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 this link, with free shipping on in-stock orders over $59 using the code FREESHIP59.
For many kids of the ’80s, Destro was the gateway figure into G.I. Joe. Before him, the line looked dull compared to Return of the Jedi’s range of creatures. On the good-guy side, lots of guys in green with repainted accessories. On the bad side, same, but in blue. Then there was Destro, clad in black, baring his chest, and with a chrome metallic mask. He even got his own individual faction label — Destro wasn’t merely “Cobra: The Enemy,” but “Destro: The Enemy”!
Then, in the cartoon, his Darth Vader-like voice and personality, paired with Cobra Commander’s insane Grand Moff Tarkin analogue, made him the coolest bad guy there was. He was the level head next to an enraged narcissist, and probably would have beaten G.I. Joe if he’d been fully in charge. Many ’80s cartoon bad guys lost because their henchmen were incompetent; Cobra lost because their leader was.
Destro: The Friend
So, any company licensing G.I. Joe from Hasbro would be nuts not to kick things off with Destro, and indeed, that’s what Mezco did. The first One: 12 Collective G.I. Joe figure is now in stock at online retailers, and while more complicated, gear-laden characters will come later, he’s a great start. As a bonus, these Joes are roughly in scale with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe Classified line. Are they worth the $75+ upcharge? (Destro goes for $100; those who come after him will be more, and G.I. Joe Classified figures run $25 and up.) For Yo Joe June, let’s take a look.
The most important answer with this Destro is yes, he looks fine next to your Hasbro 6-inch Joes. Because the sculpted hood and bare chest don’t allow for the usual Mezco fully poseable body under clothing, his mid-torso joint is lower than usual and his entire torso comes off oddly shaped: broad, flat, and yet toned, like a Rob Liefeld drawing. He also seems like he has a mighty codpiece under there.
His head isn’t chromed, but it does look like slightly tarnished metal — like a doorknob that’s been worn a bit. Three heads are included. The first looks like the original toy and artwork — it’s angular and more blatantly mask-like. The second is smoother, rounder, like the cartoon face. The third has him smiling and exposing reddish gums, which is evidence of an articulated metal face, as seen in both the cartoon and The Rise of Cobra movie. All three, however, have black eyes with shiny pupils.
Destro’s right wristguard has the red missiles on it, but a replaceable panel allows you to switch out launching missiles with flame effect instead. Such things in actuality would scorch his arm and possibly break it with the recoil, but this is why we love G.I. Joe — it’s fantasy. War for America where almost nobody dies and the enemies are an organized terrorist army with stun lasers and uniforms that are easy to see coming.
His left wristguard, which originally displayed sculpted grenades, has a flip-up panel like a Predator Yautja, revealing a computer screen. Not that he really needs this with the accessories we’ll get to in a moment.
For his thigh, two different holster styles strap to his leg. Be sure to push those straps really high up, or they’ll keep riding downward. Both holsters fit his short blaster equally well. The bodysuit could have easily just been basic black spandex, but it’s covered in seams, extra padding, double-layer details and more.
The medallion hangs well around his neck, having enough heft to keep it pointed the right way, unlike The Crow’s uber-light ring necklace. Boots and belt stay in place well, with good texture on the soles. Both his pistol and rifle include two ammo clips apiece, and this being Mezco, the top sculpted bullet in each is individually painted.
Destro’s briefcase doesn’t become a backpack, as it did on the original action figure. But it does have a pop-up laptop on the outside. The details on it are so small they’re hard to make out in person, but photos can help.
The case can contain two different inserts. The one that most notably justifies Destro’s price is a doomsday device of sorts that lights up. It’s tough getting the batteries in and out, to the point that needle-nose pliers may help and your fingers may hurt. But once they’re in correctly, slide up a switch on the side and push one of the red buttons in the sculpt, et voila! Red and green lights that look dangerous.
Man With the Plastic Gun
The other insert is a rifle in pieces. At first look, it seems to be just one solid sculpt. But it’s not. It’s several pieces packed tightly in memory foam-ish padding.
All the pieces fit together, though the final gun’s a touch flimsy. Use just the scope and extended barrel to make Destro’s classic gun. Choose between short or long ammo clip.
Rounding out the set are the usual multiple hands, display base, and optional plug-in flight stand, which doesn’t really apply to Destro as much as some other figures.
If Destro doesn’t seem that he’s worth $75 more than other Joes, it’s not for lack of effort on Mezco’s part. It’s merely because Hasbro has been killing it lately. Even as they seem to be transitioning to a mostly classics style based on ’80s designs, they add extra detail all over the place. Zarana and the BAT (Battle Android Trooper, though the package doesn’t explain the acronym) offer some prime examples.
First, let’s point out the one subpar thing — due to the way the legs connect through the pelvis, it’s easy to make them “dislocate” a little and make one hang longer than the other. It’s a known thing with these figures, but no less odd for it. Easily fixed, but also easy to accidentally pose into.
Toy gimmicks during the ’80s were often imitated among lines, and the BAT had two of them: a 3D lenticular sticker on its chest, and a removable hand that could be replaced with three weapons a la Masters of the Universe’s Trap Jaw.
A 6-inch BAT doesn’t need the trick — its chest looks a lot like the old lenticular, but it’s all actual sculpted detail at a level not possible 30+ years ago. So, Hasbro one-ups the gimmick, and it includes two chest covers, one battle-damaged and one not. To match this, and to allow army building variety, the figure also comes with a clean and a battle-damaged head.
As for the hands, this figure also one-ups its predecessor by making both hands switch-out capable. Take of both hands if you choose. The other options are claw, laser, and flamethrower, and any hand not in use can clip into the backpack: two up top, one on the bottom. The BAT also has a gun that the hands can hold, or go into the leg holster. The holster strap/belt tends to roam a bit, and may need to be adjusted over the figure’s actual waist.
Zarana was many an ’80s kid’s first crush, and her detailed face sculpt may inspire similar thoughts today, though its expressiveness includes a coldness that makes her seem full of hate.
Like the mass-release of her brother Zartan, she does not have the color-changing skin. She does, however, include two different hairdos. The modern, two-tone style feels very anime now, but for those who prefer the classic Brigitte Nielsen style, that’s also an option.
The bald look doesn’t quite cut it because of the indentation required to keep the hair in place, unless you imagine her as a plastic surgery/Leatherface nightmare.
Her left arm keeps popping off at the swivel-arm battle grip, but it easily goes back on. She’s armed with two knives: a bloody one that slots in her backpack and a smaller one for a thigh sheath. Her main weapon, a gun with a buzzsaw, has a removable stock.
The small pegs on the backpacks are mildly annoying still — the old 3-3/4 scaled ones were hard plastic, plugged in and stayed, but these are soft and small, and any kind of play or serious posing may knock them off, especially on the BAT. Mezco’s backpacks will clearly rely on more traditional straps and such.
Take a look through more images below and see what you think. Entertainment Earth’s full G.I. Joe collection can be found here.