In 1970, the G.I. Joe action figure line took a new direction. With a growing wave of hostility directed against the military, G.I. Joe created the "Adventure Team", and the one-time Action Sailor, Soldier, Pilot, and others, became Adventurers, traveling the world on various non- military missions, hunting dangerous animals, using fanciful new vehicles and equipment, and such. It was a sufficient success to maintain the 12" G.I. Joe line for quite a few years.
Now, the 8" G.I. Joe line has entered the realm of the Adventure Team. But apart from the size and style of the figures, there's an interesting aspect to it all that the 12" Adventure Team never quite had. There's an underlying theme to the 8" Adventure Team sets, a look to it all, that seems to be straight out of the days when the British Empire ruled the world, and safaris of exploration into mysterious, unknown, and dangerous parts of the world were the order of the day.
The new Adventure Team sets take some of their cues from their 12" predecessors, along with throwing in the "safari" (for lack of a better term) aspect of it that I have already mentioned. However, the figures involved represent characters originally from the 3-3/4" G.I. Joe line. No nameless adventurers here. Some of the figures involved have already been established within the 8" line. Others are newcomers to this size.
The sets are packaged in long window boxes, identical in size to the Sigma Strike Duke set. You may recall this particular Sigma Six item that featured a nicely-armored Duke figure with a whopping big gun that made enough sound effects. The plastic end pieces to the Adventure Team boxes, which can, of course, be turned into a storage container for accessories, are designed and colored to look like wooden crates this time around. Similarly, the logos and much of the printed information on the packaging has a scuffed-up look to it, as if it were a wooden cargo box shipped a great distance -- again, not unlike someting you'd expect to see in Indiana Jones or from the time in which he explored.
The Adventure Team "AT" logo has been carried over from the 12" line to the 8" line.
The set I chose first was DANGER IN THE JUNGLE. I did this for a couple of reasons. One -- it had a cool Storm Shadow figure with it. Two -- it had a very cool-looking tiger with it.
Storm Shadow, the tiger, and a nice supply of accessories are mounted in a plastic framework with a superb jungle illustration in the background. This particular adventure is supposed to take place in the Rajasthan Jungle of India. Let's consider Storm Shadow first.
This is really a very cool version of Storm Shadow in the 8" scale. I'm certain that most of his parts come from previous Storm Shadows, but as the only other Storm Shadow I own in this line is the one which was the first to come out, I really can't say where all of the other parts may have come from, or even if some of them might be brand new. Whatever the case, the result is highly impressive. Storm Shadow is dressed in white, with a red collar, a wide red belt and sash, wide brown straps across his chest, and brown padding on his wrists and ankles.
Storm Shadow has black stripes painted on his bare arms, and the tattoo of the Arashikage Ninja Clan is on his left bicep. That's not really where he kept it in the 3-3/4" size, but, what the heck. Maybe it's a ninja trick to be able to move one's tattoos around.
The figure also has the new Kung-Fu Grip feature. This is entirely appropriate here, as it was the original 12" Adventure Team that first introduced us to Kung-Fu Grip. But it's a little different for the 8" figures. Instead of a flexible hand that can stretch its clenched fingers outward to grasp an object, there's a spring in the fingers of the right hand which allows the fingers to open and snap closed around a sufficiently-sized object. Although I doubt Storm Shadow's hand is large enough to grasp many "real world" objects, the Kung-Fu Grip should certainly enable him to hold onto many of his own accessories more effectively.
Here's one very interesting thing about Storm Shadow -- there isn't a Cobra logo in sight. In point of fact, there's no specific mention of the G.I. Joe Team, and none whatsoever to Cobra, anywhere on the packaging. Now, I'm going to go off on a little bit of speculation here. In the 3-3/4" G.I. Joe universe, Storm Shadow eventually saw the error of his ways and left Cobra behind, siding with the G.I. Joe Team, although in later years he would be returned to Cobra, at least in the toys. These days, Stormy has his own comic book title and seems to want to have as little to do with either the Joe Team or Cobra as possible. After years of bouncing back and forth willingly and unwillingly, one can hardly blame him.
In the 8" Sigma Six line, Storm Shadow was always portrayed as firmly on the side of Cobra. But I suppose it could be that this Storm Shadow also eventually came to be disenchanted with Cobra, and left them to become part of the new Adventure Team. Personally, I think it was those Ninja B.A.T.s. Training a robot to act like a ninja had to be insulting to him...
Now let's consider the tiger. Let's face it, most of the time when you get an animal accessory with a toy, more often than not, it can't do much. It's generally unposeable. It may be sculpted very nicely, but that's about it. Consider all the critters from the 3-3/4" G.I. Joe line -- Junkyard, Order, Polly, Timber, Max, Freedom -- all nicely designed animals. And not a single point of articulation among them. Even the animals that came with the 12" Adventure Team line weren't poseable toys.
Well, THAT situation has certainly been remedied! Not only is the tiger that comes with this Adventure Team set a superbly designed animal -- within the stylized design of the toy line itself -- but he's just about as poseable as Storm Shadow himself! The tiger can move at the head, mouth, neck, all four legs, knees, paws -- with a consoiderable range of motion at all leg points, a bt at the mid-torso, and his tail! This is, really, getting a second complete action figure in the set! It just so happens that it's a tiger and not a human.
The design of the tiger is really excellent. There's only so far you can take the stylized aspects of the 8" G.I. Joe line and apply it to an animal before it wouldn't look much like the animal it was intended to represent. It would start to look too cartoonish. Fortunately, the designers of this tiger didn't push it too far. What we have here is a tiger that looks exactly what I would expect it to look like had it ever appeared in the Signa Six animated series. Stylized to fit the concept, but not so far that it doesn't look like a very decent tiger. If one were to compare him to other animated tiger's, he's actually less exaggerated than Jungle Book's Shere Khan, and no moreso than Rajah from Aladdin.
The overall detailing is superb. The head is especially effective, with an opening mouth full of well-painted and mean-looking teeth. The tiger's eyes are a very ferocuous green, surrounded by black, giving the tiger a very mean and intense stare. The tiger as a whole has been molded in a very straightforward orange plastic, and given off-white highlights around the face, down the belly, and the inside of the legs. There's a neat series of black stripes across the tiger's head, back, legs, and tail.
The tiger is a good solid toy, too. he's actually heavier than Storm Shadow. As I said, this essentially was a second complete figure in the package.
The accessories are well-made, and appropriate to the adventure. They include a trap with a net, a sollar and chain for the tiger, two swords, and other equipment to help Storm Shadow find his way through the jungle, and keep the tiger at bay until it can be safely captured, including a little GPS system. So much for the "Indiana Jones" factor in that instance, anyway...!
Rather interestingly, the two swords can be snapped together into one thicker sword.
The back of the package features a photograph of Storm Shadow facing the tiger, as well as a description of the Adventure. I hesitate to call it a file card, since it's more of an outline of the adventure itself. It reads as follows:
CASE # 711-79
MISSION: Capture Tiger
NAME: Storm Shadow
DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: DANGER IN THE JUNGLE. Storm Shadow flies to the treacherous Indian jungle, where a tiger is hunting too close to a village. His adventure: Capture the tiger and move it to a more remote region. Daring? You bet! Dangerous? Of course! Armed with his gear, Storm Shadow sets a trap then waits for the prowling predator. In the middle of the night, the tiger springs the trap, but escapes, so Storm Shadow must battle the ferocious feline with the power of the Kung-Fu Grip! With the tiger under control, Storm Shadow heads deep into the jungle to free the carnivorous creature - and begin another exciting adventure!
That story blends in very well with the overall "safari" theme of the packaging, having a slightly worn look to it -- including a coffee stain.
No review of this Adventure Team set would be complete, however, without a look into the Adventure Guide booklet that is included with the set. Here's really where the Indiana Jones theme takes firm hold, and has a lot of fun in the bargain. This booklet is designed to look like it has a leather cover (just printed on paper), with a sewn AT logo on it. There are six "stickers" printed on the cover, representing the locales of (I assume), the first two assortments of these Adventure Team sets.
Within, we encounter some promotional materials for the Adventure Team, but there's also three truly hysterical advertisements. Somebody really had some fun with this. Right off we see an ad for "Gold Monkey Charters", a nod to a TV series called "Tales of the Gold Monkey", which tried to capitalize on the popularity of the original Indiana Jones movie.
A few more pages along, and we see an ad for COLTON'S PLACE, described as "A Taste of Home in the Great Unknown" -- assuming a taste from home included such -- delicacies as Centipede Salad, Monkey-Brain Burgers, and Termite Tacos. But guess who's pictured on the ad? Yep, standing tall in his adventure gear, beard and all, holding a tray of the aforementioned burgers, is Joe Colton himself, the original G.I. Joe!
Finally we have an ad for ARBCO CRATE COMPANY. This is the funniest of them all. The picture on the ad shows a box of the same type you can make by putting the two end pieces of the toy package together, but it's being shown off by none other than Tomax and Xamot in their business suits, and if you look in the background, there are Crimson Guards hauling more boxes around, with destinations on the boxes marked for M.A.R.S. Corp. and Springfield!
The centerpiece of the booklet is a map, titled "The Most Dangerous Places on Earth", and showcasing six different locales. I am sincerely hopeful that the Adventure Team series continues long enough for these six sets to all come out, and hopefully well beyond that.
Bottom line on this set as a whole? Very cool Storm Shadow figure. Absolutely amazing Tiger figure. A nice assortment of accessories, and finally, a booklet and an overall packaging style that really brings a spirit of FUN into this incarnation of the Adventure Team! Someone at Hasbro decided on a basic "theme" for these sets, and it works astoundingly well.
Needless to say, the G.I. JOE ADVENTURE TEAM - DANGER IN THE JUNGLE set featuring STORM SHADOW and friend gets my highest and most enthusiastic recommendation!