Retaliation GI Joe Trooper
Retaliation really fleshed out the concept of a G.I. Joe team. While I like the idea of a Joe team being nothing but named operatives, a military group can’t realistically work like that. I’m all for nameless, faceless Joe troopers. While they had those in Rise of Cobra as well, they didn’t fit in with their named counterparts. The named Joes are running around in fancy, reactive armor while average soldiers have nothing but regular BDUs? I’d imagine requisition day in the PIT is pretty awkward if you see half a dozen people getting super fancy armor while you and your buddies are issued gray camouflaged uniforms and not even so much as a Kevlar vest. While the G.I. Joe Troopers in Retaliation still had a definite red shirt vibe to them, at least the figure they got looked like they could actually be working alongside America’s highly-trained, high tech special mission force and maybe actually live to see more than one day of combat.
The G.I. Joe Trooper uses entirely new molds. While the movie lines may have their problems, I can’t fault them if they can bring in a big block of new tooling. What’s even better is that the G.I. Trooper manages to avoid most of the articulation cutbacks that made everyone scream that the first wave of Retaliation figures were the “deth of teh line.” From what I can tell, all he lost is the added wrist articulation, which wasn’t used for all the 30th Anniversary figures released before him. I don’t mind regular wrists. The extra joints are all right, but on some figures, it makes for really bulbous, unnatural-looking wrists. I’d rather have the joint look natural and lose some range of motion than have it do everything a human wrist can actually do but not look anything like a normal human’s wrist. G.I. Joe Trooper’s mold is pretty basic. He’s wearing a nicely detailed jumpsuit. It’s a good, basic body and these parts have seen quite a bit of reuse precisely because they’re so generic. To add a little more personality, he’s wearing a detailed armored vest. While I would have liked to see a little extra color on it to bring out all the straps and armor plates and canister grenades on it, it’s still a really good piece and again, I think it’s generic enough Hasbro can get away with using it on a couple different figures before it starts feeling overused. The G.I. Joe Trooper also has two different heads. I’m not a fan of the unhelmeted head. It’s a good sculpt, but a Mohawk is a pretty distinctive hairstyle. While one of the Joes we saw shortly before the ambush did have a Mohawk, I’d still rather have my generic Joes having a relatively normal hairstyle. You don’t see Cobra Troopers running around with Mohawks, why should Joes? Beyond that, it’s a good sculpt that has character in its face but is generic enough he’s a good everyman. The helmeted head is where it’s at for me. While it does take a lot of stylistic cues from the Halo Space Marines, I think it’s cool enough that I don’t care where Hasbro ripped the design off from. I only wish that some of the Joes in Retaliation would have actually worn a helmet like this in the film. It’s a great, hightech piece that really sells the whole “fifteen minutes in the future” aesthetic they were going for with the technology in the movie. Finally, the G.I. Joe Trooper also wears a cape…I don’t know why, but it’s there. I don’t mind odd accessories, but I don’t like them when the figure looks weird when it’s not using them. I tried displaying my G.I. Joe Trooper without the blue cape, but it just looks a little off so, now he’s wearing his cape all the time. I just don’t understand why a combat trooper would be wearing a cape. It’s an odd choice and one that I really don’t know how to justify. I don’t mind weird accessories as long as I can come up with some sort of rationale behind them, but there’s just no way I can figure out why someone would need a cape on the battlefield.
The G.I. Joe Trooper’s color scheme is pretty basic, but that’s fine. It still accomplishes what it needs to. The BDUs are a nice military green and the black vest looks good over it. The cape and neckerchief came in two colors, either blue or brown. While the tan is a nice nod to the movie where the G.I. Joe Troopers are fighting in North Korea in a desert camo look, I really don’t think the tan looks as good against the green as the blue does. If they were going to do the brown, I think Hasbro would have been better served by doing a full color variant for the G.I. Joe Trooper instead of just the cape and neckerchief. I think a brown cape would have been good paired with a tan G.I. Joe Trooper. As it is, I’m very glad I have the blue caped version because I think the look works a little better this way.
G.I. Joe Trooper is another figure with a lot of gear, but what’s really great is that he can carry it all with him. Attached to his vest is a small double sheath for two small knives. Even more impressive, the knife molds are different. I like seeing new knife molds in the Joe line and hopefully they’ll see use with other figures. The bootknife Hasbro uses is a good piece, but it’s also pretty overused. For firearms, the G.I. Joe Trooper has four pistols (two pairs of new molds), a sniper rifle, an assault rifle, and a grenade launcher. His backpack has holsters for all four pistols and the upper part of the backpack has two spots where you can slip in rifle handles for storage there as well. While it may not be the most realistic way to carry weapons, it does mean the G.I. Joe Trooper can carry all his weapons with him. The backpack also holds two other accessories. The first is a gas mask helmet (again either blue or brown depending on which version you got) that the unhelmeted head can wear. It’s a decent enough mold, but it doesn’t fit on his head that well. It looks good on the backpack, but I don’t really think it looks good enough for the G.I. Joe Trooper to wear otherwise. The backpack also holds a bright orange entrenching tool. I like the accessory, but I’m not wild about the color choice. I don’t mind neon hues on my Joes, but the bright orange shovel seems out of place on a character that is otherwise colored rather realistically. If he were colored like the 1994 Viper, the orange shovel wouldn’t look out of place, but on a green and blue G.I. Joe Trooper, it just stands out a little too much for my taste. I really do have to give the Hasbro designers kudos for this guy. I like it when characters have a lot of weapons (like Retaliation Lady Jaye), but I like it even more when I actually have a way for them to carry all those weapons instead of making me either set them all on the figure stand or find some additional storage for them.
While I don’t think everything Hasbro did with the initial waves of the Retaliation line was great, there were just enough gems floating around to make the line worthwhile to me. I’m never going to buy block-hands Roadblock or zipline Flint because they’re subpar figures, but figures like a very nice version of Cobra Commander and Battle Kata Roadblock were released right alongside these guys. G.I. Joe Trooper was another great figure that I’m glad collectors were largely willing to embrace. I’ll admit, I’ve never had a strong opinion either way regarding the idea of Joe greenshirts. The only other generic Joe troopers I picked up was the Rise of Cobra PIT Commando and the 30th Anniversary Steel Brigade because, honestly, Hasbro has a pretty bad track record of making lame Joe troopers. However, this greenshirt really shines on his own merits. I think he works well as a generic futuristic soldier you can make an army of, but I also think there’s enough character in his design that if there’s only one in your collection he can stand in as a new elite trooper. As I’m writing this, I kind of realized I’m getting a bit of an updated Mirage vibe from him, between the high tech gear and all the weapons since I believe Mirage was listed as the Mega-Marines’ weapons specialist. Even the blue cape helps tie him back to Mirage’s original color scheme. G.I. Joe Trooper shows that while the Retaliation line had some hiccups, much like the movie itself, all was not nearly as bad as it seemed.