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Action Figure Zone: The Best Of G.I. Joe in 2006!
by Rudy Panucci

 

As the year has now passed, it’s time to look back and examine the state of the first action figure, G.I. Joe. Most of us are here because of America’s movable fighting man, and 42 years after his introduction, the G.I. Joe name is still thrilling kids and adults alike. This year saw the rapid expansion of the Sigma Six line, but collectors of the 12” and 3 3/4” Joes were not left out in the cold. We’ll review the best of all the current incarnations of G.I. Joe from 2006.

 Sigma Six - Eight Inch Figures

This is the dominant size for G.I. Joe these days, and here’s my pick for the year’s best three sets:

G.I. Joe Sigma Six Special Edition: Sigma Strike Duke with P.O.W.E.R. Armor
This ultra deluxe set features Sigma Six team leader Duke with a collection of electronic weapons that can be assembled in four configurations with different lights and sounds. Duke can have the heavy cannon, the power cutter saw, the flame blaster, or the power pulse blaster. The weapon is massive. Luckily, the Duke figure is balanced well enough he can hold it without falling down. Loaded up, he looks like a character out of a videogame. Some of the weapons also shoot projectiles. This set is loaded with play value and would be very attractive for kids and collectors due to the variety of accessories and the deluxe packaging which includes the large Sigma Six weapons case. This is the heavy artillery we keep hearing about.

G.I. Joe Sigma Six Deluxe Hi-Tech with H.O.U.N.D. Sentry
This figure features the usual high quality sculpting, articulation and balance that have become the hallmarks of the Sigma Six line. Hi-Tech comes with the satellite coded accurate reductive range weapons system, also known as a big honkin’ gun. In addition, it comes with the H.O.U.N.D. Sentry, which is the robotic dog as seen on the cartoon. The gun plugs into the dog and fires missiles. With the amount of accessories and fresh color scheme, this set stands out among the newer deluxe assortment figures.

G.I. Joe Sigma Six Deluxe Destro
The long awaited debut of COBRA Commander’s right hand man in the 8” Sigma Six format does not disappoint. From the impressively sculpted and chromed head to the cool COBRA medallion and cloth tunic, this depiction of the evil weapons trader is top notch all the way. He comes equipped with a rocket launcher, targeting screen with GPS, and a concealed weapon and computer system briefcase, which also sports a molded COBRA emblem. We had to include a bad guy in our top three, and Destro is plenty evil enough to give Joe loads of adventure.

 Sigma Six Mission Scale Assortment (2.5 Inch Figures)

As above, we’re just going to look at my three favorite sets in this line. It’s hard to narrow down, because there are so many sets, and nary a stinker in the lot.

G.I. Joe Sigma Six Mission Scale Dragonhawk Jet
This heavy armor drop ship demonstrates the appeal of the Mission Scale 2.5” Sigma Six line. There’s no way this could be produced at an affordable price for a larger scale of action figure. It’s an impressive beast, with dozens of different configurations and hours of play value. And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Another added bonus is that it can be used in conjunction with several other sets which can be deployed from it. Many of the other Mission Scale vehicles snap into different parts of the Dragonhawk. This is the key vehicle for the line. It comes with Lt. Stone and Ninja cycle with Snake Eyes and a removable drop cage. It also features electronic sounds. This is one cool toy.

G.I. Joe Sigma Six Mission Scale Mission Manual: Shark Bite
This underwater set includes a Duke scuba figure, a COBRA eel, and a particularly cool item, the Shark Bat, which is a robot hammerhead shark. While this shark does not have a “big frickin’ laser”, it does feature a working rocket launcher. All three figures are mounted on a translucent blue base to depict water. This one had me at “robot hammerhead shark.”

G.I. Joe Sigma Six Mission Scale Night Ops V.A.M.P. Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle
The Sigma Six 2.5” figures were created so that Hasbro could release a full complement of the rather impressive vehicles designed for the cartoon series. The Night Ops V.A.M.P. does not disappoint. This heavy duty armored assault vehicle comes complete with a multi missile system launcher with six missiles, a working winch, a rocket blasting launcher, and a working search light. In addition, this vehicle comes with two Sigma Six 2.5” figures, Long Range and Snake Eyes, both of which are well articulated for their size and since they’re designed to go with the vehicle, they’re free from the support bases that many of the Sigma Six 2.5” figures have.

 

The Adventure Team

It was a good year for The Adventure Team, as the fuzz-head brigade finally got their own Convention set from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention. Fight For Survival: Polar Bear Attack is a dream set for G.I. Joe collectors who grew up in the 1970s. This set featured the classic flocked G.I. Joe Land Adventurer head on the new super-articulated body, giving fans the best of both worlds. Of course, the figure wasn’t the sole attraction. The set also featured a dog sled team, tons of nifty adventuring accessories, and a very large and mean-looking polar bear. There was no “pygmy” menace for Joe with this set! This is the coolest AT Joe set produced in over thirty years. Even the box art (and the box is huge!) is fantastic. You can still order this set elsewhere here at gijoeclub.com/shop. It’s well worth the price. Painted hair aficionados can order this set, and for an additional charge, get a way-cool painted hair G.I. Joe, with the vintage head on the new body.

That wasn’t all that awaited AT fans. Near the end of the year, Hot Topic, the neat novelty clothing and lifestyle store, brought the Kung Fu Grip G.I. Joe back to retail with an exclusive Land Adventurer. Sure, it was basically the same as the 2004 Meijer’s exclusive, with improved hair, but it sold like hotcakes. Hot Topic offered it for pre-sale on their website, and sold out their web allotment long before the figure arrived. It’s considered a safe bet that Hot Topic will offer further G.I. Joe Kung Fu Grip items in the future. They have been very pleased with the reception that this figure has gotten.

I keep hearing that 2007 will be “the year of Kung Fu Grip.” As an Adventure Team fan, I can’t wait to see what that means.

The Real American Hero

Here’s my review of the latest 3 3/4” G.I. Joe set.

G.I. Joe Plague Troopers vs. Steel Brigade six figure set
by Hasbro.

This six figure set of Real American Hero G.I. Joes features three members of the Steel Brigade facing off against three of Cobra’s Plague Troopers.

From the Steel Brigade, we get Red Zone, an urban assault specialist; Rook, an interrogator; and Check Point, a security specialist. These Joes, all Grade: E-4, each come complete with a file card and a variety of weaponry and gear.

The Plague Troopers are Guillotine, the commander; and Gallows and Grimskull, who are Plague Troopers. They also each have their own file card and a variety of weaponry and gear.

This is a pretty nifty set for the RAH guys. Hasbro was very generous with the accessories and the paint OPS are a vast improvement over many recent action figures. The figures all have neat, well executed detail, down to their eyes and eyebrows and belt buckles all being painted correctly. The accessories are impressive. Guillotine has a removable helmet with paint detail and a cool looking sword with a skull and spine handle. Rook and Check Point have matching blue painted-on t-shirts with green flak jackets and removable helmets. Red Zone has a removable helmet and a big honkin’ revolver.

With the high quality sculpts and paint schemes and generous accessories, the Plague Troopers vs. Steel Brigade set is a must have for any Real American Hero collector.

Grade: A

Well, that’s the year in G.I. Joe. It’s been a good one, despite the doom saying in 2005, when the 12” and 3 3/4” lines departed the mass-market landscape. Sigma Six is holding down the fort, and the future looks bright for collectors of all incarnations of G.I. Joe.

Well, except for Super Joe and G.I. Joe:Extreme, but the less said about those, the better.