Retaliation Kwinn

By KansasBrawler

I didn’t start reading G.I. Joe comics until I was in high school, so when I say Kwinn is a figure I’ve been waiting to get since I first met him back in Issue #2 of the original comic series, we’re only talking about waiting a little over a decade by the time he finally came out. I realize that isn’t as long as some Joe fans have been waiting for him, but he’s still somebody I’ve always hoped would get a figure somehow. I am very happy that a version of Kwinn in his jungle duds finally got released and I’m even happier that it’s a great figure. The Retaliation line may have had some problems early on, but the figures in the later waves were absolutely amazing. Yes, Kwinn wasn’t initially designed to be part of the Retaliation line, but at least Hasbro got him out. He’s part of a select group of characters Larry Hama invented solely for the comic book. I think it’s great that Hasbro let Mr. Hama have a little leeway in universe building. The stories could have gotten a little dull if the Joes were only ever fighting against Cobra characters that were either on the shelves at the time or were going to be coming out the next year in the toy line. However, Kwinn and Hama’s other creations, like White Clown, were fully-developed characters, just like the Joes and Cobras on the shelves. That’s something you definitely don’t see much these days in toy lines that have tie-ins with other media. The G.I. Joe cartoon was a glorified ad, but I feel the comic was something special, and characters like Kwinn were part of what made it so.
Analysis of Kwinn’s role in Joe media aside, Kwinn looks like he stepped right off the page and the Hasbro team did an amazing job of taking Larry Hama’s artwork and translating it into an action figure. Though we’ve seen Kwinn’s torso and arms on other figures, they were both originally designed to be used here, so Kwinn is using all new molds. First off, I’d like to start with his legs. As Rob pointed out during Nice Pants Week a couple of years ago, not many Joes ever wore shorts. The only ones I can come up with are Valor Vs. Venom Alpine and Sagat if you want to count the Joe Street Fighter line. That was always a bit of a stumbling block for a Kwinn figure and I’m sure that’s why Hasbro only created his parka look from Issue #2 when they did the comic packs during the Valor Vs. Venom line. When the Joe line was winding down a bit, they couldn’t justify investing new tooling dollars to make set of vintage o-ring style legs that were wearing shorts. However, with the benefit of coming into the 30th Anniversary line (where he was originally slated to come out), they could afford to spend some money and make Kwinn looks like he should. The shorts look great and have all sorts of pockets. His bare legs are very well-defined and his boots look great. I love the fact they went as far as including the top of his socks as well. That’s a detail they could have just let slip, but they even made sure that his socks stuck out of the top of his boots like they often do just to add another element of realism to the design. His upper body has been seen a few times but that’s fine. It’s a nice basic military shirt, so it’s got some solid reuse potential here. It looks just like the shirt he wore in Sierro Gordo so once again, Hasbro did a great job of replicating the original artwork while still giving us a piece that isn’t so specific it can’t be used for other figures. To make his design look a little more interesting, Kwinn is wearing a removable belt with a canteen and holster on it and hunting vest. The belt looks like a military surplus web-belt that you can get a lot of different places and I like the pouches on it. It looks appropriate to the character even though I’m not sure that Kwinn wore something exactly like it. My only real complaint is that the knife sheath on his back isn’t functional. Like non-functional holsters, I find it kind of surprising when, with as good as Hasbro has gotten of late at making functional holsters and sheaths, we get one that’s got the weapon permanently molded into it. Kwinn’s vest is also a great new piece. I call it a hunting vest because I had a hunting vest similar to it that didn’t have much actual material on the front but was full backed so that’s the equivalency I’m drawing on there. Again, I don’t remember Kwinn wearing a vest since it’s been a really long time since I read those issues of the comic, but it looks appropriate and helps flesh out the overall design a bit more so I really like it. I can see it providing him a bit of protection when he’s in the wild but it’s still light enough that it doesn’t get in the way when he’s working. Finally, I have to talk about Kwinn’s head sculpt. His head is the one place where Kwinn deviates a bit from the artwork, but that’s fine. In his first appearances, Kwinn looked like a pretty terrible caricature. This head sculpt still has a bit of Kwinn’s classic bowlcut, but everything else looks far more refined. Kwinn’s face is full of character. It’s clear he is a middle-aged mercenary who has seen his fair share of trouble on the road of life. He’s got a steely determination behind his eyes and he’s clearly intense and an adept operator. However, it does feel just a little younger than I was expecting. I always kind of saw Kwinn as someone who was in his fifties and this face is about a decade off my interpretation of the character. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for some reason, I’ve always felt Kwinn was a bit on the older side of the age range for someone that makes his living doing what he does. The design is great and I’m really glad Hasbro created this head from whole cloth instead of using the first Kwinn figure as a guide. I think the jungle gear looks better and is more iconic.

Kwinn’s colors have always been a little on the restrained side, but the Hasbro folks manage to add in enough variation to make things interesting. First and foremost, I do have to give Hasbro credit for giving him a natural skin tone. It’s clear that Kwinn isn’t a white guy, which definitely can’t be said for his skin tone back in the comic. He looks appropriately ethnic while avoiding the overly yellow skin tone that Budo had. His shorts are a slightly darker tan than his shirt and that’s fine. I think it makes a little more sense that his shorts wouldn’t be quite the same color since I’m not sure of any military force that issues shorts as part of the uniform. I can see the shirt coming from a military surplus store, but the cargo shorts being something purchased from a sporting goods store instead. The vest and belt are yet another different shade of tan so even though he’s generally wearing a lot of tan, everything managed to stay a little more distinct because of the proper use of different shades. His canteen gets a red and white stripe on it and the stripes are applied well.

Kwinn’s accessories are where it’s most apparent that he was designed for a slightly different time in the Joe line. While some Retaliation figures had a lot of accessories, that wasn’t really the norm and if they did, they were a lot of rather generic pieces. Kwinn, on the other hand, has a lot of great accessories and for the most part, they’re unique to him. Starting off, I have to talk about his backpack. It’s the same one that Pursuit of Cobra Low-Light came with, but thanks to the design (and with a little judicious balancing), you can get all of Kwinn’s gear, except his machine gun, in the backpack so he can carry all his equipment at once. The backpack also gets some attention from the paint team with some red and blue stripes with a white tribal design over them. It looks really sharp and the detailing is quite impressive considering how small it is. As befitting a hunter, Kwinn carries a bolt-action rifle with a scope. It’s the same one that Resolute Scarlett came with and it’s a great design here. It’s not the fanciest weapon around, but it looks just like the rifle my father taught me how to shoot with back in the day and it’s a great weapon for a hunter to be carrying. However, Kwinn is also in touch with his Alaskan roots. His curved knife is based on a real knife called an ulu that is used for just about any non-combat purpose you can think of by Alaskan Natives. Having used one a few times in my life, it is a knife that can be useful for a wide variety of tasks and I’m sure Kwinn could also use it pretty effectively in combat. He also carries a club with a blade tied into it. It looks kind of like an improvised weapon that he would have cobbled together after getting stranded in the wilderness without all the gear he’d need to survive. Considering this is a bit younger Kwinn than I would have thought, I kind of like the idea of exploring the adventures of young Kwinn and figuring out when he would have needed to throw this thing together in the wild. His belt has a holster for his pistol and to fill it, he’s carrying the same revolver that the Resolute Comic Pack Destro came with. I like that addition as his final line of defense. It’s a pretty heavy-caliber revolver and it makes me think of the Smith & Wesson Grizzly Defense kit, which is just a short-barreled .50 caliber revolver. Again, I can see Kwinn carrying this piece at all times just in case he gets cornered by something that’s too close for him to hit with his rifle and he can’t reach his shotgun. Over the vest, he wears his trademark weasel skull necklace and a bandolier of bullets for his machine gun. I’ll admit, I don’t like the bullets. If they were done like a regular piece of webgear that you can snap shut, I’d be okay with it, but it doesn’t work that well without being able to secure it in place. It kind of hurts the overall look and it doesn’t stay on him all that securely. Considering they gave him an ammo belt for the machine gun, I’d really rather just have that than also have him wearing another belt of ammo on him when it doesn’t fit all that well. While the bandolier is a bit weak in my estimation, I love the skull necklace. Though I don’t recall Kwinn ever wearing it again after his time in the arctic, it’s still a nice nod to Kwinn’s comic book origins. For hunting a little larger game, Kwinn has a nice shotgun. It’s a newly sculpted piece, though we did see it before since Retaliation Joe Colton was released before Kwinn. While it looks a little bit more like a tactical weapon than a hunting weapon, it still looks great in Kwinn’s hands. Kwinn also carries the Crimson Neo-Viper’s pike and it makes sense when you think of his Eskimo roots. While he’s not exactly dressed for hunting in the ice, his experiences in the Arctic would probably have required him to get pretty good with a spear either for hunting or fishing. The hooked Crimson Neo-Viper pike looks great and I can see an Alaskan outdoorsman like Kwinn being quite adept with it. Kwinn in his jungle gear made quite an impression when the Joes ran into him again when he shot their weapons out of their hands with his .50 caliber machine gun…carrying one around like his personal weapon before Roadblock made it cool. As a nod to that, Kwinn’s carrying 25th Anniversary Roadblock’s machine gun with tripod. This has never been my favorite piece and it’s still not great here. I’ve been toying with seeing how Ultimate Roadblocks larger machine gun looks in his hands because as I recall, the gun he used in the comic looked quite a bit closer to that than Roadblock’s Browning M-2 machine gun. His final accessory is another piece appropriate for a hunter, the foot trap that we first saw with Pursuit of Cobra Recondo. I like seeing it here a bit more than I did with Recondo. As an Eskimo outdoorsman, I’m sure Kwinn used something like this to trap big game pretty regularly. I love the design of this piece and I really like that Kwinn got to use it as well.

It took us a long time to get a good figure of Kwinn. Mercifully, he really turned out to be worth the wait. This figure had a lot of expectations to live up to. Kwinn was a great character in the comics and considering how his figure passed into mythical status after getting cancelled from the 30th Anniversary line leading into the Retaliation rebranding, he became one of the more sought after pre-production figures. I’d always hoped that, considering how far along Kwinn was before he got cancelled, we’d see him somehow. I was a little surprised when it was announced he was coming in the Retaliation super wave, but I was also very excited and Kwinn really didn’t disappoint at all. He’s an amazing representation of a fan-favorite character that only ever got one figure and more importantly he’s in the clothes we always associated him with. While I applaud Hasbro for doing an Arctic Kwinn during the comic pack days, it always felt a little weak considering how many appearances he had in his jungle garb. The head having the jacket’s furry collar molded into it rather than it being molded into the torso didn’t help matters much either since it became a lot more work for enterprising customizers to reuse Kwinn’s head to make a proper Kwinn. Finally, thirteen years after my first exposure to this cool and complicated character, I finally have the perfect representation of him.

3 comments

  • If only Hasbro had put that much effort in the ARAH comic packs. It’s nice that Kwinn was finally released. It’s a travesty that he doesn’t exist in a form that’s compatible with the ’83 Joes who shaped one of the great runs in the comic.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit

    The face looks gaunt and sickly. Not at all what I remember from the comics.

  • Kwinn used a .30 caliber machine gun, not a “Ma Deuce”. A strong single person might be able carry and fire a .30 caliber mg (31 lbs not including ammo) but probably not with much accuracy, certainly not the trick shooting Kwinn did.

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