REVIEW: G.I. JOE COLLECTORS' CLUB CONVENTION - 2010 SOUVENIR FIGURES
Every year, the Official G.I. Joe Collectors' Club presents its Convention. And every year, there's an excellent boxed set of fifteen 3-3/4" G.I. Joe figures based on a specific theme. But also each year, there are some additional figures, generally referred to as "Souvenir Figures", which are "outside the box", although are still part of the overall theme, and ever since the Club started producing a full-length, full-color comic book to accompany the Convention Set, they're generally part of the comic story, as well.
Such is certainly the case in 2010, with six additional figures available, one of which is a second version of the lead G.I. Joe team member in the story, Flint, and the other five being major players in the comic book.
The theme of this Convention Set was "Vacation in the Shadows", and it brings into overall G.I. Joe continuity the enemy force known as the Red Shadows. These were the enemy adversaries of the European Action Force toy line, before it became increasingly merged with G.I. Joe, whereupon Cobra came on the scene, and eventually the toy line itself was known simply as G.I. Joe.
But this was not the case in the early days. Action Force, now known within the storyline as "Special Action Force", something of an abbreviation take on the real-world British SAS, or Special Air Service, thus we now have the SAF, was a group of highly-trained military personnel divided into a number of groups -- Q-Force, Z-Force (pronounced "Zed Force"), SAS Force, and Space Force. These four distinct groups faced off against an unnamed "Enemy Force", that over the years took on the name "Red Shadows", since that was the name of their basic infantry troopers. But in the early days, there was no Cobra. The group was led by Baron Ironblood and the Black Major.
Many of these early figures weren't even constructed like G.I. Joe. Closer in design to early Star Wars figures, they were articulated only at the head, arms, and legs. However, there were some remarkable vehicles in the line, entirely compatible with G.I. Joe, the likes of which have never been seen outside of their European origins, and which command a great deal of attention among collectors today.
Eventually, actual G.I. Joe figures were worked into the Action Force line, although early on, most of them were significantly recolored and renamed. It is from among these that most of the "Souvenir Figures" from the 2010 G.I. Joe Convention are derived, admittedly using some different body parts, although they are still original, traditional, "Real American Hero"-style figures.
These figures were offered in a Z-Force three-pack, and a Q-Force two-pack, and this review will be taking a look at all of them. But first, I want to have a look at this year's Parachute Drop figure:
PARATROOPER FLINT - Okay, maybe that should just be Flint, but I want to differentiate him from the Flint that came with the boxed set (see separate review). Flint is very much the focal point of this year's Convention story, as he discovers the re-emergence of the Red Shadows, right after he's captured by them. The Flint that comes with the Convention Set is a superb figure, using the original Flint head, and the 1993 Duke body, with a truly superb modern camouflage color scheme.
The Paratrooper Flint that was used for the parachute drop event uses the same molds, but in a decidedly different color scheme.
The Official G.I. Joe Convention has staged parachute drop events at virtually every G.I. Joe Convention it has held. I believe the practice got started following a somewhat impromptu parachute drop at one of the early Convention hotels, one of those multi-lobby Hyatt Regency places. The only Convention in recent memory that did not have a Parachute Drop event was in 2004, at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World. While I am not certain of the reasons, I suspect it had something to do with the fact that the exterior of the A-frame building didn't really lend itself well to this sort of activity, and while the interior did, I imagine that Disney wasn't too keen on the idea of parachuting action figures potentially landing on the Monorail tracks that went through the hotel.
The 2010 Convention was held in Hasbro's home state of Rhode Island. Thus, Hasbro staged their own Parachute Drop among local schoolchildren to promote the convention. Since this particular activity was not open to convention attendees, it was decided to make a limited supply of the figure available to convention-goers who attended one of two presentations by Hasbro's own CEO: Alan Hassenfeld.
The character of Flint was first introduced into the toy line in 1985, after turning up in the 1984 animated series "The Revenge of Cobra". Flint was officially designated as a "Warrant Officer" -- and I've never been entirely sure just what the heck a Warrant Officer does -- was in the command line directly after Duke, and has generally been presented in both the animated series and the comic book as a cockier and somewhat rougher-around-the-edges version of Duke. Certainly he has leadership skills, but he's a good bit more brash and arrogant. These traits are exemplified by the confident and borderline cocky grin the original headsculpt was given.
The name "Flint" is somewhat of a mystery, although given that his real name is "Dashiell Fairborne", almost anything's an improvement. His file card has always portrayed him as a highly-intelligent and well-educated individual. He'd have to be to get as far as he has in this business, especially given the occasional attitude. He's no Shipwreck, though. He plays well with others, and is a responsible member of the team.
It's not inappropriate for him to be used for a paratrooper figure, either. There is a bit of history there. In 1994, a new version of Flint was produced, and was officially designated as a "Desert Paratrooper", even though the figure did not actually come with a working parachute (nor was he the only parachutist on the team who didn't -- just ask Rip Cord or Airborne). Granted, in the case of this figure, I'm sure the convenient availability of the molds was as much a factor as anything, but it's not outside of the character's capabilities.
The figure is pretty much identical to the Flint that comes in the Convention Set -- original head, 1993 Duke body. It's a good combination. Flint has brown hair, a black beret with a red badge on the front, and nicely detailed eyes. There is, however, one very major, very obvious difference: The Flint in the Convention Set has a very impressive modern camouflage uniform. The Paratrooper Flint figure has a bright orange uniform. And I do mean bright orange. The last time I saw an orange of this color on a G.I. Joe figure, especially this much of it, it was in 1993, with the release of a figure named Long Arm, who was originally intended as an extension of the Drug Elimination Force group, but who ended up along with some others as part of the standard Battle Corps line when the DEF concept was dropped. Ironically, Long Arm was remade in a far less intense color scheme for the 2008 Convention's souvenir figures.
The "neon" colors of some of the latter-year figures in the original line have come under a great deal of criticism among fans in the intervening years. Figures such as the Mega-Viper, Cyber-Viper, most of the Eco-Warriors, some of Ninja Force, and a number of others have been assailed for being far too divergent from anything remotely military to warrant the name of G.I. Joe. Now, I'll admit, some of these figures are pretty intense, and some of them have been given much better color designs by the Club in subsequent years, showing off sculpted designs that were greatly improved. But for myself, I was never that against some of the brighter colors. Some of them were a little strange, yes, but by the time they had started to roll around, I felt that G.I. Joe was less a specifically military concept, and more of a character-driven one.
Admittedly, in more recent years, the color palette for G.I. Joe figures has been drastically scaled back. Starting really with the 1997-98 line, and certainly the 2000-2002 series, and then forward through every incarnation of G.I. Joe since, with extremely rare exception, all figures have tended to have pretty subdued color schemes. Not necessarily militarily precise, but generally subdued.
So, what's up with orange Flint? I think I can guess. The parachute drop was actually staged inside the Rhode Island State House. The dome roof does not have significant lighting and it was a whole lot easier for the media and the groups of kids to track down the falling action figures that are wearing bright orange uniforms than anything camouflage.
The figure does have some painted detail on his uniform. A chest harness, two leg straps, and his bots are painted black, while a grenade, pistol handle, and knife handle are painted silver.
It may be overstating things a little bit, but as much as I see the Boxed Set Flint as a way of bringing the original-style G.I. Joe figures into the present day with a very modern camouflage design, I see this orange Paratrooper Flint as a present-day way of acknowledging in some way the brighter-colored figures of the 1990's, the likes of which have not been seen since. They're part of the collection, too, and deserve consideration.
This Flint doesn't come with a file card, but he does come with a working parachute. I have not tested it, nor do I intend to, any more than I have tested any other parachute figures I have received in the past. Apart from a lack of tall buildings in the immediate area to toss them from, I'm not about to subject these fine figures to a rough landing on gravel, sand, pavement, getting snagged in a tree, or worse, a cactus, or even outright blowing away in a sudden wind. Flint will be joining his fellow paratroopers in keeping his feet planted on the ground -- or at least a bookshelf.
Q-FORCE - LT. DOLPHIN & NATALIE POOLE
In the Action Force concept, Q-Force was the name of the seagoing aspect of the overall team. The Club has done a nice job of responding to this by bringing in two figures, one with an entirely appropriate name, and both of which come with appropriate equipment.
LT. DOLPHIN - Early in the days when actual G.I. Joe figures were starting to be incorporated into the Action Force line, many first year figures were recolored. Two of these were recolorations of Zap and Short-Fuze, who were given light gray uniforms, a color unheard of in G.I. Joe at the time, and given new names of Dolphin and Moondancer. There was reportedly a third figure proposed, a gray-uniformed version of Flash, but he never reached a significant level of production.
Wisely, I think, the Club chose to include Dolphin, now Lt. Dolphin, into this set, since a name like "Moondancer" makes one wonder what the heck they were thinking in the first place, never mind now. However, obviously the Club didn't want to just replicate the original figure. This is a much more advanced Lt. Dolphin.
I wasn't quite sure whose body parts had been used for this figure. My initial impression was that it was a serious "frankenstein", with figure parts brought in from a great many individuals. The entire body, except for the arms, is from the 1988 Muskrat figure, a swamp fighter released in that year. Significantly recolored, of course. I'm honestly not sure who the arms are from, and they're just ordinary-looking enough -- short sleeves with fairly basic gloves -- that I'm not about to make a full survey of my collection to figure it out. The head is one of those used when the "Original 13" figures were overhauled for inclusion in the comic-based three-packs several years ago. As such, it's a little on the smallish side, but it works well enough, and since Lt. Dolphin was originally a recoloration of Zap, it's not inappropriate.
Most of the uniform is a light gray, although not quite as pale a gray as the original figures. Still, there's no question that it's intended to be a reflection of that. Lt. Dolphin appears to be wearing gray trousers and a gray vest, with an olive green short-sleeved shirt underneath. His belt, gloves, and boots are also green, as are the equipment straps on his legs.
The vest has black trim on it, as well as a black strap with silver details, and a black holster with a silver and black gun handle, and black pouch. The amount of painted detail on this figure is much more extensive and intricate than on the original Muskrat figure. This is something that the Club has become particularly well-known for, and it certainly works well. Even the laces and soles of the boots have been painted black!
Lt. Dolphin also comes with a very nice kayak. This is a recoloring of the kayak that was originally included with the 1989 Stalker figure, who was advertised as a Tundra Ranger. This kayak is easily the largest "accessory" that was ever packaged alongside a single-carded figure, and it's a very nice piece of work. It's been redone in black, about as drastic a change as you can get from its original white, and has the original Action Force Q-Force "Q" logo on its top. The kayak comes with plenty of accessories, including a paddle, a machine gun that can be mounted to the kayak, a rifle for Lt. Dolphin, and other accessories.
Lt. Dolphin's file card reads as follows:
File Name: Morgan, Gareth
As a tough-as-nails seafaring Welshman, Lt. Dolphin has superb naval training. He is an expert in underwater operations and deep sea exploration, from coastal patrol to polar ice cap charting. His rapid promotion led to his command of a Royal Navy submarine at an earlier age than most naval officers. Eventually, he was chosen as the Lieutenant Commander of Q Force, the nautical branch of the S.A.F. (Special Action Force), the UK's equivalent of G.I. Joe.
He has excellent knowledge of all S.A.F. aquatic vehicles, used both on and below the sea. He is as skillful operating tiny watercraft such as the Stingray one-man sub as he is behind the stick of his personal favorite, the massive Sealion submarine. Even when he is off-duty, his main hobby is still boating, and he often provides training for his fellow troops in the recreational use of the Silent Attack Mark II stealth kayak. His knowledge of the waterways of Europe makes him the de facto expert on every river, canal, lake, sea, and surrounding ocean of the European continent. But will his years of expertise be enough when a visiting member of the G.I. Joe team disappears off the map?
"Want to take on Q Force, boyo? Go blow some bubbles!"
Those references to the Stingray and Sealion are actual Action Force vehicles from the original line, by the way.
NATALIE POOLE - Here we have an interesting addition to the group. Technically, Natalie was never a member of the original Action Force. However, she was part of the modern Action MAN line, which itself was a successor to the original 12" Action Man line, which was the European equivalent of the original 12" G.I. Joe, from which, of course, Action Force was developed.
It's an interesting study in parallel toy development. Just as the original 12" G.I. Joe led to the original 3-3/4" G.I. Joe, and just as the success of that action figure line led to the eventual return of the 12" G.I. Joe line, so in Europe, the original 12" Action Man led to the 3-3/4" Action Force, which later became G.I. Joe, but which also led to the return of the 12" Action Man toy line.
There was an attempt to bring Action Man to the United States for a few years, and while it was reasonably popular as a 12" less-military-than-G.I. Joe action figure, Action Man never enjoyed the same popularity in the States as he did in Europe. And we never got Natalie. The closest we got to Natalie was that her body molds were used for a 12" Lady Jaye figure that was a ridiculously low-numbered exclusive at a convention quite a number of years ago that was not sponsored by the Official Collectors' Club.
Natalie was the colleague-girlfriend of the 12" Action Man, and did exist as an action figure in the European line. So -- what's she doing here? Well, apart from being a distinctly European character, let us not forget that Hasbro did produce Action Man in a traditional-style 3-3/4" G.I. Joe form some years ago, including him in one of the Toys "R" Us six-packs that were popular at the time, that was otherwise a Night Force set. This Action Man had the "AM" logo clearly marked on his shirt, which, counter to the rest of Night Force, certainly, was the same bright orange that had been used on 12" Action Man packaging.
So now we have Natalie. Makes me wonder if we'll ever get a traditional-style 3-3/4" figure of Dr. X, Action Man's main enemy.
The Natalie figure does an excellent job of presenting herself as a 3-3/4" counterpart of the original 12" figure. The original 12" Natalie had blonde hair, and wore a blue tank top, and somewhat military-looking olive drab trousers. So does this Natalie.
The headsculpt is clearly based on the Sonya Blade figure from Hasbro's sadly short-lived Mortal Kombat line. Hasbro had two licensed products from two massively popular video games in the mid-1990's -- Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat -- and they produced G.I. Joe-style action figures for both. The Collectors' Club has made excellent use of headsculpts from both of those lines with any number of their distinctive figures, and the Sonya Blade head is certainly a good choice for Natalie. It's distinctive, bearing no great resemblance to any other G.I. Joe or Cobra character, and Sonya was also blonde.
There is one distinct difference, though. The original Sonya Blade head had hair that was separately molded and attached. The Natalie head is one piece. I'm not entirely sure how that worked out, but I have to surmise that it was a complete recast. The head is very neatly painted, although the underside of the hair in the back is not painted. I suspect this would have been darn near impossible to achieve, it's not all that noticeable, and for those inclined to be picky about it, it's nothing that a small brush and the right color of paint can't deal with.
The torso of the figure is a mystery, since although it is certainly a tank top and in very much the right color of blue, the fact remains that no established G.I. Joe female has ever dressed like this. This is a previously unused mold. It's not the first time this has happened. Consider the female Cobra Troopers from 2007. There has been some speculation that this mold may have originally been intended for a second figure of Daina, a member of the Oktober Guard who, when she wasn't wearing her full flight suit, was known for wearing a tank top and khaki shorts, especially in miserably tropical environments like Sierra Gordo. Even if true, that figure obviously never happened and likely never will, so the end result is a Natalie figure that is that much more distinctive for having a previously unseen mold.
The trousers are straight from the Lady Jaye figure, which has also been used for Daina, as well as the female Doc figure from 2007's Convention Set. The lower arms are also from those molds. The upper arms are a mystery to me.
The end result, however, is a truly exceptional and unusual figure, well detailed and well painted, and yet another means of uniting the worlds of G.I. Joe, Action Force, and Action Man.
Natalie comes with the same accessories as Lt. Dolphin -- the Q-Force kayak, attachments, and other hardware, including the machine gun. Her file card reads as follows:
S.A.F. COVERT OPERATIONS
File Name: Poole, Natalie
Agent Natalie Poole, or more informally known as "Natalie" to her fellow agents, is a covert operations specialist for the S.A.F. (Special Action Force) team. Trained by the British Secret Intelligence Service, and a natural adventurer and accomplished martial artist, she has proven herself to be extremely talented both physically and mentally. She uses these skills to flush out and intercept any organization threatening world peace, preferable before the public even knows of their existence. She takes advantage of her global professional travels to seek out and master any extreme sport on the face of the earth. While her youthful lust for action and excitement would seem a hindrance, she tempers it with an exceedingly cool head. She often takes the role of guardian angel and liaison to her teammate Action Man, especially when he is away on solo assignments.
While she does not consider herself a feminist, she nonetheless often finds herself competing against her male counterparts in order to maintain her own skills. Upon hearing of the prowess of G.I. Joe Warrant Officer Flint, she issued an invitation and challenge for him to compete in some outdoor athletics across the pond. But, will she pass the real challenge of rescuing him when he falls into a trap sprung by the S.A.F.'s oldest enemies, the Red Shadows?
"Weapons have their place, but if you're disarmed, you better be able to kick your way out of trouble!"
Z-FORCE - JAMMER, GAUCHO, and LIFELINE
If Q-Force is the naval arm of the Special Action Force, the sailors, then Z-Force is the soldiers. The army. And three of them were available in a special pack at the Convention.
JAMMER - As I stated earlier, in the early years of transitioning actual G.I. Joe figures and vehicles into the original Action Force line, any number of early-year G.I. Joe figures were recolored, some more than others, and given new names and new identities, to better fit into the Action Force concept as it existed at the time.
One of the new characters was named Jammer, but he was, in fact, a recolored version of the original Stalker. There were several versions of this figure. The most obvious change between Stalker and any of the versions of Jammer was the beret, which was red. One version of Jammer had a plain green uniform, totally ignoring the camouflage that Stalker had on his uniform. The other two versions brought the camouflage back, once in green, another time in black. All three versions of Stalker also had the stylized "Z" of Z-Force imprinted on the front of their uniforms.
The Club's Jammer figure does not use the original Stalker molds, except for the arms, and I'm not complaining. Let's face it, most of those molds were a little plain. It actually took me a while to figure out just whose torso this was, and it was pretty funny when I finally realized that it was the torso of the Cobra Officer! You'd never know it at first glance. The lower torso is from the 1986 Roadblock figure, a piece that has seen rather extensive use. To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure whose legs these are, but they work well with the overall design.
The Club has given Jammer a light green uniform, and black camouflage. But the camouflage is much more detailed and extensive than either the original Jammer or the original Stalker. It's a highly complex and imprinted design that really looks outstanding. Jammer's harness, belt, and boots are all black, with some very neatly painted silver details on the harness and belt.
The head, as one would expect, is a recoloration of the Stalker head that was developed for use in the comic-based three-packs several years ago. As headsculpts from that time period go, it's one of the really better ones. It's not nearly as "shrunken" looking as some of the others, and the overall details are excellently done. They've been painted very neatly on this figure, including the trademark red beret. For that matter, Jammer has the stylized "Z" on the front of his shirt, as well!
Jammer's file card specialty lists him as a Communications expert. I don't really know if that was his original specialty, as early Action Force figures didn't really have that much in the way of background information, but the name certainly lends itself well to the specialty, and his accessories include some appropriate equipment. His complete file card reads as follows:
File Name: Mondale, Calvin
Calvin "Jammer" Mondale is a brilliant electronics engineer. He graduated with a Ph.D. From UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) and became a leading computer designer in Silicon Valley. He soon found corporate life too tedious and started searching for more adventure, which led him to the United Kingdom. Upon learning of the S.A.F. (Special Action Force), he joined their Z-Force infantry, armor, and artillery unit to develop the Command Centre communications systems. Finally able to put his talent to good use, he appears to have found a permanent home in the S.A.F. and has been a staple of the team ever since.
Calvin "Jammer" Mondale has made a very successful career in monitoring and jamming insurgent communication systems. He takes delight in making improvised electronic devices that disrupt their foes' signals. His goal is to make sure the enemy is not able to call for reinforcements and to protect his teammates until their mission is accomplished. When he gets a call from Natalie Poole about the resurgence of a familiar enemy, he mounts his Z-Force Motorcycle and blazes to the rescue. Does this electronics wizard have enough firepower to stop the Red Torches from burning everything to the ground?
"I'll have the bad guys' signals jammed and on the run in no time!"
If memory serves, the "Command Centre" in the toy line was a recoloration of the original 1983 G.I. Joe Headquarters -- done in green and black camouflage. The Z-Force Motorcycle mentioned on this file card was actually available at the Convention (see separate review).
GAUCHO - Here's someone that's going to take a little explanation. The original Gaucho was a recoloration of the original Gung-Ho. Rather than the light blue vest and blue and green camouflage trousers that the original Gung-Ho had, Gaucho was given a red vest and dark green trousers. He still had the Marine Corps tattoo on his chest, though, which probably wasn't the most appropriate thing in the world for a British soldier. Still, a distinctive enough figure.
Fast forward to now. The Club's Gaucho figure is extremely interesting. The new Gaucho figure has distinctly darker skin than the original, but is also quite different in other respects. The headsculpt is definitely that of the original Gung-Ho. However, as with Lt. Dolphin, the neck joint has had to be modified so that it can fit the different neck socket in the upper torso. The original Gung-Ho came out in 1983. The body used for the new Gaucho figure, except for the arms (and I'm not sure whose they are) is that of the 1992 Gung-Ho figure.
Gaucho has a black cap, and a bushy black mustache. He also has black hair painted on the sides and back of his head, and there's a story in and of itself. I've always felt that the original Gung-Ho headsculpt allowed for hair, even though there were no sculpted hair lines. Granted, the hair sculpts on many first and some second year G.I. Joe figures didn't have hair lines, just a basic mark delineating where the hair would be, and then it was painted a proper color. Gung-Ho's headsculpt seemed to allow for this -- even though the figure was apparently bald.
This apparently was a source of some confusion for the media outlets for G.I. Joe, as well. The comic book gave him hair, at least for a time. The animated adventures left him bald. Ultimately, bald won out.
But there's technically no reason in the world why Gaucho has to be bald, and indeed the figure is not. I have one photograph here, a front shot, of an original Gaucho figure, and I really can't tell from it whether the figure has hair. But the new Gaucho figure has definitely been given hair, and insofar as setting him apart that much more from Gung-Ho, I approve.
Gaucho's uniform is pretty strictly military-looking for the most part. It's olive green, which was a color commonly used by Z-Force, with black belt, leg-straps, and boots, and a dark brass belt of ammunition slung over the right shoulder and crossing the chest and back. The overall painted detail is excellent, including the tiny buttons on the shirt. An acknowledgment to the original Gaucho's red vest has been made, in that Gaucho is wearing a red undershirt. This was also a good way of covering up the open chest and not having to deal with that not-quite-appropriate Marine Corps tattoo. The "Z" of Z-Force is imprinted on Gaucho's upper right sleeve.
Gaucho's accessories are fairly straightforward, and include a backpack, a rifle, and a knife. However, he does have a distinctive specialty listed on his file card, which reads as follows:
File Name: Gonzalles, Rico
Rico "Gaucho" Gonzalles is known as the strongest soldier in the S.A.F. (Special Action Force). He is a former circus strongman who was conscripted into the Mexican Army for basic military training. After two years of unbelievable engineering feats, he was recommended for transfer to the United Kingdom as part of their expanding Z-Force infantry, armor, and artillery unit. His first duty was to assist in the construction of the S.A.F. Command Centre. He truly is the backbone of the infantry team and uses his mechanical skills to maintain all motorized equipment. Considering the damage his teammates' vehicles incur during missions, he is always kept busy.
Rico "Gaucho" Gonzalles spends all his spare time body-building or tinkering in the Z-Force Motor Pool. He is a brilliant mechanic, especially with engines. He often boasts that he can mend anything and because of his strength, he rarely needs power tools. Will his strength be enough to combat the Black Major and his re-formed Red Shadows army?
"Hey, hombre, I can fix anything!"
LIFELINE - Oookay. Technically, Lifeline wasn't a member of the early Action Force toy line. So what's he doing here? Well, according to one reliable source I spoke to about it, this particular figure does greatly resemble an early, and I mean pre-G.I. Joe-style, medic figure that WAS in the early Action Force line!
Lifeline was first introduced into the G.I. Joe line in 1986, as a Rescue Trooper with some medical capabilities. That original figure wore a red uniform with the word "RESCUE" emblazoned in white down one leg, a white helmet and boots, and dark glasses. He was also prominently featured in the second season of the original animated series.
Lifeline maintained a presence in the G.I. Joe concept, being recolored for Tiger Force in 1988. He also turned up fairly often in the comic book, where his pacifistic ideals were just about as annoying to his teammates there as they were in the animated series.
In 1994, an all-new Lifeline figure came out, although it was still the same individual, and it is this figure which has been used for the Z-Force version of Lifeline.
In the comic book story that accompanies the Convention Set, Lifeline is originally portrayed in his 1986 uniform. He accompanies Flint on his trip "across the pond", more or less insisting that the trip will be good to reduce Flint's stress after dealing with a load of bureaucrats that would infuriate anybody, and figuring for himself that spending some time around S.A.F. Headquarters would allow for some further medical training. Once they're overseas, Lifeline appears later in the story in the uniform as seen on the figure.
The original version of this figure gave Lifeline a white helmet, light grey uniform, and red padded vest with red padded strips around the legs with white details. The Z-Force version still has the white helmet, although the V-shaped detail on it has been painted dark green rather than red, and Lifeline is wearing a dark green uniform with a white padded vest, and white padded strips around the legs with black details. The figure's boots, belt, and helmet mike are also black. The helmet mike is slightly adjustable, but I was pleased to see that it does not pop off readily. The number of helmet mikes lost over the decades on practically any G.I. Joe figure thus equipped must be staggering.
The painted detail on the figure is superb, especially around the eyes, and most especially on the torso, where some very small medical equipment has been very neatly painted (that categorically was not on the 1994 version), and even the individual buttons on the vest pouches have been painted. This is really the sort of thing that you can always count on the Club to do.
Lifeline doesn't have a Z-Force emblem on his uniform, since technically he's not a member of Z-Force. He does come with a generous amount of equipment, though, including a medical pouch, a grappling hook with rope, a flare gun, and a long stretcher big enough to carry a wounded soldier away from the battlefield.
Lifeline's file card reads as follows:
G.I. JOE RESCUE TROOPER
File Name: Steen, Edwin C.
Standard operation procedure is the military requires that a combat medic or "Whiskey" be placed on every squad on a hazardous mission, and for the G.I. Joe Team - Edwin "Lifeline" Steen is their main rescue and medical specialist. Almost every current G.I. Joe has been saved by him at one time or another. Though a staunch pacifist himself, modern day insurgents and other unscrupulous enemies such as Cobra do not recognize the red cross designation set forth in the Geneva Convention. Regardless, his commitment to saving lives throws him without fear directly onto the front lines, even under direct fire, to provide medical treatment to fallen soldiers. While his army training requires him to provide cover fire to incapacitate enemies during rescue operations, he prefers to utilize his black belt in Aikido, a Zen martial art with no offensive moves.
As a former Emergency Medical Technician, he feels he is never off duty, and chooses to visit with G.I. Joe affiliated teams around the globe to cross train and stay on top of the latest life support, treatment, triage, and evacuation techniques. Years engaged in the team's unusual combat situations have provided him with a unique skill set for dealing with the unorthodox energy and chemical-based weapons created by Cobra's scientists. But, when he finds himself in a race against time to save a fellow G.I. Joe from a danger he has never encountered before, will Lifeline's training and intuition be enough to save him?
"I never think about becoming a casualty myself, I just save every life I can - without exception."
That reference to Aikido first came into play in an issue of G.I. Joe Special Missions, in which both a squad of G.I. Joes and the Oktober Guard were captured by river pirates in some Asian backwater. One of each team was chosen to fight it out for a Cobra Firebat's "black box". Lifeline ended up going up against the massive Horror-Show, who ended up in an unconscious heap by the end of the fight. Not the Guard's finest hour, but amusing in its own way.
So, what's my final word here? As with the boxed set itself, the majority of these figures reflect a not-as-well-known aspect of the global history of G.I. Joe, and the overall concept and storyline do a superb job of bringing it all together. The figures are superb, and as traditional-style figures, will of course work well alongside any well-established G.I. Joe collection that emphasizes those figures, and given the near 25-year history there -- that's a lot of figures! And these are a welcome addition to any such collection.
The Z-FORCE, Q-FORCE, and PARATROOPER FLINT figures from the 2010 OFFICIAL G.I. GOE COLLECTORS' CONVENTION definitely have my highest recommendation!