Monday, February 28, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra - Desert Battle Dusty

Desert Battle Dusty | Produced by Hasbro | Released October 2010

Dusty is a desert combat specialist on the GI Joe team. He knows how to fight effectively in deserts, where there is no water, extreme daytime heat, freezing desert nights and harsh sandstorms. He has adapted his machine gun for desert use and can expertly capture the enemy with a well-placed barbed wire trap.

Dusty comes in the standard GI Joe single-carded figure blister-pack. The artwork is particularly nice on this card and among the balaclava-clad figures that appear on many cards, Dusty's image stands-out well.

The plastic bubble is glued to the card and so must be cut/torn off to open.

Dusty is an example of how a simple figure with a few accessories can - when done well - make for a great toy. There's a lot here to be excited about, but let's start with the basic look of Dusty.

Dusty is dressed in desert fatigues, over which he's added a number of unique pieces, the most obvious of which is his desert cloak. Made from real cloth, the cloak is a nice addition that gives Dusty his own silhouette and look. The cloak is attached at the shoulders/neck and although it may be removable, I didn't attempt to do so - I don't know why anybody would, to be honest, as it looks great.

There's also a scarf/neck piece that - I'm sure - is used to hold the cloak in place. It's not just a functional piece though and it looks great, with a superb sculpt that the dark plastic certainly does justice to. It's also a nice accent piece to offset what could have been a drab-looking figure, given the amount of brown and tan in Dusty's uniform.

Finally, a thick belt, laden with pouches and hip-armour finishes the look. This piece is nicely detailed, with clasps and various pouches. The only downside is the armour pieces tend to restrict the movement of his legs.

Even without these extras, Dusty's uniform is still very detailed. The chest piece appears to be a padded/armoured jerkin and there are some nice details throughout the body sculpt, including rolled-up sleeves, pants with folds and gauntlet-style roll-top gloves. His arms are particularly well-rendered, with a nice muscle detail that avoids going into the realms of the super-heroic.

As you may have noticed from the above pictures, Dusty is no slouch in the headgear department, either. The figure includes two basic heads. The first - which comes attached - is the standard head. The open-faced helmet he comes with can be placed upon this head for display purposes, although if you're playing with the toy I'd imagine this piece could be lost very easily, as it's not a particularly snug fit.

The second head, which I personally find more interesting, is the hooded and masked one. This head sees Dusty's head protected from the elements and even includes a set of pre-applied goggles. In a superb piece of design the goggles are cast from transparent plastic and placed over the face sculpt, meaning you can still see Dusty's eyes. It's a great touch.

Dusty's articulation - on the whole - is good. The only problem is his hip joints are odd. Not only are they limited in their range of motion by the hip pads but they also seem to be set at a strange angle. My Dusty figure can often appear knock-kneed and it takes a little work to get him to stand properly. Everything else, however, is fine.

The paintwork on this figure is very nice, with muted sandstones and desert tones being used with olive drab details. A dark wash has been applied to accentuate the creases in his uniform and they work very well. Details are cleanly applied.

Dusty doesn't come with a great deal of equipment but what is included is very good.

The figure includes an open-faced helmet, with a set of goggles (complete with plastic ''glass'') and the hooded and masked head (again, with ''glass'' visor.) Dusty also comes equipped with two rifles and a roll of barbed wire.

The real extra detail though is in the way Dusty's uniform has been modified. The cloth cloak looks superb (he's standing on my desk as I type this and the breeze from the ceiling fan is making it flutter in a very realistic manner) and his scarf (a Shemagh, I believe it's termed) is an excellent plastic rendition of folded cloth.

Dusty also includes his own stand and a full-colour preview of the other figures.

Final Thoughts
Fans of the earlier GI Joe toys may not be too thrilled with Dusty's more lifelike look but I'm a big fan of the Pursuit of Cobra-style of painting and sculpting. For a figure of this scale, the detail is superb and is the kind of thing I'd expect to see on a 12'', high end military doll rather than a 3 3/4'' scale figure.

The use of accessories is what really pushes Dusty over the edge. The cloak, the molded detail on his armour and uniform, the extra heads and the inclusion of ''glass'' in the goggles really show an amazing attention to detail.

So what if he only has two weapons and he's not laden with extras? Most Joes can't carry half their equipment anyway and I'd gladly sacrifice yet another pistol or dagger in return for items like the cloak.

Put simply, I think this is one of the best GI Joe figures Hasbro has produced in the new line and I certainly hope they can maintain this standard, as Dusty is an excellent figure.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreA

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