I am now going to talk a bit about Sergeant Slaughter despite the fact that he is not a part of this box set.
Actually, it just struck me how irritating it is that two figures that should have been essential parts of this box set and the Dreadnoks box set that I reviewed on Wednesday came out as SDCC Exclusives. Extremely limited exclusives. I had to pay top dollar for Sgt. Slaughter in 2011 and just about had an aneurysm from trying to order Zarana from HasbroToyShop.com in 2012. And I couldn’t find the variants of either for any kind of reasonable price. The Dreadnoks set could have easily replaced the unknown Burn Out with Zarana and this Marauders set has even more chaff that could have been replaced or eliminated. As things stand I have Slaughter and Zarana up on the wall in their packaging because they’re special figures that I hate to open. Yes, even I – the great opener and destroyer of packaging – keep things in the box from time to time.
As I’ve stated before, I have been a fan of professional wrestling ever since I was a kid. I would stealthily stay up late on Saturday nights to watch the WWF and the regional program that followed. After church on Sunday mornings I would watch whatever WWF show it was that came on, followed by Commander USA’s Groovy Movies. I watched Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling. I couldn’t get enough.
And as I’ve been talking about this week and have mentioned many times before – including on Earth Station One Episode 155: GI Joe – GI Joe was my thing when I was a kid. So when the unfathomable happened and real-life pro wrestler Sgt. Slaughter became a part of the GI Joe team… it blew my tender little mind.
Slaughter was immortalized in plastic as one of the Joe line’s famous mail-away figures. My mom was kind of weird about the mail-aways. I don’t feel like she had any kind of issue with them, really, but there were some I didn’t get. And it wasn’t for lack of asking. Or, more accurately, pestering. But the point here is that I never had that mail-away Sgt. Slaughter when I was a kid. I didn’t own a figure of Sarge until later on when Hasbro released him with his trusty and ludicrous vehicle, the Triple T tank:
Truth be told, I prefer the retail version. I’m as pro-American as the next guy, but the mail-away Sarge is a bit too much.
I actually got to meet Sergeant Slaughter a few years ago. He was a guest at the Electronics Boutique manager’s conference in Philadelphia. I didn’t know he was even going to be there. I was walking through the aisles of vendors and there he was, just sitting at this table. I flipped out. He was very cool and chatted for a little bit about his heels turn and some other stuff. The best part was the 8x10 he had to sign:
So I love Sgt. Slaughter. But I also really liked his Marauders, which were introduced in GI Joe: The Movie. The idea of a crew of guys who were just too unruly and tough to be trained by anybody but Sergeant Fucking Slaughter was so cool. Mercer was my favorite. An ex-COBRA Viper who had defected was one of the best character concepts Hasbro released.
Now we finally have figures of Mercer, Red Dog, and Taurus in the 25th Anniversary style. And we even got a Lieutenant Falcon to go along with them, which makes sense. And then three other guys that… make less sense.
And no Sarge.
First Glance: This is an interesting set of figures. Three of them look like great updates of 80s Joe characters. The other four… do not. Very weird deco choices here.
Articulation: Once again I’m just hitting articulation once. These seven figures all have the same joints.
Head – Ball joint
Shoulders – Swivel/pivot
Elbows – Swivel/pivot
Wrists - Swivel
Torso – Rocker
Hips – Ball joint
Knees – Double joint
Ankles – Swivel/pivot
This is as much posability as you need at this scale. They can do everything you need plus sit in vehicles.
I didn’t have any trouble getting these guys to hold poses or stand up. While Taurus… er, Bull… has to lean way back now for some reason, the rest have held up well.
Vincent “Falcon” Falcone: Surprisingly, this is the first Lt. Falcon from the 25th Anniversary line. There are actually a lot of characters missing from the line when you sit down and take a look. I never liked Lt. Falcon. I liked his figure, but he was kind of a sniveling ass weasel for the greater part of GI Joe: The Movie. His one redeeming quality was that he was voiced by Don Johnson, who in 1985 was one of the seven coolest people on the planet. His character Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice was known even to nine-year-olds as a bad mofo.
Falcon has a new head sculpt that is almost a little Don Johnson-esque if you squint and don’t consider hair color. The paint and detailing is solid and I absolutely hate his blue beret. The little insignia on it is nice, though.
Honestly, this figure’s color scheme is baffling. The original Falcon had a camo pattern that was distinctive among the Joes. He had a green beret because he is a Green Beret. This Falcon looks like a member of The Corps. Maybe not even that good. The camo on his pants actually looks pretty good and would have been great for the entire figure. Instead, Hasbro chose to combine an ugly, almost neon green with bright blue. And a red bandanna. This guy almost looks like one of those weird pre-production samples you sometimes see. I don’t see the need for the shoulder pads and the bottom of his blouse (yes, that’s what they call shirts in the military) just doesn’t look good. It doesn’t fit well enough to clasp closed. I think the sculpt of the kneepads is pretty cool, but that green is awful. Same for the boots. But honestly this figure would have been okay if he just had that camo pattern all over with black kneepads and boots, a green beret, and any color but red on that bandanna.
Falcon comes with a stand, a rifle and a grenade launcher. Despite the harness on his torso, he did not come with a backpack.
This figure is lame. His bio isn’t particularly interesting, either. I definitely wouldn’t have bought him at retail.
Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly: I like Barbecue. He was a standout amongst the original figures and he had the absurd Boston accent on the cartoon.
I have to admit, I find it odd that the 25th Anniversary-style Barbecue does not have a removable helmet. I feel like he played a big enough role in the cartoon to have earned an unmasked head. I mean, Fred got one. But this is definitely a good sculpt. This figure is simply a repaint of the existing Barbecue, so sculpt-wise it works.
Barbecue has separately sculpted shoulder gear that consists of pads, a harness, and an oxygen tank. It looks cool and much nicer than the original 80s figure. I like the detailing on his suit, from the ridges on the sleeves to the pockets on the legs. The belt is cool and sort of gadgety and the gloves and boots look heavy and sealed like a firefighter’s would be. Also, Barbecue has added wrist articualtion that allows up and down movement. The camo looks really good and seems to be a theme for the odd figures in this set. Unfortunately, so does the blue. Ugh.
We have a standard Barbecue from the regular line, so this repaint is a little easier to take than that awful Lt. Falcon. Actually, aside from the blue I like this Barbecue. It stands to reason that he isn’t going to be wearing bright red all the time. This camo is a solid alternative. His bio is a little weird, what with his lack of sense of duty and family, but this is a solid repaint. I would have passed on it at retail, but it’s okay filler for a multi-pack.
Low-Light: I always liked Low-Light. His urban camo color scheme combined with those red night-vision goggles was cool.
Like Falcon, this is the first Low-Light we got in the modern GI Joe line. His head sculpt is great. The goggles are accessories rather than molded on, so they can be up on his head like the original figure or down for snipin’ action. His face is serious, his hair has a good bit of curly detail, and his hat is well done.
Every bit of this guy looks awesome sculpt-wise. From his tactical vest to the pads on his forearms to all the little details on his belt and pants. Low-Light is an interesting figure to look at before you even get to the paint. His base is the same camo as the other figures. It looks good and works almost as well as his darker urban camo because it is so subdued. And then that damn blue comes in and ruins it. The red vest doesn’t even bother me as much as the blue shoulder pads and hat. It’s funny, for a figure that is an update of one that was essentially three colors back in the day, Low-Light has a ton of deco. The zippers on the fronts of his calves, the brown on the sides, the kneepads, all of the details on the vest – he has a fairly involved paint job and bright blue aside it looks very good. It I was motivated enough to paint the blue and red parts black he’d look pretty awesome. Oh, and the GI Joe logo on his belt is a nice touch, but it’s just sort of painted on the webbing. It’s weird.
Low-Light’s accessories are a stand, a sniper rifle, a standard assault rifle, and his goggles. Both rifles look very good and have some paint apps. It would have been nice if the figure had more wrist articulation and deeper shoulder movement so he could hold the sniper rifle more accurately. The goggles look good and fit well, but I wish they were translucent.
I like the bit in the bio about Low-Light owning patents for night vision equipment. Overall this is a solid figure. If they had thrown a backpack or a case for his rifle in I’d say he would have been a worthy single card release. I probably would have bought him anyway. I believe a more standard version of Low-Light was released through the GI Joe Collector’s Club subscription, but you can buy this entire box set for less than you would pay for him.
Spirit Iron-Knife: Obviously Spirit was a favorite of mine. Hasbro knew that GI Joes that came with animal companions would appeal to kids and they were right. The original Spirit was extremely Native American and came with his eagle pal, Freedom. This Spirit is extremely Billy From Predator (though not as much so as the Pursuit of COBRA release) and does not have an eagle.
This Spirit’s head looks exactly like Billy. It just does. Too bad that blue bandana is on top of that great sculpt.
Spirit has a separately sculpted, ridiculously involved harness that looks like it should be on Footloose (who we haven’t seen yet). I like it. There’s a good amount of painted detail on the thing and it looks awesome. There’s a sheath to hold the included knife. To either side of this collection of Rob Liefeld wet dreams are some stupid-looking blue elbow pads and gloves. Blech. But then Spirit is redeemed from the waist down by having cool camo pants, kneepads that appear to be cinching those pants up like actual kneepads would, and some cool, different boots. He also has a kickass tattoo on his chest. Tattoos are cool. Really, the only thing messing this guy up is the blue. He’s pretty solid other than that.
Charlie Iron-Knife comes with a huge knife (like Billy’s), a stand, a dart rifle that is an update of the original’s, and a cartridge of darts for the rifle. The knife and rifle both have some nice painted detail and the cartridge fits snugly into the rifle. You don’t have to worry about it falling out.
This is another figure that isn’t a bad repaint for a box set. Obviously the blue is terrible, but other than that he’s solid. I would have passed on a solo figure at retail, though. Especially considering how amazing the solo release of this version of the Joe’s tracker was.
David “Red Dog” Taputapu: And now we finally get into the meat of this set. Lt. Falcon is a fair inclusion due to his entry into Slaughter’s training camp, but Red Dog is one of the for-real Marauders. My least favorite of them, but still pretty cool. I just don’t get why he’s a football player. Dude’s Samoan. Obviously he should be a wrestler.
Mr. Taputapu definitely looks Samoan in the cranial area. I would not attempt to headbutt him. Actually, he looks a lot like The Barbarian/Headshrinker Sione. It’s a good sculpt and the little headband is true to the original figure. I love that they captured that certain Samoan disdain that so many of the wrestlers are so good at emoting.
The football jersey looks good. I like the red and white color scheme and believe it or not I even dig the wristbands that look like sweatbands. Red Dog has a couple of tattoos that are vaguely Samoan-looking, which is a nice touch. The belt and pants are a little weird, as I’m not sure where the padded chaps make any kind of sense, but they do look pretty cool and create a better profile than plain old jeans would have.
Red Dog comes with a stand, a pistol, and a football(!). The pistol is simple but okay. The football has a groove sculpted into the back so the figure can hold it. I can’t remember – did the original Red Dog come with a football and chain or was that the regrettable William “The Refrigerator” Perry figure?
Red Dog has a totally boring bio but is a great figure. He’d require a few more accessories to be an acceptable single carded release, but I would’ve have bought him if they’d done it.
Varujan “Bull” Ayvazyan: Originally called “Taurus”, this guy is a former circus performer. I loved this figure when I was a kid.
Bull’s head sculpt is excellent. His beard is full of sculpted detail and he has a very stern look on his face. This might be my favorite head sculpt out of both of these box sets.
Unfortunately, Hasbro saw fit to saddle Bull with the same shitty gear as Zanzibar. And it doesn’t even fit. I cannot fathom a Hasbro designer looking at the gun butts right up in Zanzibar and Bull’s faces and approving. The rest of Bull is good, though. His yellow shirt is accurate to the original and his pants have a sort of exotic look that match his circus origins. I like his blocky kneepads as well. The holster on his right leg holds the pistol that is included and the sheath on the back of that stupid harness holds Bull’s knife.
Bull comes with a stand, two pistols, a submachine gun, and a knife. Each has a bit of painted detail and they all look good. I think I would have preferred it if they had just left the stupid harness off and given Bull another holster on his left leg.
I love the base figure and I feel like he came with enough accessories. I do wish he had come with a turkey leg. His bio is one of the more fun ones in these sets and pretty much works with the history of the character. Bull is definitely a must-have and I think Hasbro did alright with him. I’d have bought a single carded one and thrown the harness away.
Felix “Mercenary” Stratton: It’s fitting that my favorite character from the set is the last one in the review. Mercer is an ex-Viper and that makes him automatically cool. If I had to pick one Marauder to own, it would be him.
This is a great head sculpt. The hair looks great and that raised eyebrow just says, “problems with authority”. The earrings are a nice touch, but like all GI Joe earrings the paint is iffy. The hair and face have solid apps, though.
While I like the design of this figure and am particularly impressed by the paint job, I wish Hasbro had stuck more to Viper parts. Even if they just straight-up reused the vest, pants, and gloves of the Viper figures that would have been cool. As cool as the parts they used look, now it just seems like Mercer’s some kind of cosplayers who didn’t get the costume quite right but nailed the colors. His vest is a separately sculpted piece. It looks awesome and has a lot going on in both sculpt and color. The straps, buckles, and pouches are all painted and look great. I didn’t even realize the sheath was functional until halfway through taking the pictures. I do wish he had Viper forearms and gloves, but the ones he has look cool. They’re busy and different. The pants, kneepads, and boots are fine; but again I wish they were just Viper parts. Oh, and they got his anti-COBRA tattoo right:
Mercenary comes with a stand, a Viper rifle, another rifle, a knife, a pistol, and a suppressor for the pistol. The knife is the only thing with any deco, which is weird. And the Viper rifle isn’t the right color. It should be a light grey rather than silver. It is nice that – unlike the Viper figures – Mercer can actually hold his rifle.
Mercenary looks great despite the lack of Viper parts. I’d buy him as single carded retail release. His bio tells just enough for you to get how awesome he is. I guess Hasbro just didn’t want to work Viper parts into a new figure.
Packaging: Hasbro does a fair job with these window boxes. They display the figures nicely and have file cards on the back. The graphics are nice enough for a store shelf even though these will never sit on one.
Value: I purchased this and the Dreadnoks set for $90 plus shipping (which I think was about $8). That breaks down to $7 per figure. Falcon might have been a turd, but the rest are solid figures regardless of what I think fo their color schemes. At least they’re not fucking Tiger Force.
Overall: I just cannot enthusiastically endorse this set. While Mercer (Mercenary), Taurus (Bull), and Red Dog are all very solid figures; the rest aren’t Marauders and Lt. Falcon is simply a bad figure. I feel like Hasbro struggled to fill out seven slots for this one and just made some poor design decisions. I’m glad to have the three actual Marauders, but the rest is a solid “meh”.
3 out of 5
This one just isn’t as much of a must-have as the Dreadnoks set. It is, however, the only way you’re going to get the three key figures. Or any kind of Falcon, for that matter. Although given the choice I’d go without rather than have the one in this set.
You can still get this and the Dreadnoks set at BigBad. While they have been in stock for a while, you might want to move on them. GI Joe stuff might get really hot if the new movie does well and the other two BBTS-Exclusive 7-packs are quite pricey, as you can see on the site.