard torso, battle pack CC head, and the Resolute CC head.  This actually makes for a pretty nice Commander and is almost a dead ringer for the ’93 figure, with the main difference being the Cobra sigil placed his hood instead of his breast.  Cobra Commander is outfitted with a .45 and the same snake head-handled sword from the comic pack Commander.  The only noticeable cost-cutting measure with this figure is the unpainted blade on the sword, which is easily fixed with a little silver paint.  All in all, this is a MUCH better executed Commander than quite a few others we’ve been given in recent years, and he’s also a great homage to the ’93 figure.  Not bad at all for a discount Joe!

Next on the list is Shipwreck.  This figure’s a nod to Joe vs Cobra from a decade ago, as his deco closely resembles the 2002 BAT/Shipwreck 2-pack JvC version.  Blue beanie and shirt, gray pants, and black shoes.  Shippy is constructed with the head from Rise of Cobra Shipwreck, 25th Beachhead’s upper body, and the legs from Renegades Duke.  For gear, Shipwreck carries Renegades Duke’s pistol (which will still clip onto the figure’s leg) and the SCUBA mask and backpack from the RoC version.  There’s no obvious cost-cutting here, as the SCUBA mask retains the silver painted goggles so critical to keep the mask from looking cheap.  My one complaint with this figure though is the length of the neck, which is just a little too long for the RoC head.  Still though, not a bad figure to help fill out your Flagg’s flight deck crew, and for some reason I like the Renegades pistol with Shipwreck much better than I ever did with Duke.

Next on our list is Duke.  This version of Duke fits him out in an “Original 13” style outfit, and in fact he uses 7-pack Zap’s body and webgear, topped off with an Ace head with repainted blonde hair.  Duke comes outfitted with and M-16, one sidearm, and a beefy helmet.  As far as cost-cutting measures go, the only noticeable one here is the lack of a second pistol for the ankle holster.  Honestly, this probably won’t be an issue because if you’re like me and have been collecting figures of this style since ’07, you’ll have PLENTY of extra pistols laying around for that holster.  This figure doesn’t exactly scream “Duke!” at me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the amount of Dukes we already have.  Despite the lack of Duke-ness, this figure is still very nice looking and has a classic style.  Use this guy as a greenshirt or as a base for a custom version of an “Original 13” member. 

Switching back to the bad guy side of things, we have the Cobra Officer.  This figure’s package may say “Cobra Trooper” but that “V” on the helmet, to me, makes this guy an officer.  There’s no new body construction or mishmash of parts here…this is a straight black repaint of the Pursuit of Cobra Cobra Trooper.  And you know what?  That’s just fine and dandy with me.  I loved the PoC Cobra Troopers, so getting a black version is like getting a second dessert or something.  While he’s almost completely black, there are a few gray accents on his webgear, as well as gray kneepads, that break up the monotony a bit.  There’s also a silver Cobra sigil emblazoned on the figure’s chest, with the Cobra officer’s “V” painted in silver on the helmet as well.  Cobra Officer comes outfitted with only an AK-47.  While the AK is always the choice weapon for international terrorists, the cost-cutting rears its ugly head here.  The holster for the PoC Trooper’s pistol with silencer and sheath for the knife are still present on the figure’s right leg, and because both accessories are fairly new you probably don’t have many extras to fully equip your new discount Officer.  All things considered though, this is a wonderful figure for $6.  If Hasbro had offered this as a fully outfitted regular retail release, I bet they would have sold a boatload of them to army builders, because this is one nice-looking figure!

The obligatory Storm Shadow in this allotment of figures is not as obligatory a figure as usual.  Veering away from yet another version of a Cobra ninja dressed in white, THIS figure pays homage to a classic figure and subteam many fans would probably rather forget…the ’92 Ninja Force Storm Shadow.  Though lacking the gold accents, this figure sports a black & white uniform that mimics, but doesn’t quite replicate, the design on the original figure.  Stormy’s body is a repaint of the 30th Anniversary/Renegades Storm Shadow that everyone went absolutely nutso over, and for good reason.  This body is one of the best-articulated and best-sculpted Joe bodies ever made.  While Hasbro is certainly starting to get some mileage out of the mold between this Stormy figure and its two uses in the Retaliation line so far, if they can keep pulling off figures like THIS I won’t complain.  Too much.  Yet.  Oh yeah, and the body is topped off with the balaclava-clad ninja head that we’ve gotten quite a few times since the Rise of Cobra figures.

Anyway, for gear Storm Shadow comes with the same sash and belt as the vintage-style items included with the 30th Anniversary figure.  There’s also the hood that was originally included with the Resolute 7-pack Storm Shadow.  THIS time however, the hood fits very well and doesn’t look very goofy at all.  Again, it doesn’t quite replicate the original design, but it does mimic it well.  For weaponry, the Stormy is lightly equipped with only a long-handled katana in black…though it does pay homage to the bright white weapons that were included with the Ninja Force version.  There’s also the good ol’ compound bow that figures such as PoC Spirit and Shadow Tracker have carried around in the past, and it still doesn’t fit in figures’ hands very well.  While lacking a few details of the original figure, this is a nice homage to an otherwise mostly forgotten time in Joe history, and is very well done for a budget figure.

Finally, there’s yet another Snake Eyes.  This one pays homage to the bright blue 1991 version.  In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that the ’91 Snake Eyes was one of my favorite figures as a kid.  Neon weapons be damned, I was very excited to find him back in the day, and I used to have a ton of fun with that spring-loaded grappling hook backpack.  Heck, I even got the 12” version of this figure from the “Hall of Heroes” line and was very excited to get that, though he’s one of a very few 12” figures I own. 

The torso of ol’ Snakes here is the same one that was originally made for the ’89 version from the 25th Anniversary line.  I could not for the life of me place the arms, but Justin Bell’s review of this figure over at the excellent correctly identifies them as the arms from the terrible Arctic Battle PoC Storm Shadow.  No wonder I couldn’t identify them…that figure was terrible, and I think I spent two seconds looking at him and trying out the stupid spring-loaded action before tossing him in my dreaded, crowded surplus figure bin.  Back to the figure, the upper legs and kneepads were robbed from Alley Viper.  Best I can figure out, the lower legs come from Resolute Duke, but I might be wrong here.  Snake Eyes is topped off with the ’83 style head that was 1 of 2 included with the excellent PoC Wave 3 SE, and the head has been appropriately painted to approximate the ’91 Snakes.  The head sits a little too low on the figure’s neck for my tastes. I also agree completely with JoeCanuck board member canprime, who suggested that the head from the Retaliation Cobra Trooper would make a better head for ’91 Snakes.  I’m pretty sure that before long, someone will come up with a custom version combining that head with this figure, painted to match.  And I bet it will look fantastic.  Anyway, for weaponry Snake Eyes has a single black sword.  The sword is almost a dead ringer for the dual neon red versions included with the original, but that’s the only armament.  Also included is a gray vest that is a repaint of the vest included with PoC AWE Striker driver Night Fox, which completes the ’91 look.  Overall, I call this figure a triple…tantalizingly close, but not quite a home run.

Hasbro made an excellent design decision with these figures.  Not only are they cool enough to catch the eye of a kid wandering the toy aisle at Dollar General, the underlying vintage theme has collectors excited about them, as well.  Hasbro could well have made these figures follow in the footsteps of the Marvel Universe discount figures and just released some 5 points-of-articulation junkers for $6…kind of like what they did with the vehicle drivers in the Retaliation line.  Instead, they went with full articulation and just cut back on accessories, which I honestly have no problem with.  I have enough extra Joe accessories from the last 5 years to probably outfit three otherwise unequipped armies anyway.  Further, you can always visit Marauder Gun-Runners if you feel that these figures are not equipped enough for your liking. 

If you want these figures, be ready to scour Dollar Generals, or be ready to pay at least twice retail on eBay.  I got a decent eBay deal and pulled the trigger, because discussions with a few local DG managers assured me that these figures wouldn’t be in my area anytime soon.  (The managers told me that they had just reset their toy plan-o-grams for May and it was highly doubtful the POG would change or they would get new product until fall).  These aren’t Earth-shattering figures by any means, but they’re definitely nice for what they are.  Good job, Hasbro.  If you keep making “cheap” figures like these, I look forward to seeing what you can do with the next wave!

Paint/Mustang Man
Reviewer at Large!