Drop Zone (Project: Downfall)

By KansasBrawler

Now that we’re moving into the Project: Downfall box set, you know what that means. It’s time to once again review the weakest figure of the set. Once again, I find myself focusing on a Joe figure for this dubious distinction. Drop Zone is by no means a terrible figure, but there are just enough problems with him and the rest of the set is so strong that, by default, he turns into the weakest one. It’s interesting, though, because unlike previous years, I’ve actually vacillated a bit on who the weakest one is, but in the end, I finally made my decision and it’s Drop Zone.

While I think his build has some problems, Drop Zone is a fairly well-constructed figure. Drop Zone was originally made using the vintage Strato-Viper figure, and we see a lot of references to that here. The legs come from 25th Anniversary Strato-Viper, and truthfully, it wasn’t until I got this figure that I’d noticed just how scrawny they were. That scrawniness is the main source of my problems with him. The GIJCC also used some fairly slender parts up top as well, with torso of Retaliation Ultimate Flint and the arms of Retaliation Storm Shadow. By themselves, those parts aren’t that bad and would make for a decent tall, skinny Joe. However, putting the 25th Anniversary Strato-Viper webgear over it really hurts it. The Strato-Viper webgear has always been just a little too big to begin with and now with the much more slender torso, Drop Zone looks like he’s just swimming in his gear. Considering that this piece is supposed to be part of his shirt rather than something he wears over it, it really breaks the illusion of what it was trying to accomplish. I applaud the GIJCC for giving us a very different build from what I was expecting for Drop Zone, but, as much as I hate to say it, there’s a reason Hasbro always used the torso they did for the Strato-Viper. They knew that the fit on the webgear wasn’t great so did the best they could to minimize it. Drop Zone’s ill-fitting webgear really throws off the overall look. Up top, the GIJCC made the great choice of using the 30th Anniversary Law head. It’s a solid piece and while the GIJCC has several times in recent memory, it also looks surprisingly like the vintage figure. Considering how much everyone complained about the GIJCC reusing heads that looked nothing like the characters they were supposed to represent in FSS 4.0 (even though it didn’t really bother me personally), I feel the need to make sure to applaud them when their parts reuse fits the vintage figure’s look very well. I’m glad the GIJCC did something a little different with Drop Zone’s construction but at the same time, the loose fit of the Strato-Viper’s webgear really does negatively impact the figure’s look a lot and that’s kind of a shame.

The GIJCC made a few interesting choices with his overall build, but Drop Zone’s color scheme is straight out of 1990, and I couldn’t be happier. Drop Zone has always used a combination of brown, tan and gray and while it’s not a color scheme that necessarily screams Air Force, I think it still works very well for him. From the waist down, the figure has a lot of brown and gray. The legs are almost entirely brown with a little bit of gray trim on his shin guards and some tan on his pouches. Drop Zone gets the Sky Patrol insignia in silver on his left upper thigh. I think that’s kind of a strange spot for the insignia to go, but the tampo work for the insignia is excellent. Up top, his body is primarily tan with gray on the Strato-Viper chest padding and a little on the biceps while brown is used on the straps, gloves and arm guards. At first glance, the mix of tan, brown and gray shouldn’t work, but it really comes together quite well on this figure. Like the vintage figure, Drop Zone has black hair and a silver helmet with an orange visor. It’s quite a striking look, even if it’s not something that one would necessarily think of for someone who’s part of a special branch of the Joe air force.

Drop Zone is Sky Patrol’s weapons specialist, and the gear he comes with reflects that specialty quite well. He’s not loaded down with weapons by any means, but he’s got some great weapons that look natural in the hands of a modern military operator. However, while the weapons are good, the GIJCC made a couple strange choices when it comes to other accessories. First and foremost, the Strato-Viper chest piece has a static holster that attaches to it. For some strange reason, though, the GIJCC didn’t have this piece attached to the figure at the factory. Instead, it was just loose in Drop Zone’s accessory bag. The fit isn’t great, so I wound up having to super glue the piece in. I just don’t get that decision. Honestly, had KansasBrother and I not been inspecting our sets at the hotel together where he found the pistol in the accessory bag, I would have thought that the GIJCC had given me a figure missing that part and would have gone to exchange him the next day. Up top, Drop Zone gets Ashiko’s helmet, though I apparently won the helmet lottery, because my version of Drop Zone came with the additional piece he was supposed to—the bottom half of a Rise of Cobra Accelerator Suit Ripcord helmet. I say that because my brother’s Drop Zone didn’t have that piece and neither did the one that was reviewed over at GeneralsJoes. The Accelerator Suit helmet part meshes quite nicely with the Ashiko helmet and helps make it look a little different, which is a plus since Cliff “Airwave” Mewett also gets that helmet. However, it also looks just a little cobbled together. Personally, I would have preferred the GIJCC just using the whole Accelerator Suit helmet instead since I think the slightly cobbled together nature of Drop Zone’s helmet does hurt the look a little as well. Moving on to his weapons, Drop Zone has two great pieces. He has the assault rifle that first came with Retaliation Agent Mouse and the silenced assault rifle that’s a modified version of the 25th Anniversary Baroness rifle that we first got in the SDCC Danger at the Docks set. Drop Zone’s filecard talks about how he’s a military guy that understands the need for fancy weapons systems, but knows that in the end, it’s the basic guns that are going to be doing most of the work in the field. As such, it makes sense for him to have a pair of fairly standard weapons. Personally, I think it’s a nice touch that there’s some synergy between the character in the filecard and how the figure is equipped. Drop Zone is also one of the three Sky Patrol members that picks up a jet pack this time around. Drop Zone uses the great Rise of Cobra Hawk jet pack and it looks great on his back. My only wish is that the GIJCC had found a way to alter the way the wings unfold like Hasbro did with the drone to give Drop Zone’s jet pack a different silhouette. In the lithograph the GIJCC commissioned for this year’s set, the wings unfurled upside down compared to the way the figure does. It still worked for a jet pack, but it gave it a surprisingly different look. The jet pack has a complimentary brown and silver color scheme, so you’ll be able to tell at a glance who this jet pack belongs to. On the left wing, the GIJCC again used the Sky Patrol insignia while the right wing has “SP16” tampoed on it, a reference to this year’s con set. Those are a couple of nice little touches. The paint work on the jet pack is incredibly clean and the brown and silver work very well together.

Don’t get me wrong, Drop Zone is a solid figure, but compared to the rest of the figures in the Project: Downfall set, he falls just a little bit short. I like the fact that the GIJCC was able to use existing parts to create a tall, skinny person, but the ill-fitting webgear just makes him look kind of awkward. Add in the weird choices made on the helmet and the chest holster and you have a figure that feels kind of off. It’s still decently executed, but Drop Zone seems to succeed almost in spite of himself and that’s something that I’ve never really said about a Joe figure before.

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