G.I. Joe Renegades: Firefly

Wow. It’s been a while since I bought a G.I. Joe.

I think the last set I bought was the Motorcycle Armor set, but I really haven’t been active since the Sigma 6 days. After the Pursuit of Cobra line died, I was pretty turned off by the switch back to the bright colors of the original Joe line. It was great for the purists, but I loved the re-imagining of the groups threads and gear.

Apparently, I missed out on a lot since then.

G.I. Joe Renegades was a cartoon series that aired on The Hub beginning in November 2010. As I don’t have cable (and even if I did, I’m not entirely sure any of the providers actually provide their content), I never got around to watching it. From what I gather, it was very much like the Pursuit of Cobra, modern takes on the old characters, only now with a slightly more Japanese/Korean look to the animation.

In 2011, Hasbro began their 30th Anniversary line of toys that had both nods to the classic figures and toys based on the Renegades show, many of which were awesome figures despite their cartoonish faces. They were released locally in sets during Hasbro/Playkit’s distribution events and weren’t really shelved. Some of the figures (ahem, Storm Shadow) now appear on the secondary market for up to Php 1,500.00 (something like $33 or 34 US).

The only ones that appeared on Toy Kingdom shelves were ones that were apparently packed two per case or were not particularly popular. Cobra Commander, Hazard-Viper, Ripcord, etc. These guys warmed the pegs like Beachhead before them.

Renegades Firefly was one that popped up in Megamall while I was on a toy run. It wasn’t on my list of things to buy (which has sadly seen drastic cuts these days), but after dragging it all over the store trying to decide if it was worth the Php 500.00, I decided to bring it home.

Firefly came out in Wave 2 of the figure line (released at the tail end of last year), along with Cobra Commander, Duke and Snake Eyes. During the distributions, he was usually packaged with figures from Wave 3 as well (Cobra Trooper, Ripcord, Scarlett, Storm Shadow, Techno-Viper, and Tunnel Rat), but it looks as if Playkit still had a few extra left over after the events due to the assortments given them by Hasbro.

The package for the new line retains the simple construction of the original toys: simple rectangular card, plastic bubble on the lower right hand side, logo on top, portrait on the left. It’s an old set-up that works well and is eye-catching on the racks, especially with the deep reds that the cards are sporting.

The back of the card trades in the usual Hasbro product shots for Renegades animation character art. Looking at it, it seems as if the sculptors did a top notch job matching the toy’s features to the screen version while keeping its proportions close to the norm for G.I. Joe figures.

In the show, Firefly is an arsonist who is an expert in sabotage. Oddly, he was voiced by Peter MacNicol (Janosz Poha from Ghostbusters II) who it turns out is pretty experienced with voice acting. I guess his facility shouldn’t surprise me since he was my favorite thing about Ally McBeal (well except for Lucy Liu), providing a lot of the comedy.

Traditionally, Firefly’s been dressed in a balaklava, sweater and cargo pants. When I was a kid, I used to think he was just another ninja like Storm Shadow. The Renegades version takes him away from that by giving him what looks like a compact version of an EOD specialist’s bomb suit. The sleeveless jacket covers his torso and neck, as well has his man parts. ‘Cause you know, those are important.

While the jacket is removable, he looks incomplete without it, though a lot more like the other Firefly versions. The jacket is nicely detailed with various gadget storage pockets (non-functional) and a sheath for his giant utility knife (functional).

The utility knife is the only one of his accessories that he can carry on his person. It fits in a scabbard that hangs on the front of his jacket. It’s odd looking, straight and angular, but it works and is detailed and painted, more than I can say for many accessories in this line.

He also comes with 2 main weapons. As far as I can tell, they are a modified M79 grenade launcher (the stock looks as if it’s been changed from the original design to allow for the figure to hold it), and a customized AK-47 with scope and forward grip (with the stock removed this time). Both items look very nice, detailed and actually fit in his hands.

That last one is very important for me since so many GI Joe figures get re-purposed accessories that weren’t made for them. Sometimes when that happens, the figure ends up not being able to hold the item in their hand properly. Pursuit of Cobra Beachhead is a perfect example of this. However, Renegades Firefly’s weapons all fit snuggly and securely in his hands.

There are two more weapons that are less useful than the three above. The first is one that’s appeared with most of the Firefly iterations over the years: a remote detonation device.

Well, it looks like that anyway. It could also be a cellphone. The old clunky kind. With an antenna. I guess it could also be some kind of a radio, but then he’s a saboteur, who I have to assume, works alone. Who’s he going to be calling in the middle of a job? Cobra Commander? His mom? Pizza Hut? Anyway, I’m sticking to “remote detonation device”.

What does it detonate? I’m guessing the big ass artillery shell that he comes with. Why a big ass artillery shell? Why not a small package of C4 with a detonator? Maybe because he couldn’t call Destro to go out and do some shopping because his phone is obsolete. Still it’s an explosive, so I guess it kind of works…

So accessories wise, he’s pretty good. He can carry his 3 main pieces of gear, and the last two aren’t really that useful. Throw them in your I’ll-find-a-use-for-them-someday box.

Let’s talk a little about his articulation. Now he’s a GI Joe so that means he’s got the same basic points of articulation as most any other figure since the 25th Anniversary line first started: ball-jointed neck, swivel-hinge shoulders, swivel-hinge elbows, swivel-hinge wrists, the standard Joe T-bar crotch, double hinge knees, and swivel-hinge ankles. The only joint I really miss is some swivel thigh cuts. This set-up has worked great for years, so I don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

The only real difference he’s got from that standard layout is that the hinge of his right hand is oriented in a way that allows him to tilt his hand up and down, rather than inward and outward. This is the same joint that the Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes had. It allows a figure to tilt its weapon down or forward (as with a sword). This is perfect this Firefly because his grenade launcher is that much more menacing if he can aim it properly. It also allows those figures with rifles to actually shoulder their weapons. I’ve said it before, but I still think that Hasbro should make this standard on every single GI Joe figure they field from here on out. It’s just an awesome touch that adds so much more to the figure’s poseability.

Paint is pretty much close to the show’s model, and you can check that yourself pretty easily with the portrait on the front. Quality control hasn’t been much of a problem for GI Joe (relative to Marvel or Mattel’s DC line at least), so it’s not hard to find a good figure (if it’s still on shelf of course).

The sculpting is also well done. I mentioned that the aesthetic of the show is close to Korean or Japanese animated shows, so the face is somewhat anime-ish. Thanks to the mask though, it’s not as notable as it would be otherwise. They’ve even included a hint of the burn scarring that is supposed to cover his entire body. How’s that for detail?

This figure really is a great buy. He fits in with most of the previous lines, has a great set of accessories that all fit, and has a great design. The whole project feels as if all the Hasbro departments were firing on all cylinders this time.

While Php 500.00 may seem steep for a small action figure to first time toy enthusiasts, it is the standard price of a 4” figure in our region. The great work that went into the figure does make it a good value for a collector, though I’d hesitate to recommend it for a child’s gift.

I may not ever get the rest of the line, but I am definitely glad I got this figure.

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