At what point does a great figure and fun army builder become a bit tired and redundant? I’m not sure, but if the Steel Brigade figure isn’t there yet, he’s getting close. Don’t get me wrong, this figure is fantastic and has been from day one. While I’ve never been a huge fan of G.I. Joe using “troops” I’ve always loved the G.I. Joe Collectors Club take on the Steel Brigade and have been able to rationalize the existence of these Troopers as a support squad for the International Peace Keeping Force that the Club devised for the team.
That being said, I bought a few of these figures when they were first released in the Pursuit of Cobra. I bought a few more in the 30th Anniversary. I even have some zombie versions from the 2014 Convention set. Now the figure sees release again as part of the 50th Anniversary line. The figure was never exceptionally hard to find, so I’d think most fans have well built Steel Brigade squads at this point, but we’ve got him again here.
Not a huge deal, and for folks who missed him the first couple of times, this is a good opportunity to stock up, but as I said, when I’ve got almost 10 of the same figure already, it can be a bit tough to build up excitement. He uses the COBRA Shock Trooper as the base figure, with a Beachhead head sculpt. The paint apps work well, being a nice mirror of the vintage version, but with some new elements as well. The helmet appears to be a slightly different color and the legs don’t match precisely, mostly due to the different material turning out slightly different shades of tan.
As a figure, it’s a great mix of vintage and modern, and is an excellent update, the only real issue I have is that this is the third such almost identical version released since 2011.
Like the figure itself, the accessories are familiar as well. He has the Shock Trooper vest in Steel Brigade green as well as the Duke bandolier. The bayonet machine gun, rocket launcher, backpack with spare rockets, as well as the Duke backpack gives a good mix of accessories inspired by the vintage version as well as typical trooper weapons. He’s got a heavy machine gun, and the SCAR assault rifle comes with him too, though press release images show the Iron Grenadier with that gun. Lastly, he has the removable Steel Brigade themed helmet.
As I said, from a pure execution standpoint this is a great figure, and I know the 50th Anniversary formula necessitates certain “carry forward” figures. As G.I. Joe troop builders go, the Steel Brigade is about the only option. It can just be a little tough to get excited about a figure I’ve bought on store shelves a few times already.
50th Anniversary Steel Brigade
This figure has always been a good one, even if we’ve seen it several times before. I can think of some “carry forward” figures that might have been better choices here, but in an army builder pack where you want to pit a Joe against a COBRA/Grenadier character, Steel Brigade is the only real choice.
1 – Shock Trooper base body is a great one
2 – Paint apps are good as well
3 – Tons of great accessories
1 – The figure has been released a few times already
2 – Nothing really new brought to the table with this version
Like the Steel Brigade trooper, this particular iteration of the Iron Grenadier has been released a few times to compliment the Pursuit of Cobra City Strike Destro, one of the coolest PoC figures ever done (and one in desperate need of one of these “carry forward” releases). I’ve always loved the Iron Grenadiers, and that love doesn’t falter with these versions, even though they are essentially re-releases of the past versions.
In actuality, this 50th Anniversary Iron Grenadier does have some cosmetic changes with the color pallet of the camouflage, and I actually like those color changes quite a bit. The figure foundation itself is the same as we’ve seen, built off the same formula as the City Strike Destro with a terrific padded uniform, yet thanks to the revolutionary sculpting and design of the latter year G.I. Joe figures, even with the thick padded uniform, they still manage to retain great elbow articulation and range of motion. It’s pretty impressive, actually.
Where the previous two versions of this figure had elaborate gray and white camouflage, this particular version mixes it up a bit and changes out the darker gray with what looks to be a light blue/gray. The overall appearance is similar to the previous heavy weapons soldier, but adds just enough variety to keep things interesting. I’m not sure if it was a specific, purposeful change, or just happenstance, but the results are nice. It at least adds some variety to the three separate times the figure has already been released to retail.
Iron Grenadier comes with much the same gear as previous iterations did. The old school heavy machine gun (that originally came with Para-Viper) as well as the backpack and stedi-cam assault weapon. The machine gun belt is there, too, as well as the awesome, oversized tactical vest that is such a great one. Yes, the gear is all the same, but the gear isn’t too bad.
The re-release of the Iron Grenadier, similar to the Steel Brigade, presents another opportunity for would be army builders to acquire somewhat difficult to obtain troops for their squads. I think the Iron Grenadier was a bit more difficult to find, and these colors are a nice variation of the common theme. Ultimately I think I can better find a place in my collection for the Iron Grenadier than the Steel Brigade.
50th Anniversary Iron Grenadier
A third iteration of this bulky, padded, heavy weapons trooper for Destro, Hasbro has managed to differentiate the color schemes just enough to keep things interesting. Some swatches of lighter colored camouflage add a bit of variety to what is a pretty great base figure to support the terrific City Strike Destro.
1 – Any compliment to City Strike Destro is a good one
2 – Stedi-Cam machine gun is really great and collectors are always looking for a good way to get one
3 – New camouflage paint colors looks nice
1 – It’s essentially the same figure that’s been released twice before
2 – I’m still not sure where that ancient Para-Viper machine gun fits in