Tuesday, February 14, 2023

2023 Pilot Scarlett

Everyone now has an opinion on the Haslab Skystriker.  They've been in people's hands for about three weeks.  There's lots of kvetching about it from a vocal minority...many of whom did not even back the project.  But, there's also been a lot of positives about it.  My plan was to write a full on screed about the Skystriker: it's failures and successes.  But, I don't want to.  Instead, I'm going to look at the one figure from the set that I thought wasn't going to be great.  But, has turned out to be nicer and more interesting than the rest of the figures from the set: the Pilot Scarlett.  And, as an added bonus, both the Dragon Fortress and the Attica Gazette are looking at the same figure today.  (Can you believe it's been 5 years since our last collaboration?)

When the Skystriker was announced, the Pilot Scarlett was among the revealed tiers.  Her figure was just a repaint of the standard Ace body that was recreated for this set.  It featured a new Scarlett head, though, to create a missing specialty for a major character.  At the time of her reveal, I mentioned that her coloring wasn't something you saw very often in the Joe line.  And, it is that coloring that really made the figure stand out once I had the entire Skystriker set in hand.

Really, the Skystriker figures are kind of bland.  The colors are dark and muted.  They're not bad figures.  They're just not anything that stands out.  If you mixed them with a lot of vintage figures, you'd miss them at first glance.  Figures like this are a valuable part of a collection.  But, it's nice to get something to spice up the monotony.  And, that's where this Scarlett comes in.  Her flightsuit is in light blue with white accents offset by a dark blue torso.  Usually, when you see an all blue figure, they look too much like a Cobra.  But, this Scarlett doesn't suffer from that.  It might be the distinctiveness of her flight suit.  But, the color scheme is different and visually vibrant.  

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the figure, though.  Scarlett has never been known as a pilot.  Though, she was somewhat retconned into the role based on the Glenda appearance.  But, as the Joes tended to be able to specialize in multiple things, it's fine that Scarlett is now a pilot.  And, it makes sense that she'd wear a high altitude flight suit just like Ace.  Or else she'd run the risk of blacking out and dying at high altitudes.  The bulk of the flightsuit would obscure some of Scarlett's female form.  So, that detail is also something you can accept.  But, I didn't even unbox my Skystriker plane.  And, I'm not going to.  So, this Scarlett is going to somewhat disappear into the storage drawer for 2023 figures.

In some ways, though, that's good.  The reality is that the Skystriker figures were not meant to be opened and used for photos, etc.  The plastic is soft.  But, the paint is even softer.  Ripcord's gear is so soft that you can't put it on him.  Scarlett's glove paint will chip if you put her helmet in her hand.  And, that's a thin accessory.  The painted heads and hands will strip easily.  The paint feels like the soft application that existed on the alternate Asian figures where it was like the paint was never sealed.  Hasbro means for these figures to be carded display pieces.  Which really is unfortunate as Joe figures have always been toys and not carded collectibles like Star Wars figures.  It's especially problematic since these are premium priced figures that are supposed to be of decent quality.

There is one glaring issue with the figure: her hair.  Scarlett is known for her red hair.  It's been her calling card since 1982.  In looking back at the promo mock ups of this figure, though, the hair color has been pretty consistent.  It's just still jarring to see Scarlett with such a brown colored hair.  It should have been a simple fix.  But, it's another odd choice made for this figure.  Sadly, as this is an all new head, no vintage or repaint era Scarlett heads will fit this mold and still allow the helmet to work.  So, painting her is about the only option to get Scarlett in her real hair color.

Scarlett includes two accessories: a helmet and a crossbow.  The helmet is the same as Ace's, just in a different color.  It is, though, extremely difficult to remove once you get it in place.  Dok Sewage has a video with tips to get it off without damaging it.  The second piece is her iconic crossbow.  However, I guess the crossbow isn't that iconic because Hasbro remade the mold without the handle!  So, there is no natural way that Scarlett can hold her classic weapon.  Hasbro has made a prior mistake in a similar vein when the Bazooka with the Cobra Trooper/Officer set was missing the sight.  This handle, though, is more egregious.  It elevates to scandalous, though, because Hasbro has gone the extra mile to pretend this design was intentional.  Hasbro Customer Service even sends out photos of how she can "hold" her weapon.  In one of them, her thumb is stretched out so far that not even the softer plastic used to make the figure looks like it will not last long.

The bottom line is that Hasbro made a mistake.  Instead of bullshitting collectors, they should have owned up to it.  They could have said it was an error, they're sorry, and they will work to ensure that no future releases have similar misses.  But, they didn't.  And, they way they handled it was reminiscent of the early 2000's Hasbro and their step child, the collector's club.  They'd have done a similar take where they didn't make an error and collectors were stupid for trying to point out that they did.  I was hoping that collector themed products would at least lead to a modicum of respect for their customers.  But, Hasbro is what they are.  And, their lack of culpability is completely in character for them.

I do not know how this figure will hold up.  We know that light blue figures from the early 2000's discolor without even being removed from the package or exposed to sunlight.  It would sure suck to find this figure an ugly yellowing, blue color in 15 years.  But, it's definitely possible.  I'm making it a point to get good photographs of all the 2020's figures so it's easier for me to spot discoloration in future decades.  I hope I'll be surprised and Scarlett holds her intended colors as the hues are so nice.  

When this figure was announced, I speculated that she'd be $80+ within a year of her release.  Early indications were that all the Skystriker figures were going to be pricey.  But, a lot of people are underselling these figures right now, especially Scarlett and the Cobra Commander.  So, buy now.  In 2024, despite the fact that the market will be a lot cooler than it is now, the deals on the Skystriker figures will be gone.  And, we'll lament $40 Scarletts the way we lament $4 Funskool Night Vipers today.

2023 Pilot Scarlett, Haslab, 1985 Snake Eyes, 1987 Hardtop

2023 Pilot Scarlett, Haslab, Skystriker, Funskool Flint, 1998 Ace, TRU EXclusive


  1. "The Skystriker figures were not meant to be opened and used for photos". Is that just your opinion or has that been confirmed by Hasbro? In any case, I'm hesitant to open up that Ramp Rat, but I probably will anyways. I'm not getting any younger. I wouldn't worry about these figures appreciating too much. Most of us are going to be hitting retirement age in the next 15 years or so. None of the young Zoomers care about Joe. I also see a major crash in the comics industry. Without youth engagement, American football, comics, toys and rock music are on a serious decline of interest. And really it's the result of poor decisions over the last 35 years.

    1. Noooo, not rock music! Music tends to get rediscovered. Things that were once big businesses and
      declined due to lack of popular interest probably won't become huge again, even if there's future hipsters loving comics and toys.

  2. Won her for 31 dollars plus shipping. Gonna sit on her and test your prediction!

    If not she is awesome and I really am happy to get her.

    Please let O ring offerings continue Hasbro

  3. This set seems like a head-ache, and I'm glad I skipped it. Funny, if they'd offered the figures separately, I might've gotten them.
    I get the impression Hasbro's half-hearted...well, less than that...quarter-a$$ed efforts with these o-rings will be the final footnote of the format, at least in Hasbro's hands. Hasbro still prefers 6 inchers for all their brands. There was a rumor they wanted to axe 3 3/4" Star Wars the Vintage Collection, and only make the obviously cheaper to produce Retro Collection 3 3/4" (while still making 6 inch black series, of course).

  4. My gripes: Her arm is almost falling off at the elbow, problem with Ace / the mold too. She doesn't have a womanly chest. Not sure her face is as good as the original. The helmet clips on too strong. The hole in the back is the wrong size.

    1. Really? Your problem is "hurr durr I can't see her boobies!" She's in a bulky flight suit. Go look at pictures of women in pressure suits or space suits and tell me if you can see they're boobs. You're gross.

    2. Yes, I was just like that.