30th Anniversary Stalker
The 30th Anniversary line really did some interesting things in my opinion. While the later waves were focused pretty heavily on the Renegades cartoon, there were some very good vintage homages in there as well, especially early on. The first wave also did something a little unusual for the Joe line. Hasbro rereleased a group of very hard-to-find army builders with only two actual new figures in the wave. I’ve already covered the Hazard-Viper here and now it’s time to look at the other “new” figure from the first wave of 30th Anniversary figures, a new version of Stalker.
Stalker’s recent figures have all followed the same idea: take a Snake Eyes figure, give it a nice jungle camo scheme, slap a Stalker head on top and call it a day. Even Resolute Stalker wore the same super-tight shirt as Snake Eyes. That being said, when a system has worked since 1982, why mess with it? This time around, Stalker shares his entire body with PoC Desert Battle Snake Eyes II and that’s great. The Desert Battle Snake Eyes II body is one of my favorites and I don’t mind seeing Stalker using here. The sweater is nicely detailed and the legs are baggy enough to look like real pants yet they don’t wind up looking like sweatpants either. This version of Stalker shares his head with the Resolute version. Honestly, it’s a better Stalker head than the one from the 25th Anniversary line, so if they weren’t going to invest tooling dollars into a new head, I’d rather see this one. This version of Stalker’s head has quite a bit more character than the 25th Anniversary head and I find myself liking the dreadlocks. Add in the really stern glare that Stalker has, and you have a pretty intimidating head sculpt. To make the mold look a little more interesting, Stalker also gets webgear from Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Duke. I think that piece of webgear is probably one of the best ones they designed during the Pursuit of Cobra line. The look evokes the original Stalker’s webgear but adds a lot of new details that make him look better equipped for long-term field operations. It also helps distance him a bit from Snake Eyes since the figures are wearing very different sets of webgear now.
To make him stand out from Snake Eyes, Stalker is painted in a jungle camo scheme. The body uses a very light green for the base color with darker green and tan for the other two colors of the camouflage. However, I think the figure’s colors are generally just a little too light. The tan barely stands out against the light green. In fact, the first time I saw a tan spot on it, I wasn’t sure it was supposed to be there. I thought he had a spot of random paint slop on the arm. After a more careful look, it was clear it was supposed to be part of the camo scheme. I think if the base green were a little darker (possibly using the green that’s used for the camo spots on the arms), the tan would stand out better and then use even darker green for the rest of the camo, it would make for a better-looking figure. I also noticed that the fronts of Stalker’s arms look a little bare. The paint team did excellent work applying the camouflage patters on the sides of his arms, but when viewed head on, it looks like his arms don’t have any camo at all. It’s kind of a weird look since the camo on the chest is pretty noticeable but what little gets on the fronts of the arms blends in to the pale green used for the rest of the figure. The black accents on his legs stand out well and they also gave a lot of attention to painting Stalker’s webgear. The shoulder pads get some dark brown on them and the buckles and spare ammo clips get well-placed silver paint apps. The paint on Stalker’s head is kind of a mixed bag. His skintone looks natural and I think his hair looks better done in straight black as opposed to the black with brown wash they used on the head in the Resolute set. However, they decided to skip the paint app for the insignia on his beret. Knowing it’s there but unpainted bothers me a little since they went to the trouble of molding it and painting it the first time around. None of these issues I’ve mentioned are major detractions from the figure, but I do think the figure would look just a little better if they darkened his whole color scheme by a shade or two and put the insignia back on his beret.
Finally, we come to Stalker’s equipment and he comes well-supplied for a battle against Cobra forces. In addition to the very detailed webgear, Stalker carries with him a pair of pistols, a boot knife, a submachine gun, a ballistic knife and a machete. The pistols and knife both originally came with the Snake Eyes whose tooling is used extensively here. This means that the pistols fit nicely in Stalker’s hands or holsters. Ever since they introduced it, I’ve loved that pistol with a removable silencer. I don’t quite know why, but it really speaks to me. It’s something I could see just about any Joe carrying with them on a covert mission behind enemy lines and when I think of the two guys I’d most likely send on an adventure like that, Snake Eyes and Stalker are pretty high on that list. Stalker’s primary weapon originally came with the 25th Anniversary Tiger Force Duke, but I’m fine with it since it was designed to look like Stalker’s original 1982 gun. I’m glad Stalker finally got reunited with his old primary weapon even if it is a bit older-looking piece. The machete is the same one that Jungle Assault Duke came with so it
works very well with the previously supplied webgear. His ballistic knife is a bit of a head scratcher, though after getting Red Dog I was glad to have a spare lying around. The ballistic knife originally came with Shadow Tracker, which why it has the large plug built into it. It was designed to fit on either Shadow Tracker’s leg or on the back of his vest. However, Stalker doesn’t have any place to plug it into. It looks kind of weird in anyone’s hands because of the plug built into it and without a place to plug it in, it’s hard to use. Mercifully, Red Dog shared Shadow Tracker’s legs so he had the hole for it to go into and Stalker was able to share the wealth. Not counting the ballistic knife, Stalker is able to carry all his gear on his person, and that’s something I’ve always liked. It makes Stalker seem more like a real soldier. As much as I love when figures come with huge weapon loads, I’m sometimes reminded of the slight ridiculousness that happens in some first person shooters where you can carry an unlimited number of weapons, regardless of how heavy they are in real life, when I see Joes with big weapon kits that they don’t have storage for.
I’ll freely admit, I wasn’t terribly interested in this version of Stalker when I first saw pictures of him online. It was a good figure, but he really didn’t feel all that necessary. However, seeing him in person on a store shelf really changed my opinion on him. The 25th Anniversary Stalker was a good figure, but he was also starting to look awfully dated since he shared so many parts with the first 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes. While I would’ve preferred a darker camo scheme on this figure, I really found myself liking the more modern dreadlocked head on a body that was clearly designed to be a throwback to his original look. This version of Stalker is what I liked about the 30th Anniversary line, it’s a good combination of modern aesthetic with enough throwbacks to the original figure to make it successful a figure that’s supposed to celebrate the history of G.I. Joe without being too focused on the original look that it appears dated.