Saturday, June 4, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe City Strike Iron Grenadier

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2011

Destro chooese Iron Grenadiers for their endurance, tenacity and meanness. They expand his armament business by spreading chaos, undermining authority and encouraging disagreements, which increases demand for weapons that Destro sells. This trooper is part of the Iron Grenadiers heavy weapons support team.

Packaging Shots

City Strike Iron Grenadier
Just yesterday I commented that it was nice to see the GI Joe team evening the numbers a little with the addition of their ''grunt'' soldier, the Steel Brigade trooper. Now it seems Cobra has tipped the balance back in their favour with today's figure, the Iron Grenadier.

The sculpt borrows from the City Strike Destro figure, which makes sense, as they are after all his soldiers. Not only are the removable boots/shin plates, shoulder armour, backpack and chest plate all simply recolours, but so too the core sculpt re-uses a lot of the same pieces. As I say, this is fine given the Iron Grenadier's background and the use of colour works well to differentiate the two figures.

There's a very sturdy look and feel to the Iron Grenadier. He looks as if he could walk through a hail of bullets without taking injury, thanks to the heavy armour plates on his legs and torso and he's certainly an imposing figure.

The head is sculpted with the helmet on and the design is reminiscent of World War One German helmets, complete with gas masks. If that's intentional, I don't know but it's a very cool look and the finned, almost steampunk-ish look of the helmet is quite unusual, given how usually sleek and futuristic much of the GI Joe universe is.

Unfortunately the bulkiness of the sculpt causes some articulation issues. Whilst the joints are fine in themselves you will find it difficult to pose the Iron Grenadier with his assault cannon, simply because it's too big to really work with the figure and the combination of this size and the ammo belt accessory (see below) tend to make posing harder than it should be and you'll find your options quite limited.

The other major articulation issue is that the head cannot be moved, thanks to the high collar and finned design of the helmet. I don't know if it's just limited to my Iron Grenadier but his head pops off with monotonous regularity, too and never seems to ''snap'' onto the neck peg properly.

The Iron Grenadier's paintwork is pretty solid. There are some nice metallic scrapes on his shin and hip guards and some nice oil marks/abrasions on the shoulder plate, which make the accessory pieces appear more like solid metal than plastic or cloth pieces. The remainder of the figure's paintwork is OK but nothing special, although the helmet does have some very cool gold detailing around the ''snout'' that's applied very cleanly on my figure.

Despite featuring a number of weapons and accessories, the Iron Grenadier is a little disappointing in this department.

For starters, the featured weapon - the assault cannon - is rather impractical. Given its size and the sheer weight of such a weapon it would be nigh-on impossible to carry into battle, let alone fire for prolonged periods. Clearly the weapon was designed to be mounted on a gimbal arm, yet Hasbro elected not to go through with this in the finished toy (presumably to avoid a lawsuit from 20th Century Fox) and as a result, it feels unfinished and impractical. It's just not an easy accessory to work out what to do with and even when you do get the Grenadier to carry it, it still looks odd. (For the record, I tried two configurations - one with the ammo pack mounted on the weapon and one with it on the back. Whilst both worked OK, I elected to go with the ammo pack on the back, as this appeared almost plausible.)

The problem we then encounter is that this leaves us with a spare backpack. Again, that's not that big an issue but it seems odd to include two packs of very similar functionality (at least the Steel Brigade trooper's packs were quite different) and I'd have rather seen another, more useful accessory included.

Thirdly, there appears to be a part missing. The rear of the pack lists a ''pistol'' among the Iron Grenadier's arsenal, yet no such weapon is to be found within the packaging (unless it's hidden in an opening backpack or similar I've yet to find.)

Anyway, here's the rundown of what's actually in the pack: base, assault cannon, ammo belt, two backpacks, sniper rifle with folding stock and bi-pod (as used by the Cobra Para-Vipers.) Personally I wish Hasbro had cast the weapons in a darker plastic, as they would have looked much more effective in black. 

Final Thoughts
As a toy this isn't much fun. The restrictive articulation, surprisingly fragile accessories (getting him to hold everything as it should be is tough, as the ammo belt tends to pop out at either end, for example) and the fact that his head comes off so easily make posing this toy an exercise in frustration, so I can't even begin to imagine how annoyed a kid would be if he tried to play with with this toy.

On the other hand though, he does make for a great display piece. The paintwork is nice, he looks menacing and the assault cannon - even though it's impractical and not as good as it should be - along with the heavy look of his armour does give the impression of him as a walking, unstoppable tank.

I just wish the assault rifle's functionality and design were better. Given it's his main accessory it should look and work a lot better than it does. If you can look past that though, you'll probably enjoy the Iron Grenadier and I'm sure collectors will be buying these Army Builders by the score. For me though, one is enough.

Production QualityC+
Final ScoreB

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