Direct to Consumer Wave 1 - Spirit Iron-Knife

Toy name: Spirit Iron-Knife
Assortment: Direct-to-Consumer Wave 1
Price: MSRP $4.99
Availability: July, 2005

Ahhh, Spirit. I feel so conflicted when it comes to the infamous G.I. Joe Native American tracker. He's always had the potential to be so cool, and has always gotten completely awesome treatment in the comic. As a deep-thinking, pseudo-mystic shaman healer and reconaissance specialist, his character really hit me in a great spot from his dealings in the pages of the Joe comic. From his early appearences with Ripcord and Airborne to his relationship with Mutt and Midville, USA. Even his smaller appearances in the Quonset huts in the later issues revealed some deep-seeded coolness with Spirit Iron-Knife.

But a couple of problems lie within this as well. First of all, his figures have all stunk, plain and simple. Second of all, his use as Storm Shadow's nemesis in the cartoon always drove me completely nuts. Even as a kid, I knew Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's see someone like Spirit (a cool tracker and commando, but NOT a martial artist) face down Storm Shadow just rubbed me the wrong way.

But leaving that aside, and leaving Spirit's powder blue shirt and pigtails aside, the character is cool and the potential is there. Well, finally the potential has been least somewhat. Everyone and their brother at this point has done a Devil's Due Spirit figure as he appeared in the comic since the early days. Well, now we've got an official Hasbro release, and while not perfect, it's still a pretty neat figure, and definitely a lot better than his previous incarnations.

Figure Mold

The mold is where this figure starts, and starts pretty darn well. We knew a DD style Spirit was coming, based upon the votes of the Fan's Choice Poll not too long ago, but who knew he was coming as a standard release figure as well? This sculpt does work pretty well, but has some proportion problems. Spirit's legs are definitely on the long side, and his torso is a tad short...familiar issues that we were having throughout the later waves of Spy Troops and Valor Vs. Venom are evidently still somewhat present, but definitely not as drastic here as it has been in the past. Sure, the torso and legs are a little off proportion-wise, but not really dramatic enough to look too rediculous. But beyond the proportions, it's the mold substance itself that really makes this figure take off.

First of all, the new head sculpt is excellent. Losing the pigtails was a huge first step to helping this guy get some street credit, and the straight black hair helps a ton. His facial sculpt is very Native American in design and just looks like Spirit should look. His torso mold is pretty simple, but exceedingly effective, with excellent wrinkle details and the simple strap across the chest. This mold detail continues on through the arms and legs as well, retaining the simplistic detail of the cloth uniform with a nice assortment of straps and belts over it. Great detailing, but not an overabundance of too much junk crammed into too small a space.

Some of the coolest stuff about the figure mold, though, lies in the small Native American details sprinkled throughout. The teeth necklace, trim on the boots, and the great sheath at his hip all come together to showcase a nice little flair for detail. They really call back to Spirit's roots, but don't overshadow the rest of the military background of the figure. Nice job overall.

Of course this all looks at the appearence of the mold and the detail of the sculpt. This is all great, as far as I'm concerned. What is NOT great is the "playability" factor of this figure. I was somewhat dismayed to find that Spirit's legs kind of have that "bowed legs" effect and it can be tough to get him to stand, looking realistic and effective. His knees tip inwards and his legs just don't move real fluidly. I have the same problem with his shoulders, and he's got those wacky twisted hands that look strange. It also doesn't help that those hands are sitting on somewhat stubby arms. So, by appearence, Spirit Iron-Knife LOOKS very nice. Once you move him around and try to post him and play with him, his bright spots really start to fade away. However, the figure still at least looks worlds better and is better conceptually than all other Spirit's made previously.

Paint Applications/Color Choices

Here is where things get a little curious, although definitely not in a bad way. The Devil's Due Spirit is perhaps best known has being dressed in all black and dark gray, really expressing the "covert ops" roots of the character. Since, evidently the black/gray version of this figure is being relegated to the DD Comic 3-Pack, we get a different take on the DD style Spirit with this figure. At least Hasbro has done a good job retaining some military feel, though. If we can't get black, green is the next most logical choice, and the green is used really well here.

Perfectly complimenting the rich green uniform color is a lighter tan/green trim used for the straps, boots, and gauntlets, which match the base color nicely and suits Spirit well, too. Both of these colors are joined by black and silver trimming in all the right spots, and coming together to make a great looking figure. It's not the traditional black/gray of the Devil's Due Spirit, but the brighter color pallet is still quite effective and appealing to the eye.


It would seem as if accessories are definitely a focus for this first wave of figures, which is fantastic. One of the serious downsides of the new line up until recently was the huge rehash of existing weaponry, which really removed a lot of the unique qualities of the characters the weapons were included with. Here, we get a nice, stacked sniper rifle, which again, suits Spirit to a "T". Along with the large (and very, VERY cool) rifle is a nasty looking knife that fits into his hip sheath. This knife is large and scary looking, and once again, looks like it fits right in with the Spirit character. Lastly, Spirit comes with the trusty Freedom, his familiar bald eagle. Someone at Hasbro must be an animal lover, because over the past two waves (Valor Vs. Venom Wave 7 and this one) we've gotten four animal handlers with animals, often much improved over their original versions (with the exception of Croc Master). This Freedom is HUGE and looks a LOT more intimidating than the one that came before. I still don't want to see him catching throwing stars in his teeth, though. ;)

Final Comments

For the first time in over 20 years, I have a Spirit who will integrate well into any military team, and looks very cool doing it. Even with some slightly off proportions, Iron Knife has all of the right componants: a great, military mold that's comic accurate; a cool color scheme that's nice and different, but still quite effective; a collection of fantastic accessories that compliment the figure and character to perfection.

This is a GREAT version of Spirit, and one that I'm quite happy to own. He's got a lot of great points, and only a few minor negative ones, which all form up into an excellent G.I. Joe tracker who was long overdue for an update.

Ratings (out of 10)

Character: 8.5
Mold : 6
Paint Apps: 7
Value: 7
Overall score (not an average): 6.5


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