Tuesday, February 25, 2003

2003 Scalpel

As far as the toy line goes, Cobra has always been missing something. While the nameless ranks of Cobras have grown to dozens of specialties, there was always one figure who was missing. This specialist was represented in the Joe line all the way back in 1983 and is so important that it is hard to believe it is still missing. While Cobra is often portrayed a heartless organization that has little care for its soldiers, the sheer financial investment in a Viper alone would be enough to warrant the creation of a medical Viper of some sort. While that highly desired figure is still missing from the line, 2003 has finally given us a true Cobra doctor. He is not a mad scientist, but a real, true medical doctor whose purpose is to heal wounded Cobras. The best part about this figure is that he has a characterization on par with those of the line's glory days. Not cliched and very needed, Scalpel is quickly becoming my favorite figure of Wave 5.

As a character, Scalpel is well conceived. He is a medical hack: a doctor with a farcical education and an elicit past. However, his character avoids being overly cliched. The fact is, his filecard suggests that Scalpel is a very good doctor. It is in this point where I was a made a fan of this character. The evil doctor who does bad work has been done to death in pulp fiction. Having a medical mercenary who is actually competent, maybe even gifted, is a notion a little different from what one would expect. It is that freshness of character that is breathing new life into the Joe line. While the older characters were well done and deserve continued existence, well done new characters, like Scalpel, show that even a toy line with a legacy like Joe can still show ingenuity. Bright spots like Scalpel are just further proof that the new line has a place in the Joe pantheon and is very capable of sustaining another long retail run.

As a figure, Scalpel has many high points a few low ones. First off, his is brightly colored. While this may be considered a detriment to many, Scalpel is actually colored in the same manner as you would find medical personnel in a real hospital. As such, for him, the color is not only realistic, but it works. The red and white details only accentuate the primary blue color and showcase the mold's details. As a mold, Scalpel is modestly detailed, but they are all done with purpose. As such, the figure looks as someone with his specialty would be expected. Unlike many of the Wave 5 figures, Scalpel is also well proportioned. He looks very much like a classic Joe figure and does not have the exaggerated limbs or appendages that were prevalent on earlier figure waves. His face is well done and shows an intensity that you would hope to see on your own surgeon's face. He still has the youth, though, that separates this character from more well established Cobra characters.

Scalpel's accessories are both nice and bad. He has a small saw attachment on his right wrist. Aesthetically, it is perfect. It folds up nicely when Scalpel does not need it, but provides a neat little feature that adds to the character. He also has a helmet with a visor. With it on, Scalpel looks cool, but, in my opinion, no more so than when he is bare-headed. He also includes a knife. The most interesting, and maddening, accessory, though, is his shoulder pads. On the back of the pads are two hooks. Apparently, these hooks are for carrying wounded out of harm's way. In form, they look neat. In function, they are totally useless. Instead of utilizing the traditional backpack hole on the figure, Scalpel has another small hole above his screw slot. You insert a peg on his shoulder pads into this slot. However, this is not adequate to keep the pads on. Just moving the figure causes them to fall off. Don't even try to use the hooks for their intended purpose and this would not only move the hooks around (they are on ball joints and move rather freely) but knock the pads off of the figure altogether. As an idea, this feature was neat. As a real accessory, though, it did not work and will be the source of many a child's frustration as he tries to play with the figure.

There is one little detail on the Scalpel figure that grabbed my attention. He has a very slight pink scar around his left eye. It is not as pronounced as Xamot or the Flying Scorpion's, but it is there. To me, it suggests that Scalpel's Aryan appearance may be less the result of genetics and more the result of identity altering surgery. My characterization of Scalpel has him as an understudy of Dr. Mindbender. Mindbender's character has been defined by his penchant for appearance changing surgery and is known to push the envelope of what is medically acceptable. Going from the old sculpt Joe history, Mindbender ran into a little problem as he changed his countenance, though. He could not make himself look totally human. He was always left with grotesque scars that would have made him a pariah. Scalpel, though, changed all that. With his medical skill and Mindbender's lack of professional ethics, Scalpel is the doctor who made Mindbender look human again. I explain away Scalpel's slight scar as his first attempt. Mindbender, his vanity making him ever wary of further attempts to save his face, wanted to see proof of Scalpel's work. In order to ensure that he was capable of performing the complex operations Mindbender would need, Scalpel altered his own appearance. Mindbender, though, ensured that there was one slight little problem. This would leave the scar on Scalpel's face and remain a constant reminder to Scalpel that his medical skill was no match for Mindbender's ruthlessness. How this will play out in time will be a nice way for me to keep the Scalpel character near the front of my collection.

There are two versions of Scalpel. The first version of him has a painted flesh head. He also only comes with one of the spikes that attaches to his shoulder pads. The later version has a molded flesh head and both spikes. It appears that the first version will be the lesser produced variation. However, both of them are ample enough that there shouldn't ever be too much of a premium ever attached to one head over the other. Aside from that, Scalpels are readily available for retail prices right now. Going forward, I do not see Scalpel being a heavily sought after figure. While cool, he just isn't that major of player in the Cobra world for people to flock to him heavily. (Of course, were a new Joe cartoon to come out and Scalpel play a major role in that, his popularity could change dramatically.) This isn't a bad thing and it does not detract from the overall quality of the figure. Instead it just shows that it will still be possible for collectors to acquire nicely done figures like this one for some time. I do not want every Cobra figure released to either be a faceless army builder or a rehash of an established character. New blood like Scalpel is a great way to keep the Cobra ranks fresh without sacrificing the evil organization's legacy.

Scalpel is a great figure. I know some are using him as a Medi-Viper. I, though, will continue to use him as a new character. How will you use him? Let me know.

2003 Scalpel, Spy Troops, Frostbite, Dart, Snow Serpent, Neo Viper

2003 Scalpel, Spy Troops, Frostbite, Dart, Snow Serpent, Neo Viper

2003 Scalpel, Spy Troops, Frostbite, Dart, Snow Serpent, Neo Viper

2003 Scalpel, Spy Troops, Frostbite, Dart, Snow Serpent, Neo Viper

Friday, February 21, 2003

1985 Snow Cat

Maybe it's the fact that 48 of the past 49 days have had snow on the ground. Or, it could be that I was recently waxing nostalgic for the old days. Or, it could be the recently re-released version of this vehicle that is a Toys R Us Exclusive. Whatever the reason, I've been wanting to pull out my old Snow Cat.

The Snow Cat was the second Joe arctic vehicle to be released. Unlike the Polar Battle Bear, though, the Snow Cat was designed to be a major arctic force. The toy itself fell into the mid-range Joe vehicles at the time when those showcased far more detail and playability than their price point would at first indicate. As such, this toy is full of the type features that have made it a fan favorite. The "ski-pedos" remain a nostalgic favorite among many fans. Their simple concept created a play feature that even those who haven't seen a Snow Cat for many years can still remember. Aside from those, the vehicle featured a cockpit that could hold two figures. You could then arm it with at least 4 more troops on the outside foot pegs. (10 if you removed the ski-pedos.) The vehicle is nicely detailed and features many other smaller attributes that make it very realistic and fun to use.

The Snow Cat also continued the tradition of cool Joe vehicle drivers. Frostbite was a nicely detailed figure who perfectly fit with the Snow Cat. He also came with a unique rifle that was one of the coolest accessories produced in the line up to that point. It was this guy alone that fueled my interest in Frostbite. Over the years, I acquired extra Frostbite figures for the sole purpose of having spare examples of his gun. Going forward, this is a strategy that would be good for Hasbro to remember. One of the great features of the vintage Joe line was the vehicle drivers. The new vehicle drivers don't have anywhere near the coolness factor those old figures showcased.

From the minute I first acquired this vehicle, I felt it had a fundamental design flaw: the vehicle has no guns. For many collectors, this simply isn't a problem. For me, though, a vehicle without guns was simply not something I could really enjoy. I'm not much of a vehicle person. I prefer figures. As such, even as a child, when I did use a vehicle, it was usually in conjunction with several figures. As such, vehicles usually squared off against infantry troops rather than wheeled entities. A vehicle without guns was simply at too great a disadvantage. The later Cobra Wolf addressed this glaring need with the very cool gun turret that it sported behind the cockpits. The Snow Cat, though, just seems too poorly armed for me to use it as a stand alone entity. It has always needed either another vehicle that was properly armed with guns or a contingent of heavily armed Snow figures. In my estimation, though, that is the only area where the Snow Cat fails.

The Snow Cat suffers from 4 common trouble spots. First off, the steering wheel is often missing. Second, the windshield wiper is also commonly lost. (Plus, the nook that holds it to the canopy tends to break on more "played with" examples.) On top of that, the vehicle's signature ski torpedos are often also missing. If you manage to find a Snow Cat with all of those items intact, you still have to check the missile turret. The four pegs that attach the launcher to the shaft are VERY brittle and tend to break. As such, finding a mint, complete Snow Cat can get problematic. You will also pay quite a bit more for a mint, complete Snow Cat for these reasons.

The Snow Cat mold was re-used several times. It was released in 1988 as part of the Tiger Force subset. It was also released again as part of the Street Fighter line. The changes made to the mold for that release have been inherited by the new Snow Cat. Seeing a vehicle mold four times in less than 20 years is a testament to the Snow Cat's popularity. I still like to have my original as I don't have an arctic Joe vehicle (aside from the mighty Blockbuster tank!) that I like better. Seeing as how collectors seem to be enjoying this new Snow Cat, I don't think I'm alone in enjoying this mold.

Do you like the new Snow Cat? Let me know.

Funskool Iceberg, 1985 Snow Cat, Caucasian, Alpine, Frostbite, 2003 Tiger Force Dial Tone, 1989 Scoop

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Funskool Cobra Commander

If there is one character who made the entire concept of G.I. Joe A Real American Hero work, it was Cobra Commander. Without him, Joe was just another simple military unit. While the characters had neat names and in depth bios, a good guy without an enemy can only sustain people's attention for so long. Cobra Commander's introduction in the very first issue of the comic immediately established the most important element to any storyline: conflict. He was the figurehead enemy who Joes could pursue, politicians could venerate and people could loathe.

For that reason, I've long considered having a usable Cobra Commander figure one of my top priorities in my collection. Over the years, the exact figure version has changed. However, the main character is still in place. While the '93 version is still my main figure when Cobra Commander is in a base or dealing with his underlings, it is this uniform that he dons when he goes into battle. This look is much different from most people's visions of the Commander, but makes sense to me as his classic look is so well known that its appearance in combat would be immediately recognized. This look allows the Commander to oversee his troops without drawing the focus of the opposition.

This version of Cobra Commander is nearly identical to the American version. The differences are very subtle: The Funskool figure's mask is more opaque. He is cast in a darker shade of blue. And, he lacks the Cobra sigil on his chestplate. Beyond that, though, this figure and the '91 Cobra Commander are nearly identical. As such, this figure is a perfect fit for anyone who wants a slightly different uniform for Cobra Commander but doesn't want to spend copious amounts of time tracking down the slightly tough to find 1991 Cobra Commander. While some may complain of Funskool quality, I've found this figure to be well done. Most of the figures taken from '91 molds that I have in my collection don't fact the quality issues that figures made from other year's molds have displayed. As such, I have no qualms recommending the Funskool version of this figure.

From my first return to Joe in the late '90's, I was fascinated by this figure. He was not a version of Cobra Commander that I knew. He was, though, a slightly more battle ready Cobra Commander figure. I've long associated the '86 Cobra Commander (Battle Armour) with being a Cobra Commander impostor. As such, I've never really used that figure as the same character for which I use my 1993 Cobra Commander figure. This mold, though, allows me to use that character, though in a more battlefield oriented setting. The battle helmet gives the aura of protection to the character and makes it more believable for this figure to be among the field troopers. However, it still maintains its air of regality that lets you know that this figure is someone important. Due to the mold's obscurity, though, this uniform for Cobra Commander is seldom seen. Most collectors aren't terribly interested in it and make it the second least popular Cobra Commander figure. As is my norm, though, I've found this mold to have some virtues. As the image of Cobra Commander in his more classic uniforms becomes more and more commonplace, figures like this one offer a breath of fresh air. They add that little something to dioramas or artwork that makes is stand out a little more from the ever growing stockpile of online Joe media.

One odd thing about Cobra Commander is that he wasn't really utilized in most international arenas. He was never released in Argentina and has only recently become a more vital player in India. This mold, though, was planned for release in Brazil before it was sent on to India but never actually saw production even though he appears on Brazilian cardbacks. (In fact, many of the '91 Joes that are currently in production in India were released in Brazil, too.) While international variations of other major characters have become highly sought after, internationally released Cobra Commanders remain rather low on the collecting "hot" meter. Perhaps it's due to the lack of significant variations on the figures, but it seems odd that so major a character wouldn't have the fan base that would actively seek out all of his incarnations.

Many of you probably found this site through the Feature Character Spotlight on YoJoe.com. Cobra Commander was a fitting choice for the first spotlight. Hopefully, response to this initiative will be great enough to warrant future spotlight characters. If you found this idea a useful addition to the online collecting world, please let me or any of the other participating webmasters know.

As this version of Cobra Commander is currently being produced by Funskool in India, he is readily available for affordable prices. This is nice as the American version of this figure is kind of tough to track down. (He also used to be rather pricey.) As with all Funskool figures, for the price, they can't be beat. Figures like Cobra Commander, who are close to their American roots, are an excellent way to grow a collection. This version of Cobra Commander may not be the most popular but is a nice representation of the character that you can use without fear of breaking an irreplaceable figure. For that reason, I like him and continue to use this figure as my battlefield Cobra Commander. with a little more exposure, maybe some other collectors will as well.

I'm well set for this figure and don't need anymore of him. What version of Cobra Commander is your favorite? Let me know.

Funskool Cobra Commander, Crimson Guard Immortal, 1990 SAW Viper, Shock Viper, Strike Hiss, Hiss IV, Static Line, Rampart, Stretcher, 1990

Funskool Cobra Commander, Crimson Guard Immortal, 1990 SAW Viper, Shock Viper, Strike Hiss, Hiss IV, Static Line, Rampart, Stretcher, 1990

Funskool Cobra Commander, Law, 1987, Scoop, Roadblock, Supercop, European Tiger Force Psyche Out

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

1993 HEAT Viper

Let's face it. Most Joe collectors out there would not consider a neon colored figure to be among their favorites. In fact, many would simply dismiss a figure due to its poor color. My feeling, though, has long been that many of the poorly colored figures that sprinkle the line's history could, with a proper redesign, be held in high regard. The Shock Viper and Mirage are just examples of how a bad figure can be made good with a major color change. Such is the case with the figure in this profile. The 1993 Heat Viper suffers from an abdominal bright green as his primary color and has fallen into the line's scrap heap as a figure that collectors simply don't want to own. While the colors are loud, though, this figure does have many redeeming qualities and, like his 1993 brethren could be a great figure were he only colored a bit differently.

The Heat Viper mold is actually very well done. If you look around, there are several well done customs that utilize parts from the Heat Viper to create a great new character. First off, the figure is bulky. In '93, many figures began to get "super-sized". Torsos and legs were thicker and the figs, when compared to earlier models, looked much bigger and stronger. This was simply a reflection of the action figure market at the time and the natural progression has lead us to the new sculpt figures of today. In the case of the Heat Viper, though, the bulk works. Supposedly, this is a hand held artillery soldier who would carry heavy weaponry. As such, they would have be strong and big. Beyond the bulk, though, the mold is also incredibly detailed. The figure has a black bandoleer across his chest that houses three grenades. He also has a pistol molded to his leg along with various straps and holsters. The coup de gras, though, is the figure's boots. The Heat Viper has heavy knee pads and thick, black boots that make him look like he means business. It is a small detail, but the type of thought that would have made this figure stand out had he been released in earlier years. While the description of the details may sound a bit sparse, it is the way the detailing is used that allows this figure to be remarkable in simplicity. He is Truly an example of where less is more.

Of course, though, the Heat Viper has some deficiencies. The first and foremost is his neon green color. While eye-catching and attention grabbing, it is not so useful for practical situations. Aside from that, the figure is only molded in three colors: green, black, and flesh. While the contrast of the green and black is fantastic, it also makes the figure feel too simple. Like other later edition figures, the lack of paint detailing lets the intricacy of the mold down. Aside from that, the figure's head is odd. Like the original Heat Viper, this figure has a bizarre helmet that leaves the figure's mouth exposed. Why wear a blast helmet if your source of air is still left open to exhaust and blast fumes? It is a poor design choice, but one that remains true to the figure's roots. The final problem is the figure's accessories. Aside from being cast in neon green, the Heat Viper's weapon tree makes no sense. He comes with machine guns and no projectile launcher as is suggested by his specialty. The thought was for kids to use the spring loaded launcher as the bazooka, but leaves modern collectors with the dilemma of how to properly arm him. (At least black versions of the original Heat Viper's gun have become common with the new releases.) The disappointing thing is that there were other weapon trees offered in '93 that would have made sense for this figure. However, by '93, accessories were an afterthought for these figures.

In my collection, the Heat Viper is not the hand held artillery soldier as denoted by his specialty. Instead, he is more of a specialty shock trooper. He is basically a Cobra SWAT trooper who is used in close quarters, urban situations. Unlike the Headhunters who are more mobile, these Heat Vipers are trucked into a specific situation, knock down the door, take care of business and are then quickly sped away to the next task. I explain the figure's bulk as being a combination of body armour and sheer muscle mass. As such, these guys are the heavy hitters who lead the charge into building occupied by resistance. Alley Vipers are the combat arm of Cobra's urban assault forces. The Heat Vipers are just a logical extension of them. The supplement the Alley Viper's duties in specific situations that call for more heavily protected and less mobile troopers. Plus, I can explain away the green color as being special fabric that allows the Heat Vipers to see each other in the dark confines of the environments in which they tend to operate.

Many have said that this mold would make for an excellent candidate for re-release in the modern line. New colors and proper accessories could really create an exciting new figure. However, this figure has a slight problem that many other '93 figure molds face: he was sent to Brazil shortly after his American release was finished. In Brazil, he was released in nearly identical colors and named Raio Verde. Most of the molds that were contemporary to Raio Verde have not been located by Hasbro and are not candidates for re-release. For now, the Heat Viper appears to be among them. However, as Hasbro is actively seeking out their missing molds, the possibility of this figure's return is always there, no matter how small it may be. I know I would appreciate a new attempt at this mold. Were it done right, I think many other collectors would, too.

1993 Heat Vipers aren't hard to find. There are lots of them out there. The only problem is that they tend to be carded or only available in lots with many other '93 and '94 figures. As this figure is not high on many collectors' priority lists, though, even carded samples can be had cheap. Truthfully, after pulling mine out and putting them to a bit of use, I'm thinking of going out a picking up a couple more of these guys. It's rare to find many Cobra army builders for cheap these days. It's even rarer when the ones you can find are not either highly specialized or suffer from a truly bad mold. I think this version of the Heat Viper is a good buy right now. While he'll never replace the more standard Cobra troopers in my collection, he does fit in well for specific tasks. I think that, given a chance, more collectors could grow to appreciate this figure, even if they never actually use him. For a '93, that's not too bad a lot in life.

I'm curious about the upcoming Python Patrol Heat Viper. My guess is that he will be a straight repaint of the 2001 Fast Blast Viper rather than the '89 Heat Viper or this mold. Which would you prefer?

1993 HEAT Viper, Mail Away Big Ben, European Exclusive Tiger Force Psyche Out, Airwave, Mission to Brazil Mainframe, Dialtone, Cyber Viper

1993 HEAT Viper, Mail Away Big Ben, European Exclusive Tiger Force Psyche Out, Airwave, Mission to Brazil Mainframe, Dialtone, Cyber Viper

1993 HEAT Viper, Mail Away Big Ben, European Exclusive Tiger Force Psyche Out, Airwave, Mission to Brazil Mainframe, Dialtone, Cyber Viper

1993 HEAT Viper, Cyber Viper, Nitro Viper, Detonator

1993 HEAT Viper, Cyber Viper, Nitro Viper, Detonator

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

2003 Tiger Force Wreckage

Back in my profile of the Tiger Force Recondo, I recounted some of the history surrounding the Tiger Force subset. Specifically, I mention the unproduced character of Sabretooth who was originally planned to be a member of the Tiger Force team. However, Sabretooth was never produced and fans were left with a bit of a hole in Joe toy continuity. Through the lean years, customizers filled the gaps by often producing their interpretations of Sabretooth. Then, at the 2002 G.I. Joe Convention, Hasbro showcased a Toys R Us exclusive Tiger Force set that was going to bring the popular sub-group back to the collecting community. Among the figures shown were Jinx, Stalker, Big Brawler and Dial Tone. It was the fifth member of the set, though, that really had everyone talking. Hasbro decided to throw fans a little Easter Egg and include a new character in the Tiger Force set. This figure, in an homage to the unproduced Sabretooth, utilized the 1984 Firefly mold and was named Wreckage.

Wreckage really shows that the current Joe team at Hasbro has a sense of history about the line. Sabretooth was a character that many long time collectors wanted to see. While that name may have not been available, the inclusion of Wreckage in this set was an obvious nod to collectors to let them know that Hasbro is capable of fulfilling some of their wants. While the new line's main focus has been the new sculpts, the few classic repaints that we have seen have been very collector focused. Themed sets, army builders and the return of classic molds seems to be a winning combination on the collector market. The fact that the figures have been well done as well, though, only helps matters even more.

As the classic Joe repaints have progressed, many collectors have heard rumblings about how a certain favorite mold was "lost" or damaged. While the lost molds can more easily be explained, it the damaged molds that most people have a problem with. When looking at my Wreckage figure, though, I discovered a few points about the mold that will give a bit more insight into how these molds can decay. First, look at the pictures below:

Firefly Mold Comparison, 1984, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2002

This picture shows the right arms of all 5 American releases of this mold. (Also remember, this mold was released in Europe, Japan and India.) As you look at the cuffs of Firefly's sleeve, you can see some differences. On the 1984 figure, the lines are sharp and clear. While it's hard to see, the same is still true on the '98 figure. However, in 2000, you start to see some "flatening" of the lines. The crispness of the earlier molds is starting to disappear. On the 2002 figure, it is a bit more pronounced and Wreckage's is the "softest" yet. You can see the same thing on the finger lines on the figure's hand. You can also notice it on the molded knife. The '98 knife is much sharper and the '03 knife. There is more, though.

 Firefly Mold Comparison, 1984, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2002

This photo shows the molds' left legs. The mold has 2 small dial-like details on the thigh. On the earlier Firefly molds, there are raised > signs on the dials. On the '84 and '98 figure, these are very sharp. However, on the 2000 and 2002 figures, the arrows start to disappear. Now, on Wreckage, the arrows are almost impossible to see. Now, my first thought on this was that the differences in plastic that exist between the '84 figure and the '03 figure could be part of the problem. The newer plastic is softer and may not take to details as well as the harder stuff used in '84. However, the '98 figure (which also used softer plastic) still shows most of the detail you see on the '84 figure.

Basically, this is a great example that shows how molds can deteriorate over time. While the mold is hardly unusable, you can start to see some degradation of the details. After hundreds of thousands of injections with hot plastic over nearly 20 years, you would expect to see some loss of detail. However, it appears that once the process starts, molds can go quickly. Seeing a timeline like you can on Firefly, though, helps give collectors more insight into how some of our favorite figures can be gone forever. What the future holds for the Firefly mold, is still unknown. Personally, I've got all the Fireflies I'll ever need. You have him in 2 camo versions that are true to the character. You also have an arctic version for the specialized environment and a crimson version for those pompous ceremonies that Firefly needs to attend. Beyond that, you can still use Wreckage as yet another version of Firefly. With all these, if this mold were retired, I would feel that it got more than enough use.

Wreckage's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. While using the Firefly mold is a great way to fill a gap in the line's history, the mold has simply outpaced Sabretooth's intended place in the line. At this point, this mold is definitively Firefly. Any collector who looks at any incarnation of the mold immediately knows that the character is supposed to be Firefly. Despite Firefly's later appearances, it is his original mold that is forever tied to the character. As such, Wreckage's use is severely limited. It's just too much of a stretch for a figure looking like this to be anyone other than Firefly. (Although, Wreckage could just be Firefly in disguise. It would follow the Spy Troops theme.) So, while this figure will probably be sought after in the short term, I don't foresee Wreckage ever becoming an icon among the collecting world. More likely, he will see his most use as a simple variation of Firefly's traditional uniform. It's not a bad lot and will probably keep this figure more in the limelight that it would otherwise have been.

Wreckage's use in my collection is still undetermined. I have written that I used the '00 Firefly figure as good guy SWAT troopers. (I just ignored the Cobra logo.) As such, I could see Wreckage falling into that role. His colors are nice and his accessories are top notch. (Though they didn't include a cover for his pack.) It would be unfortunate to not use the figure in some capacity. However, the character of Wreckage just doesn't fit into my Joe world well enough for him to become a player. The Joe team has enough demolitions specialists where one more, especially one that is a new creation, doesn't seem necessary. As such, I foresee Wreckage simply being a nameless, faceless Joe army builder. He will have some uses, but most of them will end with his death at the hands of the Cobra attackers. While it may not seem very glamorous, it does give the figure more use and keeps him out of the bottom of my newly founded 2003 Joe drawer.

If you want a Wreckage figure, the time to get one is now. You can still order the Tiger Force set from Amazon.com for $19.99. If that's not your style, word is that these sets are starting to appear in brick and mortar Toys R Us stores for the same price as well. Spending $20 for five figures is a good deal, regardless of what you might read on various message boards. In the long run, though, I think Wreckage will be the most popular figure from this set. Jinx has a pretty strong fan following, but I don't think it will be enough to overcome the coolness factor displayed by Wreckage. The other three figures are nice additions to a collection, but hardly the type of figure that people will seek out in the future. Still, Firefly molds usually remain fairly popular over time. While this is not Firefly, enough people will see him as such to make this figure more sought after than most of his contemporaries. When you know this is the case, it is always best to take advantage of retail availability. The entire Tiger Force set is well done. I enjoy it's inclusion in the line and will mingle these new figures with my existing Tiger Force collection, both foreign and domestic. Judging by the reception this set seems to have found in the collecting world, you can be sure I'm not alone.

I've got all the Wreckage figures I need. Are you ready to see this mold retired? Let me know.

E2003 Tiger Force Wreckage, TRU EXclusive, European Exclusive Tiger Force Tunnel Rat, 1992 Shockwave, G.I. Joe HQ, 1983

2003 Tiger Force Wreckage, Sgt. Stalker, 2001 Desert Striker

2003 Tiger Force Wreckage, TRU EXclusive, 1990 Ambush