Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1989 Frag Viper

Ah the Frag Viper, my favorite childhood evil-robot-monster-man-from-outer-space. Not what I’d describe him as now, but that is really what I used him for as a kid. This is another one of those army builders I’ve accumulated that I really never cared for, but I’ve found a use for the many partsless ones in my collection.

The original idea for the Frag Viper is that he’s a silent grenadier, but this is a pretty farfetched job for them to have, so to me, they’re just Cobra demolitions experts. They use normal grenade launchers, bazookas and other such things you’d expect. Like this I really enjoy the figure, especially as an alternative to the gaudy HEAT Viper.

The Frag Viper came with a lot of parts which is why he’s rarely seen complete. The machine gun he comes with is pretty nice; a shame when you consider it was never used again. He also came with two hoses, three grenades that peg onto his backpack, and a grenade pitcher. None of these are really bad things, though if you don’t like the concept of this figure, you probably won’t care for all of his parts.

The Frag Viper really isn't a bad figure. If not by chance however, I probably would have never pursued him or at least many of him. I'm glad I've obtained as many as I have though, as I've found a good role for him that many other figures just didn't work as for me.

Frag Viper GI Joe G.I. Joe Vintage 1989 Cobra HEAT Viper Letal GIJCC Convention

Sonic Fighters Falcon

The original Sonic Fighters are a really good and often overlooked subgroup. Their colors are mostly excellent and it’s easy to find uses for the figures. Sporting a grey and black outfit, this version of Falcon is a great looking figure perfectly suited for urban settings.

When I first got back into collecting, my brother and I went through his old collection of 90’s Joes. At the time I didn’t appreciate those figures much, but a few stood out to me that used classic molds, but in reasonable colors like this figure does. Falcon quickly became a figure I looked at often, even upon acquiring an original, this Falcon remains as one of my favorites.

His accessories aren’t among the greatest, his backpack being an awkward piece of junk and his guns being downright strange. Unlike many figures of the era, Falcon’s parts were new and unique to him. One of his guns is a very sci-fi looking underarm riffle type thing; I don’t really know how to describe it. Generally speaking, I’m a bit of a realist when it comes to these figures, but I can get over it if it improves the figure. I don’t really see any play value added by this gun however. His other gun is large and kind of forgettable. I think this is the kind of figure who isn’t bad to acquire sans parts given all of this.

GI Joe G.I. Joe Hasbro Cobra Falcon Duke Flint Super Sonic Fighters 1991 Vintage
GI Joe G.I. Joe Hasbro Cobra Falcon Duke Flint Super Sonic Fighters 1991 Vintage

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Retaliation Zartan

The Retaliation toy line is something I’ve been ignoring since it was postponed.  When the first photos of the toys were revealed I was really excited for the line, but as time has passed I’ve been able to see more of these figures and acquire a pair for myself. I’m unimpressed to say the least.

The first thing I want to clear about is the fact that I’m not down on this line. I’m really not into the movies, but I can appreciate the toys. Looking at the later waves I’m hugely excited for some of the figures coming out. With that said, I’m honestly worried those figures will be hard to find if Hasbro ships this first wave out in large numbers again.

Zartan comes in an outfit much similar to his Renegades one that never appeared in toy form. This is a nice bonus for fans of that show given Zartan were featured in the cartoon a few times. The hood he wears hides more of his face than usual and is a nice change for him while not straying too far from his classic look. Overall, the design works better for me than the Valor vs. Venom one or the ROC one, at least.

The first wave of Retaliation toys are noticeably cheaper than most G.I. Joes of late. The most noticeable cutback is in the articulation, especially in the legs. Like others, this Zartan does not feature ankle articulation whatsoever, and only has a single hinge joint in his knees. It seems like a small thing to gripe about, but the joints that were cut have been standard in these toys for over five years now, and it limits guys like Zartan greatly.

As for accessories, he includes a pistol, bow gun, three extra heads (masks), a quiver, two swords and a sheath for them. Some of these parts are pretty nice; I especially like his pistol and the way it stores on the back of his vest. There are some problems here however, most noticeably, his weapons are cast in blue plastic with really hurts the look of them. I understand they might’ve wanted something brighter to contrast of a dark and saturated looking action figure, but this just looks cheap. His masks are another problem from my perspective. While I’d like to say that all them have a very eerie, creepy look to them, the light piping kills some of that, and in the case of a few heads doesn’t even work too well. It causes a problem for his vest/hood, as for the light piping to work an open slot is left on top of his head. The gimmick would be a nice bonus, but ultimately they put a simple gimmick ahead of the figure’s aesthetic, which I think is bad.

Concluding, Zartan’s an okay figure, but only and okay figure. The design is good, but the figure has a lot to hamper it. Less articulation, weird looking accessories and a botched gimmick makes this figure just feel like a big step back. I’d only recommend it were you a fan of the design or found him really cheap like I did.