Note: Entertainment Earth provided the items for review in this article, though all opinions stated herein are the writer’s own. Readers can obtain a 10% discount on in-stock items at Entertainment Earth via our links, with free shipping on orders over $59 using the code FREESHIP59. Superhero Hype may earn fees from these purchases.
As one of the original nine G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero figures, Stalker was far less fancy than later characters (Including his own later arctic variant that came with a canoe), but still a standout. The first Joe of color in the ’80s team, he also boasted a more colorful camo pattern on his uniform than the flat green everyone else sported, which made him stand out years before the line depended on wackier gimmicks. Likewise, the new Classified figure looks relatively subdued from a distance compared to some wilder characters, but don’t be fooled. He’s quietly one of the most impressive figures in the line, and a throwback to all that G.I. Joe stands for.
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The 6-inch figures won’t ever feature the same level of gear as the older 12-inch figures with fully removable uniforms, but the now-dubbed Sgt. Stalker comes with a ton of gear to be broken down and carried on his person, or not. The green beret fits snugly on his head, and the small green poncho easily slides on or off. The removable backpack holds one of his rifles — ironically, backpacks on the Classified figures stay on less well than the classic ’80s versions did, but that’s an issue across the board. The backpack rifle includes a removable stock, which has to come off for it to go in the backpack, but makes it look more like the classic gun when attached. Unfortunately this makes it easy to lose.
His other rifle features a removable clip, while his handgun features a detachable silencer. Both attach separately to his leg holster, as does his knife. Remove the beret to reveal a scar across his Keith David-ish head. This figure feels like a prototypical Joe, who can gear up or strip down, with a military look that’s basic, but elite.
Stalker is a winner of a figure for all types of Joe fans. Those who prefer realistic military, and those who like a lot of detachable gear will find much to love. He comes in a case with two villain characters who are, perhaps, less so.
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Twins Tomax and Xamot, now billed with their surname Paoli, originally came in a two pack, with unique sculpts that served as mirror images. To save on sculpting, that’s changed here. The “mirrored” parts — shoulder pad, sash, collar — now all attach as one extra piece, form-fitting over the same body. The sheaths that mirror are also separate pieces. That’s understandable for production, but it also makes them feel less special purchased individually. The original two-pack served to eliminate that feeling of repeat buying, and it’s hard not to shake the notion that they should still sell as a pair. (Entertainment Earth does sell them in a trio with Stalker, which is close.)
The heads look more distinct now, with Xamot still distinguishable by the cheek scar. Nothing wrong with the colorful, snake-heavy Cobra designs, but the gray color just doesn’t look as good as the silvery paint on the vintage figures. Even from a distance, it looks like colored plastic rather than believable armor. Maybe their boots would be plastic, but the shoulder armor shouldn’t look that way. The sculpt’s good, but the deco fails to make it pop, or ground the fantasy styling in a convincing updated aesthetic.
The coolest factor to the twins? Their primary gun features removable stock and suppressor.
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Tomax and Xamot may command the Crimson Guard, but for this review, infantry of a different sort arrived. The Viper 3-pack provides three of the faceless Cobra soldiers with some extras. At a retail price of $90, when an individual Viper costs $25, the biggest question is whether those extras merit the extra $15 surcharge.
First let’s look at the figures themselves. The two basic Vipers feature a more muted version of the individually sold Viper color scheme, and one features a dark, nonwhite skin tone, as revealed at the surprisingly vulnerable neck. The Viper Officer has the same sculpt, but a gray and red color scheme.
Each Viper includes backpack, pistol, and rifle, with two extra rifles. Basically, the grunts get their standard weapon with removable stock, and the Officer gets three different ones. The real added value, however, comes from the set of translucent blast effects. They plug into most Joe gun barrels, and can attach to each other for bigger blasts.
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Are they worth an extra $15? Your mileage may vary on that score. It also depends how a given collector likes to display them. As before, the removable goggles over face-shield helmets remain a profoundly stupid design from a practical standpoint, but as an anime aesthetic, they sort-of work after a while. This may seem contradictory after the comments about Tomax and Xamot, but there’s something off about trying to make the Viper design more realistic and tactical. They were always the more sci-fi versions of Cobra troopers, but now the Cobra troopers have gotten extra tactical with way more gear, the Vipers don’t give off the cooler-than-thou ’80s futuristic vibe they used to.
Sci-fi characters were cooler in the vintage line, but here, the more grounded Stalker easily rules. Parents who get triggered by war toys may resent him more, but as an action toy, he’s one of the better figures out there today. He’s still in stock as of this writing at Entertainment Earth, with or without the twins, but since he’s on sale by himself currently, buying them separately proves a better deal.
Check out more photos of the figures below. Then tell us what you think in comments.
Recommended Reading: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes: Cobra Civil War Volume 1
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