Peril in Paradise Undertow
When it became clear that the GIJCC was going back to Iron Grenadiers for this year’s con set, I figured Undertow was going to be on the GIJCC’s short list for figures they could make. After all, there aren’t that many Iron Grenadier troopers left to cover. Plus, it is a figure with a decent fan following. The Undertow from the Peril in Paradise set is pretty good, though I’ll admit, having seen a lot of these parts on last year’s 50th Anniversary Danger at the Docks set does temper my enjoyment of him a bit. Thankfully, there are enough new parts here that I don’t feel like the GIJCC completely rehashed the 50th Anniversary Eel, though it might be time for Hasbro to invest in a new wetsuit body just because we’ve seen this one so much over the years.
The Undertow’s body is pretty basic, but the part choices are spot on, even if they’re very similar to what Hasbro did with the 50th Anniversary Eel last year. Like the 50th Anniversary Eel, Undertow uses 25th Anniversary Torpedo’s torso, the second Retaliation Snake Eyes’ legs hands, and upper arms. However, to change things up a little, the Undertow uses 25th Anniversary Torpedo’s lower arms and the Rise of Cobra M.A.R.S. Industries Officer head. The parts come together quite well to create a cohesive figure. The Retaliation Snake Eyes parts work surprisingly well for a wetsuit and keeping the Torpedo lower arms was a great call since they’re a little less armored than the other parts we’ve seen used for divers of late. However, I do kind of find myself wishing the GIJCC had gone a bit more out of the box with Undertow. Remember, the original Undertow had a large tank mounted to his chest, and I’d love to have seen the GIJCC reference that, possible with the 25th Anniversary Barbecue torso. It would have brought him a little closer to the vintage model and it would have helped pull the look a bit further away from the 50th Anniversary Eel. However, I do like that without the oxygen tank on his chest, it makes it far easier for the Undertow to pull double duty as both a diver and an elite Iron Grenadier sabotage specialist. I’ve always seen the Undertow as kind of like a Navy SEAL, so having a figure in a wetsuit that doesn’t look out of place while operating on land is nice. Over the M.A.R.S. Industries Officer head, the Undertow gets the same newly-molded Undertow mask the GIJCC also used with the Undertow Officer. Thankfully, the mask fits snugly but not impossibly tightly on the Undertow’s head so you can have him either with or without the mask on. The mask’s design is great and I’m impressed at how well Boss Fight Studios handled this piece. Yes, unfortunately, there are a lot of design similarities between this expensive exclusive figure and the mass market 50th Anniversary Eel figure, but as I look at the figure a little more, I think the GIJCC did just enough to make him look different that I don’t feel terribly ripped off. I personally think they could have done a little more, but as it stands, the Undertow is a great looking diver and truthfully, it’s kind of hard to make divers look different from each other because real world wetsuits are awfully uniform.
Just like the Undertow showing up in the con set wasn’t much of a surprise, using the GIJCC Undertow color scheme was also the obvious way to go. After Joe Con in 2005, the Joe collecting community fell in love with the great red, black and gold color scheme the GIJCC used for the M.A.R.S. Invades con set. The GIJCC made the Undertow a membership figure using that same color scheme and from what I understand, it remains one of the more popular membership exclusive figures. It makes perfect sense for the GIJCC to reference this look here. The base of the wetsuit is black with a gray chest panel and a lot of red trim. The black and gray are applied well, but unfortunately, the red trim on the chest piping is surprisingly sloppy on one of my figures. Mercifully, the other two Undertows are a bit sharper, but the paint work is surprisingly hit or miss on these guys. The GIJCC also threw some nice gold detailing on the figure, with gold on the pouches up on his shoulders as well as on the eyepiece and rebreather of the mask. The Undertow mask looks great in red and the red and gray do a nice job of breaking up all the black. I’ll admit, I would have preferred seeing the vintage Undertow colors here, but that’s just a personal preference since I got lucky and have the SDCC version of the Danger at the Docks set. While the colors aren’t in the same places, both the Undertow and the SDCC Eel use red, black and gold and it leaves them looking surprisingly similar. The gray chest piece helps separate them, but it is surprising at how much red and black both figures used. I totally get why the GIJCC went this route, but it does surprise me at how coincidentally similar the Eel and the Undertow wind up looking because of their similar color schemes.
I had the vintage Undertow growing up and I think part of what drew me to him was the great accessories he had. The GIJCC didn’t skimp out on the Undertow’s accessories and they really help make him a great figure. I’ve already touched on the mask, but it is a great piece and the design really takes me back to 1990 when I first got this figure. Like the Undertow Officer, the Undertow also uses 25th Anniversary Torpedo’s backpack. I think it’s a smart choice here as well, though I do wish there was a hose that connected the oxygen supply to the mask, just for completeness’ sake. The GIJCC’s accessory load also rectified my one issue with the Undertow as a kid, the lack of any sort of ballistic weapon. While the Undertow may not have an actual firearm, he does have the great reworked Eel harpoon gun and that really helps make the figure look better equipped. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Undertow trident, but as a kid, I liked my troopers to have guns, not melee weapons. The GIJCC Undertow still has their trademark trident, but it’s nice that the trident isn’t his only weapon. Of course, the most important piece of equipment the Undertow had was his torpedo sled. I always really liked Joe figures that minivehicles with them. It just made me feel like I was getting a little more bang for my buck. I’m not sure if the sled is a brand new piece or if the vintage tooling is still around and works remarkably well with the larger modern figures, but either way, it’s a great piece. The sled is sleek and looks great in black and I can see the Undertow being dangerously effective at port sabotage with this thing. Yes, it’s only got one torpedo, but sneaking in under the water, that’s all he needs. To finish out his gear load, the Undertow has the same fancy flippers that the 50th Anniversary Eel used. I like them because they are pretty cool-looking, but I do wish Hasbro could have found a way to make it so they could be worn and still use the pegs on the figure stand to hold up the figure like they did with 25th Anniversary Torpedo’s fins. I have to leave the fins sitting by Undertow instead of having them on his feet and that’s kind of a bummer since they’re such cool pieces.
Undertow is a figure that has kind of surprised me. I didn’t think he was a bad figure, but as I’ve been reviewing him, I’ve been finding a lot more to love. Parts of me are thinking I may actually leave a second Undertow out of the box and have him join 50th Eel and Retaliation Ultimate Firefly on the Cobra Night Landing Craft. It’s a solid figure and as I’ve spent more time looking at him, I think he’s better than I initially gave him credit for. The GIJCC managed to create a diver that looks different from the more recently released divers while still using plenty of similar parts. I do hope Hasbro or Boss Fight Studios comes up with a new wetsuit torso soon because I’m getting tired of seeing Torpedo’s torso every time we get a diver, but it’s a decent enough piece that I don’t mind it. I’m not as confident as other Joe fans are in their belief that a vintage-colored Undertow will be coming in a future Figure Subscription Service assortment just because this version is good enough and didn’t really require massive investments on the GIJCC’s part that they need to recoup. I’ll be okay if a green and red Undertow shows up someday, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee because this version is plenty good. I’d alway swanted to get the membership Undertow at some point but he’s been out of my price range. However, thanks to the Peril in Paradise con set, I have a modern version of that look and I couldn’t be happier.