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GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

Last year's GI Joe Collectors' Club membership incentive figure was Iceberg, and he was a disappointment. This year's offering is much better.

Cross-Country's father was a bulldozer operator and his mother drove a grader in the south. You might say this good ol' country boy was born to drive big things that run on diesel. His natural affinity for heavy machinery, uncanny sense of direction and fearlessness under fire make him the man you want at the controls whether you're riding into a hairy situation or trying to get out of one!

No matter what vehicle Cross-Country operates, he has a talent for sensing the most favorable grade, the shallowest mud, and the firmest sand that makes the difference in any combat scenario. His current favorite is the HAVOC MK-II, since it combines the stamina of a tank with the handling of an off-road vehicle. The result is a man and machine that make their own roads to battle the evil forces of Cobra.

As hinted at by that filecard, Cross-Country was a vehicle driver back in Generation 1, which is probably why he hasn't received a G3 update until now: unless Hasbro was going to update the HAVOC (or put him in a different vehicle, like they did fellow "Class of '86" member Lift-Ticket), there was no place to put him. So it falls to the Club to update him (and also the HAVOC, but that's not so impressive).

Like the majority of Generation 3 figures, be they Real American Hero- or movie-based, Cross-Country is built from a lot of shared and reused parts. And also like the majority of G3 figures, the re-use is so well done that it doesn't look out of place. He's got the legs from movie Flash, which is a really nice match, thanks to the shin guards and the pockets on the pants. His short sleeves come from Sgt. Stone, the forearms are from PoC Arctic Assault Storm Shadow, and his chest is from the Cobra Shock Trooper, but you'll probably never see that, because he's got an all-new vest, designed by Boss Fight Studios.

There were a few existing vests that were kind of similar to Cross-Country's, but not really close enough to be accurate. This one, however? A perfect update. There are two large pockets on the chest and a diagonal black strap with three red capsules (a pad of some sort?) on the shoulder. There are two tiny lines sculpted on the back that look like a molding mistake or a scar in the plastic - they're actually meant to be holes in the vest where a second strap would run through, if he had one. Amazing detail!

His belt is part of the vest, and features a working holster on the right hip - a new feature - plus five molded bullets and, sadly, his Confederate flag belt buckle. Yes, it was a feature on the original figure, and it's just a white X on a red background, but there's no mistaking the intent and there's something unsavory about the guy from Greensboro, NC - the final capital of the Confederacy - proudly sporting a Confederate flag.

(At least it's not covering his entire back, like on the 1993 version of the character.)

Boss Fight Studios also sculpted a new head for the figure. The face doesn't physically resemble the old toy, but the design is the same (with a few additions from the cartoon model): he's wearing a grey cap with goggles strapped above the brim, and has shaggy hair. The hair is reddish, rather than brown - in the '80s, his hair got the same paint as his gloves.

He's armed with an M-4 assault rifle, a revolver, as well as a new wrench, so he can make repairs on his vehicle - whichever vehicle that is. So that's a new weapon, a new vest, and a new head, all on one figure! Good deal!

If you join the Collectors' Club and get Cross-Country as your incentive figure, he's just sold in a bag with his filecard and accessories. However, if you attended Joe Con, you could have bought a version that was carded, instead (throwing a bone to the MOC collectors). For once, though, that doesn't just mean more garbage to recycle: it also means they needed new card art. So, just like with several of the Figure Subscription Service 2.0 releases, they turned to Adam Riches. Cross-Country had full-body art back in the '80s, but only a little bit of it was ever seen on his filecard; this one is in a similar pose, but is holding his rifle and has his last name - Blais - on his vest rather than "GI Joe."

Cross-Country is a great GI Joe figure, but the only way to get him is to join the Club, which means he'll cost you five times what a normal figure would. If you're going to be joining the Club anyway, he's a terrific incentive, but it may not be worth joining just to get him.

-- 05/09/14

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