Issue #49 tells the birth of Serpentor-- it involves tons of characters, has cover showing grave robbing, and when it's all said and done you feel like you missed some backstory. With so many figures in the issue as possible options to include in this set, Serpentor was a must-include, but the other two had minor roles and it could have been anybody.
It's a good set, and the first Firefly since 1984 to actually look like that original release. It's a good mix of Cobra troops and it helps balance out the total lack of them from earlier in the line.
Serpentor and Firefly have been made a lot lately, but Scrap Iron hasn't really seen a lot of time in the spotlight. As such this set is a real mixed bag, but it's like a bag of mixed nuts where all the nuts are OK and you don't much feel like spitting anything out.
Serpentor is a character that, to some, was the dawning of a new era for the line, and not necessarily a better one. Like Skeletor or Darth Vader, Cobra Commander was a top dog villain and arguably one of the reasons to follow the show, and this guy comes in basically to kick him out and restore competent leadership to the organization. It really says something when you and your fellow terrorists say "our leader's an idiot, so let's go grave robbing, combine some DNA, and clone us a new one." While this doesn't have the accessories of the 1986 version, it's not bad-- not bad, that is, for what it's supposed to be.
The removable gear shows a nifty, angry original head sculpt. He's supposed to be a Cobra Emperor, and courtesy of him dressing like a snake and also like royalty, this is easy to do. The yellow paint on this figure, in a word, sucks. It's the low point on the Cobra Commander figure from this line because it's nicked and scratched prior to purchase, and odds are will come right off if it's subjected to any real play. As such, be careful with this one. The snake head is a snug fit, and the "hood" behind his head plugs into the hole in his back (see pics under Accessories.) There are lots of details, some of which we initially found confusing-- like the white marks on his left hand. "What is this crap?" asked one staffer. Upon further observation, it's a snake head with fangs. Older versions of Serpentor had this unique snakelike deco as well, and it works for the character. Sure, it's goofy, but without this kind of nonsense the line would take itself far too seriously at this point. One thing that's notable is that the new head doesn't have any snakelike facial ticks, like eyes or teeth, as you see in the comic. Interesting choices.
Scrap Iron is a Cobra weapons designer and has a limited role in the comic included with this set. His head is odd, and looks vaguely like Howard Stern in a big helmet. The coloring is sharp, the sculpt is solid, but the quality is low. Ours was assembled poorly, with "flash" (excess plastic) on the inside of the leg so there was a gap between pieces of the lower extremeties-- we had to unscrew parts, carve out some pieces, and attempt to reshape it to fit properly and got only mixed results. Also, the right foot on our sample was deformed around the toes, and since this is blocked by the packaging we have no idea if this defect is shared by all releases from this set or we just got "lucky." As such, we advise caution when buying these sets and if you can look for defects, you should. The sculpt is nearly 20 years old and actually holds up pretty well, so don't miss this one if you can find a good sample.
Figure #3 in this pack is Firefly, who at press time has been made 12 times, eight of which are based on this very mold-- this is the first one of those eight to have a new head. This one is based heavily on the original version which was, of course, the basis of the comic version. He has a Cobra logo on his arm and all the old accessories (see below), making it a potentially acceptable substitute for the once-pricey original from 1984. Firefly fans will undoubtedly be pleased, but collectors are probably groaning and going "What? Another Firefly??" We're on the fence- we like the figure but, obiously, it's been repainted a lot. Of the eight times this body has been used, seven were after 2000. So it's a bit of a glut.
It's a mixed, but appropriate, bag. Aside from the weapons, Serpentor has a number of removable parts.
As far as weapons go, you get all the weapons the original Firefly had-- the backpack and its cover, the walkie-talkie, and the gun. None of Scrap Iron's original accessories exist here, but the new ones are mostly pretty good-- the rifles are nice, but the giant gun is a bit much. Finally, there's Serpentor's knife-- same old mold, now in black.
Serpentor's goodies are more or less the same as the old ones, and these include a "backpack" hood, a snake head helmet, and a cloth cape. The cape feels frail and likely to unravel, so we'd once again like you to know you should be careful with it. The accessories for this set are pretty good but nothing here will make you go "WOW!" It's just a good mix for the figures.
Unlike the first series of figures, the second series of G.I. Joe Comic Book Figure Packs has updated its artwork to look more contemporary, and not like the figures in the actual book. While disappointing, it's understandable as it makes them blend in with the figures elsewhere on the shelves. And since collectors will buy them anyway, they have to look good for the kids.
Above, you can see the front and back of the package and the filecards. The new style art looks good, but doesn't really evoke the "primative" look that the comic books themselves carry. The facial expressions are good, and the art is very appropriate for the figures aside from some coloring issues on Serpentor which make him look more like his 2001 release. Thumbs-up!
While not shown, this set is worth five Battle Points.
Also included is a reprint of G.I. Joe issue #49. In it, the Joes go to Springfield, Serpentor is born, and a whole bunch of crap goes down. It's obviously a big transitional issue, but the real question here is why don't any of the figures from this set appear on the cover? It is unfortunate, but these things happen.
The art is good for the era, but nothing here is mind-blowing, nor does anything here jump out as being really cool. It's an acceptable issue but it also took the line in a new direction which not all fans would appreciate.
OK comic, OK figures, OK accessories. We honestly were not enamored by this pack despite its being only the second comic set that's all Cobra characters. The quality was low-- the lowest we've seen-- and the selection wasn't as exciting as it could have been. They could just as easily have tossed Zartan in here, or a new civilian were they inclined to do new sculpts. It isn't a bad set, but as far as this line goes, it's the worst.
For $10, it's good-- I mean, it'll cost you much more than that to get an original Firefly and the new head is good here. If you like any one of the three figures, it's probably worth tracking down because rumor has it this last wave of sets will be a short run and they're also all Cobra guys, which means they're cool. If you see it, we think it's worth picking up-- but buy the ninja set first.
Text and photos by Adam Pawlus
Review posted on March 17 2005
Sample purchased in February 2005 from a Wal-Mart in Phoenix, AZ for about $9.84