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GI Joe: Retaliation
by Monkey Boy

Hasbro must have crapped a brick when Paramount unceremoniously postponed the release of GI Joe: Retaliation a full 9 months from the initial release date. By the time of the last minute announcement, Hasbro's figures were already poised to hit store shelves. Thus began this strange period that is only now drawing to a close with the approach of the film's premiere: a limbo where the only Joes on the shelves were the pegwarmers from a movie that hadn't come out yet, restocks of figures from the Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary lines, and exclusives nobody could find. But now, wonder of wonders, after almost ¾ of a year without any new Joe product, we finally have... more movie figures.

There was a time when the phrase "movie figure" was something Joe fans dreaded. With Rise of Cobra, there was the fear that the subpar movie figures would take the place of the regular line. Now after such a drought, we're just happy to get anything new from the Joeverse. What we have got so far has been mixed. There's the bad, like vehicle drivers reduced to the big five, figures without joints we've come to expect like ankles and double-knees. But also the good diamonds in the rough, like the GI Joe Trooper.

That theme of the good, bad, and the just plain weird continues with the second series of figures. Take Firefly, for example. This is the first movie Firefly... okay okay technically it's not... there was indeed a Rise of Cobra Toys Я Us exclusive, but it wasn't actually based on any character from the film. And Pursuit of Cobra was in movie continuity but not really but yes. And there was also a motorcycle driver Firefly from the first release of Retaliation toys, but... he clearly doesn't count. So yeah, first movie Firefly.

Evil Cobra explosives expert Firefly lights up the night as he rides his power-charged blast board into battle. Loaded with explosive canisters, the board makes him a dangerous threat to the GI Joe team.

Firefly is definitely a weird figure. But he's also an important figure. See, this is the first 3¾" Firefly figure to reveal his face. Okay, it's Ray Stevenson's face, the actor you may (or more likely may not) remember as "the Punisher that isn't Thomas Jane or Dolph Lungdren," or as one of Thor's friends in Thor. But still, it's our first unmasked Firefly, which is just as big a deal as getting our first unmasked Cobra Commander or Snake-Eyes. Why does the GI Joe universe have so many characters who are obsessive about hiding their face?

Aynway, Firefly's main face is a quite nice likeness of Ray Stevenson, with some scarring around the left eye for good measure. His outfit is comprised of a green camouflage motorcycle jacket, with a high collar and lots of straps and padding, and some gray cargo pants. He's got elbow and knee pads, and two functional holsters on each thigh: a small one on the right, and a larger one on the left.

The paint is kind of odd. The hair is a uniform grayish brown, which doesn't quite approximate Stevenson's salt and pepper look from the film. The jacket, in addition to the green camo, has some weird bright yellow piping on the sleeves, and a strange brown and black pattern on the back that almost looks like stylized angel wings. There's a black Cobra logo on his right bicep, and it's got a similar tribal pattern around it. On his left breast is the familiar red Cobra logo, without any embellishment. And oh yeah - his outer forearms are translucent green. Why? Well, it has to do with his action feature, which we'll get to later on.

Below the jacket, the paintwork is much less outlandish. His kneepads are a light gray, and there are black straps on his pants that meet the holsters, as well as a black belt. I initially thought the green belt above the black one was a missed paint app, but on further inspection it's part of his jacket. His shoes are brown, with black soles.

Firefly is one of those movie figures that suffers a bit in the articulation department. He's not down to the Big 5, but he is missing some key joints. He's got the balljointed neck, peg and hinge shoulders and elbows, a balljointed chest, balljointed hips, and hinged knees. He doesn't get double-hinged knees or ankle hinges. He's also missing wrists, and that's thanks to his weird action feature.

You sit Firefly on his "power-charged blast board" and have him grip the handles on either side. These handles are clear, and when you press down on a button behind the headrest on the luge-thing, they light up. I'm not sure what the effect is supposed to be, but I suppose that from certain angles the light handles are supposed to reflect in the clear translucent arms via light-piping, and the result is... pretty underwhelming.

It seems like Hasbro's action feature design team was tasked with coming up with something fresh and new, and instead of being shot down immediately, this idea was somehow ushered through all the way to production. It doesn't really light the arms up the way it's supposed to, and the clear arms detract from the look (as well as the articulation).

In addition to his rolling luge-thing, Firefly also gets an "explosive canister" that can theoretically launch from the front of the board when you press a button. It doesn't really work though, and the best you can do is push the canister a little bit forward so that it might roll slowly out of its compartment. It seems like having an explosive canister that rolls slowly forward in the exact same direction you're traveling isn't the best idea, but who am I to challenge the the world's greatest saboteur?

Other than the luge and canister, Firefly has an alternate, more traditional masked head, which matches the camo of his jacket. He also gets two pistols to fit in his thigh holsters, but he can't hold them very well due to the wide grip of his stupid hands.

Initially, I didn't think Firefly's action feature would really be that big of an issue. But the fact that it means he gets no wrists and can't even hold his guns realistically seriously hinders his poseability. And all for an action feature that flat out doesn't work! It's pretty inexcusable. Still, it's hard to ignore this figure, since it's our first maskless Firefly, and the funky motorcycle jacket sets him apart from the typical gray suit we're used to. But with all his flaws, all due to a fairly useless action feature, we can't in good conscience recommend him.

-- 02/22/13

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