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GI Joe Renegades
by yo go re

It's amazing how quickly a popular adaptation of a pre-existing franchise can overtake the original. Back in 2001, the X-Men adopted costumes based on the ones the team wore in the live-action film the year before. And since Rise of Cobra came out, there have been two alternate-continuity versions of Ripcord introduced, and they'e both been black.

Ripcord is a daredevil who thinks nothing of taking risks to prove his skill to more senior members on his team. Trained for airborne operations, he is a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) expert and loves to jump from planes. He puts his life in jeopardy to save his team during a mission to investigate a Cobra weapons plant.

Yeah he does! To inaugurate their new network, The Hub, Hasbro introduced new cartoons based on their biggest properties; and to make an impression with their new cartoons, they took an "anyone can die" attitude. Mind the spoilers: Transformers: Prime saw Starscream stab Cliffjumper, Ripcord sacrificed himself to detonate a bomb the Joes had set, and you don't even want to know what happened at the glue factory in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!

The Renegades toys are done in a realistic style, but even allowing for the differences between that and the animation model, this Ripcord looks nothing like the tv version. His head is a different shape, his facial features are different, and he doesn't even have the right haircut - he's bald, while the guy on the cartoon had short black hair. In fact, everything about the head looks more like the IDW version of Ripcord than the Renegades one.

Rip uses the same basic body as Duke, but with a few significant changes. He gets new forearms, without the bulky wrists that Duke had, and from the knees down his legs are new. His kneepads are positively huge, and his pants are tucked into his boots, which then have canvas covers over the front. His T-shirt and pants are light beige, and above them he wears a grey vest - it's not quite the same design seen on the show, but it is the same mold Duke had, and thus they look like teammates who get their gear from the same depot.

He also wears black and orange webgear, but that's not removable unless you're willing to unscrew the figure's leg. The orange may seem out of place, but it's accurate to the show's designs, and it matches his included parachute pack. Besides, it's only the shoulder straps and the pockets that are orange, which isn't that unrealistic. There's also a new HALO helmet that's really cool and really well detailed. It has a clear visor, and is sculpted with a layered, curved hose that connects to a small air tank. It truly is an impressive piece, and I hope we see more paratroopers who can use it.

When the character models were first revealed, fans wondered why Ripcord had Simon Phoenix hair - we didn't realize until we saw the character in action that that was meant to be a pair of goggles worn on his forehead. The toy comes with goggles, which is good since that's the only thing about the likeness that's immediately recognizable. His weapons are light blue, for some reason - he has a pistol that fits in the holster on his right leg (but no silencer) and a Renegades style plasma pulse rifle.

Ripcord may not have had much time to shine with the Joes before his... absence, but he sure got a figure quickly. It's honestly surprising that they went with him before Roadblock, but Ripcord probably required less new tooling. The head isn't perfect, but it does allow the toy to function as a stand-in for the comic version, who's yet to get any plastic attention.

-- 12/30/11

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