G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary DVD Battle Pack #3
Arise, Serpentor, Arise
I raved about the DVD Battle Packs in my review of the Pyramids of Darkness set, but it would seem that the second wave of DVD packs falls to the same pratfalls as the first wave did. While the "Revenge of COBRA" set was incredible, delivering on almost every level, the original DVD set was relatively lackluster without much cool stuff to it, and it fell a lot flatter than the second. The same, unfortunately, could be said here. I absolutely love the "Pyramids of Darkness" set...it's got almost everything going for it. The Arise, Serpentor, Arise set, however...well, it leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, there is one absolute home run, but the rest of the stuff in here is somewhat lackluster and uninteresting, to tell the truth.
"Pyramids of Darkness" gave us Quick Kick, a much improved Bludd, an even more improved '85 Snake Eyes, and what was, admittedly, a somewhat lackluster COBRA Commander. This set seems to do just the opposite, giving us only one figure to really get excited for, and a couple of others that aren't all that special. Instead of four figures, we also only get three, and then Montezuma's skeleton, which is barely worth mentioning. I'll break it down, figure by figure.
Now, of course I launched arrows at this set even though this figure is fantastic, for the most part. The COBRA B.A.T. is probably my favorite Anniversary style figure so far, and this one is a great version. The COBRA android trooper was always seen on the cartoon with an almost trademark red faceplate, so it seems like a "no brainer" to include the B.A.T. here looking like that, and they do a fine job with that.
They also "cartooned" him up a bit by removing all of the dark weathering and making the color scheme somewhat brighter and "flatter" to more resemble an animated look. These are changes that make sense to me, and make the figure look pretty decent. I don't have problems with any of that.
But honestly I have a feeling we'll be getting inundated with COBRA B.A.T.s for the next 6 months, and this wasn't really a hole that needed to be filled. While we got improved figures (drastically improved) in the other DVD pack, this figure is just sort of... "changed". Not necessarily "improved".
There are some minor downsides to the figure, though especially where the accessories are concerned. On the original B.A.T. there was plenty of weathering done to the figure, so the accessories didn't look necessarily out of place. However with the cleaner silver color on the B.A.T., this strange gray color of the accessories really stands out and doesn't look smooth. I'm not sure why the claw and the guns are such different colors, especially considering the hands are the normal silver shade.
Also, the more you put weapons in the backpack, it seems to stretch out their peg holes a bit, too, so they no longer fit especially snugly on the arms. Just another slight downside to this figure that I didn't really notice with the single packed version.
Overall, this is a nice figure, perhaps the bar was set a bit too high with the other DVD sets, though, because I just didn't find this one quite as exciting as some of the others.
I appreciate what Hasbro was trying to accomplish with this version of Serpentor. The COBRA Emperor had a certain look in the cartoon that did not match his toy look at all, and that definitely seems to be the direction this figure is going in, with a brighter less detailed paint scheme, a strange snake "cowl" and a general lack of paint detail throughout the figure. Maybe part of me hoped we'd get a Serpentor with full on chain mail and a more direct translation of the vintage toy, but whatever my expectations were, I was pretty disappointed with this version of Serpentor.
Obviously Hasbro elected to use the first version of Serpentor as the base figure, which makes sense, even though that particular figure does not resemble any version that we've gotten in the past. By giving him a new snake helmet and cowl, they managed to draw this figure much closer to his animated counterpart. However, the figure falls pretty short in mostly every other category. Even in the cartoon Serpentor had a brighter chest than the rest of his uniform, and to the best of my knowledge he never wore Roman style battle dress. I think the skirt especially takes a lot away from this figure and really makes him not resemble how he appeared in the toy, cartoon, or comic format, and it would have been better if they'd colored his kneepads in darker green. So it would seem with only minor changes (a different belt instead of the skirt, dark green kneepads, and a yellow chest) youd' get a Serpentor much more "cartoon-like" even though he still wouldn't resemble the vintage toy version at all.
I always found the snake-themed gauntlets to be a great touch, too, and so that's another unfortunate strike against this figure. The twisted lower legs don't help either, giving us a figure that can barely stand straight out of the box.
From an accessory standpoint, he doens't offer a whole lot of excitement either, though I admit I do love that "snake spear". The knife is a cool one, though it's not something he's ever used, and the snake is interesting, too, but all told, nothing really ground breaking or new, necessarily. Also, considering that his snakes on his shoulders are the ones that are supposed to transform into the spear, I would have thought they'd make them the same color instead of green vs. gold.
All in all, Serpentor is a figure many people have been waiting for, but I think many people will end up somewhat disappointed with (myself included). I will say that I absolutely love this new snake cowl and I think it's all nicely detailed and very cartoon-similar, but it's about the only thing about the figure that excites me.
Dusty has never been a character or a figure that I necessarily had any affinity for. I'm not huge on the climate specific characters or figures, so having a trooper that was solely used in desert environments wasn't something I cared about much, especially as a kid living in New England. Permenantly applied camouflage face paint, a desert uniform...it just didn't lend itself to a character that I would use all that often. That changed somewhat as time went on, and I ended up really loving the '91 version of the figure as well as the '00 version and the '02 version (from the Night Rhino).
The very fact that I would consider a Dusty figure one of the greastest figures of the line so far just seems out of left field. But honestly, that's close to how I feel. This figure is...amazing.
The detailing of this figure is incredible in it's simplicity. He's wearing basically a straight up military uniform, but the wrinkles and sculpting throughout the figure is just astounding. The articulation is fantastic, the detailing is great, from soup to nuts this is just a beautiful, beautiful figure. I know folks have their faults with it, and I could find them too, but at first glance, this is one great looking and very nicely articulated figure. The paint apps are just terrific, too, with very nicely applied camouflage that doesn't look a whole lot like the vintage version, but it looks very "modern day" and I really love the pattern and colors all told.
But I do have a few minor complaints. First of all, I do wish that the head cloth was done in a lighter tan color to match the uniform. I have no idea why they did it in dark brown, if there was even a reason for it, but whatever the reason, I wish it had been a lighter color more in tune with the rest of his uniform.
Now I do have some issues with the accessories here, specifically the webgear. In particular, becaue I don't have any. :/
There's apparently been a widespread problem where Dusty figures are not coming with the webgear they should be, and unfortunately I'm one of the unfortunate victims, which really sucks. This figure is nearly perfect and the fact that he doesn't have his very cool webgear really bums me out. Of course the rest of the figure is still great from the sculpted coat-tails to those ruffled sleeve cuffs, large pockets on the pants, etc... it's all great and this is one awesome, awesome figure. Heck, he's even got a swivel joint above the belt, a point of articulation that most of the figures don't have. Ultimately the webgear is sort of a minor issue, but when I spend $25.00 I'd like my figures to come with all of their accessories, thanks very much. Especially because this will prove to be a major pain to return.
Hasbro also did a good job on the accessories here, too. His helmet is removable (though it sticks just a bit, so use some elbow grease), and the goggles even come off the helmet as well (though they don't serve much purpose once they're off). He's got his familiar backpack, and Hasbro went to the trouble of giving us his regular FAMAS machine gun as well as a cartoon-themed rifle to boot. A bunch of great accessories to compliment a fantastic figure.
No, I'm not giving this "figure" a real review, just figured I should at least mention it. I have no idea why Hasbro went through the tooling expense to create this figure that is nearly worthless to the Joe mythos and doesn't really add any neat "charm factor" to the DVD set either. Sure the sword and crown are removable (and you can pry the skull off which makes a neat prop) but besides that, I cannot think of any uses for this particular "accessory". He's got a ball joint waist and ball-joint neck, but no shoulders and no hips, and there isn't much else I care about here.
So like the first wave of DVD Battle Packs, this wave has one great set and one that feels, honestly, fairly subpar. Dusty is an absolutely amazing figure, but he alone cannot carry this set and there are too many other parts of it that sort of detract. Montezuma is a bizarre choice that adds little to nothing to my enjoyment of this Battle Pack, the B.A.T. is a nice figure, but doesn't add enough different elements to make this set more desirable than this. Serpentor has some potential, but not doesn't hit on enough levels either. He sort of resembles the animated version (but not really), and doesn't at all resemble the vintage figure, so he seems somewhat out of place.
All told, this set is still a good value, but it's not nearly on the level of coolness that the "Pyramids of Darkness" set is, or the "Revenge of COBRA" for that matter. You will love Dusty, but potentially not much else.
GRADE: out of 5