MARS Invades Iron Grenadier
As a Joe collector, I’ve always loved everything about the Iron Grenadiers. I remember using my vintage Iron Grenadier figure a lot as a very dangerous bodyguard. I’ve also previously mentioned my slight obsession with the vintage Night Viper figure since I never found him when I was a kid. When I first saw reviews of the M.A.R.S. Invades con set and saw the Iron Grenadier used the vintage figure’s head on the body of a Night Viper, I was blown away. A Night Viper would be great, but six Iron Grenadiers that use that body is like peanut butter and chocolate to me. They’re two great figures and the GIJCC took the best parts of each one and combined them into something even better. While it may have taken me until 2009 to finally be able to buy this set, I’m glad I have it, and the six Iron Grenadiers are a big part of why I enjoy the set so much.
It’s hard to improve on a good figure like the Iron Grenadier, but much like Dress Blues Gung-Ho, I always thought that figure looked just a little too fancy for full battlefield duty. That’s why he was generally a dangerous and elite bodyguard. However, General Mayhem’s Iron Grenadiers (who the filecard says are former Spetsnaz operatives) look all geared up for some heavy combat. From the neck down, this figure uses the Night Viper molds. The legs are stoutly built and look heavily padded. These Iron Grenadiers are definitely well protected since this gear looks pretty thick. The right leg has two pegs for the Iron Grenadier’s rifle to attach to while the left leg has three canisters that connect to something on the side of his leg. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it looks cool. My own justification is that it’s some kind of stabilizer. When the Iron Grenadier takes up a more static firing position, he can lock his leg down to provide additional stability. The front of the left leg also has a knife molded in. It’s small, but in a bit of a happy accident, it actually kind of looks like the dagger that’s a part of the Iron Grenadiers’ logo. The waist piece is relatively simple, but he does have a padded codpiece and I can’t remember if the Night Viper’s belt buckle got mentioned during Belt Buckle Week, but he’s also got a pretty nice buckle. It’s nothing terribly fancy, but it’s still a little more impressive than a regular belt buckle. Up top, the heavily padded look continues on the Iron Grenadier’s torso and arms. The torso feels a bit bulkier than the average Joe torso, so to me, that means the Iron Grenadier is wearing a pretty thick Kevlar vest. Over the vest, he’s also wearing a harness with another knife sheath and some thick shoulder pads. The Iron Grenadier’s arms are also somewhat bulky and again, they’re loaded with detail. Both arms have thick elbow pads and metal plates over his knuckles. I like the idea of a uniform having built in brass knuckles for some reason. The right arm has a bicep bandolier that I think holds some extra ammo and the left arm has a pouch over his wrist. It makes sense that everything on this figure comes together so well since it’s pretty much all Night Viper, but having never had the Night Viper growing up, I love how detailed this mold is and I love how the details give me all sorts of ideas about this figure as a character. Up top, the figure uses the Iron Grenadier’s head. The Iron Grenadier helmet definitely has a shock trooper vibe. It’s very heavily armored, so it’s always made me think that the Iron Grenadier is a real threat on the battlefield. The front of the helmet looks like it has some sort of breathing protector on it and the Iron Grenadier’s eyes are covered by glass. The helmet itself is kind of angular with a fin on top. I don’t quite get the purpose of the fin, but I definitely get a World War I German vibe from it. That’s a great look to obliquely reference since the helmets from that era of warfare were definitely heavy duty and kind of fancy. While the head may not be the original piece associated with the Night Viper body, it works well and fits well with the heavy trooper vibe I get from the Night Viper body.
What really helps make this figure shine is the color scheme. Like the rest of the M.A.R.S. Invades figures, the Iron Grenadier is decked out in black, gray, red and gold. The basic bodysuit is black and the Night Viper body looks quite sharp in black. The armored boots are done in gray while the armor strapped to his thighs is done in gold and they have red straps holding them on. Honestly, the gold thigh armor is about the only weak point of the figure. It just seems a little too ostentatious of a color to use on that much armor. I think keeping all the leg armor gray would probably look a little better, but the figure doesn’t look terrible with gold. Around his waist, the Iron Grenadier here a red belt with a gold buckle and a gray codpiece. There’s not much gray on the upper body, limited to just the knife handle, the elbow pads and the knuckle plates. The red is used on his bicep pouches, the wrist pouch and the straps across his chest. The shoulder pads are gold and I think the gold works well up there. It’s a little bit of flair, but it’s not so much that it feels like it’s the dominant color on his torso. There are also three gold dots on his chest. I’m not quite sure why those molded details are there, but it’s good that the GIJCC made sure they got painted. Over his left pec, the Iron Grenadier also has the Iron Grenadier faction logo and it’s nice that he got to use one of them this time around. I’ve always thought that logo is pretty classy and it looks quite nice on the Iron Grenadier’s torso. On the helmet, there’s really not much difference in the paint work between this Iron Grenadier and the vintage figure. The lower part of the face mask is red and the rest of the helmet is black. I do wish the GIJCC would have painted the visor so it stands out a little better and it might have been nice to put some gold on the strap on the back of the helmet to bring out that detail, but those are minor nitpicks regarding this figure. I think the color scheme on this figure is great and it walks the line between ceremonial guard and shock trooper very well.
Since the Iron Grenadier shares his body with the Night Viper, it makes sense that his gear is a bit of a mashup between the Night Viper and the Iron Grenadier. Since he’s got the pegs that hold it on his right leg, the Iron Grenadier’s primary weapon is the Night Viper’s rifle. It’s an okay piece and it looks pretty good on his leg, but it looks a bit awkward in his hands. You can fake an okay firing position with the vintage articulation, but it doesn’t look great. However, I do feel I should mention some plastic quality issues here. Most of the holes on the guns have stress marks around them from the pegs and one gun actually snapped off part of the top peg. It wouldn’t surprise me if the original Night Viper had this same problem, but it did still kind of bum me out when I pulled this set out of storage for review that the guns were a bit damaged from being put on the pegs where they belong. The Iron Grenadier also uses the Night Viper backpack. The backpack looks kind of high tech and there’s an antenna over the right shoulder and what looks like a knife handle over the left shoulder. It’s a solid piece and while I don’t quite know what all the tech details on it would be for, it fits well with the Night Viper’s body. Iron Grenadier also gets the high tech pistol that came with the original Iron Grenadier figure. It fits nicely in his hands and while it’s a bit large for a pistol, I see it as a laser pistol more than a traditional firearm, so it makes sense for it to be a bit bulkier to protect all the sensitive components inside. The Iron Grenadier’s final weapon is the lightning bolt knife that first came with Hydro-Viper and saw a lot of use during the Battle Corps era. It’s a pretty good piece and I’ve always loved that funky blade for some reason. This is also one of the few sets where the Collectors’ Club gray fits well with the overall color scheme of the figures. The gray weapons look nice in the Iron Grenadier’s hands and I love that the Iron Grenadier can carry all his weapons with him, even if some of the holes on the guns are a bit too small for the pegs they’re supposed to fit into.
The M.A.R.S. Invades Iron Grenadier is an amazingly cool figure. I’ll admit, I think part of what makes me like this figure so much is that it uses the Night Viper body. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not missing a lot of must have Joes because my parents always did a great job paying attention to what Joes I liked around birthday and Christmastime, but I was always a little bummed I could never find the Night Viper anywhere. He just looked so cool on the back of the card, so I wanted him in person. I would have loved just getting a re-released Night Viper, but taking that body and putting an Iron Grenadier head on top of it to make it a combat-ready version of the Iron Grenadier was an incredible call. These parts mesh very well together and it makes for a very intimidating figure. Add in the great colors that the GIJCC used to bring out the details on this mold and you have an incredible figure. I tend to review convention sets in the order of how I like the figure, so it’s a testament to how great the M.A.R.S. Invades con set is that an Iron Grenadier that’s made primarily out of Night Viper parts is only the fourth best figure in the set.