Produced by Hasbro | Released 2008
A casual visitor to COBRA Island might find his access to certain areas blocked by a maze-like system of shallow canals. These interconnecting waterways are abundantly stocked with ravenously hungry crocodiles that have been deliberately conditions to be especially hostile and fast. The man responsible for these ultra-aggressive reptiles is CROC MASTER, a former alligator wrestler and burglar alarm salesman who founded Guard-Gators, Inc. in an effort to commercialize the use of alligators for home security.
Unlike some of the militaristic characters like Duke or the more modern takes seen in the Pursuit of Cobra line, Croc Master is pure comicbook bad guy and is definitely one of the more ''cartoonish'' characters in the GI Joe canon.
The basic sculpt does a pretty good job conveying the character - he's clad in a gator-skin vest and boots and has his breathing apparatus strapped to his back (well, his shoulders) and there's a definite sense of design and purpose to his look. It's also got a slight element of comicbook villain about it, which is pretty cool.
The gator-scale detailing isn't bad, but it's a little primitive. I've have preferred to see a little more subtlety to the bumps and grooves on his boots and vest, but it does at least add some detail to him. I also like the asymmetrical design of his costume - he wears two different bracers and his left thigh features a holster, whilst his right boot has a (sadly non-functional) knife and sheath strapped to it. It gives him a practical/applied look that works well.
The head sculpt does its job. He's wearing a gimp mask with - as mentioned - breathing apparatus that connect via a tube to the shoulder-mounted air tank. There's a nice sense of menace about the expression on his face - or at least that's expressed through his eyes - and he comes off as being a pretty scary dude, even if he's also slightly cartoony.
Note that this body was re-used by the Terra-Viper.
Articulation is as you'd expect - he's pretty flexible and can hold most poses. The joints themselves are quite fluid without being too loose and even his accessories - such as the breathing tube - do little to inhibit movement. On a related note, his whip (see below) is sculpted with a nice sense of motion to it and looks good when posed with the figure.
Paint-wise the figure is good, if - again - a little cartoony. The details like Croc Master's chest badge, his thigh holster and boot knife are all cleanly applied on the whole. The colour scheme is probably a little garish for my tastes but given his background as a former circus performer, it makes sense to have some of that showmanship/flashiness carry over into his new role. Plus he's cut from the classic villain cloth, so I suppose he can be a little outlandish.
Croc Master includes a whip, revolver, removable breathing tube and a pet crocodile.
It would have been nice if they'd included a second whip accessory as a ''stored'' version, that could be mounted on his belt or even wrapped around his torso. Not that there's anything wrong with the whip the figure includes, though (it's actually got a good sense of dynamism to it.)
One nice little touch is that the crocodile's upper jaw is jointed, so you can open and close its mouth. I can imagine a lot of kids' Joes getting bitten...
Croc Master also comes with his own stand.
Croc Master is a lot better than I expected him to be. I'm much more a fan of the realistic-looking figures from the Rise/Pursuit lines and some of the colour-schemes and character designed of the 25th Anniversary figures are a little too cartoony for me. But Croc Master works. He looks kind of goofy but that's the point, I guess, given the character's odd background and slightly comedic business plans...
I'm not a huge fan of the gator skin details (I'd have preferred, as I say, something more subtle) but it gives him an unusual look and the inclusion of his pet crocodile certainly make him stand-out on the shelf.
I do have one major criticism and it's not the fault of the figure at all, but rather of Hasbro. A ''new'' Croc Master is set to be included in one of the upcoming Pursuit of Cobra Waves. However, instead of reinventing him as they did with characters like Zartan and Dusty, Hasbro is instead releasing a figure that looks almost identical to this toy. Look at this image. Can you honestly say - even if you're a fan of the original Joes - that this toy fits into the Pursuit of Cobra line? Were it not for the card artwork, I'd assume the image was either a placeholder or from the 30th Anniversary line. Sadly it's not though. This is indeed Hasbro's ''realistic'' take on the character... That's incredibly disappointing.
I know it's not the fault of this figure or even this figure's designer, given he's from a time before the Pursuit of Cobra line, but there's part of me that looks at him and thinks, ''I'm going to see a repaint of you in a few months...'' and that takes the edge off him a little. He's a solid-enough toy, he looks pretty cool and he's got some nice accessories, but there's nothing really much beyond that to get excited about. Fans of the earlier Joes will, though, I'm sure love this figure.