Slaughter’s Marauders Spirit (30th Anniversary)
Once again, it’s time to review the weakest figure out of a multi-pack. For the Marauders set, that dubious distinction belongs to Spirit. While I appreciate that he’s not just a complete repaint of the Pursuit of Cobra version, I kind of wish he was. I think I would have liked that look a lot better than this one, and it would have given people another chance at getting that particular version of Spirit. I don’t know about anyone else, but I only saw Pursuit of Cobra Spirit a couple times at stores, so much like Low-Light, this would have been a great figure to completely rerelease since it was pretty hard to find.
Spirit’s look has always been unique. I understand Hasbro not wanting to recycle the 25th Anniversary Spirit figure since it’s rather dated and its design wouldn’t lend itself very well to the Marauders color scheme (even though that didn’t stop them from doing it in 1989). However, I wish they would have at least tried to reference any look that Spirit ever had. The Marauders Spirit uses an odd collection of parts to make a rather weak figure. His head and arms come from the great Pursuit of Cobra Spirit but the rest of his body comes from Resolute Snake Eyes. I really liked the sculpt they used for the Pursuit of Cobra Spirit and had I not lucked out and found him at Toys ‘R’ Us for the second he was there (which was longer than Pursuit of Cobra Quick Kick was ever on the shelves) I’d be glad to see it getting reused here. I also think it’s a nice callback to the Air Commandos Spirit. Part of why I think I wasn’t much of a Spirit fan growing up was his hair. While I realize in the real world, the braids he originally had are very appropriate for a Native American, in the smaller, less-detailed age of Real American Hero, I thought he was wearing pigtails. That just really didn’t scream solider to me. However, the tribal headband and long hair he wore in the 90s looked a little better to me. I’m sure that’s an unintentional callback, but I like it nevertheless. He also gets to wear Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Duke’s webgear, and that’s a very good thing since it helps disguise the first problem with this pairing, his disproportionate shoulders. The Pursuit of Cobra Spirit had some rather muscular arms, which is fine, but the spandex-shirted torso of Resolute Snake Eyes is rather skinny in comparison. As such, his arms look just a little too big for his body. The webgear does help disguise this fact, but if the webgear’s alignment is a little off, it’s rather obvious. Secondly, I don’t know if I like the shirtless look for Spirit. Yes, I understand it’s hot in the jungle, but I think Spirit would be more than willing to put up with some additional heat if it means raising his chances at returning home alive. I can understand a shirtless character who’s a trainer and isn’t in combat (like Big Boa), but I think even the Joe team’s rather lax dress code wouldn’t accept a shirtless combat troop. I find myself wishing they’d just reused the entire Pursuit of Cobra mold (or at least used that vest) since that would be a pretty good way to represent Marauders Spirit. I do like the use of the Resolute Snake Eyes legs. It’s a nice break from the relatively frequent use of Pursuit of Cobra Zartan legs but at the same time, they’re not unique enough that they seem out of place on someone other than Resolute Snake Eyes.
Unfortunately, paint is another area where Spirit does some things amazingly well, yet other things are executed maddeningly poorly. The Marauders camouflage looks really sharp on his legs but I do wish that the boots would have gotten a little more attention from the paint department. The boots have great detailing like buckles, steel toecaps and shin guards, but that detail all gets kind of lost with the flat black paintjob. Above the waist, the webgear gets a very detailed paintjob. The front of the webgear is black and brown while the back has an additional brown tone, giving you a look that is a combination of leather and typical military nylon. I really appreciate all the attention this was given, but there is some slop on the back of the webgear that looks a little out of place. Underneath the webgear, Spirit has a very detailed tribal tattoo on his chest. I’ve seen images like this before in Southwestern Native American art, but I’m not sure if there’s supposed to be some actual meaning behind the tattoo or not. It’s very well executed, but I’m not sure if it’s something Spirit would have or not. I can see guys like Mercer and Red Dog having tattoos a lot more readily than Spirit just because they’re not regular military. While the armed forces have relaxed their stances on tattoos, I’m not sure if a large chest tattoo (especially on a service member who’s going into the field shirtless) would be kosher. I believe the general rule of thumb anymore is just that it can’t be visible while in uniform. Regardless of real-world issues (since I’m fine with Gung-Ho have a big chest tattoo), I’ve just never seen Spirit as a tattoo guy. While we’re on the subject of Spirit’s exposed skin, Spirit got quite a bit whiter this time around. The skintone they used for either modern Spirit looked decent and appropriate for a Native American Joe. However, this version of Spirit looks more like a white guy with a large tribal tattoo on his chest. To make matters worse, I imagine part of the reason for the Caucasian skintone for him was to make the tattoo stand out a little better. The blue for his armbands meshes well with the rest of the Marauders, but the bicep bands on both arms are a little fuzzy. The paintjob on the gloves is nice and crisp, but that crispness is lacking on the bicep bands. It seems that Spirit’s headsculpt can’t catch a break in the paint department. While I like the sculpt very much, he’s still got a rather glassy stare. The Pursuit of Cobra version had this problem as well and I was kind of hoping they could remedy it this time around, but apparently that’s not the case. I’m sure they were going for staring off into the distance, tracking something most people can’t see, but it comes off more as that thousand-yard stare that comes from having just been through a horrifying combat experience.
Spirit also winds up getting a bit shorted on weapons. The paint work on his weapons is great, but the weapons themselves are rather lackluster. First off, he gets the machete designed to fit in the sheath on his webgear. It’s a good little tool, but I’ve always felt that it was just a bit too small for a proper machete. The brown handle is a nice touch, though. His other weapon is his dart rifle. This thing was poorly designed when they made it during the 25th Anniversary line, and it hasn’t really aged well. While I appreciate that they made it look like a real rifle, unlike rifles during the Real American Hero days where they’d just stick a handle on it so it could be held in a better (or any sort of) firing position. As the team’s tracker, I wish they would have given him a bit larger machete and then something like the Rise of Cobra PIT Commando rifle. That would have made much more sense for a pointman/tracker than the dart rifle in my opinion. The paintjob on the rifle really makes it look sharp, but beyond that, it’s rather lackluster and not that useful.
I guess the more skin a Joe figure shows, the worse off they are. Both Zanzibar and Spirit are essentially shirtless and they’re also both bad figures. While Spirit isn’t as terrible as Zanzibar, he’s still definitely the weakest of the Marauders. Between poor parts and weapons choices, Spirit really doesn’t succeed on any level. He doesn’t fail either, but he just doesn’t work that well. I know there are always figures in multipacks that are designed to help recoup the costs from other more expensive figures, but this Spirit is just lackluster and what’s frustrating is that a couple small changes (using the Pursuit of Cobra Spirit torso and/or vest instead of the Resolute Snake Eyes torso and giving him some more field-appropriate gear) would have made what was a weak figure into something with the potential to be really cool and all just as easily as this one was made. Zanzibar was completely unfixable, but what makes Spirit so maddening is that he’s so close to being good. It’s not terrible a terrible figure but it’s just bad enough that it’s noticeably bad and that’s a shame. This Spirit had a pretty tough act to follow by coming after the incredible Pursuit of Cobra Spirit and unfortunately, he didn’t really do that good of a job.