G.I. Joe Kre-O - Mini Figures Series 1
I didn't want to get interested in this line, I really didn't. I'm one of those wacky kids who never really had a vested interest in building blocks. I wanted to open my toys and play with them, not spend hours building something, tearing it down, and building something else. Yes, this is G.I. Joe, and I'm a G.I. Joe fanatic, but I figured I'd pick up a couple of these then move on to something else.
Boy was I wrong.
It started off slow... I grabbed a Checkpoint Alpha. It was cheap, and I really liked the looks of Firefly. But you know, it quickly spiraled out of control. I'll cover the Checkpoint Alpha himself at some other point, but for this review I wanted to focus on the mini figures themselves. From what we're hearing, these guys are in pretty hot demand, selling out at Toys "R" Us pretty regularly from what Joe fans across the country are seeing. Sold in "blind bags" (but with convenient printed codes on the back of bags...you can see the code list right here) these single mini figures are unique and very cool.
Following the Lego template, the bodies are pretty generic, with decal decoration and different paint apps separating the characters. Hair pieces, soft goods, and accessories also play a role in defining who these characters are, and manage to do it exceptionally well. For this review I don't want to break down each individual figure piece-by-piece...I'm not sure the differences are worth breaking things down that specifically.
That being said, I do want to talk about these figures and the design concepts as a whole.
Hasbro chose some pretty eclectic characters, going deep into the vaults for characters like Ninja Viper and the Adventure Team Commander, but also getting Scarlett and Rock n Roll out there nice and early, too. I think what Hasbro has done here is really unique. They've added a level of customization potential to some of these figures in a really cool way.
Rock n Roll especially strikes me, as he as a pretty decent generic Original 13 template underneath, so if you remove the crossed ammunition belts, the body is very flexible for other potential figures:
This makes Grunt a very easy addition to the team almost right off the bat.
Other neat elements are the Easter Eggs thrown into the line in various places. Quick Kick comes with a Fudgee Bar (homage to the Sunbow animated series), while Adventure Team Commander comes with an actual fuzzy head (not to mention a normal head and a "talking" head).
You can tell the folks behind the design of these mini figures (not to mention the sets themselves) are really trying to find cool ways to make these mini figures individualized even though they use the same generic body style.
Another great thing about these blind bag mini figures is that Hasbro is using this opportunity to get some serious army builders out there. Cobra Trooper, Crimson Guard, Alley-Viper, and even Ninja Viper are pretty heavy hitters in the troop building world, and it's great that those duplicates will be easily accessible. I love that different variations of Cobra Troopers and/or Officers are present throughout the build sets, too, making troop building blue shirts pretty quick and painless.
The red beret is an addition from a Battleship figure, I just thought it looked neat
There are a few Cobra Trooper duplicates up there, but a lot of those figures are from the build sets themselves.
What I love is these Kre-On mini figures are actually more articulated than the Lego mini-figures, from what I recall. The ball joint shoulders and hips give the figures a bit better range of motion. I'm a bit mixed on the weapons they come with, with some of them looking a bit too cartoony for my liking. But Brickarms exists to solve some of those problems, and I don't want to complain too heavily there.
I think Hasbro did a really good job balancing characters, balancing specialties, and balancing ninja elements and military elements quite nicely. We have members of the original 13, we have all sorts of ninjas and martial arts specialist, and a great balance of Cobra Troopers. I can't say 100% that these will appeal to every G.I. Joe fan out there, and depending on your preferences there might not be anything you are remotely interested in.
That being said, I would have thought my own tastes went that way. I didn't have any previous desire or interest to see something like this, and I was extremely impressed by the quality, design, and just flat out fun aspects of these toys. That's right, fun. Toys can be fun, who would have thought it? I'm amazed that Hasbro is able to make some of these figures serious, threatening, and a load of simple fun all at the same time. All the while, pulling in some great vintage homages and interesting Easter Eggs. I'm finding it really tough to find fault with much of these. But obviously your tastes may vary.
If you find yourself even remotely interested in these figures or these sets, I strongly recommend scooping some of these up. The quality is great, the figures are a blast, and the build sets are surprisingly exciting as well. Don't overlook these.