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GI Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
by yo go re

Welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games. And horrible, mutilating weaponry.

Recondo is the GI Joe team's expert in jungle combat and survival. He goes into the jungle ahead of the team to scout for Cobra forces. He uses a solar-powered wilderness survival pack with a claw-JS multi-snare trap to capture Cobra troopers and discover what they are hiding in the rainforest.

You know, you really get the feeling someone at Hasbro is playing with us. As more of the "Jungle Assault" Joes come out, a pattern begins to emerge. Fans first noticed that the Toys Я Us-exclusive Spirit looked like Billy from Predator, and now we get Recondo, who's a perfct stand-in for the goddamned sexual tyrannosaurus himself, Blain. You know, Jesse "I ain't got time to bleed" Ventura. Does that mean Duke is meant to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, or will we be getting somebody else later? And hell, they're fighting Jungle-Vipers, who have electronic optical camouflage and kill their enemies in secret, just like the Predator. We're through the looking glass, people.

"Real American Hero" Recondo was an average-sized guy, but "Pursuit of Cobra" Recondo is a massive beast - part of what's drawing the Jesse Ventura comparisons. He's easy as big as Roadblock or Gung-Ho, traditionally GI Joe's Twin Towers. He's got a damn fine sculpt, as well: he's wearing lace-up boots and canvas leggings. He's got kneepads and some kind of thigh armor strapped above his camo pants. His T-shirt is tighter than you'd expect from a military man, but maybe it's just being held down by the harness he has over it. His right arm is wrapped in some kind of material, while his left has a bracer with five tranq darts.

You won't notice the shirt very often, because the figure also has a removable vest, and it looks awesome. It's a thick piece, with tons of fine detail in the straps and stitching. There are large pockets, an extra shoulder pad on the left side (which we'll be mentioning again, so keep an eye out for that) and the new GI Joe star logo on the right shoulder. To help him keep in contact with headquarters, he has a silver satellite phone on his shoulder - it even has its familiar thick antenna extended.

And then there's the head. Oh, the head. This isn't a comlpetely 100% accurate Jesse Ventura sculpt, but by god, it's as close as you can get without having to pay likeness rights. The cheeks, the jawline, the eyes... they're all dead-on. His nose is bigger, and he trims his mustache differently, but that's as far as it goes - they even put the dimple in his chin! If this isn't Jesse Ventura, then it's Jessie Ventoora.

Why'd they choose Jesse the Body as the inspiration for this figure? Because Recondo's signifying feature in G1 was his slouch hat, the same thing Blain wore in Predator. These days the slouch hat is mostly identified with Australia - similar headgear has been worn by armies all over the world for hundreds of years, but Diggers (ANZAC soldiers, so-named because of the trenches dug in WWI) wore them in both World Wars and became known for the style. The turn-up (called the "leaf") serves a practical purpose: by folding out of the way, it allows a weapon to be carried over the shoulder without bumping against the hat and knocking it off. You'll notice that Recondo's brim is turned up on the left - the same side of the vest that has the extra padding on the shoulder, probably so he doesn't get bruised carrying a gun around all day.

Speaking of guns, Recondo comes with a Barret M107 sniper rifle that he's wrapped with strips of cloth, most likely to keep it from rattling as he moves through the bush. He's also got a smaller assault rifle and two high-tech Strider cord-wrapped hatchets that can be plugged into his the sides of his vest.

The backpack is a weird piece, even ignoring the trans blue solar panels, or how likely he is to even get any strong sunlight under the jungle canopy. Half the backpack looks like an engine (which would explain why he'd even need solar power in the first place) while the other half looks like a bundle of sticks. It's a very odd presentation. A black plug on a string pulls out of the left side, and retracts quickly when you press the big red button. Why? Because the figure includes two bear traps that can be attached to the plug. So he lays out the trap, a Cobra steps in it and... what? He reels the guy in like a fish? Again, weird. The traps are very cool little pieces, though, even if they do explode into pieces when you hit the "retract" button on the backpack. They actually work, too: the things are designed in such a way that a figure putting his foot on the trigger pad really makes them close!

His final accessory may be the coolest: a tiny tiki mask. Wait, what? Yes, it's a small plastic mask, sculpted to look like wood, and it has a crazy little face on the front. The figure can even wear the mask, thanks to nubs that fit into his ears and hold it in place. Why's this cool, and not something to throw in the bin and forget about? Because since Recondo was a "go out an explore the jungle" character, he never really had a lot to do in the old comics; one of the few times he did show up, though, he'd befriended the Tucaros, the indigenous people of Sierra Gordo, the comics' fake South American country of choice. So think of this as a gift from the Tucaros, and a nod to the character's history.

Recondo is a really good figure, but there are two flaws keeping him from being great: one big, one small. The small flaw is that his hat falls off easily. Almost as easily as a real hat. Okay, minor issue. The major problem is that the way his neck has been sculpted means his head is perpetually looking down. There's no way to tip it back to have him look forward without performing major surgery, and that's a fundamental mistake. We expect better than this by now, Hasbro. Still, those are both annoyances at worst, and the rest of this figure makes up for them.

-- 10/01/10

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