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By Thomas Wheeler

Ask someone knowledgable about the concept and characters behind the 3-3/4" G.I.Joes who the most popular, well-known G.I.Joe is, and they'll likely say Snake-Eyes. Ask that same person who the most popular, well-known female G.I.Joe is, and they'll likely say Scarlett. Then they'll likely launch into an explanation of how, in the comic book at least, which most regard as official continuity over the cartoon, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett have been quite the item for essentially the entire 20 years of G.I.Joe.

So perhaps it's no surprise that when ToyFare Magazine decided to produce an exclusive two-pack of traditional-style 3-3/4" G.I.Joe figures to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Real American Hero, the nod went to the silent black-garbed mystery man with the ninja skills that you don't want to mess with, and the feiry redhead who is at least of capable of going up against the forces of Cobra and coming out the winner as any of her male team-mates.

I mean, we're talking about a man whose file card once said, "This guy should wear a sign that says, 'Don't Mess -- PERIOD!'", and a woman who in the comic book once said that she only fired a warning shot at a fleeing Cobra, and when one of her fellow Joes said, "Scarlett, you were aiming at his HEAD!" calmly replied, "Wouldn't that have been a warning?" If these two want to be in a special edition two-pack, I'm inclined to let them.

For this special ToyFare exclusive, Hasbro took the earliest versions of Snake-Eyes and Scarlett, and raised the paint detail to new levels.

The original 1982 Snake-Eyes didn't even have any paint details. He was all black -- period. This was actually done at the time to save some money on the overall budget for this then-brand-new concept. Hasbro had spent so much on the painting patterns for the other figures, that they needed to shave a little off one. Thus was Snake-Eyes born, and I wonder if anyone had any idea how popular this masked mystery man would become. It is no doubt a credit to Larry Hama's superb writing skills, building a fascinating background for this silent commando, that he rose to the heights he did.

The Snake-Eyes in this set is, mostly, the 1982-83 Swivel-Arm version, done in black. But the visor, boots, and several other details have been done in a very dark grey. In dim light they'd probably look black. Several pouches, the straps, and belt have been done in brown. The grenade on his chest has been painted green with a silver pin, and the knife blade and explosives timer have been done in silver, as well. Snake-Eyes still looks the part of the black-garbed mystery man, but the detail enhancements on his uniform bring the overall appearance up to a new level of excellence.

There's only one minor problem with the figure. The lower torso, or crotch piece, if you prefer, is not that of the original Snake-Eyes. I'm not sure what's happened to this mold, but the piece used is from the 1986 Roadblock. And it's not a bad match -- except for one thing. The legs don't fit into it quite as well as they should, and the result is very quirky upper leg movement that makes it difficult to stand the figure well. The left leg either wants to spring out to the side, or tuck in. I suspect this isn't anything that someone skilled with a Dremel or other modeling tools can't fix, but it's a rather unfortunate effect, and I've heard it reported by quite a few other people on this figure.

Fortunately, the Scarlett figure has all of the original molds. The dark grey uniform sections on the original have been recolored in a dark purple, and the formerly light beige boots have been recolored black. Apart from that, there are no major differences, except, as with the Snake-Eyes figure, in regard to the level of paint detail. The belt has been painted green with a silber belt buckle, and the gloves have a fine line of white trim at the top. Very nicely done. I wish her eyes had veen given "whites", especially since this Scarlett has the darker skin tone given to new-style G.I.Joes, but this is a minor detraction in an otherwise superb figure.

The two come with plenty of accessories. Snake-Eyes' are culled from several of his incarnations, and of course, Scarlett has her famous crossbow.

Snake-Eyes and Scarlett come packaged in a small window box, with file cards on the back. The last I knew, this set was still available through ToyFare Magazine, and I most definitely recommend it for any longtime fan of G.I.JOE!