Crimson Guard (2003)

It’s easy for us children of the 80’s and 90’s to focus on our favorite era, and forget that Joe at one time wore real pants. Well, real cloth pants. I would be remiss as a Joe fan if I didn’t recognize a figure with fabulous cloth pants.

Coming at the time of the new sculpt Spy Troops line, the first ever 12 inch scale Crimson Guard bears little resemblance to its classic counterpart. Looking back at the era, I’m surprised by the sheer number of characters that were released in the larger scale. A Kay Bee Toys exclusive, this figure was made up of a mix of recent and older parts. There’s not much here to call to mind the original CG design, aside from the color, which isn’t quite right either, being an overly bright shade of red.

The Spy Troops series didn’t have a version of the classic Crimson Guard, though I suppose the CLAWS Commander came close in look. This figure looks nothing like either of them, and is a very weird hodge-podge of pieces and parts that make me wonder what exactly the designers were going for.

The unclothed torso is a common feature of the time; I’m assuming it was a cost-cutting measure. At least the arms used were of the more muscular variety, and the look isn’t too scrawny. The bright red arms and black hands are quite off-putting, setting a high weirdness factor. Speaking of weird, how about those pants? I can’t recall having seen this kind of faux leather look in red before. Maybe it’s meant to match the glossy color of the arms, but I think it ends up looking more like Cobra rain gear. The printed thigh pads (complete with Photoshop gradient effect) are another head-scratching element of the figure. This guy is like an M.C. Escher drawing–the more you look into it, the more strange things you notice.

Funny enough, the upcoming Sideshow version of the Crimson Guard appears to be sporting a pleather jacket. Was someone at Sideshow influenced by this guy’s nice pants?


  • It’s too bad they didn’t do a 3 3/4 version of this guy. I am seriously digging that head sculpt! How many Cobras wear berets, anyway? These look like the Crimson Guard as envisioned by Benito Mussolini! Even the pants rock in this case. I was thinking how I’d never seen this figure before until I realized he is a 12” incher. The arms and legs don’t quite match, yeah. But he scores a lot of points for originality.

  • I like this design for the Crimson Guard a lot more than the classic vintage design. These dudes are truly scary looking. Agreeing with Lt Clutch, sucks they never did a 3 3/4″ version.

  • Not too many Cobras with berets.

    IIRC, some customizers did a casted head sculpts based on this figure.

  • The head sculpt and the vest are pretty badass!

  • This is essentially a red, 1/6th scale SKAR trooper from G.I. Joe EXTREME.

  • I love the headsculpt, but why is he wearing cheese graters on his knees? Could make a killer Kitchen Viper…:)

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