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GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
by Monkey Boy

The GI Joe "Generation 3" style that began with their 25th Anniversary Collection line and segued into figures to support the live-action GI Joe film has morphed into the "Pursuit of Cobra" line, which seems to somewhat be a continuation of the movie line, but not really. Several characters keep their movie designs, but Duke now looks like Duke and not like Channing Tatum, which is a wonderful thing. Additionally, the PoC line seems to be more "mission" based, with each series detailing a certain scenario for kids (or kids-at-heart) to use as an outline for their figure play. The themes include "Desert Battle" and "City Strike," and a look at upcoming the other figures points to jungle and arctic missions coming down the pipeline.

Part of the "City Strike" series (where "The GI Joe team uses their ninja training to--" YAWWWWNNNNNNnnn) is Firefly, always a fan-favorite as the Boba Fett of the GI Joe world, in that he's not one of the core characters, but he's extremely popular. Plus he's a mercernary with cool gadgets who works for the highest bidder and is shrouded in mystery. Some may point to Snake-Eyes as the Boba Fett of the Joeniverse, but I tend to think he is (and always has been) way too much of a core character to merit the comparison. Firefly is an important character, but he's not at the core hierarchy of Cobra. Whatever, I think the analogy works.

Firefly has had a lot of figures, although he only appeared three times in the "Generation 1" Real American Hero line, and the second and third version were just day-glo repaints of each other, with an odd sculpt that made it look like Firefly was wearing a trucker hat. Many figures utilized his original well-worn mold, and Generation 2 gave us a few fairly decent Firefly figures, including a purple one. In G3 he got an amazing new version that Hasbro promptly milked for all it was worth.

Though Firefly did not appear in The Rise of Cobra, he did get a Toys Я Us exclusive movie figure that was a kitbash of his G3 figure and the GI Joe Resolute Cobra Trooper. I think his absense from the film is pretty solid evidence of my "not a core character" argument, but I digress. If Firefly had indeed appeared in the movie, it's a safe bet he would have looked something like his PoC figure.

Firefly works for Cobra as a saboteur with expertise in explosives, espionage and silent infiltration. During the urban battle, he uses multi-resonance structural demolition (MRSD) pods to collapse a building, trapping GI Joe team members inside. His titanium body armor and arm shields protect him from the blast.

Okay, as lame as the whole "using their ninja training" premise was, that filecard (or "Character I.D. Card" as it's now being called) is pretty awesome, and really shows why Firefly is the ultimate badass. He's bringing down buildings and whatnot!

This version of Firefly appears, as far as I can tell, to be all-new, although I'm not a completist Joe collector so I could be wrong on that. However, I'm certain none of these parts have ever been used for a Firefly figure before, so that's something. PoC Firefly is familiar and recognizable as Cobra's resident blow-stuff-up guy, but he brings some cool new elements to the usual design.

He's sculpted with lots of pads, and has a bulky vest which looks very reminiscent of the jackets worn by bomb squad units, especially with the high wide collar, which makes perfect sense for a sinister demolition expert. Usually Firefly is sculpted covered with lots of pouches and explosive equipment, but this is the first time a Firefly was actually designed with a sensible outfit that would actually function to protect him from one of his own blasts. Clever.

Firefly comes with two interchangeable heads, and the "main" head (the one he's wearing in the package) is the more familar of the two. It's gray, and only the eyes and the immediate face surrounding them are visible, which is typical for Firefly's costume. However, instead of the usual balaclava, this is actually a helmet, sculpted with smooth surface planes and communication equipment. It works for Firefly even though it's a bit of a departure, and though the same head appears on the Cobra figures in the "scene" on the pack of the package, I'm confident it hasn't been used before.

Under Firefly's removable vest is some intricately sculpted, complex body armor that, like the head, seems new. However, so many figures these days utilize removable vests that I can't say for sure if this sculpt has shown up on another character, but I can say that it's a shame to hide it under such a bulky vest, since it's really well done.

The figure at first seems to be one solid lump of gray, but there are actually very subtle tones used throughout. There's the black of the various pads of course, but look closer and you'll see metallic gunmetal used for the steel caps on his boots, and the variations in value that replicate Firefly's familiar "urban camouflage" pattern on his vest and legs. Even his main head has more than one shade of gray used on the helmet. The torso under the vest also has some nice paintwork, which as previously noted is sadly hidden from view when the figure is geared up.

Let's talk about that gear. Firefly comes with quite a lot, which seems to be a (very welcome) trend in the PoC line. In addition to the interchangeable head and removable vest, Firefly gets two small pistols (for some killer John Woo poses), an assault rifle with a pump action attachment on it (grenade launcher or shotgun, I can't tell which), a backpack, two of the "pods" mentioned on his filecard, as well as two removable "arm shields". There is also a display stand with the figure's name on the front.

The card mentions that the extra head features a "360-SD Sonar Detection Helmet with 360-degree Spectrum View" and it's nice to know what its function is, because it's quite weird-looking. There's a large crest that swoops out from the back of the helmet, which I guess helps with the 360 view or something. It looks pretty cool though, with black-tinted lenses and a pointy "chin". The vest is also pretty nice, with lots of extra ammunition and utility pouches, as well as two grenades glued on to the chest.

The "arm shields" can either clip on the figure's wrists or peg into holes on the lower back area of the vest. The explosive pods are hollow and can attach to large pegs on the side of the backpack, while the top of the pack pops open to allow for storage. The pistols will fit in there, as will the main head, but the sonar helmet and rifle sadly will not. Still, it's nice that the figure can hold all his gear.

With the funky helmet and armor plating, this is definitely a unique take on the character. It's also one that makes a lot of sense, and makes you wonder why they never went this route before. My one quibble with the figure is that I prefer removable helmets to interchangeable heads, and traditionally GI Joe figures tend to favor the former. I hope this doesn't mark a shift toward separate heads for the entire line. Some complain that removable helmets are too rubbery, or make the head look too big, but I have always been a fan, as they add play value and are easier to keep track of than an entirely separate head. However, since Firefly can stow his smaller head in his pack, the issue is lessened a bit here. It would be nicer if his sonar helmeted head wasn't too big to fit, since I'll normally be displaying him in the manner that allows him to hold all his accessories, and that means the more Firefly-ish of the two heads won't see a lot of use.

This probably won't end up being my default Firefly on display, but it's still a really fun figure that offers a unique and believable take on the character. Some of the figure's design elements recall the Neo-Vipers of the live-action film, which fits the quasi-film-tie-in motif of the Pursuit of Cobra line, and while that resemblance may turn some fans off, we applaud Hasbro for putting some time and effort into reshaping the character's look while staying true to the character's spirit. I mean, the last time they really attempted an overhaul we got... well, trucker hat.

-- 09/03/10

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