General Mayhem - M.A.R.S. Invades!
G.I. Joe International Collector's Convention, 2005

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Toy name: General Mayhem - M.A.R.S. Invades
Assortment: Convention Exclusive, 2005
Price: Assorted
Availability: June, 2005

Key Features & Price Points

- 15 Figure Set w/ Filecards, accessories, and Stealth AGP- $240.00
- Steel Brigade Troopers 2-Pack - $35.00
- Steel Brigade Command 3-Pack (Dragonsky, Gung Ho, Steel Brigade Commander)- $65.00

- Steel Brigade Skyhawk 3-Pack - $35.00
- Iron Mech - $28.00

- COBRA Moray (Tiger Force Moray with COBRA Blue deck piece)- $75.00

Is it that time of year again? convention time again already? Well look at that...yeah, it is. It's the time of year that I force myself upon a several hundred ton flying hunk of metal, simply to talk about toys with others. Go figure. Funny thing is, it's more than worth it every single year.

Around this time of year we always run into the controversy of whether or not joining the Collector's Club is "worth it"...actually that debate runs year round, but it's especially pointed this time of year as new product comes to view in "members exclusive" areas and Con set prices reach levels that some folks find simply unreachable.

But to me, at least, there is one constant amongst all this debate...each and every year the G.I. Joe Collector's Club puts a hell of a lot of effort into producing these sets, and in every case so far, they've done a fantastic job. The original 12-Figure set back in 2002 was the Crimson Strike Team...a pretty simple, and let's face it, somewhat uninspired set, but one that is universally loved by Joefans pretty much everywhere. The second set, Operation: Anaconda drew pretty mixed reviews, but I really liked it, especially for the obscure mold choices like Mega-Viper, Major Storm, and a very cool frankensteined Black Dragon Leader. The Dreadnok set from last year actually helped make me a Dreadnok fan, which is pretty much impossible...however their terrific paint apps and unique mold choices won me over, regardless of what faction they belonged to.

So what about the releases this year? Good Lord, they blow everything previously right out of the water.

I am a BIG Iron Grenadier fan, so I'm sure folks can understand where at least some of my love for this set comes from. They have long since been my favorite subset (as Destro is one of my favorite COBRA's) and I honestly think every figure and every vehicle are plain terrific. From Voltar to Annihilator to Nullifier to the Razorback, there is really nothing about the Iron Grenadiers that I don't like. And guess what? There still isn't. This entire set is flat out amazing.

But as usual, I like to start out with the I'll start off with Destro. Being the Destro fan that I am, it's always important that the Iron Grenadier leader gets the respect and faithful representation that he deserves. This figure doesn't really cut it, I'm afraid.

The body mold of the Crimson Guard Immortal is fantastic, don't get me wrong...I really love it's larger than life detail...the layered armor and intricate wrinkles of the uniform. The broad torso is quite imposing. That full torso, nicely angled body armor is a terrific detail...the lined straps over the shoulder just complementing the look well. Rounded shoulder pads feed off the armor nicely and over all the very bulky 90's CGI mold looks great as always.

So what the heck is my problem? Well, this mold makes an awesome Crimson Guard just doesn't work real well as a Destro. Destro has always had a certain appearence to him...not necessarily all ceremonial, but just a certain...theme, which this figure doesn't really seem to fit. Combine that with the too-small, scrawny head choice and the figure just doesn't grab me.

One thing that this figure does exceptionally well, though, is with the color choices and paint apps. This is really where the Club excels, and it shows here. The black uniform base is a no-brainer for both Destro and the Iron Grenadiers, and the gold is a perfect touch, really blending back to the '88 version of this character perfectly. They went the extra mile and chromed the head as well, which is terrific, even though the head sculpt itself is iffy.

Along with these two colors you have a great vibrant red trim, working excellently as buckles on the chest armor and leg straps...even the grenades on the left leg look very nice. The light gray boots and boot-straps are an off color compared to the rest when thinking about the Iron Grenadiers, but I don't have any major problems with it, and it's a nice blending effect with the rest of the team.

In spite of the colors and the great mold, though, as "Destro" this figure just does not work real well. He doesn't inspire the European royalty and sophisticated excellence that previous versions have, and the weapons definitely don't help. The one major knock against the Crimson Guard Immortal in general has always been their accessories...those pathetic little rocket launchers and backpack are just terrible, and they definitely don't look any better here. The leader of the Iron Grenadiers really should maintain some level of hierarchy, but unfortunately, he remains the worst figure in the set.

Here is a perfect example of what I'm always talking about as far as the 90's molds go. Were there obnoxious colors? Absolutely. Were there dozens of pointless and useless subsets? Yup. But did these negatives seriously impact the quality of the figures themselves? No way.

I still stand by the fact that the vast majority of 90's action figure molds had some of the best detail and coolest designs as any figures in the line. Case in point: Metalhead, originally from 1994. Anyone who tries to tell me that the 90's version of this guy is the definitive version is going to have their work cut out for them, because I'm just not buying it. The ugly head and bland face sculpt...the conehead helmet...the stocky, pudgy's all substandard compared to this Battle Corps beauty. Let's face it...the major down side for the '94 Metalhead has always been color...he was pink...and pink in an evil terrorist organization just will not fly. Well, there's no pink here, and this guy's not just flying, he's soaring.

First of all, his head sculpt. Compared to the 1990 version, this is just a work of art. The mop of black hair over the nicely sculpted cybernetic/robotic eyepiece, and the intricate wrap-around headgear. It's all terrific. And man, just look at that look on his face...if that doesn't scream insanity, I don't know what does...the smile is great and the overall look on his face is just pretty perfect.

The rest of the body doesn't let up. Rather than a flat and boring torso with straps, we get some very nicely detailed battle armor, with some great depth and sculpting. The layered plating on the chest and detailed panels just look fantastic, especially with the Club applying the paint apps. The quilted tunic under the chestplate is just as nicely detailed and blends with the chest nicely, also meshing seamlessly with the rest of the body. I can't quite explain how cool it looks...almost like a rubberized kevlar, same as they might use for Batman's costume in the live action just looks great.

The rest of the figure is just as nice. Well sculpted uniform material on the legs and arms...a nice assortment of straps and wrap around armor, all fitting together great and looking nice. And the colors? Well, that might have been my only gripe about the figure back in the day, but this release completely flushes those worries right down the crapper. They're obviously working with a theme here, going for black, red, and gold on pretty much all of these figures to make them work together as a team...and it really does work well. Where there should be metal on Metalhead, we get a nice gold hue, the same shade as Destro. The uniform itself relies heavily on black as Destro does and as a result, this figure blends in not only with the Destro as he should, but also with the classic Iron Grenadiers as well.

The dark red is used sparingly on the under-tunic, but is extremely effective and brings out some great sculpting. The rest of the figure has a moderate application of grays and golds and it works to perfection, even on the boots where it might look a little funky. The gold rockets on his legs are nice, and the entire Metalhead figure is just terrific. He appears to just come with a pair of guns, but the guns are nice (even if there aren't any rocket launchers visible) and overall, this figure is a big success. I can't believe it only gets better from here!

Well I am a very big Voltar fan, even with his funky colors and out there body armor mold. But, really, this figure really makes the PERFECT Iron Grenadier general.

I always find it amazing that Hasbro has some problems finding unique, useful molds, but give the Collector's Club a year, and they pull off some completely amazing things. I can think of a wealth of purposes for the WORMS torso, and would have thought that Hasbro would work at finding that mold, but with no luck...however the club is able to find it and put it to absolute perfect use. As a Russian general, this figure just looks GREAT. During his time, Voltar was great...I loved him. But man, we've got a new IG general now, and he is pretty sweet.

First, the most hotly debated aspect about this set...the head sculpt for this figure. Does Gnawghyde work? Some folks say "no", I say "sure". The funky moustache design and angry scowl really looks like a European/Russian person disenfranchised with the system and could work well as an ex-military new Iron Grenadier. He looks mad and has a great European style facial hair style...looks very cool. But, therein lies a problem. When pics of the convention set were first shown, I was in agreement that the helmet looked pretty gaudy and would only fit in certain situations. But I was sure it was removable, so no big deal, right? Wrong. :( It would appear that the Collectors' Club found it necessary to MOUNT this helmet on the figure! Why, I have no idea, unless that was the only way to get it to fit, but regardless, the helmet is firmly stuck to my General Mayhem, and I'm pretty annoyed at that. I did run into a few people throughout the weekend who's helmet could come I'm holding out some hope that I might be able to do some prying. But I don't want to risk breaking such an expensive figure. I'll see if there's something I can do, but for now, Mayhem has perma-helmet. This seems like a gaff, but thankfully it's one of the few in regards to the figures in this set.

And, frankly, when you look at it, his head sculpt is just plain measly and pathetic compared to the rest of his body. That isn't badmouthing the head, mind you...I still like it a lot...but the WORMS body works in absolute perfection in this capacity, and the G.I. Joe Collector's Club really shows what they can do in this relatively simple, but incredible looking figure.

Of course the foundation of the figure is black, as it should be for an Iron Grenadier...the black European dress uniform is the absolute perfect compliment to the jackboot-style of the IG's, especially based on what the history of General Mayhem is as written in his filecard. But really, before we can even talk about colors, we have to talk about the fantastic level of simplistic detail in this sculpt. When you get right down to it, there isn't much elaborate or different about this figure. But really, Hasbro takes the inherent simplicity of this mold and really makes it something special. The dress uniform is exceptionally well sculpted in every wrinkle and fold of cloth...the intricate workings of the assorted medals, straps, belts, and other trimming all look terrific and work perfectly together. It's a late 80's figure, which means it's built up nicely, looking a lot beefier and more intimidating than earlier figures. Trimming and nicely embossed legs and boots just finish off the package and the figure ends up looking terrific.

And how about the colors? Let's face it...a mold is just a's often the colors that really make it shine. How would this figure look with monochrome legs? Would the torso be nearly as interesting and dramatic with darker colors only? The answer to both of these questions is resoundingly negative...the colors chosen here by the Club really make this figure shine all the more. The gold color used on the medals. the shoulder decoration and the boots is just terrific. The red used on the chest strap, leg trim and holster? Awesome. The gray boots look a tad out of place, but still tie this figure in nicely to the rest of the set and really don't detract enough to matter. From head, to toe, mold and colors, this figure is fantastic.

But there is a slight downside...his accessories. They're not bad, per se, just a little random. Metalhead comes with a couple of guns, and the General comes with a rocket launcher? Why not do it the other way around? His pistol (originally from the Air Commandos Spirit and '94 Viper) is really pretty damn cool and different...perfect for an IG General. His helmet, though? While nicely designed and reminiscent of Voltar's helmet from back in the day, it just looks kind of awkward here. It's huge and cumbersome and just doesn't work all that well. Granted, the colors are spot on perfect and it could almost work, but it just doesn't really fit the figure or have a place here, not to mention the fact that it's permenantly attached. But honestly, those are minor downsides to what is essentially a fantastic "upper-tier" figure.

Now, let's face is going to be very, very, VERY hard to top the original Iron Grenadier. VERY hard. That figure is quite simply one of my favorite army builders/troopers of all time. I don't have quite as many of them as I'd like, but it's still an awesome figure, and as soon as I heard what the Club was possibly doing, I was curious to see if they could top it.

Well, I've got to heartily report that they definitely did NOT top it...but this figure is still pretty neat.

The original Iron Grenadier is really pretty impossible to beat, and as much as I like the Night-Viper figure, this one just doesn't quite look as cool as the original Grenadier, although I am thrilled that they were able to locate the head sculpt for him.
Speaking of the head sculpt, this figure uses the original Iron Grenadier head, which single handedly makes this figure belong in that group.

Without this head sculpt, I don't think this figure really would have worked as an Iron Grenadier, but using this head, it does look the part. Moving from this head sculpt to the torso, this figure continues to really, really shine. The thick, armored tunic, straps, and shoulder pads all come together to look very cool and very Iron Grenadier-esque, which is absolutely a great thing. The well sculpted detail of these componants looks great and does fit the part of the Grenadier well.

The resemblance of the figure and the well executed simplicity of this sculpt continues on pretty nicely with the arms as well. An almost skin tight jacket/uniform looks great, and the bicep straps of ammunition break it up nicely. The elbow pads also add some flair and look great against the almost rubbery material of the uniform. But then you come to the legs, and it really kind of breaks down.

The Iron Grenadier has always been a streamlined, simplistic figure. That was part of their greatness. But here, suddenly, with these legs, you get an overly padded, busy bottom half of a figure with too much going on mold-wise and color-wise. Where this look works for the Night-Viper for some reason, it just doesn't work quite as well here. Don't get me wrong, I still love this figure and the legs aren't really bad...but they just don't do much for me with the huge spot for the rifle, and those large, almost cumbersome tanks on the left leg. The Iron Grenadier in my Joeverse is slim and lightly equipped for fast action...this figure seems almost the opposite of that...almost like an Iron Grenadier heavy shock troop of some kind. In that vein, the figure is still pretty neat, but not as neat as the original sculpt.

Still, though, the Collector's Club does some great work with this mold and just by using the same basic color pallet, make something great out of this figure. Like every other figure in this set, we start off with a basic black uniform, which is just as it should be for these Iron Grenadiers. The gold shoulder pads add some awesome life and pseudo-regal realism to the figure and the red straps add the same nice vibrance that it does in the other members of this excellent set. The gray color seems a lot more pronounced in this figure than it is in the others, and that produces a mixed result. It's funny, because it really isn't used in a lot more places on this figure than in others, but it seems that way, seeing it on the knife, elbow pads, boots, and belt...the color is somewhat bland, and makes the figure a little bit more bland because of it. The gold on the legs blends nicely with the red straps and you end up with a pretty nice assortment of colors that really spice up a pretty neat figure, even if it doesn't measure up to the original. Even though it might not be as cool as the original Iron Grenadier, though, I think it will compliment it perfectly, which is a great thing. I look forward to geting these all together for some Iron Grenadier-based group Dio action.

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you thank YOU. The G.I. Joe Collectors club alone is very quickly crossing figures off of my "to be updated" list. Everyone knows what a fan I am of the Battle Corps figures...great molds, sketchy colors, but still very fun figures all around...I would honestly have no complaints if Hasbro took almost every mold from '92/'93 on and re-released it in better colors. If you'd asked me several years ago...maybe around '97-'98 when I first became involved in the online Joe world, I could have given you a top-twenty list of figures I would KILL to see released again, in better colors. The Collector's Club alone is just knocking my list down by two's and three's. We have the Mega-Viper/Swamp Viper, '94 the Mega Marines Gung Ho and Blast Off. And here, with this figure, you grab one probably in my top three. The Battle Corps Viper is quite simply one of the coolest COBRA troops in the line...but in that purple and off-red, he was pretty much doomed to obscurity. Now we have this excellent, excellent mold in the colors that it deserves, and it delivers a fan-friggen TASTIC update to this figure, and the great thing is, I can now use it with my Iron Grenadiers, and even though it was originally a COBRA trooper, it now works perfectly in this regard.

First, let's talk about the head sculpt...this is clearly the best starting point for this figure and a great place to take a first look. While deservingly disregarded by the general public for a lack of resemblance to the typical Viper troopers, but that actually helps the case here, now belonging to the Iron Grenadiers. The sleek, angular helmet design is awesome, and I love the built-in rebreather, which also makes perfect sense for an airborne insertion trooper like these figures are meant to be. Even the shape of the goggles is terrific.

The coolness continues right down into the torso mold, which is probably just about the coolest part of this figure. The armored chest combined with the nicely sculpted control panels, sharp-angled shoulder trimming, and wrap around pouches all come together to be a terrific torso mold that is really multi-purpose and just plain awesome to look at. The arms are great as well, maintaining a sleek look, with some nice angular gloves and other cool red trim on the bicep...and the legs...the legs just have an awesome design element to them, as well. They're pretty far out there...not very realistic, and mostly technological, but the armor plating, elaborate detailing and angular shapes really bring out some cool design elements and create a figure that looks very, very cool. I especially love those big, metal boots...ah, who am I kidding? I love pretty much everything about this figure.

And of course, the colors are definitely the icing on the cake. DEFINITELY. Instead of purple and an odd red color, we get a straight up black uniform base, which is darn near perfect. He fits in with the Iron Grendiers seamlessly already, just by being black. Then we have a plethora of red...the pouches, the shoulder trim, the helmet trim/rebreather...even the leg ornamentation and pouch. This red looks PERFECT and really compliments the black. Awesome color selection. The gold only adds the perfect last touch, in all the right places...even the light gray doesn't look so bad on these big, dirt-kicking boots. Excellent, excellent update to what is already a terrific figure.

The accessories are fair...a semi-crap submachine gun and pretty cool angled knife, but nothing real special. Jinx's backpack really isn't meant for a parachute, but still looks awesome as such, and can work like that in a clutch, I think. Still, even with somewhat lackluster accessories, the Iron Anvils are all around a terrific addition to the Iron Grenadier force.

All of these figures are perfectly blended by their selection of color, late model molds and awesome Iron Grenadier logos on each and every figure...these guys all look like they really belong together, which is really great. Every year it seems the Collector's Club turns things up a notch and manages to locate some long lost molds that really make me love this G.I. Joe line...I can't even imagine what's coming up next, but I'll be excited to see it.

Below we have some other pictures of these terrific new additions to the Iron Grenadiers:

This covers the figure set for the 2005 Collector's Convention...head on over to Page Two to check out the attendee bonuses and a whole lot more pictures!

Page two

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