Spirit - Pursuit of Cobra TRU Exclusive (Pre-Production)

My first experience with Spirit as a kid was his timeless conflict with Storm Shadow in the Sunbow cartoon, and to be honest, I was irked at this continuity shift when compared to the comic book. Back when I was ten years old, I didn't care about the Sunbow producers' issues with a mute ninja in an animated series, I just knew Snake Eyes was supposed to fight Storm Shadow, not Spirit. The fact that Spirit managed to win most of their contests only further angered me at the time.

When I actually got the figure in hand, my mood didn't improve much, as his thumbs were exceptionally brittle, his weapon was silly, the loincloth prevented full articulation, and Freedom's claws fell off a day after the figure ended up in my hands. Spirit's portrayal in the comics was something that I always loved, especially him and Airborne combat-assaulting Snake Eyes' cabin and fighting off Destro and Firefly. But, unfortunately, as cool as Spirit was in the comics, this cool personality just never translated effectively into toy form. The Direct to Consumer versions came the closest, but sketchy proportions and funky arms reduced my love for that figure as well.

Well, finally, this is no longer a concern. Finally, the intense, awesome character of Spirit Iron-Knife has been effectively sculpted into action figure form, not only as a fantastic rendition of G.I. Joe's most famous Native American, but as one of the most quality G.I. Joe figures I've gotten my hands on in the past year.

No, he doesn't reach the pinnacle of City Strike Snake Eyes, but as a straight-edged, bad ass Native American military themed figure, there really isn't much I can find to complain about here, and as an added bonus, he closely resembles Predator character Billy. It's a win-win.

So far I've picked up a number of Pursuit of Cobra pre-production figures, and I can honestly say I have had very few disappointments with any of them. Nearly every single one is so crammed full of detail and loaded with accessories that it already is approaching the summit of the coolest line of G.I. Joe figures seen since the vintage days.

Listen, I love the new sculpt line as much as anyone...but honestly, that stuff can't sniff the boots of what Hasbro is doing here. The Anniversary line has it's own appeal, but the way Hasbro designers are merging vintage homages with a modern (or futuristic) aesthetic in this line does all fans proud. It almost seems like Hasbro really used G.I. Joe: Resolute as a bridge of sorts, meshing that military style with the Rise of Cobra "real world" feel and you get the best of both worlds. A Metal Gear Solid like "10 minutes in the future" military toyline that is clicking on every single right cylinder.

I know I'm seen as a Hasbro fanboy, but I try to keep a realistic perspective...and my perspective is telling me that the Pursuit of Cobra is absolutely amazing, and there are very few things I can find to complain about.

But hey, I should probably talk about Spirit a little bit, eh?

First, the head sculpt is obviously pulled straight from the Predator film, and I couldn't be happier. Even as a youngster watching that film back in the 80's, my best friend and I at the time had the whole cast picked out in a G.I. Joe flair. It wasn't Dutch, Billy, Blaine, Dillon, or even Mac. It was Duke, Spirit, Recondo, Stalker, and Roadblock. Here in 2010, we have three of this critical cast already, in a clear homage to the spirit of the 80's and a nice shout out to the long time fans.

But as much as I see the comparison to Billy in Predator, I don't see anyone making mention of the Vietnam era Storm Shadow, who (with his vest off) Spirit is nearly a nice reference to.

The figure itself uses the legs from Jungle Assault Duke, and the arms from Desert Battle Zartan, and the combination works excellently. I love the Native American deco on his armbands, and the shade of green throughout the detailed sculpt accentuates the figure remarkably well. From head to toe, Spirit has a very nice military design, with sculpting detail, and great range of motion in his articulation. The elbows, shoulders, hips, and double-joint knees all give Spirit lots of flexibility in pose and function, which is what the G.I. Joe line has been built on.

If I have any complaints at this point, it probably has to do with the pouches on his legs...but keep in mind, this is a pre-production version, so this will quite likely be fixed when this figure hits retail.

Probably to ensure further customization options, Hasbro designed the pouches to clip onto shapes on the leg, that way new pouches or holsters can be swapped in during the production process without totally retooling the legs. It's really a pretty smart idea. The only issue is, on Spirit, these pouches go flying off when you look at them funny, and simply do not stay attached. But again, this is a pre-production item. I would be shocked if the pouches popped off that easily when you find this figure at your local Toys "R" Us.

Like all other Pursuit of Cobra figures, Spirit is chock full of nicely chosen accessories, though most of them have been pulled from other figures. The Pit Commando vest, the new sculpt machine gun/shotgun, and the axe are all excellent weapons, even though they'd been used before. But the real treat here are the new weapons we get, which is quite unusual given the fact that this is a TRU exclusive (which typically just re-uses existing tooling). Of course, I do think the bow and backpack were tooled up for Shadow Tracker already, so perhaps this isn't such a shock.

The quiver backpack has one arrow that can be removed, although there doesn't appear to be a place on the bow to "string it". A small peg and hole format might have been a nice addition to keep the arrow attached, but even without it, it's not a deal breaker.

Spirit Iron-Knife is an amazing figure, especially for a Toys "R" Us exclusive. A newly sculpted head, brilliantly chosen weaponry, amazing detailing, fantastic colors, and an all around gorgeous package, this is a figure that deserves the heavy praise it's been receiving. Articulation is fantastic, as we've come to expect (although a good two-handed grip on the oversized rifle is problematic), and I find myself being continually impressed with every Pursuit of Cobra figure I get my hands on.


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