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Crimson Guard

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

Come on, everybody! Surf the Crimson wave!

The Crimson Guard are elite shock troopers that report directly to Cobra Commander. They are tough and powerful fighters, challenging the GI Joe team in hand-to-hand combat, and unleashing their weapons with steel-eyed skill in a wild shootout!

Boy, that sounds really exciting! Too bad nothing like it happened in the movie. Retaliation had a lot going for it (even more in the director's cut), but it did not have Crimson Guards. It didn't even have Crimson Neo-Vipers! But then again, neither did the first movie. They were just made up for the toyline. And this figure was originally intended for the 30th Anniversary line (much like the Data-Viper), before that got inexplicably cancelled.

The standard Crimson Guard uniform has a military feel, but it's a "ceremonial" military feel - like a Marine's service uniform, rather than their combat utility uniform. This one uses the usual Crimson Guard torso, but makes the Siegie look more combat-ready by hiding it beneath a new flak jacket. He gets the Shock Trooper arms (easily recognizable by those angled pockets) and the legs from the Alley-Viper with new holsters glued into the holes on the sides. The overall look remains true to the Crimson Guard roots, but makes the outfit a little bit more "field-friendly." And by choosing whether or not to give him the vest, you can decide what kind of CG you want him to be.

Actually, that's not the only way you can customize the figure: hidden behind the cardboard insert in the tray is a sheet of silver stickers which allow you to choose your Crimson Guard's rank and division. There are six for rank - one to three chevrons, then three chevrons with one rocker, with two rockers, or with two rockers and a star in the center - and five divisions: the "triangle and laurel leaves" insignia that was on the original toy's arm; the crowned Cobra logo seen on Serpentor's Air Chariot; the winged Cobra Air Force logo, seen on the Rattler; a square with diagonal bars; and a Norman shield with a star and a lightning bolt separated by a black bend. (Those last two are generic enough that they could have shown up anywhere, but it's possible they represent infantry and cavalry.) Supposedly the rank sticker goes on the chest and the division on the left arm, but they make more sense the other way around.

The figure gets a new head, which sadly cannot be removed to reveal a Fred beneath. Honestly! That should be a given for every Crimson Guard toy. The new mask doesn't have the same "chimp face" problem as the previous G3 Siegies, trading it instead for a helmet that looks like it's too big for him. Like he's wearing his dad'd hat. So it still needs work.

In addition to the new vest, the Crimson Guard is wearing the same old backpack. His accessories include a pistol, a knife, a sword, an FN SCAR, an MP7A1, and an OTs-14-1A-02 Groza with a bayonet on the end. The pistol and knife fit on his legs, and the sword hangs in the sling that swings from the back of his vest. That leaves three guns, and since he can only hold two of them in his hands, one is always going to be left out.

The quote/unquote Retaliation Crimson Guard is an armybuilder's dream - thanks to the stickers, you could buy 42 of them and have them all look different! And knowing GI Joe fans, there are probably a lot who would have done exactly that, which is why it's such a shame that this figure was only available at the tail end of the line, and in limited numbers. He may not look exactly like the other Crimson Guards, but he's not so different that he won't fit in. This is a nicer toy than expected!

-- 08/29/14

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