REVIEW: G.I. JOE RENEGADES LAW & ORDER
There have been a number of characters from the original G.I. Joe line that have sincerely surprised me that they have made their way into the modern line. Among these would be Airtight, Lifeline, Sci-Fi, and the Cobra Techno-Viper.
Why? These are among the most brightly-uniformed G.I. Joe (and Cobra) characters from their time period, arguably before the line really started to go with bright colors as almost a standard instead of the exception, and some of these brightly-colored figures tended to be met with a mixed reaction among some fans, especially those who would have preferred to see a more ongoing military color scheme.
For myself, I never really objected to the more brightly-colored figures. Over time, I felt that G.I. Joe became increasingly character driven, in an ongoing struggle of "good vs. evil", rather than being specifically a military line. Certainly the G.I. Joe team represented the military, but they weren't exactly conventional, and clearly, they weren't sticklers for the uniform code.
One of the new G.I. Joe characters to be introduced in 1987, more or less the same time as some of these other characters, was an MP and K9 team known as Law and Order. The MP's name was Law. The dog's name was Order. Law's original likeness was based on a prominent Hasbro executive of the time by the name of Kirk Bozigian, who put a lot of heart and effort into G.I. Joe over the years, and who is a genuinely nice guy who continues to keep in touch with the G.I. Joe collectors' community to this day.
Law wasn't as brightly-colored as some of his contemporaries, but with a red-orange shirt and a rather bright blue vest, he wasn't exactly conventional, either. His olive green trousers kept him from being as garish as some, though.
Law turned up a fair bit in the comic book, although by 1987 the main cast was pretty well set, and new characters tended to receive cameo appearances and not a lot else. Law arguably fared better than some for a while. He was also introduced as one of the "Rawhides" in the G.I. Joe animated movie, and managed to secure for himself one of the most hilarious lines in the entire picture.
While being trained by Beach Head, Law was directed to make his way through a makeshift village, and find and dispose of a bomb that had been placed there. Law immediately summoned Order to tend to the task. Beach Head objected, stating that this was supposed to be Law's test. Law replied, "Hey, Law and Order is a team, man. He finds the bombs, I drive the car. We tried it the other way, but it didn't work!"
The rest of the test was almost as much of a fiasco. Order found the bomb, but then played a bizarre game of "fetch" with Beach Head until Law stepped in at the last second and got rid of the bomb before it exploded.
Comedy aside, Law and the rest of the Rawhides comported themselves well when it came time to do battle against the forces of Cobra-La.
Law returned in figure form a few years later, with Order, as part of the Sonic Fighters team. This was a special group that were supplied with large, sound-effects-making backpacks. This Law had a somewhat more subdued uniform than his predecessor, although the figure used the same basic molds. This Law had an olive green shirt, a more straightforward green vest, and tan trousers with brown boots.
The next Law figure was something of an oddity. It featured the character in what looked to be rather futuristic blue and gray body armor. Originally, this figure was intended to be part of the second assortment of DEF, the Drug Elimination Force unit. However, when the first assortment of this special team didn't fare up to expectations, the figures of the second assortment were given new packaging which brought them in as part of the basic Battle Corps team, although it was possible to find the figures on DEF style cards -- in Australia.
Interestingly enough, this version of Law did not include Order. Frankly, given how strange and futuristic Law's body armor looked -- I mean, I rather liked the design myself, but it was certainly highly unconventional -- I tend to be of the opinion that Order hid under the bed and refused to come out.
Law returned once again in 2000, as part of the 2000-2002 line of two-packs, and was featured in a set alongside Dusty. Here, Law had returned to his traditional look, and had coaxed Order out of hiding. This time around, Law was wearing a white shirt with a blue-black vest and very dark brown pants, with black boots.
An additional figure of Law was released as part of a G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra movie-affiliated five-pack of figures. All of the figures in this set were dressed in fairly traditional desert military fatigues. It's a modern-style figure, so apart from being named "Law", wearing an "MP" armband, and having a dog named Order, there's not really a lot of resemblance to the previous incarnations of the character.
Law's real name is Christopher M. Lavinge, and he is from Houston, Texas. According to his original file card, Law and Order walked a beat in Houston's Fifth Ward for two years before Law decided that there had to be a more fulfilling way to be a cop, so he and the dog enlisted for the MPs. Law is a trained animal handler with a natural affinity for animals, and is also Airborne qualified.
The file card goes on to say, "MPs are responsible for the security of an installation. That may sound like a cushy job if all they are guarding is a garrison full of clerks, cooks, and accountants, but it's another matter altogether when they're acting as the defensive line for an elite unit like the Joes. The bad guys are going to send in the best they have and that's not good enough to get past Law and Order. You don't want to mess with him and that dog of his. Chew your leg right off, he will. After that, you still have to deal with the dog!"
The newest Law and Order are actually part of the Renegades line, which is based on the HUB Network animated series, whose continuity doesn't really have all that much to do with previous versions of the main characters. Here is a description of the series:
In the show, a group of young G.I. Joes are forced to become fugitives after a spy mission goes horribly wrong that involves the explosion of Cobra Industries' Cobra Pharmaceuticals. Now branded as 'renegades' by the media for crimes they didn't commit, they're forced to fight. Pursued by the authorities, Cobra mercenaries, and the Falcons - a team of military officers sent to bring them in, they must use all their skills to prove their innocence and to expose the true face of Cobra Industries and its mysterious leader Adam DeCobray.
Some aspects of the show have been likened to "The A-Team". The voice intro for the series certainly has a certain resonance with that popular 80's series: Accused of a crime they didn't commit, a ragtag band of fugitives fights a covert battle to clear their names and expose the insidious enemy that is... Cobra. Some call them outlaws. Some call them heroes. But these determined men and women think themselves only as "Ordinary Joes". And this is their story.
So where does Law fit into it? Christopher Lavigne is a prison guard who works at a prison with his dog Order. He is displeased with the warden's illegal fight activities. When Flint and Lady Jaye storm the prison, Order takes down Granger (the Captain of the guards) and Law saves Flint from two inmates.
So, how's the figure? Very impressive. Some of the Renegades figures tend to have a more "animated" look, especially to their headsculpts, than others. Airtight was another Renegades-based figures, but he fits perfectly well with any of the other non-animated modern-style G.I. Joes. And so does Law. About the only apparent difference is the fact that the character artwork on the package is derived from the animated series, rather than the superb painted illustrations used for the standard G.I. Joe figures.
Law's uniform colors are probably closest to those of his 2000 incarnation, in that they are rather subdued. Law appears to be wearing a gray, short-sleeved shirt, gray trousers with the most meager fraction of green in them, gray shoes, and a dark blue chestpiece and backpiece which one might logically assume is intended to represent Kevlar or something similarly bulletproof.
Law's headsculpt is an impressively detailed piece of work, but it's tough to call it entirely reminiscent of the original. I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bozigian on several occasions, and this Law doesn't look especially like him. Nevertheless, it's a nicely detailed headsculpt, and if you remove the helmet, the figure has been given a fairly modern-looking hairstyle, also nicely sculpted and detailed.
Law is wearing a white helmet with the letters "MP" imprinted across the front. From the look of the inside of the helmet, the helmet was originally molded in black, and hand-painted in white. Fortunately, it's hard to fall short on a paint job where the entire object is being painted, so the helmet still looks decent. I'm speculating here in assuming that perhaps Law's helmet was originally molded in black because it might have been part of the same mold set as some of his other accessories, which I will discuss a little later.
Some of the more notable details on Law's uniform include a black armband on his left arm, with the letters "MP" imprinted in white, an impressive gun holster on his right leg that includes a separate little area for a detachable extension for the barrel (and both the pistol and extension are removable and can be assembled), another pistol holster on his blue body armor, with a removable silver pistol, and the word "POLICE" neatly imprinted on the back of his body armor. The figure also has gray armored-looking knee-pads
The only somewhat unusual feature on Law's uniform is his badge. Some collectors have commented that it is very decidedly large relative to the size of the figure. And, in point of fact, it is. But it can't be denied that this large gold badge makes an impression, and certainly lets you know who you're dealing with. Additionally, I have no idea if this was intentional or not, but the design of the badge is more than a little reminiscent of the badges worn by the figures in another Hasbro action figure line from quite a few years ago -- COPS. I enjoyed that line and wish it had fared better, and indeed, that line had a slight connection to G.I. Joe, in that its MP, named Checkpoint, was actually the son of one of the G.I. Joes, Beach Head.
Law's footwear is interesting. It's not boots. They look more like gray sneakers. The only other figure that I've seen these shoes on is Quick Kick. They may have seen more extensive use than this, but it's an interesting choice here, in my opinion. They are extremely well detailed, right down to treads on the bottoms.
Now, let's discuss Order. Animals in the G.I. Joe line have never been known for a lot of articulation. Generally they've been decently detailed, but they don't do much. Order is not extensively articulated, but he can move his head from side to side, which is more than can be said about previous Orders. He's a very nicely sculpted animal, and he's a bit better outfitted than his predecessors, as well, wearing, a collar with a flap on it that reads "POLICE", and is attached to a leash. He is also wearing a harness around his body that has six small pouches attached to it. I suppose these could contain anything from ammo packs for Law, to dog treats for Order.
Paintwork on Law, although not extensive, is very neatly done. I never fail to be impressed as to how it's possible to paint the whites of the eyes and then the pupil and eyelashes over this. Law's hair and those uniform details which needed to be painted have all been done very neatly, as, for that matter, have the painted details on Order, including some pink to the inside of his mouth, and some very small (but very sharp) teeth, as well as his eyes and nose.
Law comes with an impressive array of accessories. In addition to the two guns that are already strapped to his side, Law's in-package accessories also include two additional rifles, as well as a typical club of the type police officers are known to use, and a pair of handcuffs. The most interesting accessory is a clear face-shield which includes a white brim and a black strap that allows it to fit over the helmet. This is very appropriate police equipment, generally seen on riot police, but also used within prisons. Law also comes with a battle display stand.
Law's file card is relatively short, compared to the originals, but they're reading longer than the ones that were affiliated with the original 2009 movie. Law maintains his original real name of Christopher M. Lavinge, and he is also from Houston, just like the original version of the character.
There's one bit of hilarity on the file card in my opinion, where under the "Primary Weapon" designation, Law's preferred weapon is listed as "German Shepherd guard dog." I guess that's one way to look at it.
The file card, as one would expect, corroborates the events of the animated series, and reads as follows: Law works as a prison guard with his canine partner, Order. A rookie at the prison, Law is honest and fair. He refuses to join the corrupt warden and guards who hold illegal cage fights between prisoners. Law and Order encounter the Renegades when Duke is arrested after being mistaken for a member of a chop shop ring.
So, what's my final word? I don't believe it's necessary to have been a dedicated viewer of the Renegades series to enjoy some of the Renegades figures. I was very pleased to add Airtight to my collection a while back, and I'm happy to have Law and Order now. While not the most prominent G.I. Joe team member ever, or even the most prominent dog handler and dog (an honor that would likely go to Mutt and Junkyard), Law and Order are still a long-standing part of the G.I. Joe universe, and I am pleased that they have been brought into the modern G.I. Joe collection. I am certain that any modern G.I. Joe collector will be pleased with these figures.
The G.I. JOE RENEGADES figures of LAW AND ORDER definitely have my highest recommendation!