Wednesday, June 20, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Retaliation GI Joe Trooper

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2012

The GI Joe Trooper is armed for action with enough weapons to win any battle! With his mask and survival cloak, he can withstand the most brutal battle conditions on Earth.

GI Joe: Retaliation GI Joe Trooper
The GI Joe Trooper appears to be the movie universe's take on the Steel Brigade-style ''grunt'' (small ''g'') - those nameless, faceless, forgettable guys who always show-up to save the day. Or get stuck doing the real Joes' laundry. 

So is the figure forgettable and without character? Read on and find out!

Sculpt and Design
The first thing to comment on about the GI Joe Trooper's basic design is that it's a pretty futuristic kind of look. In all honesty, it looks more like something from the Halo figure line (especially the helmet) than GI Joe. If you don't like that style of ''future soldier'' then I seriously doubt you'll find much to like here. However, if you're a little more flexible with your idea of what GI Joe should look like and you can handle this somewhat different take then there's a lot here to like.

The figure is clad in what appears to be a one-piece jumpsuit, with a (removable) vest and an assortment of additional accessories - which we'll come back to in a moment. The basic sculpt is pretty solid, with some cool fold and pocket detailing. Of particular note is the collar and the pants cuffs, both of which work really well. The overall look dovetails nicely with the look of the single carded Duke, too (and without going off on a tangent for a moment, collectors unimpressed with Duke could maybe consider doing a head swap here and kitting him out in full Trooper gear...)

The figure includes two heads - the helmeted version seen in the above image, plus the previously-seen bare head. The former is - as mentioned - very Halo-esque but it's also got elements of a motorcross rider helmet or other such real world design to it and I could see it fitting in well with some kind of pilot/driver-style Joe. The second, bare head is included to allow the figure to be displayed without headgear or with the included gas mask (we'll cover this later.) It's a shame Hasbro couldn't have figured out a way to include one head with two removable helmets (rather than two heads) but they all work nicely (even if the bare head looks suspiciously like Robert Patrick.)

The remainder of the figure's unique look comes from his gear and accessories. I'll cover them in detail a little later but for now it's worth drawing attention to the cloak, knife sheath and backpack, all of which are pretty much ''core'' to the figure.

The cloak is molded from a very soft, rubbery plastic - which in this case is a good thing, as it means it's malleable and can bend to accommodate the figure's poses. I'm particularly impressed with the shape of this accessory, as it fits the figure's neck and shoulders perfectly but at the same time allows for a pretty decent level of movement. It even includes a hole to allow the backpack to attach to the figure's rear port. Very cool!

It's also impressive to see the way the knife sheath - which includes two removable blades - slots into the figure's webbing/belt, using the same style of ''mini-port'' used by the sword sheaths of some other figures , meaning it's interchangeable with other accessories - something modders are sure to appreciate. This port-peg connection also means it can be rotated to suit your figure's pose and not hamper his movement.

And yes, that's the backpack, which is designed to carry his multiple weapons and accessories when not in use. Normally I'm not a fan of ''overburdened'' figures but the backpack is designed to accommodate all but two of his accessories. Not only that but it also works surprisingly well, with each fitting neatly into place. If I had a criticism though it's that it can throw him off-balance - especially if you're displaying him without a base - so just be aware of this should you try to pose him in your collection.

Minor points aside though, this is an excellent sculpt and a great-looking figure.

Over the last six months, Hasbro has experimented with a variety of new articulation rigs. We've seen new wrist and ankle joints, re-engineered knees, removed joints, solid limbs, re-introduced joints (again) and more, so it's becoming increasingly difficult to judge just what the ''standard'' GI Joe set-up is. And whilst the GI Joe Trooper just falls short of the excellent set-up seen with the Ninja Showdown Snake Eyes, he does sport some articulation that goes above and beyond the ''normal'' set-up.

The major advantage he has over most ''standard'' Joes is the inclusion of rocker ankles. Interestingly they're sculpted with part of the pant cuff, meaning that when he leans to either side, it appears that his pant leg is moving with him. That sounds odd but it works nicely and gives the impression almost of moving cloth (rather than static plastic.)

If I did have one complaint about the articulation it's that my GI Joe Trooper's knees don't quite seem up to the task of supporting the figure as firmly as I'd have liked. I can pose him just fine in some stances but anything that puts weight on the joint - such as the backpack being used in bent-knee poses - sees the joints failing to support his weight. It's not a massive issue and it may only be limited to my figure but it's worth noting.

That aside though, all is good.

The GI Joe Trooper comes in two versions. The earlier releases saw him sporting a blue cloak and helmet, with a running change introducing the brown coloring seen here. I have to admit that I'm much more taken by this earthier tone than the original blue but that's down to personal choice.

The app itself is clean and - for once - pretty lifelike. OK, so the green is just slightly the wrong side of GREEN but at least it's not a neon-bright day-glo tone. And detailing on the bare head is particularly good, with the figure's eyes and hair being cleanly picked-out.

Extras and Accessories
The description on the packaging may be clunky but it's accurate - this figure is armed to the teeth!

We've already covered some of the accessory/uniform pieces but here's the full rundown of what's in the pack: helmeted head, uncovered head, gas mask, environmental cloak, knife sheath, two knives (that unusually aren't a matching pair) and a backpack. This backpack then has storage slots for two large pistols, two smaller pistols, a shovel and ''carrying slots'' for two of the three(!) included rifles. Phew.

Overall, the accessories are great. He grips all the weapons with relative ease, they fit nicely into their associated slots/holsters/sheaths and they're all cast from a fairly lifelike matte gray plastic. The only real exception is the shovel, which - for reasons I simply can't fathom - is painted a bright orange. Yes, it's PAINTED that color. It's like somebody at Hasbro is obsessed with neon-bright tones and can't resist throwing something in there. I don't know. Maybe they've a batch of high-vis paint they're trying to work through. Maybe they think kids will use it as a real shovel and so they wanted it to be easy to spot in the dirt.  Whatever the reason though, it's here as part of the line-up. You could paint it if it's too much for you or just leave it on his backpack and hope nobody spots it. 

The figure does not include a base and - if I'm honest - it's the first Retaliation figure that's suffered for it, simply as trying to get him to stand without one when the backpack is attached is a nightmare. It's a shame, as the rest of his gear is great.

Final Thoughts
The GI Joe Trooper is a real stand-out in the Retaliation line-up. Whereas other figures, such as the new Zartan, are great Retaliation figures, this strikes me as being the first figure in the single-carded range that ''regular'' Joe collectors will dig.

There are a couple of negatives - the knees (at least on my Trooper) seem weak, the backpack can put him off balance (especially as he comes without a base) and the orange shovel almost come off as Hasbro's We Like Bright Colors Department flipping you the bird - but overall this is a superb figure. I'm not always a fan of over-burdened figures but it's great to see that some actual thought went into this figure's accessories - and more specifically, what to do with them when he's not holding them in his hands, so for that I thank Hasbro.

This figure is also a great counter-argument to those who claim the Retaliation line is ''kiddified.'' This is a realistic-looking, well-designed, well-engineered and well-detailed figure that is in no way childish (well, aside from the fact that it's a toy...) that fans of the intricate, collectible action figure will totally dig, but that kids can also enjoy without worrying about losing too many pieces.

A superb figure that combines the fun of the Retaliation line with the Pursuit of Cobra-level of detail, design and excellence.

Final Score: A-

Image Gallery


  1. I don't understand the big issue Hasbro has with articulation. This is something that has bugged me from youth, it's the reason why I stopped playing with Star Wars figures and moved onto Action Force/Gi Joe. I always prayed for the day that my Star Wars figures would have more articulation and it absolutely pains me to see action figures released over 30 years on still with crappy articulation.
    You talk about the experimentation on the GI Joe line, they can't seem to make their minds up on The Clone Wars line either! This is not a problem with just hasbro though; I see most of the super hero line released with the same problem, the new Avengers line is AWFUL and don't get me started on Dark Knight Rises....
    To cement this problem even further I was recently out shopping for wrestling figures with my 6 year old nephew and he was looking at a figure he really wanted, but decided against it because quote 'his legs only go up and down, they don't move all around like my other men'.... Same pain, different young men, 30 years apart....
    The range of toys in Japan is phenomenal, not to mention the articulation. The Japanese have a range of toys/collectables called revoltech and there's one little part, the revolver joint, in these action figures that allows and incredible range of movement. In most of their figures it's in the arms, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, knees, ankles, shoulders and necks! My 6 year old nephew and my mates 6 year old son are absolutely fascinated by these toys, please Hasbro look and learn....

  2. I think the big issue though is one of pricing. I bought an Assemble Borg Revoltech figure and whilst it's very nice, it also cost me $30 - which is at least three times what I'd pay for a GI Joe that's only an inch or so shorter and is *almost* as articulated as the Japanese toy.

    My guess is Revoltech toys in Japan sell smaller numbers at higher prices to adult collectors, whereas Hasbro's goal is to sell many at a lower price, as that's kind of what their market is.

    1. I agree that they are quite expensive (although I was in Japan a few years ago and picked up a few revoltech pieces for around £15 each and one revoltech mini evangelion figure for under £10) and they are also aimed at the collectors market rather than the toy market, but I just think that the mechanism that's used for articulation is quite simple and would integrate rather well into western action figures as it has been with the revoltech mini rang. I think most of the price for revoltech comes from the high level of detail and paintwork.
      I just really want to see better articulation, really peeved off with no real advancements in the toy industry in over 30 years! Hasbro really need a new R&D department....

    2. Oh I agree that it's a great articulation set-up and I love how flexible/versatile it is. But the difference is that they're collector figures, rather than mainstream action figures.

      And in Hasbro's defense, the latest Joes have tilt-able wrists and rocker ankles, both of which are amazing pieces of engineering for figures of their scale. I'd say my Dojo Showdown Snake Eyes is just as poseable as my Mr Assemble - yet he's almost 2'' smaller and a fifth the price!

  3. The new ankles are a treat and the GI Joe range have always had great articulation, most of my angst comes from the Star Wars range....

    1. Ah, I see. I've considered the Star Wars figures in the past, purely for sentimental purposes, but every time I've looked they've been a load of figures like Oop Nom and Chwing Smamp and stuff. You know, those really important guys.

    2. First time poster here, but I've been following That Figures for a while now.
      I'm a big Joe collector, been collecting them most of my life, and I totally agree with the majority of your thoughts, including the articulation woes of late!
      I must say, I'm also a dedicated Star Wars collector, and I think the figures are fantastic! The articulation on the SW figures had gradually improved since 2005 and, by-and-large, they almost rival Joe these days! I understand your thoughts about the figures including many non-important characters, but there's a massive universe of characters out there for Star Wars, and for every background character (most of which are awesomely made) that they make, there's 10 or more versions of the main characters out there!

    3. Welcome, Darth.

      I know Star Wars has always had an ''expanded universe'' (IIRC, they were one of the first franchises to coin the phrase) but it just strikes me as being a bit cynical when Hasbro (and I'm sure Lucasarts are probably consulted on it, too) put out such obscure characters. Granted, characters like IG-88 and Boskk weren't major players in Empire but they at least were (A) memorable and (B) on screen for more than a few minutes, whereas a lot of the newer figures seem to be based on some characters you need to pause and zoom to spot!

  4. I saw this one along with the Cobra Trooper(I think) the other day and almost bought him! But i lacked the cash to do so sadly. But i really like his design and it does have a a strong Halo vibe to it so am sure these will be flying off the shelves for that very reason plus these can make for great army builders too.

    1. Yeah, I think I was lucky to find mine, as they're proving quite popular!

    2. The good news is that he's also going to be shipping with Wave 2.

      You know, if the colonies of Roadblocks and Dukes ever sell through. That Wave 1 Roadblock figure is a TOUGH sell, apparently. What's the BBTS record for biggest-discounted Joe figure - the Storm Shadows from RoC? This is going to top that.

    3. Yeah, we'll be getting more of them when there's another refresh ahead of the Wave 2 release. Here's hoping those other figures do shift...!

  5. Great review. I hope Hasbro will include display stands with the figure's name on them in future releases.

    I'm still waiting for Retaliation figures to hit stores in the Philippines.

    1. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. And yeah, it's a shame they've stopped providing bases with the figures. I only have about six or so spare ones left!


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