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DVD Battles set 5 - "Best Of '80s Episodes"

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

We've already had two reviews to talk about all the problems with Hasbro's GI Joe DVD Battles box sets, so we're not going to repeat that here. Suffice to say this is the worst of the lot.

Duke is always out in front, leading by example, never asking a team member to do a job he wouldn't do himself. That's why he's right in the thick of battle when Cobra forces swoop in to capture a major metropolis. His experience and coolness under fire bolsters morale and gives the GI Joe team a firm anchor to hold onto even in the worst situations. He turned down a battlefield commission because he felt it would distance himself from his troops. A hard charger, but understanding and fair, he believes in his heart that decency, honor and freedom must always prevail over malevolence, deceit and tyranny, no matter the cost.

Thanks, Hasbro, I was really in desperate need of a Duke. Sure, there were six nine G3 Dukes before this one, in box sets and Comic Packs and single carded. Oh, but by all means, make sure the crap hell to put out another one, just in case someone missed their previous nine chances - six of which were in the same year as this set!

Since these DVD Battles sets are all based on the cartoon, Duke's colors are brighter and more vibrant than usual. His pants are bright green, and his shirt is closer to yellow than beige. The only part of the figure that isn't reused from previous Dukes is the head: he's got his mouth open in a yell. A hearty "yo Joe," perhaps? Sure, it's going to look somewhat out of place when he's just standing around, but pose him like he's yelling at some Greenshirts or something and it'll be fine.

Duke's accessories include a removable green helmet, a black pistol in his holster, a generic black rifle of the sort carried by the Joes in the cartoon, as well as a silvery JUMP jetpack and an ornate harness. His display stand is a bluish gray with a hole molded in one corner. Why? Because that allows you to plug in the pole of the included American flag. Yes, Duke is so damn patriotic, waving flags just appear magically behind him. The plastic used for the stand isn't quite the same quality as usual, so it actually ends up a bit warped, although not enough to ruin the effect. It'll wobble a little, but it's not goingto fall over or anything.

Cobra Commander is totally ruthless and without a conscience. The leader of the Cobra forces, he wants two simple things: to take over the world through his Cobra organization, and to destroy the GI Joe team. Money and power are what he's after, and he'll do anything to get them. And it won't be anything on a small scale - no, he likes his attacks and destruction to be on a big scale. He'll even attempt to take over a major city. He relished sweeping past the Statue of Liberty in a Cobra CLAW assault glider to show that he is taking control of the liberty and freedom of the entire world.

Gotta love how they dance around naming the major city Cobra is invading, but come right out and mention the Statue of Liberty. Obviously, it's Las Vegas. Okay, we kid. But what, is New York trademarked? They have to send the ghost of Frank Sinatra a nickel every time they say it? Why skirt the issue? It's just silly.

Everybody was wetting themselves over this figure when it was revealed, because it's a masked Cobra Commander with a chromed mask. We've made our feelings on that clear in the past, but it's something people wanted. Personally, if you ask us, since these are meant to be "cartoon" versions of the characters, it would have been smarter and more accurate to do a Silver Surfer-style paint scheme, with white and black highlights over a silver base.

Cobra Commander's head is the same used for the Resolute Cobra Commander, which means he also gets the new helmet with the sculpted stripe on top. He's wearing a non-removable backpack/harness - you can pry the glue loose with some work, but it's not meant to be taken off. As mentioned in the bio, he's piloting a CLAW, which is the same as the one in the FANG and CLAW set: in other words, nothing moves, it's short two missiles, and in this case, it doesn't even have the benefit of stickers.

Civilian climbing is hard enough as it is. A military climber is further burdened with weapons, ammo, communications gear, a laser-spotter and body armor. He also has the added problem of having to climb while under enemy fire, usually in the dark or under unfavorable weather conditions. None of this fazes Albert Pine, who loves the challenge of a sheer rock face. If it's large, made of granite, and you can pound pitons into it, Pine can climb it. For all that, he easily switches gears and climbs into a jet backpack to battle Cobra forces in the sky when they launch an attack from the air.

And here we have the only reason anyone wanted this set: Alpine. Best known for palling around with Bazooka, Alpine is, like Dusty or Quick Kick, available nowhere but in an expensive box set. It would have been nice if they'd just released the new figures all together in one set, but then how would they bilk us out of our money?

Alpine has a new torso, but his arms and legs come from Snow Job - not that you can immediately tell, thanks to the new paint. He's wearing his little padded bolero jacket, which is probably short to keep it from interfering with the chest joint. It's sculpted with a long rope coiled around his chest, which hides the clasp that keeps the vest closed. Alpine has new padded gloves glued to his forearms, where they won't block the wrist joints.

The head is entirely new, since no one has worn a baseball cap before now. Yes, Cutter should have been wearing a hat, but they cheated that (and no one cared). His goggles seem more like empty frames than anything that would actually provide protection. Still, they got his little mustache right, which is more than we could say for his hetero lifemate, Bazooka. The hat is green with a padded section running back the center.

Alpine's accessories include another generic rifle, a new backpack and a pickaxe/grappling hook combo on a string. The pickaxe clips into the backpack, and the grappling hook can be attached to the unusual silver clip on his leg. Both of those are direct copies of accessories the original figure had, but he's missing his grapnel gun; you can make one yourself, however, by clipping the grappling hook to the cartoon rifle's front sight.

Cobra Paratrooper forces are the lowest ranks in the Cobra Legions, yet their great numbers provide Cobra with much of its muscle. Thugs, mercenaries, pirates and assorted lowlifes are recruited from all over the world with promises of future wealth - and instant opportunities to demolish and destroy. After some rudimentary training, they are handed a parachute and weapons and told to go out and wreak havoc. The battle may be on the ground or in the air, but whatever the location, Cobra Paratrooper forces gleefully leap into the fray, guns blazing and eyes burning with a zeal for battle.

Does anyone find it odd that they seem to say the Paratroopers are different from regular Cobra Troopers, then equate them with the Troopers, then make them sound distinct again. That's what happens when you over-write a filecard. Just call this a Cobra Trooper and be done with it.

Below the neck, this is the same mold as the Cobra Trooper we've seen over and over. The head is shared with the Resolute Cobra Trooper, which means two things: 1) it has a new, larger helmet that covers more of the head, and B) beneath the helmet, he has a fully sculpted crewcut. You ever notice that the Troopers' black masks just sort of end at their jawline? Shouldn't they continue around the back of the head? How do they stay on?

The Cobra Paratrooper has the helmet, of course, but also the standard rifle and dagger. His parachute was new when he got it, although it's since turned up in a set that was much easier to find. It's bright white here, with a Cobra symbol on the back. It really contrasts nicely with the blue uniform.

The box includes a few more accessories that don't really belong to anyone. There's a bomb, with one second left on the timer, and a ridiculously detailed television camera. The bomb is packaged near Cobra Commander in the box, but at this point, it would actually be used by Duke. The camera is done in four pieces: camera, stand, post and feet. According to the label on the side, it belongs to WDO.NJ, which is apparently channel 21. The eyepiece on the camera can swivel, so if you pop it on a figure's shoulder, you can position it to allow him to look through. Do I sense a Generation 3 Scoop on the horizon? Yeah, no, probably not.

Like the other DVD Battles sets, this one includes a piece of the BAF MASS Device. This is the beam emitter, which basically means it's the barrel of the gun. There's a crystal on the end, suggesting perhaps that it focuses the energy. The piece is 4¾" long, and looks like nothing so much as a mechanical carrot.

Rather than a miniseries or storyarc, like all the other DVD Battles sets come with, this one includes a "best of" selection: the opening of G.I. Joe: The Movie, which is considered the best animation to come out of GI Joe in the '80s, and is also what this set is specifically based on; "The Phantom Brigade," with GI Joe versus ghosts; "The Viper is Coming," where a mysterious tipster ruins Cobra's plans; "Skeletons in the Closet," in which Lady Jaye visits her ancestral home; and "My Favorite Things," all about Serpentor collecting his old junk. Really, other than the movie opening and "The Viper is Coming," none of these deserve the title "best of." The package claims the episodes were "chosen by GI Joe fans," but who? And when? I certainly never picked any episodes; did you? And if you did, why did you pick such terrible ones? You have to wonder if Hasbro was originally going to include the entire movie, but changed their plans at the eleventh hour.

So, why do we say this is the worst set of the five? Well, the first two had no new figures: they were easy to ignore. ASA had Dusty, a classic Serpentor and a freaky skeleton; POD had Quick Kick, of course, but also a Major Bludd that looked better than the single-carded version and cost less than the Extreme Conditions Desert set and a cartoon Snake-Eyes with lots of new pieces. This set, meanwhile, offers only one figure, so you'd better really love Alpine if you're going to shell out for this gone-in-a-flash release.

-- 02/05/10

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