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By Thomas Wheeler

Before I get too far into this specific review, let me share one small personal tidbit. Each year, I try to pay attention to which figure I buy that is the FIRST figure of that year to carry that year as its copyright date, somewhere on the figure itself. Frequently figures either make use of parts from previous years, or are prepared so far in advance, that their copyright dates don't necessarily correspond to their year of release.

For the record, Sigma Six Shipwreck is the first figure I have bought in 2007 that actually has 2007 as his copyright date, on the back of his left leg.

Shipwreck is certainly no stranger to the G.I. Joe universe. First introduced in the 3-3/4" line in 1985, he went on to achieve great popularity through the animated series as one of its highlight characters, a sarcastic misfit who still managed to get the job done even if on more than a few occasions he managed to provide his share of comedy relief, even in the midst of some pretty serious adventures.

The original Shipwreck figure was a fairly traditional-looking sailor. In later years, he underwent training as a Navy SEAL, but recently returned to his sailor roots -- at least appearance-wise -- as part of the Collectors' Club's "Operation: Flaming M.O.T.H." series of figures.

That Shipwreck was a contender for the expanding character roster of popular G.I. Joe characters being integrated into the Sigma Six lineup is obvious. And indeed, so he has.

Shipwreck is part of the Soldier (less-expensive) assortment of figures, a particular assortment that also included Wet-Suit -- who based on the fact that it took me a while to find him is probably the most popular member of this particular batch -- a new Cobra version of Firefly, and a camouflage version of Hi-Tech.

This Shipwreck figure takes a lot of his visual cues from later versions of the 3-3/4" figure. In more recent years, up until the Club version. Shipwreck had traded in his original sailor duds for a knit cap and a dark blue sweater. He also seemed to have a lighter hair color than his original dark brown.

The Sigma Six Shipwreck looks a lot like these later versions of this character. This is unusual in that this is the first G.I. Joe figure in the Sigma Six line that doesn't really look as though he's wearing a Sigma Suit. He has what appears to be chest plating that's the same dark blue color as his sweater, and some aspects of his uniform do have the accessory plug-in holes, but on the whole, it's a far cry from the relatively consistent look of the Sigma Suits that the other Joes wear.

Personally, one of the things I've liked about Sigma Six was the Sigma Suit. But, endeavoring to explain why Shipwreck doesn't seem to be similarly garbed, I suppose one could speculate that Hi-Tech has come up with a way of refining the concept of a Sigma Suit down to limited body armor, or even incorporating most of its elements into a Joe's existing uniform. If nothing else, seeing as how in the animated series, when Firefly went back to Cobra, he took his Sigma Suit with him, the Joes had darn well better upgrade their equipment.

But, that's just personal speculation. And I'm not saying that Shipwreck looks bad. In fact, he comes across quite well. I have little doubt that it would've been difficult to sculpt all of the ridged lines of his knit sweater into the rather extreme bodily proportions of a Sigma Six figure, so Hasbro didn't entirely try. The chestplate has no such ridges, and the ridges on the sleeves are more limited in number, although they are present. The rest of Shipwreck's uniform consists of black trousers, very nicely detailed boots complete with painted laces, and his knit cap, which is very detailed with its sculpted ridges.

Notable by its absence is the communications unit that all Sigma Six members wear on their left wrist. This honestly bothers me a little bit more than the overall lack of a Sigma Suit. In Shipwreck's case, though, it would've gotten in the way of his tattoos.

That having been said, the original Shipwreck did have a tattoo on his lower arm, and certainly the Sigma Six Shipwreck has an abundance of them. I've heard reports that these tattoos were designed by an actual tattoo artist. I'll say this -- they look it.

Shipwreck's lower right arm has what looks like a skull and a sea serpent on one side, and the image of a classic sailing ship on the other. Shipwreck's left arm has a woman dressed in typically Hawaiian fare -- grass skirt, lei, etc, underneath a palm tree, on one side, and a signpost on the other side with crossed out names of various women with whom one may surmise Shipwreck has tried to have a relationship. It's notable that the last two names on the list are SCARLETT and LADY JAYE. One might hope this was wishful thinking on Shipwreck's part, since I suspect the last thing he'd want to do is get either Snake-Eyes or Flint mad at him.

And in the Real American Hero universe, if we take the Devil's Due comic stories into consideration, Shipwreck recently hooked up with Cover Girl, so he's hardly got anything to complain about.

The most unusual thing about the Shipwreck figure is his height. He's the same height as Tunnel Rat, who up until now was pretty much the team's runt. The Sigma Six line is a little more variable with its height specifications. Conversely, though Shipwreck is a lot broader than Tunnel Rat. Tunnel Rat is pretty slender all over. Shipwreck, on the other hand, borders on the burly. Height notwithstanding, he looks like he could take just about anybody in a fair fight. Consider Wolverine of the X-Men. He's short, but powerfully built, and only a complete idiot would want to get into a fight with him regardless of any perceived size advantage.

I think we've got the same with Shipwreck here. He's short, but powerfully built. The quintessential "little tough guy" here, that if you make the mistake of judging on the basis of size, you're going to get hurt.

Some might complain about this being done to Shipwreck, but I can see it in a sense. Although the 3-3/4" Shipwreck was, of course, the same height as pretty much everyone else in the line, I can envision a world where Shipwreck is a bit short, tries to make up for it with the same sort of sarcastic mouth that his Real American Hero counterpart has, but is also able to back it up if push comes to shove and fist comes to punching somebody's guts in. So the Sigma Six Shipwreck is a little on the short side? Fine -- YOU go call him "Shorty" or "Tiny" or whatever, and I'll send flowers to the Infirmary when you wake up.

Speaking of mouth, the headsculpt for Shipwreck has his mouth wide open. Not that this is necessarily inappropriate, and they did a good job sculpting it. I've certainly seen worse. I remember when Toy Biz gave a lot of their 9" Famous Covers figures these horrible screaming mouths. That's why I'm looking forward to seeing what Hasbro does with their 9" Marvel collection. But in Shipwreck's case, it also has a practical purpose. He comes with this knife, among other accessories, that he can (kids, don't try this at home) carry in his mouth. It actually stays put, too, but only if you (rather sensibly) put it in with the "sharpened" side facing AWAY from Shipwreck's face.

Shipwreck also comes with a sword (one gets the impression that Shipwreck would probably be a fan of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies), and a firing harpoon gun called the Fathom XR-2. Sort of makes me wonder what happened to the Fathom XR-1...

Shipwreck also comes with a monkey. This has been the subject of some discussion in some online boards. Whatever happened to Polly, his parrot? Well, birds like that live a long time, but most of them aren't going into battle against Cobra. Personally, I'd like to think that Polly had enough and decided to retire to a nice quiet bird sanctuary someplace.

As for Shipwreck's new sidekick, it's a small monkey. No name given. I think it's supposed to be a spider monkey, and I seem to recall that spider monkeys are a pretty hyperactive primate that, despite their compact size, do NOT make good pets, despite people's repeated attempts to do just that with them. Leave it to Shipwreck to have one of these things.

The monkey is small, with a mean/crazed look on his face, and a tiny backpack. He has limited articulation in his arms and tail, and one had has a peg in it that lets the furball perch on Shipwreck's shoulder. According to the information on the back of the package, the monkey is used "for small access infiltration". Infiltration, heck, if these monkeys can get as crazed as some people claim, just keep it with you until you're staring down the barrel of some Cobra trooper's weapon. Throw the monkey at him. Believe me, it'll be enough of a distraction...

Shipwreck's file card reads as follows:



Specialty: Underwater Combat

Personal History: Shipwreck trained in marine infiltration and underwater combat. He can slip into any saltwater or freshwater location undetected on missions to take command of Cobra vessels and coastal structures. He has served on or captained almost every type of marine vessel from cargo ships to battleship cruisers, sailing ships to submarines. His first-hand experience with every facet of marine combat operations provides the Sigma 6 Team with valuable expertise when planning waterborne missions. His customized launcher can fire metal-piercing harpoons to damage Cobra vessels.

Interesting, that designation as "Marine Specialist". One sort of gets the impression they didn't want Shipwreck to just be a sailor, but were reluctant to give him the Navy SEAL rank, which wasn't always that well received by longtime fans. "Marine Specialist" works.

On the whole, this is a very impressive and distinctive addition to the Sigma Six line. I'm sincerely pleased that SHIPWRECK has finally signed on with Sigma Six, and this figure definitely has my enthusiastic recommendation!