Tuesday, October 26, 2021

2001 Crossfire

Taste is subjective.  All collectors have irrational favorites.  And, everyone has one figure that just bugs them for some reason.  I do not like Crystal Ball.  But, I do see the quality of his overall sculpt.  Big Boa is the worst figure in the vintage line.  But, I also acknowledge that I feel that way because he was such a good character and I was super disappointed that his figure didn't live up to his filecard.  There are, though, a select few figures that are objectively bad and have no redeeming qualities at all.  20 years ago, Hasbro released one such figure.  I was shocked to find, though, that, at the time, a lot of other collectors loved him.  And, even two decades later, people rush to defend a figure that has no intrinsic value whatsoever.  But, I will remain steadfast that the 2001 Crossfire is just a terrible figure and, subjectivity be damned, anyone who likes him is just wrong.

The A Real American Hero Collection (ARAHC) started off with a bang in the fall of 2000.  Joe returning to retail was huge.  But, Hasbro went a step further to find some favorite molds and characters, paint them well and include all their original gear.  The second wave was even better as it expanded the mold library and brought in some later figure sculpts that followed the same formula as Wave I.  But, a troubling pattern started to emerge with Wave II.  Too many of the Joes used the same color palette.  Gone was the retail visual complement that Hasbro strove for with the vintage line.  Instead, all the figures looked the same.  And, when Wave III debuted, the pattern continued into a full blown issue.  Wave II was starting to stagnate at retail.  (Though, that was all the fault of packing 4 Big Ben/Whiteout packs per case.)  Wave III, though, saw a lower production run and, generally, sold through just due to lower numbers.  But, Wave II had done in the line and the banality that was Wave IV heavily found its way to discount and closeout stores.  Hasbro listened too much to some people who had a very limited and narrow view of Joe.  And, the sea of olive green was just too boring to sustain a line at retail.  In 2002, Hasbro moved more towards a vintage Joe approach with coloring and the line was hugely successful for a couple of years.

Backing up to 2001, though, Wave III was actually pretty well anticipated by the collecting community.  It featured two new army builders (always welcome in those days!) as well as a redone Cobra Commander and Destro.  On the Joe side, we saw a repainted Low Light, Wet Suit and Torpedo.  The classic 1984 Roadblock mold returned.  Though, with a new name.  Also in the wave, though, were two "new" figures.  One, Sure Fire, used the amazing 1992 Shockwave body.  (And, kind of sullied that mold for a long time.)  The other, Crossfire, was an amalgamation of parts.  But, like Sure Fire, he included a newly sculpted head to denote the new character.  Sadly, both these heads were just terrible.  Both had receding hairlines and while Sure Fire's head was too small, Crossfire's was too big.  Both look out of place with the rest of the parts and stick out as a newly minted part created by sculptors less talented than those who worked on the vintage Joe line.  

Crossfire suffers from many ailments.  His pasty, balding, middle aged white guy head has always sucked.  In fact, it's kind of embarrassing.  Hasbro designers completed failed on all the new heads in the ARAHC line (We'll toss in Volga from 1998 as well as most of the Comic Pack heads, too.)  If the rest of the figure was good, then the new head could be somewhat overlooked.  But, the rest of Crossfire is just as much a mess as is his head.  His chest and arms are from the 1990 Big Ben.  Remember, at the time, the 2001 Arctic Big Ben was pegwarming all over North America.  And, the colors chosen for Crossfire were reminiscent of the 1990 figure while also being worse at the same time.  He was also given flesh colored hands.  The fact that Big Ben has gloves sculpted onto his hands didn't seem to bother the Hasbro team of the time.  They're not as bad as Dialtone's hands.  But, it is still noticeable.  Speaking of Dialtone, Crossfire uses his legs and waist.  The slim 1986 sculpt is not a good match for the 1990 torso.  So, Crossfire appears off balance.  The legs are also nearly the same green as the 2000 Dialtone figure.  So, again, the entire ensemble just felt tired.

Crossfire's torso and legs are different shades of green.  They are not complementary shades.  They are just different enough to make you think that the top or bottom has discolored from the sun.  He also has gold bullets with silver belt details.  Again, this is a color contrast that makes the whole figure look confusing.  Lots of color is usually good on a figure.  But, when it's clashing colors that simply distract from the mold's details, you realize that this wasn't a figure with a lot thought put into his design.  It was a cheap way to reuse parts and create a "new" character without trying too hard or blowing the budget on a lower production wave of figures.  

The final indignity of Crossfire was his complete lack of weapons.  He didn't include a helmet.  His only gun, the 1991 Dusty rifle and stock, had become commonplace and even overused by 2001.  Personally, I use it exclusively as a Cobra weapon after the 1998 Cobra Infanty was released.  So, it was good to have a spare of two when Hasbro stopped giving Vipers decent weapons in 2002.  Crossfire didn't even have an obligatory backpack.  Supposedly, Crossfire had all sorts of specialties.  But, he got no gear to prove that out.  His pack mate, Double Blast, got a lot of gear.  And, it wasn't uncommon for one figure to have a large amount of gear in the ARAHC packs while the second figure got barely a pittance.  But, with Crossfire, it just stung since the gear added nothing to the figure.  The 2001 Leatherneck's Richard Nixon head was saved by including a helmet.  Crossfire just gets to look like a guy who's slowly drinking himself to death with cheap gin.

Despite three plus paragraphs describing just how terrible Crossfire is, collectors somewhat liked him.  Some used him as a Greenshirt.  Others found use for him in various dio stories of the day.  All of these people were wrong.  Crossfire is a figure that deserves to be ridiculed and should be forgotten on the scrap heap of terrible Joe ideas.  But, things like this are what make collecting fun.  I can jest about others being wrong in their opinions of this figure.  But, it's not malicious.  At the end of the day, I own this figure and am publishing an article about him more than two decades removed from his release.  Those who like him can still like him.  The things about him that bug me may be endearing to others.  And, remember, my favorite figures tend to have neon colors.  So, how valid can my opinion be, anyways?!?  My biggest issue is, knowing the molds that Hasbro had available to them at the time, we got Crossfire instead of Mutt or Bullhorn or Salvo or Rock and Roll.  Any of those figures would have been preferable.  But, in Hasbro's feeble attempts at something "new", they created something completely forgettable.

Crossfire's code name didn't help.  The Crossfire was an obscure 1987 radio controlled vehicle that is most famous for producing Rumbler.  On top of the reuse, though, Hasbro wasn't overly creative with names in the early 2000's.  In short order, they released Crossfire, Surefire, Crosshair, Sideswipe, Side Track and Sidetrack.  The names all blended together into a cacophony of banality that made all the characters lamentable.  

Dealers try to get $20 for mint and complete Crossfires.  But, they won't sell until the price drops to around $10.  Left to the open market, he's a $5 or $6 figure.  You can get carded versions of he and Double Blast for under $20 still, too.  (Dealer pricing hovers around $30, though.)  At $5, I guess this guy's an ok addition.  I paid $4 for him at retail in 2001.  I felt ripped off back then.  And, there's not really a circumstance where I'd have actually bought a Crossfire figure had I not wanted the Double Blast and been a completist two decades ago.  But, your mileage may vary.  Lots of collectors still enjoy him.  And, figures for $5 are almost unheard of in this market.  So, if you're missing Crossfire, it's as good a time as any to acquire him...even if he has no use.

2001 Crossfire, 2000 Duke, ARAHC


2001 Crossfire, 1993 Edmund Honda, Street Fighter


13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. "Middle aged white guy" isn't remotely racist you buffoon

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  2. I don't mind Cross Fire. I can't argue with your gripes about him, he's certainly not perfect. He makes for a good Army builder or background character(especially when comparing him to the green shirt TRU set that came out in 2005). I have an affinity for the 2001-2002 RAHC and have a bias for sure - the use of some classic molds with the odd head choices - Big Brawler would have looked better as Outback, Sure Fire v1 would have worked better with Shockwave v2 head (Sure Fire v3 was a nice improvement). I think the worst head was from Life Line in 2002 - with the stupid 5 o'clock shadow painted on. Sideswipe and SideTrack v2 also suffer from the questionable heads that were placed on very good, nicely colored body molds. I think that was what knocked the above mentioned figures down a notch or two as the RAHC figures that were re-releases of the original figures were all really cool. Great write-up as usual!

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  3. I do not hate him, but Crossfire was a super lazy reuse of recently reused parts, yet they also bothered to make a new head sculpt for whatever reason. That they couldn't throw in another Roadblock helmet or a 1992 Duke one was disappointing. There's a definite disconnect from the top and bottom both in style and colors. That might be the worst thing, as this looks like a figure thrown together.

    But ARAH collection was mostly lazy and the packaging was terrible. They got the file cards the right size, beyond that the bizarre Apache helicopter and explosion...all the blue. No one wanted retro packaging back then? Maybe that was a retailer insistence like the 60's Joe logo during SPY TROOPS. And the character selection was at times odd, with new characters added but not requested ones...tributes to scumbags (White-Out) and fans and I guess Hasbro employees. No Big Lob, Sparks, Gen Flagg Sr, Billy, more Oktober Guard (well, they were pegwarmers in 1998). And no ladies besides "Chameleon", still a forgotten character despite IDW's efforts.

    Bad code names, Wetdown gets overlooked. "It's an actual term." Doesn't mean it's a good codename.

    As a filler character, Crossfire is okay and his soft hands can hold some weapons older figures cannot without great risk. I wonder if the new Hasbro o-ringers will have soft hands.

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  4. Count me as half wrong! I never minded his head that much because I didn't need every soldier to be handsome. He's no less ugly to me than any vintage Grunt head. Granted, coming off of the 97/98 figures many of the stars and stripes set Joes that I was using as generics were already starting to fall apart in ways so I was hungry for more injure-able front line dudes in green. I also liked his upper body a lot, I wasn't brainwashed to hate Big Ben yet (and only an idiot would) and since I only had the arctic Big Ben, I was happy to have another bullet belt torso I could use elsewhere. It also always bugged me that I had no Roadblocks that actually carried any extra ammo, and even though I fell out of favor with doubleblock really fast, it immediately contextualized Crossfire as an ammo bearer/loader which also kind of vindicated his "not the special"-ness to me. I've got no excuse for the legs though, they're totally out of proportion with the rest of him. The color clash isn't great but could have worked if only the values had been pushed a little further away from each other.

    I learned pretty quickly that I didn't actually like the Roadblock v1 mold that much, and he remains a figure where I just continue to not get the hype from older collectors. So in the end, I probably used Crossfire for much longer even if he spent all his time on his knees behind the HQ sand bangs or the stars and stripes dirt mound just being a background guy that covered the rear while cooler figures went off and did the mission.

    I'd still rank him higher than half the 97 Joes and every single figure from the Greenshirt 6-pack.

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  5. This guy's objectively flawed. Despite that, I have a certain fondness for him, as well as his contemporary repaints who were less than stellar.

    While the Dial-Tone legs look pretty bad here, he still looks decent overall and makes for some nice background fodder. That's especially useful if you want a spare Joe for Cobra to kill off, or even to play a more dishonorable role as a traitor or some such. Adds an interesting dynamic to the team without having to sully a more prominent Joe as a traitor.

    I've long thought that if "good custom fodder" is the best you can say about a figure, it's probably a sign the figure you're talking about is bad. Though, Crossfire seems like good custom fodder. By far, the worst thing about the toy is his head, and a clever part-swap could easily turn him into a decent Rock & Roll. As far as that head goes, it wouldn't be so bad if he were just ugly, but why's it so narrow? It looks like the designer accidentally squished it after he was done sculpting, or like Crossfire had his head stuffed in a jar or something.

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  6. The last photo reminds me of the Gi Joe/Street Fighter commercial...

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  7. Your review is *spot on*! Preach, brother, preach! 🙌

    I also bought this guy back in 2001. Twenty years later, in 2021, I gave him away (along with most of my ARAHC collection) to a friend's kid. I do not regret this. Maybe a 7 year old will find some joy from this poor old toy.

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  8. You are definitely Crossfire's #1 hater, Mike, which I respect. I don't even dislike him, but all of your points are valid.

    My biggest problem is that he's strapped with ammo belts and doesn't carry a belt fed weapon. That kind of shows that the writing and design teams weren't on the same page. He's also very bland, but there's room for a few bland figures in such a massive toy line.

    He's a figure I don't mind owning, but I don't think I've used him in a photo more than once. I think I found him a helmet and an extra Big Ben machine gun.

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  9. Agree with Mike. I can't find anything to like about this guy!

    Maybe his face was modeled after some Hasbro higher up.

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  10. I honestly don't mind the figure, his head is a bit goofy though. I still don't understand the meme like appeal of big brawlers head. Repaints can be fun, frankensteining figures can be fun too, but making crap looking heads when Hasbro could have saved lots of cash by reusing someone elses face is stupid. This RAHC is such a mixed bag for me, they should have kept doing repaints of whole figures like Big Ben, Dusty, Duke, etc, instead of trying to create awful new characters.

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  11. Crossfire does indeed suck.

    Big Boa however, is awesome!!

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