Ace (25th Anniversary)
Ace is kind of a tough figure for me. I agree with Rob that pilot figures are often the most difficult to use when they’re not with their signature ride. Since large vehicles weren’t initially on the docket for the 25th Anniversary line, that meant Ace came in a comic pack alongside Wild Weasel. Weirdly, I don’t think Wild Weasel is that bad of a figure even without his ride. However, Ace just doesn’t really work for me for some reason. For a 25th Anniversary figure, he’s pretty good but honestly, he’s pretty uninspiring.
From the neck down, Ace shares his body with 25th Anniversary Wild Bill. The only parts not shared with Wild Bill are his feet. Rather than cowboy boots, Ace is wearing a pair of military boots with his flight suit. Really, the flight suit body is pretty nicely designed. I think the designers were referencing Ace’s original space suit look but this is far more practical. I was never wild about space suit Ace, so this is a better figure in my opinion. There’s a lot of detail molded into this piece. It’s appropriately wrinkled. The detail I love, though, is that at both his ankles and wrists, the flight suit tightens up. That makes a lot of sense since part of the flight suit’s job is to prevent the pilot from blacking out due to g-forces. The primary way it accomplishes this is via increased pressure on the extremities, forcing the blood back into the core of the body and brain. The body looks decent, but unfortunately, his add on pieces don’t work as well as they should. Ace gets a shoulder harness that looks kind of like his original high collar and has pads up in the front that I think are supposed to be part of his safety gear. I don’t know a lot about military flight suits, but they don’t look like anything I’ve seen before, so I’m chalking it up the slightly futuristic bent the Joe brand has had for a long time. On top of the harness, you can give Ace the bubble helmet he’s known for. Honestly, the helmet is pretty weak. It doesn’t securely fit on the harness and the bubble distorts Ace’s facial features pretty badly. Ace’s new head is all right. He’s a little bland, but that’s okay. The vintage Ace’s head wasn’t that interesting either. However, since his filecard has always portrayed him as a fun-loving guy, Ace is another figure I would be okay with having a grin permanently sculpted into his face. It doesn’t need to be a big goofy grin like Duke’s, but a cocky, Han Solo-esque, “Yeah, I’m the best pilot there is” smirk would fit with Ace’s character pretty well.
While I’m a little down on Ace’s overall design, the color scheme is pretty cool, even if the paint work itself is a bit sloppy. Like back in 1983, Ace’s flight suit is primarily white. However, to make things a little more interesting, the undersuit is done in maroon. The undersuit peeks out at the knees and groin and a maroon stripe is continued up onto his chest. The maroon on his groin is a bit misaligned on the right leg and it does kind of hurt the overall look. The paint work on his chest straps is serviceable, though nothing to write home about. Ace has red stripes on his arms and each stripe has a unique detail. On his right arm, he’s got “ACE” tampoed on there while the left arm has the classic Skystriker logo. The red adds a nice splash of color and ties him a bit to the vintage Skystriker. The red is carried onto the chest straps with a red neckerchief. The paint work on Ace’s head is good, though like some of the other early 25th Anniversary figures, the paint is applied too thickly and it really mutes the details in the mold.
Like most vehicle drivers, Ace comes without a weapon. That’s kind of a bummer since he also came without his vehicle. Considering a Skystriker wasn’t on the table until the 30th Anniversary line, it would have been nice had he at least come with a pistol. As it stands, his only accessories are the bubble helmet and the harness, neither of which is that great. I think the lack of a compelling accessory really hurt Ace and is why I think he’s so meh. Had Hasbro tried to duplicate one of Ace’s later looks, I think it would have helped. I’ve never been wild about the white space suit look and this figure hasn’t changed my opinion on it. The Skystriker logo on his arm is a nice Easter egg, but beyond that, there’s not much exciting about this figure. Personally, I blame the lack of an airplane.