I sit here, excitedly on the verge of PulseCon 2020, eagerly awaiting G.I. Joe news this weekend and have finally gotten some time to post updated reviews of G.I. Joe: Classified.
Wave 2 is my next target, featuring Gung Ho, COBRA Commander and Red Ninja! Another solid wave of fun figures with classic twists and awesome modernization. It seems like each figure is just furthering my love of this line, and something tells me that will only increase with whatever reveals we might see this weekend.
Once again a really fun time to be a G.I. Joe fan!
G.I. Joe: Classified has really endeavored, in it’s relatively short history, to try and walk that line between classic familiarity and new, modern elements. Gung Ho is a great example of how they try and marry those two different era’s.
Early artwork for Gung Ho on the back of the package indicated that Gung Ho might actually have a shirt. At the end of the day, Hasbro went with the more familiar open-vest concept, which has created its own share of disruption among the fandom.
At the end of the day, I think fans need to accept that while these Classified iterations are certainly inspired by classic characters, they’re not necessarily designed to be exact replications of those older school characters. During my reviews of these figures, I’m going to endeavor to measure them on their own merit and not necessarily in comparison to the character’s history.
Gung Ho is a perfect example of why I want to take that approach. It would be easy to rail on this figure because he doesn’t have the right tattoo (the USMC logo is now copyrighted..) or that he’s got the wrong hat (he’s not wearing a Marine cover as the old figure was) but at the end of the day do either of these things impact the overall coolness of this action figure?
Maybe. But not in the ways you might expect.
From a pure “coolness” standpoint, Gung Ho is fantastic. In my mind, he’s almost the perfect blend of classic inspiration and modernized enhancements, with his open vest being layered with some great plate armor to give the figure a more 21st Century feel.
Grenades are on his shoulder strap, and while the base figure for Gung Ho is essentially Roadblock, there is some terrific additions that make this figure stand out. This is a perfect reason why using the rubber secondaries on top of the base figures is such a terrific formula.
First of all, the new head sculpt obviously goes a very long way to take this familiar base figure and give him a more Gung Ho look and feel. The high and tight haircut, the mustache and the determined scowl on his face are all great additions that manage to immediately separate this figure from the previous Roadblock version(s).
The familiar hat is removable here, which is a nice touch, too, even if technically the hat he wears is not a Marine hat.
The rest of the figure is nicely adorned with some of those additional secondaries I mentioned above. Many of these secondaries were also used on the COBRA Island Roadblock, so there’s some great consistency, but also a nice variation here as well. The wrist communicator especially is very cool, and the grenade strap on his thigh (on the opposite thigh compared to Roadblock) add great variation. I also really love the removable elbow pad on his left elbow.
One complaint folks have also had is with his tattoo. Understanding that the familiar USMC logo is now copyrighted and unable to be used on the figure, I think they could have done a bit of a better job on the tattoo, though this one doesn’t bother me too much.
I love the color scheme on this figure, too. Where many of the first releases had some bright, gold armor and some vibrant colors that many folks found jarring, Gung Ho is very muted and subtle, with some great camouflage on the legs and more blacks and metallics, making the figure feel a bit more real world and less “video gamey” than some previous releases.
From a design perspective, Gung Ho is an absolute home run.
Gung Ho’s articulation is spectacular. Using the larger figure buck, he feels solid and rugged, but retains exceptional range of motion. The open vest retains the chest crunch, and he has the same double jointed knees and elbows as other figures, the rocker ankles, swivel wrists and ball joint shoulders as well as the multi -jointed neck and head.
There is so much to love about this figure, and the articulation is a big source of my satisfaction with Gung Ho.
As great as the Classified line has already been, the biggest prevailing argument among fans is certainly focused on the weapons. There is a delicate line to walk between real world weapons, which might be frowned upon by retailers and buyers these days, and more sci-fi weapons that are more easy to explain away as fantasy.
The challenge comes in finding that right balance. Hasbro has struggled with this with some figures (see Roadblock) but has done fantastic work with others (see Duke). I’m happy to say Gung Ho leans far more towards Duke than he does Roadblock.
His three weapons would never be mistaken for anything real world, but do resemble those real world weapons, even if they are based somewhat on some of the Nerf gear Hasbro sells. The three weapons resemble a shotgun, a bullpup style rifle and what looks like an automatic style grenade launcher, which is a great tie-in to his vintage version who was well known for his own grenade launcher.
Along with the weapons, he’s got a backpack with places to store the guns, which is something Classified has done very well along the way, having an available spot to store all of the various gear. Lastly, I suppose you could also consider the removable hat as an accessory as well.
All things considered, I really like Gung Ho’s accessory compliment. A great blend of sci-fi and real world and some just plain fun weapons to boot.
Like the other figures in the Classified line, Gung Ho has some terrific and unique packaging art, this time courtesy of James Paick who does a really great job blending real world military with the future sci-fi artwork. Gotta love the Mamba in the background as well. Great stuff.
The moment I saw initial images for this Gung Ho figure, I was digging it. I really love the layered armor vest, the removable hat, the weapons, and just the overall look and feel of the figure.
No, he’s not powder blue, and no, his hat isn’t 100% accurate to Marine standards, but the figure is a whole lot of fun and has some terrific gear and makes for a nearly perfect addition to the G.I. Joe: Classified roster.
G.I. Joe Classified Gung Ho
Terrific figure. Takes the spirit of the original and adds so many neat, new twists that I just can’t help but love the end result. One of my favorite Classified figures so far.
– Larger Buck serves the character well
– Removable hat and accessories blend fantasy and realism well
– Great paint deco
– The tattoo could be better (or give him a shirt!)
– The hat doesn’t bug me, but I understand why folks don’t like it
I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say that COBRA Commander is the most important character in the G.I. Joe mythology. It’s likely without COBRA Commander, the entire Real American Hero universe simply would not exist, which is why it’s puzzling to me that Hasbro struggles to nail the essence of the character so often.
I would argue that in the vintage era, after ’84 COBRA Commander was not given justice again until the mid 90’s, though I know a lot of folks love the Battle Armor look. I’m not necessarily one of them. In Rise of COBRA, the character essentially didn’t exist (Rex was a poor substitute) and in the Pursuit of COBRA, while I totally love the armored skullface bugsuit look, it doesn’t necessarily jive with the spirit of the Commander.
What about this one? Well, I’m happy to say, Hasbro, you did a good job this time around.
COBRA Commander is deceptively difficult to “get right” because the character means so many different things to so many different people. Sunbow fans see him as a bumbling moron who is barely able to lead a global terrorist organization, while comic fans see him as a sinister ringleader of a secret cabal of domestic and international terrorists.
Hasbro themselves would probably prefer to wipe the term “terrorists” from COBRA’s vernacular entirely, so you need to have a design that works for any of these elements (or all of them).
The Classified COBRA Commander utilizes the Battle Helmet style, which is certainly the most iconic, and while there has been some strangeness with this initial release (a lighter blue “regal” version vs the darker blue retail version) the end result feels like the right choice.
As mentioned, COBRA Commander is the battle helmet version and that ‘s a great choice. It’s mostly the same look at he’s always had, but with some minor changes to the helmet design, looking a bit more streamlined than he did back in the 80’s. I like that they also gave him a sculpted riser along the top of the helmet, which mirrors the Sunbow look nicely.
The figure itself remains pretty regal in appearance and actually takes some visual cues from the vintage Crimson Guard (which of course opens up the question about whether or not we’ll see Classified-themed Siegie’s somewhere along the way). There’s a separate strap and shoulder pad with cape that adds a nice flair to the underlying design, which makes me think they could use this figure as a Crimson Guard easily, just by putting a different secondary on top of the existing body.
I love the looks of the layered gauntlets with sculpted COBRA logo’s and like many of the six inch scale figures, Hasbro takes advantage of the larger canvas to introduce some really cool different textures throughout.
The material at the bottom of the coat and the shoulders is an awesome break point in the smooth texture of the dress uniform and resembles snakeskin in a way, which is a pretty awesome touch to the figure that adds some great detail.
I know there’s been some disagreement about the best color scheme for COBRA Commander, I’m really happy they chose this muted, darker blue shade over the “Regal” variation for the mass retail release. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the regal version as well, and have one on pre-order, but this darker blue meshes with the COBRA Troopers more effectively and feels a bit more real world than the more vibrant colors of the regal variant.
COBRA Commander’s articulation is fairly effective. The secondary strap limits his torso a bit, and the jacket limits his legs, but it’s not like COBRA Commander is doing head-high side kicks or anything. I will say the elbow articulation for COBRA Commander feels a lot more poseable and functional than others. I’m not sure if there’s an actual structural reason for that, or if the narrow sculpt of the arms just works really well with the elbow joint.
Regardless, the extra bend of his elbow allows for some much more interesting arm poses, which is a neat touch.
Unlike many of the other Classified figures, COBRA Commander comes with very few accessories. Pretty much all he comes with is a snake-themed knife, a snake-themed pistol, and two replaceable hands. Granted, COBRA Commander doesn’t need a ton of accessories and the ones they’ve chosen work really nicely.
I love the nasty curved blade of the dagger and how seamlessly it fits into the sheath on his strap. I’m not 100% sold on the pistol, its design is a little clugey, though I get what they were going for with the snake-themed sculpt.
What I REALLY love about COBRA Commander are the hands. There is so much potential for a wealth of interesting combinations that I’ve started to wonder why they don’t just include replaceable hands with everyone. They make a huge difference with the index finger, the closed fist and the opened fingers. It really adds some fantastic character to the figure. A small addition that makes a huge difference.
As with all other Classified figures, there’s unique artwork on the box and while I was a bit on the fence about this approach up front, those fears have been proven unfounded. The unique art on each box goes such a long way towards improving the presentation of the figure, though it seems clear by looking at the art that it was initially commissioned for the regal variant of the figure. Regardless of that, Dan Mumford did some fantastic work on the artwork for the figure and it adds a lot to the look of the figure’s package.
COBRA Commander is a central pillar to the G.I. Joe mythology and Hasbro has done a good job translating the character to a somewhat different format and different scale. He’s got plenty of classic old school vintage cues, but some really great modernization as well.
I find myself really enjoying this update– they’ve really done a good job with most of these updates and COBRA Commander is no exception.
G.I. Joe Classified COBRA Commander
I absolutely love this COBRA Commander. Some great inspiration from the vintage version, but with a nice modern touch. His removable hands are a great bonus.
There was a brief moment in the history of G.I. Joe: Classified where it seemed as though the Red Ninja would be our primary army builder. Announced well before the news was made public about the Target exclusive COBRA Trooper, Red Ninja seemed poised to be the momentary backbone of the COBRA army.
In a way, the focus on ninja warriors made sense, after all the Snake Eyes film was on the verge of release and certainly ninjas were set to take center stage in G.I. Joe mythology again. But that was a few months ago and it feels like the whole world has changed since then. Snake Eyes has been bumped to October, 2021, the Target COBRA Island figures have been announced (and released), and G.I. Joe: Classified has officially exploded into the collector landscape in a way the brand has not seen in a very long time.
But, I digress… all of that was to say that even if the Red Ninja was the momentary default COBRA army builder, now that I’ve got him in hand– I might have been okay with that. This figure is awesome.
The first thing that becomes crystal clear with the Red Ninja figure is that G.I. Joe: Classified has managed to take the philosophy of re-used tooling to great lengths. The core figure of the Red Ninja is a straight repurposing of Snake Eyes from Wave 1, but thanks to a dynamic new headsculpt and awesome new secondaries, the same parts get a whole new life in some pretty exciting ways.
Since this figure was first revealed, it’s become clear that reused tooling is going to be a constant throughout the line, which aligns with action figure production philosophy over the past many years, but G.I. Joe: Classified’s approach is exceptionally well thought out. Figures like Gung Ho, Roadblock (v1 and v2), COBRA Trooper, Beachhead, etc… manage to take a smattering of existing parts and really add some neat new elements to create whole new characters from the same core parts.
Building upon the Snake Eyes base figure, Red Ninja adds some key new pieces to really separate this figure from its initial release.
First and foremost is the new head sculpt. While the old school Red Ninjas were more or less just ninjas in red uniforms, this version totally takes things to a new level. His awesome skull-themed face mask and head wrap really add some sinister themes to the character. I love this blank eyes, as well, revealing that perhaps these characters are under some sort of mind control.
I can already visualize COBRA Commander infiltrating the Arashikage Clan, who might not be intrinsically evil, and using some sort of technology to brainwash the warriors into doing his bidding.
Along with the new head sculpt, he’s got some amazing secondaries as well with shoulder pads, straps, sheaths and all sorts of other bells and whistles that bring this character to life.
Along with the sculpting additions, I feel the need to talk a bit about the color scheme, too. Once again Hasbro utlizes the larger scale to add some really unique color schemes, with the cloth parts of the uniform a more muted red/brown hue while the layered armor is a bit more vibrant and metallic in shade.
With some great black and browns worked in, the figure really has some depth of color, even as a “Red” Ninja and there is a lot to love about this figure, not just from a sculpt perspective, but in color scheme as well.
Because Red Ninja uses Snake Eyes as a base, the articulation is fantastic as one would expect. I still remember getting my hands on that Deluxe Snake Eyes a few months back and being completely blown away by the range of motion and the balance of the figure, and my awe with the seamless flexibility of figure continues unabated with the Red Ninja.
One thing I was a bit concerned about was how the added secondaries might hinder some of the more advanced joints, but I’m happy to say that the design of the chest gear and the belt still allow for the great movements of the shoulders and hips as we all hoped it would.
For those of us who got their hands on the Deluxe Snake Eyes from Hasbro Pulse don’t see a whole lot new with the Red Ninja’s accessories, but that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome.
He comes with a plethora of edged weapons, all of which were originally released with the aforementioned Snake Eyes, but considering the limited release of that figure, this may indeed be the first time many collectors are getting their hands on these weapons.
What’s really cool about the Red Ninja’s gear, though, is how well it fits into the various sheaths and holsters (including the removable backpack pictured above). There is a place for pretty much everything (as long as you include the Red Ninja’s hands as “places”) and even with his weapons all stashed away, he still stands and poses successfully.
The Red Ninja artwork is really amazing. I love the textured paint work on the package, it adds some incredible depth to the figure, and really shines a light on the sinister nature of this character. So, so cool, and Furio Tedeschi really nails the spirit of the Red Ninja. Mind blowing work!
In the grand scheme of things, the Red Ninja is a pretty minor player in the G.I. Joe landscape, and in spite of that, Hasbro’s treatment of the character is anything but “throwaway”. They put a ton of effort and execution into this Red Ninja figure and manage to take a pretty minor character and give him some great, new personality.
G.I. Joe Classified Red Ninja
The Red Ninja takes a classic character and adds some unique twists. Where the old school Red Ninja was a relatively straight forward ninja in red pajamas, this version has several cool, modern elements which stand it apart from the crowd.
– Great new secondaries on top of solid base tooling
– New head sculpt is sinister and awesome/li>
– Ramps up familiar classic nicely
– An odd choice so early on in the line
– Weapons are mostly reused from Deluxe Snake Eyes
Target COBRA Island exclusives– the gift that keeps on giving!
Just as I was feeling settled from the scramble to get Roadblock, Beachhead and COBRA Trooper, suddenly there was another focus of collector fury – The Baroness with COBRA C.O.I.L. Motorcycle. While I’m thrilled to see key characters like this appearing early in the line, I can’t help but wonder if these characters truly are well-served as exclusives. Somehow I feel confident that The Baroness will appear in single-carded format somewhere along the line.
I was very fortunate, however, that my friend Ben kindly helped me acquire this figure very early in its release schedule, and I couldn’t be happier he did!
First and foremost, I love the character of The Baroness. The fact that she plays such a huge role in the COBRA hierarchy is awesome. She’s a persistent, pervailing force in G.I. Joe and COBRA continuity, and a cornerstone for the mythology.
Early art for The Baroness showed some slight differences to the overall design, which I think has led folks along the path that we’ll see a single-pack release at some point, but while we wait for that event, I think this version is a fantastic supplement. Some might even prefer this one to the upcoming version.
The Baroness has a very familiar look and feel, as she has always had since her first figure release in 1984. While in the comic and cartoon she started off in a more blue jumpsuit look, once the layered black armor took over, the character really seemed to take off, and that has been a hallmark of her appearance since then.
The G.I. Joe Classified line takes that look, yet adds some really interesting and unique twists, the changes subtle enough to not dramatically alter her overall look, but significant enough to add some really nice, high quality flair to the figure. First and foremost, as with the other figures I’ve reviewed in this line, the larger scale of these figures allows for some very interesting sculpting textures.
Thanks to that sculpting, you can see what appears to be a sort of chainmail underlayer with armor plate on top which is a great look for the figure and also allows for some slight paint variations.
Another really cool touch is the snake-themed shoulder armor, which is a small change, but a really fun and interesting one, giving her a bit more of that snake-themed super-villain feel.
Rather than a simple painted on logo as well, The Baroness has actually raised, sculpted COBRA sigils on her breastplate, her belt, and her wrist guards, each of them painted a vibrant crimson color to add more striking differences to the overall figure.
What really impresses me about this figure, too, is her head sculpt. She’s got a stoic, determined look, and the way her separately sculpted glasses are situated over her eyes, yet attached to her head gives her a fantastic, three dimensional look.
Along with the base sculpting, there’s a great cross-strap belt (with dual holsters at the small of her back), and a leg strap with knife sheath at her left thigh. Both of which hold removable accessories (which I’ll talk about below).
Top to bottom, this figure is truly spectacular from a design perspective. Very reminiscent of the classic model, but with just the right new touches.
As with Scarlett, Baroness does suffer from limited articulation, one would imagine mostly due to her more slender sculpted limbs. It’s likely a result of form restricting function, which is unfortunate. I love the removable cannons that come on the motorcycle, but with her limited elbow mobility, she cannot hold them very effectively.
Beyond her elbows, she’s got decent articulation, with double joint knees, rocker ankles, swivel thighs, wrists and forearms, plus great ball joint shoulders (and her shoulder pads are somewhat flexible, allowing for additional range of motion). The hair does limit how well the exposed head can raise chin-up, but it’s not a significant issue.
Man, The Baroness has some great accessories.
When I was thinking about this review, I was trying to figure out how to approach the C.O.I.L. motorcycle. Did it deserve it’s own place? Or is it, effectively, just a large accessory?
I decided to land on the accessory aspect, though I fear my labeling the motorcycle as an accessory is a disservice to how cool it is. Yeah, that’s right. I love the COBRA C.O.I.L. I’ve seen quite a bit of hate online about the bike, but I think it’s a ton of fun.
Its sleek shape, thick tires, functional front axel, plus the removable cannons on front are all awesome touches and make for a really fun, COBRA-themed vehicle and I, for one, love that it’s included here. I never would have really pictured The Baroness as a biker sort of character, but the artwork on the box has convinced me otherwise, and I love its inclusion here.
Beyond the C.O.I.L., The Baroness comes with some other really neat gear. She’s got a second head, complete with motorcycle helmet, so you can replace her haired head with a covered one, or also put the helmeted head on another figure (like the COBRA Trooper) to have them use the bike as well. Along with the head, she comes with twin golden pistols, a snake-themed dagger, and a really awesome serpent gun, with a flexible snake shape that wraps around her arm and allows her to hold it like a pistol. Very, very clever.
So, yeah. I really, really love these accessories, and yes, that includes the C.O.I.L.
Again, Hasbro bits the ball out of the park with the package presentation. The artwork on the box (courtesy of Craig Drake) is gorgeous, and does an awesome job portraying The Baroness as a speedbike riding bad ass. I dig it, big time.
A cornerstone of the COBRA ranks, awesome new details, fantastic accessories and a key overall addition to the G.I. Joe: Classified line. Baroness checks all the right boxes.
G.I. Joe Classified Baroness (Special Mission: COBRA Island)
You can’t have G.I. Joe or COBRA without The Baroness, and Hasbro manages to not just get us our familiar COBRA Intelligence agent, but to also add some fantastic new twists. Love this figure and love her motorcycle, too.
– Great sculpting, especially the face
– Really dig the COBRA C.O.I.L.
– Critical addition to the roster
– Lack of Target availability makes acquiring this figure frustrating