As mentioned, the bio in today's GI Joe Classified Sgt. Slaughter review was not actually about that figure; we took it from the back of this toy's box. Fortunately, that was only the first half; here's the second:
After Benning Sgt. Slaughter retired and was recalled to serve as a Special Tactics Instructor to a Special Missions Unit within the United States Military, where he served until 1994, after which he formally retired from active military service. When the nation collapsed, Sgt. Slaughter was pegged to again serve as an advisor to a new Special Missions Unit called Action Force, where he passed on his experience and knowledge from his days in the teams. Slaughter may be well known, but his true identity is not, but that won't stop any enemies from hunting him down. For Sgt. Slaughter, the real fight has just begun.
So I've never heard of this line before, and I have no idea what's going on. The original 12" GI Joe doll was sold in the UK under the name "Action Man," and when the line was reduced to 3¾" scale and the selection of characters broadened, the team was christened the "Action Force." Eventually this was folded in with Hasbro's GI Joe brand. In 2019, former Hasbro designer Bobby Vala did a Kickstarter to make 6" Action Force figures - so either somebody's gonna be in big, big trouble when the lawyers notice, or he got permission from Hasbro to use the name. Presumably the latter.
I've never heard anybody talk about these figures, but apparently at some point Valaverse Toys did a Sgt. Slaughter, way before he re-signed with Hasbro. And it's actually him, not "Strong Military Wrestler" or "Lieutenant's Laughter" or something, so this wasn't some unlicensed Third Party thing. It had his likeness, and it had his name. And it must have been successful, because now they're doing Version 2, wearing different clothes.
V1 Sgt. Slaughter was wearing a green jacket, while V2 is inspired by the 1986 "Triple T" release: green pants and a black tank top. Which is the same thing Hasbro's has, but Valaverse has also given us the choice of additional web gear or a vest. Either way, bare arms! Similarly, while he does have his iconic campaign hat, there's also a utility cover (because even if Bob Remus the person was never a Marine, Robert Slaughter the character still was). His glasses are removable, and they honestly don't sit on his face very well - even a little bit crooked and they'll be twisting all over the place!
Action Force Sgt. Slaughter is smaller than GI Joe Sgt. Slaughter in every way: he's shorter, and his muscles aren't as large. Plus hsi skintone is darker, that kind of blue-tinted shade a lot of toys suffered from recently. Articulation is similar, which makes sense: the Valaverse Kickstarter was in 2019, which is actually before Hasbro announced GI Joe Classifed in the first place, but since Vala was previously a Hasbro employee, it makes sense the Action Force articulation would be the same style. Identical, in fact. Swivel/hinge ankles, swivel boots, double-hinge knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljoint waist, rocker chest, pec hinges, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinge elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged neck, and balljointed head. Okay, so that's not purely identical - it doesn't have those extra hinges to extend the legs, nor the balljoint at the bottom of the neck, but this is still suspiciously close.
The Action Force figures are big on extra pieces: the web gear, the vest, the two hats, separate pads strapped to the thighs, a whole selection of alternate hands (gripping, fists, relaxed, and one pointing), a big backpack, the glasses that don't fit on the head very well, etc. He has two weapons: a massive revolver and a grenade launcher. The pistol fits in the holster on his right leg, and the drum on the grenade launcher can actually turn. Wait... vest, utility cap, grenade launcher... is this just a glorified accessory pack for Gung-Ho?
This was supposed to just be a mini review comparison, but obviously the toy deserved better than that. It's done really well, and makes me want to look at some future Action Force releases. The Hasbro Sgt. Slaughter is a better figure, but the Valaverse Sgt. Slaughter has better add-ons (mostly). They cost about the same, so honestly if you want a Sgt. Slaughter, just pick whichever one sparks more joy for you. The important thing is we don't have to try to use wrestling figures as a stand-in anymore.
The Action Force brand was never a Hasbro owned property, it was owned by Palitoy in the UK. Bobby picked up the trademark along with Steel Brigade when he started Valaverse. As I understand it his parting with Hasbro wasn’t amicable so getting a 6” line out before them was a bit of a middle finger to his former employer.
I would've thought Hasbro would be a bit more grasping when it came to trademarks like Action Force, even if they didn't directly own it back in the day.
But I'm genuinely curious if the stuff that comes with this Valaverse Sgt Slaughter fits Classified Gung Ho, as is suggested in the review.
It does. They also released a light blue pack that is designed to go with Gung Ho that fits his original colors better. Both of these were solicited before the Retro Gung Ho that was done with the throwback look.
Now that _is_ interesting. I'll bear that in mind in the admittedly small chance I see Gung Ho and/or Valverse Sgt Slaughter anywhere.
Thank you for confirming.
I actually planned on tracking down the Valaverse version, until my main supplier informed me he could secure the Classified version (which I was completely unaware of). The only reason I had hesitated to get the Valaverse version was being unsure of the size, so I'm pretty glad I got the Classified version because he fits in a lot better scale-wise alongside, say, the Classified Crimson Guard.
If I'm being honest, I could see myself picking up this version anyway if ever I saw it in person, because I can easily see it working as a "retired Sgt Slaughter" who's no longer as buff as he used to be. Plus, it fits in nicely with the provided bio. Heh.