Of all the G.I. Joe Comic-based three-packs produced, only one of them
But even setting that aside as much as I can, what surprised me the most was the set that won the survey. There was a survey conducted, with about ten different combinations of characters, that would be turned into a "Fan's Choice" three-pack. And as far as I'm concerned, this was one of the least interesting entries in the entire survey. There were other sets, with new characters that had been established in the comic book, that I believe would've made far more enjoyable sets. I have to surmise that the main reason this particular set won, is that there's a fairly significant group of Cover Girl fans out there who were just plain annoyed at the fact that this character had been pretty much overlooked since her first appearance in 1983, and after over twenty years, needed a return, even in this format.
The set is based on the Devil's Due G.I. JOE Comic #16. This was the start of the storyline that brought back Serpentor for a time. The set includes Spirit Iron-Knife; Cover Girl, officially designated "Agent Courtney Krieger", since I suspect a certain cosmetics company raised a ruckus about the code-name, and a third character named Hannibal. More on him later. Let's consider the figures individually, shall we?
Spirit, as he was originally known, although he has since made a habit of using his original one-word code-name along with his actual last name, Iron-Knife, was first introduced in 1984. He's a Native American, and is the Joe Team's main tracker. The original 1984 figure bordered on the cliché in its appearance. Spirit's headsculpt was very stereotypically Indian, but what the heck, for the character, it worked. This particular sculpt saw two subsequent uses, one in the Slaughter's Marauders team, and a second European version. A new Spirit turned up as part of the Air Commandos set, that honestly wasn't an improvement over the original.
I would personally regard Spirit as a second-tier character in the G.I. Joe universe. He's not up there with the likes of Duke, or Snake- Eyes, or Flint, but he's still pretty well known.
The figure that comes with the three-pack has an excellent design to it. It looks very much like the character on the comic book cover, and based on the back of visible arm pegs, a development that Hasbro implemented late on in the newsculpt figures, is definitely a newer figure. There's only one thing I really don't particularly like about the design -- I'm not fond of Spirit wearing a mostly black uniform. He's done so for some time. There's even a 12" Spirit out there in a mostly black uniform. But there's something about it that I just can't get used to. Apart from the fact that the original Spirit was dressed in rather light colors -- a light blue shirt and tan trousers -- this all-black bodysuit makes Spirit look like he's trying to be "Snake-Eyes Lite" or something. It just doesn't quite work.
Spirit's headsculpt is good, with a grim and serious expression on his face, that definitely makes you want to think twice before picking a fight with this guy. His file card reads as follows:
File Name: Iron-Knife, Charlie
Primary Military Specialty: Infantry
Secondary Military Specialty: Special Services
Birthplace: Taos, New Mexico
A Native American mystic warrior with a degree in psychology, Spirit Iron-Knife is also the best wilderness tracker on the G.I. Joe team. He has an incanny ability to find and read the faintest of trail signs and has a keen understanding of the human thinking process. This helps him not only find the Cobra forces he is tracking, but also anticipate their actions. He is a qualified expert with all the latest weapons systems available to the G.I. Joe team, but does not depend on technology. In the field, equipped with just a knife, he can create his own weapons, as well as traps, snares, and deadfalls. As efefctive as these devices are, he still claims that th best weapons are psychological ones.
"I can carve a whistle from a hollow reed that sounds exactly like an incoming mortar round. It is very effective in the middle of the night when blown next to a Cobra encampment."
Yeah, I would think so. Need it be said, the accessory that Spirit comes with is a large and nasty-looking knife.
AGENT COURTNEY KRIEGER
Probably the most overlooked female character in the entire G.I. Joe universe -- Joe or Cobra -- is Cover Girl. She was introduced in 1983 as the driver for the "Wolverine", a small, fast-attack tank with a couple of missile launchers mounted in the back. She had a brief run in the G.I. Joe comic book, a few appearances in the animated series (in fact, in the first mini-series, she appeared as a long-haired blonde, instead of as the auburn-haired character that the figure became), and that was about it. And I remain convinced that the main reason this particular three-pack won the Fan's Choice survey was because she was in it.
The character has taken on her real name, "Courtney Krieger", probably because the name "Cover Girl" couldn't clear the legal department. Honestly, given a certain cosmetics company, I'm surprised it cleared back in 1983.
The figure bears a considerable resemblance, color-wise, to her original counterpart. Cover Girl (sorry, but that's what I'm going to call her for the purposes of this review) was originally dressed with a medium brown jacket, tan shirt, and tan trousers. And that's pretty much what we have here -- a medium brown jacket, tan shirt, and tan trousers, although the trousers are a little darker this time around. But the basic color scheme is certainly still there.
The headsculpt is actually something of an improvement over the original. It wasn't until the Baroness came along in 1984 that Hasbro figured out a way to do characters with long hair (make the hair a separate piece out of more flexible plastic and glue it on), so the original Cover Girl had fairly short, and rather upswept auburn hair. Some have tended to feel that the headsculpt is too large as a result.
Frankly, one of the main issues of the newsculpt figures is that the heads are often too small, and this one comes close to having that problem. But I'll give it this -- it has much better hair. Cover Girl's hair is much longer this time around, and has been given a sculpt that makes it look rather windblown, but attractively so -- sort of like a lot of magazine ads you might expect to see.
Her jacket -- or at least everything except the sleeves -- is a separate piece, sort of like a vest. Hasbro has used this practice several times. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. It sort of doesn't on this figure, because you can see the lighter color of the shirt near the arms. Looks like her coat is coming apart at the seams. In theory, it's a nice way of making the coat seem more like a separate garment, but in practice, it needs a little work.
The figure is a dead ringer for the image on the comic book cover, and I'm virtually certain that this figure was crafted specifically for this set, since the uniform couldn't really be applied to anyone else, and the headsculpt certainly couldn't. Cover Girl comes with a pistol, and if it sounds like she and Spirit sort of got stiffed in the accessory department -- wait'll you read what Hannibal came with. Cover Girl's file card reads as follows:
AGENT COURTNEY KRIEGER
Armored Vehicle Expert
File Name: Krieger, Courtney A.
Primary Military Specialty: Armor
Secondary Military Specialty: Armored Fighting Vehicle Mechanic
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois
Agent Krieger was a cover girl (at least they slipped it in there
"People realize I'm more than just a pretty face when they bring in a busted-up vehicle and I give it back to them running smoothly and ready for battle."
Here's the one new character in the set. Basically, as the storyline went in the comics, efforts were afoot to bring back Serpentor. But at the same time, it was realized that when Dr. Mindbender had brought together genetic samples of history's greatest and most dangerous military leaders to create Serpentor in the first place, he'd also cloned individual versions based on each leader, even though they all looked pretty much alike. Most of these clones were little boys in the story. But one of them -- Hannibal -- was in his late teens, possibly very early 20's. It was his primary mission to go around and round up his "little brothers". If nothing else, they needed at least one who was old enough to drive.
Hannibal didn't wear a uniform of any sort. If anything, he looked pretty much like a street punk. Rather long, and sort of greasy-looking black hair, faded jeans, a black leather jacket, and a black shirt with a white skull on it that Frank Castle probably wants back so he can get back to his work as the Punisher.
To Hasbro's credit, they did a good job with the figure, especially since he didn't really fit the appearance of anybody on the Joe Team, or anyone within Cobra, for that matter. A completely new headsculpt, youthful but fairly mean-looking. I suspect most of the body sections may have come from Dreadnoks, since they're the only ones that don't wear uniforms of some sort. The arms are from an earlier figure at the very least, since they have visible arm pegs, whereas neither Spirit nor Cover Girl do.
Hannibal has the same "vest" attachment designed to make it look like he's wearing a jacket as Cover Girl, but in Hannibal's case, it works better, since the T-shirt underneath is also black, same as the jacket, and as such there's no color difference to show through at the shoulder. The shoulders of the vest are a little thick, though, which throws off the image a bit. And the shirt does have the white "skull" on it, a very neatly done image that I'm sure was "stamped" on, much as G.I. Joe and Cobra insignias are.But it's a very neatly done graphic.
Hannibal's head looks a little large compared to the other two figures in the set, but given that Cover Girl's lead is noticeably a bit on the small side, and Spirit's is too, to a lesser degree, then technically, Hannibal might be the only one in the set with a more normal sized head. They might've made it a little larger so that, overall proportion-wise, he would look younger, too.
If Spirit and Cover Girl came up short in the accessories department, it was because Hannibal got most of the goodies. He comes with a large, and very ornate sword, and a transparent display jar with snakes around its base, containing a Serpentor-like helmet. These all had to be done especially for this set, and they were very well made indeed. Hannibal's file card reads as follows:
File Name: Hannibal
Primary Military Specialty: Warrior
Secondary Military Specialty: Conqueror (jeez, General, Warrior, Conqueror -- not putting too many expectations on this kid, are we!?)
Hannibal is the genetic re-creation of the famous Carthaginian general who fought and almost defeated the Roman army. When Dr. Mindbender created Serpentor, gathering the DNA of history's most powerful military leaders, he included Hannibal in his genetic stew. The twisted doctor then went on to separately re-create each of these dead leaders. A brilliant tactician and daring general, Hannibal wants to achieve the task he set for himself centuries ago: liberate and conquer. Believing that the end always justifies the means, he will ruthlessly sacrifice vast numbers of his own troops, if nevessary, to achieve his goal. The G.I. Joe Team represents all the enemies and detractors who thwarted him long ago, and he intends to repudiate his vision of glory by trampling them into the dust beneath his feet.
"With my help, Cobra Commander will rule the world - and I will rule it beside him."
So, what's my final word on this set? Well, I'll never fully accept the vast majority of newsculpt G.I. Joes. However, within their own parameters, this three-pack is actually reasonably impressive. I'm not crazy about Spirit dressed in black, because it looks just too much like a case of Snake- Eyes-envy, but the figure isn't bad at all, and certainly a good likeness of the one on the comic book cover. The Cover Girl figure is really very well done, a superb update, visually, of the original, without losing the essence, or color scheme, of the original. Might be worth it for the hair alone, although I am not among those who detract the original for this reason. As for Hannibal, he's almost too obscure a character, and I doubt he was the reason this set won the Fan's Choice survey, but for an obscure character, Hasbro did a good job with him, and he does have the coolest accessories.
My final recommendation is this -- if you, like me, are a longtime fan of G.I. Joe with a distinct preference for traditional-style figures, then you probably won't be that interested in this set. On the other hand, if you've been collecting G.I. Joe straight on through, then you probably will. And if nothing else, for newsculpt figures, this set presents a surprisingly impressive threesome. Ultimately, it's up to you.