Well, this is it: I've finally decided to start reposting my old "Alexx Shorts" G.I. Joe reviews. They're the reviews that lead to what eventually became this blog! I'll be posting them in straight copy-and-paste format, separating them with bold dotted lines so you know where they begin and end, and then I'll post some final thoughts on what I think of the figure currently.
For those unfamiliar: I used to take random pictures here and there, but by the time the Rise of Cobra toys came out, I was getting annoying with how much people had been bashing the figures which were clearly better than the previous 25th Anniversary offerings. I set out to show people how awesome they were, and things went from there, forming into "Alexx Shorts", named so because I thought I was going to keep to a short format with a few pictures. I did not do that.
There's no question as to why he's so used to these two colors.
Normally I begin with the filecard, but as you can see...they've sorta narrowed down all you need to know to a few sentences. This guy is the boss and his staff shoots off some venomous fire, I guess.
And with that: Welcome to my first review for the Retaliation figures! This movie has had a bit of a trip and a fall, but the toys and merch flew out of it's hands, on the way down, and into stores. So far the news is that whatever was sent out will be sold, but after that: you gotta wait until the movie comes out in March of next year. 'Cause you know...3D is important to some folks. Apparently the test audience.
What is this about, though? Movies? NOOOOO! This is about toys! Always has been; always will be.
Today I bring you the toy they'll be passing off as the movie version (pic via Generalsjoes) of Cobra Commander. Not only that, but also his black variant! That'll bring us right outta the gate with two of the Commander's favorite color schemes.
Lets look at some details:
The Commander seems to be wearing a sort of bulletproof vest under his harness, though it's all the same uniform blue, on this figure. The only reason I say this is 'cause he clearly has a collar there, poking up from an undershirt. Kinda makes the vest look like another part, though I can't say for certain.
You'll also notice that he's got a certain...90's flair about him. He's not 90's bright, but he's still a more vibrant blue than we've seen in awhile. Also, his helmet is AWESOME. Well, everyone will have a different opinion, but I am loving this sucker. It feels like so long since they felt safe to break away from the standard homage to the classic versions. The 25th line just damaged the poor guy and forced him to use the same head over and over regardless of the various masks he's sported over the years. Then, of course, Rise of Cobra kinda made something totally different and took it in the complete opposite direction. This new mask brings it home but doesn't stick to the same vintage look. In short: it feels like a toy again, rather than a collector's figure. I don't know about you, but I always looked forward to what design they would come up with next, and it's a real breath of fresh air to see them do a little something else without making him look like a monster (though I really liked the RoC version...just not as CC himself).
Upon your first look, the rest of the figure seems a little plain. If you look closely, you can see some cool details, the mismatching arms. The right arm sports some plated armor, while the left is just his normal glove. I liked the look of him when I first saw him, but I've been enjoying him even more in-hand. Granted, a bit of the paint-app cut is showing, 'cause I'm sure he might have had a different colored collar or painted elbow pads, but I don't find myself bothered by it.
Next, you'll notice the leg holster. Sadly, those seem to be getting bigger (though, this is still small enough for me). His gun is a tad loose in the holster if you set it in there like it's supposed to be, but if you shove it down further, it fits in snug.
Speaking of the legs...
Some of the first casualties of the price cut! No double jointed knees and no ankle joints. *GASP!* In all honesty I don't find myself missing those points for the Commander, and I would applaud the effort if I felt like it saved us any money. Sadly, we lost articulation and paint - which I assume DID lower the cost - but then they just jacked the price up anyway so that they could include:
Missile launchers. So, since I can't fathom why a cut in articulation and paint could possibly result in a price increase, I have to assume that the launchers are why the price went up. If they weren't there, I assume we'd be paying the same price as the Dollar General figures. Possibly? I can't even claim to understand how this works, so I'm not gona waste time complaining about things I don't know.
Sticking to just what I know from what I have in hand: I don't mind the loss of the ankles and the extra joint in the knee. I thought CC would be hard to stand while taking pics, but I did not have a problem and he was still quite fun. His legs and his other points of articulation work just fine, and his arms are even better than some have been in the past (granted, RoC pretty much fixed all the 25th problems, mostly).
On top of that, he holds his weapons VERY well, though I do wish they had given both of his hands the separate trigger finger.
I've been fixing that since the 25th line (and even a bit before, too) so that wasn't a problem once I cut the finger free.
Finally, there's his staff.
Man, that looks fun! Well okay, so I DO like it, in a comedic sense. I mean look at that thing! It's hilarious! AND it shoots fire! Not a bad range, either. Plus, if you have any other fire around, you can do something actually fun (rather than the perceived fun of launching and losing a missile):
I'm not gona lie. The launcher could have been cooler in a million other ways. For instance: why not a normal sized version (same design) that doubled as a spear or something? Or the head could come with a flame blast like I'm using above, or some other sort of action that doesn't involve the absolutely standard launching missile that you gotta go run and get after every shot? How about a little innovation, now that most of the tooling dollars are going toward missile launchers?
Still, in terms of launchers, this is at least interesting. I do like it, I just wish they would put more work into making interesting accessories. They don't have to be the tiny-and-easy-to-lose stuff from some of the PoC releases, but they also don't have to be launchers or gigantic machines like with some of the superhero stuff. I feel like the designers just need to put as much thought into accessory design as they do with the figures themselves.
On the other hand, without the staff, I couldn't do this:
So I have to thank them for making these jokes easy, in some cases! Not as easy as Zandar makes it, but close.
Alright, I believe I've covered what I want. How about a little mix-and-match?
The body works great with other heads and harnesses, though the standard stuff he comes with doesn't change it up much. Chances are that you folks care more about the lost articulation in the legs, though, so I assume you'll want to see where this new head will work:
I honestly haven't found a bad place for that head. It looks great! No compatibility issues here. Anyway, here's some other randomness:
To wrap this up, I'll say that it is certainly getting hard to recommend figures in this economy and with the prices increasing. I do not blame you if most or all of the Retaliation toyline is a pass - I said my piece on it many times; saying how annoyed I was and how I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep this up. Well...it's a hobby, I still love it, and I feel these figures are still looking good. On top of that, I suppose I can keep it up so long as I'm picking and choosing what else I buy (I mean, I really don't need so many side things anyway).
So, I got what I wanted out of the first wave of Retaliation figures, and I feel that they have impressed me much more than I thought they would. The missing articulation on figures like Cobra Commander does not bother me, because I'm still messing with many figures from the JvC-Spytroops-VvV eras, and they've had those restrictions as a norm, back then. So with these Retaliation figures, keep in mind that the prices have gone up, but I feel that they are still doing a good job with a portion of them, even with some of the tooling dollars being taken up with launchers.
SO...Cobra Commander. I really like him, and I highly suggest either color. The black is nice, but I think I like the blue better. His launcher is obnoxious, but at least it's hilarious, and his other accessories work well and look nice. His parts work anywhere, the design is delightfully classic while being new and interesting, and I honestly feel like he brings the "toy" back into these toys. If you're skipping these because of price or other things, I don't blame you. If you're picking these up, then I highly suggest getting him.
Man, there were a lot of Cobra Commanders. Take a look at the 80s-90s toys and count how many variations there were of major characters, VS other characters or new guys or army builders. Now check the 2000's to now and see that number SKYROCKET. Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander, etc and so on and so forth. Multiple versions of each of them in every multipack, comic pack, and every other wave of the basic figures.
And so we came again to Cobra Commander, for the Retaliation movie toyline. This was a weird one because, right from the start, you could tell they didn't have much faith in this thing; from the halting of the release to add 3D effects, to the toys being shoved out quickly to make at least SOME money.
Then, the strangest part: they barely even bothered to make the toys look like the movie characters. Where Rise of Cobra got a TON of new tooling to make them accurate to the film, Retaliation was a parts-reuse extravaganza! Not that that was a bad thing. We did get new stuff too, but that was like you see here: With major changes to the formula (mainly lack of ankle joints and double jointed knees). The exceptions were (of course) Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (plus anyone using old tooling) and Dwayne Johnson's crazy Super Roadblock Extraordinaire, who had ninja training, for some reason, and this multi-tool-gun-weapons-system thing going on. His figure was, naturally, very much like him, but beyond that, we got a headsculpt for Firefly in a parts-reuse body, along with a sort-of Bruce Willis headsculpt on the PoC Recondo body.
All of this spelled out: "We don't have a lot of money to spend on a failure, and this is really looking like failure to us."
...and yet, was it a bad toyline? No, not really! The parts-reuse was smart, the paint was...mostly good (don't look at Bruce Willis' eyes), and some of the random redesigns came out pretty damn awesome, like Zartan and even this Cobra Commander!
So, yeah, I still agree with Past Alexx. This is a good Cobra Commander. Still...like I said at the start of this retrospective: This is Cobra Commander version 49, with more that came after him. Is this the best of all the versions? Nah, not really. Might be the cheapest, though! Who knows. The point is: There's nothing beyond that helmet that helps him stand out, so his only saving grace is that he's mildly different than the rest. There are other ones that stand out better, though, like the Renegades version, or the Rise of Cobra horror show, so why bother hunting down this specific version?
*sigh* We really need a big shake-up for G.I. Joe.