All ya'll should know about Marauder Task Force, especially if you're a G.I. Joe fan, but if you're still bringing up the rear on some of the best customizable 1:18th toys out there now, then come on in and lemme school ya.
If you're just passing through, check out Marauder Task Force: Valkyries kickstarter to help fund female versions of the same figures, with new items to boot!
Marauder "Gun Runners" has been running guns for Joe sized figures for awhile now. They started off with some standard guns, some sci-fi (familiar and brand new), and little things in-between, like the kind of gun Megatron transforms in to. They're a great, affordable way to outfit your Joes, new and old (and anything else in the same scale).
After the success of gun running, Marauder decided to hit another angle: the figures that hold the guns! I'm not gona beat around the bush: The reason you haven't seen me review Joes in so long is because the fire just isn't there for me as much as it used to be. I can still pick up the best of them and feel that fire again, but it feels like the folks at Hasbro don't really have their heart in it, as of late.
Marauder picks up that slack and injects some liquid fire RIGHT in to...well, the scale. They can't technically inject it into the G.I. Joe franchise, but once you have these figures in hand, you can see where the aim is. This is for anyone who found Joes to be a little lacking. It's a chance to not be tied to old molds that have to be reused. A chance to rebuild the idea of the 1:18th figure from the ground up, using what worked and tossing what didn't.
*sigh* let's being with jokes, sorry.
You heard that right: These were sculpted by Boss Fight Studio, the very same people creating Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S., a kickstarter for an awesome toyline that I threw entirely WAY too much money at. Boss Fight is made up of former Hasbro designers and sculptors and the like, so they have been there, done that, and know what to keep and what to change.
If you've owned a G.I. Joe recently, then you should know what to expect, for the most part. There are, however, some KEY differences that make these move so, sooo much better.
Number one: The waist! When the 25th Anniversary of G.I. Joe began, they unveiled a totally new body type that did away with the old rubber O-ring at the center. Instead, they moved the waist joint up to the chest. It moves forward, back, and sometimes side-to-side (and sometimes it doesn't move forward and back very well...more like hit and miss).
This was a spot of contention among fans. Some felt it was fine (and many figures were covered by armor or a vest, so you couldn't see it or use it) others felt the joint was glaringly ugly. Personally, I always go for function over form, so it didn't bother me.
...time can change your viewpoint, however. In these years of not reviewing Joes, I found that the simplicity of the vintage stuff was still more fun to play with, ya know? You could almost pose those little suckers with one hand (though they would fall over without the stand). Picking up various 25th style figures revealed that the chest joint just didn't work at all times. I might not care so much about form, but even the function wasn't always at it's best.
With the Marauder figures, the joint is brought back to the waist again, on a tight ball joint. You get the same motion of the vintage figures, and it somehow just feels right! Not because of some nostalgic throwback, but because the movement feels more natural and, when they have no armor on, they just look fantastic.
When you move, you could say a waist-bend and chest-bend are important, if you were to "articulate" yourself, as a figure. However, I think time with the 25th figures has shown that just the chest joint is sub-par, compared to what can be done with the waist joint. You're technically missing a human motion in the chest yet, somehow the figures still seem to move more realistically when compared to the chest joint. I can't really say why, beyond realizing that the folks at Marauder and Boss Fight know what they're doing.
Next, the legs pretty much go with the flow in terms of motion, compared to a Joe. However, they're now attached at the hips with a larger ball joint, allowing for increased hip movement with some added side-to-side (without making a thigh cut). I suppose they could have added a thigh cut, but it doesn't feel important to me. Sometimes simple is best.
Only thing I might have added were some pivots to the ankle, but, once again, the simpler design makes for less possibility of breakage.
The wrists have a tiny change, but a nice one, for me: Both wrists move up and down. When they started adding wrist articulation to Joes, they made the right wrist move up and down, and the left wrist move side to side. It didn't always work right, because you needed your barrel-holding hand to tilt up and down to---
---oh hell, this is hard to explain with text. It's a good thing! I love it.
HA! Ha ha! Here is where Alexx gets a little crazy. This was one of my pet peeves from various G.I. Joes. They were never consistent with the hands! Sometimes they'd get them perfect, like with the basic "Original 13" body (meaning, the basic body that mimicked the original 13 vintage Joes). The hand could hold ANYTHING (given that you cut the index finger to be separate from the rest of the fingers). Then they went and did the above to many, many recent figures.
The funny thing is that the hand displayed is one of the best bodies from G.I. Joe! Everything works, save for those stupid hands. They put 'em on the amazing 30th Snake Eyes and Stalker, as well. In fact, an old Alexx Shorts review went over THIS VERY THING. Lets flash back:
The "Original 13" hand is above, and the 30th Stalker hand is on top. The way the 30th hand was sculpted would push the gun to naturally be held sideways. You had to awkwardly position the gun between the tips of the fingers and the thumb to get right.
Now lets get back to our Marauder hands: They do the same thing as the old "original 13" hands! You can see the palm of the 30th figure is rounded and bulged out. It pushes guns out of the hand and forces you to work them in correctly. Marauder hands completely grip the weapon and face it forward.
See that gap in the 30th hand? It means you can tap that gun right out of the hand, while you're posing the figure. Not so, with Marauder! That gun is SECURE. You could drop the figure and it'll still be in the hand.
*Ahem* Yes, anyway, you see that this was a major thing, for me. Not being able to hold accessories is the NUMBER ONE pet peeve for me, when it comes to toys. The hands are top priority, and I'm glad to see that Marauder and Boss Fight agree.
Yeesh, sometimes you gotta get in there and do things yourself, right? Alright, so here's what we're dealing with:
The base figure has two ports on each leg, one port on each arm, and a standard backpack peg hole on the back that matches current Joe backpack pegs. The pockets, holsters, sheathes, what-have-you, can go wherever you like.
Some pockets aren't just for show!
A standard set had two of these holding-pockets that can store really tiny things, like clips or walkie-talkies.
Beyond that: Just load them up however! Some helmets even have ports, though, at the moment, I've only got a little plug to fill it.
One great thing about the holsters and sheaths is that the weapons are IN THERE. They aren't coming out until you take them out. That was a hit-or-miss thing with Joes; sometimes you would get a holster that did not hold the gun, or at least wouldn't hold the gun it came with. These holsters should hold just about any pistol, within reason.
I should point out that, depending on the size of the pockets you choose for the chest area: They may get in the way of some two-handed weapons poses. Granted, that's your choice, since you set up the pockets how you like, but I figured I'd mention it.
As usual, for me: I love the masked heads. Any masked head, really! The Marauder heads are especially nice in that respect. The one above is your standard mask, and it'll work with gas masks, goggles, helmets, what have you.
THIS HEAD, though. That is the deal maker. It is taking all my power not to use that head for everyone. I gotta choose just one guy, so I don't overuse it, but AAAGH. So cool!
And I also love those knives. I've always been a fan of the various knives that come with Joes, but those are by far my favorite. Each one has a painted blade, too! The paint doesn't even scrape off when you pull them out of the sheaths. Be careful, though: The tips are sharp! This doesn't happen very often, but I nearly stabbed my finger with a toy knife. That's a thing you can do.
The coolest head in the universe can be used with a couple items, like this helmet, and probably the cap, though I didn't try it or picture it (I bought a random selection of things, it seems, so I found out I forgot to buy any caps that matched my colors, and only ended up with a white one).
Oh yes, and the armor! My favorite part. The armor, though realistic, is what makes these really Joe-like. G.I. Joe always ran along the border of realism vs military fantasy. With the right setup, you can get these guys to run the same border. On the other hand, you can also make them seriously realistic! That's what I love about customizable figures.
The armor has nine ports and looks good with just about anything. There are shoulder armor pieces to go with it, and they take up the arm ports. They're a little hard to push on there, so pay attention to how the peg looks when you're pushing it in. They look awesome, but the drawback is the restriction of the outward movement of the arms. While I dislike that, generally, I'm willing to let it slide, for customizable figures. Also...it's just so dang cool. Sometimes the Rule of Cool wins out.
Naturally, if you're so inclined, you can try to build some of your favorite Joes, but with better articulation! This is a make-shift Snake Eyes, if you couldn't tell. I'm not gona lie: If this had come out on it's own, as a new Snake Eyes, he might be the best one ever. There are some greats, too! Some were released not that long ago. But the articulation on these guys is a cut above the rest.
Making your favorites might be a little tough, since there's only one basic unmasked head so far, but you should be able to appropriate just about any Viper with some added items from Joes.
As you can see here: Joe heads are compatible with these guys as well! Of course, not all of them will fit, but most should. If, somehow, Marauder doesn't cover your every need, you can mix in anything from G.I. Joe (or other similarly scaled items) and it'll most likely fit.
That's the kicker: Marauder has SOOOO many items that it's ridiculous! Add in the fact that your whole G.I. Joe collection is additional fodder and your possibilities go beyond endless. It's an Escher painting of possibilities! You'll be adding pockets in the fourth dimension! NOTHING WILL MAKE SENSE ANYMORE!
Now, there is one more pivotal piece of information: all the modular items are made to fit, but many of them won't stay in place. They will, if you're just setting them up and leaving them, but if you want a fun, poseable figure that you can move again and again: You're gona want to glue the items in. Marauder says this right on their website, as well, and it is sound advice. At first, I was a little disappointed, because I thought I would be swapping these around a bunch. After having these in hand, I realize it's brilliant! It's not a mix-and-match toyline - it's a complete customization toyline!
Seriously: Check out Marauder's site and look at all the options. Every. Single. Item. Is. SEPARATE. You don't even have to commit to that much! Peruse the wares, pick a body, a head, some gear, weapons, think about what pockets you want, get 'em, glue, 'em, and you're done! You get YOUR figure. All yours. You don't even have to buy a whole set of pockets if you're not gona use them. Just buy what you want!
That is the major reason I am touting these so highly. I can't think of many other toylines that are so easy to build yourself. Heck, this may be the first make-your-own-figure for adults! Lego has done it for kids with Hero Factory, but this goes way beyond that. You can individually itemize each part of what you want and go from there. If you're bold, you can even boil-and-pop these guys apart at the waist and change up the pants, when you get them! The color options are so varied that you can very nearly color the thing yourself, as well. There are even other colors coming out soon...
....HERE, at Marauder's new kickstarter! That's right, Marauder is nearing the end of another Kickstarter for Valkyries: basic female bodies and gear that match the Task Force in complexity and variety. It's pretty much the same stuff (with new items thrown in, take a look!) that all work for the new female body. There is nearly no limit to your customizable soldiers! If you like what you see, check out their site, and PLEASE check out the Kickstarter for Valkyries! It has already been funded, and just needs to reach more awesome stretch goals that includes more colors for the male MTF buck! It all ends September 14th, so get there while you can!