30th Anniversary Sci-Fi
I have a relatively complicated relationship with Sci-Fi. He’s one of the few figures my brother had growing up that I really wanted in my collection. For the most part, I preferred Cobras while my brother preferred the Joes, but Sci-Fi really appealed to me for some reason. My gut instinct says that it’s because he was a laser trooper. Growing up on the cartoon, every Joe had a laser rifle, but in the more realistic toy line, almost no one did. Someone that actually had a laser weapon really appealed to me. I believe the other reason for my complicated relationship with Sci-Fi was his obnoxiously bright color scheme. I loved brightly-colored Joes of the Battle Corps era, yet my brother thought they were pretty terrible. Now, I’ll admit, some of the brightly colored figures also had terrible designs (like Muskrat), but not all of them did. Sci-Fi was a precursor to the 90s phenomenon of great design but bizarre colors. Now, after nearly 30 years, I’ve been able to add classic Sci-Fi to my collection, and I’m very happy about that. Really, the only thing that disappoints me is that he’s so hard to find. I was originally planning on snagging one for my older brother who really doesn’t collect Joes anymore. Even though he’s not as active in the brand as I am, I think he would have appreciated getting a modern version of a figure I know he really liked as a kid. However, I consider myself lucky to have gotten one for my collection let alone to find another one for him.
The 30th Anniversary Sci-Fi is a great modern recreation of his classic look, but he manages do it with a surprising amount of parts reuse. While his head, arms and lower legs are all new pieces, Sci-Fi apparently shares both his torso and upper legs with the 25th Anniversary Arctic Snake Eyes. While I doubted this when I first looked at YoJoe to make sure my assumption that the only reused part was his torso, I have to admit that they’re right. It’s amazing what a quick swap of pieces can do to a mold. That’s part of why I love this modern stuff. Rather than having to mold completely new upper legs that can’t be used for anything else, Hasbro was able to capitalize on the modular construction style and only had to create new, non-removable battery packs instead. The pouches on the 25th Arctic Snake Eyes/Snow Serpent legs were removable and I didn’t realize that. We’ve seen modular leg pieces before. For example, pre-production shots of Pursuit of Cobra Spirit showed that the pouches on that figure’s legs were modular so if Hasbro wanted to make those legs look different, all they had to do was tool up different attaching pieces as opposed to brand new legs. I just didn’t realize they were experimenting with it back during the 25th Anniversary line as well. It’s a great costcutting measure and unlike some (cough, cough—cutting articulation—cough, cough), it’s one I can get behind. After all, the original brand was built on creative reuse of existing parts, so why not try something new like this? It’s amazing how different a pair of legs can look when you swap out large pockets for a couple of battery packs. Sci-Fi also corrects one of the few flaws I find in the vintage Sci-Fi, the non-removable helmet. As a kid, I loved being able to take off Joe helmets. I thought it was a great way to change a figure from combat-ready to just hanging around the Joe Headquarters. However, Sci-Fi was wearing his RoboCop helmet all the time, and that always kind of bugged me. While I would have preferred Sci-Fi not to be wearing a cowl under the helmet, it does make sense for a high-tech laser trooper to not want to have his hair exposed. Lasers are sensitive equipment. I’m sure you’d want to limit the disruption from any sort of stray matter, including shed hair. Sci-Fi’s facial sculpt is rather bland, but it does fit with the characterization given him in his filecard. He’s a very patient man and I can see that here in his facial sculpt. This guy’s definitely not going to be the life of any party, but you canto do his job. The rest of Sci-Fi’s mold is appropriately bulky and detailed. I’m hard-pressed to find a spot on Sci-Fi that doesn’t have some sort of detailing. The mold does a great job of looking like a slightly more padded set of coveralls and I think that works perfectly for an experimental weapons trooper like Sci-Fi. The chestplate looks sharp and is incredibly well detailed. I really find myself liking the scuffs and dings that are present on it. It’s clear that Sci-Fi has worn this gear on the field at least a few times so he’s got some experience both as a soldier and as a laser trooper. All the pouches, pads and straps from Sci-Fi’s original look are still there, but as befitting improved toy-making technology, they all look much better. I’d never really known what the things on Sci-Fi’s thighs were back in the day, but now it’s really clear they’re spare battery packs. This version of Sci-Fi did a great job at taking the original look, updating it and bringing out all the details that were on the original figure that got a little lost back in the day.
Of course, Sci-Fi just wouldn’t be Sci-Fi without some bright colors. Now, don’t get me wrong, Sci-Fi is still bright, but somewhere along the line, Hasbro must have misplaced the neonizer…and that’s probably a good thing. Sci-Fi is not nearly as blindingly bright green as he used to be and I’m okay with that. He still clearly stands out in a crowd, but not quite as much as he used to. The sculpt details also get a bit more attention from the paint team than they did on the original figure. Nearly every strap gets painted in so it’s clear that his pads are strapped on rather than just suspended apparently by nothing. I do, however, wish the greens matched a bit better across the figure. The legs especially seem to be just a little duller green than the rest of the figure. I realize there are some limitations in toy manufacturing that haven’t been overcome, but can we seriously not make a figure in bright colors that matches across the board. I know a lot of DC collectors complain about Joker figures whose purple lower legs don’t match the rest of the figure, and unfortunately Sci-Fi shares that problem a bit. I really like the paint work on Sci-Fi’s chestplate. They’ve removed all the bright green on it and made it a bit more uniformly metal. I think that looks a little better than the original Sci-Fi did with the bright green stripes on his chest protector and on parts of what were clearly meant to be a continuation of his chestplate and shoulder pads.
Sci-Fi also needs a cool-looking laser trooper gear to complete his ensemble and Hasbro did a great job with his accessories. First of all, he has a pair of removable helmets. I’ve already talked about my love of removable helmets earlier, but what I really like here is that we have two different ones. The first helmet (which he’s displayed with in my collection) looks like his classic RoboCop helmet. Sci-Fi looks like he means business and looks pretty high-tech at the same time. His second helmet is an interesting variation on his original look. The Joe universe has established that using lasers can be kind of dangerous to the operators, so Sci-Fi’s helmet is now equipped with a full-face blast shield. Not only would this protect him from the blinding rays of his laser, but if he’s using it to cut through something, would also protect him from any smoke or fumes that doing so would kick up. I remember in the comics that Flash had to use his laser rifle to burn his way out of the armory (I think with Snake Eyes and Stalker—I can’t remember and the tradepapers aren’t super easy to get to right now) and also had to be concerned about running out of oxygen while doing so. I can also easily justify the blast shield being down as part of a limited-use oxygen system for a laser operator working in less than ideal conditions. Of course, the helmets are secondary to Sci-Fi’s most important accessory, his laser rifle system. Hasbro did an amazing job of recreating and updating Sci-Fi’s original laser rifle and backpack. The rifle and backpack are almost spot on recreations of his originals and once again, Hasbro really took the detailing on these pieces to the extreme. Both the backpack and rifle are molded in a gunmetal gray plastic (as opposed to black for the rifle and a matching neon green for the backpack) with a little bit of gold and red paint detailing on each piece. The rifle still attaches to the backpack via a hose and can be hooked into the backpack just like the old days. These accessories are just plain cool and Hasbro did a wonderful job at giving Sci-Fi exactly what he needed to look like his old self.
Sci-Fi is a great 30th Anniversary figure. While I was disappointed it took so long for him to get in my hands, I’m glad he did. I’m also glad they waited until the 30th Anniversary line to make him instead of rushing him through in the 25th Anniversary line. Being able to invest a lot of the budget into new tooling really helped this figure. I’d rather have had to wait a while and get a really good Sci-Fi than get one cobbled together out of Barbecue and Snow Job parts. It’s just such a shame such a great figure was so hard to track down. I had to break my cardinal rule of Joe buying and not hit up eBay, but after finding a good seller who was selling the wave (minus Renegades Storm Shadow which I didn’t think was a terribly big loss) at a reasonable price, I pulled the trigger. Sci-Fi and his wave mates were all really good figures and I had ties to all of them save Airtight (assuming you count the Zombie-Viper as a modern descendent of the Toxo-Zombie). Hasbro did some great work at the end of the 30th Anniversary line and it’s just kind of a shame that they suffered the same fate as other good figures from late in the lines of just about every Hasbro property—phantom wave syndrome. I’m still looking for another Sci-Fi at a decent price for my brother since Sci-Fi was his back in the day, but I’m still glad that I was able to finally add such a great version him to my collection.