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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

G.I. Joe: Classified – Croc Master and Fiona

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.

DESIGN

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.

ARTICULATION

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.

ACCESSORIES

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.

CONCLUSION

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.

General Gallery

G.I. Joe Classified Croc Master
  • Design
  • Originality
  • Articulation
  • Accessories
  • Value
4.6

Summary

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.

Pros

  • – Amazingly detailed sculpt
  • – Fiona is remarkably cool
  • – That multi-toned and textured croc skin outfit is gorgeous in 6″ scale
  • Cons

  • – Doesn’t have a place for all of his weapons, unlike most classified figures
  • – $40 still feels like a sorta steep price point, though Fiona almost makes it worth it!