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GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

Come all without, come all within; you'll not see nothing like the Mighty Kwinn!

Kwinn is a mysterious mystic mercenary who once worked for Cobra but switched sides to work with the GI Joe team. He's an expert tracker, hunter and woodsman and a crack shot with pistols, rifles, harpoons and machine guns.

Man, we've been waiting years for this figure! Not "this character" (who had an action figure back in Generation 2), this specific figure. He appeared in a couple "concept case" displays, and stolen factory samples appeared at the same time as "Transformers" Destro and the Dollar Store figures. Hasbro kept assuring fans that they were trying to find a way to get the figure out, and at last it's happened... in a phantom series squeezed out at the end of the GI Joe: Retaliation toyline. Hasbro may not actually understand what "trying" means. Because if the only way to buy a mass-release toy is to luck onto the manufacturer's website during the one-hour window when it happens to be in stock, that doesn't count as "getting the figure out" in our book.

The G2 Kwinn was a "first appearance" figure - he was wearing the arctic gear from GI Joe #2. This figure is based on the story that really made him a star, the zany roadtrip subplot that started in issue #12 and came to a head in #19 (it also featured Scar-Face and Dr. Venom). Since that story started in the jungle, Kwinn is wearing summery clothes: he uses the same torso and arms as Footloose, but gets new legs - no one has been wearing shorts before. He comes with a new piece of webgear that has a large pad on the back, and a new belt that has several pouches, a canteen, a knife sheathed on the back, and a working holster on the right hip. Considering that this is just a guy in a khaki shirt and shorts, Hasbro really made him look pretty cool.

In the comics, Kwinn was drawn one step above a Looney Tunes caricature, with a very broad, fat face, a sunken nose, narrow eyes and stringy black hair. By contrast, the toy is sculpted to look like a real human being. Now, he's clearly of a specific ethnic descent, but he's not going to be feuding with Bugs Bunny over a baby penguin.

Kwinn's articulation is on par with other modern Joes (which makes sense since he was designed and tooled in 2011, back before the cutbacks began to hit): he has a balljointed head and hips; injection molded shoulders, elbows, wrists and ankles; hinged elbows and double-hinged knees; and the swivel/hinge joint that lets him move his upper body around. The ankle joints go into the leg, rather than into the foot, so they don't fake a "rocker" range of motion. The right wrist's swivel goes up and down, while the left wrist's goes side-to-side.

His accessories are a nice mix of old and new. He has an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun (with a tripod and two belts of bullets), a sniper rifle, a tactical shotgun and a .357 Magnum (both designed for Kwinn, but they ended up being released with Retaliation Joe Colton first), a bear trap, and a large backpack, and a hooked pole. In addition to all the new pieces mentioned above, he also come with an ulu knife (the small "hand blade" thing) and a homemade adze. Ever wonder where eskimos got metal for their tools, since it's not like they could mine the stuff? Meteorites. Now you know!

Of course, he also comes with his weasel-skull necklace, though it's a new sculpt - not a re-use of the mold that originated in the Generation 2 comic pack and was reused with Arctic Trooper Snake-Eyes. Not only does it allow the accessory to have a better sculpt, it makes sense from a story standpoint, too: since he gave his original one to Snake-Eyes, he logically had to create another before his next appearance.

In addition to being the only comicbook character named after a Bob Dylan song, Kwinn has a popularity among hardcore Joe fans that far outstrips the amount of time he was in the book - a grand total of five issues - possibly because he was a character Larry Hama created himself, rather than being handed it by Hasbro (so Hama was free to treat Kwinn however he wanted, free to give him any sort of arc or development without concern to how it would affect toy sales). It's honestly thrilling to get a modern take on the character, especially since he's wearing such a unique outfit (protip: if you really want his other look, you could always put this head [and necklace] on Iron Bear's body). The only drawback is the widespread unavailability, but we hold out hope that eventually that will change, and you'll be able to get one off the shelf with no trouble.

-- 09/13/13

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