Modern toy companies are getting a better grip on what made the toys of the 1980s so cheap to make-- specifically, reusing parts like nobody's business. Since the original Steel Brigade was made from completely recycled parts and a new head, why not the new one?
Standing at about 4-inches tall, it's a pile of old parts-- the arms, legs, and vest is mostly the Cobra Shock Trooper, the helmet was reused from the movie's Pit Commando, and the head was used for a few figures including Resolute Beachhead. It really does go to show you what a helmet and some paint can do to make a figure into something extremely new-looking.
Deco is, to say the least, fantastic. The light blue shirt has dark blue under his arms, a light dusting of brown to dirty it up, black gloves, black and green elbow and knee pads, brown pants, black boots, and other painted bits here and there. A silver grenade helps make the bandolier pop, plus red and black additions to the green vest bring it to life. The helmet has gunmetal grey and black highlights, and overall it's an impressive paint job-- it's so far beyond the 1987 originals, it isn't even funny.
The helmet fits perfectly, and the hands are pretty great at holding the guns-- they swivel and bend, allowing him to take aim at Cobra or whatever menacing forces are on your desk. Depending on how you count, he sports about 16 points of articulation and has no problems sitting, standing, holding his weapons, or being a decent figure overall. Unlike some 3 3/4-inch figures from Hasbro, it seems the hands or limbs won't pop off even when Excessive Force is applied, I'm sure you can wiggle them out using boiling water or something but through normal play he holds together nicely-- I'd be concerned about the helmet falling off, or the bandolier being damaged over time, but this seems like a better figure for kids than most. Certainly better than Star Wars and Clone Wars in terms of being able to take rough play from a kid, although the Steel Brigade has so many weapons-- and I didn't even go into detail on those-- that a kid will most likely lose something. Heck, so will a collector-- he has too dang much gear!
If you have the means, get one-- if you stumble on it, buy it. The guns are good, the figure is fun, I love the design, and you can army-build this guy if you want. He has so many backpacks and guns that you could probably throw together a squad of similar-but-different ones, plus a Steel Brigade Delta figure was included with the new VAMP-- which, as of when I wrote this in September, I have yet to see in the wild.
Note: A packaging variation exists-- the first release was in the blue-bordered "Pursuit of Cobra" cards, it was also quickly reissued to the "30th Anniversary"-style cardbacks in/around August 2011. The figure is the same, the gear seems identical. The file card has a blank for the name, much like how the original Steel Brigade was supposed to be "you" with your name and bio information included.
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