Name: Rita Torres
Rank: Field Sergeant
E-Frame Type: Field Sergeant E-Frame #LD-029
Birth Planet: Earth
Dossier: Rita Torres is second to J.T. Marsh in the chain of command for Able Squad. As Field Sergeant, Torres is often first to engage Neosapien fire. On the ground or in the air, Torres is one tough leader. She follows the ExoFleet handbook to the letter, which often puts her at odds with the unorthodox procedures of Wolf Bronski.
With her Field Sergeant E-Frame at her command, Torres is never one to retreat from heavy ordinance Neobashing. She is able-bodied, level-headed, and objective-oriented — a perfect soldier of combat.
How I Acquired 1994 Exosquad Rita Torres with Field Sergeant E-Frame
In my last Exosquad review (JumpTroops Colleen O’Reilly), I talked about how I had six Exosquad toys as a kid, and then lost all of those in a house fire. Long after the toys were gone from shelves, at age 16, a friend of mine sold me some of his Exosquad figures.
Then, I found the Tech Wars line and started an eBay account. I mostly snapped up Exosquad figures in lots, as that was a cheap watt to acquire them back then. I had to make due with what I could find.
I repainted an Alec DeLeon Field Communications E-Frame black and gold, and used a Special Mission series Wolf Bronski, whose hair I painted black (and added a beard!), as the pilot. I repainted a Robotech Raidar X Destroid (from the later Exosquad line) into an arctic camouflage color scheme and used it as a fully robotic E-Frame– sort of like the team’s Lieutenant Commander Data.
During that period in high school, I was still missing many major characters– Kaz Takagi, Maggie Weston, Nara Burns, and Rita Torres.
That whole time, I especially wanted a Rita Torres, as she was one of my favorite characters on the TV show. But, alas, she never appeared in those eBay lots.
Rita is a standout in the Exosquad animated series because she is Able Squad’s nominal second in command, and she’s hard as nails. JT Marsh, the squad’s leader, is thoughtful and soft spoken. Torres is the exact opposite. She’s got a nose ring, a cyberpunk Chelsea/mullet with white streaks, and an attitude that’s just as intimidating as her appearance.
Basically, she’s the Duke of Able Squad. And I don’t mean the Sunbow cartoon Duke– I mean the no-nonsense, ornery cuss Duke from the Marvel Comics.
But, like most Exosquad characters, Rita is far from one dimensional. She’s Able Squad’s field leader. Sure, Nara Burn outranks her (just as Falcon outranks Duke), but she’s the one who leads the squadron when JT Marsh isn’t there. So she had to be hard, because she’s fighting in a desperate space war, where humanity’s back is against the wall. The survival of her species hangs in the balance.
Still, beneath her gruff exterior, she has a heart. She loves children. She’s hard on her squadmates because she wants them to survive. She’s got no time for bullshit, but she has all the time in the world to help her teammates with real problems. To borrow a cliche, “she’s tough, but fair.”
So that’s why I wanted Rita Torres in my collection. Sadly, before I ever acquired the figure, I lost my Exosquad collection yet again.
I went back to my hometown for Christmas one year, and decided to grab a few boxes from my Mom’s house. Namely, I wanted my Exosquad toys. I looked in my old room, in the basement, and in the attic (which is a very dangerous area above the garage) and found nothing. They were gone. All of my custom painted E-Frames. Everything.
Luckily, before I even hit the road back to Boise, I found a guy on Craigslist selling his boxed Exosquad collection. He was in California, but he was willing to ship to me, and his prices were reasonable.
That’s where most of my Exosquad collection comes from to this day, and that’s where I finally got a 1994 Exosquad Rita Torres with Field Sergeant E-Frame.
That was nearly ten years ago. But, I’ve always wanted to post comprehensive reviews of Exosquad toys, ever since I was 16. I used to obsess over Exosquad.com and the Resolute II website, and I longed for more Exosquad content.
Now that those sites are gone, I hope I can fill in that content gap. Slowly but surely, I hope to make The Dragon Fortress into the most authoritative Exosquad site on the internet.
In that regard, I’ve tried to document this toy and its packaging from every angle. But, before we get to the review, let’s discuss some weird quirks and oddities that come along with Exosquad toys.
Exosquad Toys: Quirks and Oddities
As I’ve mentioned before, Exosquad is one of my all time favorite toy lines. That’s not to say that it’s not without its problems, however.
This is a review and I have to be somewhat objective, despite my undying passion for Exosquad.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Exosquad toys, here are some quirks and problems to look out for in the basic series of “General Purpose E-Frames”:
- Cyberjacks: In the show, each E-Frame pilot is connected to their mech with a “cyberjack,” which is a cable that plugs into the back of their neck or head. They can control their E-Frames with their thoughts, similar to how the helmets worked for Veritech pilots in Robotech. The toys, to their credit, try to replicate that technology. But it’s unwieldy in practice. The cyberjack is a long, thin piece of hard plastic that juts out from a cavity inside the E-Frame. It’s very rigid, so it’s very difficult to both plug it into the pilot’s head, and get the pilot position correctly in their E-Frame, simply because the cyberjack wants to push them every which way. Even to this day, I generally don’t bother connecting the figures to their cyberjacks.
- Exposed Arms: In the cartoon, General Purpose E-Frames are airtight. No part of the pilot is exposed to either the elements or the vacuum of space. The toys do not replicate this. Instead, the pilot’s arms stick out from the cockpit/control area, and grasp onto control sticks attached to the E-Frame’s arms. From a practicality and production standpoint, it’s an understandable flaw. But that brings us to our next problem…
- Control Sticks: … the control sticks themselves. In the first series of GP E-Frames, the control sticks were hard plastic. The pilots had a hard time holding onto them, and often either the joysticks would separate from the E-Frame, or the pilot’s hand would break from the stress. In every later series, each E-Frame used softer plastic control sticks, but it’s still not always easy to get the pilot to grip the controls properly. This is especially an issue with Torres and Burns. They got better, but they still weren’t perfect. It’s sometimes easier to just “fake it” and place the figure’s hands near the control sticks.
- Show Accuracy: Even though nearly every toy in the Exosquad range looks stunning, none of the General Purpose E-Frames are exactly show accurate. None of the pilots are, either. This was likely unavoidable from a production standpoint, but it may bother some fans.
- Neosapien Size: In the show, Neosapiens are much larger than humans. In the toy line, they’re the same size. Marsala has on Don Adams/Tom Cruise shoes in the above photo. Bummer.
- Paint Chips: The paint on the figures themselves is prone to scraping and chipping.
- Easily Lost Pieces: These things have so many tiny parts. And medium parts. And large parts. Which is one reason they’re amazing. But these parts are easily lost and hard to replace on the secondary market.
Now that I’ve talked about why Exosquad isn’t 100% technically perfect, let’s talk about why Exosquad is absolutely 100% perfect.
Frame up, Sergeant Torres!
1994 Exosquad Rita Torres with Field Sergeant E-Frame Review
So, like almost all Exosquad toys, 1994 Exosquad Rita Torres with Field Sergeant E-Frame is a combination of a figure and a vehicle. Torres was released in the second series of Exosquad figures, as part of the line-standard General Purpose E-Frame series.
I don’t really love writing about packaging, but the boxes for Exosquad toys were amazing. I’ve captured the box on each side with unique printing, as well as the box flap interior, the little file card that you could make into your own Able Squad badge (sort of a Steel Brigade thing without the figure), and the sheet of bullet hole and battle damage stickers you could use to customize the E-Frame.
So, here’s all of that. You can gaze at it in amazement without additional commentary from me.
Now, let’s discuss the figure itself.
Torres is wearing yellow body armor over a red jumpsuit with green boots, green gloves, and a green belt. She also has a sculpted-on green backpack, which isn’t nearly as cool as the communications backpack she wore in the show, but it’s a reasonable facsimile. After all, she couldn’t fit into her E-Frame with a bulky backpack.
Her brown hair is cut into a cyberpunk hybrid of a Chelsea and a mullet, with white streaks going down the sides. She’s also wearing lipstick. In the television series, Torres looked a bit rougher around the edges, and the character’s trademark nose ring isn’t present in the figure. I think sculpting a nose ring on a 3” figure would have been pretty tough in 1994, so that’s not a big deal, either.
There’s also a variant of the figure that lacks the lipstick and the white streaks in the hair.
Now, you’ll note that Rita’s color scheme isn’t even remotely “realistic military.” Even Colleen O’Reilly was outfitted in green camouflage. Sgt. Torres’ haircut isn’t military standard either, but Exosquad thrived on weird haircuts.
Now, this makes sense to me. Able Squad is the ExoFleet’s daring, highly-trained special mission force. They’re the best of the best. As with GI Joe, they’re not beholden to standard military uniforms. They wear the weapons and the armor, but if you think you’re going to talk them all into wearing green camo and proper helmets, I’ve got a bridge on Venus to sell you.
Besides, the colors add visual interest. The characters need to be distinct both on the show and on the shelf, and a dozen figures all wearing the same green BDUs aren’t going to catch the interest of kids. GI Joe figured that out in 1983.
This 3” figure has the following articulation:
- Swivel at the neck
- Swivel/hinge at the shoulders
- Bicep rotation aka swivel arm battle grip
- Hinge at the elbow
- Ball jointed hips
- Bend at the knee
For gear, she comes with a nasty looking blade that clips onto either forearm, and a long green pistol. This pistol looks like the future equivalent of the monster gun The Joker used to shoot down the Batwing in the 1989 Batman film. These are all-business weapons for an all-business soldier.
The wrist blade clips on surprisingly securely, but her grip on the pistol is loose at best. She can be posed or displayed with it, but it will fall out during play. A bit of blue tac should fix that, though.
Before we get to the E-Frame itself, here’s a photo of all the parts it comes with:
- Two missiles the package lists as “Dual ExoSpring-launched Wrist Scythes”
- One missile the package lists as “Shoulder-mounted Neo-blaster Rocket”
- One small antenna
- Fusion pack
- Wrist blade
At some point, the toy was also supposed to come with “Position-adjustable Flight Wings with Neo-rockets,” but the final product does not include those. There are spots for them in the packaging, but they were never sold with the toy, as far as I know.
The Field Sergeant E-Frame’s animation model did feature these wings, so it’s a bit sad they’re not included.
Anyhow, if you’ve never handled a General Purpose E-Frame before, this is how you place the figure inside: open the cockpit and the leg sections, clip the figure’s waist into the E-Frame, attach the cyberjack (or don’t bother), place the control sticks in the figure’s hands, close the leg sections, and close the cockpit.
Here’s the E-Frame from the front:
And from the back:
It’s cast in a nice shade of orange, with blue-green, silver, and blue highlights. Again, not a military color scheme, but a nice one. The elbows feature “working” hydraulics, which are a joy to behold. It’s those little details that make the Exosquad series such a treat.
Overall, I love the shape of this E-Frame. It looks sleek, utilitarian, and fearsome. Perfect for a stone cold space sergeant.
The E-Frame itself has the following articulation:
- Shoulder joints that allow forward, backward, and sideways motion
- Hinged elbows with embedded hydraulics
- Opening and closing claw on right arm
- Leg joints that allow forward, backward, and sideways motion (this thing can almost do the splits, which is wild!)
- Ankle joints
The first series of GP E-Frames had knee joints as well, but the subsequent toys in the line mostly left that point of articulation out. Which is a bummer, but it also understandable, considering how intricate these toys are.
Now, let’s look at the play features.
Torres’ Field Sergeant E-Frame has several “gimmicks,” most of which are housed in the arms. Unlike the features on many 90s toys, these play features improve the toy instead of bogging it down.
The right arm features:
- A shoulder mounted missile launcher, spring loaded and button activated
- And opening and closing spring-loaded claw, which can easily hold action figures
- Two launching wrist missiles, spring loaded and button activated
The left arm features:
- A small, rotating gun turret at the shoulder
- A multi-barreled gun with ammo belt on the arm– you can pull back on the spring loaded ammo belt to simulate the barrel reciprocating, or you can pull the belt all the way back, press it down, and “lock” it into place. When you press the belt up, the barrel springs forward. This is supposed to represent an energy blade, according to the packaging.
Here we get to a disconnect between the toy and the show. In the show, the left arm’s weapon is a machine gun. The packaging, however, lists it as an “ExoSpring Blade Striking Blaster.” It’s supposed to be some sort of energy blade, probably like the swords in the Armored Core games, but only according to the box.
The old Resolute II website often tried to reconcile the differences between the toys and the show. Here’s how they described the weapon in their fan made tech specs for the E-Frame, “Laser strike blade that can penetrate all known materials.“ and “High speed multi-barreled projectile launcher, armor piercing (left arm; combination long range and short range weapon, Highly effective against reinforced E-frames, Max projectile rate within operating tempatures is 4500 R.P.S.)”
Clearly, they combined the two weapons into one, which works for me. What doesn’t work for me is a sword with an ammo belt, or the toughest Sergeant in the ExoFleet piloting an E-Frame that only equips three missiles and a sword!
The shoulder-mounted missile is sensible enough, and the claw is great. The scythe missiles are a bit odd and resemble communist iconography, but maybe they’re great for shredding enemy armor, so I’ll give it a pass.
The toy itself is sturdy and stable. Sometimes Rita’s hands will come loose from the control sticks, but that’s all you need to watch out for.
The E-Frame itself is both sleek and practical, and the Rita Torres action figure is excellent. This is a beautifully done set that exemplifies everything great about Exosquad, and also perfectly demonstrates its numerous flaws.
So while this toy is not technically perfect, it is absolutely perfect.
Verdict: The 1994 Exosquad Rita Torres with Field Sergeant E-Frame set is a marvel of toy engineering. It packs in a ton of unobtrusive play features, and it looks great in photos or on display. Plus, it’s a true plaything– I dare you not to have a blast flying this thing around and making laser/machine gun noises with your mouth. Neither Torres nor her E-Frame are a perfect representation of what was in the show, but they don’t need to be. If you love Exosquad, Torres is an essential character. These are brilliant toys, but they’re toys before they’re adult collectibles. As far as creative, intricate, well made toys for kids go, it doesn’t get any better. Highly Recommended.
Other Thoughts on 1994 Exosquad Rita Torres with Field Sergeant E-Frame
During this review, I broke out my GI Joe Sigma 6 Dragonhawk, because I remember it works perfectly with Exosquad figures. So, if you’re looking for additional pieces for your Exosquad collection, that could be a good place to start. I will tell you, though, that the Steel Hammer mech won’t work without some modification.
Anyway, let me know which Exosquad toy you’d like to see me review next in the comments. I have most of them.
And also tell me who you think would win in a fight between Rita Torres and Duke, and why it’s absolutely Rita Torres!
PS: If you have the blueprint sheet for this toy, please get in touch. I’d love to add it to the review.