Wednesday, May 25, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Rise of Cobra - MARS Industries Trooper Three Pack

Produced by Hasbro | Released July 2009

These well-trained troopers work for James McCullen, who is the head of MARS Industries, an ultra-secret weapons research and development organization founded by McCullen's ancestors. A security force is necessary to protect the advanced technology developed by McCullen - and the MARS troopers deliver that protection with extreme skill and extreme force. There is no limit to what may be asked of these troopers - even the surrender of their free will.

These troopers provide security for MARS Industries, the corporation that develops advanced weapons and is owned by James McCullen. They are a quasi-military force that guards the corporation and its interests. The troopers are highly trained in combat tactics and equipped with advanced weapons and gear designed by this mysterious weapons firm. Chosen for their aggression, loyalty and military skill, this fighting force will do anything required of them.

These officers command the trooper who guard MARS Industries. They are trained by James McCullen, the head of this shadowy corporation that develops advanced weapons for the military. Officers are selected for their demonstrated leadership ability, extreme loyalty to the corporation and ability to apply military strategy. They are also trained in espionage to support the syndicate by ferreting out corporate spies or acquiring information valuable to the company's interests.


The MARS Industries Trooper Three Pack has its own unique packaging, with heavy MARS Industries branding (the box ends include a ''Property of MARS Industries'' graphic) and the only mention of the GI Joe line being on the front of the pack and on the box's upper side. It gives the pack a nice, distinctive look somewhat similar to that seen with the Pursuit of Cobra Cobra Commander card back.

The packaging is well put together, with the clear plastic front and side panel allowing a good view of the figures within. Coolest of all they're mounted on clear-plastic retainers upon a diorama/background scene, which really makes the figures pop.

MARS Industries Trooper
The three pack includes a MARS Industries Officer (more on him later) and two identical MARS Industries Troopers. We'll start by looking at them.

The core sculpt is pretty good, overall. The figures are intended as Army Builders so there's a level of uniformity and anonymity to each, which works pretty well. Although the uniform is quite basic, with knee boots, combat fatigues and a ribbed shirt augmented with webbing, gauntlets and shoulder armour, it works nicely, especially as these guys are intended as private security (rather than full-blown military.)

The webbing/harness - which is removable - features a few nice details such as ammo pouches and a couple of grenades. Unfortunately it lacks any form of holster or weapon sheath, which is something of an oversight, especially given both figures come with multiple weapons (see below.)

The head sculpt uses a fairly standard Cobra-style mask but you won't be seeing much of it, as the removable helmet is a really cool accessory that really finishes the figure's look. There's a kind of quasi-Samurai look to the helmet (and to a degree to the rear of the webbing, which features lame-like plates) but also a nice echo of the hood worn by the classic Cobra Commander. Whether that's intentional or not I don't know, but I do like it.

Articulation is as you'd expect from a GI Joe figure - very good. The joints are a little stiff on the elbows and do take a little working out but once you've got them loosened-up they work just fine. The figures lack waist articulation and the wrists twist at the forearm, although this works just fine and they're supposed to be wearing long-length gauntlets so it doesn't look strange. I'm also pleased to report that the harness doesn't inhibit movement.

The paint app is good on both Troopers in my set, with the trickiest part - the mouth guard - being cleanly applied on both. One has a slight mis-application around his mask/eyes but it's not particularly obvious and is only there if you look quite closely. Everything else looks great.

MARS Industries Officer
The pack includes a single MARS Industries Officer, a figure that shares a lot of pieces with the Trooper but warrants his own place in the Review.

The basic body sculpt is identical to that used by the MARS Industries Troopers - no surprises there. However, his webbing and helmet are new pieces and it's these accessories - along with the different paintwork - that differentiate him from the regular grunts.

The webbing/harness features a (working) gun holster and has fewer ammo pouches. It also includes shoulder epaulettes (presumably to signify his rank) and is less armoured to the rear. The helmet uses the same basic design but again is augmented with an Officer-specific piece, in this case a V-shaped chevron just above the eye slots.

Articulation is identical to the MARS Industries Trooper, although my Officer's right knee joint is very loose. This is I'm sure just a production one-off. It's somewhat annoying though, given that this is the leg/foot used to connect him to his stand, as it does make posing him harder than it should be. It's also worth noting the additional bulk of the holster can get in the way occasionally.

The paint job is what really sets the Officer apart from the Troopers. Whilst their basic grey fatigues feature red and black details, his black-brown uniform uses black and silver details, with the boots, gauntlets, shoulder pads and helmet all featuring this silver detail. It's clear that both belong to the same organisation but the silver detail really sets the Officer apart from the grunts and looks great.

The three figures come with an assortment of weaponry, plus their own stands. Interestingly they're simply branded with the MARS logo, rather than using the GI Joe/Cobra-style bases and seem to be the same design as that used by Desert Ambush Duke. Note that they do not include any form of name/designation beyond this.

As mentioned above, each figure includes a removable helmet and webbing/harness.

The Officer is equipped with a pistol, a knife and an SMG, with the Troopers being armed with a pistol and a large rifle. Whilst the other weapons are pretty cool (even if the pistols are a little difficult to get them to hold properly due to the trigger guard) these silvery-coloured rifles are quite poor. Not only do they not fit into the Troopers' hands but they're also horribly defined and lack any detail. I'd have much rather seen an extra couple of SMGs instead of these monstrosities and I'm sure I'm not the only one who'll be raiding my spare guns box to re-equip the Troopers. And as mentioned above, the Troopers do not have any form of holster so they must carry any weapons they're dressed with.

Final Thoughts
The MARS Industries Trooper Three Pack features three good-but-not-spectacular figures, some solid accessories and a couple of terrible ones. I really wish Hasbro had included better rifles with the Troopers, as their lack of firepower really lowers their potential as Army Builders. Sure you could equip them with spare weapons (although I doubt even the most ardent of GI Joe collectors could uniformly equip more than a half dozen of them) or use them as vehicle crew, but it's just a shame they don't live-up to what they could be.

So am I saying you shouldn't buy this pack? It depends.

The original RRP of $25 was - and is - too high and if you're looking at the pack at that price, then forget about it. The figures may be good but they're not $25 good. However, if you go back and look at the packaging shots again you'll see that I paid just $6.99 for this set, which represents outstanding value. So if you have a Ross Dress for Less nearby and you're in the market for a bargain three-pack of pretty good figures, then you could do a lot worse than pick up this set. I don't see how anybody could pay that and be disappointed with these toys. I certainly wasn't.

MARS Industries Trooper

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB+

Mars Industries Officer
Production QualityB
Final ScoreB+

Final ScoreB+

Image Gallery


  1. Never seen these! I going to keep my eye out for them now.

  2. I don't know if TJ Maxx/Marshall's ever get them but most Ross stores have at least 3 boxes of 'em just laying around - nobody ever buys them!


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