Robert “Airborne” Six (Project: Downfall)
Back in the day, I only had one Sky Patrol figure, and that was Airborne. I never knew about the original Airborne when I was a kid. I know there are some Joe fans that aren’t a fan of that codename showing up on someone who wasn’t Mr. Talltree, but my Airborne has always been Robert “Airborne” Six. If the Joe team can have three guys running around with the codename of Long Range, why can’t there be a couple guys named Airborne? Because of my ties to him, the modern version of Airborne had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the GIJCC did a great job with him. There are a few things I wish they had done differently, but he’s still an excellent figure and I love having the modern version of my lone Sky Patrol figure on my shelf.
Airborne is another surprisingly complex GIJCC figure. There have been a lot of simple head swaps lately and I don’t fault the GIJCC for doing that, but it does make it a little bit more of a treat when someone shows up using a variety of parts. Airborne’s legs come from the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper. They’re solid legs and they let Airborne have the same tucked in boots and kneepads he had back in the day without having to use the 25th Anniversary Mutt legs (with their thunderous thighs) like 25th Anniversary Lift Ticket did. His torso comes from a rather surprising place, the first Retaliation Firefly figure. It’s an out of the box choice, but I kind of like it. A tiny part of me wishes Airborne had used a generic torso with the 25th Anniversary Lift Ticket vest over it, but this is actually a nice way to do it. The torso looks more like Airborne is wearing some sort of flak vest over his shirt, so I think it’s a good look. The molded high collar references the vintage figure’s collar quite well. The torso is detailed differently than the vintage piece, but it’s a pretty good look. The only part this modern version of Airborne shares with the modern Lift Ticket is the arms. The arms have already shown up in this set with Altitude, but they look just a little more at home with Airborne since he used them back in the day. The shoulder pads look nice, though the arms still have a little bit of shallow elbow bend, which does hurt them a bit. It wasn’t a problem for 25th Anniversary Lift Ticket since he was in a vehicle, but for a member of Sky Patrol, that slightly restricted articulation does create a little bit of a problem. Up top, Airborne gets a brand new head, one of two in the main set. I’m of two minds about the head. I appreciate that the GIJCC designed it in a way that they could get more bang for their tooling buck since it also showed up as Scoop in FSS 5.0, however, I really do miss the unique look Airborne had. The vintage Airborne figure, like a lot of the Sky Patrol members, looked like a fairly old and grizzled soldier who had seen some things. There was a lot of character in that face sculpt, and that’s kind of missing on this new piece. Personally, I think part of the problem is that the GIJCC went with a molded helmet instead of a removable one. The design on the helmet part of the head sculpt is excellent and it looks like a modern take on the vintage figure’s removable helmet. However, the relatively neutral face expression coupled with the rather smooth facial features leaves Airborne looking a lot more like a green recruit than an experienced military operator. I know when I played with my vintage Airborne, he was definitely a squad leader because he looked like an older soldier. I don’t know if this version of Airborne could be second in command in Sky Patrol just because he comes across as so young. The overall figure design is solid, but there are just a few points in execution that I wish had been done a little better, and that’s a shame, especially since I’m a big Airborne fan.
While there may have been a few missteps in the figure’s design, the paint work is incredible and really helps tie him to his vintage counterpart. The figure has a great urban camouflage on its legs and arms. It’s a very striking look and it ties him back to the vintage figure very well. The torso, gloves and boots are gray and it looks excellent paired with the very light gray base for the arms and legs and the darker gray for the camouflage blotches. That same gray is also used on Airborne’s helmet. I kind of wish the GIJCC had used the more gunmetal gray color that the vintage figure’s helmet had, but it’s a decent color nonetheless. Like the vintage figure, Airborne has silver on his kneepads and shoulder pads. Rounding out his colors, Airborne has red on his goggles and a Caucasian skin tone. The colors are all vintage- inspired and it really does help make this modern figure look great.
Like the vintage figure, the modern Airborne figure doesn’t have a lot in the way of accessories, but he’s still got more accessories than the vintage version had and they’re great pieces so I don’t mind the smaller gear load. To reference that the vintage Sky Patrol figures came with functional parachute packs, Airborne is one of the three figures that has the 30th Anniversary Renegades Ripcord pack. Considering the filecard has always established Airborne as the team’s quartermaster and parachute assembly expert, I think it’s a nice touch that he’s got one of the parachutes instead of one of the jetpacks. Airborne also picks up a removable chest harness. I believe it’s the same one that I first saw with 30th Anniversary Slaughter’s Marauders Falcon. There I was critical of it because it has no purpose, but with Airborne, I see it as part of his parachute harness, so I think it works. His final non-combat accessory is a great satchel. This is the same piece that first came with 25th Anniversary Red Star and it’s one we haven’t seen used a lot, so I like that it seems a bit more unique than the other satchels in the line. In fact, it wasn’t until I finally got around to reviewing my 25th Anniversary Red Star figure that I realized who it came with. That’s how long it’s been since we’ve seen this piece out there. It’s a good piece with a nicely sized strap. It looks good around Airborne’s shoulder and I think it’s a nice addition because I see it as his medical bag. I remember the vintage filecard talking about how Airborne was the team’s field medic. I liked my brother’s Lifeline figure as a kid, so I always kind of wanted a medic for my squad, but I never found the Tiger Force Lifeline so I didn’t have a medic. Once I read Airborne’s filecard after I got him, I was super excited that he was a medic, I just wished some of his gear had reflected that. Thankfully, the modern version delivered on that front and I do think it’s a nice touch that the GIJCC found a way to reference his secondary role on the team. For weapons, Airborne has a small knife and a large assault rifle. The knife came from the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper. It’s not a common piece, but I kind of like the design of it. I think it fits well for a paratrooper. While I’ve never known any paratroopers, I have known some military folks who served in the Air Force that said that the most important part of their kit was their knife. I was a little surprised when they said that, but then they explained when they were taught about how to jump out of the back of a transport plane in the event of an emergency, they were told to make sure they had their knife not just for survivalist purposes, but also because if they wound up getting their parachute tangled in the trees as they were coming down, that knife could be the difference between getting down and away from the site or getting captured by enemy forces. It’s a nice little realistic touch that I especially like seeing with Airborne. Airborne’s assault rifle is the same piece that came with 30th Anniversary Slaughter’s Marauders Falcon. It’s a solid piece and its size works for me. It looks like a standard rifle with an underslung shotgun barrel. It’s not a perfect analog to the vintage figure’s massive rifle, but it’s a big piece and it captures the idea of the vintage weapon fairly well. The figure’s gear fits the character very well and I appreciate the attention to detail the GIJCC gave to this figure.
Airborne had a lot to live up to in my eyes. He was my Sky Patrol figure back in the day, so I have a lot of memories attached to him and that always means the modern figure winds up with a lot more to live up to. Thankfully, the GIJCC did a bang up job with him. I’m still not wild about the static helmet and slightly neutral face, but it’s still a great update of one of my favorite vintage figures. The modern Airborne is an excellent addition to the Joe line and is probably one of the best-looking Sky Patrol updates in the set. The gear helps flesh out the character a bit more, and I personally love that he’s got a medical bag this time around. I know the GIJCC is going to be around until 2018 and that’s a good thing, but man, are they going to have a bit of trouble topping the Project: Downfall con set because figures like Airborne are so great in it.