Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2011
Steel Brigade troopers are the backbone of the GI Joe fighting force, the ''grunts'' of the team. They are chosen for their exceptional dedication and skills. They work hard to hone their skills so that they can move up the ranks into specialized positions. They meet every challenge with determination and enthusiasm, and eagerly go on missions where they can watch and learn from their superiors.
Desert Battle Steel Brigade
The Desert Battle Steel Brigade figure is an update of the mail-away figures from the Real American Hero line. One of the coolest features of the toy was the fact that the included filecard was customised to the buyer - you could choose a code name, personality, service branch and more and I'm sure there were many kids who were thrilled to have their ''own'' Joe (most of which I'm sure shared the name of their owner.) In a little nod to this, the Desert Battle Steel Brigade soldier's clip and collect ID card comes with a blank space where his name should appear - very cool.
The Steel Brigade trooper is an Army Builder, without a doubt. The face (beneath the helmet) is obscured by a mask and the figure comes with a host of armaments, allowing for a variety of dress and equipment options. I've a feeling the Steel Brigade soldier is going to be this Wave's Alley Viper/Cobra Shock Trooper, which is good, as it's about time the Joes had a way to bolster their forces.
The core sculpt is pretty solid. Like most figures from this Wave, it's kitbashed together from some previous releases (I can't identify which but the parts are familiar) but it doesn't suffer for it. This is supposed to be a solider in a uniform, so by the very meaning of the word he should be clad in common/reused gear.
His basic uniform consists of fatigue pants, a roll-neck sweater, removable combat vest and separate webbing straps and (removable) helmet, beneath which he's wearing a balaclava mask. I particularly like the sweater's roll-neck, an extra piece that sits nicely at the figure's neck and really gives the impression of him wearing more than just a baggy shirt.
The head sculpt beneath the helmet is fairly plain - I think it may be a re-use of a previously-released Beachhead figure. It's fine for what it is and - let's face it - most of the time you're going to display this figure with the helmet anyway.
Articulation is very good and it's nice to see he includes a tilt-able left wrist, which makes it easier to pose him with his two-handed weapons. Despite the bulk of his sculpt, he doesn't suffer from any restrictive joints and is perfectly capable of - for example - kneeling. I'm not sure if this is limited to my figure or not but his head does feel exceptionally fluid when it moves. It's not loose, per se and can hold poses just fine. It just moves very easily.
Paint is used sparingly but is applied with a superb level of precision. I can only see a single miss-application - on the red... wire? that runs down the front of his vest. It's a little splodgy. The rest of the paint app though is superb.
As for colouring, I have to say I'm not a fan of the blue shirt. I understand that this is the traditional colour scheme used on the Steel Brigade figures but I'd have liked to see the desert theme continued to the torso. I can live with it, though. Just.
Deep intake of breath...
The Steel Brigade trooper comes with a removable vest, removable webbing/harness, removable helmet, two assault rifles, a tactical backpack, a rocket storage backpack (with four removable rockets), a rocket launcher and heavy machine gun (with tripod.)
And a stand.
The weapons are all very well-produced and look great, even in these solid colours, as - for once - Hasbro has used a plastic colour that works. Where paint is used, it's used well, with the bayonette, backpack, vest and webbing all having a little extra paint to set them off. The only thing I'm not sure about is the helmet's paintwork. Cast from an olive green, if features gun-metal paint applied to the plates and detailing but only on the front of the helmet. It looks as if there's just a cut-off line where the decided to stop painting, despite the helmet featuring multiple plated pieces that extend across the crown. It's a little odd-looking.
The Steel Brigade trooper is a great addition to the line. He's a well-produced, nicely assembled and (at least in the case of my figure) superbly painted figure that looks great (although I still don't like the blue shirt). As a stand-alone ''character'' you may find him disappointing, but he's not supposed to be a Duke or Snake Eyes. He's a front-line grunt, an Army Builder. And that's a role he fills perfectly.
Fans of Army Building and customisation will find a lot here to be happy with. The multiple weapons, gear options and accessories make him a superbly flexible figure you can do a lot with. The rocket launcher and rocket storage pack, for example, can be used to transform him into a Heavy Weapons specialist. Equip him with the tactical backpack and assault rifle and he's a scout. I like that flexibility a lot.
That's not to say he's not a good figure in his own right. The assembly is good, the sculpt is nice and (at least in the case of my Steel Brigade soldier) his paint app is superb.
I would advise anybody with even a passing interest in this figure to grab it immediately, as the combination of great figure and Army Builder/custom potential is going to make the Steel Brigade soldier fly off the shelves. And with good reason, as it's a superb toy.