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Destro & Cpl. Breaker

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

Hasbro is pretty good about keeping its figures available. Things that sell out fast are often re-released later, and figures that originally appeared in box sets often find their way out on solo cards. The problem is, what happens when a figure you want is only released with a figure you already have?

Destro is the faceless power behind Military Armaments Research System, the largest manufacturer of state-of-the-art weaponry. To Destro, war is man's most natural state: the fittest survive and the greatest technological advances are made. He maintains a luxurious lifestyle around the world. He provides high-tech arms to any side able to meet his price and will incite conflict where it doesn't exist. He dons his silver battle mask (a family tradition) and enters battle himself, either with Cobra (Destro is their major weapons supplier) or against them if it's better for business.

Destro was available in the Cobra box set, and this one shares his mold, just with new colors. The palette in old comics was limited by the technology of the time, and this figure is trying to represent that. Therefore, instead of black, he's wearing dark blue. The color scheme actually works better than you might expect: the blue of the suit is a dusty blue, not garish, and it's accented by purple. His gloves are metallic blue, and he still has a bit of red to suggest the old familiar style. In fact, the only weak spot is his head. While the box set Destro had a nice flat silver paint on his mask, this one is sadly vac-metallized.

The knee-jerk reaction among the fanboys is that if Destro's head isn't shiny chrome, then it's crap, but that's a very short-sighted view. If a mask like this existed in the real world, it wouldn't have a flawless, high-gloss silver finish; it would be brushed metal, so it didn't show fingerprints or minor scuff marks. This isn't a one-way mirror he needs to see through, like Cobra Commander's faceplate - it has eyeholes! Or, at least, it's supposed to: this figure's eyes are the same metal as the rest of his head. Yeah. Smooth. Vac-metallizing is the toy equivalent of flashing or scrolling text.

Or maybe both.

That's what chromed parts are.

Destro comes with the same two mis-matched guns as the box set version, but no briefcase gun. No surprise, there.

Cpl. Breaker is the GI Joe team's communications expert, making him the crucial link between the battlefield and headquarters. He's familiar with battlefield technology that helps the team monitor Cobra activity. Cpl. Breaker is familiar with all NATO and Warsaw Pact communications gear as well as most world export devices. Specialized Education: Signal School; Covert Electronics; Project Gamma. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; MAC-10 (Ingram). Classified: Speaks seven languages.

Breaker was one of the 13 original Joes, which means two things: he's a classic character deserving of respect, and his design is incredibly generic. He's a guy in a green suit, just like everybody else was back then. At least he had the benefit of wearing a beard, which was basically the only thing that set him apart from the pack. Oh, and his green suit was little more grey than the other guys' green suits. Thank god for Larry Hama, huh? Everything in the world that makes Breaker special or interesting came out of the comics.

In tribute to the original toy, Breaker is still just wearing a green suit, and he's still made from re-used pieces. His pieces all originated in the Anniversary box set: the arms and legs are Duke's, and the torso is Snake-Eyes'. The combo actually works very well, especially once it's topped by black webgear with green pockets and a painted grenade.

There's one major problem, though: his head. Oh, it's sculpted very well, with a haircut that's distinctive yet plain; there's even sculpted stubble. Sculpted stubble! How cool is that? Of course, it's not surprising they had enough room to do stuff like that, since the head is freaking huge. He's like the cranial opposite of Wild Bill; all the plastic that wasn't used there showed up here. Is this some sort of tooling error, or was he just designed wrong?

If Breaker's helmet and removable headset were the same mold as the original figure's, you could probably make the argument that the head was oversized to accommodate them, but they're new molds. In fact, the helmet is a little bit loose on his head. The headset plugs into the sides, and a cord attaches it to his backpack. The figure includes two guns, which is two more than the 1982 original had. His coolest accessory, though, is the simplest: a ball of translucent pink plastic. What is it? Bubble gum.

In the comics, Breaker was constantly chewing gum and annoying his teammates by popping bubbles. Heck, he even managed to defeat a Cobra battallion with his gum one time. The little bubble isn't even ¼" in diameter, and it has a hole that allows it to slip over the end of his headset's mic - it doesn't quite come in contact with his mouth, but it still does a good job of making it look like Breaker's just blown a bubble. That's really simple, really clever, and an absolutely cool idea for an accessory.

The pack includes a reprint of GI Joe #14 with a new painted cover by Greg Horn and all internal references to Marvel excised. The story is cool, not only giving Destro a proper introduction (and hinting at his releationship with the Baroness), but providing an exciting adventure at the same time. We even get to see Scar-Face in action, and the first appearance of Ace! Plus, it's easy to spot Breaker in the story: he's the one always shown chewing gum.

I only wanted this set for Breaker, since I already had a Destro, so I wasn't willing to pay full price for it. However, when I saw it on a remarkably good sale, I couldn't resist. Breaker is a solid offering, and the clever use of gum helps conceal how giant his head is. The repainted Destro was a pleasant surprise: no, these aren't his usual colors, but the blues actually look kind of sharp. A lot of people will doubtlessly enjoy the chromed head, too. If you see this set for a price you like, go for it.

-- 09/26/08

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