Friday, February 3, 2012

FEATURE: A Closer Look At The GI Joe: Retaliation Toys

So Hasbro dropped a bit of a bombshell on GI Joe fans today when they revealed the first wave of figures and vehicles from the GI Joe: Retaliation line of tie-in toys.

Now the dust has settled, here's a closer look at what Hasbro has unveiled so far, including some points you may not have noticed first time around...

Three-Figure Packs
First up, let's take a look at the Ninja Dojo Battle and Ninja Showdown Sets.

Although the images Hasbro released are pretty small, we can make-out that the three-figure pack appears to include Roadblock, a Cobra Trooper/Ninja and a third, masked figure (pictured here on the left). There's been some speculation that this is Beachhead but given that the trailer shows scenes of Roadblock fighting with Firefly, I think it's fairly safe to assume that's who this third figure depicts.

Note that Roadblock appears to be sporting a spring-loaded, firing missile launcher and what looks like camouflage body paint not seen on the stand-alone figure.

The Ninja Showdown set appears to recreate the mountainside running/rappelling scene featured in the trailer, with Snake Eyes facing down a Red Ninja. But again, there's a mystery figure here. The mask looks suspiciously like that worn by Cobra Ninja Slice. Hasbro did indeed promise to feature some ''off-screen'' characters as a thank you to the fans of the classic line, but it does seem odd that they'd include the figure so early in such a movie-centric line-up.

Hello Ladies! Erm... Hello...? Ladies...?
We've already taken a pretty good look at the nine figures announced and although we're promised more, it's interesting to note line-up of single carded figures is currently lacking - among others - Flint, Lady Jaye, Jinx and Joe Colton. Whilst the latter is specifically mentioned on the Hasbro site as being part of the line-up and a Flint figure is bundled with one of the motorcycle sets (see below) we're hoping that the ladies will also make the cut.

But - without wanting to set any premature alarm-bells ringing - Hasbro has gone on the record in the past stating that female figures (and especially GI Joe females) don't sell as well as their male counterparts. Quite how ''as well'' this is has never been revealed (do they only sell half as well? a quarter? 99% as well?) but they've always been very cautious when it comes to releasing female Joes. The Renegades Scarlett was the first female character given a full release since the Rise Of Cobra line, for example. 

Now here's where things may get a even more disappointing. Jinx - AKA Kim Arashikage - appears in numerous scenes in the trailer. But as part of today's reveal, it's been announced that there will be two Kim Arashikage variants released as San Diego Comic Con-exclusives. And Jinx is already a GI Joe Collectors' Club-exclusive figure. Is this how Hasbro, the Club and the Con-organisers came to an agreement over the figure, by only releasing her as their own exclusives?

Hopefully not. After all, the figures of Jinx we've seen so far all depict her in her classic or comicbook costumes and given she features so heavily in the trailer we'll hopefully be seeing a Movie Version of the character at some point. But at the same time, it does seem odd that the Ninja Showdown three-figure set - which would have been an ideal way to bundle the figure (and thus make it more attractive to buyers) - doesn't include Jinx, a character who appears pretty integral to the entire sequence.

Here's hoping Hasbro sees sense and doesn't cut two of the movie's lead characters from the line simply due to their gender.

Figure Updates
When the first images of the figures hit, we were shown a Cobra Trooper and GI Joe Trooper. The newly-released images from Hasbro show some additional accessories for both.

Observe that the GI Joe Trooper (above) is shown wearing a gas mask (he was previously depicted in a helmet) and is now sporting a cloth cloak or cape. Looking again at the earlier image, you can clearly see the gas mask attached to his backpack. Presumably then the figure's cloak is also in some way stowed as part of his pack.

The inclusion of these extra accessories is a nice move from Hasbro and will certainly please those looking to Army Build.

The Cobra Trooper meanwhile, now appears to come with a parachute accessory. I've been hoping for a toy with a ''working'' chute for some time, so this looks like it could be what I've been waiting for. Whether this is standard gear or whether Hasbro will be releasing Iron Man/Thor/Captain America: The First Avenger-style ''Deluxe'' figures with additional accessories is unclear at this time.

The Vehicles
It's great to see Hasbro supporting the line with the launch of a number of new vehicles. Whilst some may re-use old parts (or even be simple repaints) it at least shows Hasbro is putting an extra push behind the figures.

The coolest of the bikes is, without a doubt, the Wheel Blaster. It's a shame Firefly looks a little on the generic side here (had Hasbro not named him here, I'd have assumed he was a Motor-Viper or some other similar ''grunt''-style Cobra trooper.) It's not clear if the Wheel Blaster has any special play features (such as a pull-back, wind-up engine or firing weapons) but when it looks this cool, who cares?

Here's our first look at Flint in his Retaliation incarnation, sitting astride the aptly-named Road Retaliator. The bike appears to sport a firing missile feature, but I'm not entirely sure as to what's going on with those semi-transparent red ''swords.'' Presumably they're a hangover from the Ninja Speed Cycle (seen below), as both appear to use the same mould.

And yes, here's Snake Eyes again on his Ninja Speed Cycle (which to me sounds like a very efficient but quiet setting on a spin dryer...) Again, note the side-mounted swords. It also appears that the Ninja Speed Cycle features the same missile-launching feature, although the projectile itself appears to be in the wrong position - presumably this is simply an error in the photo.

And now onto the Ninja Commando 4x4. It's the AWE Striker yet again, although now issued in this very cool black Arashikage colouring. The weapon appears to be a new addition, although the driver (again) is Snake Eyes. Here's hoping Hasbro isn't going to go too far down the route of having Snake Eyes feature in every other release (although you know they will...)

The GI Joe Tread Ripper Tank is a great example of Hasbro modifying an existing toy to make something new. In this case it's the cancelled-but-release-in-Canada-and-now-on-sale-at-Ross-Dress-For-Less Cobra HISS Scout. But Hasbro has addressed the weird open-canopy look of the original with the addition of a roll cage and a new weapon.

Driver Clutch looks like a pretty generic design, all told, but he could turn-out to be a bit of a surprise if the tooling is good.

It looks like our prediction was correct and that was indeed a HISS Tank. Based on the previously-released Pursuit Of Cobra Bravo Class version of the vehicle, the new HISS Tank now incorporates a clear-plastic canopy cover along with a new colour-scheme.

No word on who the driver is.

There's also an SDCC-exclusive version featuring a new paint job but the above version will be the one we'll be seeing on shelves.

Continuing the ''tradition'' set by the StarScream SkyStriker, it's another Decepticon. Don't ask who though, as I've frankly no idea but here's a high-res image of that version courtesy of TFormers.

The Ninja Combat Cruiser is, again, a good example of Hasbro managing to produce a cost-effective toy by taking a previously-released vehicle and modifying it with new parts. In case you hadn't figured it out, the Ninja Combat Cruiser is built around a modified VAMP Mk II chassis, bolstered by the addition of a roof, doors and a rocket-launcher.

As it's the Ninja Combat Cruiser it's probably safe to assume the driver is Snake Eyes, but I have to admit  that from what I can make-out of the figure it's a very un-Snake Eyes-looking character in the image. Personally I think I'll be using it as Law & Order's police car.

The Cobra FangBoat will be familiar to fans of the line. It's the Cobra Sting Raider/Water Moccasin/Tiger Shark repackaged and repainted yet again, but with the addition of a new side-mounted rocket launcher and a new Swamp Viper, who looks as if he may share some parts with the Crimson HISS Tank pilot. 

Whilst it may be a re-release, at least it's a re-release of a very good toy.

The final vehicle is the very cool-looking Ghost Hawk II. It's interesting to note that the pilot is Duke. This raises its own questions but the two that strike us are (A) is Duke in the movie that much that he warrants a single carded figure and a vehicle release (and if so, is his presence as the pilot of this vehicle a clue to his role in the movie) and (B) could this be Hasbro's way of making the vehicle more attractive to buyers, by bundling it with a popular character?

Number Crunching
Sudelaya of Kokomo Toys posted the case breakdown (basically a list of what each store-delivered case of toys would feature) at the HISS Tank earlier this month, which we'll now look at in light of what Hasbro has since revealed. Note that each case also included assorted masks and role-play toys, but we've edited them for the sake of this article.

Gi-Joe Movie 2 Delta Vehicle Asst: Folding Carton: 2 Per Case
Gi-Joe Movie 2 Alpha Vehicle Asst: Blister Card: 8 Per Case
Gi-Joe Movie 2 3.75: Blister Card: 12 Per Case
Gi-Joe Movie 2 Bravo Vehicle Asst: Folding Carton Closed: 4Per Case
Gi-Joe Movie 2 Ninja Showdown Set: Window Carton: 4 Per Case

What's interesting here that it looks as if Hasbro will be short-packing some of the vehicles. Based on their previous designations and assuming that the motorcycles are Alpha Class vehicles, I count five different toys that fit into that category (the three motorcycles, the Ninja 4x4 and the Tread Ripper). But each case contains eight Alpha Class vehicles. So that means we're looking at an uneven distribution of toys per case, or Hasbro has a few more Alphas to reveal.

If we move onto the Bravo and Delta Class Vehicles, by my reckoning there are three Bravo Class toys  (the Ninja Combat Cruiser, The HISS Tank and the FangBoat) and one Delta (the Ghost Hawk) or four (if you include the Ghost Hawk II) Bravo Class Vehicles, plus one, still-to-be-revealed Delta Class. 

That means one of three things:
  1. There are four Bravos (including the Ghost Hawk II) and an as-yet-undisclosed Delta Class Vehicle
  2. There are four Bravos (one of which we've yet to see) and the Ghost Hawk II is a Delta Class toy
  3. There are three Bravos (one of which is short-packed) and the Ghost Hawk II is the Delta Class Vehicle
And it doesn't take a maths genius to work-out that nine figures have been announced and, with each case containing twelve toys, there's either going to be some weighting toward certain figures or Hasbro still has a few figures to announce.

Also note that four Ninja Showdown Sets per case is mentioned but there's no sign of the Ninja Dojo Battle Set. I'm guessing Hasbro has since adjusted its release schedule and the numbers will be closer to two, three-figure sets per case rather than 4-0.

Of course, this is pure speculation and Hasbro could very well have changed the case contents.

New Is Old Is New Again
One thing that strikes me about a lot of these designs is how Hasbro is straddling the gap between reality and fantasy and between the intricately detailed, lifelike figures of the Pursuit Of Cobra and the old school fun, flashy sci-fantasy of the originals. Look again and you'll see they're not entirely movie accurate, yet there's enough there so the audience will relate to them. But at the same time they've injected a sense of the eye-catching, shooty-pewpew simplicity of the earlier toys to produce figures that will appeal to a younger audience without alienating older collectors.

Given the rough few years GI Joe has suffered following the release of the Rise Of Cobra line (which to be fair had some excellent figures and would probably have been more successful had the movie been better and Hasbro hadn't insisted on flooding stores with multiple waves of figures) it's certainly about time one of Hasbro's tent-pole brands received a little more recognition. Here's hoping this is the line that will do just that.

So What's Next?
Hasbro's site mentions that there are still fourteen more toys to be revealed. We don't know yet whether these are role-play toys, costume accessories or other toys outside the 3 3/4'' scale figure line. But we do know that so far we've yet to see single card versions of Firefly, Flint, Jinx (exclusives aside) and Lady Jaye. We also know that Hasbro is releasing a General Joe Colton figure, as the site's blurb name-checks him specifically as one of the heroes in the toy line.

Hasbro's Vice-President of Marketing, Deryl DePriest stated in the USA Today reveal that there will also be a number of ''off-screen'' characters ''important to long-time fans'' released later in the year. Quite what we can expect there is anybody's guess.

But with the Marvel's The Avengers toy line featuring a USS Flagg-like SHIELD Helicarrier, could a revision of the Joe's mobile HQ be beyond the realms of the possible?


  1. Lots of cool goodies coming out for you to review buddy i hope your wallet can handle the shock lol.

    1. I'm about to break it to the wife and kids that we're on a Ramen Noodle diet for the year. :)

  2. I just hope some of this stuff makes it to Mexico.

    1. Yeah, I think Hasbro has announced they won't be releasing stuff in Europe, so I dunno whether that means a USA-only release or whether it's just specifically excluding Europe...


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