Finally, an accountant and/or lawyer action figure. Now kids can play out their auditing or litigation power fantasies from the comfort of their living room carpet!
Funskool GI Joe Crimson Guard Immortal Thoughts and Musings
The Crimson Guard, as portrayed in action figure file cards and the old Marvel comics written by Larry Hama, are one of the most fascinating parts of GI Joe lore. By day, they’re your attorney, your pastor, your accountant, your state senator, or your local police officer– wholesome, white American authority figures. But when Cobra Commander calls. They step away from their manufactured lives and families, put on a red dress uniform, and do… something?
Throughout GI Joe media, you never see Crimson Guards involved in much traditional “combat action” while wearing the uniforms represented by their action figures. In 1987’s GI Joe: The Movie, we see them defending the Terrordrome from Pythona, but that’s about as close as we get. I’m sure I’m forgetting some obscure scene in a Marvel or IDW comic somewhere (and am definitely forgetting anything that happened in a Devil’s Due comic), but I implore you to let me hold onto my ignorance. I do not care.
So, while the Crimson Guard are one of the more frightening and realistic elements of GI Joe, their concept doesn’t really translate well into action figures. Ever since I’ve been reading GI Joe websites and forums, fans have been stating that the Crimson Guard’s uniforms are “ceremonial” and “not combat ready.”
I suppose I agree with that assessment, but how many kids really cared about that? I’m guessing that the average 10 year old in 1985 saw a cool looking toy that was labelled as a “Cobra Elite Trooper” and just used them as tougher versions of the regular Cobra soldiers. Like a miniboss the Joes had to fight before they got to Destro, Zartan, or the Baroness.
That’s certainly how I used my childhood Crimson Guard Commander. I didn’t give much consideration to infiltrating polite American society and other nefarious, real-world schemes. My CGC was just an especially cool and tough Cobra soldier.
The original CG’s file card states both “The Crimson Guard are the elite shock troops of the COBRA Legions” and “Crimson Guardsmen are too precious to be wasted on the conventional battle field,” which leads to a conundrum– if you’re taking the file card seriously, how do you use these guys, especially if you got hung up on their ‘dress uniform?’
Hasbro answered that question in 1991 with the Crimson Guard Immortal, a new CG decked out in heavy body armor. Even though the file card doesn’t say so, there’s no question that this elite trooper was meant for the “conventional battle field.”
For the persnickety kids who couldn’t bring themselves to play out suburban drama, courtroom intrigue, or traditional firefights with their Crimson Guardsmen, the CGI brought something new to the table. Sure, any given Crimson Guard Immortal might be a personal injury lawyer or Monsanto lobbyist, but they could also put on some crazy sci-fi armor, strap on their impractical high tech weaponry, and give GI Joe more trouble than even a gigantic stack of HOA violation letters could.
In 1991, the Crimson Guard Immortal was the most fearsome and intimidating looking trooper in the entire Cobra army. I could not imagine any kid not loving this action figure. Even older Joe fans who “hated the 90s” seemed to like the CGI, even if his weapons “were total garbage.”
In 1991, I would have loved this figure, too. Unfortunately, I never had the figure as a kid. And, in fact, I bought a Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal long before I ever acquired a Hasbro version. After 1993’s Crimson Guard Commander, the Funskool CGI was probably the next Crimson Guardsman I ever owned.
Let’s see how the Funskool GI Joe Crimson Guard Immortal holds up today, and how he holds up against his Hasbro counterpart.
Funskool GI Joe Crimson Guard Immortal Review
First, a song to set the mood:
The Crimson Guard is a huge part of GI Joe. When you think of Cobra, they’re one of the first entities you think of. In the original ARAH line, they are tied with Vipers for the most-represented Cobra troop type. There’s the 1985 original release, the decidedly non-crimson 1989 Python Crimson Guard, the 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal, and the 1993 Crimson Guard Commander. So there was a Crimson Guard (and Viper) available for kids during every “era” of the original GI Joe run.
The Crimson Guard Immortal is a much more direct update of the Crimson Guard than either the Python or Commander figures are. The base red color is much the same, the helmet shows similar influences, and the figure just seems like a natural evolution.
It’s no wonder, then, that Funskool used the Crimson Guard Immortal as their one action figure release to represent the CGs.
This carded copy of the figure was released in 2001. Here’s the card:
And card back:
The Funskool file card seems identical to the Hasbro release, which is somewhat unusual for a Funskool GI Joe figure. But even though I’d love to see some trademark Funskool charm inserted into the file card, just copying the whole thing as-is was perfectly fine.
I also tried to take a photo of the instructions printed on the card, but I did a shitty job of opening it. Oh well! They are exactly the same as the Hasbro instructions, which you can see here.
Here’s the figure:
The Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal is pretty similar to the Hasbro release. You’ll notice some differences right away, though. The first thing that stands out is the gold paint on the figure’s helmet, which the domestic release lacks. Next, you’ll notice the silver paint on his shin guards and the gold/silver paint on the knife sheathed on his leg. He also lacks the insignia the Hasbro figure has on his left arm, and is missing the silver paint on the shoulders, as well.
So, it’s a different look but it fits in flawlessly with the Hasbro CGI. Funskool didn’t get wacky with this one, but they did put their own little spin on it. Those are my favorite kinds of Funskool figures.
Here’s the Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal with a Hasbro 91 CGI and the 2003 CGI, released in 2003 as a driver for the Cobra CAT II vehicle:
These figures all work beautifully together and give you some variety in your Crimson Guard ranks. The CGI is one Funskool figure that integrates very nicely with a Hasbro collection, display, or photograph. Of course I don’t mind mixing them even if the match isn’t this good, but I think the Funskool CGI would please even the most uppity Joe fans (and believe me, there are plenty. Just check Battle Armor Dad’s Twitter replies).
The Funskool CGI isn’t perfect, though. As much as I love Funskool figures, they sometimes trend towards sloppy paint applications. Here are my two Funskool Crimson Guard Immortals, and you can see that they each have a bit of slop, but the one on the right is particularly notable:
The gold paint on the helmet seems particularly prone to being applied in a haphazard manner. This isn’t a dealbreaker for me, but it’s something you’ll want to be aware of if you’re buying one. I love both of my gold-helmeted children.
Next, we come to the accessories, which is where Funskool really branched off from Hasbro colors:
The Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal comes with one grey combination machine gun and missile launcher, one grey double missile launcher, a black ammo belt, six yellow missiles, and an orange backpack that holds three missiles. It’s quite a lot of stuff!
Here are some comparisons with the Hasbro figure’s gear. The domestic CGI’s weapons, missiles, and backpack were all molded in black plastic.
Personally, I think the Funskool CGI’s gear is pretty fun. The grey looks fine for the weapons and I quite like the yellow missiles. The orange backpack is kinda iffy, as it doesn’t match anything else on the figure, but it doesn’t really hurt anything, either. You can often find loose Funskool CGI accessories on eBay, so I’ve bought quite a few of those yellow missiles to augment my incomplete Hasbro versions. The yellow just looks nice with the figure’s red and silver color scheme.
The gear, though, is where a lot of people have a problem with the Crimson Guard Immortal. Even back when this was considered “one of the few good 90s figures,” most collectors didn’t really like his accessories. They are impractical, I suppose. His machine gun would run out of ammo in about 10 seconds, and he’d probably be constantly burned by missile exhaust.
I do think they look quite cool with the toy, though. Here’s the figure All Geared Up:
My one real problem with the gear is the ammo belt. The Funskool ammo belt is made of a much stiffer material than the Hasbro ammo belt so, when you attach it to the leg and the gun, the figure’s leg and arm are both completely restricted by it. On a shelf, that’s probably fine. But if you want to pose and play with the figure, it’s going to be a problem.
My one other problem isn’t with the figure itself, but with the marketing copy on the packaging. Saying the figure’s “weapon really shoots” is pretty misleading. You can kind of flick or press the missiles from the rear of the launcher, and they’ll plop out and hit the ground. If you compare these weapons to the spring loaded launchers on other 1991 based figures like the BAT, Sci-Fi, Red Star, Heavy Duty, and Mercer, they really don’t shoot at all.
This isn’t really a problem, though. Older figures like Backblast and Rampart just came with missile accessories you loaded into their weapons and moved yourself. The play value was there and the accessories looked much better– having these weak “flick fire” missiles is a weak half measure. But, if you want to view these as successors to figures like Rampart and Backblast, they’re great. They just don’t “really shoot.”
I think the Crimson Guard Immortal has one of the coolest designs in the ARAH GI Joe line. The helmet and body armor are menacing, the colors are good, and he looks like he could easily take some real punishment before going down.
The gear holds him back in some ways (even though I still like it), but he can be equipped with other weapons, which brings me to another point– because the handles on his weapons are so thin, this figure’s grip is tight. When using the figure with his own gear, I’d be more afraid of breaking a weapon handle than breaking a thumb. But, if I’m using him with other gear, thumb breakage is a concern. I recommend using older 80s accessories if you can. The original Crimson Guard’s rifle works nicely, as do the old AK-47s from the various Battle Gear accessory packs.
I see the Crimson Guard Immortal just like his tagline describes him– an elite Cobra trooper. These are the CGs who like storming fortresses and kicking in heads more than they like writing evil legislation. They also make good bodyguards for Cobra Commander, as the file card suggests, but I think they’d be by his side in the field instead of in the throne room.
I really like the coloration on the Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal and think it’s just as good as, if not better than, its Hasbro counterpart. The silver and gold on the knife look really good, in particular.
Because the 91 Hasbro CGI is so expensive, especially complete, these Funskool figures make a good substitute. It can also function as a squad leader for your Hasbro Immortals. Or, since the Funskool version is still probably cheaper, they can be troops to back your Hasbro squad leader. As you can see in my photos, I use the 2003 version as the squad leader and have both two Funskools and two Hasbros as his troops. They look really nice together.
This is probably my second favorite Crimson Guard figure. The Crimson Guard Commander will always be #1 to me, this one comes close. The original CG is a classic, the Python Patrol version is a fun novelty, and the 00s Hasbro figures with removable helmets are good for what they are, but I think the Immortal edges them out. Plus, Crimson Guard Immortal– just say it out loud. Isn’t it the coolest name ever?
Overall: This is a fantastic GI Joe figure. The Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal is every bit as good as the Hasbro version (with some quirks) and is still probably cheaper to obtain, even with rising Funskool prices. The figure is different enough from the original to be unique, but still fits in perfectly with your Hasbro Crimson Guard. And, most importantly, he just looks cool. Highly Recommended.
- Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal at Forgotten Figures
- Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal Around the Web at Forgotten Figures
- Funskool Crimson Guard Immortal at YoJoe
Funskool GI Joe Crimson Guard Immortal Closing Thoughts
Thanks for reading! It’s always a delight to do another Funskool review, especially when I get to open a carded figure and RUIN IT FOREVER.
If you had Crimson Guard figures as a kid, how did you use them? How do you see the Crimson Guard now? And how does the Crimson Guard Immortal fit in? Let me know in the comments!
9 thoughts on “Funskool GI Joe Crimson Guard Immortal (2001) Review”
This figure debuted in July 2021…nearly 20 years ago. Collectors of the time fawned over the info of his release and first carded images. Lots of guys said they’d buy 50…and some did. Dealers were ready and they were around for a good long time at $4 each. But, as Hasbro started pumping out army builders with more frequency, this guy took a back seat to retail releases and kind of disappeared from dios and photos of the time.
Some fun production notes. There are three variants of the figure where the ammo on his left leg can be black, silver or gold. In 2001, silver and gold were equal. But, later production runs were all gold and the silver’s kind of tough to find. In 2001, Funskool quality was its lowest. In April of 2003, Hasbro told Funskool to up the quality (right before they took back 22 molds, including the CGI!). So, if you can find CGI’s made after April of 2003 (the manufacture date is on the back of the package), they have better paint and construction. There’s a ton of bagged overstock that dealers got ahold of in 2004 that includes these better CGI’s with no gear, but were sold for $1 each. But, those are mostly gone, now.
The reason this figure remains cheap while other Funskools of the same era are getting pricey is because so many collectors and dealers bought them in bulk. At the time, dealers used to order around 300 of each new figure. It would sell through and maybe they’d get a few more. (Funskool sold their figures in solid cases of either 22 or 24 figures.) For figures like the CGI, dealers ordered way more than that to keep up with demand. And, many collectors bought extras they either kept carded or simply intended to open, but never did. Those have stayed in the market, keeping CGI prices down, even without a Russian release.
As figures, the Funskool CGI’s are pretty solid. The red is darker which makes them harder to stand next to American CG’s and CGI’s. But, that’s not a deal breaker. Marauder weapons being available gave those who didn’t care for the original gear an option to substitute it cheaply. I’ve got a small army of them and have gotten them out for a few photos as I’ve got a 20th Anniversary profile of them dropping in July. But, really, when I started that project, I discovered that I’d actually taken very few photos of these guys since 2001. I’ll have to rectify that a bit more in coming weeks.
This was a great perspective on the CGI that completely differs from my experience with the figure. I’ve always seen him as a collector and, in that vein, view him differently than someone who got him at a different stage of their collecting life than I. I was always surrounded by others who were in my same boat in 2001. So, seeing this figure through a different lens shows that it can be appreciated in very different ways.
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Thanks for leaving a comment, Mike! And thanks for all the extra info you dropped here and on Twitter. I am very bad at discussing variants, but I’m glad you and a couple other folks always show up to drop some knowledge in the comment section. Thanks for the kind words, too.
As I said on Twitter, I re-read your Funskool CGI profile on the day I published this. I think it was your review and Justin Bell’s old review of the Hasbro version (pre-GeneralsJoes, I think) that kind of first made me aware people didn’t like the weapons. But then I saw that sentiment on all the forums too, and it kind of influenced me to think that I didn’t like the figure’s weapons, either. Once I actually got one, though, I changed my mind. They’re unique and they’re pretty fun.
Marauder was such a godsend in the beginning. They’re still awesome, of course, but they were a huge help in the days before we all somehow accumulated piles of extra Joe accessories. I kind of want to do a post about them in the early days sometime.
Back to Masters Thesis length reviews. LOL.
I think the Crimson Guard file card (and comic book usage) was Larry Hama trying to write a realism check that the toy line couldn’t cash (to explain why red uniformed guards would exist in a modern world). Hama trying to make Cobra believable as the toy line got more outlandish eventually sort of backfired. He did his best for the most part, but the comic still existed to promote the current toys. Readers blamed Hama but he was just doing his best for the most part (once Special Missions ended, new toys mostly took a backseat because they were already too many characters), or they blame Hasbro but Hasbro was just trying to make appealing toys for fickle kids in a changing market (or GI JOE wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did). Anyway, it’s not a blame game, just what happened.
I won’t let you hold onto your ignorance (at least for the cartoon). CG’s were a default Cobra troop in a few Sunbow episodes, like “Cobra’s Candidate” and “The Gods Below”, though those arguably were not outright combat missions. To be fair to the toon writers, undercover CG’s were used a few times: “The Greenhouse Effect”, “Captives of Cobra” and briefly in “Primordial Plot”. CG’s were often base security on the toon, like Cobra Officers.
Aren’t the hands soft on your Funskool CGI’s? Mine were. Funskool CGI’s were really popular from online sellers in the early 2000’s. So much I probably got other figures because they were sold out. Their popularity may have led me to get Funskool TARGATS or Toxo Vipers. I eventually got a pair of CGI’s, though. One’s head had a slight deformity. But otherwise, decent.
Yeah, their weapons were not the best. The tube launchers were okay, the gun aspect is lame looking, Just shoot it from the hip! I mean, he can’t much aim the thing.
(Part where I blame Hasbro and/or collector’s club for not getting more use of the CGI mold besides a pack in with a $20 vehicle. Blah, blah, real shame…)
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Thanks for the knowledge. I GUESS
But seriously, thanks for always leaving such good comments, even if you destroy my willful ignorance. You’re right about Hama in the comics– and, honestly, the CGs are one of the most interesting things in the Marvel run. The concept just doesn’t necessarily lend itself to military action dolls for boys ages 7-12.
The hands on my Funskool CGIs don’t seem super soft, no. They are more pliable than my Hasbro versions but I’m still pretty careful with them.
What else would you have liked to see Hasbro do with the mold? I think the blue CAT II version is pretty cool, honestly. It’s more interesting than a Shadow Guard version would have been. Though maybe Python colors would be fun– or some CGIs with slightly updated paint schemes could have been used in the Imperial Procession set instead of the Battle Armor Range Commaders.
I like the CAT 2 CGI version, enough that I got 2 of them off Ebay, from IIRC, the ViolentFX guy when he was selling off his stuff. (My figs were net famous!). The figure was really better than the tank, actually. I haven’t dug my CAT 2 out in years. I’d have gotten more if they were easier to acquire.
If the regular CG’s are merely dress uniforms, than the Shadow Guard should’ve been CGI’s (Then that argument would apply to the Crimson Sabotage Set, as well). I dunno about the Imperial Guards, they are such an oddity that I like and dislike at the same time. (It’s interesting that some test shots used Range Viper arms instead of Armored CC arms).
The CGI is a nice figure, because it’s an update on an earlier character, without being too different, nor just a straight re-hash. It’s also from the best year in terms of sculpting, 1991, so it’s an excellent figure all around.
I like the paint apps on the Funskool version, quite a bit. Sure they’re often sloppy, but they raise the figure up a few notches, without falling into the G.I. Joe club trap of painting every stupid little detail on a figure.
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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, my friend! I’m glad we agree on how good 1991 was for GI Joe. I also really like the paint scheme on these guys– I think it was one of the most inspired deco changes Funskool ever did. And they did a lot of cool deco changes.
I love these pictures, especially the interrogation scene and the clever use of the gyrocopter. The old-school blue and red AP weapons work really nicely with the red and blue CGIs. The angle on the picture of CC almost makes it look like he’s pointing with this index figure, which is perfect. And I’d never thought of pairing CGs with the Imp but it works great!
I’ve never had a Funskook CGI, but the original CGI was my childhood CG. I had mixed feelings about his accessories becuase of the flick-fire missiles. I distinctly recall being disappointed as the 1991s moved from wave 1 to wave 2, and their accessories relied more and more on shooting weapons. That upset me much more than the neon colors people complain about. The CGI’s accessories were still ok, but even as a kid I looked back on them as the precipice of this silppery slope.
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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! And thank you for your kind words. I wish that gyrocopter had a normal wind-up dial instead of pull-back wheels so I could have captured the rotor blades spinning, too. But it was not to be.
It’s awesome to hear from someone that actually had this toy as a kid and used it as their default Crimson Guard. I actually like all of the 91 spring-loaded launchers, since they are all thoughtfully designed and make sense for the characters. Some of the 92 ones were okay-to-good,, as well. But once every figure came with a generic launcher that made no sense for them, I lost interest in spring-loaded missiles as a kid. 94 did a better job than 93 in that regard, but I think the damage was already done.
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