Comic Book 3-Pack Issue #76

Tunnel Rat, General Abernathy, and Flint

Toy name: Tunnel Rat, General Abernathy, and Flint w/ Comic Book
Assortment: Comic Book 3-Pack Asst. 4
Price: MSRP $9.99
Availability: July, 2005; Hasbro Direct to Consumer

So, in all the riot of the new sculpt stuff finally starting to ship, and in light of the incredible new items shown at the convention a couple of weeks ago, it would seem that the comic packs kind of got lost in the shuffle. What was once a main focus of many an adult collector was kind of pushed aside as folks drooled over the Rhino, ROCC, and the updated HISS Tank. Once you look at the upcoming comic packs, it can be kind of easy to see why they might not be getting such a huge push as some of the new sculpt stuff or some of the older comic packs once did. A lot of the upcoming releases in comic pack form are figures and characters we've seen quite a bit of recently, and not really much that people have been clamoring for. But I figure as long as the execution is good, this could still does it work?

I once gave this figure very high praise...being from the '87 series of figures, it was in some weird company, quite frankly. Figures like Falcon and Chuckles held down the realistic aspect of the G.I. JOe military, but then you had stuff like Crystal Ball, Raptor, and the infamous COBRA La. It was darn tough to tell where everything fit. Tunnel Rat actually fit pretty well back in the day, with his nice military uniform and cool bandana look. But, then he appeared again. And again. And again, again, and yet again. Seriously, he's almost getting the Snake Eyes/Duke complex with how many times he has appeared in figure form over the last few much so that a lot of his original charm is being lost, which is unfortunate, but unavoidable at this point.

But if anything can turn ole overused Tunnel Rat around, it's a comic pack appearence, right? Well, kinda, I guess, but it's still Tunnel Rat.

Tunnel Rat's mold has always been pretty simple. Short sleeved shirt, machine gun belt and a scarf around the neck. This mold is sculpted pretty nicely and is very reminiscent of actual soldiers dressed in this gear. The additions of the gun and holster and grenade to his torso are nice touches, as they always are, and add some spark to the figure, but at it's essence, the figure is still Tunnel Rat.

The head sculpt is new and different, but I feel somewhat conflicted because I didn't really think Tunnel Rat NEEDED a new head sculpt. We get figures like Storm Shadow or Scrap Iron in one of the last comic packs who could be really cool with new heads, and they get stuck with the oversized clunky melons of old, yet Tunnel Rat, a second tier character at best gets a completely new head sculpt. Now maybe they took this opportunity to actually scan Larry Hama's face and head to properly immortalize him in plastic...if that's the case, heck I'm all for it. But really, as cool as this new head sculpt is, the fact remains that it wasn't really necessary, and it's money that could have been better spent on something else.

The colors are another departure from your standard Tunnel Rat figure(s) and he is now found in different shades of green, which are actually surprisingly effective and quite "comic like". The light green shirt with gray machine gun belt (and appropriately colored shells) looks quite striking and I really like how the color turned out. It mixes with the darker green pants very well and every color in the figure has a purpose and function. This is something that Hasbro does exceptionally well with these comic packs...picking a bright, primary color to represent the comic appearance, and it looks fantastic color wise in almost all cases. Tunnel Rat also has a great "dusting" on his face that could double as camouflage or merely dirt from crawling through tunnels.

Accessories are the next point to focus on, and Hasbro usually does quite well with them, and continue to here, as well. Tunnel Rat comes with a sniper rifle and a pouch for carrying all sorts of goodies in. As someone who crawls around in the sewers and through the tunnels, I really think these accessories make sense and work well within the context of the comic.

So, all around, even as a non-fan of Tunnel Rat's vast appearences lately, the figure isn't bad per se. I do wish this was money that could have been spent on a more needed update or a different character, but for working with Tunnel Rat, I think Hasbro did a decent enough job. But Tunnel Rat really isn't what I bought this pack for, is it?

It's gotta be pretty obvious just by my screen name that this was one of my main focuses in getting this set. Hawk is one of my all time favorites character-wise, and has always exemplified what is great about the Joes. A leader who isn't afraid to get into the thick of battle...a grizzled warrior who is the best at what he does...and since issue #1 of the comic, the true leader of the Joe team. As cool as the character and his subsequent figures were, there were always things missing or just not quite right about the translation between the comic and the figure. Seeing how Hasbro improved on the first version compared to the original, I was quite excited. That was the Hawk I remembered from the early days. But how about the classic Hawk? The one from the middle to end of the comic book run who was always in his padded general's jacket leading from the front lines.

His appearences in this garb was especially memorable from the Battle of Springfield in issue #50 and several issues thereafter (including the comic with this pack taking place during the COBRA Civil War). Still, as great as his '86 figure was, it wasn't quite realistic enough or dramatic enough to really take you into the comic...but this version fixes all of that in spades.

First of all, the '86 Hawk has always been one of the best versions of the character. The figure came right as the Joe figures were really coming into their own, getting more solid, more playable, and more detailed compared to the previous few years of releases. His head and facial sculpt finally had some character (even with the wrongly colored hair) and his General's jacket was just covered with the right wrinkles, trimming, military adornments and other proper accoutrements. The upturned fur collar, shoulder holster and medals on his chest are all perfectly sculpted and well executed. The original legs were just as effective as the upper body. These legs are the same ones used for the later version of Hawk ( the Talking Battle Commander version) and used throughout several of the comic pack figures, especially the '82 remakes. These legs work pretty well as plain military legs and with the green camouflage paint apps, I think they work almost as well as the originals. Not quite perfect, but pretty darn good.

The most important aspect of this figure, as with any comic pack figures, is the new head sculpt. This Hawk is crafted with terrific detail, really bringing the character to life and retaining all of the cool qualities of the character in the comic. His blonde hair looks just as it should, and he looks a lot like the Hawk from the other comic pack, as he should. Great new head sculpt as usual, and it makes a world of difference.

But not nearly as much difference as the insanely improved paint apps found on this figure. By lightening the brown on the jacket, Hasbro has made an upper body really, REALLY resemble an actual leather jacket to the point of looking almost authentic. The white on the fur collar and the metallic bronze on the medals are further proof of the detail of paint apps these comic packs are getting. Terrific stuff.

Even his legs look great in the pseudo-slapped on camouflage pattern...they are merely different shades of green, but that's how it was done in the good old days, and it still works pretty well. Those colors are nicely complimented by the dull gray belts, holsters, boots and straps...those are fantastic colors as well and it all comes together nicely to create a pretty perfect rendition of General Hawk.

The accessories are also spot on. The helmet is a new sculpt and fits the figure and the character well, also looking reminscent of the original, but improved in almost every way. Hawk also has your basic M-16 and .45 caliber, all typical weapons that suit him well. Hawk was definitely one of the big reasons why I wanted this pack, and I wasn't the least bit disappointed.

Why has it been so hard for Hasbro to give Flint the proper update treatment he deserves? The figure released back in '85 was pretty darn awesome, and Hasbro has tried to release update upon update since then, and none of them has been nearly as good as the original. Is it that complicated to figure out? Does Flint really not have enough distinguishing characteristics that Hasbro can figure out in order to release a new figure that retains the familiar coolness of the Joes' original Warrant Officer? The closest we got to an even somewhat decent update was the Built to Rule figure, which was barely available in stores. And as cool as the figure is, I can't find myself paying $30-40 on the secondary market, especially with those BTR pegs all over it.

So is this what we're going to have to settle with? No impending new sculpt Flints on the horizon, so we have to settle for a comic pack version almost identical to the original with merely an improved head sculpt? Well, at least the figure is a good one, even if it is almost a complete remake of the original.

Like Hawk, Flint made his first appearance at a great time in G.I. Joe history. Figure designs were really growing up and gaining in detail and bulk, which was definitely a good thing. Flint's black military shirt is greatly detailed and sculpted, with his trademark pair of shotgun shell straps over his chest. The material and wrinkled detail of the shirt is impressive to say the least and the way it contrasts with the straps works quite nicely. The rolled up sleeves make much more sense now that I realize this is a shirt (instead of a jacket... ;) ) and they work pretty well, and even the detail on his gloves look good.

Flint's legs are also nicely sculpted with all of the requisite fabric marks and wrinkle spots, nicely adorned with pockets and pouches, all working down to a fantastically detailed pair of layered boots, which are a nice change from the typical look. The new head sculpt marks a pretty big improvement to Flint overall. His original figure still looked nice, but he did have a somewhat goofy look on his face. Looking at how nicely Hasbro gets the head sculpts these days, though, you pretty much can't go wrong. Flint here looks a lot more angular and determined and less aloof, which is as it should be. His face looks pretty darn close to its representation in the comics and it works.

As for the colors...well, I guess you could say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Flint's colors have always worked well and still do. The dark black leather jacket should be dark black, and looks great as dark black, so why change it? The shotgun straps are a lot brighter and lighter, which looks good, especially against the flat black of the shirt/jacket. His pants are a similar green camouflage pattern as they were back in the day, and you know, it still works today as it did back then. What really brings this figure apart from the original is the light green trim throughout the figure...highlights are plentiful and look great, and really bring Flint into the comics. These simple bright color alterations look great and brighten the figure quite a bit...these little changes really make the figure fit into the comic pages and look good in plastic form as well.

For accessories Flint gets the same basic M-16 as Hawk and so many others, as well as the new sculpt shotgun that originally came with Destro. Good choices all around that really make sense, especially considering the shells strewn across Flint's chest.

But we do come to a weird situation... with the exception of the cover, Flint actually doesn't even APPEAR in this issue (well, except for a minor little two panel Flagg appearence). Huh? These comic packs have kind of prided themselves on being comic accurate and representative of the comic enclosed, and Flint only appears on the cover. However, Falcon DOES appear throughout the issue, and he does bear a close resemblance to Flint. I'm not sure if this is what they're counting on, but considering the Collectors' Club produced a Falcon figure for the Operation Anaconda set, it might be acceptible to assume that Hasbro has access to at least parts of his mold. I just wonder why Flint got released instead of Falcon. Sure, he's a more popular, wide spread character, but that really hasn't been Hasbro's priority with these sets. I'm not necessarily against Flint's appearence here...the figure looks nice. But if we had gotten a Falcon instead, I think people would have gone NUTS (me included). That would have single handedly made this set terrific.

All in all, this comic pack is decent enough, I suppose. Don't get me wrong, the figures in it are cool...I really like the Hawk and Flint, and even though I'm sick of Tunnel Rat, he makes an okay addition here, too. But the truth is, none of these guys really NEEDS a new version of the included figures, at least not in this format. I can think of tons of comic-based figures that could use updates like this...Lady Jaye immediately comes to mind. Characters like that who really need new head sculpts, and who Hasbro has the parts for. But instead we're getting what looks to be a lot of the same. At least there are enough improvements to really make these figures look nice, but again, I'm just not sure this set was really needed. Don't get me wrong, the set is nice, and does improve on pretty much every figure, but I'm just not sure where these figures will find a place in my collection.

Ratings (out of 10)

Characters: 8
Molds: 7.5
Paint Apps: 8
Value: 8.5
Overall score (not an average): 7.5


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