Thursday, October 13, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe 30th Anniversary - Renegades Firefly

Produced by Hasbro | Released September 2011

FIREFLY is a saboteur hired by COBRA to perform acts of sabotage and destruction. He has a high opinion of himself and his skills - and he's not wrong. He's an expert with explosives, all kinds of weapons, martial arts combat and infiltration. He works alone, he hides his identity, and the only kind of trouble he likes is the kind he himself causes.

GI Joe 30th Anniversary Renegades Firefly
As we touched upon in yesterday's Renegades Duke Review, Hasbro has combined its celebrations of GI Joe's 30th Anniversary with the tie-in line from the animated show, GI Joe: Renegades. Why, I have no idea, as there's no reason the brand can't support multiple sub-divisions. Anyway, today we're looking at the second figure from the line, the Renegades take on saboteur and pyromaniac, Firefly.

The Renegades Firefly uses the fairly standard blister pack we've come to expect from the line (and indeed, most single carded figures.) Like the Renegades Duke, it downplays the connection to the TV show somewhat but it's good to see they're at least using images from the animated show as the main ''character'' graphic.

I still think having a mix of characters from the ''regular'' 30th Anniversary line and the Renegades line being displayed side-by-side on the ''Collect Them All'' panel is an odd move, as the art styles used are quite jarring but I do like that the figures use colour-coded backgrounds to indicate which faction the figure represents, with the Joes using a cool blue backdrop to COBRA's red.

So what of Firefly himself?

Sculpt and Design
Whilst I was a little disappointed with the fairly bland Renegades Duke, Firefly is a big improvement. For starters, he simply has a much more interesting design, with his more complex, bolted-together look being perfectly captured by the sculpt. Unlike Duke's relatively nondescript clothing, Firefly's design is both functional and stylish.

Firefly is a character designed with a specific function in mind, namely that he's a saboteur, explosives expert and infiltration specialist. This is reflected perfectly in the figure's outfit. There's a real sense of him being primed for action and clad in durable, combat-ready gear, from his gaiter-clad ankles and knee-pads to his hooded head and pouch-covered attired, he appears ever inch the survivalist. What I particularly like is that for all this combat-orientated gear, he doesn't look militaristic. The character designers instead manage to evoke a sense of urban terrorist or civilian militiaman, which works superbly.

The figure does a great job of capturing the character's look. Unlike Duke's broad-stroke design, the figure is visually engaging and it seems every inch of him features something to catch the eye, from his belt pouches and wrist-mounted ammo packs to the paneled gloves and contoured pants. This is a very cool-looking sculpt.

The design is topped-off with a removable explosives/combat vest. Featuring a cross-chest bandolier, belt detail, a very cool protective collar and a working knife sheath (which features a removable machete accessory) the vest not only looks great as a piece in itself but it's the real jewel in the crown of Firefly's design, giving him both a superbly detailed look and a great silhouette.

Firefly's head sculpt is again, accurate to the original design. However, I'm not entirely sold on the exposed nose-tip look he's sporting here. I may have to dig-out the Pursuit of Cobra Firefly spare head and give that a try...

As a piece of sculpt work though, it's pretty good and there's certainly no mistaking which character the figure is based upon. There's some cool detailing around the ear pads and a slide-down visor (which sadly doesn't move) finishes the look nicely.

The Renegades Firefly uses what could be termed GI Joe articulation plus. Although we've seen the wrist joints before in earlier releases, I find I have a lot more faith in them with the Renegades figures and there's little worry in my mind that they're going to snap. Like the Renegades Duke, Firefly has tilt-able wrist joints that move in either plane. This works well when it comes to posing him with two-handed weapons and adds an extra level of posing nuance to the figure.

The separate vest piece does little to restrict articulation, despite its longer ''coat tails'' due to the inclusion of side-splits on the left and right of the figure. I did find in a few of the more intensely torso-twisting poses that the vest had a habit of popping open at the side, but most poses can be achieved with relative ease. He can even - to a degree - sit down, albeit in a rather reclined posture.

The joints themselves are nice and tight without being restrictive and although the vest does limit movement to a slight degree, unless you're trying get Firefly to do crazy Yoga poses, you shouldn't experience any issues getting him into a good display stance.

Firefly's colouring uses a similarly muted palette to that seen in the TV show, with his costume being a combination of multiple grey tones and black. But look closer and you'll see there's some additional colour detail, including red piping and multi-coloured pouches and accessories.

Unlike the Renegades Duke, Firefly doesn't include any form of colour wash or shadow detail. My guess is that Hasbro felt the various bandoliers, pouches and packs that adorn the figure were an adequate substitute for any additional paintwork and although it would have been nice to see such extra detail, you really don't notice it's absence.

As for the application itself, it's very clean. There's a small amount of metallic detail on his belt buckle and pouches (which are also painted in black or brown) and his trim detail is nicely applied.

The facial app is neatly done, although there's a very slight bleed of the skin tone around the exposed eyes. However, it's only really noticeable if you look closely and, this minor blemish aside, it's a very solid application.

Extras and Accessories
Firefly comes with an assortment of weapons and equipment, most of which appears to be newly-tooled pieces created for this figure.

The machete comes pre-slotted into the belt sheath. Unlike many other accessories in the Renegades line, it features two-colour paint detail, with the blade being (cleanly) painted a nice metallic silver. It fits snuggly into the sheath and is a good fit in Firefly's hand.

Firefly also comes with a ''mobile detonation device'' which, to me, looks remarkably like a cell phone. And that's fine if it is, because it again adds to the non-military look of the figure. It's also a pretty cool accessory in its own right.

Arms-wise, Firefly is equipped with an SMG and a wide-bore ''riot gun'' or mini-grenade launcher (I'm sure somebody reading this will be able to identify it correctly.) Both are well-sculpted and fit nicely into Firefly's hands, although the SMG seems designed for his right hand and the riot gun for his left. Although both are cast from a solid, monotone plastic and feature no additional paintwork, they do look a little more realistic than Duke's weapons.

Firefly's final accessory is a mortar-like bomb. Although it's nicely tooled and the additional paintwork on the tip looks great, it seems a very impractical weapon for Firefly to be using. The packaging talks of a ''demolitions pack [and] incendiary mine with container'' neither of which are actually included with the figure. It seems Hasbro changed its mind at the last minute about the gear Firefly would ship with but had already printed the backing cards. That's a real shame, as - despite being a nice piece of equipment - this mortar bomb really should instead have been a plastic-explosive type device for it to work with the figure.

Like all GI Joe single carded releases, Firefly comes with his own personalised base.

Final Thoughts
I have to admit after the disappointment of yesterday's nicely-done-but-bland Duke, I wasn't looking forward to opening his Wave-mate Firefly. It came as a relief then to see that this figure stands head and shoulders over the Renegades Duke and is actually a very cool-looking figure.

The toy designers have done an excellent job of translating the already great-looking character from the animated show into a 3 3/4'' sized figure. He's worth the asking price for the combat vest alone, which has to rank as one of the best additional pieces I've seen in the GI Joe line so far. It really helps identify Firefly's role and personality and - beyond that - looks great. It's engagingly detailed, well-painted and nicely designed to allow the figure to retain a good range of movement but at the same time give him a very different silhouette and look.

It's just a real shame that - yet again -he's gimped somewhat by his accessories. And it's not even a case of me playing Armchair Toy Designer: the packaging promises equipment not included with the figure. It's disappointing that Hasbro decided to pull the extra gear but also rather confusing. I'm sure there are plenty of previously-released accessories that they could have used to produce a bomb accessory more in-keeping with Firefly's modus operani and it's disappointing to see him instead saddled with this rather comical mortar bomb.

Still though, if you can look past this oversight (or you have a spare, more Firefly-ish explosive device in your spares box) then there's a lot of fun to be had with Firefly. Here's hoping the remainder of the line are closer to this than they are to the Renegades version of Duke.

Sculpt and DesignA-
Extras and Accessories B-
Final ScoreA-

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