Comic Book 3-Pack Issue # 3

General Abernathy, Sgt. Stalker, and Double Clutch

Toy name: General Abernathy, Sgt. Stalker, and Double Clutch w/ Comic Book
Assortment: Comic Book 3-Pack Asst. 1
Price: MSRP $9.99
Availability: July 2004

So, my screen name should pretty much indicate my thoughts on at least the first figure in this set. As my website and my internet handle would indicate I'm a fan of Hawk. I chose the name when I first stumbled upon the G.I. Joe online community back in 1997...I've been a comic fan since the beginning, and it always irked me somewhat that Hawk was given the short end of the stick in the toon, especially at the beginning. To me, he was the true leader of G.I. Joe from the get go, and the true element that holds the team together...who better to show my "allegience" to than the main man himself, eh?

Over the years we've gotten plenty of decent versions of General Hawk: the bomber jacket and camouflage pants, the Talking Battle Commander version, heck, I even liked the jetpack version from 1991. However, we never once got a decent version of Colonel Hawk. When the headman of the Joe team leaped on the back of the HISS in issue #16, taking on Destro and COBRA Commander single handedly, I looked at my straight-armed gray Grunt repaint with Short Fuse's head and cried a little bit inside. This figure didn't even come close to representing the great Hawk that led the Joe team with confidence and ability. The guy who would pick up a rifle and fight right alongside those soldiers under his watch...the guy with a blonde crewcut and bad attitude. Well, it took about 20 years and a few rank promotions, but we've definitely got the guy now.

This is a great rendition of Hawk, the first (and only) guy to lead the Joe team. Going from the skimpy Short Fuse head to this newly sculpted one makes an absolute world of difference and gives the character a personality that was just not there before.

But while Hawk's head sculpt is definitely the defining componant of this figure, the rest of it is pretty great, too. Sure, they use the torso and arms from the original '82/83 version, which by today's standards looks pretty scrawny and lacks some detail. But it looks looks how old school Colonel Abernathy should look. With his waist and updated legs, it gives him a little bit of a beefier mold, which is good as well.

Another place that this figure shines is with the color pallet. They take full advantage of the mold here with some great shades of green for his basic army uniform...the green is a nice color, too. It stands apart from the original olive drab colors, yet still maintains a basic military look to it that was such an integral part of that first series of figures released.

The blonde hair is accurate to a "T" with a perfectly sculpted crew cut and determined facial sculpt. The addition of the red trim around the collar has a surprisingly cool effect, doing a little part to draw in the similarities to the comic and make this figure really look like he jumped off the page. It's a minor touch, but it works wonders.

There are other small touches which do great work, too...the silver on the grenade, knife, and belt buckle are very small hints of color, and just add to the realism and look of the figure.

Again, the tan shade that seems to make such an appearence in the comic book is very prevelant here in all of his straps, belts and even his boots. It all combines together to make Hawk explode from the pages of the comic and really come to life. This single figure really inspires me to try my hand at some flashback stories, just to have an excuse to use these very cool, old school figures.

Ever since the two media were first released, I just wonder what it was about certain characters that just made them click in their respective formats.

On the cartoon, Shipwreck, Flint, Lady Jaye, and Duke really jumped to life and had some serious personallity. There was a lot more focus on them than other characters, and they became defining characters of the animated series.

While in the comics, these same characters were often relegated to background scenes, or minor bit parts. Meanwhile, the book took characters like Snake Eyes, Stalker, and Storm Shadow and really added to their history, making them an integral part of the G.I. Joe mythos.

I'm not even sure what it is about Stalker that made him so appealing to Larry Hama back in the day, or what makes him so appealing to me now. Perhaps it was his gangland upbringing...or his general badness when facing off against COBRA troops...or perhaps just his close ties with Snake Eyes. Whatever it is, Stalker is a lexacon in the Joe mythos, and this is one of his coolest representations yet.

Stalker has had a myriad of figures over the years, and seems to go either up or down in quality with each release. The original was fantastic in it's simplicity, taking one of the common 82/83 molds, and actually giving it camouflage and a beret. This really made Stalker stand out back in the day, and he instantly became a solid, stand alone character, where a lot of other guys from that first series seemed interchangable. This held true with Rock and Roll, Scarlett, and Snake Eyes as well, as they all had very unique componants about them, and this helped characterize them much better to me as a kid.

Stalker's next figure was in '89, as a "Tundra Ranger". This figure just plain torqued me off as a kid. I loved Stalker, and constantly used much so that my original was missing not just a thumb, but a whole hand! His crotch was broken, and his camouflage pattern was only hanging on by a few threads here and there...he was in rough shape, but he served his purpose well. When I saw that another version was being released, I was happy, until I saw that it was an arctic figure! An arctic style figure for a character that was my main jungle troop? Gross.

It was a while before I got another Stalker figure that I felt served the purpose I wanted him to serve (the '94 Battle Corps version with the green shoulder pads did the trick for me), and since then, most of Stalker's offerings have been pretty cool. But none have captured the feel of the character as well as the head sculpt on this one. It's really a simple thing, but Hasbro has nailed it here like they missed it on all other tries...this head sculpt IS Stalker, plain and simple. It works flawlessly with the green base uniform and camouflage pattern, and like Hawk, the added red collar is very much appreciated. Stalker is by far my favorite comic pack figure so far (with Hawk at a close second) but there is a definite problem I need to address, that was particularly evident in this pack.

Others have complained about it, and I really need to mention it, too. First, let me preface by saying I love the soft hands and forearms. This little change was worked wonders to avoid broken thumb syndrome and to make me feel a whole lot better about trying to squeeze a rifle into someone's hand. But the combination of these soft hands and using small rubber bands to hold weapons in them practically ruins the figure, especially in these cases. My Stalker figure's wrist came packaged bent at a reverse 90 degree angle. He couldn't hold his gun, and he looked like he had a broken arm! I soaked it in some hot water and reshaped it some, then put it in cold water, and that seems to have worked better, but this really troubled me. I really don't want to see collectors getting these sets that we've been waiting for for a long, long time, and ending up with sour taste in our mouths because the figures are coming through almost deformed by this little rubber bands. Not only that, but a kid whose parents buy them this pack as an introduction to G.I. Joe are going to be left with a bad first impression, which can be even more tragic. Hopefully Hasbro will take steps to remove this aspect, or harden the hands somewhat. I don't want them as hard as they were, for sure, but a little bit might not hurt.

On to the next figure in this set...
I've already talked about how the difference in character appearence compared to toy form really bothered me with Scarlett. Well, in that first year, Scarlett was just one of the crowd...

I know Hasbro was working with a very limited budget that first series, and I know Larry Hama had to do something to make these guys all seem different...but the rash differences between comic versions and figure versions really bugged me back in the day. Zap with a moustache...Short Fuze with glasses...Breaker with no beard, and Clutch with only a five o'clock shadow. For some reason this all bugged me, and I had a hard time getting over it with that first bunch of figures. Well, from what I've seen so far, Hasbro is making strides to overcome those problems with these comic packs, and I definitely welcome it.
Now, for this pack at least, Hasbro tries something pretty new...instead of just using the same old body mold as the original with merely a new head sculpt, they've elected to use an entirely new body for this Clutch figure, and the results are interesting, but somewhat mixed.

It's pretty obvious why they chose the body they did, it belonging to Mace, a '93 Battle Corps figure (and one that I really like). It has the familiar shoulder holster and gun that Clutch had back in the day, and that he usually has on in the comics. So for this reason I am happy they went the route that they did, since it maintains the look of the original, yet still adds new parts into the mix. Where this figure is a little less successful is the fact that Mace was a pretty broad chested figure...he was broad chested even compared to the rest of the Battle Corps figures, and they were all sculpted large compared to their predecessors. Because of this, Clutch ends up looking a little unproportional. I am glad they took this pack out of rotation and re-tooled it, though. Early prototype pictures showed a Clutch with a little pea-head and the most massive chest you've ever seen on a human. Hasbro was able to retool and increase the size of the head, so it doesn't look nearly as bad, although it does still look out of whack.

The new head sculpt they made up is sort of hit or miss as well. Something about it just seems "smooshed". I don't know why, but it doesn't look as rounded as a face/head should really look. Besides that, though, they've captured the detail pretty well. The somewhat greasy hair...the thin beard (although I still wish it were 5 o'clock shadow...) and the overall look of the face does resemble Clutch, and the overall execution is effective.

The overall colors chosen, actually for pretty much all of these figures, do work well, too. As I mentioned, Hasbro tries a different green shade...not olive drab, but enough like it to retain some military feel to it, but it's still a new and different color that works nicely. It fits all three figures really well where it is, and even the bright tan, almost yellow touches don't seem out of place. They're comic-authentic and work well in that environment.

Overall, it definitely looks like Hasbro is getting their feet wet and trying some new things with these comic packs. I think there's a slight learning curve involved and some of these first figures aren't quite as cool as they could be, but the intent and the concept is extremely well done. Pretty much every one of the new head sculpts looks great and very much like the character it represents, and the overall package comes together nicely. For those folks who are missing some early issues of the comics, it is also a terrific value, getting you a copy of an older issue as well as three figures from it for under $10.00. A great, great idea from the minds of Hasbro, and I'm really hoping to see more.

I look forward to being able to round out my original 13 with these packs...hopefully it doesn't take too long to get everyone included (like a non-astronaut Flash, and Grand Slam, perhaps?) and I'll proudly display them on my shelf. I am going to put my full support behind these packs and hope lots of collectors (and non-collectors, for that matter) feel the same way. I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting for the Oktober Guard packs to come out, and I'm very eager to see what other comic-only characters might be coming down the pipe. Keep up the good work, Hasbro!

Ratings (out of 10)

Characters: 8
Molds: 6
Paint Apps: 7
Value: 8
Overall score (not an average): 7.5


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