Toys "R" Us "Troop Builder" 5-Pack - G.I. Joe

Where the Cobra themed TRU Troop Builder pack was synonomous with the "same old, same old", the G.I. Joe themed pack seemed to go the complete opposite direction. Where the Cobra pack recycled all of the same troopers and same characters seen ad infinitum, the Joe pack went out of its way to give us a wealth of new characters to the Rise of Cobra universe, and was very successful in certain ways, though some decisions were certain head scratchers as well.


Where in the Cobra pack, Duke served as the infiltrator, in the Joe pack, it's Zartan that goes behind enemy lines, for obvious reasons. This is the only recycled character in this entire set, and to a certain degree it makes some sense, even though the base figure is a straight up repaint of the initial Zartan release we already received.

Where the original Military Policeman that Zartan infiltrates was done up in a more urban paint style to match the uniform of the Pit denizens, this version has an elaborate pseudo-digital camouflage desert paint scheme, which is actually a neat look. The range of motion in his elbows is nice, though the firm plastic "skirt" of his coat restricts some hip movement. Overall, it's a fairly nice looking figure, even if it doesn't do anything special.

The writers of The Rise of Cobra took a healthy amount of liberties from existing Real American Hero characters, and unfortunately for the most part, the changes were definitely not for the better. However, Zartan's reinvention is something that I actually think worked exceptionally well for the character in any universe. The idea of a nanotech infused master of disguise works pretty well with Zartan's back story, and Arnold Vosloo's portrayal of the evildoer was one of the real highlights of the film. His menacing glare even looks really cool in toy form, to boot.

Ultimately, the figure and accessories are straight repaints or re-releases of the existing Zartan figure, but I like the desert camouflage, and it fits the theme of the set. Not only that, but I like the way this ties in with the whole upcoming Pursuit of Cobra theme as well.

If folks hadn't noticed, supposedly Sandstorm is an MP (in a desert theme) that Zartan kills and masquerades himself as. Granted, the Pursuit of Cobra Zartan/Sandstorm looks a whole hell of a lot more convincing than this, but I can see Zartan disguising himself as a more generic MP as he infiltrates the Joe squad, before getting to Sandstorm, and then the rest... it may just be coincidence, but it's still cool.


Law & Order

I must admit, the duo of Law & Order were not high on my wish list of Rise of Cobra characters, and I haven't seen much mention of them elsewhere either, but the inclusion of them does make sense in this pack, even without the classic homages that many folks would have liked to see.

With obvious military police presence, I think there is good reason to feature G.I. Joe's most prominent policeman, and he looks pretty cool in this desert camouflage paint scheme. In fact, he blends pretty seamlessly with the other Military Policeman who ends up being Zartan in disguise, yet he has Dusty's head to separate him a bit from that look.

Seeing Law & Order here is a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, seeing some classic characters somewhat reinvented. Law must not have the devoted following that Footloose has, since I haven't seen nearly the amount of backsplash over his different look as I have for Footloose, who appears in this set in a desert theme rather than his more recognizable woodland camouflage.

Hasbro went all out with the accessories for Law & Order as well, really accentuating the military police angle. He gets the Pit Commando riot helmet with the clear facemask as well as the SWAT style shield that first made its appearence with the Spy Troops Burnout. He's got a great nightstick and pistol as well as the familiar movie style machine gun, and his trusty sidekick Order.

There's a nice amount of gear that compliments a figure that could have otherwise been somewhat bland. Granted, the figure still has some level of blandness, and doesn't offer a whole lot of new elements that we haven't seen before, but he's still a neat addition to the set with some very nice gear.



Well, leave it to Hasbro to take an homage that could have really made lots of fans happy, and pretty much flush it down the drain by giving G.I. Joe's most obscure heavy machine gunner a race-change. I'm not sure if there was a real reason for it, or if it was a factory error, or just a decision made down the line, but I really can't quite figure out why Hasbro did it this way.

Don't get me actually doesn't bother me all that much. I'm all for character reinvention, and as long as the new look is cool, it doesn't make much difference to me how the character is altered along the way. But this just makes no sense to me. It almost seems as if Hasbro geared this entire set around an homage for Repeater. The desert camouflage paint scheme in the entire set is very reminiscent of Repeater's old school seems perfectly angled to give us a Repeater many fans were looking for. But then they take that classic homage and make the character African American instead of caucasian, thus totally negating any positive buzz they would have had by just giving the fans the old school homage that they want. I just don't understand why. Really, it doesn't bug me, but this would have been such an easy way to make a lot of old school fans happy who DO want this stuff, it really makes me scratch my head that they wouldn't at least make a minor change to make them happy.

With all of that out of the way, how does this figure work in its own regard? Pretty darn nice, I think. The foundation of the figure is Sgt. Stone, which gives Repeater some nice bulk and detail from a figure that I really like overall. He's got Serpentor's bald head which didn't work at all for Serpentor, but makes a nice, somewhat angry head sculpt for other characters, including this one.

Along with the Sgt. Stone tooling, he also wears Stone's vest in a gray and black paint scheme, which looks pretty neat as well. The hat tops it all off and gives us a fairly nice representation of Repeater, minus the flesh tone.

But in it's own regard, this is a very cool figure and a nice addition to the 5-pack. He mixes with the rest of the set well, and I like his overall look and range of motion. Pretty cool, even with the needless changes.

The main accessory here is the Resolute Roadblock's heavy machine gun, which does bare a passing resemblance to his stedi-cam machine gun from back in the day. Beyond that, it's the vest, ammo belt, and ballcap, which round off the figure nicely and give us the essential gear, though not much extra beyond that.

All in all, a pretty neat machine gunner with some cool parts and a great look, but the non-vintage homage really sours him a lot of folks eyes, which is too bad. Of course, it's easy enough to change things around... diehard fans can pick up another set and use Footloose's base figure, with an Anniversary Serpentor head underneath all of the gear. That'll give folks the Repeater that they want with minimal changes.



Unfortunately, Footloose will prove a bit more difficult to change to the fandom's liking. Like Repeater, getting a popular vintage character into the modern toy line is something that so many classic fanatics would love to see, but again, like Repeater, Hasbro negates most positive buzz by taking a character so well known for his woodland camouflage, and making him a desert trooper instead.

Don't get me wrong, personally, I'm excited to see the character in here, and I think he works well. Not only that, in the 21st Century, there seems to be a lot more combat in desert areas of the world, so a desert themed look for the Joe Infantry specialist makes a lot more sense than a woodland one, but Hasbro has to know that fans want these characters to look a lot like their vintage counterparts, and of course, this one really doesn't.

Now anyone who reads my site or knows me knows that I really don't give a crap about new figures closely resembling the vintage look. I really couldn't care less as long as the new version of the figure is cool, but I do get a bit tired of the Hasbro bashing, so from that perspective I do wish they'd found a way to get us a woodland Footloose, if only to avoid reading the same hatred threads over and over again.

Forgetting for a second that this figure doesn't represent the vintage look, though, how does Footloose work on his own accord? Really nicely, I think, and is my second favorite figure of the set. Like Repeater, he's got the Sgt. Stone base figure with much the same paint apps as the heavy machine gunner, but with the whole separate webgear concept, he becomes a totally different specialty with the Pit Commando tactical vest, machine gun, and helmet.

Footloose was probably the biggest hole in the 25th Anniversary line that we didn't get, and I'm really happy that Hasbro found a way to get him out to the fans, I just wish for the vintage folks' sake that he looked a bit more classic accurate. However, using him as a modern reinterpretation of the character works remarkably well, definitely looking the part of the state of the art military trooper, only in a somewhat different environment.

Love the vest, love the helmet and machine gun. They're all pretty much perfect additions to a modern military Infantry guy, which is what this is, regardless of him being geared for desert or forest.


Dial Tone

All right, Hasbro might as well just call this set the "How much can we piss off the vintage fans?" 5-Pack... not only do we have an African American Repeater, and a desert camouflage Footloose, but we round off the set with the female Dial Tone that so many fans have been loudly griping about. And as usual, I'll say "what's the big deal?"

As I said with Repeater and Footloose, I feel for the vintage fans in some regard, but with Dial Tone, I don't find myself caring much. She is such an obvious reinvention of the character that the fact that there isn't a 100% faithful representation of the old school Dial Tone really doesn't bug me. Personally, I'm just glad to see a figure to match this new feel for Dial Tone that we've seen in the IDW comics and the Resolute comic book.

From a pure action figure perspective, I find myself really enjoying this one. She uses the Cover Girl base figure, which I actually don't own yet, so it's almost like having a totally new figure. She is sculpted very well, looking very much like a female should, but still with strong, durable joints and great range of motion. Her articulation rocks, and the look is great. Even using Agent Helix's existing head doesn't matter a whole lot, since changing the hair color even a little goes a long way.

The desert camouflage here rocks, too, and this figure fits in quite nicely with the rest of the set, and also fills an important hole in the G.I. Joe cast of characters for this new universe.

Dial Tone doesn't have much in the way of gear, but what she comes with works quite well. Cover Girl's machine gun and laptop are both terrific accessories that fit the character and add some nice gear to the overall set. Dial Tone is definitely a highlight of this 5-pack for me, being a great figure of a nice reinvention with an important role to play in Rise of Cobra mythos.



Believe it or not, I'm not a big fan of desert figures normally. Actually, very rarely do they do anything for me at all, as I prefer my figures to be more generic and useful in multiple environments. That being said, the paint apps in this set are fantastic to say the least, and to a fan like me who loves new characters and new ideas, this set is home run after home run.

Hasbro makes some questionable decisions with some changes to the core of vintage characterization, but from soup to nuts, looking past how much the characters look like past versions, this is an awesome set, start to finish. Really nice looking figures, a ton of value for your $20.00, and a very cool cohesive package make this a no-brainer for fans, in my mind, even if you don't like the new way Hasbro is looking at some of their timeless characters.