Friday, June 17, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe 25th Anniversary - Sgt Airborne

Produced by Hasbro | Released 2008

The oil-rich Navajo parents of SGT AIRBORNE indulged their eldest son with skydiving lessons. Also having an interest in the legal system, he studied law and passed the Arizona State Bar exams. He joined the Army and opted for airborne training. SGT AIRBORNE jokes around and gets loose but he's serious too... dead serious. You look at him and sometimes he's looking right through you. It must be the Native American in him. The Navajos call it ''the far-seeing look.'' He graduated at the top of his class from Airborne School, Fort Benning. Qualified expert: Hughes Helicopter Chain Gun, M-16, M-60 and M-1911A auto pistol.

Packaging Shots

Sgt Airborne
Regular readers with long memories may recognise Sgt Airborne. Many of his parts - including his head - were used in the previously-Reviewed as Rollbar (with the Snarler Cycle.)

The sculpt is pretty solid. He's clearly clad in a baggier jump-suit, rather than combat fatigues but Hasbro has done a good job of giving the figure a nicely-defined silhouette and there's a fair amount of detail in the folds and tucks of his uniform, even if it is lacking in pocket-style detail. That said, there's a handy holster (that accommodates the included pistol - just) on his right thigh and his left features a strapped-on equipment pouch.

The figure comes with a vest accessory pre-dressed. Whilst the sculpt is fine and has some nice detailing, I found my Sgt Airborne's vest had been attached in an odd manner. The fastener would not pop shut and - worst of all - I was unable to line-up the hole in the vest with his back port, meaning I couldn't properly attach his backpack. I didn't experience this issue with Rollbar (who uses the same accessory) so I'm sure this was simply a one-off production mistake. However, I was unable to remove the vest to adjust the position, so I took a more radical approach to the problem (see below.)

He also comes with a rappel harness, pre-applied. This is a nicely-sculpted, cool-looking accessory that really makes the figure ''pop'' and gives him a nice sense of identity. This accessory cannot be removed though, unless you elect to take Sgt Airborne to pieces.

The head sculpt is pretty good from a distance but when I looked much closer I spotted a few production line errors and the left side of his jaw has a blob/gouge in it. Again, this could be my figure alone but it's worth pointing out. That aside though, it's a pretty lifelike sculpt.

Articulation is fine, pretty much as you'd expect from any Joe, although the leg harness can be a little prohibitive and I did find the poofy sleeves made it a little difficult to bend his arms into every pose I'd have liked. But that aside, all is fine with no major issues to report.

Paint is well applied, although I have to admit - and regular readers will already be expecting this - I'm not a fan of the brighter colours used in the 25th Anniversary line. Sgt Airborne's look isn't too bad but the pale blue vest isn't really a particularly good colour choice in my view. Facial details are nicely done though and the few areas of colour - such as his knee pads, boots and gloves - are all well done and cleanly applied.

Sgt Airborne comes with but a few accessories when compared to the Pursuit of Cobra figures but here I think Hasbro got it about right. He comes with enough gear to give him options but not so much as to be left with a number of accessories going spare.

As previously mentioned, Sgt Airborne comes with his flight-vest and leg harness (both pre-attached), a helmet (removable), a backpack, assault rifle and pistol, the latter of which just about fits into his leg holster. The assault rifle and backpack both feature a little extra in the way of paint, which is used sparingly but well. The helmet, vest and harness also include detail apps that are cleanly done (even if the helmet and vest use  BRIGHT NEON paint.)

Sgt Airborne also comes with his own base.

I have to now confess something. I tend to like to keep my toys in as close-to-mint condition as possible, but the combat vest was such a poor fit and looked so terrible that I did something I've never done before: I took a knife and slit the side of the vest so I could remove it. I damaged a toy intentionally. However, I did so because I had a plan.

This is how my Sgt Airborne appears in my display case now, clad in the Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Zartan's spare desert vest. I think it's a massive improvement personally and - despite my initial doubts about removing the original vest - I'm more than happy with the results.

Final Thoughts
Sgt Airborne is - cartoon-colouring aside - a fairly lifelike addition to the 25th Anniversary line. I like the sculpt, he has a clearly defined purpose that's reflected in his look/accessories and the overall, initial impression is pretty good. However, he's also pretty sloppily put-together, with nasty marks on his face and an ill-fitting vest. Granted, these could be issues with my figure alone and perhaps everybody else who owns him has no problems like this. It's just frustrating to see them cropping up here and I really do hope my experience with Sgt Airborne's production problems is a one-off, as the figure itself deserves better.

The level of detail is pretty good and the sculpt is nice. Indeed, were it not for the garish colouring of his vest and helmet, he'd fit right in with the more lifelike Rise/Pursuit of Cobra toys, so he has a broad appeal, as fans of the original and the newer figures will, I'm sure, find somewhere for him in their collection.

And whilst I'd never advocate anybody damaging their toys intentionally, I have no regrets about cutting off his vest and replacing it with Zartan's ''spare.'' Not only does this allow his backpack to slot into place properly but it also improves his realism ten-fold. I like him a lot with the new vest. Without it, not so much. I'd never advocate you damage your toys intentionally but I also think it's a massive improvement and if anybody is considering removing the vest then take a look at my ''after'' shots and make up your own mind.

In summary then, if you can find a Sgt Airborne that doesn't have the minor issues mine had, I'm sure you'll enjoy owning him. He's a solid enough figure and if you can look past the bright colours (or do as I did and minimise them) then you'll find him a nice addition to your collection.

Production QualityB-
Final ScoreB

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