Along with the different Action Force focused characters released as European exclusives, one of the more famous and popular branch of UK and Europe released figures were their Tiger Force themed versions. Outside the United States, the Tiger Force color pallet went a decidedly different direction, using oranges, blues, browns and greens rather than the more familiar yellows and blacks. Looking back on it, the orange and brown specifically makes a bit more sense given the whole Tiger Force motif, though the domestic released figures appeared to be paying homage to some real world military themes.
One of the most familiar of these repaints was Tiger Force Outback, who actually developed a whole new t-shirt deco featuring a great looking cat face that has really drawn lots of collector interest over the past several years. It makes sense for the Collectors Club to want to dip into this area of collector desires.
What’s really interesting about how the Collectors Club handled this was that they actually wrote Outback into this look and feel throughout their monthly comic. Making Outback a part of the Zombie Invasion convention set, they had him infected by Compound Z, and while he ultimately recovered, it ended up coloring his hair white (as the foreign version had white hair and a beard as well). Once that revelation appeared in the convention comic, it was pretty clear that this figure was in the works. So now that we have it, how does it measure up?
It measures up… pretty well, I suppose.
I love the concept, and I love that they revisited the UK Tiger Force Outback in a modern format, I just wish they had taken a few more chances with the build. I love the new head sculpt, it’s a great likeness and quite a bit better than the head we got for the 25th Anniversary. It’s fantastic, actually.
The torso is the same torso we got with the 25th Anniversary version, as are the legs, both of which are kind of a shame. I understand why the Club went that route, mostly for the leg-mounted flashlight and the tie back to the original, but at this point, parts developed in 2007 – 2008 look pretty out of date next to more modern sculpted figures. Not only that, but the COBRA Trooper legs tend to look bow-legged. The knee pin on my figure is actually barely holding together, which might color my opinion a little bit too much, but still, looking at Outback’s legs compared to legs sculpted and developed post 2010 is a pretty stark reminder of how far things have come. Thankfully, however, the Club does change out his arms with the more modern 30th Anniversary style short sleeves, which is a change that is very much appreciated, adding some better articulation and range of motion over the old school 25th Anniversary arms.
What the figure does excel at, however, is the deco. The cat face shirt pattern looks terrific, and the color matching of the figure is pretty spot on. He’s a vibrant, interesting looking entry into the FSS, I just wish they hadn’t been quite so faithful to the outdated original with their parts choices.
Tiger Force Outback comes with a different sort of webgear that is actually cool, because he can wear it around his shoulders without covering up the awesome cat face. He has a machine gun, large backpack and knife (again with the 25th Anniversary accessories, though. It looks woefully out of scale and out of date compared to newer items).
The accessories are pretty good and work well for the character, though don’t provide anything especially revolutionary.
Ever since his escape from Borovia, Outback has been one of my top tier characters in the Real American Hero mythos. He’s gotten a surprising amount of love throughout the modern era, but none of them have been quite perfect. The Tiger Force version improves most with a vastly improved head sculpt and great shirt deco, but the outdated build once again reduces the “wow” factor that the vintage figure provided.
FSS 4.0 Tiger Force Outback
Taking the European exclusive Tiger Force decos into a collector themed release is a great idea and the Club executes it fairly well. The paint scheme is good, but unfortunately it’s applied over a mediocre build circa 2008 which does it no favors. I applaud the Club for dipping their toes into more foreign exclusive waters, I just wish they would think a little more outside the box and not feel like they have to be quite so tied to the past, especially when the parts from that era don’t hold a candle to similar parts from post 2010.
Like with Tiger Force Outback, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club looked overseas for an idea on the deco for this particular figure, and I’m really glad they did. In a way, I’ve always preferred the look of the European Tiger Force exclusives over much of the domestic releases (and really loved the aesthetic of the Toys “R” Us set, which mimiced some of that look) and it’s cool to see those decos represented here, even if they don’t really closely match some of the domestic figures.
I found myself especially excited for Sneak Peek considering his recent (well, somewhat recent) run in the IDW G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic, which had him coming back from the dead as a top secret undercover operative. Interestingly that storyline tied into a story bringing Darklon back as well, and now both of those characters are appearing in more familiar paint schemes in FSS 5.
Keeping our minds on Tiger Force Sneak Peek, the build is pretty straight forward, looking like more or less the Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper from neck to foot. While not unexpected, this kind of default build can get a little tiring after a while, especially when it sidesteps some of Sneak Peek’s more identifiable traits like his rolled up sleeves and knee-high boots. I know, I know, I consistently complain about dovetailing too closely to the vintage look, but in the case of Sneak Peek, it feels like they ignored some of the unique aspects that make him different, instead just giving us more of the same with the Poc Shock Trooper. I’m curious to know if their access to tooling libraries is getting more restrictive, as we’re starting to see more and more figures sharing more and more of the same parts.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the Shock Trooper parts, they have great sculpting and impressive articulation, and look suitably military, but I’m hoping they’re not becoming a crutch and restricting creativity, especially when parts do exist. Sci-Fi’s legs and 50th Anniversary Flint’s arms could both work for a Sneak Peek formula. Perhaps there were restrictions I’m not aware of, though.
Thankfully they appear to be under no restrictions with the color pallet, though, and do a great job with the orange and blue that’s become a trademark of the European Tiger Force clan. The look is great from that perspective, and I love the colorful nature of Sneak Peek. He’s a great looking figure in spite of the somewhat generic build.
Sneak Peek comes pretty well loaded with accessories. He’s got a removable helmet and Scrap Iron’s vest, along a newly sculpted and tooled periscope which looks pretty fantastic. He has his trusty M-16, binoculars, and a field radio, all of which mesh nicely with his specialty. It’s a pretty awesome selection of some great accessories that make the figure really pop.
As a character, Sneak Peek never did a whole lot for me until Hama inadvertently brought him back from the dead and added some more intriguing twists to the character. Since then, I’ve become much more of a Sneak Peek fan (even if it was a pseudo retcon on Hama’s part) and I’m glad to see him represented here as well as in the upcoming FSS 5. Plus, it’s about time we started filling out more of the 1987 roster, which was one of the more unique series in the line’s history.
Although the parts chosen here feel a little bit phoned in, the deco is great and they gave him a ton of awesome gear, so the end result is better than I might have suspected. A good note to end FSS 4 on.
FSS 4.0 Tiger Force Sneak Peel
I’ll always upvote more European exclusives, and thankfully Sneak Peek’s execution is a bit better than Outback’s. The paint deco manages to overshadow some of the blandness of the parts underneath, and the accessory compliment goes a long way towards making Sneak Peek truly great.
A short while ago, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club let slip that the Diamond release of their G.I. Joe vs. Cobra #7 comic would feature a subtle hint for next year’s Convention set. Over on the G.I. Joe Discussion Group on Facebook, John Stottman posted a quick picture from this comic, and it would appear the subtle hint may refer to… Tiger Force.
Granted, it’s not obvious, but taking a peek behind the Baroness, and you can clearly see a tiger pattern, which would certainly indicate one of G.I. Joe’s most popular sub teams.
The Club has been known to throw curve balls in the past, so this could be one, but they mentioned a hint, and there’s not much else different within the contents of the issue. With the Convention coming up in April, we have to think we’re going to start seeing reveals in the coming months.
If it is Tiger Force, any guesses so far? Obviously there are some key members of the classic team missing like Bazooka, Tripwire, and Roadblock (which were all planned for the 25th Anniversary line, but never made it to retail). Then there’s some obvious subjects like Lifeline or Recondo.
Personally? I’m hoping for some outside the box choices. An Ultimate Firefly repaint as Sabretooth would be awesome, as would some of the UK exclusive Action Force figures. Not to mention other figures from the 2002 – 2004 era. I’ll be watching GIJoeCon.com for sure.