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Puma vs. Diesel

The Corps! Elite
by yo go re

This seems familiar, somehow.

Puma was the daughter and sole heir to the largest sugar mills owner in Brazil. Her parents were killed by a brutal cartel assassination and she was orphaned at the age of 9. Narrowly escaping, she fled to the jungle and was adopted by one of the last head hunter tribes of the Amazon. She harnessed her natural skills with a bow and developed vast knowledge of fighting techniques using pressure points and toxins adapted from poisonous animals and plants of the jungle.

By the age of 19, Puma's beauty and skill were unmatched and advanced enough to exact her plot to avenge her parents' murder. From then on, she became South America's youngest and most feared assassin. She was an animalistic force that The Curse! could not resist adding to their cause. Now augmented with the AI Virus, Puma is a femme fatale, a force to be reckoned with.

That's a pretty dang cool backstory, what with the cartel violence and the Count of Monte Cristo-style revenge plot and everything, but that little girl would have had to run pretty far through the jungle to find any headhunters - the Shuar people are traditionally headhunters and do live along the Amazon (with each group of them taking their name from the tributary along which they live), but that's around the Peru/Ecuador border, not in Brazil. Since most of the sugar production in Brazil takes place in the southeast and on the very eastern tip of the country, 9-year-old Aella Ramos would have had to travel 2-3,000 miles before encountering them; heck, she'd have had to go about 900 miles before she even hit the Amazon river basin at all!

If you were surprised that Lanard would create an all-new body - its first-ever female mold - for Snake Bite, well, here's the reason: Puma, released in the same series at the same time as Snake Bite, shares everything except the head. So that means she's wearing boots with a knife sheathed on the left ankle, pants with reinforced flexible panels on the inside of the legs, a tactical vest with ammo pouches and extra armor on the shoulders, a shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a pair of gloves. Her colors are ruddy earthtones, all browns and reds, but they didn't paint her butt: the paint on her belt and pants stops at the seam between the halves of the toy. There's a white skull tampoed on her right leg, and red circuit-lines barely visible on her left.

The head is, as mentioned, new. It still has the same minor size issue that Snake Bite's did, but it's its own mold. Puma's hair is pulled up into a high ponytail that somehow sticks straight back off her scalp instead of falling down. It kind of makes her look like Dusk, the female operative from that single The Corps! comic DDP released after IDW got the GI Joe license. Was that intentional, or just a coincidence?

Even Puma's weapons are reused - of course, since all four of them are designed to store on the figure's body, that's hardly surprising. The mini crossbow makes perfect sense for someone whose primary skills include "Tactical Archery," while the gun on her hip and the knives on her back just make her look extra deadly.

Just like Snake Bite was saddled with the less-interesting Ogre, Puma is paired in this "Faction Face-Off" set with Diesel.

Diesel grew up in Maui, Hawaii where he helped run his parents' surf shop. At the age of 19 he joined the United States Navy where Diesel became the best nautical navigator and open water vehicle specialist in the world. He showed tremendous skills in nautical warfare and most would say he was born to be in the water.

By the age of 24 Diesel held almost every record the Navy had for nautical operations. With The Curse! closing in on every body of water around the globe, The Corps! needed his help to take back the sea and keep The Curse! from taking valuable resources. With Diesel's help The Corps! Sea Squad will finally have the advantage at sea.

Diesel's real name is Deck Brody, which manages to sound even more fake than "Diesel" does. And yes, as that mention of the "Sea Squad" might lead you to believe, The Corps! tends to arrange its forces in the same way the real military does. They may sometimes get silly names (like the Winged Assault and Strategic Protection Squad, or "WASPS"), but they're not dressing up in yellow tiger stripes for no reason at all, either.

Diesel uses one of the older bodies, with less impressive articulation: while Puma had a balljointed torso and hips, Diesel has a T-crotch and a swivel waist. Other than that, they both have hinged knees, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, and a neck joint. Yes, Puma's is technically a balljoint, but it doesn't have much more of a range of motion than Diesel's swivel. Him not being painted on the back makes sense, since you might want to be stealthy when your enemies are looking down into the water, but the yellow patches on his front would act as dazzle camouflage when viewed from below. The wetsuit is sculpted with various seams to show its construction, and straps to hold all his gear, and the boots look like thick rubber.

The Leinil Francis Yu artwork of the character makes him look like a cool badass, while the actual sculpt of the toy makes him look like a sun-baked, middle-aged man who offers beers to minors at the neighborhood cookout. There's a difference between "strong cheekbones" and "55 years of hard living," and this toy comes down on the wrong side of it.

Like Ogre, Diesel only gets one accessory. His is a large silver harpoon gun, befitting his aquatic specializations (Oceanic Navigation and Nautical Pilot). There are also a gun and a kinfe on his left leg, but those are both sculpted details, not removable things he can actually use in battle.

If you don't want Diesel, you can also get Puma in a "Triple Threat" pack with Rain, Dozer, and a chintzy little dirt bike in various colors; sadly, there's no way to buy her by herself. These aren't the greatest 1:18 scale soldier toys available, but they're fine for the price you pay.

-- 02/23/18

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