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Sure Fire

GI Joe Figure Subscription Service
by yo go re

GI Joe already has Tiger Force, Night Force, the Marauders, Sky Patrol, Eco-Warriors, Ninja Force and Battle Corps; now, get ready for the Mary Sue Brigade!

Sure Fire grew up in a rough neighborhood where street gangs battled on every block. While this led other kids down the path of criminal activity, Sure Fire vowed, instead, to defend the rights of others at all costs. He studied the martial arts with such determination that he earned a black belt in Shoto-Kan Karate-Do on his sixteenth birthday. After graduating from Los Angeles Police Academy - where to this day, he still holds the combat range record for not missing a single target - he joined the special surveillance unit of the FBI. There, he was first introduced to the working of a terrorist organization called Cobra, having been assigned to investigate several of its high ranking members. His keen eye and sharp attention to detail didn't go unnoticed by the elite GI Joe Team.

Sure Fire is now commander of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. He oversees Military Police operations around the globe and coordinates with the GI Joe team. He's an officer that plays strictly by-the-book, which usually means a short list of friends but a long list of enemies. However, he's proven his dedication to fighting criminals as an arm of the law and a soldier on the battlefield. His current assignment is to investigate the suspicious uprising of a dictator from the small Eastern European nation of Kalistan.

I hope you enjoyed that oblique reference to Iron Klaw, because it's the last interesting thing about this figure.

Sure Fire was introduced in 2001, which is why nobody knows who he is. According to literally the only piece of information Joepedia has on him, he was named after the head of the Steel Brigade Fan Club, a group so prestigious and respected that I have personally never heard of it until this very moment. We've all got names too, Hasbro. And we've been carrying GI Joe's water for a decade now. OAFE is at least as not-famous as that club, so as long as you're handing out honors, why not throw a little love ol' OAFEnet's way?

[Because yo go re is an idiot, here's the real story: the Steel Brigade Fan Club was sanctioned by Hasbro in the '90s. After the toyline ended, Lane kept the club running, and was one of the only sources for GI Joe information before the rise of the internet. Once everybody was giving away for free the things that Lane had been charging for, the club was done for (after a few suspicious lawsuits). Then Lane and some of the other Steel Brigade heads joined Master Collector, the company above Fun Publications and thus ultimately responsible for the Figure Subscription Service. So he's not exactly "a nobody." Not the way yo go re is. --ed.]

Sure Fire's specialty is being so awesome and everyone loves him CID - Criminal Investigation Division - so he's in charge of investigating crimes and other violations of military law. Which may make him sound like an MP, but it's not quite the same: in local police terms, MPs are regular patrol officers, while CID are detectives. Fittingly, the figure uses Law & Order's upper body and vest - that vest has a lot of intricate details, including a working holster on the right hip, a small radio, and a fully detailed badge that honestly does look like the CID badge (just done in silver, rather than gold). The legs come from all the Resolute men, meaning he gets a non-working holster on his left leg, an unexplained strap on his right, plus kneepads and canvas leggings over his boots. This is a perfectly good design, suiting a military policeman.

The figure's colors are inspired by the 2002 version of Sure Fire, rather than the blue 2001 version. His boots and gloves are black, his pants are dark green, his vest is brown, and his shirt is light green. The old toy had a long-sleeved shirt, while the Law & Order mold means this one has short sleeves. That change has led to one odd problem, however: the portion of his sleeve that's rolled up has been left pink, like skin. Looking around, this appears to be a very common flaw with the figure.

Sure Fire comes with a pistol that fits in the holster on his vest, a Heckler & Koch G36 and a KRISS Vector. He also has a flashlight and a pair of handcuffs. The cuffs, as a reader pointed out after the Law & Order review, can be "carried" in the small hole at the base of the back of the vest: just slip one end in, and they'll hang there nicely. There's nothing else that hole could be used for. Finally, there's a green helmet that hugs his head tightly; but in order to not have it pushed down and covering his eyes, you have to tuck his chin into the collar of his vest.

We have no idea whether Sure Fire's facial sculpt was based on the real David Lane, because we have no idea what the real David Lane looks like (other than this photo from [apparently] the '80s, and his cartoon headshot from the Joe Club newsletter). What we do know, however, is that the card art for Sure Fire is one of the ugliest, most amatuerish pieces of art ever put on a GI Joe package. We're not saying that to be mean; it's a serious artistic criticism. The pose is awkward, the composition is unbalanced, the colors are bland and the face is not proportioned well. No, if we wanted to be mean, we'd say that it looks like Adam Baldwin got his portrait done by one of those elephants that paints with its trunk. If the Club isn't going to commission good art for its cards, they should at least stick to (re)using good artists' work. Because this is just an embarrassment.

And it would be a really nice transition right here if we could say that Sure Fire was an embarrassment, too; but we can't. The figure isn't bad, it's just not good. You can easily look past the one mistake in the paint and the way the helmet fits, but Sure Fire just isn't a figure that captures the imagination. He's not the only FSS figure I wasn't looking forward to, but seeing him in person does nothing to improve my feelings toward him. I used to wonder why they would bother updating a character no one remembered or cared about, but now that I know it's based on the guy who helps run the Club, the answer seems clear.

-- 04/26/13

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