Greetings Infinite Hollywood readers! My name is President Juggernaut, and I have recently come aboard as a contributor to the site after being an avid reader for several years. I’m based outside of Boston, Massachusetts and have been a toy collector and pop culture addict all my life. My favorite topics of discussion and collecting include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and other comics, Godzilla and his kaiju friends, Lord of the Rings, James Bond, Transformers, too many movies and toylines to list here and of course the subject of today’s review… GI Joe. This is my first time writing a toy review, so please bear with me as I find my way (and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments).
GI Joe: Retaliation is the 2012 sequel to GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra- wait, sorry, make that 2013 sequel. See, if you are like me, you were looking forward to (or were at least curious about) the entertaining looking Retaliation last June, despite the inadequacies of the first movie… and then just before the release, the film was pushed back almost a year. Toys were already on the shelves, but we’ve had to wait until closer to the new release date for the second series of merchandise. Among the new figures are quite a few new characters, including the subject of my inaugural review, Joe Colton.
The character is meant to be the original GI Joe, the classic one with the kung-fu grip for whom the whole toyline was named. But honestly, that’s not what makes this figure interesting. What makes it jump off the shelf is the fact that it’s Bruce Willis, the iconic action star with a surprisingly small amount of merchandise made in his image. NECA produced a 7” Cult Classics John McClane 2006, and there was a Minimate based on his look from The Expendables in 2012. There was a Fifth Element based Bruce Willis figure planned by N2 Toys, but they never saw release (or I’d have one now, I love that movie). Now you are able to reenact the later Die Hard movies, Twelve Monkeys, Unbreakable, Red, Looper, or if you’d like, just have him finally face Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel.
Unlike GI Joe packaging of the past, the Retaliation cardbacks are standardized like most modern movie toylines. Every package features art of The Rock as Roadblock next to Snake-Eyes in front of a sandy colored background. The package is acceptable, not good, but not the worst thing out there. It is sort of sad to see that the personalization and file cards that have long been staples for Joes are gone, and I can only hope that they make a comeback in whatever comes next.
There is no mistaking it, this guy is Bruce Willis. The head sculpt is not Hot Toys, but it is very good for such a small canvas. He’s wearing combat boots and military pants with suspenders over a white undershirt. It’s a close enough ensemble to pass off as John McClane or another Willis role if you are not a Joe collector. One issue is that the torso articulation makes it so that the suspenders don’t line up whenever the joint is swiveled.
Perhaps they should have sculpted them separately from the body, but I’m not sure how good they would have looked in this scale. I would prefer the straps weren’t there at all, the shoulder holster he is wearing breaks up the sculpt enough on its own.There is a wristband on both of the figure’s wrists, though I’m not sure whether they are accurate to the character or a symptom of possible parts reuse.
The paint is pretty tame overall, and cleanly applied. A few of the figures in the Retaliation line have been painted in more vibrant colors than they appear on screen, but General Colton seems to be close enough. There are some tiger stripes on his pants which I could do without, but they are not too distracting and give him a bit more of a military feel. And there is even some well done stubble painted on the face. It is not too heavy, and came out much better than it usually does on action figures. The only real issue is the eye paint.
The three Joe Coltons on the pegs all had the same issue, crossed eyes. I bought the best looking one I could find, but the effect is still there. It is a real shame, because there is a great Bruce Willis head sculpt under there, and a few bits of paint can ruin the look and make the figure look goofy as hell. Looking across the net it seems to be a common issue, so be careful if you go out and pick this guy up.
If you have owned a GI Joe figure, you know to expect good articulation. A few figures in the Retaliation line have had joints removed, but Ol’ Bruce is loaded all the way. He even has the swivel/hinge wrists that have been integrated into Joes over the last few years, alongside the balljoint neck, torso, shoulders, elbows, hips, ankles and double jointed knees. Everything has a good range of motion, including the head. It seems like far too many figures have too much restriction on the balljoint head, but Bruce can move at the neck to get some expressive poses.
GI Joe figures have really impressed with their arsenals of well done weapons over the past few years, but General Colton is a bit of a mixed bag. He has a pistol grip shotgun, a long revolver, a Glock-looking handgun, an orange sci-fi looking rifle, and a gigantic missile launcher with a ripcord and four launching missiles. The shotgun and revolver are the best of the bunch, I see myself posing him with these accessories quite a bit.
The action feature is mildly interesting, with the ripcord rotating the launcher and firing all four missiles. You can attach it to the orange rifle to have the figure hold it, but it looks absolutely ridiculous. The final “accessory” is the brown shoulder holster, which can be removed with a bit of effort.
It looks good on him, but there is a non-removable gun sculpted in, which is something I am never a fan of. The Rise of Cobra figures included large missile launchers, but they also included more weapons and gear overall. Having only seen brief glimpses of the character, I’m not sure what other kinds of accessories they could give him, but it would have been nice to include the machine gun he is seen firing from the back of his El Camino in the trailers.
I picked this guy up at Toys R Us for $9.99. It’s a sad truth that ten bucks is a pretty standard price for 3.75” figures. At that price, I would have liked a few more useful accessories and a display stand to help with posing at least. You may be able to get him for a buck less at Walmart or Target, as TRU does tend to jack up their prices a few dollars compared to other stores.
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 6
Articulation – 9
Accessories – 6
Value – 6
Overall – 7 out of 10
If the movie or the actor appeal to you at all, you will want this figure. He is not a home run for Hasbro, but he is a solid toy for a kid or collector. He does not have the fancy weapons, cool accessories, or eye-catching armored costumes of other GI Joe figures, but he is ready to let you play out “Pulp Fiction 2: The Return of Butch” on your desk. That explains what is on his wrist, it’s his father’s watch! Case closed.
Anyway, for better or for worse, the movie was built on stunt casting. They are eschewing the cast of the first film to instead be built around Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis (and also a ton of ninjas). Will it work? We will see at the end of the month when GI Joe: Retaliation hits theaters. The action and production design showcased in the trailers, and those neat little “Cobra Special Forces” viral ads, will likely get me into the theater. How about you?