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Crimson Guard

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

Ride the Crimson wave! Wait. Wait why are you all laughing at me?

The Crimson Guard are the elite shock troops of the Cobra Legions. Too precious to be wasted on the battlefield, they are dispersed worldwide in deep cover, assuming normal appearances and lifestyles.

Here's a sentence no sane person would ever say: "thank goodness for those retro carded Walmart releases!" They may be nearly pointless since Hasbro slid backwards into just making larger copies of old designs for the Classified line, but at least the throwback packaging means they still have to have filecards on the back - now that Hasbro's axed their website, that's as close as we can get to anything useful. All we get here are his stats on the side: Covert Ops 1, Explosives 1, Infiltration 2, and Sabotage 2, which all seem low? This is just the regular, boxed release, both because it's cheaper and because I managed to find a store far away that was actually carrying it, but the character is the same.

The Crimson Guard is one instance where we won't complain that this is nothing more than the '80s design writ large. It still is, of course, but at least in this case it makes sense: this is a ceremonial uniform, not field gear; when was the last time the Marines' dress blues were updated? It's not weird that a Crimson Guardsman today would be wearing something nearly identical to what his predecessors did in 1985, as opposed to pretending Storm Shadow has never changed his shoes, or robot design stagnated 40 years in the past.

And yes, this is exactly the design from the Reagan era, with no changes. It's a full red suit with silver trim, and a buttoned flap covering the entire front of the torso. The black boots come up higher on the outside than in the middle, possibly to help pulling them on, possibly to support the tiny pockets down there. There's a holster around the left leg, two belts around the waist, and a cord looping the right shoulder. But then! Suddenly! A difference from the original Siegie! Instead of being folded over, the cuffs of his sleeves angle down to cover the backs of his hands slightly. Better not let the hardcore fans see that, they'll be mad that this design has been changed so very much, rendering the character almost unrecognizable!

Doing a "retro" sub-series for GI Joe Classified is about the stupidest thing imaginable, since it's not like the regular releases are not already retro. Like, remember when the 25th Anniversary Collection started? We didn't need "retro" versions of those at the same time, did we? [well... --ed.] The difference between this regular release and the Walmart-exclusive? That one has a slightly brighter red. Its holster is red, too, which is a nod to the vintage toy, as is its backpack. But if the goal is to get closer to the old look, why does only the regular release have the proper black mask? (The retro exclusive is silver, which only ever happened on one CG before, in 2008, and looks terrible.) [it's also the way they were shown in the cartoon, having misinterpreted the card art --ed.] The big Cobra symbol and the little triangle emblem on his left arm are tampoed cleanly, and the medals on his chest are picked out in silver. For whatever reason, the silver stripes on his legs stop above the knee, rather than continuing all the way down into his boots as they should.

The Siegie is a little less than 6½" tall - if these guys are supposed to be indistinguishable and unmemorable, shouldn't they be of a more average height? Or maybe Cobra is counting on "tall" overriding everyone's perception of these guys, helping deflect attention away from any flaws in the plastic surgery process that leaves them all looking mostly identical? He has a balljointead head, hinged and balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders on pectoral hinges, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged chest, balljointed waist, hips that are a balljoint mounted on a hinge, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, and swivel/hinge ankles. At long last, we can confirm that you can put Kamakura's head on this body, though the socket is a little tight, meaning when you try to take the head back off again, the barbell will go with it. Keep your pliers handy.

We get an update of the traditional V-shaped backpack, though as we said above, it's black rather than the old toy's red. Looks better this way, anyway. His rifle just looks like an M16, rather than anything interesting, and since the bayonet knife affixed to the front is non-removable, he gets a different one - with a snake-shaped handle - to fit in the sheath on his belt. There's a small pistol for the holster, and a sword with scabbard. The scabbard can either hang from the figure's belt or plug into the side of the backpack. Why? ...we'll get back to you on that. There's a peg on the opposite side of the backpack where you can stow the rifle, but I don't think carrying your gun by the trigger is following proper safety procedure. The rifle's clip is removable, and there's a notch under the backpack where it happens to fit, but that doesn't make any sense as a way to carry it.

Considering the relative availability of the main line and the Walmart exclusives, you're more likely to find the Retro Crimson Guard someday than you are this version: the mass market figure was supposed to come out months ago, and the carded one will probably be pegwarming alongside Lady Jaye and Baroness a few months from now. Good thing they're nearly identical.

-- 07/07/23

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