Good morning and happy ComicCon everyone!
No doubt, from a G.I. Joe perspective one of the most exciting things we learned about ComicCon this year was that Hasbro would be releasing a spectacular Revolutions Boxed Set featuring G.I. Joe scaled figures of several different characters throughout their properties, including MASK, Visionaries, Transformers, Rom, and Micronauts.
Well, good friend of GeneralsJoes and noted author James Kavanaugh, Jr. managed to get his handsome mitts on one of these Revolutions sets early and has been kind enough to put together an early review and look at the set!
You can find the review right here and eventually I’ll pop it up in one of the menus above, as soon as I can figure out where it belongs.
Humongous thanks to James for taking time out of his busy life to grab some pictures and do a fantastic write up of this great set. As an added bonus, here are some images of the COBRA Missile Command Center he sent along as well, featuring better looks at the COBRA’s within and filecards!
Hi, all! James “KuuKuuSon” Kavanaugh Jr. jumping in and I think this is my first review, at least first for GeneralsJoes.com. Justin, is that correct? Eh, he’s probably off hob-knobbing with all the other big shot toy reviewers.
Well, here I am, off to the good stuff (the review if you’ve listened to too much What’s on Joe Mind? and thought other ideas). I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the Hasbro/IDW San Diego Comic Con 2017 Revolution crossover set and, let me tell you, this. set. is. AMAZING! If you’re out of the loop or kept your heads in your vintage Marvel Joe comics, IDW has merged their existing G.I. Joe and Transformers universes together and brought in the new classics Action Man, ROM, Micronauts ,and MASK (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) to take action and adventure to new levels. Children are notorious for mixing their various toy lines in their play (admit it, at least tried it) and this premise really helps to bring back that feeling.
At this point, I’ll clarify by saying I self-identify as G.I. Joe guy through ‘n through, though I own a copy of almost every Transformers comic and have picked up every IDW copy of every title listed above in the Revolution universe. I’ve always felt review readers should know where the reviewer is coming from as well as where I’ll be going in regards to my preferred brands and explain why my perspective may not nail other brands. I will say, seeing each brand come together certainly made me excited for everyone. I was born in 1977 in the United States to round out my perspective.
So is this a review of the set or biography? Why not both? (que the Old El Paso taco girl). I am laying the foundation of “me” because the undertone of this set will seem like the overtone by the end of the review and that undertone is nostalgia. At least half of this set hasn’t had much of a presence since the 80’s and it’s quite the welcome feeling. Of course I remember Joe and Transformers, I also loved watching MASK every day and the holograms on the Visionaries toyline were hypnotic. My age tells you I was a bit too young for Micronauts but caught up when they made a resurgence in the early 2000s. ROM was a new one to me but those I trust to have a well-rounded and educated understanding of comics were stoked to see his return. Apparently, in a pop culture sense, the comic surpassed the toy in many ways and developed a devout cult following. The final reason why I felt it was important to give a background on “me” is every 4” action figure in this set derives from 2007+ G.I. Joe tooling, which is almost like they designed the set to dangle in front of me. Eh, they would’ve had me anyway.
The set is $100 and I find that more than fair. I put current 4” action figures at $10 a piece MSRP and there are six of them so divide the $40 between a mid-sized Transformer and nine Micronaut figurines. You’re hard pressed to convince me that alone isn’t a win. What those figures consist of makes this set worth waaaaaay more than $100 as we’ll discuss in the review.
I thought I’d start with, from my perspective, the easy one and that’s Jetfire. I had the original Jetfire as a child so I’m biased towards him. This one, however, is way more dynamic. He is currently in more of the forefront (of a flashback) in IDW’s current story but a great character to speak for his brand. When this set was announced, I was made aware that this mold has some fan demand to it, so I’m glad they’re able to have another chance to obtain him. He’s a pretty straight forward Transformer. The modern designs are structural masterpieces and almost puzzle–like. My age also reminded me of the old adage, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” and that refers to my transforming skillz. It took me a minute but I chalk that up to quality design. I have every bit of confidence I could’ve tossed it to a kid and they would’ve transformed him as fast as a Rubix Cube champs works his cube. The paint apps are solid, the plastic is durable, and the quality is fine. I’ll take this time to clarify that, when it comes to action figures like this and we know this is a rare figure rerelease, I am more than confident there are better reviews of the toy out there and I would be doing the toy a disservice by expanding beyond the pictures.
I’ll get the “bad” out of the way for you and clarify/state the obvious that all nine Micronauts are unmovable figurines. However, I’m not going to say that’s a bad thing. Micronauts are what their name implies (you’re going to have to educate yourself if you don’t know what I’m getting at) and they are just that. I think the figurines are the perfect size for everyone to play with as is and within the crossover experience. Plus they’re nine of them. Reading the Micronauts comics, I find the designs to arguably be the most dynamic and perfect fusion of vintage foundation with innovative redesigns. And that is a huge compliment from me as someone who thinks tweaking nostalgia can be a very slippery slope for vendor and customer. I liked and agreed when I read the comment online about a potential figure/game combo coming from these figures. They could certainly work as table top pieces. The plastic is decent, slightly bendy, yet able to stand with little falling (something I’ve noticed to be a problem with cheaper figurines). And to wrap this portion of the review up as a bad/good/bad clarification sandwich, I can take a step back see this set as a whole and dub the approach as using “strategic tooling” to hit a specific price point. The review will round out this comment but, for now, I’m confident nine Micronauts fit in with six 4” figures and a decent Transformer guides the Micronauts into a figurine format and that’s fine the moment you have them in hand. Micronauts forged the 1:18th scale action figure phenomenon, so I’m confident we’ll see larger and movable Micronauts in the near future.
Onto the first of the six 4” action figures and I thought, once again, I’d start with an easy one. Matt Trakker is easy for a “Joe guy” because we received Matt Trakker in 2008 and he was deemed a member of G.I. Joe. The 2008 Matt Trakker suggests that the crossover universe was on Hasbro’s mind as far back as them and only helped us out now. This version reuses previously seen G.I. Joe body tooling and accessories and, the parts choice more accurately reflects the stylized approach IDW is taking. The reds are richer and the greys are darker. This figure seems to really punch. Side note, I understand the output of the 2008 version, he is a product of the tooling available at the time whereas the Revolution Matt Trakker had the advantage of a much larger tooling catalog. Neither is better than the other. Speaking of difference, yes, there is one very noticeable difference, the IDW version is no longer a blonde, white male but a black male. I need to make a point to confirm this but I am confident the change derives from a certain team we all know already had a blonde, white leader. Seemingly unrelated, early super hero costumes’ simple and bright tropes derive from easy recognition on the reader’s part. I’m sure Duke will be interacting with Matt Trakker in the storyline and these minor tweaks will help move the story along for the audience. This assumption doesn’t wash over the point that diversity has been actively addressed in all facets of modern society and sited as an important component of the shared universe going forward. I think it’s safe to assume we will be seeing more gender and ethnicity changes in the future if we haven’t already. Outside of that, the head sculpt is simply stunning! This very charming head sculpt will certainly be appealing for expert customizers and LBC’s alike. Yes, I can admit an action figure is handsome.
Another handsome chap in plastic form is Action Man. If you’re unaware, Action Man was a direct cousin to the G.I. Joe 12” line and has been seeing a resurgence across the pond. I seem to recall Action Man specifically hitting US shelves at a certain point but I’ve always been a 4” fanatic (except for MOTU, that’s another story). Action Man in the Revolution set looks like he’s peeled right off the comic pages. The body is familiar tooling but the blue with orange striping really makes Action Man pop. Orange has been made a staple of Action Man’s color palette and the combination makes him look ready for action. I think you have to say action as much as possible whenever you’re having a conversation about Action Man. His accessories are also familiar and the plastic and paint quality is the same for all the 4’ figures. I am a bit of a stickler for paints and this entire set checks all my boxes (a big plus in my book). The win for this figure is of course the head sculpt. Another dashing head that has a slight comic/cartoon tinge, but a head sculpt works with the paint scheme. His hair is tussled, his smirk is brazen, he’s a young James Bond ready to do the impossible mission and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Like I said, when IDW first announced the shared universe, ROM was a new concept to me. Also, like I said, if my cadre of “experts” says it’s a go, I’ll give it a shot. And (while I’m adding conditions) since the comic overshadowed the toy, ROM moved away from a blocky robot and gained a blocky/humanoid hybrid esthetic. The designer accurately chose Battle Armor Cobra Commander’s legs to set the ground work and gave him muscular arms to bridge the gap. FYI, ROM is a humanoid encased in the robotic armor and sworn to fight the Dire Wraiths, having an element of humanity in the character is important. The chest and head sculpt (as well as his iconic blaster) are all new. Plus he’s shiny. Kid James liked shiny. I’m going to leave for a bit and stare at the shiny. Just kidding (or am I? You’ll never know when this was stopped and resumed). These parts are great and very accurately reflect the ROM seen in the comic books.
The Dire Wraith also captures the pages of the ROM comic. Dire Wraiths are aliens that kill humans and assume their form, typically assuming roles of those in powerful positions. So, the underlying tone of the comic is you never know who is a Dire Wraith until they reveal their true form. This figure in particular represents the point in the story when Doc is revealed to be a Dire Wraith. Oh, did I spoil it for you? Well, the bad news is you were spoiled the moment you looked at the figure because the satchel and body motif tells you exactly who it is…er, was… The arms are from the infamous Zombie Viper and do a great job to bridge the comic character to action figure form given the grand scheme of the set(see my budget comment in the Micronauts write-up). The arms are great, the paint apps help punch up the tentacles and the darker approach to Doc’s uniform helps punch the Dire Wraith blue while darkening the overall tone of the villain. The money on this piece is again the head sculpt. This head wonderfully portrays the Cheshire grin that is the staple of a Dire Wraith. They are an arrogant villain set on dominating Earth and ROM is intent on wiping that smile of their evil faces.
This figure should’ve been last but, if you’ve read everything so far (my apologies), you’ve probably figured out my progression. Why did I just waste your time there? Because Visionaries are not yet in the IDW universe, nor do they have an active comic nor any press release announcing any plans. Leoric certainly took us by surprise. And, if you like Visionaries, he looks great! Again, I leave the parts knowledge to the gang at joecustoms.com and other experts but, as far as I can tell, looks great. The overall military (with a tinge of ninja) motif in G.I. Joe doesn’t leave much for sword and sorcery tooling, but the legs look great. Besides, Visionaries had a bit of a modern take to them anyway. Much like ROM, the big pay day is the chest, head, and helmet. The head is fantastic and the helmet and body totally nailed his vintage look. Did I say pay day? Because this figure is money. If the new parts weren’t enough, the staff is new and, along with his chest, have holograms in them! I’ll be honest, that was my immediate concern when I first saw the press release and it is indeed a lot more holographic than the pictures assume. They aren’t as holographic as the original (or how holograph stickers tend to look) but I have a feeling that it falls under my budget/price point commentary undertone in this review. The blues are striking and accurately reflect the vintage toy and give it the 80s feel.
So that’s all the new concept, some of which haven’t been seen since the 80s. Everyone discussed above is enough to put this set on the “must have” list. So why did I save the G.I. Joe last? Biased, of course. Yes and no. This Joe isn’t just any Joe, it’s Roadblock. Oh, huh… No, not huh, this isn’t just any Roadblock, this is the cancelled Renegades Roadblock head, chest, and overall build. So, backstory, Renegades was a G.I. Joe cartoon in 2011 that, for reasons that are too long to write in an already long review, left Roadblock stuck in the “unreleased” queue. The only member of the main G.I. Joe Renegades cast to be unreleased. And, it’s argued that the cartoon Roadblock had the most personality out of the entire main cast. This figure also had a second failing in 2012 when a Retaliation movie four pack was cancelled, a pack he was a member of. Word that the figure was waiting in the wings has left collectors waiting in the wings for a future release and, after six years, the time has finally arrived!! I need to ask around, but I am confident this is also his intended Renegades deco pattern. It’s not exactly in sync with the comic palette but who cares!? Long awaited Renegades Roadblock trumps crossover Roadblock any day. This figure is so great, I am confident a more comic accurate version will sell just as well. But back to the figure at hand, if the pictures don’t paint the picture, this Roadblock fits with the Renegades figures seamlessly! I can’t say enough great things about this figure. The weapons assortment appears to be the Pursuit of Cobra’s “Jungle” Duke but, again, who cares? It was probably the set from his internal SKU number and there are plenty of “Ma Dueces” out there in weapons bins to load him up as you see fit. The body is one we’ve seen a few times by now but it great to see it in its originally intended form. Finally receiving this figure is as significant as finally receiving the characters above. Big “KuuKuu” points (non refundable and I wouldn’t suggest you eat them) to Hasbro for providing us with this one.
So, if you’re still awake and reading, here we are. Like I’ve eluded throughout the review, the set sells itself. I hope these pictures satisfy those who can’t wait to see and obtain this set. I’ll confess that mild mannered James is a bit helpless without his heavily artillery used for the Rank & File guides and I’m going to milk this “first review evah” crutch as long as I can. If you picked up on my whimsical approach to this revue, it’s because this set did indeed make me feel like a kid again. Archiving is probably the most “adult” think one can do with his toys (no, I’m not trying to convince myself I’m doing anything actually adult with my toys, though I probably should) and not very fun in the moment (first world toy guide problems). It’s more of a delayed gratification. From start to finish, this set was all about fun. It was great to see these characters receive action figure form once again and the only way to accurately review them was to have fun with them. And, like I said, I am a G.I. Joe guy (mostly dictated by my wallet fyi) so getting a chance to transform a Transformer and pit my various toys against each other was a great thrill. The Ohio weather isn’t polite to talk about, but being outside with my toys play working will be a highlight for this summer. I will be curious to see the overall reception of this set as well as what the results will bring in the future. Joe Con told us something is changing for Joe and something can only change for every other property in this set beyond G.I. Joe. But don’t wait for the future, live in the moment with this set and get it however you can. This set jazzed me enough before I even received it to start the page layout for an upcoming guide. Yeah, it’s not much but I thought this could at least double as an insight into where I start and where I’ll finish. I am currently hashing out where these crossover action figures in the grand scheme of archiving but, again, I can’t stress enough that this set allows you to put all the “where does this belong in my ‘Joeverse’” malarkey and have fun. Fun and action. And action fun.
On the surface this sounds like a very cool, very fun idea. Underneath the surface, I can’t help but wonder exactly how this is going to work.
The Hollywood Reporter posted an article today revealing a Hasbro and Paramount joint venture to unify the universes of G.I. Joe, MASK, Visionaries, Micronauts, and ROM into one connective cinematic universe.
My first reaction, of course, is JOY. I absolutely love Joe, MASK, and Visionaries, and the mere fact that discussion of these three properties is occurring fills me with immense pleasure.
Of course my next reaction is how the heck is Hasbro going to tell a story featuring a modern military team and Knights of the Magical light and have it make any modicum of sense? Add that to Rom the Space Knight and the Micronauts, and even more confusion comes into play.
It’s funny, I could definitely see MASK and G.I. Joe co-existing on screen in a great way. I could see Visionaries, Rom, and Micronauts even existing in some strange pseudo magic-science cosmic universe. But somehow joining all five together? Very weird, although certainly not without precedence. One might point to Marvel’s success with Guardians of the Galaxy to point out how well a company can synergize more “real world” events with a more cosmic story arc, but Marvel spent half a decade building their universe around their characters. Will Hasbro and Paramount’s vision work the same way?
I guess it will be interesting to find out.
Meanwhile, I’m just ecstatic that there are two more Hasbro properties I’m enthusiastic about potentially getting a stronger focus in the coming years.
Check out the Hollywood Reporter’s article for more details.
(Visionaries image courtesy of the immensely talented stratosmacca on DeviantArt)