REVIEW: G.I. JOE RESOLUTE 5-FIGURE BOXED SET By Thomas Wheeler
In April of 2009, the world was treated to a new, different, and edgier take on G.I. Joe, with the debut of the animated series G.I. JOE RESOLUTE.
G.I. Joe: Resolute is an 11 episode animated series based on the G.I. Joe franchise. It was written by Warren Ellis, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, and produced by Sam Register. The series premiered on U.S. cable television on Adult Swim on April 26, 2009. Resolute departs from recent depictions of futuristic technology, adopting a more realistic aesthetic. The series has been described as a more "mature" take on the toy franchise.
In other words, although technically based on the "Real American Hero" concept and characters, it wasn't afraid to have bullets flying instead of lasers, and there were a surprising number fatalities along the course of the show.
The purpose of Resolute is just a little vague in my mind, although I suspect the main purpose was to give the G.I. Joe concept some interim media attention between the 2007 25th Anniversary of the Real American Hero, and the live-action movie of 2009.
Of course, there were 3-3/4" action figures based on the Resolute concept. A number of these were individually carded. But there was also a special five-pack boxed set, which I would like to review at this time.
While I'm not usually one to discuss packaging, the design of the box art, which was also reflected similarly on the individually-carded figures, is worth commenting upon. In keeping with Resolute being an edgier look at G.I. Joe, the box is intentionally made to look worn. Now, some of it is more apparently part of the box design than other aspects. However worn a package may get to be, lingering on a toy shelf, it's not likely to have bullet holes in it.
Hasbro has intentionally done this with the Resolute box, at least on the flip-up front panel, as well as imprinted scratches on all surfaces. And they did a heck of an authentic-looking job with it, too.
The Resolute 5-pack consists of four different Cobras, and Duke. Given how badly outnumbered this prominent member of the G.I. Joe team is, I thought we'd start with him:
DUKE – He's still Conrad S. Hauser, and he's still the Joe Team's First Sergeant. His headsculpt is very recognizable as the popular character. Short-cropped, dark blonde hair, determined expression.
Interestingly, his eyes have been painted blue. Now, in the earliest G.I. Joe animated mini-series, Scarlett made a reference at one point that Duke had blue eyes. However, painting production at the time didn't really allow for Duke's eyes to be painted blue. The original Duke's eyes were brown, as were lines over his eyes representing eyelashes. The eyes of the average G.I. Joe figure (indeed most action figures these days) are much more detailed than they used to be, and so it is now not only possible to give Duke his long-established blue eyes, but the whites, black pupils, and a black line over them.
One additional feature has been added. He has a small scar on his right cheek, a little nod of respect to the original 12" G.I. Joe.
The file card artwork, nicely painted in a style essentially identical to the original file cards from the 1980's, also gives Duke blue eyes. Overall, I think it's a nice touch.
Although Duke may be best known, uniform-wise, for his original uniform, which featured a tan shirt and olive trousers, there have been enough Duke figures over the years so that the man has established a fairly extensive wardrobe. And his Resolute uniform, although completely lacking in either tan or olive drab, is nevertheless very impressive.
Duke is wearing a pale grey shirt with dark grey lower sleeves and a smattering of dark grey camouflage. He has dark grey trousers, with silver knee-pads, a black belt, and black leg straps. He is wearing dark grey and black shoes that honestly look a bit like sneakers. His lower legs are an even darker grey, that don't really match the shoes. Presumably some sort of leg protection more than actual boots.
Duke has a dark grey and silver harness around his chest, part of the molded torso, which does a capable job of concealing the mid-torso articulation. On Duke, it works adequately well. I'd have to compare this Duke to a fair supply of this style of figure, but I think he may be just a little bulkier overall.
This Resolute 5-pack also emphasizes a generous supply of accessories, and certainly that includes Duke. He comes with a helmet that also protects the front of his face, a black rifle with silver trim, a silver knife with a black handle, a small pistol, and an extremely impressive jet pack with extending wings and a wingspan of over 5" and ailerons that are on ball-and-socket pivots. As jet-packs go, it's a pretty wild design, but something about the wings makes it look a bit more plausible. The jet pack is black with silver trim. Duke may be outnumbered in this set, but none of the Cobras can fly!
Now, let's turn our attention to the Cobra side of things, and I think I'd better start with the head snake himself – if I know what's good for me…
COBRA COMMANDER – Evil personified, as far as the G.I. Joe universe is concerned… a man bent on global domination through force of arms, terrorism, and the inciting of chaos around the world.
And pretty much on a par with Snake-Eyes as having the most figure versions over the quarter-century-plus history of G.I. Joe. Duke is a moderately distant third, the last time I checked, and few others even come close.
Now, the most common, or best-known, color for Cobra is blue. There's even an official "Cobra Blue" in the color lexicon for G.I. Joe figures. But blue is entirely absent from this set. Two other colors that are prominently used are black and red. You'll find those colors in abundance here.
The Cobra Commander for the Resolute set looks like a darker and more ornate version of several of the more classic interpretations of the character. The bulk of his uniform is an extremely dark grey, distinguishable from black only because his helmet, gloves, boots, and a few other painted details are in fact black, and there's a slight color difference.
Cobra Commander's best known look, and indeed his first, presents him as wearing a helmet with a smooth, silver faceplate, completely concealing his identity. The rest of his uniform resembles a cross between a military uniform and a business suit.
The Resolute Cobra Commander has the helmet, black with some red trim, and the silver faceplate. The rest of the outfit looks like a well-detailed military dress uniform, of someone of considerable rank, which Cobra Commander obviously has, within his organization.
The uniform has a wide, red, separate shoulder piece – not quite a cape, but certainly ornate. It is clasped with a Cobra emblem, the only one on the figure. The bulk of the uniform is dark grey, included a fancy dress coat that flows out to about knee level, and has red trim lines. The trousers are dark grey, and Cobra Commander is wearing high black gloves, trimmed with red, and high black boots with silver knee pads.
The overall color scheme is extremely impressive, and the end result is a Cobra Commander who looks as though he means business – bad business – and takes his commanding position of Cobra very seriously, and expects others to acknowledge him as such.
The mid-torso articulation is somewhat concealed by the separate waist piece, which features the lower half of the coat, but doesn't really interfere with the torso articulation. Leg articulation is somewhat hindered by the long coat. You're not going to be sitting him in any vehicles. However, it's not such a hindrance that he can't assume any number of dramatic poses.
His accessories include a small pistol, and a long silver sword with a gold and black handle (I have to say that all of the accessories in this set are superbly detailed and even painted, a relative rarity in the latter case).
There is also a large spring-loaded missile launcher packaged at his feet. I'm not sure if this is supposed to specifically be used by Cobra Commander, or if it's just open for use to any of the Cobras in the set. None of them are shown holding it in their painted artwork. This impressive apparatus is pale grey, with painted detailing and imprinted insignias and numbers, and it comes attached to a pivoting post, and a tripod base is also included, as are two large missiles. This launcher even has covers that need to be swiveled away before the missiles can be launched. Easily one of the coolest accessories to come with a G.I. Joe figure in some time!
COBRA TROOPER and COBRA OFFICER – The first two Cobra personnel ever released were the Cobra Trooper, initially just called "Cobra", and the Cobra Officer. 25th-style versions of these were made as part of the standard 25th-style line, and now modified versions of them have been produced for this Resolute set.
As one might expect, the original Cobra Trooper and Cobra Officer wore dark blue. This time around, both are wearing dark red. The elite Crimson Guard can't be too happy about that. Both figures have some differences from their original versions. For starters, they're nearly identical to one another. For another, as one might expect, there are some additional details that the original figures did not have.
Both the Cobra Trooper and Cobra Officer have silver shoulder pads, elbow pads, and knee pads. Both are wearing vests, that do an effective job of concealing the mid-torso articulation point without hindering the articulation. These vests have four pouches displayed on them. Both are also wearing identical black backpacks, which can be removed.
Several colors of red can be found on these figures. The vests and trousers are a rather dark red. The sleeves are a slightly lighter red. The boot tops and a section of the back of the vests are a rather bright red, comparative to the rest of the red colors used. Their face masks and helmets are also dark red. The vests are a slightly different color red than the trousers (which match the helmets), but it's so close I wonder if it was intended to be different, or is just the type of plastic used. Red is not an easily matched color.
The remaining trim colors and silver and black. Interestingly, neither figure has any visible Cobra insignia on him. The painted detail is really very well done, even down to the zippers on the vests. The facial detail – which is pretty much the eyes, is also very nicely done, including whites of the eyes, blue irisis, and black pupils. Their hair (the helmets are removable) and eyebrows are brown.
The only difference between the two figures is the helmet. The Officer has a silver "V" shape embossed on his helmet. This has always been one of the most distinguishing traits of a Cobra Officer since their original introduction in 1982.
For accessories, each comes with a somewhat futuristic and very mean-looking pistol, in silver and black, and a larger rifle, colored entirely in black.
COBRA B.A.T. – The Cobra Battle Android Trooper was first introduced in 1986 – a walking, humanoid battle machine. The B.A.T.s have had multiple versions and specialties since that time. I'll grant that from a figure format standpoint, I've tended to cut the B.A.T.'s a little more slack, since they're robots. They don't really need to precisely match the human proportions of the original G.I. Joe figures to necessarily work within that framework if that is one's preference.
The B.A.T.s have always been popula r, so it was no great surprise that a 25th-style version of the original B.A.T. was made as part of the 25th Anniversary line. That figure has been recolored for inclusion in the Resolute Set, and I have to say that not only is it my favorite figure in the set, but the figure itself is quite probably the meanest-looking Battle Android Trooper ever to come out of Cobra's android factories.
The darker, grimmer color scheme of Resolute really works for the B.A.T. He has a black uniform – not atypical for a B.A.T. to begin with – but the generally bright trim colors are entirely absent. His clear chestplate has been given a smoky black coloration, but is still just transparent enough to show the internal workings. It also does an effective job of making a good "border" for the mid-torso articulation. The straps are grey, the belt is black, and the boots are black with red highlights. The faceplate is a very effective and menacing metallic red. There's a little bit of red detail on the shoulders and belt buckle.
The exposed robotic sections – the neck and arms for the most part – are silver with black weathering. He comes with a backpack that contains most of his arm attachments, which can be switched out of his lower right arm, and include a standard hand, a claw, and a few other pieces.
The helmet, or perhaps more correctly, the head, is molded in black, but has been given a very slight mottled dark metallic grey effect. This doesn't make him look battleworn so much as just more robotic overall.
And unlike the Cobra Trooper and Cobra Officer, the Cobra B.A.T. does have a Cobra insignia stamped on him, on the upper left arm.
So what's my final word here? Well, especially if you've been collecting G.I. Joe when it restarted with the 25th Anniversary series, these five figures are an interesting group. You have a cool Duke in a very impressive and distinctive new uniform design, a very militaristic and commanding-looking Cobra Commander, unusual but cool-looking versions of the Cobra Trooper and Cobra Officer, and a coloration for the Cobra B.A.T. that's impressive in any figure format.
Add to that an impressive array of accessories, and some very nicely-written file cards. This is ultimately quite the cool set of G.I. Joe figures. The G.I. JOE RESOLUTE FIVE-PACK certainly has my recommendation!