General Mayhem - M.A.R.S. Invades! - Page 2
G.I. Joe International Collector's Convention, 2005

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Toy name: General Mayhem - M.A.R.S. Invades
Assortment: Convention Exclusive, 2005
Price: Assorted
Availability: June, 2005

Key Features & Price Points

- 15 Figure Set w/ Filecards, accessories, and Stealth AGP - $240.00
- Steel Brigade Troopers 2-Pack - $35.00
- Steel Brigade Command 3-Pack (Dragonsky, Gung Ho, Steel Brigade Commander)- $65.00

- Steel Brigade Skyhawk 3-Pack - $35.00
- Iron Mech - $28.00

- COBRA Moray (Tiger Force Moray with COBRA Blue deck piece)- $75.00

Well, it definitely seems to be a common theme throughout these convention exclusives. Tons of COBRA's, a handful of Joes and a nice, intertwining story of conflict between the two. In the past, though, the sets have definitely been headlined by the COBRA's, with the Joes just not being as cool as their evil counterparts. The Operation: Anaconda jungle troops were okay, but nothing great...the Dreadnok Escapade Tiger Force guys were overly bright and not all that interesting to me personally, mold-wise and color-wise.

But then came the Steel Brigade. Wow. THIS is how Joes should be done! It almost seemed in the past few years that the COBRA's were all well thought out and conceived, and the Joes were kinda phoned in...but not this year. This year, the Joes have really turned it up a notch and are producing figures every bit as good as the bad guys, and I for one am glad to see it. I am a COBRA fan first and foremost, but I like my Joes to look nice as well, and these definitely DO.

Where the last two sets included a small crew of Joes as part of the original 15 figures, this one forces you to spend some extra cash to get the Iron Grenadier's enemies...and for the first time, I really think these extra figures are worth the bones...they are that good. We'll start off with the 3-Pack first, and normally I try to start with the bad and work up to the good, but man, this is all good, so I'll just start at the top.

According to the filecards, the leader of this little squad is Gung Ho, even though there is a "Steel Brigade Commander" be honest, I think Gung Ho makes a great squad leader, and this version of the figure is pretty darn cool to boot. Of course it goes without saying how much of a Mega Marine fan I am. Anyone who has read my reviews or my dios knows that I'm a huge fan of most of the 90's offerings, specifically stuff like the D.E.F. and yes, the Mega Marines. The molds are so cool and have such great potential, to see them watered down somewhat by bright, obnoxious colors is pretty frustrating. Fortunately, the folks at the Collectors' Club must share my frustration and seem to go out of their way to locate obscure, terrific later-model molds for repainting and re-releasing. In the Convention sets of years passed, I've now received probably 3-4 of my top 10 desired repaints. Let's really hope the Club can keep up this pace!

So why do I like this figure so much? We'll start off with the head really strongly resembles Gung Ho as it should, with clearly defined features and his now signature bald head. It perfectly resembles everyone's favorite Marine, and really, once clad in the helmet, suits the look of the Mega Marines perfectly. Now the figure really shines when you get down to the torso...this is really what makes the Mega Marines great: their oversized, mechanically enhanced body armor that really sets them apart. The armored plating on his upper chest has some great design elements with two pieces of layered armor draped over each shoulder really effectively to combine into a solid piece of protective covering.

Underneath this armored plate is what looks to be a well-detailed bodysuit with more detailing in the abdomen area, even further demonstrating the enhanced nature of the figure.
His arms are also nicely enhanced, with intricate metal gauntlets and shoulder pads. His waist and legs are even more fully armored, finally coming down to a pair of oversized solid steel boots. The mold is nice and beefy, as are most molds from that time period, and it fits in perfectly with the rest of the figures in this set.

But come on...I mean, we've seen all of this before. Even with the bright yellow and green camouflage I've been a big fan of the Mega Marine Gung Ho. So now? With this rocking color scheme? How could anyone not be? The uniform base is an absolutely crazy new "Urban Rain" camouflage scheme designed by club employee Lenny Latham. Well, I'll tell you, he did some beautiful work. Clad in grays, blacks, and whites of all different shades and hues the camo pattern looks perfectly urban and perfectly real on the figure it's painted on. Combine that with the properly hued gunmetal gray armored componants, and the overall figure looks fantastic in his new duds. The large biceps, imposing physique, and nicely done urban camouflage all combine to produce a great looking figure that will definitely find a place in my Joeverse.

And his accessories? Well, they're equally nice. He comes with the same MP5 that he did originally, only it's painted in a nice gray shade instead of the bright color it used to be. He also comes with Range-Viper's grenade launcher in the same color and a black general purpose backpack. All in all, the compliment of accessories perfectly matches the figures paint applications and it all combines together to create a near-perfect modern representation of Gung Ho.

Next we'll take a look at the Steel Brigade Commander. I'm going to make a confession here to start things off. I absolutely cannot stand the Steel Brigade figure(s). I think the helmet is obnoxious, the mold choices are boring, and the colors are just plain crap. Even as a kid when I sent away for my figure and received it in the mail, it promptly went into a bin and was never used, even as my own character. Don't get me wrong...the premise was good...and I realize that they had to make the figure generic so it could be anyone underneath, but still...that rediculous helmet and overall body style? Bleh.

So when those Tiger Force themed Steel Brigade protos started appearing online and rumors starting cropping up about them being a part of the Con set, I was far less than enthused. I mean, come on. There are so many cool figures to choose from, why use an old dated relic like that for anything? Especially colored like it was. Well, I'm happy to report that even though the rumors of "Steel Brigade" at the convention were true, at least they found something good to use. Not just good, but pretty damn cool.

Who would have thought? The Blackstar helmet looks a LOT like an updated Steel Brigade one. The goggle shape...the lines in the all has more than a passing resemblance for the infamous Steel Brigade, but I never would have noticed it.

Thankfully, someone in the Collectors' Club DID notice it and saw fit to use it in this capacity, which just plain rocks. It has the basic design element of the Steel Brigade, but looks much more modern and exciting, so this figure still works in the regard it was intended, but looks darn cool as well.

And what about the body mold? Awesome idea! Windchill has a just plain terrific "officer" type body, especially in a winter environment, and that fits this figure to a "T". The professional, overlapping jacket is a plain, ordinary torso, but looks quite effective with the elaborate jacket trim and single strap across the chest. Shoulder ornaments bring more of a "command" look to the figure, and the arms and gloves look great as well. With a single, simple holstered pistol at his waist, and the plain military slacks, the figure just looks like one "in command" as he absolutely should. Just by looking at this figure, he looks like he should be the one in charge, and he definitely is.

The colors only serve to further solidify the coolness of this figure. It wouldn't make much sense to have an overcoat with an Urban Rain camouflage pattern, so they go with the same deep, dark gray as Gung Ho's armor. While the jacket isn't metallic, this color works as a cloth material as well, and works well. Add in the little flair of gold paint on the chest walkie and jacket buttons, and you've got a relatively little amount of paint apps, but in an extremely effective manor. Giving him the "Gold Headed" Steel Brigade look was a terrific idea as well.

They go ahead and give him the urban rain camouflage on his pants, and really, even though the pants are somewhat ornamental, the camo pattern works seamlessly. It adds an awesome flair to the figure and matches him perfectly with the rest of the figures in this set. The dark gray boots offset the camouflage equally well, and the small touches, such as the gold bands across the feet, really make a world of difference. Other small bits like the metallic flek in the goggles and the small bit of camouflage underneath his overcoat just bring the figure together all the better.

As for accessories, this figure is doing pretty well, too. He comes with Windchill's sniper rifle, and while it's not quite as cool as Frostbite's was back in the day, it's still a super cool machine gun and I'm thrilled to see it getting some use here. He also comes with the silenced submachine gun that the '88 Shockwave originally came with, which is another welcome addition to Hasbro's current arsenal. Nice job digging up these accessories, and a great job on the figure as well!

Now what could polish this set off perfectly? How about a nice inside reference to Joe's long storied comic book past? How about a familiar character who has never had an action figure before? How about a wonderfully constructed Soviet special forces Oktober Guard member? Sounds like a recipe for success, and this figure is definitely successful!

Dragonsky was one of the non-charter members of the Oktober Guard, first appearing in the G.I. Joe Yearbook #2, I believe, as a purple-suited flamethrower. He seemed to be a pretty minor character, and yet oddly, was one of the only survivors of the Oktober Guard's ultimate defeat. It only makes sense that since the rest of the Oktober Guard was finally introduced earlier this year in comic pack form that we get Dragonsky as well...someone who is currently alive and well, and serving in Russia, where this story takes place! The story is tied together very nicely (including a terrific subplot involving General Mayhem, who apparently used to be Dragonsky's commanding officer when he was with Spetnaz), but the most important thing is that this figure really LOOKS the part. Is he a comic-perfect representation of the bald Soviet flamethrower? Nope.

But when I look at him, can I easily see him as Dragonsky? Sure thing. This figure really works well.
We start off with yet another Mega Marine figure, using Blast Off's head mold. Even though Dragonsky has been shown numerous times as bald-headed in the comic, this look works great. It makes sense for him to have some sort of skullcap underneath his helmet, and his face even looks somewhat Eastern European or Russian. The torso chosen for this figure is from the Star Brigade Duke, and I'll tell you, I can't think of a better one to use. I'm not sure if Blast Off's torso was unavailable, or if they purposefully looked for something with a more body armor look, but regardless, this fits into the figure seamlessly and looks great. The layered, armored tunic has a nice shape and some fantastic detail, and is only perfectly embellished by the twin shoulder straps. The tiny gold plate of decoration on his upper right chest adds a little bit of a different color, but looks good.

The rest of the figure continues to use Blast Off, with his bulky, armored arms, and nicely streamlined legs. Given the size and shape of his armored componants (and the general size of the 90's molds) this guy looks like someone who would heft a flamethrower around, and the oversized gauntlets on his hands only make more sense for someone controlling an advanced piece of weaponry. The boots have a unique, angular shape to them which looks cool and is definitely something different.

Now, of course, we come to the colors. Well, the color pallet has been exceedingly successful so far, and it continues to be the case here. Dragonsky has a wealth of urban rain camo all over his body, and it works surprisingly well. The black/dark gray trim on his belt, straps, and other assorted pieces of clothing matches him nicely to the other figures, but what really sets this guy apart is the color of his armor, and helmet.

They're purple!

Now a lot of people would scoff at this color...why the purple? It makes no sense! Well, the Dragonsky we all know and love wore purple as his primary uniform color, so I think the inclusion of that color here makes perfect sense and is an awesome homage to his original classic uniform. The purple shade is definitely deep and dark enough to not be obnoxious and really blends with the rest of the urban color scheme surprisingly well. Overall, the look is seamless.

Dragonsky's accessories are also pretty darn nice, too...he comes with Blast Off's helmet, which again, isn't necessarily comic accurate, but it fits, and looks great for a flamethrower. As for the fire-tosser itself...he comes with the Wave 6 Torch weapon, backpack, hose, and open flame! This is absolutely PERFECT, and I could not ask for a better assortment of accessories for the Soviet flamethrower. In short, Dragonsky is an extremely nice figure, compliments the set beautifully, and will make a worthy addition to my Joe collection.

So now that we've covered the 3-Pack, how about the two-pack, right? We've seen the Steel Brigade Commander, and it's completely different than what we saw on eBay not too long ago...what's the deal?

The deal is the Steel Brigade TROOPERS. Or, more accurately (according to their filecards) the Steel Brigade Paratroopers. Members of the commanders Steel Brigade security squadron, the paratroopers are G.I. Joe support units. They're not necessarily full time members, but they serve to compliment the Joes behind enemy lines and attack from within. And as cool as the Commander his, he passes his coolness on to the troops who serve him.

Like the Commander, these troops come equipped first with a Blackstar helmet, which, as I've said, makes a near perfect update to the extremely dated Steel Brigade look of times past. The troopers' helmets are a different color than the Commander's, which is very nice and adds a nice homage to the figures of old, where we had silver and gold headed Brigade members back in the day. The head is small, sleek, and effective, and in the context of the filecard, works to perfection.

If the Steel Brigade Paratrooper's torso looks familiar, well it should. It's been getting a ton of use over the past couple of years, but you know what? It doesn't matter, because it's an almost perfect all-purpose flak vest and works well in pretty much any environment. Whether it's the '92 Duke, '01 Duke, Leatherneck, or Sideswipe, this torso just plain works great in most formats. And in this context, I actually find it more appealing than in most others. With a nice, smooth, kevlar appearence, the vest is thick and obviously bullet-proof. The rectangular fasteners on the front of the vest mesh perfectly with the overall design elements and those two straps down across the chest look great. It isn't even necessarily the straps so much as it is the gear that is heavily strewn across them. Grenades, shells, and other assorted goodies pack this vest with punch, and the holstered pistol smack dab in the middle just finishes the package off terrifically.

Where this torso suffered a bit in times past, though, was it's combination with the short sleeves or bare arms that often went along with it. Here, though, we get Barricade's arms on these figures, and it makes a WORLD of difference! Suddenly this figure is literally covered in protective armor and the padded torso takes on a whole different life with these heavily clad arms and gauntlets at its side. It's quite unbelievable what a difference such a small change makes.

The waist and legs continue to belong to the Duke figure that the torso originally went with, and normally look a little odd, with the ribbed boots and the somewhat skinny legs. Here, for some reason, it just all works, and even those strange looking boots seem to serve their purpose and fit with the rest of the figure quite well.

As for the colors? Do I really need to continue to gush about these awesome colors? The urban rain camouflage of course still works wonders here, and is, as always, perfectly complimented by the dark padded vest, gauntlets, and boots. The gear is all beautifully trimmed on his chest, and the helmet carries an assortment of different paint applications that just plain work. This figure looks fantastic.

He also comes with some pretty decent accessories. He is armed primarilly with a large machine gun and crooked knife, but also comes with a very cool Steel Brigade themed parachute! It all fits together to perfection, and these troops match the rest of the set better than I ever thought possible. Without a doubt, this G.I. Joe set is far and away the best group of convention exclusive Joes ever only concern is how they can possibly top it for next year!

But of course, every ray of sunshine has a raincloud around somewhere...and here, it would have to be the much maligned "parachute figure". In times past, the parachute figure has been hidden from public eyes until the convention, but still anyone who ordered the "Homefront Hero" package still got one mailed to them. Here, it has become an attende exclusive, and while that does get on some folks' nerves, they needn't concern themselves too much.

This year's parachute figure is merely a paint-swap redeco of the Jungle Viper figure we received as a free promotion not a month ago. :(

Perhaps I wouldn't be quite so disappointed had the rest of the set not been so utterly fantastic...but the mere concept that we didn't get yet another amazing Iron Grenadier or Steel Brigade member, but instead got yet another Jungle Viper, only in brighter green colors and trimming. I liked the original Jungle Viper okay, I guess, as you can see in my original review here...but the fact that we've already basically seen this figure, and that it doesn't fit with the theme, and that it's a new sculpt somewhat blah figure surrounded by intense classic sculpt goodness just further compounds my newfound distaste for this figure. I kinda liked it I kinda resent it. ;)

It's an all right figure. Decent enough proportions...interesting design schematic. But when in the company of all these other amazing figures with intricate paint applications, storylines, and accessory compliments, it just simply cannot compete. Unless you're a completist, do not worry, you're not missing much here.

When it comes right down to it, I really can't express how fired up this year's convention figure set has made me. The Iron Grenadiers? My ultimate in subteam favorites! A cool as heck urban-based Joe squad using Mega Marine molds and featuring a member of the Oktober Guard? Come ON. There's no way it can get this good, right? Well, it did. Even with the questionable Jungle Viper choice, and somewhat shaky vehicle submissions (which I'll cover on page 3) this set is the absolute bomb. Great job, Collectors' Club!

This covers page 2 for the 2005 Collector's Convention Set...head on over to Page Three to check out the attendee bonuses, vehicles, and a lot more pictures!

Page Three

Page One

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