G.I. Joe: Retaliation - Tactical Ninja 3 Pack Sgt. Airborne

Oh, those pesky Hasbro designers...always so resourceful.

When we first saw the G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary Data-Viper, I think pretty much everyone went completely bananas. It wasn't necessarily the odd trooper specialty (what exactly does a "Data-Viper" do?) but the wealth of incredibly cool and intricate accessories the figure came with along with some really cool new tooling.

As we all know by now, the Data-Viper as it stood is pretty much DOA, but that doesn't stop the creative Hasbro designers from taking those parts and getting them in our hands.

Enter: Sgt. Airborne. A figure that not only doesn't fit the same motif as Data-Viper, but is a G.I. Joe and not even a Cobra...yet we're still able to get this tooling (or at least will be able to in early 2013). Granted, in my mind the coolest aspects of Data-Viper were his accessories, not just the body tooling, but hey, I will certainly take what I can get, especially when the figure itself is this nice.

Upon first glance I could see someone sort of shrugging this figure off. I mean, sure, he's wearing a nice basic "work" uniform, but what's so special about it?

I think that is precisely what is so special about it. Hasbro designers have managed to make a great generic workman's outfit that still retains some awesome G.I. Joe and Cobra elements. The enlarged pouches on the lower legs, the concealed padded armor on the thighs. The assorted circular trim on the torso...and heck, even without all of those accutrements the fact that the basic uniform of this figure is so intricately detailed and looks so incredible even without being extra flashy is a feat onto itself. The uniform design, for being fairly plain, is actually quite cool, with little touches like the tall collar and the reinforced shoulder pads only making the bulky detail all the better.

So we know the body tooling is pretty great, right? What about that head?

That head? AWESOME.

Most of you reading this should recognize that as an alternate head that was initially supposed to come with the 30th Anniversary/G.I. Joe: Renegades Law figure, but was left out for cost reasons. Well, we see it in full use here, and while it may not resonate with the Sgt. Airborne character necessarily, it's a terrific companion piece for the figure and would make a great basis for SWAT Troopers or terrorists alike. I'm thrilled that Hasbro found a way to get this head out to folks who want it, I just hope perhaps somewhere down the line there's a way to get it outside of a $20 - $25 3 pack so folks who want to can stock up on them.

Looking at the paint apps, the figure is fine...nothing really special. The uniform is a somewhat matted gray, which looks like a typical maintenance uniform, and doesn't really resemble either Agent Mouse in this 3 Pack or the original Airborne, so I'm not entirely sure where they're going with it. It's a fine color and allows this body to be used in many different ways, so that's all good for me, but just something I thought was a little curious. There is nary a painted detail throughout the figure other than the black mask, gloves, and boots, but once you get all the gear on him, that doesn't really make or break anything.

Speaking of the gear...

Along with the unused head sculpt, Airborne comes with the machine gun and grenade launcher that Law also came with, which is cool in my book as both weapons are pretty great.

With the cool offensive firepower, Sgt. Airborne also comes with the leg harness and parachute rig from the 25th Anniversary Para-Viper, which both look very cool in military colors. Rounding off the accessories is the HALO helmet and air hose from the G.I. Joe: Renegades Ripcord, something that just polishes everything off nicely.

There has been some discussion (primarily in the comments for my Agent Mouse review) about which figure was supposed to come with the silver "seat" and orange harness. Since the packaged image shows these two items right next to Mouse, I elected to include them with him, and not with Airborne, even though Airborne was shown wearing them in the convention images. Ultimately I don't think it matters much, as anyone who buys the 3-pack will get the accessories anyway, and I don't think they're in very high demand to begin with.

Speaking of these accessories, Hasbro does seem to go to some lengths to tie things back to the original Airborne in at least some ways, by adding a nice touch of blue to the accessories as an homage. It does work to a degree, and is a nice throwback, but the rest of the uniform color is different enough that it's not a really direct homage.

The end result is a figure that...well... it's pretty spectactular. Folks who want a direct and accurate update to Airborne will find things to complain about, but Hasbro managed to give us a brand new figure while still using existing tooling (just tooling that has not hit retail yet). The Data Viper figure parts are terrific (and while I love the accessories more than the figure itself, the figure turns out to be fantastic as well) and I love seeing this head sculpt.

Hasbro's initial wave of battle packs was pretty nice and pretty well received, but had a lot of existing characters with just some accessory tweaks. In this second wave, we're getting some full blown new characters with lots of great tooling that's new to us. Excellent stuff to be had in 2013, and I cannot wait to see stuff like this at retail.