Red Star (25th Anniversary)
I’ll be the first to admit that the 25th Anniversary line had its problems. However, if there was one thing it handled well, it was character diversity. Yes, there were a lot of Dukes, Snake Eyeses and Cobra Commanders, but Hasbro also tapped the back bench of the Joe team pretty often. One of the earliest examples of this was Red Star showing up in a fairly early comic pack. Yes, he was paired with a Duke figure, but still, it’s kind of amazing that Red Star got attention from Hasbro that early in the 25th Anniversary line. He’s not exactly a household name, and truthfully, the only reason I was interested in him was because KansasBrother had him growing up and I thought it was a pretty decent figure. Red Star isn’t a great figure but he was interesting enough to me to get to go after a comic pack with Duke and that’s always a plus.
Since Red Star was made fairly early in the 25th Anniversary line, he does reuse a lot of parts from other figures, however, Hasbro did give him quite a few new pieces as well, and that helps make Red Star stand out a little bit more than he normally would. From the neck to knees, Red Star uses 25th Anniversary Duke parts. However, the legs are a bit more interesting because he’s got new lower legs with tall boots that reach almost up to the calf. The boots definitely have a Russian military feel to them, and that’s a nice touch. They do feel a bit more like dress boots than combat boots to me, but that’s neither here nor there. The Duke thighs work well with the legs, though the holster on his right leg looks way too big. The 25th Anniversary Duke torso is serviceable, though it does look better than it should because Red Star gets a brand new set of webgear to go with it. The straps are quite thin, it’s got a red star on the belt buckle, a canteen hanging by his left hip, a couple of small pouches on the belt, and a pair of small grenades up by his right shoulder. The webgear is detailed without being too busy and the details are quite similar to the details on the original Red Star figure’s torso. Unfortunately, not all is great with Red Star since he uses Duke arms. They were the right call because the vintage figure had his sleeves rolled up, but these are just such bad pieces I’d be willing to sacrifice vintage accuracy for something that looks decent. Even worse, Red Star was made early enough in the process that he still has the very ugly wrist slits. Topping off the figure, Red Star gets a brand new head. This is a great piece. It’s got a lot of character molded into the details of the face and he looks very Russian. Red Star looks quite a bit older than the rest of my Joes, and I’ve always felt Red Star should be a soldier in his 50s. For some reason, I’ve always felt the character seemed like a military lifer who is going to be in the service and in the field for as long as he can be. While the figure has some construction problems caused by the use of Duke parts, the head is a solid piece and truthfully, it almost redeems the figure for me.
While Red Star’s construction apes the vintage version fairly well, his paint scheme is very different from the Red Star we’ve always known. The vintage Red Star figure used tan with brown camouflage color splotches. The modern Red Star is painted very light gray with no camouflage at all. The colors remind me more of Colonel Brekhov than they do Red Star. I kind of wonder if Hasbro maybe thought the first Brekhov they released back in 1998 was Red Star and used that color scheme instead of the actual Red Star’s color scheme. While it may not be vintage-accurate, it’s still a decent look for Red Star. The gray uniform is simple and feels very Soviet to me for some reason. His tall boots are painted black and that looks quite nice paired with the light gray pants. His webgear is also light gray, but the canteen is painted olive drab green, the star on his belt buckle is red, the grenades are metallic green and there’s a little bit of blue on the padding up by his shoulders. Red Star has the Oktober Guard unit insignia tampoed on his left shoulder, and I think that’s a really nice touch. The Oktober Guard never had a unit patch until this figure and I like seeing it here. I also appreciate that they used the same insignia on the filecard in place of the standard G.I. Joe logo. The paint work on Red Star’s arms is a bit awkward. The bottoms of his cuffs are clearly flesh colored rather than light gray and that leaves things looking just a touch weird. The paint work on his head, though, is excellent. The skin tone matches his arms and while it may be applied a tad too thickly, it doesn’t mute the aged details on his face. Like the vintage figure, Red Star has brown hair, though personally, I wouldn’t have had a problem with a little gray at his temples just to sell his age a little more. Rounding out the paint work, Red Star’s hat is blue with a red star in the center, a gold braid just below the red star and a black bill. The paint work is solid and it’s nice that this piece got all the details it’s supposed to have painted, unlike the all blue vintage hat.
Red Star is a decently built figure, but unfortunately, his gear leaves a bit to be desired. It’s not all the gear’s fault, though. Some of it lies with the fact that Duke parts aren’t conducive to holding accessories well. Red Star’s primary weapon is a modern take on a Thompson submachine gun. It’s a decent piece except for the small fact that Red Star can barely hold it. Truthfully, I don’t know how I got him to hold it back in the day when I took these pictures. Neither hand is particularly good for holding it and the fact that it has no handle sticking down, while realistic, makes it even harder for Red Star to hold this gun in any sort of realistic firing position. Interestingly, the gun does have a removable magazine. That’s not something that a lot of Joe weapons have, and it’s a nice touch. It fits fairly securely in the gun, though it could be a bit tighter. Red Star has a unique pistol to fill his too-large holster, though again, neither hand can hold it particularly well, which is a shame. It mostly lives in the holster so it doesn’t get lost. Finally, Red Star also has a knife that was new at the time. It’s been seen several times since then, but I think it may have originated here with Red Star. Red Star can actually hold this accessory, which is a plus since he doesn’t have a sheath for it. Like the vintage figure, Red Star has a removable hat and it fits nicely on his head. Rounding out his gear, Red Star also has a satchel and a backpack. It’s nice to finally figure out where this great backpack originated. I’ve seen this piece a few more times now, but I could never remember who it first came with. It’s an excellent piece and it fits quite well with Red Star. The new satchel is also a nice touch. I like that a lot of his gear is similar to things Joes have, but since he’s a Soviet, the gear isn’t exactly the same. It’s a nice real-world touch that makes Red Star just a little more interesting that he probably should be.
Red Star isn’t someone with a terribly big following, so I was pretty surprised when he turned up in 2008. However, this figure doesn’t really do him justice. All the Duke parts really hurt how well the figure works. It’s a decent look for Red Star and it approximates his vintage version, but the poor arm articulation and the inability to hold his gear really means he kind of fails as a figure. There are some good things about this figure, the new head and webgear, but those positives don’t outweigh all the negatives that impact this figure. Red Star probably doesn’t need to be revisited because he’s not that popular of a character, but it’s a shame that his only modern version has so many problems.