Select Page
A week of reviews – starting with Dr. Mindbender!

A week of reviews – starting with Dr. Mindbender!

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.

Check out the latest review at the G.I. Joe: Classified Review page or follow the link down below.

G.I. Joe: Classified – Dr. Mindbender

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.

DESIGN

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.

PACKAGING/BOX ART

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.

ARTICULATION

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!

ACCESSORIES

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

General Gallery

G.I. Joe Classified Dr. Mindbender
  • Design
  • Originality
  • Articulation
  • Accessories
  • Value
4.3

Summary

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.

Pros

  • – Colors and sculpt are gorgeous and eye-popping
  • – That deluxe box has some fantastic presentation
  • – All those great accessories
  • Cons

  • – 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
  • GeneralsJoes Reviews Tiger Force Outback

    GeneralsJoes Reviews Tiger Force Outback

    I absolutely love the fact that we got Tiger Force Outback before we got our standard deco Outback, both because it’s such a fun international variant, and it proves that nothing is really off the table when it comes to figures Hasbro might consider revisiting for the Classified line.

    I’m really digging the fact that they’re focusing so strongly on Tiger Force and Python Patrol as this Target exclusive run– it makes a lot of sense. Folks who don’t care so much about repaints don’t have to track them down, and it allows Hasbro to re-invest tooling dollars in figure variations that make a lot of sense.

    I will say, however, folks who are waiting for the standard deco of Outback are doing themselves a disservice– this figure is amazing. Check out my G.I. Joe: Classified Review page or access the review directly at the link below:

    G.I. Joe: Classified – Tiger Force Outback

    If you’d told me, even when the G.I. Joe: Classified line started, that we’d be seeing the UK exclusive deco of Outback before the regular ’87 release, I would have thought you were nuts. If you’d told me that Outback would actually be the first Tiger Force figure released in the Classified line, I would have said you were double nuts.

    Yet here I am, with the figure in my hands, and I’m still having a hard time believing it. But believe me, I’m not complaining.

    I’ve been around the online G.I. Joe community for a long time and can still remember the days when the UK Exclusive Tiger Force Outback was a strange fascination that domestic collectors barely knew about. Of course back then, many of us hardcore collectors sort of rolled our eyes at the silly “cat deco” on the t-shirt and the vibrant orange and blue color schemes the UK Tiger Force figures had.

    I’d like to think as we’ve matured (ha, right) we’ve learned to appreciate those more esoteric color schemes, especially since Hasbro revisited them purposefully for a Toys “R” Us O-Ring 6 pack so many years back. Of course, as a Hit & Run fan, I have a real fascination for that era of UK goodness and seeing Outback get this early treatment is both exciting and hilarious at the same time.

    Frankly — I absolutely love it, not just because of the orange shirt, but his unique white hair– he almost looks like a completely different character. Hasbro has really leaned into some of the more obscure aspects of G.I. Joe early in this iteration, and I’m here for it.

    Of course, Hasbro did change things up a little bit. Instead of giving us the old school cat deco on the t-shirt, they did the Tiger Force logo, a new logo they whipped up just for the Classified line, it seems. Personally, I’m fine with that compromise, giving us the underlying color pallet of the UK version, but making it just a little bit more “on brand”.

    DESIGN

    Back in 1987, the original Outback was pretty revolutionary. Having a figure with both removable web gear and a removable leg-mounted flashlight was a rarity, and Outback had them both a good three decades before they did it in the 25th Anniversary.

    His bulky sculpt and removable gear really set him apart from most of his ’87 peers and while the Classified version isn’t quite as distinct from a design perspective, the things it does, it does exceptionally well. I might even say it does them perfectly.

    While it’s true that separate web gear and removable accessories aren’t such a novelty these days, I can still say with confidence that Outback achieves the look exceptionally well. The sculpting on Outback is fantastic. For a bearded dude in a t-shirt and camouflage pants, he looks amazing, with some really intricate work on his determined looking face sculpt and a series of different folds and textures throughout his makeshift uniform.

    The size of the figure is really great, looking a bit bigger and larger than some of the other Joes, but still not quite as big as Gung Ho or Roadblock. He fits into his role perfectly well. The combination of orange on the t-shirt, the brown web gear and camouflage pants somehow manages to work amazingly well together, reminiscent of the UK original yet also looking new and exciting. The camouflage on his legs is nicely understated, a great blend of green and brown that mutes the colors a bit and offsets the brightness of the orange.

    Along with the basics, it’s also the little things — the weathering in his hair that makes it look more real than just a blank wash of white– and the ARM HAIR. YES. THEY PAINTED HIS ARM HAIR. Pretty great detail work there.

    Outback, from a design perspective, is legitimately one of my favorite figures in this line.

    ARTICULATION

    What else is there to say?

    Even with the web gear and the leg straps on the figure, he maintains full range of fantastic motion, the joints moving smoothly and with terrific poseability. His ab crunch works even with the straps and I find myself able to get him in pretty much every single firing pose I can dream of.

    ACCESSORIES

    Outback’s complement of accessories is yet another example of the near perfection this figure achieves. He comes with a lot of different accessories, but not too much. As Hasbro has managed to do with nearly every release, they’ve found ways to stash every item on the figure without anything left over. For a survival expert like Outback, this is no small task.

    His fantastic backpack has two pegs, one for an awesome shovel that comes included, the other for the rifle, just in case you want to stash it away. His left leg strap holds his flashlight (which is still small enough for him to hold) with a spot on his left ankle for the knife. His rifle has a removable magazine and a great sling which can also be used to carry the weapon if you don’t want to put it on his backpack.

    Lastly, Outback also comes with a great pistol– I’m not sure if it’s a specific type of pistol, but I love that he’s got a cloth wrap around it, a nice little touch that differentiates the weapon from others in the line.

    In a world where Hasbro leans on re-used tooling for so many toys, I remain consistently impressed by how many new parts they cram into these figures. Each of these accessories is used here for the first time, as far as I’m aware, and the figure itself doesn’t feel “re-purposed”. Granted, we’ll be getting a standard deco Outback down the road, but I’m still really blown away.

    CONCLUSION

    Outback rose to near legendary status back in the 80s because of his revolutionary design elements and bulky sculpt. While the removable gear isn’t so landmark setting now as it was back then, this figure achieves those objectives magnificently well. His sculpting, his accessories, his paint deco– everything about this figure (including its source material) is executed to near perfect status.

    If I could come up with any complaints, it would be with availability. Granted, while he was relatively easy to pre-order either on Target.com or Hasbro Pulse, distribution has been terrible. As it stands, he shipped to the UK a good several months ago, but currently has a release date of October on Target’s website with no clue when he might actually ship. That’s not Hasbro’s fault, but it is an unfortunate effect of this figure’s exclusivity.

    General Gallery

    G.I. Joe Classified Tiger Force Outback
    • Design
    • Originality
    • Articulation
    • Accessories
    • Value
    4.9

    Summary

    With a great UK Exclusive inspiration, the perfect compliment of accessories, and an amazingly cool sculpt, Outback ticks every single box anyone could want. I’m sure some collectors would prefer the original deco, and I have no doubt that figure will rock as well, but I really dig this one, too.

    Pros

  • – The sculpt is insanely cool
  • – Love the source material
  • – All those great accessories
  • Cons

  • – Target exclusivity and limited availability might provide a bit of frustration
  • G.I. Joe: Classified Retro – Are they worth it?

    G.I. Joe: Classified Retro – Are they worth it?

    So I hesitate to call this a review, even though it kinda/sorta is a review. Recently I got my hands on the first four G.I. Joe: Classified Retro figures released as Wal-Mart exclusives. Beyond the mangled card backs, the figures have their own pluses and minuses, some, obviously with more pluses than others.

    So while I didn’t do a full-blown review breakdown of each figure, I did post a single look at the four different figures, outlining their good points and bad points with a ton of images.

    Check out that post right here. It will also be mirrored on the G.I. Joe: Classified Review Page.

    G.I. Joe: Classified – Retro Wave 01 & 02

    Let me get this right out of the way up front — when Hasbro first announced they were doing a Wal-Mart exclusive G.I. Joe: Classified “Retro” line, my first response was — why? I mean, after all, the standard releases had been trending very close to Retro already. What was the point?

    When we saw the first figure — a carded Baroness, I doubled down on my reaction. While the oversized card was an interesting trinket, the placement of the bubble and the somewhat dull positioning of the figure (empty space and all) didn’t really make it at all appealing. Now, to be fair– the Baroness was a sensible choice, after all, she’d only been available in an expensive Target exclusive pack alongside the COBRA Coil motorcycle, so at least at Wal-Mart someone could drop $20 for just the figure.

    In my mind, the extra items in the Target version made it worthwhile, but– I digress.

    So, I guess the real question is– if I was so lukewarm on this idea, how the hell did I end up with all four figures?

    Because Hasbro managed to weave some interesting design elements into them that made them worth my money? Yes.

    Because I’m a G.I. Joe sheep who just might very well buy almost any action figure with the G.I. Joe logo on it? Also yes.

    To be fair, Hasbro did manage to do some interesting things, especially with Lady Jaye and Gung Ho, so I bought those two readily and eagerly. Then I received a free Baroness inside a Hasbro Fan Box — and my obsessive nature compelled me to at least purchase that final figure I was missing. Thus, I ended up with the whole damn set.

    I suppose the answer is– do I regret my choice? Hmmmm… yes and no.

    From my perspective, both Destro and The Baroness are objectively worse than their standard retail versions, so in those cases, yes I have some buyer’s remorse (though really only for Destro, since I got Baroness for free). The removal of some of the gray trim from the Baroness, the lackluster weapons and the removal of her knife sheath are all big points against the Retro version of COBRA’s female intelligence operative. I do like the stand she comes with, but that’s about the only improvement.

    Destro is a little bit better with the black, animation specific eyebrows over his eyes and a somewhat eye-catching silver on his gloves, but by and large, I much prefer the color breaks of the retail version of this figure as well. I think “regret” or “remorse” might be a strong word, but suffice it to say, the Retro Baroness and Destro will not be the ones that I stand up in my display.

    Animation accurate or not– new stands or not– I just prefer the way the original releases look and will be sticking with those. I can kinda understand why Hasbro chose these two characters (especially with the Baroness’ availability and price point) I’m just not sure I needed them in my collection.

    I will say, however, things get a lot more interesting when you start talking about Lady Jaye and Gung Ho. Especially Gung Ho.

    Let’s take a look at Lady Jaye first — while Destro and The Baroness seemed to just sort of commit to whatever they were trying to achieve, Lady Jaye went all in on the homages to the original 1985 action figure. The lime green uniform, the lack of the hair to replace her hat, the NEWLY TOOLED OLD SCHOOL CAMCORDER not to mention her backpack. Yeah, whatever corners Hasbro cut they built back up.

    As much as I’d prefer if Hasbro try new concepts and new ideas it’s tough to argue that having a 6″ update to the ’85 figure doesn’t have at least a little bit of a “cool factor”.

    Now, taking nostalgia out of the picture entirely, I think I prefer the original release. I’d much rather have the swappable hair/hat combo, the more modern backpack-mounted camera and the slightly more toned down, realistic colors. I will say the execution on the face painting on the Retro Lady Jaye is great improved, however.

    This brings us to Gung Ho. Far and away the shining star of the Retro series thus far, Hasbro threw everything they had at this Gung Ho update and stuck the landing.

    Personally, I really liked the original Gung Ho release– it was during a short window of time where Hasbro was trying some new things, not beholden to vintage ideals, and I kind of liked that approach. It meant each new figure had a potential to bring something legitimately new to the table, rather than everything being, more or less, pre-ordained. Sure, Gung Ho came with some clunky weapons and his hat wasn’t 100% adherent to the Marine Corps standards, but the darker colored uniform, the modernized vest– the slightly retooled facial features. It all worked really well for me, though I acknowledge others weren’t wild about it.

    For the Retro version, Hasbro leaned whole hog into that old school 1983 powder blue aesthetic.

    And, you know, as much as I say I love the modern and scoff at the vintage accuracy of some of these figures– tough for me to say that the Retro Gung Ho isn’t pretty cool. Yeah his colors are bright and somewhat unrealistic, yeah, there isn’t quite as much originality at play. But the figure works.

    Hasbro clearly invested a ton of new tooling dollars into the figure, giving him a new head, new hat, new backpack, new vest, new grenade launcher, new holster and grenade pouch. The entire figure could have easily sold in a box at MSRP rather than the Wal-Mart Retro line and I suspect almost any Classified fan would have paid up. It is, more or less, similar to Heavy Artillery Roadblock, a vintage looking figure etched in 6″ scale with a modern aesthetic.

    What started as mostly a curiosity for me has somewhat surprised me. Initially I hadn’t really considered buying any of these, yet somehow I ended up with all four in my collection and while their usability might be in question, they remain fun additions to the Classified line.

    Without a doubt, I would say anyone who owns the existing Baroness and Destro don’t need to bother adding those two Retro figures to their collection, however both Lady Jaye and Gung Ho have significant additions to their figures and are both worth at least considering, in my mind.

    I suspect the majority of fans will eagerly acquire Gung Ho and to a lesser extent Lady Jaye, though they might very well (and rightly so) pass by Baroness and Destro.

    I know this wasn’t a full-blown review, but in truth, the majority of these figures didn’t have enough changes to warrant a full individual review and rather than just focus a review on Gung Ho and/or Lady Jaye, I decided to write up a sort of “catch all” post covering the interesting and less interesting elements of these figures.

    The Baroness

    Destro

    Lady Jaye

    Gung Ho