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The Eagle's Edge

GI Joe 50th Anniversary
by yo go re

General Clayton "Hawk" Abernathy and Leatherneck have tracked Destro and are ready to capture this long-time troublemaker. They have a two-to-one advantage, but Destro is a smart and ruthless adversary, so the two GI Joe heroes will have to stay alert and think fast to win this battle!

A quick note: this set is called "The Eagle's Edge" on the front of the stylish blue 50th Anniversary box, but it shows up in Toys Я Us computers (and thus on the recipt) as "GI Joe Outnumbered Team Pack." A name change during production, perhaps? On with the review!

Leatherneck was the hardest gunny that ever slogged through the mud of Camp Lejune. Before that, he was the toughest drill sergeant on Paris Island. Before that, he was the roughest tech sergeant in the 1st Recon Battalion. Before that, he was the meanest corporal at Gitmo. Civilian badness doesn't count.

Originally introduced in 1986, Leatherneck was only the second Marine to join the Joe team (after Gung-Ho, of course). He's already had a couple Generation 3 figures: one with the AWE Striker, and another in the Joe Con exclusive "Mission: Brazil" box set (plus a third with the Tiger Claw ATV in the Rise of Cobra line, but we're focusing on ARAH here). And yet this is still a figure we needed. How so?

Well, for one thing, all the previous Leathernecks used the same head as Gung-Ho. It's not that that's a particularly bad thing - the line is all about "Frankenstein"ing figures, and Cutter used the same head too - but a nice new head is always welcome. The original toy's face was based on Ron Rudat, so this one kind of is as well.

Deciding that Leatherneck apparently needs to be a giant, Hasbro has chosen to make him based on the movie Roadblock body. That's okay, he was pretty huge in his cartoon appearances, so it's not without precedent. There's a camo print on his pants and hat, and though what we can see of his shirt is plain green, there's a golden GI Joe star on his left arm, and a series of seven black stripes on his right - was that supposed to be a flag, but somebody forgot the field of stars? His vest is a new sculpt, based on the original toy; there's a knife sheath on a strap running over his left shoulder, and two grenades sculpted on the right.

He comes with a knife to put in that sheath, and a second to go on his left leg. He carries a gray machine gun and has a black pistol in the holster on his right leg, but his real weapon is an M2 Browning. This might as well be a new piece, because the only place it was ever available before with the final Retaliation Roadblock, and that was hard to find. It's a pretty impressive accessory, too: the barrel, foregrip, and rear gunner's handles are all separate pieces that can be removed from the body. And there's an ammo belt, too.

Once a major supplier and advisor to Cobra, Destro now pursues his own diabolical aims. Building up a small army of Iron Grenadier troopers from his private bodyguards, he causes trouble in countries around the world, creating new markets for his armament. As his influence grows around the world, he dreams the dreams that Cobra Commander once dreamed.

And apparently he eats the mushrooms that Mario once ate, because he's frickin' huge! The insidious size-creep that already ruined Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, and even Cobra Commander himself has yet again reared its ugly head, and given us a Destro that looks great, but is in the wrong effing scale, Hasbro. GI Joe toys are currently in a 4" scale; Destro is nearly 4½" tall; converted up, that's 6'8", meaning Destro is only a bit shorter than his sinnsear famhair.

The good news is, Destro's facemask is painted silver, rather than being chromed. You know who's thankful for that, Hasbro? EVERYONE! [Hi, angry Facebook people - we love you! We have a message board, and if you complain about reviews on there, you're a ton more likely to be heard. --ed.] The sculpt is very angular; it's clearly a mask, not a metal face. This is a reference to the original 1983 figure - and more specifically, to his card art, which portrayed him in just this way.

Of course, the figure's outfit is a direct update of the way he first appeared: a full black bodysuit with boots that are higher and pointed in the front of the shins, and a belt that runs straight up over the left shoulder, then crosses his back to attach at the right side. There's a red holster sculpted on his right leg, and silver bracers on both arms - the right arm has three small rockets, and the left has a set of grenades. The chain of his medallion is sculpted, so you really need to watch out for the paint there. And wow, he must have stolen a lot of curtains to make his collar this big! At least Hasbro used the oversized body to make sure the articulation was as good as possible: he moves at the usual places, and even includes swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge rocker ankles.

As cool as Destro is, his weapon is even cooler. He comes with a large, rectangular case, with a real metal hinge at the bottom. Open it, and inside you'll find a gun - but not just any gun, however! It's a sniper rifle, broken down into four pieces: body, butt, scope and bipod. Each of the pieces fits into a specially-shaped compartment in the case, for totally secure carrying. There are three other pieces that don't actually attach to the gun, but still have a spot in the layout: a pair of two ammo clips, a mat to lay on (hey, if it was just padding, they could have molded it on instead of making it removable), and what I think is a folded-up carrying strap. All taken together, this is a really cool weapon, no matter who it came with. Considering how long this figure has been in development, do you think this is another Boss Fight Studios creation?

"Hawk" was the original field commander of the GI Joe team before he got his general's star and was booted upstairs to honcho the entire GI Joe operation. He's a West Point graduate and has a list of special education credits as long as his arm, but he still managed to get the main body of his experience out there where it counts - on the battlefield.

The pervasive theme of these 50th Anniversary sets seems to be "one more thing than you actually need." The Ice Viper and WOLF set didn't need Snake-Eyes and the Ghost Hawk (which is technically two things, not just one, but for the purposes of this metaphor we're counting "vehicle and driver" as one collective "thing"), the HEAT-Viper didn't need Blowtorch, and this set didn't need Hawk. Well, it might have needed a Hawk, but we didn't need this Hawk.

This Hawk is almost a straight re-release of the Pursuit of Cobra "City Strike" Hawk - the only substantial difference is the golden star painted on his left shoulder. Now, PoC Hawk was never a plentiful figure, but (thanks to the movie delay) he was gettable. No one was crying out for a re-release, and yet here he is.

This figure definitely does not pass the squint test - in fact, when he was first shown off at whatever convention, no one could tell who he was. Hawk's classic look is green camo pants and a brown leather jacket; this guy is wearing various shades of neutral. At that point, he looks more like an update of Mainframe than Hawk. Why not call him a character who hasn't been updated yet, like Rampart or Major Storm? Or make him a new Joe? He could be "Roll-Up" or "Foxhole" (the Army chaplain) or something. Or heck, for this set, just repaint the figure in more appropriate colors? They repainted the Night-Viper figure and made it useless in the process, so why not this one? There's just nothing about this toy that says "Hawk" (other than his display base).

"Codename: Grounder" is made entirely from existing parts: the head of Hawk, the body of Duke, arms of Dusty and legs of Recondo. He's got the shoulder and waist holsters from the same source as his head, and is wearing Beachhead's bulletproof vest, though he has a radio plugged into the shoulder instead of Beach's knife sheath. His helmet came from RAH Dusty (minus the havelock), and his goggles were originally seen with the Arctic Destro that pegwarmed everywhere. It's a very impressive design, whoever it's for.

He's armed with G3 Hawk's pistol and backpack, Rise of Cobra Hawk's assault rifle, Cobra Shock Trooper's MP5K (same source as the radio), and the fancy briefcase that Resolute Destro carried, with the modified MP5K and the flip-up computer. There you go, between the radio and the computer, this toy could have been Sparks or Brainstorm. Yes, it makes sense that Hawk, a "lead from the front" kind of guy, would be out in the field with all this gear, but Hasbro should have done more to sell the idea that he's who this is. Anyway, the briefcase has been remolded to remove the M.A.R.S. name from it, so you don't have to worry that Destro is spying on the Joes every time the case is opened. Though that would be silly. The hinge is still plastic, though, so if you use it too much, it's in danger of breaking.

Agent-Faces-posing-as-Hawk is an entirely superfluous part of this three-pack, but if it means that fans who wanted it don't have to pay scalper prices, we're happy for them. Still, Leatherneck and El Destro Gigante (and their clever accessories) are the real draws of this one. It's a shame they couldn't be a two-pack, or even a three-pack with a better third.

-- 11/21/14


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