Going back again to the beginning of the Pursuit of Cobra line, I was very impressed that Hasbro was taking familiar characters in new design directions. Consider the original Firefly, one of the least fantastically attired and equipped Cobras of the 80s. As a saboteur, his look and his modus operandi were simple. Armed with explosives and other basic tools of his trade, he looked like he could have stepped off a battlefield forty years earlier. His most advanced piece of hardware was his field phone.
Fast forward to 2010, and Firefly was updated with a sci-future edge that hadn’t been seen with this character before. He’d had updates in the 1990s and 2000s, but most were upgrades like body armor and newer weaponry. This Firefly has modular body armor, advanced explosives, and a bevy of the latest weapons and gadgets. He even had his own specific helmet, a super looking number that calls to mind a comic book world as much as it does GI Joe. This is Firefly as high-tech super villain, and I like the concept.
Can you tell just at a glance that this is Firefly? I suppose, to an extent, if you consider the color, and the masked head. But if this figure were repainted in another hue, you’d be hard pressed to see much of the old character. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, the design detours that the Pursuit of Cobra took were welcome ones, at least to me. I was hoping at the time that Hasbro was at least attempting to make GI Joe something fresh again. The Pursuit of Cobra felt to me like GI Joe was returning to its roots as a toy first.
Though the reinterpretations continued in the coming years, straight-up homages also made their way into subsequent lines, and into the Collector s Club offerings. Now we’re faced with more and more recreations of older figures in the modern style which, though amazingly detailed and thoroughly poseable, sometimes leave me cold. I understand the wishes of many collectors to get all their old favorites that “fit in” with the modern style, but I miss innovation and freshness. Such is the increasingly stagnant state of the union of modern GI Joe.