G.I. Joe 30th Anniversary Kwinn (Canceled/Pre-Production)

Note - This figure is a pre-production figure kindly lent to GeneralsJoes by Gyre-Viper for review purposes. Keep in mind the retail release figure may be different than the sample you see below. Your mileage may vary.

I've got a confession to make. For a long time, I hated Kwinn. Absolutely hated him.

In my narrow little anal-retentive world as a kid, I saw the comic as an extension of my toy universe, and I wanted it to stay that way. Firmly and thoroughly connected to my plastic toys. Kwinn threw that all out of balance to my 9 and 10 year old mind. Here was a character who was vitally important to the continuity of this universe that was unfolding before my eyes, yet it was impossible to play out his adventures with my toys. Both him and Dr. Venom, two critically important and vital characters in the second year of the G.I. Joe comic simply could not exist in toy form.

Man that pissed me off. That pissed me off for a while.

Even after they both died in the Marvel universe, I held a bitter grudge against these characters, and it wasn't until I was re-introduced to the G.I. Joe collecting circles in the Internet age that I started to better appreciate what these characters were about and that my toy universe and comic universe didn't have to be 100% homogenous. It helped that we started getting more communication direct with Hasbro as the Internet unfolded and the Joe Conventions began emerging. It helped even more when Hasbro actually released a Kwinn figure as part of the comic packs in 2004, though in another way it was a punch in the gut, simply because it was the arctic version, which saw very limited use in the comics and not the more prevelant khaki shirt and shorts version that all comic fans were clamoring for. Over the years countless custom figures were made, and my desire for an accurate Kwinn figure began really intensifying.

As time went on, it seemed to be less and less likely that we would see him, especially as the figures evolved into the hyper military Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary figures, which put such an intense focus on more cutting edge technology. Where would an 80's era jungle Eskimo fit in here? We all received a very pleasant and sudden surprise with JoeCon 2011 where Kwinn was finally revealed! By this time I had gotten over my young age annoyance and was now looking forward to possibly adding Kwinn to my Joe collection, and what really impressed all of us, I think, was that not only did Hasbro give us a Kwinn, but they did a nearly perfect job on the figure itself.

I think I even said when the figure was first revealed "I can't believe Hasbro took a guy in a khaki shirt and shorts and actually made him cool". Over the past couple of years we've gotten so many incredible looking military figures, that a figure like this almost feels like a step back. The ironic thing is that Hasbro couldn't find a way to make this figure work at retail in a "30th Anniversary" line, a line dedicated to celebrating G.I. Joe over the past 30 years. But now, when we're no longer celebrating the past, it's growing even more difficult for Hasbro to find a place for this figure. Judging by the reactions from Hasbro at this year's G.I. Joe Convention, though, I suspect we'll see this figure get out to retail somehow. They all seemed very positive about it, and if the results of the Concept Case survey are any indication, he's getting some major fandom support as well.

But enough about the figure conceptually... how does he work as a figure in and of itself?

Well, as you might suspect, pretty close to perfectly. Let's face it, if you're not a fan of the Kwinn concept, you might find some things to wonder about. For instance, how does this guy work among a team of highly trained special missions forces? Why should you care about a figure for a character who died nearly 30 years ago? Those are all questions you'll have to answer yourselves, but I do want to state without question for folks who like Kwinn, want Kwinn, and have been waiting three decades for Kwinn... yes, this figure is worth the wait.

The head sculpt is probably the only iffy part, which looks a bit too slender and not quite blocky enough to represent Kwinn's wide face that we've all grown used to from Mike Vosberg's immediately familiar art style. From there on, though, it's all good. He has a newly tooled torso and arms (well, we've now seen them on Footloose, but when Kwinn was initially slated for release they were new) as well as brand new legs. Hell, the entire figure is a new figure, head-to-toe, which is astounding for a figure that fills a pretty niche market. The articulation is fantastic, with the new multi-jointed wrists, great poseability in the arms and legs, and even if he's not wearing camouflage pants and 21st Century battle armor, he still moves like he could stand firm against the evil terrorist organization we're all familiar with. The colors are perfect, though this particular pre-production figure has a slightly heavier paint wash on his upper body than some other versions we've seen. We'll hopefully see what the final release figure will look like in the next year or so.

The accessories will likely have to be taken with a grain of salt, just because we have no way of knowing yet which ones actually will come with the mass release figure. I think we can make some educated guesses, but it seems like some are missing.

Unique accessories for the figure include shoulder straps with a back-pad, a newly sculpted weasel skull necklace (different than Arctic Snake Eyes), a fantastic belt with holster (but strangely enough, no pistol to fill it). He has a shotgun and sniper rifle, both re-released from previous figures. His backpack, bear trap, and spear are also re-releases.

Now, he comes with a couple of very nice additions which seem almost like toss-ins until you really think about it. The two machine gun belts seem strange, since he doesn't come with a heavy machine gun, until you remember that even without the gun, he often wore machine gun belts draped over his shoulder or chest, not just in a jungle environment, but also in the arctic. But perhaps the most perfect touch here, is the small grenade...the one we all know and love, "fallen from a dead man's hand". It's little touches like this that really expose the design team's desire to give fans Easter eggs in these figures. Something like that didn't have to be included, but as a tribute to Kwinn's fate in the Marvel Universe, there it is. Kudos to Hasbro for getting that in there.

A couple more brutal hand-to-hand accessories are included in here as well, with the stick and the fist-blade (sorry, I don't know their more "official names") that seem like old school weapons that an eskimo might carry around for some brutal hand-to-hand action.

As I'm sure many of you suspect, I absolutely love this figure. While I'll be the first one to tell you, the direction of The Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary figures are what's really been keeping the line alive to me, I just cannot get over how fantastic and fantastically simple this figure is. It really demonstrates an amazing quality of figure design and execution, where even just a dude in a shirt and shorts can look as bad ass as this figure does.

Plus, with these new joints in the wrist, this figure is one of the first that I can remember that can hold this sniper rifle as realistically as he can.

What a spectacular figure, a nearly flawless homage, and even not knowing what the final accessory pack out will be when the figure is released (yes, I'm sticking by the when, not the if) I cannot think of enough nice things to say about it. I strongly believe even folks who aren't fans of Kwinn in general will find things to love about this figure. It's just that good.