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GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

So let's get this straight: Hasbro could sell Croc Master and Fiona in a two-pack, but the Paoli brothers had to be sold separately?

Tomax and Xamot are twins whose connection is so strong that it can only be described as psychic. The twins can complete each other's sentences, share thoughts, and sense the pain of their brother, even from a distance. Drawn to mercenary work by the promise of conflict and high payouts, but tired of the personal risk. Used their money to entrench themselves in the corporate world of global media and finance, pumping out a steady stream of pro-Cobra propaganda disguised as pop culture entertainment, all while reaping enormous profit. They are also the commanders of the Crimson Guard.

This isn't the first time Tomax and Xamot have been sold separately, nor the worst: in 2005, there was a Toys "Я" Us exclusive Valor vs. Venom "Crimson Guard Force" set, and if you wanted both Tomax and Xamot, you had to buy it twice. Sounds like a great way to build a Crimson Guard army, sure, but the set also included a Firefly, so you'd be stuck with two of him. Idiotic. This isn't great, but at least it's better than that.

Tomax has a pretty severe face: extremely prominent cheekbones, a dimple in his chin, etc. If not for the fact that his brother looks exactly the same, you'd think he was one of those people who ruined their looks by going overboard with the plastic surgery. The 1985 original had fairly flat hair, but both the comic and the cartoon gave him a shaggier 'do. This one, like the G3 figure, splits the difference, making the hair short(ish), but not plastered down against his scalp. Boss Fight Studio's Fred Aczon did the work digitally (making it easy to flip). Tomax has a great little smirk, with one corner of his mouth turned up slightly.

When GI Joe Classified started, the figures were clever updates of the classic designs. Sadly, at some point during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, Hasbro decided halfassing things was good enough, so now the toyline has become more about re-creating than reimagining. Why put in effort if the fans buy without it, right? So Tomax wears the same thing he did 38 years ago; a sleeveless blue bodysuit, red codpiece with silver fangs, and tall boots with cobras looming above the knees - so just an absolutely average large company CEO.

Part of what set one Paoli apart from the other was their torso. Both of them wore a red sash across their chest, and had an armored collar rising up on one side of their neck. In the '80s, it was economical to actually mold two different chests, but today, the sash, collar, and the single pauldron that hangs over the right shoulder are done as a single, separate piece that's slipped onto the shared chest and plugged into the backpack hole. So you can still tell the bodies apart when you take both sashes off, the silver Cobra logo on the breast is tampographed on. The right arm has a silver band around the wrist, while the left gets a piece to make the glove longer.

Hasbro may have fallen asleep when it comes to the figures' designs, but the articulation remains excellent. Tomax has a balljointead head, hinged and balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders on pectoral hinges, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/​hinge wrists, hinge chest, balljointed waist, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge ankles. Both brothers were highly acrobatic daredevils (possibly influenced by James Bond's enemies Grischka and Mischka in 1983's Octopussy), so that poseability will be put to good use here.

Tomax and Xamot mainly attacked their enemies in the boardroom, not the battlefield, so the weapons included here are simple: two flamberge daggers and a compact submachine gun. The daggers can fit in sheathes on the right hip or left boot, while the MP5-style gun has a removable clip and silencer. Tomax's stats are Leader 3, Hand-to-Hand 2, Black Market Deals 4 and Coercion 4, so we really should have gotten a briefcase full of money or something. Furthering the comparison to the knife-throwing James Bond enemies, the figure's hands have the first two fingers posed in a way that allows him to clutch the blade like he's going to fling it.

As much as we hate sticking to vintage designs for this line, is there really much more that could be done with Tomax and Xamot? The only other look they've ever really had is their business suits, and while that would be easy - call over to the Marvel offices and have them send you the digital files for one of their suit bodies - it wouldn't really be exciting on the store shelves. (And no, you can't just do that yourself, either: Tomax has a larger socket than Everet Ross does.) Updating these two would have required actual work, and that may be too much to ask for right now.

-- 02/17/23

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