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Heavy Conflict

GI Joe 50th Anniversary
by yo go re

Pairing two good guys? What madness is this!

A classical guitarist in his spare time, Heavy Duty is an expert in all kinds of heavy artillery and has been known to create his own weapons when nothing else in the armory is exactly what he needs. He may not be the only hard-charger who can carry an 84-pound machine gun on the run during a full frontal assault while carrying 50 pounds of ammo, but he's definitely the only one doing it with a smile on his face.

Wow, this is kind of impressive: Heavy Duty is a Generation 1 character who has not yet been updated for G3. Yes, yes, there was a Heavy Duty in the first movie, but that wasn't the same guy. Like most filthy casuals, I first became aware of Heavy Duty during G2, when I thought he was just a renamed version of Roadblock. But no, he's an entirely different person, with his own friends and credit cards and keys. And now he's finally got a modern action figure.

Unlike the Duke we looked at last time, Heavy Duty is a smart way of doing an update. He's not just the same old thing, but taller, he's an actual update. Below the neck, the molds all come from the Retaliation "Ultimate" Roadblock, which is mostly the same as the Roadblock we reviewed, but with shorter sleeves. The original 1991 Heavy Duty wore a cream-colored shirt with the sleeves ripped off, dark green pants with bright green triangles on them, and had a black strap across his chest. This version, 25 years later, wears a cream-colored shirt and medium-green pants, plus a fancy black tactical vest. So while the details have changed, the broad strokes are the same: the character is recognizable without being a G1 copy. However, he does still have his two "No Cobra" tattoos on his left arm - ink is forever!

There is a little bit of Generation 2 influence here, though: in 1991, HD wore a backwards baseball cap, because he was from The Streets, homie! In the 2002 GI Joe vs. Cobra line, he looked more traditionally "military," so the hat was changed to a do-rag. This toy uses the same thing. It's a new head sculpt, one that trades in his traditional mustache for a chinstrap beard. Now very unexpected! Kind of makes him look like Renegades Roadblock (though not as much as he could).

His weapons are not terribly surprising. There's a knife to fit in his boot, a pistol for the holster on his hip, and then not one but two machine guns inherited from Roadblock! From ARAH comes the M2 .50 cal with the tripod, while Resolute provides a big gun of made-up design and a string of bullets. There's also a smaller machine gun with a removable clip, but that pales in comparison to the other two.

With her facial scar, dead eyes, and streak of white hair - as well as her mysterious past and knife-edged battle skills - Stiletto makes even the GI Joe team a little nervous. She joined the team alongside Cobra defector Felix "Mercer" Stratton acting as his bodyguard and has since become a strong asset to the team. With skills that hint at Special Forces training, she is proficient in most small arms weapons and an expert in the use of bladed weapons.

Wow, special hair, special eyes, special scar, mysterious past, all the skills... can you tell this is a fan character? Yes, unlike Tombstone, who was created by Hasbro, Stiletto is the result of fan voting. She first appeared in a novel by Bill Nedrow, then beat out three other original characters to receive an official action figure. I don't own a Kindle, so I can't say anything about the quality of the story (other than to point out that if Hasbro picked her to be in the running at all, it must have been pretty good), we're just examining the character based on the filecard and toy.

According to a feature on Hasbro's site, Stiletto was designed by John Violette. Does that mean he sculpted her? Gave instructions to others? Don't know. Comic artist Robert Atkins did the art the sculpt was based on, we do know that. Her real name is Paithoon Kwaigno and she was born in Hua Hin, Thailand, and the sculpt certainly makes her feel Asian (which is more than we can say for some toys). Unfortunately, they've painted pupils in both her eyes - her left is meant to be blank white - and the scar on her face is unpainted, making it look more like a molding error than something intentional.

Stiletto is made from Helix's body, because that suit is tactical and there are only so many female molds to go around. The original plan was to give her Zarana's arms and a bright maroon colorscheme, but it was decided that was too "ninja-y," so they gave her Lady Jaye's arms. And while they kept the maroon for her vest, they also changed her pants to green and gave her a bright blue scarf (which doesn't get along too well with her braided ponytail, it must be said). Black, green, maroon, blue... she's in Marauders colors! Because she hangs out with Mercer! Wow, that's clever.

She's armed with swords and scabbards, a Dragunov, a machine gun, pistol and two hooked knives. She doesn't have any holsters or sheaths, so the swords are the only things she can carry anywhere other than her hands. This is a nice assortment of plain weapons, nothing too wild.

Getting new characters is good. Getting a new character that was chosen by the fans is even better! Stiletto may look more like a villain than a member of the Joe team, but she'd sell no matter what. And though I wouldn't have bought Heavy Duty were he not bundled with the figure I actually wanted, he's reall done well too. This pair is a winner!

-- 12/16/16

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