MARS Invades Destro
Any time Destro shows up in the Joe line, I get happy. I’ve mentioned my love of Destro quite a few times here, so you should have a pretty good idea of what I think of Destro being part of the M.A.R.S. Invades con set. This version of Destro is far more battle ready than ones we’ve seen in the past, but I really do think he looks sharp. I know quite a few reviewers think he’s the weak link in the set because the GIJCC had access to the 1988 Destro parts and didn’t use them, but I have to respectfully disagree. Decking out the 1988 Destro in the GIJCC’s Iron Grenadiers colors would have left us with a figure that was essentially unchanged from its original release but cost premium prices. This version uses some great, somewhat unloved (or at least underutilized early 90s parts) and they work well to create a different spin on Destro and I’d rather see that in a con set version of a figure than a straight up recreation of a popular vintage figure.
Much like a lot of figures from those early con sets, the GIJCC built this version of Destro using parts from just two different figures. From the neck down, Destro uses the entire body of 1991’s Crimson Guard Immortal. I’ve liked the Crimson Guard Immortal since my brother got him when we were kids. The design is a great update of the Crimson Guard and it works quite well for a Destro that’s leading his troops from the frontlines. His legs look impressively powerful and they’re nicely detailed. His boots reach up to his knees and he’s got quite an impressive system of straps around his legs. The straps hook in just above his knees and on his left leg, the straps carry a few grenades while on the right leg, they support an ammo pouch for his minigun. These straps continue up around his back and under his armor. On his waist piece, Destro is rocking a cool belt and an impressive armored codpiece. The armored codpiece meshes well with his chest armor. I’ll admit, Destro’s torso does seem just a little overly large. It’s a nice piece, but it feels just a little out of proportion with the rest of his body. The armor is very nicely detailed and it looks like it could protect Destro from a lot of punishment. Like his legs, Destro’s arms also look strongly built. He’s got armored shoulder pads and some gauntlets, just like Destro’s classic look. Topping off the figure, the GIJCC grabbed the head from the 1992 Destro, another figure I’m familiar with because of my brother’s collection. It’s not that I didn’t like that version of Destro, but I figured I already had the great Iron Grenadiers Destro, so why get another version of the same character. The 1992 Destro marked the beginning of Destro’s head shrinking and I’m of two minds about it. I liked the DDP justification for Destro’s helmet being able to emote, that it was a nanotech metal covering his face. However, I always liked the more severe look my Iron Grenadiers Destro’s head had. It was angular and rather intimidating. The 1992 Destro head also looks just a little smaller because of how big the Crimson Guard Immortal’s torso is. The slightly too small head accentuates the slightly too big torso. I know the GIJCC didn’t have a lot of choices for Destro heads, so I get why they used this one, but at the same time it does make the figure just a little weaker than it should be because it has some mild proportion issues.
Like the rest of the figures in this set, the GIJCC really knocked this figure out of the park when it came to its paint job. Just like almost every prior Destro figure, this version is rocking a black body suit. It’s a nice reference to his original look. However, to bring him more in line with the earlier Iron Grenadiers version, Destro also has a lot of gold on him. The head is done in vac metal gold and looks sharp and all his armor is done up in gold as well. Destro is definitely a bit flashier than before, but I like it. It’s a very regal look and lets Destro look ceremonial while also letting him look like he belongs on the battlefield. Making him look a little fancier, Destro’s got some nice red trim on the armor and it nicely brings him in line with the rest of the figures in this con set. Finally, he’s got gray boots and if I’m honest, that’s the only real weak spot. For some reason, I just don’t like these in gray. It just looks off compared to the rest of the figure. This is a very ostentatious version of Destro, but the dull gray boots don’t really mesh with that look in my opinion. Keeping with the set’s theme, Destro also gets to wear the Iron Grenadiers logo on him, this time on his chest. Whoever in Hasbro’s art department designed this logo deserves major praise for coming up with such a striking design.
Destro’s weapons are a little funky, but I don’t care. I think the Crimson Guard Immortal’s original weapons were very cool and they look even cooler and more appropriate in Destro’s hands. Destro is carrying around a set of rocket launchers, one double launcher and one single launcher with a machine gun mounted to the other side of it. The machine gun has an ammo belt that connects it to his leg and that does create a little bit of a problem because it makes it somewhat awkward for him to hold them. The missiles can be fired with a flick of the finger yet they stay in their tubes surprisingly well. The crazy handheld missile launchers just scream Destro to me. They’re like a heavier version of Destro’s original wrist rockets but thanks to the built-in machine gun, he’s not limited to just rocket attacks. Destro also gets the Crimson Guard Immortal backpack which can carry three more spare rockets. It’s basically a glorified ammo box but it still looks good on his back.
While Destro may not be a big enough deal for his name to be in the con set, it was still a great move on the GIJCC’s part to include Destro in this set. They could have just used Metal Head and General Mayhem as the named figures in this con set, but adding in Destro makes things even better. With just one set, you get the entire Iron Grenadiers hierarchy plus 12 troops. The use of the Crimson Guard Immortal body was a great call. After all, Destro has always been built just a little bigger than the average Joe and the Crimson Guard Immortal parts fit that bill quite well. He may have some small proportion issues, but it’s not that bad. This Destro definitely looks at home on the battlefield, leading his troops into battle and that’s a great look for Destro. He maintains the classic figure’s intimidation factor but doesn’t look out of place on the frontlines. The Crimson Guard Immortal accessories, while slightly cumbersome, look great in Destro’s hands and there’s a precedent for Destro carrying around wild rocket launchers, and I think that’s a great call back to make. I don’t know why, but this version of Destro really just works for me. Parts of me want to dig out my old Despoiler to see how he looks in the cockpit of it, but even without the Despoiler (or the Iron Mech souvenir he could pilot), he’s a great piece and a wonderful addition to my collection.