Firefly 2-Pack (2003)
I was totally jazzed about getting the convention exclusive set back in 2003. I had attended the JoeCon in Kansas City in 2001, which still featured a 12 inch focus, with its exclusive set. I had missed out on getting the 2002 Crimson Strike Team (which I later picked up and then sold–ouch!) but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next year’s set, particularly due to the new factions and paint decos available in it. There was also a more involved storyline built around the set. These were also the days before the club went to its current format of multiple extra figures and vehicles, offering a single extra two figure pack, as well as a Cobra HISS and submarine. How far they’ve come!
The story of the 2003 con set involves the Black Dragon organization and its links to Cobra. It also turns out that Firefly is thinking someone is horning in on his business, so he decides to infiltrate the island and check in on the Cobra command staff. Wait a minute, isn’t he already close to Cobra Commander anyway? I suppose I shouldn’t ask too many questions here. Regardless, the first step in his plan is getting onto the island under cover of night. That’s why the first Firefly is sporting what’s called night mission camouflage, which obviously means black, but with silver highlights. An all-black Firefly is a cool concept, but the end result looks like something from the weirder days of international releases like Funskool Cross Country. Gotta dig the silver boots. Maybe the club was inspired by the 2002 BJ’s exclusive Sound Attack 8-pack version, with its inexplicable gold boots. Saboteur in gold boots? Wasn’t that the title of a Ted V. Mikels flick?
The second is the Cobra Island infiltrator, outfitted in tropical camouflage. I find this figure to be a bit more interesting, due to its unique two-toned jungle stripe camo. The pattern reminds me somewhat of the 2003 Toys R Us exclusive Tiger Force Wreckage, itself an homage to an unproduced figure. The club was very attentive to extra deco from the early days on these sets, and in my mind, the added details offset the higher prices for these figures.
If you collected modern o-ring Joes through the 2000s, you would most likely have been sick to death of this figure mold by the year 2005, having seen it reappear seven times. I do miss the vintage style figures, but I’m glad some of the more well-traveled designs were finally put out to pasture. Firefly’s break was certainly well deserved.