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GeneralsJoes Reviews 50th Anniversary Gung Ho and Shadow Guard

Saving the best for last?

Like his fellow Marine, Leatherneck last year, Gung Ho was overdue for an updated modern figure, though many would argue Gung Ho’s need was far more drastic than his 1986 era teammate. I would agree.

I think most of us would also agree that Gung Ho’s update meets all of those lofty expectations.

Check out my 50th Anniversary Review Page for the latest, or click the links below.


G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Gung Ho

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So this is it…as much as Destro and Leatherneck were the stars of the show for the first go round of the 50th Anniversary, this second wave was all about Storm Shadow and Gung Ho, with most of the focus squarely on G.I. Joe’s first Marine.  So, what’s the verdict?

Pretty excellent, in truth.  Nearly perfect, I dare say.

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Leveraging the sculpting skills of Fred Aczon, now of Boss Fight Studio, Gung Ho is a work of art from a sculpting standpoint.  I believe the figure is brand new from head to toe, standing tall and wide in stature, as the classic character should. Interestingly, he’s not quite as tall as Leatherneck or Destro, but stands somewhere in between those two and more “normal” sized figures.  I still find it amazing that Gung Ho was deemed important enough to be included in the first 25th Anniversary 5-Pack, but somehow not important enough to be re-released in his classic visage ever since.  There were a few other versions of the character interjected into various lines, but none that really did the character justice.  This one does, in spades.

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The new head sculpt is chock full of great character, with the handlebar moustache and the familiar Marine cap.  The torso and arms look great, and the legs are great, too, allowing Gung Ho to stand tall and sturdy.  Leg joints and plastic quality feel better than we got with Destro last year with a functional holster and knife sheath on the boot.  At this point we have several different great legs for these tall characters, and kudos to Hasbro for not just re-using Roadblock or Destro this time around.

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Paint applications are good, looking very much like the classic ‘83 version of this character in a similar powder blue camouflage.  The Marine Corps tattoo on his chest is incredibly well done, too.  It’s huge on his chest and covers some serious real estate, not just kind of tossed on there as the ‘07 version was.  This Gung Ho is prouder than ever of his Marine Corps heritage!


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The Joe Marine comes with a ton of gear including a great looking newly tooled vest, a re-released grenade launcher, mini gun w/ backpack, pistol and knife.  He also has Duke’s smaller, paratrooper format M-249 SAW heavy machine gun for good measure.  Yeah, Gung Ho is pretty strapped, and the gear is really nice.  I would have loved to have seen a slightly more normal assault rifle for standard military operations, but who can complain?  I’ve got plenty of extra gear to go around.

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Just as the tall and imposing Destro and Leatherneck figures were last year, this rendition of Gung Ho is the star of the second series of 50th Anniversary figures, and he deserves his place in the limelight.  There is almost no possible place for complaint with the figure, as its design and execution are both top notch, giving us one heck of a great new version of the G.I. Joe Marine.  Sure, it took us eight years to get a new version of the classic Gung Ho character, but some might say it was worth the wait.  He is truly stellar.  My hope at this point is that they take this figure and redeco him in some more realistic camouflage for the Marvel issue #39 era of jungle operations.  This version of Gung Ho would look pretty spectacular in more realistically colored camouflage.

50th Anniversary Gung Ho
  • Character
  • Sculpt
  • Articulation
  • Paint Deco
  • Accessories


With all the great sculpting and none of the plastic quality issues as last year’s 50th Anniversary series, Gung Ho stands at the top of the mountain this year. It almost makes the eight year wait worthwhile. Very little to complain about with this fantastic figure. There are some nitpicks, but they’re very small, and as a whole, this is one heck of a great 1:18 action figure.


1 – Spectacular sculpting
2 – All new figure from head to toe
3 – Represents a key character that was badly in need of an update
4 – Large stature to reflect Gung Ho’s imposing presence


1 – Minor paint quibbles. Tattoo is a bit large, some camouflage pattern paint mess

2 – The fact that the Gung Ho/Shadow Guard pack wasn’t packed more than just one per case

G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Crimson Shadow Guard

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Ever since they were first revealed back in the new sculpt era, I’ve been resistant to the concept of the Shadow Guard.  First and foremost, the Crimson Guard are already supposed to be the upper echelon of elite Cobra operatives, do we really need a MORE elite Elite Cobra operative?  Crimson Guards were always undercover officers and administrators, and not so much the field combat arm (with the Crimson Guard Immortal at least filling out that role somewhat), so I couldn’t figure out how the Crimson Shadow Guard fit in there.  Plus, there’s the whole crimson theory…what’s the purpose of a Crimson Guard who isn’t actually crimson?

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From a field operations standpoint, I do have to admit I love the G.I. Joe: Retaliation version of the Crimson Guard.  His tactical vest, newly tooled helmet and terrific accessories all add up to a great update to the Elite original.  Much as I hate to say it, getting a Shadow Guard version of this combat equipped Crimson Guard is kinda neat.  I love the new head sculpt, and the parts choice works well, too.  I’ve never loved the original 25th Anniversary Crimson Guard legs, so repurposing the Alley-Viper legs for this works well for me.  Same with the Shock Trooper arms.  It gives the Crimson Guard figure a more combat oriented look with far better articulation and range of motion than the 25th Anniversary version.  The more modern sculpting and articulation has done wonders to make the figure look cool, but still retain a somewhat regal air.

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Even as a repurposed figure in just a new paint scheme, I like the Shadow Guard, but don’t love it.  I still struggle to rationalize his purpose in the Cobra hierarchy, but I know there has been some fan demand out there for it, so Hasbro’s decision to satisfy those fans makes sense.  It also helps that the basic construction of the figure is a lot of fun, regardless of where it fits in the grand scheme of things.


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Crimson Shadow Guard comes with the Retaliation Crimson Guard tactical vest, backpack, sword, and bevy of offensive weaponry.  They all work well and for a more combat oriented version of this Elite trooper I enjoy them quite a bit.  The weapons work for ornamental purposes or actual combat purposes, and the designs are great, too, even if it’s more of the same.

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I can’t quite figure out how this guy fits into the grand scheme of things, but the figure execution is nice.  Much of the credit for that goes to the Retaliation designers, but the Shadow Guard concept is done well here.

50th Anniversary Crimson Shadow Guard
  • Character
  • Sculpt
  • Articulation
  • Paint Deco
  • Accessories


Using the really fun G.I. Joe: Retaliation Crimson Guard as a base figure, the Crimson Shadow Guard makes for a nice version of the new sculpt era COBRA division. While I can’t quite rationalize the existence of this branch of the Crimson Guard in my head, the execution is nice, I like the figure build, and he’s got some great gear.


1 – Great sculpting courtesy of the G.I. Joe: Retaliation rendition of this figure.
2 – The black paint apps do have an air of menace
3 – Lots of great accessories
4 – I’ll never complain about revisiting concepts from the 2003 – 2005 era


1 – Still don’t quite understand the need or purpose of the Shadow Guard
2 – The figure could have used some nice gold trim in certain places