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Steel Corps Troopers

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

When Bobby Vala made his Action Force the Raid: Redemption to GI Joe Classified's Dredd, he really grabbed all he could - including the trademark for the Steel Brigade, which Hasbro had apparently let lapse. And that's why this set of figures is technically the "Steel Corps."

These nameless, faceless Joes are the vanguard troops who launch into battle and hold fast at the front line.

Beginning in 1987, Hasbro included an insert with select GI Joe figures advertising the "Be the Next Joe Team Member" promotion. Fans filled out the order form, selecting their codename, personality, specialities, etc., and sent it in (with a check or money order for $7.50, plus $1.50 for shipping and handling and two Flag Points) and in six to eight weeks they received "themselves" as a member of the Joe Team, complete with a... well, not a filecard, but a file sheet, a full sized piece of paper with computer printouts of all the info they chose.

Valaverse may have been able to gank the name, but the distinctive appearance is another matter, so this figure looks like an update of the original Steel Brigade: black boots and gloves, tan pants, a long-sleeeved blue shirt, and a green vest. Much like the vintage figure, he's Frankensteined from existing parts: Snake-Eyes' legs, Breaker's boots, and the upper body from Beachhead. The vest is new, and it has one of the Classified communicators up on the shoulder. The pauldrons are both a new addition to the Steel Brigade uniform and new molds for the line. They're removable if you like a more vintage appearance.

When Grunt was released as figure #87, he included what was quite obviously a Steel Brigade helmet, just done in green instead of silver. Weirdly, the helmet in this set is not the same mold! Not only is the neck socket a different size, the placement of the details is minorly different. That's... pointless? Why are you spending tooling money making two nearly identical pieces, when one would have worked fine?

The set also includes a second helmet, one that looks more like a pilot's flight helmet thanks to its larger, golden visor and what look like air tubes running from the mouth back along the jawline. This is definitely not something seen on the Steel Brigade before, but hey, we're not going to complain about Hasbro being willing to push things forward instead of just being stuck in the past.

And okay, speaking of which, there was one thing the vintage Steel Brigade never offered that this modern set does. See, while kids in the 1980s could pick their codename, pick the way the other Joes thought of them, pick what branch of the military they'd been recruited from, what weapons they were trained on, and even what martial arts they knew, the one thing they couldn't pick was their gender. Every single Steel Brigade soldier had a male body, so any girls who liked GI Joe were out of luck. But this set finally gives them an option.

The female Corpsman is exactly like her male counterpart: black boots and gloves, tan pants, blue shirt, green vest. Nobody tell Kyle! She's similarly made from existing molds, including Lady Jaye's legs (which give her armor plates on the front of the boots that Boy Brigade didn't get) and Scarlett's chest and arms. Movie Scarlett, not this Scarlett. That does mean she has the single swivel/hinge elbows, rather than the double-hinged we've been seeing on the ladies lately, so her poseability suffers a little.

She also has a new vest and pauldrons. Again, the pauldrons are removable, but it's harder here than on the guy, because the loops that go around the biceps are barely larger than the armor on her forearms; if they weren't at least somewhat flexible, they'd never be coming off at all. And that'd be a shame, because being able to customize your figure by deciding which, if any, of the shoulder armor you want them to wear is a definite part of the fun! And adds some easy variety if you decide you want to build up an army of Joe cannon fodder.

She also wears the standard Steel Brigade helmet, and again it's a different mold - the female body is smaller than the male body, so she'd look weird with his giant helmet on. One feature that's new for these helmets compared to any EssBees before is the inclusion of thin blue lines painted on the visors, which make them look like they've got tech readouts flashing on the inside rather than just being eye protection/identity concealment.

The same goes for her secondary flight helmet: it's smaller than the dude's version, but has the same design. The visor on hers appears to be proportionally larger, but it still gets the copper paint apps with the thing golden lines outlining panels on the "glass." The body of the flight helmet is dark grey, with no colors other than that bright view port.

We feel confident calling those "flight helmets" because of the accessories. The set includes two JUMP jetpacks - Classified Starduster when, Hasbro? Both packs are the same mold, done in dark grey-green with a worn American flag emblem painted in the center beneath the JPU81G-P serial number. This is the classic jetpack used by all the Joes back in the '80s cartoon, so it makes sense they'd be provided to the rank and file forces as well. Especially since the box art shows them flying around the Statue of Liberty, implying they were there (just offscreen) in the opening of the movie. Also explains why their stats include a Skill of Aerial Combat 1. (The others are Role: Foot Soldier 1, Gear: Medium Weapons 1, and Mastery: Vanguard 2). The packs fit in via backpack hole, meaning you can try giving them to any other figures you want.

Both Brigadiers get a pistol to fit in the holster on their right leg, and a knife to go in the sheath on their chest. Other than that, we get two rifles and a submachine gun, plus a single silencer that can be used with any of those three weapons. All three have removable magazines that are interchangeable, and get green paint apps so we know they're Joe weapons. The guns are molded from a soft plastic, which can be an issue when trying to get two-handed poses.

We also get 13 blast effects! Four of those are exhaust for the jetpacks, but the rest are for the rifles. There's a small burst, a spray of bullets, and a wisp of smoke similar to ones we've seen with Marvel Legends before, then a simple cross, a short and wide flare, a longer narrow flare, and a wagon wheel circle, then finally two longer blasts. A lot of the effects have both a hole and a peg, allowing you to combine them into odd new configurations.

The $9 that Steel Brigade figure cost in 1987 would be just over $24 today, making the $54.99 Hasbro wants for this set not terribly inflated. Of course, all the other 1987 figures cost less than $2.50, so the Steel Brigade was starting from a vastly overpriced place to begin with. It's excellent that they've finally added women to the ranks, but geeze, they couldn't have gotten these figures made when the Selfie Series was still a thing? Putting your face on Snake-Eyes or Scarlett is just tacky, but putting it on a Steel Brigade Trooper? The Trooper who was always meant to be you? That's perfect! You missed your moneymaker, Hasbro.

-- 02/09/24


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