Peril in Paradise Wreckage
I was in high school when I first started getting into the online Joe collecting community. I don’t recall how I originally found YoJoe.com anymore, but it became a go-to site for me when I was killing time online back in the days of dial-up Internet service. It was a great resource for me when it came to reuniting my childhood Joes with their original accessories and I started to discover the cool unproduced Joe items. It just so happened that occurred right around when Hasbro released the Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive Tiger Force set with Wreckage in it. Originally called Sabretooth, Wreckage was supposed to be released in a second wave of Tiger Force figures and was going to be a repainted Firefly figure. However, those figures never came to be, but Sabretooth was resurrected as Wreckage some 15 years after he was supposed to exist. I was excited by Wreckage coming out in that set because I knew his history. I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially thrilled that the GIJCC was going use Tiger Force in the 2015 Joe Con set, but if they grabbed someone like Wrekcage, I was going to be happy. I have really fond memories of that character because it was the first time I got to dabble in the Joe brand’s rich history and it was also the first time I ever had a figure based around the vintage Firefly mold.
At its core, Wreckage is just a straight up Firefly repaint, but the GIJCC made the great call of using the recent and very popular Retaliation Cobra Invasion Team Firefly as a base for this figure. I’ll admit, I came close to snagging the Cobra Invasion Team set a couple times during the Retaliation line, but I just thought the other two figures that came with that Firefly were so lame that I felt like I was going to pay $30 for one figure. That means that while it reuses a lot of parts, Wreckage is all new to me. The legs come from 30th Lifeline, though they get the knees Hasbro modified to remove the holes for the kneepads. Yes, they’re technically based on Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes II, but Wreckage has definitely got the Lifeline add on pieces, so I consider them Lifeline’s legs. I’m still not wild about seeing the medical tool on his right leg since he’s not Lifeline, but enough figures that have used these legs have done that so I’m getting used to it. The legs have a great range of motion and work well for Firefly and Wreckage. The torso is the same piece that was tooled up original for the Cobra Invasion Team Firefly. It’s a great, basic military shirt with a commando sweater underneath it. This is an incredibly detailed piece and I’m glad the GIJCC got to use it for this figure even though they couldn’t use it for FSS 3.0 Hit & Run. Over the great torso, Wreckage has the great vintage-inspired webgear Hasbro created for Cobra Invasion Team Firefly. This is what 25th Anniversary Firefly’s webgear should have looked like. All the classic details are there, and it fits the figure much better. The GIJCC also learned a lesson from Hasbro and glued the explosive charges on the front and back of the webgear in place. According to reviews I’ve read of Cobra Invasion Team Firefly, those charges could fall off at the drop of a hat. The webgear and torso do a great job of recreating the classic Firefly look. The arms are a combination of Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper and 30th Anniversary Lifeline. They work well for Firefly’s classic look and that means they transfer well to Wreckage. Up top, Wreckage uses the masked head from the first Retaliation Firefly figure. However, I think the GIJCC may have somehow shrunken the head somehow. Part of why I was initially uncertain whose head it was is that I have that Firefly head in my collection and the figure it’s on doesn’t look pinheaded. As it stands, Wreckage is an okay figure and the too-small head is part of what keeps him from being a great figure.
Though there was one major misstep in the GIJCC’s construction of Wreckage, the paint work on him is spot on. The original Wreckage was a bit darker figure, but I honestly prefer the green and yellow color scheme on the modern figure compared to the almost black and yellow that Hasbro used back in 2003. The green is a nice vibrant color and it works well for jungle warfare, which is supposed to be Tiger Force’s specialty. The yellow tiger stripes look good over the green and tie Wreckage a bit to Tiger Force Dusty. I’ll admit, I’m not wild about the orange on his pouch, holster and undershirt, but it’s a nod to the original figure, so I’ll accept it. My real issue with the orange is that it looks awfully plastic-y. Brown is used on his balaclava and boots instead of a tan-ish color like on the original Wreckage and I think the figure looks a little better that way. The webgear stands out very well against his torso, partly because of the crisper details on the added on piece but also because the webgear is in black but the figure is a very dark green. The wires on the explosive charges are painted and look great. This definitely feels like convention-level paint work. Honestly, the paint work really makes Wreckage for me. I’ve never talked much about figure stands, but since the thing I want to talk about is a painted detail on the figure stands, I’ll mention it here. While the filecard may call this figure Wreckage, the figure stand has “Sgt. Sabre Tooth” painted on it. I love that nod to the original concept for this figure, I only wish the filecard could have called him Sgt. Sabre Tooth as well.
While it’s pretty hard to tell from the grainy photo on YoJoe.com, it looks to me like the GIJCC pulled their inspiration for Wreckage’s gear straight from Sabre Tooth as well. Rather than go with all classic Firefly gear, the GIJCC swapped out the rifle for Recondo’s wrapped rifle. I know a lot of people didn’t like that Tiger Force Recondo got separated from his vintage rifle, but I really like how this piece looks in Wreckage’s hands and it’s a nice touch that this was the weapon Hasbro intended for Sabre Tooth all those years ago. The wrapped Recondo rifle is appropriate for a jungle fighter and it looks like it belongs in Wreckage’s hands. The rest of Wreckage’s weapons come from 30th Lifeline, with a boot knife and a pistol to fill his holster and sheath. Of course, Wreckage wouldn’t be a Firefly repaint without the use of Firefly’s vintage backpack. This is a great choice for Wreckage since his specialty is still demolitions. The Firefly backpack, while a bit dated, is still the best demolitions kit Hasbro tooled up. Parts of me would have liked to see the 25th Anniversary Comic Pack Firefly backpack here, but I think the old school backpack may fit Wreckage’s character just a bit better.
I’ve said before on this blog that I’m a sucker for unreleased concepts. I honestly think that the original Wreckage was what started that for me. I’m not going to go out of my way and drop big bucks to add pieces like that to my collection, but I always like when Hasbro and/or the GIJCC decide to delve into the brand’s history and find a way to release something that was slated for release but never made it out. Sometimes it’s wise to not let a good idea die, and really, Wreckage is a great idea. Considering how the original Tiger Force was about repurposing Cobra vehicles for the Joes, why not throw in a Cobra figure as well. After all, Firefly looked good on the Cobra Ferret. I think it stands to reason that Wreckage would look pretty good on the Tiger Paw. The GIJCC’s version takes a few liberties with Wreckage compared to the original figure, but honestly, I think they bring him more line with the prototype figure that’s shown up in images online. Wreckage is a neat addition to the Joe brand precisely because he was originally slated to show up and then Hasbro had to pull him. Clearly, he must have been fairly far along in the design process considering his figure appeared in some catalogues. Joe fans have speculated that the name Sabretooth is probably what caused him to get pulled because of a conflicting copyright by Marvel, but whatever the reason, he got canned and then resurrected as Wreckage in 2003. It was a great call when Hasbro did it back then and I think the GIJCC made the right call to add him to the modern Tiger Force as well.