Hi everyone. It’s been a bit since I’ve written something, so I thought I’d do something easy. Of course whenever I set out to do something easy, it always ends up being a ton of work and taking way longer than I anticipated.
I’m kind of in the process of selling my Modern Era GI Joe collection, so I thought I’d spend some more time with them before they go. That’s where I got the idea for this post. I also thought that maybe if I spent some more time with them then I’d want to keep them. That didn’t end up being the case. I did not have fun taking photos and posing figures for this post.
Still, I have to give Modern Era GI Joe figures some credit. Despite being fussy and fiddly, they are important to me. When the 25th Anniversary line hit in 2007, those figures ended up getting me back into GI Joe in a big way. I still loved my o-ring-style figures and never sold them off or got rid of them, but the 25th Anniversary line made me feel like a kid again. Over the years of collecting Modern Era Joe stuff, though, I realized the modern style’s limitations and turned back to o-ring figures.
As my friend RTG of Attica Gazette once said, “they’re generally good action figures, but they’re not generally good GI Joes.” And I agree. Despite the enhanced articulation, the range of motion is often bad. Accessories fall off and fall out of hands easily. You can’t just plunk them down on the table and expect them to stand up.
But still, they have their good points. And in this post I’m going to talk about 5 figures I’ll probably keep even when the rest make their way into someone else’s collection.
Honorable Mention – 2012 Dollar General Exclusive Line
The 212 Dollar General Exclusive GI Joe line was generally cheap and lazy. Yet it still gave us some figures we never would have otherwise seen in GI Joe’s Modern Era.
I absolutely love that we got figures that homage 91 Snake Eyes and 92 Storm Shadow. If those figures were better and had some real thought put into them, they might make the actual top 5. I still like them a lot, but they are pretty bare bones.
I also really enjoy that we got two versions of Shipwreck in his Devil’s Due look. It’s a great look for our favorite sailor that makes him suitable for more situations. He also came with a cool breathing mask/air tank accessory that really helped him stand out in a line where most figures came with just a weapon.
This line also gave me a Modern Era T’Gin-Zu, which I will always appreciate.
First Runner Up – 2007 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes v28
Many of the early 25th Anniversary figures had awkward proportions, ugly joint cuts, and bad articulation. They couldn’t even bend their elbows properly. The first 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes had none of those problems.
This was the best figure in the early line. He came with web gear to hold an extra knife and pistol, as well as his iconic uzi and demolitions purse. He also had a sword for good measure. Of the two early Snake Eyes looks, this is by far my favorite. I just love his classic Commando uniform, and this figure nails the sculpt and adds some much-needed color.
Also, the articulation actually does what it’s supposed to. His elbows and knees bend all the way, he can hold all of his accessories, and he’s easy to both stand and pose. He nails both fashion and function, even if he’s not as flashy as the 40 billion other Modern Era Snake Eyes toys that came after him.
The body mold worked well for Stalker, too.
Second Runner Up – 2009 Rise of Cobra Wallace “Ripcord” Weems v2
If you know me, you know I love power armor, removable helmets, and weird science fiction stuff. This figure delivers on all of those fronts. Casting a black man as a relative nobody like Ripcord also made certain awful people very angry, which I will always find hilarious.
The sculpt and paint on this figure are incredible. The Marlon Wayans likeness is also pretty good. The figure is also sturdy and moves quite nicely. I love the overall look of the figure.
The two-piece helmet allows for a few different configurations, and the figure holds a weapon quite nicely. The power armor scene in Rise of Cobra itself was somewhat entertaining, but also not great. The rest of the movie wasn’t all that much better, either. So I don’t love this figure because of its media appearance– I love it because it looks cool and it’s fun to play with.
This figure also holds some serious nostalgia value for me, just because of how heated the online Joe community got over Wayans playing Ripcord. It was a funny time. And, in hindsight, Wayans was the least of that movie’s problems.
#5 – 2013 Retaliation Cobra Commander v53
There were way too many versions of Cobra Commander released in the Modern Era of GI Joe. Many of them had this exact look. This figure used a new mold that was far less awkward and far more proportionate than what came before it, though.
The Retaliation line sneakily slipped some great “ultimate” versions of iconic characters onto store shelves towards the end. This Cobra Commander was one of them. It wasn’t based on a movie, cartoon, or comic book appearance exactly– it was just sort of the platonic ideal of Cobra Commander.
CC comes with a pistol, knife, some bombs, and a cool helicopter backpack with a nice blade-rotating gimmick. The helicopter backpack makes total sense for a born coward like CC– giving him an escape vehicle was a great touch. He also featured an alternate hooded head, so you could give him whichever look you wanted.
The shade of blue Hasbro used is also quite nice and the figure has great articulation. This is the best Modern Era Cobra Commander, as far as I’m concerned.
#4 – 2009 Rise of Cobra Agent Helix
I love getting new characters in a GI Joe toy line. Rise of Cobra gave us a few, most notably Agent Helix and Night Adder.
Helix’s sculpt and paint are incredible. You may not like the liberal use of yellow, but I sure do. Black and yellow are a great combination. Her head sculpt is also quite nice, with the two-toned hair giving her an instantly iconic look. Her outfit is maybe a little impractical, but the figure itself is very fun to look at.
Helix is basically inseparable from her two pistols, which are the weapons most people associate with her. And they’re cool little sci-fi guns, to boot. She also came with a machete, a Modern Era version of Headman’s rifle, and a multi-piece giant missile launcher. Okay, sure.
Helix is the one new character from the RoC line that’s been accepted by other Joe media. She was a main character in the very grisly ‘Silent Option’ comic, and seems to be a popular character for both photos and customs.
Plus, I think teaming her up with Retaliation Jinx and Pursuit of Cobra Quick Kick does make for a very nice silent weapons force.
Helix is a keeper.
#3 – 2013 Retaliation Blind Master v1
This is RZA as a GI Joe. Do I need to say more?
RZA is a noted fan of both martial arts films and GI Joe, so playing an important character in a GI Joe film must have been a dream come true for him. And while his acting in the movie isn’t the best thing ever, he is still a delight for every single second he’s on the screen.
The RZA likeness is really good and the figure comes with a ton of fun accessories. His staff has a hidden spear inside, his hat features fold-out blades, he has a flute and weird ominous black mask, and he comes with a flying guillotine. He also has a nine ring sword. Hasbro put some serious thought into this figure’s accessories and it’s great.
The figure isn’t much more than a statue, though– mostly because of the robes that block leg movement. But it’s an amazing looking figure with great gear that looks awesome on display. Plus, it’s RZA in GI Joe form and I’ve never wanted anything more than that.
#2 – 2013 Retaliation Kim Arashikage v3
Jinx is one of the best GI Joe characters and this is one of the best Jinx figures. She’s not outfitted in her iconic red costume, but there’s a reason for that. This figure comes from the best scene in Retaliation (or any live action Joe movie), where Jinx and Snake Eyes face off against a horde of Red Ninjas on some dangerous cliff sides. Since the Red Ninjas were wearing red, Jinx needed to wear something else.
Luckily, Jinx looks great in black and yellow. It’s a shame that every other Modern Era Jinx was locked behind a Collectors Club paywall, but at least the one available at retail was excellent. If Hasbro ever does a full o-ring wave at retail, a yellow and black Jinx absolutely needs to be among those figures. I’d take her red costume and blindfold look from later on in the film, too, honestly. Give me all of the Jinx figures is what I’m saying.
The figure has crazy articulation and is actually balanced and stable enough to use it well. She’s quite easy to pose and stand up. She also has her two swords and naginata, which are essential to the character. Beyond that, she comes with a billion other deadly weapons that fit into a cute little zipline briefcase. There’s nothing not to love here.
#1 – 2008 25th Anniversary BATs v17
A BAT is almost always a highlight of every toy line it appears in, and the 25th Anniversary BAT is my favorite Modern Era-style GI Joe figure.
The sculpt is brilliant– the head, the arms, and the clear chestplate with underlying detail are just perfect. The extra paint on the arms just makes it an even more beautiful piece. Plus, it has all of the classic BAT weapons and a removable holstered pistol that it can also use.
The articulation is perfect. Nothing is fiddly or fickle. It’s easy to get the pose you want and stand the figure. On top of that, both arms can be outfitted with the BAT’s extra hand attachments, so it can dual-wield both a flamethrower and a laser gun. It’s the classic 1986 BAT turned up to full volume.
I don’t like the figure more than either classic o-ring BAT, but I do like it more than any other Modern Era GI Joe action figure. To me, it’s a perfect action figure that is essential to my GI Joe collection.
If every other 25th Anniversary GI Joe toy disappeared tomorrow except for this one, I’d still be happy.
Thanks for joining me! Life is pretty busy right now with work, family, and the holidays. I’ll do my best to reply to comments as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience.
I haven’t been around as much lately just because I’ve been busy and mentally/emotionally exhausted. But, hopefully once we get through the holidays, I’ll resume a regular posting schedule.
Still, this has been the most productive year ever for The Dragon Fortress, which I’m pretty proud of and happy about.
Thanks to all of you for making 2021 a great year for toy-related ramblings and photos.