Something a little different to tackle today. Along with a recent influx in G.I. Joe: Classified figures, I also received my SDCC Exclusive G.I. Joe: Ultimates B.A.T. from Super 7. I will admit, I mostly bought it out of a sense of curiosity about what to expect from the upcoming Ultimates line and I’ll admit up front — I’m a little mixed.
The aesthetic is great, there’s a ton of fantastic accessories, but a couple of minor points that keep it from reaching an upper echelon status.
Check out my full review at the link below and depending on how things go, I may or may not regularly review these figures.
It’s been a great couple of weeks here at the GeneralsJoes HQ with several new G.I. Joe figures either received or on the way. As a result, I’ll be posting reviews every single day this week!
We’re starting off the weeklong event with the SDCC/Hasbro Pulse exclusive Dr. Mindbender. A great, deluxe figure with somewhat limited availability, I was able to get my hands on one early, thanks to the fine folks at Robot Kingdom. I try not to overpay just to get stuff early too often, but every once in a while the bug bites me.
When Super 7 first announced the G.I. Joe Ultimates line, I was really excited. Most importantly, because as amazing as it sounds, in the 40 year history of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero they have never produced animation accurate versions of our favorite G.I. Joe characters. Sure, they tried throughout the 25th Anniversary line with mixed success, but still, it was mostly a tooling-safe deco rather than a full blown figure based on the Sunbow aesthetic. The approach we’ve seen (though so far, just in images) seems fascinating and from what we’ve seen so far, Super 7 could have a decent hit on their hands.
With my anticipation for the Ultimates line at a high, I jumped on the recent SDCC Exclusive COBRA B.A.T. 02 (which ended up coming out before the COBRA B.A.T. 01 go figure) though this version is built more from the comic than the cartoon. Overall, the figure is– decent.
One thing I will warn folks off the bat, however, do not buy this figure thinking you’re getting a larger version of a Classified figure. The Super 7 Ultimates line and the G.I. Joe: Classified line are two entirely separate things for an entirely separate market. I know people love the comparison game, measuring the greatness of one thing by how it compares to another. Don’t do that. Let Ultimates be its own thing while Classified is something else– they serve wholly different purposes and each one does its thing well.
I do find it interesting that Super 7 pitched the Ultimates line mostly as a companion to the Sunbow cartoon, yet this figure is clearly based on the comic version of the Battle Android Trooper that debuted in Marvel issue #44.
In digging into this figure and reviewing the initial release of the COBRA B.A.T. on the Super 7 website, I was pretty pleasantly surprised at just how different this version was.
Like with most releases in their various Ultimate lines, Super 7 eschews heavy detail work for a softer, more “animated” looking sculpt, which isn’t to say its inferior, it’s just different. I would argue it actually takes a very unique skill set to sculpt a figure in this way and Super 7 does a great job. The fabric of the B.A.T. uniform looks drawn rather than built, though the mixture with the heavy lines of metal panels within the artificial limbs gives the figure a very unique look and feel.
And when I say unique, I mean its unique, even compared to the regular release of the B.A.T. The more Sunbow themed version has totally different arms, built with the animated version in mind, where the Rod Whigham penciled Issue #44 features far more intricate metal and circuitry work.
The head of this version of the B.A.T. is also more narrow, while the faceplate is a bit more angular, mirroring that issue #44 appearance to great effect. It’s always interesting to see how comic book colors try and mimic real life colors, creating a blue color meant to resemble black– then to see Super 7 take that color and reproduce it to a more three dimensional figure. Pretty cool effect and it does make it look as though it stepped from the comic pages.
Unlike G.I. Joe: Classified, the Super 7 figures are seven inches tall, so they stand a good deal bigger than their Classified brethren, which doesn’t bother me, considering their aesthetic is so remarkably different they shouldn’t really be blended anyway.
I find myself really loving the color scheme of this figure a lot– the blue mixed with the orange/yellow and that vibrant almost “chrome” plated look of the metal arms and faceplate– it’s a great combination of colors that makes this figure exceptionally appealing. I really just love how the figure looks.
Super 7 is also really well known for their excellent packaging and the Ultimates B.A.T. 02 is no different. The worn, metallic looking slip cover, the presentation of the figure itself within, combined with an awesome back of the package (including file card!) gives this a really unique look.
I’m not a package collector, but stuff like this makes it tempting!
So, I’ve made it clear throughout this review that Classified and Super 7 should not be compared. This could not be any more evident than it is when it comes to articulation.
I’m going to say it straight up – I’m not a big fan of Ultimates articulation. I know why they do it and from a display perspective, it makes sense, but I much prefer the range of motion of Classified figures.
First and foremost, there are no real double joints on the Ultimates figures, everything is single jointed, so as a result the limbs don’t move very deeply. I get why– primarily these are display pieces and the more joints you have the more it takes away from the aesthetics of what is, essentially, a three dimensional iteration of a two dimensional character.
There’s no mid-torso joint here, though I suspect that’s more due to the chest plate than anything, since other Ultimates figures seem to have one. Where there is articulation, it works well, joints move pretty freely and the figure poses effectively, though I will also say the joints feel a lot “looser” than I’m accustomed to as well. Things wiggle and wobble and while it’s not bad enough that the figure can’t maintain effective poses, it’s still enough that I feel it warrants mention.
Again — I believe this is a conscious decision and one that makes sense based on the aesthetic, but it does take away, at least a bit, from my enjoyment of the figure.
Now here is where the Ultimates figure really excels. The COBRA B.A.T. 2.0 comes with a TON of great gear very much pulled from the pages of the Marvel Comic.
There are two different backpacks, the familiar B.A.T. version and a cannister backpack which is unique to this figure and to issue #44, which features Dr. Mindbender using these B.A.T.s to deploy spores in a COBRA experiment. Both the pack and the spores are included here and look pulled from the page.
As one has come to expect from various B.A.T. figures, he comes with three separate weapons attachments, the flame thrower, the laser gun and the claw. Another place I would have appreciated some more articulation is in the claw, though it’s just a static sculpt. There’s also a battle-damaged head sculpt and a spark effect that can plug into a small hole within the chest plate (you need to remove the transparent cover to get to it).
What I really love about this figure and wish Classified would do is the fact that he comes with several other hands that can get into various expressive poses. I really like that element and would love to see that become standard issue in the Classified line. He also comes with a laser pistol and a submachine gun to finish off the assortment. When talking about the removable hands and weapons attachments, I was very impressed by how easy it was to swap those parts out. They stay pegged in tightly, but are very easy to remove without a massive struggle or without feeling like you might break it.
Another item of note — instead of having a peg in the back for his backpacks, there is a hook mechanism that locks into some spots on the B.A.T.’s shoulders which I think is a really unique way to do that instead of just the simple peg and hole.
I said at the beginning of this review that you shouldn’t compare the Ultimates figure to a Classified figure, but I did it several times throughout the review. My bad.
This figure serves a particular purpose and I think it does that well. I do wish there was some slightly improved articulation and the joints managed to be a little bit more tightly fitted, but by and large, I enjoy this figure quite a bit and I’m greatly looking forward to an eventual Wave 1 release.
Super 7 Ultimates COBRA B.A.T. 02
For my first introduction to the G.I. Joe Ultimates line, this figure was great. Somewhat reduced articulation along with joints that were a little looser than I’d prefer tempered my excitement somewhat, though I think the line still has a lot of potential.
– Loving the color combo
– Lots of differences from the standard release
– Rod Whigham influence FTW
– A little pricey, though there’s a lot of value for the dollar
Any time I’m confronted by Joe fans who are adamant that G.I. Joe should be a hardcore military group and one hundred percent accurate to realistic military structure, all I have to do is think back to the fact that in 1986, one of COBRA’s premier members of leadership was a deranged dentist who had perfected mind control. Not only that, but he was apparently a workout warrior with a monocle who enjoyed wearing metal suspenders, a codpiece and a long, black cape. Dr. Mindbender is one of those characters that almost defies description, yet has become an indelible part of A Real American Hero mythology.
I’ll say, first off, that Mindbender is one of those characters who I think is more timeless and more effective in some of his future iterations. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the 1986 version with the purple pants and the aforementioned codpiece is pretty iconic, but in my world, I sort of prefer either the Battle Corps cyborg iteration or the lab coat and glasses wearing version made popular in Devils’ Due.
That being said, it’s tough to argue that either of those versions are more memorable to the general public than the 1986 caped wonder made popular in the pages of the Marvel comic and throughout the Sunbow animated series.
Dr. Mindbender is yet another one of those Classified figures that goes whole hog into the vintage version for its inspiration, translating that 1986 classic in nearly every way to the 6″ scale. There are some minor changes, like the subtle hint of technical components in his monocle, and some nicely enhanced accessories, but beyond that, this is basically a scaled up version of the original.
That’s not to say Mindbender is without his issues. Hasbro offered this figure as an expensive deluxe, available only through somewhat limited quantities at SDCC and through Hasbro Pulse, which has provided some frustration for collectors. I think while Hasbro is doing a fantastic job actually executing on the design and production of these figures they still need to iron out some issues with cost and availability, especially for core characters like this.
Again, the mere notion of this figure borders on ludicrous. The bare-chested mind control scientist shouldn’t work as well as he does within the scheme of a modern military vs terrorist organization. That being said, he almost immediately fell in line with the COBRA hierarchy of 1986 and mostly thanks to the Sunbow cartoon and the eventual creation of Serpentor, the COBRA Emperor, Dr. Mindbender locked his position as a core member of the COBRA elite.
As I mentioned before, this figure is more or less a one-for-one upscale update of the 1986 original. From the familiar mustache to the metal suspenders and even those crazy gauntlets with the weird hooks on them, this figure is a modern, 6″ version of that classic. But it’s tough to argue when every element of the design has been nailed as nicely as this.
The sculpting, as with nearly all Classified figures, is immaculate. Great detail, great mixture of underlying tooling and the overlaid secondaries, which add a depth and realism to the figure that is difficult to capture at the smaller scale. The various textures used throughout the suspenders, the belt, and even the pants all make each element feel like different material, as it should in real life.
Purple, silver and black pop, the colors rich translations of the original and mesh together with perfection. He stands out very nicely among the other COBRA characters and shows that there’s no reason for Hasbro to shy away from some more daring, dynamic color pallets.
His scowling face is more or less perfect, the small hints of technical enhancements on his monocle a great, subtle addition without taking away from the vintage look that so many fans seem to crave. His soft goods cape is nice and thick, not cheap, thin material, though I do sort of miss the silver COBRA logo that was found prominently displayed on the original. I’m sure there are reasons why they couldn’t mirror that for this version, though it is an aspect that would have driven this right over the top. The always-present holster that perfectly fits his vintage-accurate pistol, is, of course, expected and appreciated. He also has a terrific mount point near the rear of his belt which can connect the small cannister, which also connects to his various weaponry. A nice touch that wasn’t found on the vintage original.
I haven’t been covering the box art or presentation in reviews recently and mostly that’s because there isn’t really enough to share that sets each box apart from the other, even if they have particularly unique or eye-catching art.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the astoundingly cool box art and presentation of the Mindbender packaging. The artwork itself is amazing, to make no mention of the layered box that slips from the slip cover and unfolds to reveal the figure and all of the accessories within. Its just– gorgeous. The back of the box is great as well, chock full of plenty of awesome Easter eggs all pointing to the arrival of Serpentor that has now been revealed. Great stuff.
Mindbender, as with the other Classified figures, benefits from fantastic articulation. The reduced size of the suspenders and the soft goods cape both work together to helpfully enhance the figure’s range of motion, since he isn’t restricted by either stiff add-ons or an exceptionally bulky vest that might prevent some of the better poses you might want Mindbender to achieve.
He moves, poses and displays great!
Of course, being a deluxe figure, the accessory compliment is really where one expects Mindbender to excel, and he really does. Things aren’t necessarily 100% perfect here, but I love that he comes with such a wide array of interesting accessories and gimmicks which go a long way toward showcasing his more esoteric adventures.
There is, of course, his familiar laser wand sort of weapon with a nicely thick and poseable hose that slots into each peg with perfection. It fits either accessory he comes with, then connects to the cannister, which pegs into a hole in the back of his belt. A great touch. He comes with two red-tinged containers, one small and one large, the smaller one holds the removable brain while the larger holds the zombified arm, both of which are also included.
Here’s where I have a small complaint or suggestion – it would have been really cool of the skull had been able to fit on an existing figure’s neck ball. Instead, the bottom of the skull is simply flat with no opportunity to add it to a figure. My real disappointment, however, is the zombie arm. The moment I saw it, I knew it would be great to be able to remove a figure’s forearm and stick the zombie arm in its place– only, at least for the COBRA Officer, that’s impossible because the bottom of the bicep is a male peg, so the zombified arm is incompatible. Obviously I haven’t checked every forearm in the line so perhaps there is a figure that would work, but that hasn’t been my experience so far. It would have been cool to be able to represent a character in a partially zombified state.
Anyway– the removable brain with the skull that splits in two are all nice additions, as is the pistol hypodermic which goes with his more standard pistol, very similar to the ’86 original. There are also four small peg additions that plug into the smaller container as well for some added design aesthetics. Lots of cool accessories, I just wish some more thought had been taken to making a few of them integrate better with existing figures.
Though he’s a pretty faithful representation of the ’86 original, which isn’t necessarily my preferred approach, the execution of the figure is impeccable. Making him a deluxe, Pulse/SDCC exclusive, however is something that has rubbed a few collectors the wrong way, making a core COBRA character a bit more unnecessarily difficult (and expensive) to obtain.
Hasbro continues to try and balance availability and price with sell through and I suspect this will continue to be a challenge in the years to come.
From a purely execution standpoint, however, Mindbender is a fantastic figure with some great accessories and will be a spectacular addition to your COBRA hierarchy.
G.I. Joe Classified Dr. Mindbender
All in all, Dr. Mindbender is a great addition to the G.I. Joe: Classified line. An enjoyable figure with an array of neat accessories and a crucial member of the COBRA organization. If anything that actually hurts the figure in a way because the increased cost and restricted availability seems like a tough pill to swallow for such an important character.
– Colors and sculpt are gorgeous and eye-popping
– That deluxe box has some fantastic presentation
– All those great accessories
– Limited availability is a buzzkill
– The deluxe format ramps up cost that may be tough to justify with accessories that don’t add a ton of value
– Some interaction with the skull and zombie arm with other figures would have been terrific
I was a bit conflicted on how to handle this review, simply because Tomax and Xamot are, at their core, the same figure, only with some minor cosmetic changes. In a way, each twin is a counterpart to the other, so I think writing up a single review that covers both of them is an appropriate course of action.
Back in 1985, I still remember my trip to the local Ben Franklin, which was a craft store of all things, but had an action figure section. Not a huge one, but G.I. Joe was prolific back then and I saw that fantastic mirrored packaging from half an aisle away and immediately sprinted to it, snatching up the twins eagerly, even though I had no clue who they even were.
My interest was piqued and to be honest, it’s never let up. Tomax and Xamot remain two of my all time favorite characters nearly four decades later. Unlike in 1985, however, these days you can’t buy both twins in a single box — you need to purchase two separate Classified figures, which actually doesn’t bother me in the least.
As the Crimson Guard Commanders, not only do I really love these two characters, but they’re also the men in charge of one of my favorite elements of the G.I. Joe mythology as well. The idea that these two men are business suited executives during their normal life, while funneling cash and resources to COBRA via Extensive Enterprises is just a brilliant turn. The fact that these two crazies are also acrobats and potential mind readers just ramps up the awesome ridiculousness to a new level.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the fact is, Hasbro’s philosophy remains mostly the same with every one of these releases. They look at the vintage version and design a 6″ figure around that aesthetic, all while doing what they can to take advantage of the larger scale. That philosophy remains true with both Tomax and Xamot who use a combination of the same base body with opposite secondaries to both conserve tooling dollars and mirror what was done back in the 1980s.
Tomax and Xamot have been through a bevy of different looks if you consider the Marvel Comics, the Sunbow animated series, not to mention Devils Due and IDW, and Hasbro leans into their vintage, and likely one of their most recognizable versions. It works. I always really loved the sculpts for the original twins, though considering how heavily COBRA themed their armor was it always struck me as interesting that they seemed only tangentially interested in COBRA’s success or failure.
I’m happy to say that this COBRA themed armor only looks even more impressive at the six inch scale and I really love the scale-infused detail and the hooded thigh pads. The figure designs translate almost perfectly to a larger scale. I really love these figures.
Of course, one variation they have to go with is the head sculpt. While Tomax and Xamot are twins, the distinct scar along Xamot’s face is one thing that separates him from his brother, and they include that with these figures. Not only that, but they add a bit more expression as well, really infusing each face sculpt with its own unique personality. It’s pretty impressive how the two figures can look the same, yet still so distinct.
If I have one complaint about these Classified updates — the vintage figures seemed to have a really cool laser weapon embedded in one of their gloves, a raised, distinct sculpt that I really loved. That’s lacking on the Classified figures for reasons I’m not too sure of — probably to conserve tooling dollars for what is essentially a minor design element.
Even though most of these Classified figures have the same points of articulation, some of them just feel like they can move better and more smooth than others. The twins fall into that camp. I just love the way these figures pose and move, which is partially due to the lack of restrictions based on their bandolier. They are just really fun figures to display, which is great, considering their circus acrobat ties and history.
One thing to point out and it could fit either here or the design section. The plastic of the Crimson Twins seems to be just slightly different than some previous releases, though I can’t really pinpoint how. The legs and boots certainly feel a little “softer” though that doesn’t dramatically impact the overall success or failure of the figures. Just something to note. I’m not sure if there will be any additional degradation over time, or if it’s just a surface feel that seems a bit different in comparison.
Compared to some other figures, Tomax and Xamot come with surprisingly little, but in a way, I don’t mind that. Hasbro has made it clear that they want to design a sensible accessory compliment per figure — give them the gear they need, but also the gear they can carry. The Twins aren’t typically weighed down with heavy backpacks or elaborate pouches, so as a result, there’s less that they come with. I’m fine with that.
They each come with a submachine gun (with removable silencer) and a pair of knives that fit nicely into twin sheaths. Simple and straight forward, and I like it a lot, even if, compared to someone like Outback or Stalker, they seem a bit thin.
Yes, Hasbro, once again, leans into the vintage look pretty heavily, but I really have a strong nostalgia tie to the 1985 Tomax and Xamot and I have to admit, it’s pretty fun to get close approximations of those zany figures in six inch scale. The sculpting and articulation are spectacular as always and even though they don’t have a ton of accessories, simpler is sometimes better. It doesn’t feel like they’re missing anything, so how can you ask for anything else?
I look forward to the eventual deluxe 2-pack with pinstriped suits.
G.I. Joe Classified Tomax & Xamot
I’ve always loved Tomax and Xamot and Hasbro gives them the credit they deserve, even as they lean heavily on the vintage aesthetic. While they are limited on accessories and might have benefitted from a somewhat less expensive two-pack option, I can’t argue that they’re great additions to the COBRA roster.
– Love their unique head sculpts
– Vibrant 80s sculpts translate into six inch scale perfectly
– Not a ton of accessories, though what they come with makes sense
– Buying them separately when a combined two pack at perhaps a slightly reduced cost might have been nice