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Tripwire, Apsara, & M.A.C.L.E.O.D.

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

Another benefactee of Hasbro's "let's sell things at an acceptable price for one week" sale.

Tripwire freaks people out. He's always clumsy, jittery and dropping things except when he's working with high explosives. Explosives are the only things that calm him down.

So, wait, he's got spatial awareness/orientation issues, and a hyper-fixation he can handle smoothly to the exclusion of all else? Has young mister Tormod Skoog (he was born in Minnesota, so you know he's got that overwhelmingly Scandanavian ancestry; "Tormod" is a fairly common Nordic name and comes from the words "Thor" and "mind," meaning "courage", and "Skoog" is the equivalent of having the last name "Forrest") ever been tested for ADHD or autism? Bumping into things and tripping all the time isn't just a stereotype, there have been actual studies done about clumsiness as a comorbidity with neurodivergence. And Tripwire may be displaying traits. Or maybe he's just got a chronic inner-ear infection.

Tripwire only appeared in seven episodes of the cartoon (voiced by Rob Paulsen), but one of them, "Cobra C.L.A.W.s Are Coming to Town," showed him without his helmet, something none of the toys have ever done before. Classified Tripwire gets a thin face with sunken cheeks and a narrow, square chin. The little lock of hair falling onto his forehead is taken directly from the animation model. They honestly could have made him look like anything at all and none of us would have been any the wiser, though you might have expected a Scandahoovian like him to be blonde.

Thanks to The Hurt Locker, everyone knows that what Tripwire used to wear is not really what bomb techs wear anymore. But Classified has too-easily surrendered to the poor taste of the loud yet unimaginative handful who demand new toys be nothing more than "old toys, but larger," so what is Hasbro to do? Give us options! They started with a fairly plain body - green shirt, green pants with pockets on the front of the thighs, a little bit of armor on the boots and gloves, a strong belt with little clasps hanging from the front of it - and included plenty of pieces to put on top of them.

There are 10 pieces of armor you can put on or take off the figure as you like. If you want the security blanket of nostalgia to swaddle you in a bundle of unparalleled joy (aka, "the 1983 design with as few new ideas as possible, because progress is scary to me"), you can just give him the round helmet and the smaller vest. The helmet has built-in goggles and headphones, and leaves the lower face exposed, save for a chinstrap holding it on; if not for that, we bet they'd have molded the entire thing in translucent blue and left the goggle area unpainted so we could see his eyes through it, just like on the cartoon. This vest is far more armored than the original, with an increase in sculptural detail commensurate with its increase in size: pouches across the stomach, padding on the back and sides, that sort of stuff. There's even a protective crotch plate hanging from the belt. There's also a separate collar that the stock photos show being used with this vest, but that might be too much of a change for some people to accept.

If you want him to look more modern, that's possible thanks to all the other pieces. This second vest is larger and bulkier, even though it doesn't have any pockets to increase its size. There's also a larger collar, and the "helmet" this time covers the entire head and has a large, immobile visor that shields the entire face. To really protect him, you can slip on the shoulder pauldrons and the thigh armor, which are already on the figure when you open it and untie it from its carboard tray, but can be slid right off the limbs easily. (At least as easily as the Steel Brigadiers', at any rate.) He's not quite as bulky as the old Plan-B Bomb Squad figure, but there's something funny about this being a toy with an Advanced Bomb Suit this rubbery: it's an ABS made of PVC!

Tripwire has a pistol that fits in the holster on his right thigh armor, but nobody cares about that: the important things are his backpack, metal detector, and the hose that connects them. The detector has an oval head instead of circular, now, which makes it look more modern. It still has a brace and carries under his arm like before, so it looks just as good when he's wearing the retro armor as when he's wearing the new stuff (though we have no doubt someone is already hard at work on creating a third-party downgrade kit). Like the '80s version, the backpack has a hollow in the center where the included landmines can be carried, but it doesn't work right: we only get two mines, but both of them have a small peg on the bottom; one of them can plug into the backpack, but there's then no way to plug in the second in anywhere, and even snipping the peg off yourself won't help, because there's no way to store more than one at a time thanks to the shape of the pack. Oh, and on top of that? There's no easy way to unplug the mine from the backpack, you basically have to get a thin screwdriver or something and pry it out. That's bad design.

There was a Tripwire as an exclusive in the Rise of Cobra line, and it included a bomb-disposal robot that originally appeared with the 2008 JoeCon Long Arm, and was later reused again for Renegades Tunnel Rat. It was a smart inclusion that modernized the character very nicely, so when we see that Classified Tripwire comes with a Mobile Armored Control Lever for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, it makes perfect sense for him. Also, fun fact: one of the more noteable historical Tormods was the son (or grandson) of a Scotsman named Leod; and if you know that the Scots "Mac" is equivalent to the Irish "O", then you may already see why it seems like a deliberate reference joke that this Tormod is paired with M.A.C.L.E.O.D. (Which is to say, yes, Tormod MacLeod is one of the earliest lords of Clan MacLeod.)

MACLEOD the robot is simple device, something you may have reasonably seen on Robot Wars. It's got a flat, rectangular body mounted between narrow tank treads, and there's an articulated arm on top with a few small cameras. It has angular secondary treads in the front, to help it climbover obstacles, just just like the treads on Scrap-Iron's rocket launcher, they're only sculpted to look like they should move, rather than simply moving. Disappointing. The arm has three hinges and a swivel, and the claw at the end doesn't close at all, and it's open too wide to hold the mines, so... what's the point? Tripwire has a videogame controller to drive MACLEOD, and it looks like a cross between a Nintendo Switch and a wireless router.

The set does also include one thing that's 100% new: a pet rat! You've likely heard of how a lot of anti-landmine organizations are now using rats as a safe way to locate unexploded ordnance (they can be trained to recognize the smell of TNT in the bombs, and they're light enough not to set them off). So for the first time ever, Tripwire joins the ranks of the Joes who have pets! It's a fairly large rat with brown fur and a red harness, and while it doesn't have any articulation, it's a cool thing to include. The rat's name is Apsara, a type of celestial being in Buddhist religion - according to Tripwire's original filecard, he spent two years in a Zen monstery before joining the military, and their name is a good reminder of that.

Tripwire's stats are Ordnance 2, Minesweeper 4, Explosives 2, and then a Mastery at Level 3 that doesn't actually exist. It appears to be the Ordnance symbol from the Role again, but this time with a slash through it? Are they allowed to just repurpose things that way? There's an Animal Handling icon, shouldn't he get that now that he's working with Apsara?

If Tripwite had been available in stores, I might have gotten him - not because of the figure, but because of the drone and the rat. They're cool new additions that make a dull release better. Being able to play dress-up and decide if you want him to be modern, retro, or just a plain Greenshirt is a lot of fun and adds more value to the toy, but I'm still glad I got him on Hasbro's sale. There's a Tiger Force Tripwire exclusive on the way, but it doesn't come with as much cool stuff, and it's paired with Roadblock, who I already have, and thus I will be content with this version.

-- 07/05/24


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