Destro (25th Anniversary)
While I’ve always loved Destro, I never felt the need to track down the original Destro. I thought the 1988 Iron Grenadiers version was perfect. However, it does make sense that when Hasbro started the 25th Anniversary line, they gave us the original Destro first. It’s an iconic look and while it’s not my cup of tea, I can totally understand why it has fans. The original 25th Anniversary Destro has not been treated kindly by time, but the 50th Anniversary gave us a great update of Destro’s original look. Despite how dated it looks now, I can’t look back on the 25th Anniversary Destro without a least a little twinge of nostalgia since I found the Cobra battle pack first and it was my first experience with both the new style of Joes (which I didn’t even know were coming out) and the classic Destro design.
Destro, as a figure, is a bit of a tough nut to crack, especially when you’re building a line around extensive parts reuse like Hasbro was in the early days of the 25th Anniversary line. There aren’t a lot of ways to reuse Destro parts that don’t involve Destro. While that’s a bit of a drawback, it also means that the 25th Anniversary Destro hits the target a lot better than some 25th Anniversary figures that did what they could with the parts available because he used all new parts that were only designed with him in mind. The first thing you’ll notice about Destro is that he’s tall. The original Destro figure was slightly taller than the other Joes, but this version of Destro really steps it up. Unfortunately, that creates a little bit of a problem in my mind. While I like that he’s tall, he seems just a little bit too lanky for my tastes. The lankiness throws things off a bit in my mind. Destro has always looked kind of powerful in addition to having some height and I just don’t see it here. Don’t get me wrong, Destro shouldn’t be ripped like Roadblock but even with the added height, he doesn’t have the intimidation factor that Destro figures need. His arms are appropriately well-built and look strong but the rest of the body doesn’t continue that look. Despite the lankiness, the overall design is solid. Destro is wearing a black leather jumpsuit with some additional straps and his requisite big collar and medallion. His boots reach up to the middle of his shins and really do look very sleek. His entire look is actually quite sleek and I like it. There’s definitely an element of “70s spy movie villain” here, but it still works for Destro over 30 years later. Destro’s got a functional holster on his right leg, but it’s a bit oversized in my opinion and neither of his included pistols fit that well in it. Destro’s arms have the classic Destro gauntlets and the design really helps bring out the details that were there back in 1983 but didn’t stand out terribly well. His left gauntlet has three grenades attached to it while his right one has the classic Destro wrist rockets. These are great pieces and they work well, aside from the fact that Destro’s left hand is in the dynamic, angrily wringing his fist pose. Part of what I loved about Joes was that their hands could hold their weapons very well, but the dynamically-posed hands that Hasbro used in the early part of the 25th Anniversary line really failed in that respect. I’m glad they quickly moved back to a more neutral grip that may not look as realistic but was much more functional. Destro’s open collar is an added on piece and I think that hurts it a bit as well. I know Hasbro was all about repurposing at this point but considering Destro’s parts never showed up on a figure that wasn’t Destro, I wish they would have just built the collar into the torso mold to begin with. The open shirt part that’s molded into it sticks out noticeably from what would be Destro’s chest and it makes things look just a bit off. While I dislike the collar, I do love the strap with a communicator on it that runs down the left side of his chest and hooks into his belt. It looks really good and is one of those details that the original Destro had but it didn’t really stand out all that well. Finally, we come to Destro’s head. The mold is solid, but I think it should have been done with vac metal instead of silver paint. I know there are people that hate vac metalized plastic because it doesn’t hold up well, but my 1988 Destro’s shiny head is still shiny after all these years and never broke, so I don’t see the problem with it.
Destro’s always had a vac metal head (in fact, the only time I don’t remember it in the original line was the great Battle Corps Destro) and considering how strongly Hasbro was aping the original figures, even at the expense of making a good figure, I’m a little surprised and disappointed that he didn’t get a vac metalized head. Yes, thanks to the comic packs you can get a head and swap it out, but I was kind of bummed when I first bought the set that Destro wasn’t rocking the vac metal he has since back in the day. Destro’s head is also a bit on the small side. It’s a little off and I find it ironic since the original Destro had a slightly oversized head, which made sense if he was wearing a bulky steel mask over his head, but now the modern Destro’s head is a bit smaller than it should be.
From a paint standpoint, there’s really not a lot going on with Destro. Most of the colors he’s wearing come from the plastic he’s molded in, but the overall color scheme is still very good and the paint applications are mostly well done. The main body is molded in a charcoal gray plastic and it’s dark enough to pass for Destro’s old black jumpsuit while at the same time giving the paint team the chance to use black to accent details like his belt and shoulder strap by painting them black, meaning they don’t lost in the black-on-black color scheme that Destro had back in 1983. All the buckles get painted silver and it helps them stand out a bit as well. Destro’s holster is red and it looks okay. I think the paint is just a little too thick on it, though, meaning it looks kind of gloppy. His gauntlets are molded out of a grayish-silver plastic with red paint on the wrist rockets. Surprisingly, the grenades are molded out of red plastic. I’m just surprised at the lack of consistency between the two parts here. The silver on his head is great, though a purer silver than his gauntlets are made out of. The bright green eyes stand out very well against this silver and really harkens back to the look Destro had in the cartoon. Unfortunately, the neck and collar are where Destro’s paint work really falls short. The collar itself is molded out of the charcoal gray plastic, which makes sense, but the paint work is sloppy and when it’s a light color over something dark, the flaws stand out a little more. It’s especially bad towards the bottom of the open shirt. Plus, the skin tone itself seems a bit too orange. Apparently during the intervening years, Destro decided to open a M.A.R.S. Industries subsidiary on the Jersey Shore. The paint work for his chain and medallion is equally sloppy and it kind of distracts you from the rest of the good work here.
Destro’s paint work may be a bit disappointing, but they did do a great job with his accessories. It’s just a shame he can’t hold more than one of them at a time. Starting off small, Destro has a pair of pistols. They’re not the same design, but more annoyingly neither one actually fits well in his chunky holster. Hasbro very seldom misses the mark on accessories, but these really don’t work at all well. The smaller one looks really out of place in his hand and the other one doesn’t really fit all that well in either his hand or his holster. For a little heavier firepower, Destro is also carrying around an MP5 submachine gun. I love this weapon. It’s something that I think Destro would prefer because it’s relatively compact but it can still lay down a pretty good field of fire. It’s a great representation of a modern military weapon and I like seeing it in Destro’s hands. Destro’s other accessory is a great nod to his original figure—a M.A.R.S. briefcase. The briefcase can open (just like back in the day) and there’s a removable silenced pistol inside as well. As an arms dealer, I love that Destro has a lot of weapons, it’s just a shame he can’t carry most of them. The briefcase was also something that worried me back when I first got this figure. The hinge on the bottom didn’t seem that substantial and I was concerned how well it was going to wear. Those fears have so far been unfounded as the briefcase is still fine going on ten years later, but it was something that had me worried when I first bought him.
It makes perfect sense for Destro to be one of the first five Cobras that Hasbro did for the 25th Anniversary line. He’s always had a big presence in any Joe media and he’s a distinct character with a very distinct design. A friend of mine who’s a cartoonist compiled a list of things he needed to teach people in a seminar on cartooning and one of the first things on that list was the idea that if you want your character to get some attention, make sure it has a distinct silhouette. That’s something Destro definitely has. He has a very eye-catching design up close but even his silhouette is unique. You’re not going to mistake Destro for anyone else at a quick glance and I think that’s a testament to a solid character design. He’s instantly recognizable and the figure does a good job at keeping that idea alive.