G.I. Joe: Pursuit of Cobra Recondo

How does that saying go?  Is it better to have loved and lost, or to never have loved at all?

Is it better to get a toy that is so close to awesome but fails on so many small levels, or better to get a toy that is just terrible all around?  Sometimes it's tough to say.

While I've seen my share of toys that were just no fun, soup to nuts, it's almost more frustrating to get a new action figure that is SO CLOSE to being amazing, yet has so many small distractions that you end up even more frustrated in the long run.  Recondo is that toy.

I've been a huge fan of Recondo for a very long time.  Ever since he first graced the pages of the Marvel Comics and worked with the Tucaro Indians, Stalker, Gung Ho, and Ripcord to free Dr. Burkhart a second time, this has been a character that I really enjoyed.  He's had some hits and misses over the years (though I was one of the few who really liked his Spy Troops version) and judging by the pictures from JoeCon last year, this version looked like a rock solid smash.  Amazing detail, awesome looking accessories (including a pair of very impressive firearms) and a very cool new "Jesse Ventura" head sculpt that calls back to Predator much like the Toys "R" Us Exclusive Spirit does.  This figure had so much going for it, yet getting it in hand, all I face is disappointment.

First and foremost, and what most people are complaining about, is the head.  Or, more accurately, the neck.  For whatever reason it was sculpted looking down at a 45 degree angle.  Why this was done, I have no idea, but as a result, the figure is eternally staring at his feet.  You can tilt the head as far back as you want, but still, Recondo can only look down and ahead, and pretty steeply down at that, which renders the figure nearly useless.  How effectively can you set up a jungle recon scene, if the pointman will only look at the weeds growing between his boots?  Pure and utter disappointment.

The figure itself is meticulously well sculpted, with an awesome torso even under that vest, with a pair of great arms.  One arm is wrapped in fabric and the other has some great trank darts mounted to his forearm...yet both arms are sculpted in such a way that they cannot bend a full 90 degrees, and he can barely even hold his two (awesome!) weapons in a realistic way.  I'm not sure if the elaborate details are the reason for that, or something else, but whatever the case, he's got a fantastic sniper rifle and an equally awesome machine gun, and he cannot hold either one in a decent two-handed firing stance.

But by and large the rest of the figure is amazing.  The subtle camouflage pattern on his well sculpted legs, the aforementioned torso and arms that are fairly simple, yet extremely well done.  The figure, by and large, is amazing, however a few design and sculpting decisions really bring him back down to unfortunate reality.

I know I've touched on his accessories a bit, but I figure I can talk about them a little bit more.  He's got the two weapons I've already mentioned, as well as a removable hat (that is unfortunately a bit too removable), and a pair of really cool looking throwing hatchets.  His backpack is a little bit over the top, with some crazy solar panels that look really neat.  I've seen some folks complain that it would be tough to hold a solar charge underneath a thick jungle canopy, but I still think it's a very clever and unique idea.  By harnessing solar power, Recondo can go underground for a very long time without worrying about power for his radio (a very cool cell phone looking thing mounted on the shoulder of his vest) or power for his bear traps.

What?  Bear traps?  Yeah, bear traps.  Recondo also comes with a pair of bear traps, believe it or not, that plug into a little cord on his backpack.  They can be laid out, and they have a little footpeg that a hapless Jungle-Viper can step into, where they can then be reeled in and disposed of.  Is it really viable in this day and age?  Heh, I'm not entirely sure, but it's pretty neat, just the same.

Rounding off the gear is a funky little tiki mask, and I really have no clue what the Joe jungle specialist would do with it, but here it is.

In all honesty, Recondo just has so much going for him.  Some great sculpting, a load of fantastic accessories...some really unique, effective, and interesting paint ops.  But ultimately a few articulation choices and tooling gaffes reduce the figure to a head shake and a thought of what "could have been".  I may try and take a dremel to the head and see if I can fix it up a little bit, because that would help the figure immensely, but even if there is a fix for the problem, I thought these aesthetics over articulation issues had been resolved after the 25th Anniversary line, and it's disappointing to see them rear their ugly head again here, when Pursuit of Cobra has so much going for it.

Perhaps I'm overblowing it a bit, but maybe that just indicates how much I was really looking forward to this figure, and how much these small problems disappoint with the final result.

I will be honest...it's been nearly infuriating to try and get a concrete score down for this figure. There are so many awesome parts. 90% of the tooling is great, most of the accessories are fantastic, yet the problems the figure has really impact the entire figure as a whole, and nearly eliminate much of the potential benefits of the good parts. A very tough call this one was. If nothing else, though, at least the head sculpt has provided a great potential Gung Ho update to all those customizers out there...with that face and the overall musculature, this almost seems more like him than Recondo, anyway.


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