G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary Stalker
Even though he made very few cartoon appearances and isn't really well known outside of the comic fans, he was such a critical component of the Snake Eyes story, and an intricate member of the Joe team since day one, Stalker deserves his spot in the 25th Anniversary line up, and considering his most visible action figure version shared parts with Snake Eyes, it makes perfect sense for the updated version to do it, too. And man, does Stalker look great here. Just about perfect, in fact.
It's a little bit tough to get really fired up over a figure that reuses most of the parts from the 5-Pack Snake Eyes, but it's easy to get psyched when the result is an awesome rendition of G.I. Joe's first Army Ranger, who has been a focal point of the comic storyline ever since he first appeared.
From the neck down, Stalker uses the exact same parts as Snake Eyes, with the commando style turtleneck, basic military pants, and a nice assortment of various pouches, sheaths, and other trimming. It looked terrific on Snake Eyes, and it looks equally terrific here. A slim, proportional sculpt, the figure really works as a generic military soldier, which is exactly how Stalker should be represented, especially from his early years. The head sculpt is totally new, and it represents Stalker to a "T". It gives us a grizzled, intense military veteran with experience and attitude. Perfect for the Stalker character, simply perfect.
From a coloring perspective, Hasbro stepped a bit out of bounds at first, but quickly corrected the overly bright color scheme that original Stalker releases seemed to have. At first, he was a very, VERY bright green, which really did not mesh well with his vintage look, and thankfully that has been fixed. Now he is painted up in various darker shades of green and camouflage, and he looks terrific. I love the intricate camouflage pattern painted throughout his uniform, it all ends up looking great, and the black trim for his removable webgear, holster, boots, and other straps all contrast very nicely, too. A great looking figure, head to toe.
Speaking of the removable webgear, it works perfectly here as it did with Snake Eyes, and really finishes off the figure's look very well. Incredibly well detailed, nicely fitting, and great paint apps bring it to life and give us a version of Stalker that all of us long time comic fans can be proud of.
Since Stalker uses all of Snake Eyes' parts, he also shares some of the construction/articulation issues. Snake Eyes wasn't one of the really bad ones, but he does still have some limitations in the range of motion in his hips, which is unfortunate. The double-hinge joint knees work perfectly and are seamless in their use. Some folks have issues with the "wrinkly" skin that his hands have, and I can see why, but it honestly doesn't bother me a whole lot, and I don't really notice it. The swivel wrists work very well at the base of those hands, though. Overall, the articulation is relatively nice, with only a couple minor drawbacks.
From an accessories perspective, Stalker shares most of the gear with Snake Eyes, but not all of it. The Ranger here doesn't come with the satchel charge or the Uzi, and instead comes with a somewhat dated World War II era submachine gun. I really have no idea why that gun was chosen...it looks moderately like the gun he originally came with, but not much, and certainly not enough to warrant Stalker using it 40+ years after it was constructed. The removable pistol and knife both look great and are nicely functional. Pretty cool overall, though I don't really like that machine gun.
From day one I've been a humongous fan of the Stalker character, and I'm thrilled to see him included here. I like Stalker a lot more than I like characters like Snake Eyes, Duke, and Shipwreck, and Hasbro giving him some "street cred" is a great deal in my book. He looks awesome in this updated paint scheme, and borrowing parts from Snake Eyes does not detract in any way...besides those wrinkly hands, somewhat limited hip movement, and that bizarre weapon choice, Stalker is a great figure and one that everyone should definitely put into their collection. Just try to hold off and get the darker green version, he's a lot more appealing. ;)