The year was 1987 and it was a turning point, of course for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Many fans these days would claim it was the start of a downward trend, the emergence of COBRA La, a shift toward more ridiculous enemies like Raptor, Crystal Ball, Big Boa and yes– Croc Master.
I will say, I find Croc Master’s relative popularity curious– not that he’ll ever rise to the ranks of someone like Firefly, Storm Shadow or The Baroness, but amongst the other 1987 rookies, I feel pretty confident in saying he remains at the top of most fan’s lists. Unlike his COBRA La counterparts, he never appeared in animation, and he was barely featured in the comics before being buried in the COBRA freighter, so beyond being COBRA’s island security with an obsession with crocodiles, there isn’t much known about the enigmatic villain. Perhaps that’s part of his appeal? The relative blank slate status he has so the fans can write their own backstory?
Or maybe it’s just his look — the black mask, red eyes and crocodile hide armor giving him very unique aesthetic that is both apart from COBRA standard, but also fits them in its own weird way.
Whatever the reason, Croc Master, over the years has received a surprising focus from Hasbro and G.I. Joe fans in general. After all, he appeared relatively early on in the 25th Anniversary line (as well as near the end of Valor Vs. Venom), and even earned a Python Patrol repaint, which, I’d say, is definitely a possibility with this version as well.
I mean, objectively speaking, he looks a LOT cooler than someone like Raptor or Crystal Ball (and this is coming from a guy who actually likes Raptor quite a bit), but even so– his emergence as an almost constant presence among COBRA’s elite does remain at least somewhat of a surprise.
What isn’t a surprise is just how bad ass this figure is. As the G.I. Joe: Classified line has evolved over the past two years, it’s become clear that the sculpting and design talent behind the line are second to none and when it comes to a character like Croc Master there are so many awesome, unique design elements, it’s no surprise that the talented folks behind Classified design absolutely knocked this one out of the park.
First and foremost, yes, as with most recent Classified releases, the designers adhered pretty strictly to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” vintage inspiration. While I’ve found some reason to complain about that approach in other reviews, it’s tough to argue its effectiveness here. I would still maintain that characters like Storm Shadow, Stalker, Firefly and others would heavily benefit from a more modern approach. But when it comes to a croc obsessed COBRA security guard? I dunno– the vintage look nailed it pretty nicely.
Croc Master is a larger body buck, but not as large as say Roadblock or Gung Ho. His broad shouldered bulk is covered by a fantastically sculpted crocodile hide body suit layered in various shades of green which add a nice sense of depth, realism and texture to the figure. He comes complete with his two familiar gauntlets, the COBRA emblem on his right chest and the unique weird eyeball belt buckle that has become a strange hallmark of sorts. Is that eyeball an actual crocodile eyeball? If he’s obsessed with the creatures so much why does he wear their skin? So many questions.
The sculpting on the figure is amazing as well, with his furrowed brow beneath the taut, black mask, the airmask and hose that leads to his back where the secondary tank is plugged into his back. His holster and awesome, somewhat modernized revolver as well as the knife at his calf. This is a perfect upscale rendition of the familiar ’87 Croc Master and Hasbro really turned the design dynamic up a notch when translating him in three dimensions.
Pretty much perfect, all things considered. The textured croc skin vest is sculpted on instead of strapped over, so his ab crunch is unhindered and fully poseable. Even though he’s got pretty muscular arms, he retains full range of motion in the elbows and shoulders, and even with the air hose his head and neck are capable of any manner of twists, turns or nods.
Hips, knees and ankles all have their full poseability as well, and in spite of the bulkier, more stout stature, Croc Master can move with the best of them.
I mean– the focal point of his accessory compliment has her name right on the box — Fiona is where it’s at. A fully articulated crocodile, Fiona is a spectacular addition to the figure and a real upgrade from the static chunk of plastic the ’87 version came packed with. She’s amazingly articulated with a wire frame tail, ball joints at the base and a multi-segment neck joint, so she can twist and turn in all manner of different directions.
Her hips and jaw are all articulated as well, not to mention her wrists, which helps get just the right predatory pose no matter the circumstance. Don’t even get me started on the paint apps — the various shades of green, the touches of pink at the tongue and the corners of her mouth. She looks like a crocodile translated into plastic– who just happens to be an accessory for a G.I. Joe figure.
What’s great is that she’s far from the only accessory he comes with. I already mentioned the great revolver and knife, plus a nasty looking meat hook, a chain leash with spiked collar and a whip, all very much in line with the original and 25th era releases. There are also two baby crocs that come with the set as well, all combining together to make this entire box feel “deluxe” though I’m not sure I’ll ever get accustomed to paying $40 for a domestic release six inch figure, no matter what it comes with.
Croc Master is one of those obscure characters that I fell in love with early, and unlike some of them that I appreciate, the fans and Hasbro themselves seem to share that love.
Taking the 1987 template and cranking up the scale and sculpting to align with a 21st Century aesthetic works absolute wonders for Croc Master, giving him suitable bulk and intimidation. He remains exceptionally well articulated and as I mentioned before, the intricate layers of paint and texture just bring him fully to life.
If you’d asked me to pick which COBRA characters were going to make an appearance within the first 38 figures of the Classified line, I’m not sure Croc Master would have been on that list– but I’m thrilled that he was.
Yes there’s more of that adherence to vintage look and feel but for Croc Master it works. He looks suitably imposing and thankfully his old school aesthetic doesn’t deviate from more modern elements. He’s a great looking update with some fantastic accessories and a face only a mother could love.