Firefly (2004 Built To Rule)
Did you know that Hasbro tried out a Lego-like building system with its properties years before the Kre-O line? Both GI Joe and the Transformers received the treatment with the Built to Rule line from 2003 to 2005. Each set could be built into two or more different vehicles, and included a driver. The Joe line seems a natural for building sets, with its emphasis on vehicles.
Firefly was the driver of the Cobra Sand Snake, which could be built as a dune buggy or attack boat. The figure is based on the then-current new sculpt articulation, with a couple of differences. First off are the pegs molded into the forearms and lower legs. Various pieces of the vehicles (the guns specifically) could be attached to these points for extra play value. An interesting if ungainly feature. Another addition is extra articulation at the mid-thigh, a first in Joe articulation. Of further note is the attachment of the elbow swivel, which is directly at the elbow rather than in the traditional mid-bicep.
The figure fares much better in terms of proportion than a lot of the time’s main line. The details in the sculpt are also quite good, and Firefly is equipped with chest armor, many pouches, grenades sidearm and even an explosive on his left thigh. Paint apps are rather sparse, but it’s not too much of an issue, as even Firefly’s original 1984 version was limited on painted detail. It would have been nice here to have the belt and maybe some straps done in a contrasting grey or black.
The Built to Rule line, while ambitious, didn’t fare well at retail. Most of the sets can be had cheaply, but later sets in the series were harder to find, and do command a bit higher price on the secondary market. This Firefly, even with its odd arm and leg pegs (which can be easily removed if one has a bit of customizing experience) is I feel the best representation of the character in the new sculpt era.