REVIEW: G.I. JOE "DOLLAR GENERAL" SHIPWRECK
A funny thing happened to the G.I. Joe team on the way to the movies -- they got delayed for the better part of a year. Such is what happened with the sequel movie, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation", originally intended for a summer 2012 release, instead bumped to spring of 2013, for a variety of reasons that I won't bother to go into here.
As for the action figures, that was a somewhat trickier matter. Given the very last-minute delay in the movie's release, most retailers already had a fair amount of Retaliation merchandise in their warehouses, if not the back rooms of their stores. Hasbro basically said for the stores to go ahead and sell what they had in stock, which they did, and then G.I. Joe would essentially take a break until early 2013.
With as much Retaliation merchandise rounded up as the collectors could expect to see for a while, this left many fans wondering -- what to do in the meantime?
Answer -- find your local Dollar General store. It seems that a very interesting and distinctive series of G.I. Joe figures has been turning up there.
Now, this isn't the first time that G.I. Joe has put in an appearance at one of these types of stores. But it is the first time that these were new figures, exclusive to this particular series! Need it be said, the fan community was enthusiastic about this.
Finding the figures has proven -- challenging. Personally, I have yet to see any locally, although the last time I checked a Dollar General, there was at least a shelf tag for them, displayed at the front of a very empty peg. But that's still more than was there the last time I checked. Fortunately, with a little help from some friends online, I've been able to gather this interesting assortment into my collection.
The series features very interesting and previously unseen modern versions of six popular G.I. Joe and Cobra characters -- Duke, Snake Eyes, Shipwreck, Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander, and a Cobra Trooper. This review will take a look at SHIPWRECK!
Shipwreck was first introduced into the world of G.I. Joe in the second animated mini-series, "The Revenge of Cobra". He turned up in the middle of the desert (where else would you expect to find a sailor?) in a hostile land, and assisted Flint, Mutt, and Junkyard in getting out of the area.
Shipwreck would go on to be one of the mainstays of the animated series. Portrayed as a sarcastic, cynical womanizer, and an occasional screw-up, he was largely the comedy relief of the show, paired with his parrot, Polly, who seemed to know more than one might expect from the average pet. "Remember that night in Annapolis...?" commented Polly one time, only to be quickly silenced by Shipwreck. Makes one wonder who the real bird-brain was.
Shipwreck was based more than a little bit on actor Jack Nicholson. The vocal tone was similar, as was the face. Even the original action figure looked something like him. The character wasn't quite as prominent in the comic book, turning up during one of the early debacles that led to the creation of Cobra Island. Shipwreck was in charge of the Transportable Tactical Battle Platform, an impressive item which, as a toy, didn't actually come with a figure of its own. Shipwrecked popped out of one of the storage bays and immediate began barking orders. He wasn't quite as offbeat in the comics as he was in the animated series, but he still had an edge to him.
After the Marvel era, during the Devil's Due days, Shipwreck would turn up once again, this time more in keeping with his cartoon personality, and somehow having managed to hook up with Cover Girl.
He wasn't all comedy, though. In the animated series, he fell in love with a young woman named Mara, who had been transformed into a water-breather by Cobra. Later, in a two-part episode that pretty well rounded out the first season, Shipwreck found himself living in an idyllic environment, where Mara had been cured, and he had married and had a daughter with her. But it all turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by Cobra, and this Mara, and all the citizens of the town, were synthoids, artificial organic creations. At the end of the two-parter, the town was destroyed, as were some of Shipwreck's unspoken dreams. You don't really see that sort of heart-wrencher in animation these days, and it was rare even at the time.
Shipwreck may not quite be on the same level as Duke, Destro, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Cobra Commander, but he is certainly a well-established, and generally beloved character in the G.I. Joe universe.
The original Shipwreck figure was released on a single card in 1985. This was a banner year for G.I. Joe. Many fans consider it the best year in the collection, due in no small part to the amount of media connected with the line, since it was in 1985 that the daily animated series started, after several highly successful mini-series, so the characters were receiving plenty of attention. It was also that year that Hasbro introduced the U.S.S. Flagg Aircraft Carrier to the line -- all seven-and-a-half feet of her. If Shipwreck needed some duty at sea, he could certainly travel in style -- with Admiral Keel Haul's permission, of course.
Cobra also had a productive 1985. Many new troopers divisions -- the Snow Serpents, the Cobra Eels, and the infamous Crimson Guards -- were introduced in 1985. As for the G.I. Joe team, the uniform code hadn't quite been thrown out the window yet, but there were some interesting and unusual additions to the line, from a visual standpoint. There was Bazooka with his red baseball shirt, and Quick Kick with his complete lack of a shirt -- or shoes, for that matter -- and Hostile Environment specialist Airtight in his bright yellow uniform. Still, there were some more conventional figures, such as Footloose, Flint, and -- Shipwreck.
Say what you will about Shipwreck's personality -- and there's plenty to say -- but the original Shipwreck figure looked entirely like a sailor. Light blue collared shirt, dark blue slacks, flared at the cuffs, and a very standard white sailor's hat. Shipwreck wasn't the first Joe Team member from the Navy -- that was Torpedo, a SEAL dressed in a gray and black diving suit -- but he was certainly the most obvious representative, given his outfit.
Shipwreck would return in 1994, this time in a gray diving suit, and as a Navy SEAL himself. This left more than a few fans scratching their heads, wondering how a perpetual goof-up like Shipwreck had even qualified for training in one of the toughest outfits anywhere in the United States Armed Forces, let alone succeeded at it. But somehow, he had managed, and the next couple of Shipwrecks would be based on this mold.
When the "newsculpt" line came along during 2002-2006, a new Shipwreck was crafted. This Shipwreck was dressed differently, in a corduroy sweater and wearing a knit cap rather than a sailor's hat. Interestingly enough, in the real-life military, the "traditional" sailor's uniform had given way to something closer to what Shipwreck was now wearing.
Of course, when the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe line, with its entirely new design, came along, Shipwreck was naturally part of this. Here, for the sake of nostalgia, as most of the initial 25th Anniversary figures were based on the likenesses of their predecessors, Shipwreck was restored to his classic sailor's uniform. Regardless of how accurate it may be these days, it's certainly how the character is best known.
Which brings us around to the "Dollar General" Shipwreck. Most of the figures in this series are based on somewhat less well-known, or at least later-release, versions of their respective characters -- due in no small part to the fact that the earlier versions have already been done in this current figure format. I suspect that Hasbro sees this wave as a way of releasing some of the slightly obscure versions of popular characters, that were it not for this unusual assortment, would probably otherwise never have found their way into the line as a whole. Fine and well -- I certainly don't have a problem with that.
So, how's the figure? Extremely impressive, really. I can well imagine that, had it not been for this particular, unusual assortment of figures, this version of Shipwreck likely would never have been brought into the modern figure format. Although this has become a reasonably well-known version of Shipwreck, from a figure standpoint, it wasn't introduced until into the days of the "newsculpt" line, which doesn't seem to get much regard these days from many fans, despite at the very least introducing a number of interesting new characters -- and I honestly enjoyed most of the Devil's Due run of comics.
This version of Shipwreck has had his share of other appearances, as well. Along with debuting in the "newsculpt" line, he appeared expensively in the comics, as well as the two CGI, direct-to-DVD movies that were produced at the time, and even the Sigma 6 version of Shipwreck was based on this design to a substantial degree.
And now we have the modern figure incarnation, and it's excellent. Shipwreck is wearing his dark blue knit cap, his matching dark blue corduroy sweater, and black gloves, knee-pads, and shoes.
Now, as one would expect from an assortment of figures that could be described as a "bargain" group, Shipwreck's body comes from other parts. Precisely whose, I am not enough of an expert in the modern G.I. Joe line to be certain. However, I know that there's been no shortage of corduroy sweaters. At the very least, I bet he'd be a match for Beach-Head. As to the trousers and such, I really don't know, nor do I consider it a major concern.
Painted details, other than the head, are relatively minimal. I suspect the black gloves and shoes may be painted. In particular, the shoes have a glossy finish to them that looks painted. But the only really obvious painted details are a gold belt buckle, and a pouch on the upper left leg. This is doubtless a money-saver, but as long as the figure looks cool, what of it? And Shipwreck certainly does.
Then there's the headsculpt. And this is a true masterpiece. Here is definitely a new part, and it can't be anybody else, because no one else looks like Shipwreck, certainly not that much like him. You could place this figure next to the original, 1985 Shipwreck figure from the original line, and, although the cap is obviously different, you could still assuredly see that the faces are intended to represent the same individual.
It's all there -- the mustache, the beard, and that snarky look in the eyes and that rather cynical grin on the face. He's just waiting to make some sarcastic remark of some sort at the earliest opportunity.
The painted detail on the head is equally amazing. If the paint on the body is relatively minimal, then the head definitely makes up for it. I'm always impressed by how well the very tiny eyes on these figures can be painted, and they are very well painted here, right down to the whites, the irises, and the pupils. The hair, mustache, and beard are the perfect shade of brown, and the painted cap is a dead-on match for the molded color of the sweater.
Shipwreck also comes with the most equipment of any of the figures in this series, which admittedly are not all that extensively equipped. Nevertheless, Shipwreck comes with a small pistol, a backpack with oxygen tanks, and a diving mask with hoses that attach to the backpack. Although personally, I find myself wondering if going for a dive while wearing a heavy corduroy sweater is really a good idea...
These G.I. Joe figures do not come with file cards. They're packaged on a common card that showcases all six figures on the back. However, there's a little insert in the front of the package bubble that gives the figure's name, allegiance, and specialty. Interestingly in Shipwreck's case, he's listed as a "Sailor", not a "Navy SEAL". Maybe we're just sort of sweeping that under the rug?
Although Shipwreck doesn't come with a file card, his history is fairly well-known. His real name is Hector X. Delgado, and he drew up in the shadow of the San Diego Naval Yards. He enlisted a few years earlier than he should have been able to by lying about his age. And the rest is history, although some of it is classified, which means he was either on some missions that nobody wants anyone to know about, or he screwed up somewhere and nobody wants anyone to know about that. Or both...
So, what's my final word? Obviously, these "Dollar General" figures aren't the easiest G.I. Joes in the world to find. However, they ARE worth it. All six of them represent either modern incarnations of somewhat less-prominent versions of very well-known characters, or slightly new takes on popular characters, such as the all-black-uniform Cobra Trooper, that are definitely worthwhile additions to any G.I. Joe collection.
And this certainly includes Shipwreck. Although the "newsculpt" line which featured this version of Shipwreck initially may be currently seen in a less-than-favorable light by some collectors, this particular incarnation of Shipwreck is certainly entirely valid, and has plenty of history in the various media forms surrounding the G.I. Joe concept. I'm pleased that this figure was made, I'm glad to have him, and I believe that any collector of the modern G.I. Joe line will be delighted with him.
The "DOLLAR GENERAL" version of SHIPWRECK from G.I. JOE definitely has my highest recommendation! Now go swab the decks, ya lily-livered land-lubber!