Issue #6 came out as part of the third assortment of Comic Joes, this time around focusing on several characters that rarely saw plastic or screen time with the infamous Oktober Guard. Daina is a rarely seen female character, Colonel Brekhov leads the five-member team as seen in issues #6 and #7 of the old Marvel run, and Shrage is just kind of a good soldier-type guy. It's an easy set to like.
The story has Cobra Commander playing the Joes against the Oktober Guard over some fancy new antigravity craziness. Unfortunately, a lot of the designs for vehicles in these early books had no connection to the toy line so it's not like you can have Cobra steal their original plans for the H.I.S.S. or anything cool like that.
While the bulk of the comic book line of G.I. Joe has focused on the real American heroes, now we're going to look at the Soviet Union's crack team of commandos.
Daina is the highlight of the set, and was sort of released before as "Volga" in the Kenner line that for most fans is a dark memory. Her old file card had her official name as "Daina," and was written by Joe genius and the world's #1 Oktober Guard fan Thomas Wheeler. While we have not heard of fan involvement on these sets, it is good to know that not only did fans request this figure, they had a hand in sort of bringing her out the first time.
The head is good, and brand new. While her hat is a little small, and her jacket colors are just a wee bit off from the comic, she still looks good. I mean, she has a big fur hat with a red star on it-- I want a hat like that.
Some photos online have surfaced comparing Lady Jaye, the body from which Daina was derived, with Daina-- and Daina is a little bit smaller. Why this is, or if it's an illusion, we do not know. (Our entire 1980's Joe collection can fit in a small box.)
Next up is Colonel Brekhov, a repainted Red Star with a new head. The Colonel looks a lot younger than his comic counterpart who just happens to be perpetually smoking a cig, a detail absent on the figure. For obvious reasons. His head is a little small for his body, and another figure that uses the same body-- Stormavik-- doesn't seem to have the problem. The figure's paint job is simple and it works, it looks like it came from the 1980's with its total absence of paint wipes or battle damage, but the head is painted with whites around the eyes to let you know that this figure was made in the 21st century.
Finally, there's Shrage, which basically will remind fans of a doughboy head on Big Ben's body. In the comic included with this set, the soldier is a little thinner, and the figure is fairly bulky-- not fat, or chunky, just heavily padded. While this body worked well for the Arctic-friendly Kwinn (Pack #2) and it just happened to really suit Rock 'N Roll (see Pack #8's review), we cannot honestly say it was the best fit here. Sure, it looks right in terms of the costume, but the proportions could be a little better.
Odds are kids that understand what these are may not want them-- which is just as well, as the word on the street is that Hasbro is limiting this assortment more than previous waves of this highly collectible series.
Starting with this wave, Hasbro cut back on the guns a little. Thankfully, this set was not the harshest cut.
As we don't know guns, we can but describe them to you in our fairly ignorant way, which makes us oh so charming. You get a tommygun looking thing, a backpack, a knife, a pistol, and five rifles-- three of which are identical. All in all, a good mix, and more than enough to keep the Oktober Guard safe from any harm which does not involve dismemberment by small screwdriver.
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.
What's neat about this set is the red star file cards to designate the Oktober Guard. This means this line has a whopping three distinct factions, and aside from the Lunatrix Empire, the old line really only had two over its entire twelve year run. This added variety in the line makes it all the more interesting, but it also means that the Oktober Guard now has more members than Cobra. And we can't have that.
While not shown, this set is worth five Battle Points.
Also included is a reprint of G.I. Joe issue #6. In it, the Oktober Guard is introduced to the world as a new nemesis for Team Joe, because apparently Cobra and the forces of terror weren't enough-- now it's time to work in the Cold War.
"Amerikanski fools! The Oktober Guard will teach you the error of your capitalist ways!" Pure genius. This is the kind of dialogue that will make you really love the fact that you were smart enough to buy this set. It's truly wonderful.
The cover really says it all-- Cobra Commander has the two elite teams of commandos in his sights and he's got something big planned. Colonel Brekhov can be seen on the cover smoking, while Stalker looks like he's really not paying any attention. It's a nice way to introduce both teams, and better still to remind fans that Hasbro hasn't cranked out all these guys in this new line based on what can loosely be termed literature.
Three good choices. While Daina has technically seen plastic in one form before, as has Brekhov, this is the second first-ever appearance of Shrage in plastic. And who doesn't love the reds?
Since most fans totally skipped Kenner's line of Joes due to the low quality of many of the items, this may be your first chance to get a set of figures named after the infamous and popular Oktober Guard. Nothing about this team will really wow you, but the portrayal of a commando unit from a completely different culture is both though-provoking-- after all, they're defending a way of life they believe in-- and downright funny. As most differences in cultures are. The figures are certainly something different, and as such worth a look.
If you've been collecting these, get this. If you haven't, this issue and issue #7 are a fantastic place to start.
Text and photos by Adam Pawlus
Review posted on February 26 2005
Sample purchased in January 2005 from a Toys "R" Us in Scottsdale, AZ for $9.99