I know they are just plastic toys, but G.I. Joe is very important to me. It sparked my love of action figures and has been with me for as long as I can remember. We both turn 30 this year too! My enthusiasm for them only grows.
When the first shots of the Retaliation figures showed up on USA Today I was pretty excited. The character designs were fresh and moved the brand forward while still referencing the past. The sculpts were on par with what we’ve been getting lately too. Solid stuff.
Then, just before Toy Fair the Hi-Res images hit and it became apparent that they weren’t quite what they seemed. The suspected lack of articulation was confirmed when looking at these clearer images. It boggled my mind that they would take a step backwards after such an excellent couple years of innovation.
They seem to be taking the cost cutting measure of reducing articulation were it is needed the least. For example in the first wave Cobra Commander doesn’t have the wrist joints that most current figures do and only has a single knee joint and no ankle joints. While in the same wave, Snake Eyes has full modern articulation. The argument is that if cuts need to be made then it makes more sense for a ninja to be able to be more pose-able than Cobra Commander. What doesn’t really make sense is that Roadblock has the limited articulation while the Joe Trooper has full. The worst offenders are the vehicle drivers which have been reduced to 5 points of articulation. They are essentially useless except for a nice head sculpt or two that can be swapped onto a better body. This is obviously a financial decision. It costs less to produce a figure that is made up of fewer parts, from the tooling to the assembly, and you can still charge the same amount for the final product. I feel bad for the designers. They’ve been able to push their design and construction further and further over the last five years and now because of money and profits they are forced to take steps backwards.
Seeing more shots from Toy Fair warmed me up a little bit. As the waves progress there’s less and less scaling back. I’m okay with the lack of wrist and double knee joints in a few cases, but the lack of ankle joints is really unfortunate. Luckily the second Roadblock figure is even back to full movement which is excellent news. That figure will make an excellent addition to the team without much alteration or additional gear.
This series is pretty ninja heavy, so I think I will update my red ninja squad with the new one. It reuses the Renegades Storm Shadow body to great effect with a few new pieces to differentiate it.
My Joe buying year will be much lighter than I had anticipated. I’ll pick and choose what I like, while grabbing some that have interesting parts for future customs. After mulling over the cut backs and seeing the line up in it’s entirety I’m much more positive about the coming year. I’ll just have to make the best of it and be thankful for what we do get.