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By Thomas Wheeler

The number of female characters within the world of G.I.Joe can practically be counted on the fingers of both hands. That's not saying a whole lot for a line that has featured literally hundreds of characters over the years.

The very first was, of course, Scarlett, introduced in 1982. She was followed by Cover Girl, driver of the Wolverine vehicle, in 1983. The Baroness, who had been featured in both the comic book and animated mini- series, finally got a figure in 1984. Lady Jaye signed up in 1985, and Zarana came along in 1986. The last new female character for years would be Jinx in 1987, although there were plans to do Pythona in 1988, had Cobra-La not been so poorly received in the 1987 G.I.Joe animated movie.

The only other female figure in the original line would be a Ninja Force version of Scarlett in 1993. The 1997-1998 Toys "R" Us exclusive line would introduce both Vypra and Lt. Volga, respectively of Cobra and the Oktober Guard, although technically Volga started out as Daina. Daina would finally come along in 2004, as part of the Comic/Figure packs.

Now, there's a few others that could be mentioned. The original Scarlett was recolored rather extensively in both Europe and South America, where she was known as Quarrel and Glenda, respectively. The Baroness mold was used for a character named "Chameleon" in the 2000 line, when the Baroness name could not be used for a time. And the Vypra name was used for twin sisters in the Arashikage Ninja Clan set. The original Jinx was recolored for the Tiger Force set. And in the new-sculpt line, there have been several versions of Scarlett, Baroness, and Jinx.

The comic books, both from Marvel and Devil's Due, have also presented some female characters over the years, that have not (yet, anyway) been made as figures. Zanya, Mayday, Dr. Biggles-Jones, and God help us, Bongo the Balloon Bear - real name Candy Appel.

But technically speaking, with the exception of Daina, who was really established as a character about 23 years ago, there haven't been any NEW female characters in the figure line in a very long time. So when one came along, it was certainly worth making note of.

The character was actually hinted at in the file cards of two earlier releases of other figures -- BARREL ROLL and BLACKOUT, a Joe and a Cobra, respectively. They were brothers, and mention was made of a missing sister named BOMBSHELL, who also worked for the Joes. Blackout was, obviously, the black sheep of the family, and from a storyline standpoint, actually set up a fairly interesting dynamic. One brother with the Joes, one with Cobra, and a missing sister. It wasn't exactly Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow, but it at least showed an attention to character detail that one doesn't find much in the action figure world.

When this figure was first announced, she was announced as BOMBSHELL. Somewhere along the way, that got changed to BOMBSTRIKE. While I don't know the reasons, I suspect it had to do with legalities over the name Bombshell. This is generally the reason named get changed, especially at the last minute like that. Now, admittedly, Bombstrike is not as "feminine" sounding a name as Bombshell. But let's let that slide and discuss the figure.

I'll admit once again that I am no great fan of the new-sculpt figures. There was absolutely no justified reason for deviating from the design established in 1982, which ran through 1994, and also carried the day in 1997-98, and 2000-02. No reason at all, in my opinion. I've heard all the explanations, including from Hasbro personnel, and not one of them works for me.

Having said that, the current design has gradually gotten away from the early borderline-anime look to something a little more reasonable -- and a little more proportionate. And having said that, if it weren't for the design of the arms, and the flexible plastic used on the arms and lower legs instead of just the lower arms (I do have to commend Hasbro for using properly sturdy plastic on the rest of the figure), Bombstrike could stand right alongside any traditional-style 3-3/4" G.I.Joe and fit right in very nicely. A little leggy, perhaps, but a lot more effectively than anybody else that line has turned out.

The figure has a very straightforward, but excellent, design. The sculpting of the hair is superb. Bombstrike is the first blonde female ever introduced onto the Joes. I'm technically counting Daina as Oktober Guard, and I don't think we can fairly include Glenda, Quarrel, or the Mortal Kombat Sonya Blade figure here. The hair is fairly short, and designed to look wavy. The face sculpt is fairly basic, but there's a certain look of determination to it. Bombstrike is outfitted with a tan T-shirt with brown collar and sleeve cuffs, green camouflage trousers, and grey gauntlets and boots. There's a grey belt that's a separate piece that was assembled with the figure.

There's nothing at all outlandish or peculiar about the uniform. It's basic, and it works. The only visible marking at all is the G.I.JOE Logo emblazoned on the T-shirt. Maybe not the best thing for an allegedly covert team, but what the heck, it looks cool.

The figure comes in at just under 3-3/4" in height. But that's okay. Some of the other female figures, especially the original Scarlett and Jinx, have been a little short. And it's certainly preferable to many of the other new-sculpt figures, which have come in closer to 4" in height, and between that and their bizarre proportions have been completely incompatible with the traditional-style figures. Bombstrike actually manages to just about fit in.

Her file card makes considerable reference to her relation with BARREL ROLL and BLACKOUT, and even lists her present status as missing, which is pretty odd. It reads as follows:

BOMBSTRIKE - Forward Air Controller

File Name: Stall, Alyssa Renee

Primary Military Specialty: Forward Air Control

Secondary Military Specialty: Counterintelligence

Birthplace: Cranstron, Rhode Island (the number of Joes born in Rhode Island, Hasbro's headquarters, over the years, has been so hysterically disproportionate that if it were possible to file a nepotism suit against a state, this would certainly qualify)

BOMBSTRIKE always hits her target, whether it's scoring a goal in soccer or calling in the correct coordinates for an air strike. She's at the leading edge of the action, her eyes taking in all the details and calculating what will give her team the winning move of the day. In soccer, where it's only a game, she's a gracious loser. But it's different in battle, where lives are at stake. That's when Bombstrike plays to win, with focused intensity and uncompromising courage. She was last seen during an assault on a COBRA base. When the fighting was over, Bombstrike had disappeared. Because her brother BARREL ROLL saw their brother BLACKOUT among the COBRA forces, he's sure that his brother planned the kidnapping. The G.I.JOE Team will not stop searching until they bring back their missing comrade, safe and sound.

"Some people thing a great view means a serene mountain scene. Mine is a clear line to theenemy and an open path from bomb to bunker."

BOMBSTRIKE comes in a two-pack with CROC MASTER. The original Croc Master was introduced in 1987, and the design of the 2005 version is actually an improvement over the original, even if the figure, being a new-sculpt, isn't. What's interesting is the file card. Apparently this is not the original Croc Master character. The file card reads as follows:

CROC MASTER - COBRA Reptile Leader

Lurking in the savage swamps of COBRA Island reside some of the fiercest sentinels you can imagine - the COBRA crocodiles. Any potential invading force must have a plan for dealing with these creatures, or face the consequences of having their troops become dinner for these ravenous denizens of the deep. With scaly skin, foul breath, and a nasty disposition describe your typical crocodile, they apply ten-fold for their trainer. Using mannequins dressed as G.I.JOE team members, CROC MASTER trains the gators to attack and destroy, unfraid to wrestle unruly crocs into submission to exert his dominance. After the original Croc Master perished in the freighter during the COBRA Civil War, a succession of new individuals have assumed the mantle. It's not easy to maintain a grip on the position, with hungry crocs on one side and power-hungry trainees on the other, both waiting for the first opportunity to turn on their master.

The card is interesting, but it has a few errors. For one thing, "gators" are not "crocs". They're different animals. Of course it's entirely possible that Cobra Island stocks both. And Croc Master was NOT among those who perished in the freighter on Cobra Island, an incident which actually took place after the Cobra Civil War, when the original Cobra Commander returned. I know, it's nit-picking, and I should probably be content to see history dating back to the original Marvel comic stories brought up at all.

The figure isn't bad, and the pale green skin and slitted eyes tend to indicate that the current Croc Master underwent come level of genetic engineering as part of the "Valor vs. Venom" storyline.

But the real prize in this two-pack is BOMBSTRIKE, and just on the basis of her alone, I would recommend the set if you can find it. She's part of "Wave 7", which seems to be showing up rather sporadically and minimally at this point in time. But the figure will really be a welcome addition -- and honestly, a good fit -- to any G.I.Joe collection.

It's just a shame that Hasbro has gotten this close to what ALL G.I.Joe figures should be with this latest wave of new-sculpts -- very, very close to traditional style -- and then Sigma Six is on the horizon. But at least we can enjoy Bombstrike.