Slaughter’s Marauders Mercer
Felix “Mercenary” Stratton has always been, hands down, my favorite Renegade. As a kid, I was really captivated by the idea of a guy who defected from Cobra and fought for the Joes instead. That was a unique angle and I liked it from the moment Sergeant Slaughter first introduced use to Mercer during G.I. Joe: The Movie. His portrayal was interesting since even though he was kind of a bruiser, he wound up having a British accent and I think was the most talkative of the Renegades. I’ll admit, I was disappointed when the mythical Viper Assault Squad 5-pack was canceled even though they still had the terrible original Viper arms just because it also meant canceling a Viper with an alternate head that was supposed to represent Mercer. Thankfully, Hasbro was able to find a way to incorporate Mercer and the rest of the Renegades into the Slaughter’s Marauders set, even if Taurus had to be called “Bull” and Mercer was now renamed “Mercenary” (and had the wrong rank and hometown printed on his filecard). The Renegades were way more important to me with this set than the Marauders and while Mercer has a few small issues, just like back in 1987, I think Mercer is probably the best figure out of the Renegades set.
I really love Mercer’s updated design. They did a great job echoing his original look while updating it for modern times. His torso and upper legs come from the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper, the arms are from Rise of Cobra shirtless Storm Shadow and the lower legs come from the Pursuit of Cobra Zartan. The parts work pretty well for Mercer though I find the arms a little disappointing because of the missing articulation. I think the use of Storm Shadow’s bracers to reference the original Mercer’s one big glove was a good call. However, when the lower arms got reworked for the Pursuit of Cobra Viper, they added in some additional wrist articulation. I wish Hasbro could have found a way to grab those lower arms and pair them with the Storm Shadow upper arms they originally belonged to just so Mercer could hold his weapons better. It’s not bad, but considering I bought the 30th Anniversary Viper before Mercer came out, I’m pretty sure this tooling was available, but it wasn’t used. I don’t think the missing articulation is a deal-breaker, but it’s a little strike against Mercer. You don’t see the Shock Trooper torso because he’s wearing an Alley Viper vest over it and I really love that. The original Mercer was wearing a bulky vest, but it didn’t really look like anything Cobra-issue. Using the Alley Viper vest for Mercer was a brilliant move. It’s got the holsters and pouches on it like the original Mercer did, but it’s still clearly something he stole from Cobra on his way out the door. While it would have been a bit tighter tie to his backstory of leaving the Cobra Vipers if he were wearing a Viper vest, I really think the Alley Viper vest looks better here than that Viper vest would have. Topping off the body is a new-ish head sculpt. From what I can gather from a few photos floating around the Internet, it looks like there were a few cancelled Joe-rassic Park pieces that never got close enough to full production to warrant a release. One of them was a weird helicopter-like thing and the test shot of the pilot was someone with a head looked a lot like Mercer here. I’m not sure if they’re the same piece or not, but it’s possible that the head they used for Mercer wasn’t originally designed for him. That said, it does do a really good job of capturing the original Mercer vibe. Honestly, the only thing I’m really don’t like about it is the pair of earrings. I just never really saw Mercer as an earring guy. Even with Mr. Stratton’s questionable choice in cranial accessories, his head sculpt still looks pretty good. While I wouldn’t say he’s nearly as imposing as Red Dog, he still looks like a relatively rough guy who’s seen some pretty hairy things over the course of his life. I like the cocked eyebrow he’s got. It gives him an expression something akin to “You really want to fight me?” I like that in Mercer…he doesn’t look as imposing as the other two Renegades, but considering he can hold his own in the group, he’s still a guy you’d never want to mess with.
Mercer’s paint job also does a great job of hitting nearly all the major points of his original look. While his vest is red, Mercer’s undershirt is a very bright orange. Honestly, I’m glad that the vest is red as opposed to orange. The orange vest always looked a little bit like a life preserver back in the day. The red Alley Viper vest clearly looks like a red tactical vest. The black paint apps on his white pouches are a bit sloppy on mine, but otherwise the paint job on his vest is pretty crisp. The arms look good, though I kind of wish the bracers were the same color as his gloves, if nothing else to further tie back to Mercer’s original gloves. The detail I really like on his arms is the anti-Cobra tattoo on his left arm. That detail was something pulled from the movie and I love it. It’s crisp and cleanly done and really completes the look. I think without that little addition on his left arm, his arms would be kind of boring, but with the added tattoo, he’s got a little more flair. The legs are basic with blue and black, and they look good, though I do kind of find myself missing the gray stripe the original Mercer had running down his legs. It was a nice detail that helped break up the basic nature of his pants. However, the figure really doesn’t suffer for it, so I can give it a pass there.
Mercer’s gear really helps make this figure shine. First off, he gets an Alley Viper knife to fill in the sheath on his chest. While it’s not a fancy piece, I’m still always amazed that the knife can stay in there so securely yet isn’t extremely difficult to take out. That was a great design move when they made this for the Defense of Cobra Island Alley-Viper and it still impresses me to this day. To reference his original weapon—a really big pistol with a really long silencer—the Mercer has the Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake-Eyes II pistol and silencer combo. While I liked Mercer’s original gun because it was so unique, it also looked kind of awkward in his hands because it was somewhat oversized for a pistol. I’m glad Hasbro referenced it with this great pistol because I can just see Mercer sneaking up on a Cobra position taking down a guard or two, Solid Snake-style as he slips past the base’s defenses on his own to create havoc before the main assault. As befitting an ex-Viper, Mercer’s main weapon is the distinctive Viper rifle. I’ll admit, I always tended to give Mercer that gun growing up because I liked the idea of Mercer carrying a weapon he stole from Cobra when he left. Since there was an extra shotgun (originally used with 30th Law) that didn’t really seem to go with anyone, I also gave that to Mercer. That’s his primary weapon on display. It’s an intimidating weapon and is something else I just felt Mercer would be comfortable with. Like when I was a kid, I still always tend to give my favorite figures the coolest looking weapons and Mercer still seems to benefit from that old play habit.
The Marauders set was kind of weird for me. When I first ordered the two exclusive sets, I was super excited for the Marauders and kind of unimpressed with a lot of the Dreadnoks but figured if the Dreadnok set sold out fast and I didn’t like it, I could just sell them off. As more and more pictures came out, the Dreadnoks set rose in my esteem while, as a
whole, the Marauders fell a bit. Even though as a whole the Marauders didn’t enthrall me as much as they first did, I’m still very excited about Mercer. He really succeeds with me on a nostalgic level. They did a great job of replicating his original look but still managed to modernize it enough that he didn’t look dated. I think where the Marauders fell short for me was that over half the set was characters I already had. While some of them (namely Falcon) wound up getting far superior renditions this way, everything else was pretty close to what I already had, just in a matching camo scheme. However, the three brand new Renegades drew me in and I’m glad to have all three of them in my collection for the first time. Mercer is still, of course, the man, but as a trio, the Renegades look good together and feel like a team even though they don’t have any design elements to bring them together.