Peril in Paradise Undertow Officer
Call me crazy, but when Undertow Officer was first announced, I was kind of excited. Yeah, she was using some pretty dated parts, but the GIJCC didn’t actually show us her head when they released the digital mockup. That left me hopeful for something that could stand in for one of the DDP characters I kind of liked, Armada. Fast forward to late July when the Peril in Paradise set finally showed up at my door, and I’m just a tad disappointed in Undertow Officer. I can use her as Armada if I wish, but honestly, I think the characterization the GIJCC team created in her filecard is pretty great. I just wish the figure itself lived up to the cool new character they created. I’ve taken to calling her Barracuda since she’s clearly an individual character and not a representative of all Undertow Officers, but as it stands Undertow Officer is an interesting new character but one who is unfortunately represented by a relatively weak figure.
Hasbro created one female diver figure, so it’s no surprise that Undertow Officer shares the same parts with the Baroness figure from the first DVD battle pack. Unfortunately for the Undertow Officer, that means she’s using parts from a figure released all the way back in 2009, and time has not been terribly kind to the base parts. The diver Baroness figure used most of 25th Anniversary Scarlett’s parts and those were not great to begin with. The Scarlett body does do a passable job of standing in for a wetsuit, which is surprising, but the pieces from diver Baroness do help distance the body from its original use. Undertow Officer’s feet have flippers permanently built into them, and truthfully, that’s kind of a shame. I’d love to be able to use Undertow Officer on dry land, but with those flippers there, it really kind of precludes that. The hands are far simpler than Scarlett’s, meaning Undertow Officer doesn’t have big gloves, and that’s a good call for someone in a wetsuit. The overall look is very sleek, it’s just a weak look. Plus, it looks as though my Undertow Officer was assembled improperly. When I first pulled her out of the box, I had a lot of trouble getting her to stand on her figure stand in a way that looked natural. Then, as I was tweaking her lower legs into a better position, I figured out why. Her lower legs are on the wrong side. Every other use of this figure has the pouches on the outside of her legs, while my Undertow Officer has them on the inside. It’s surprising how much that throws off the look of the figure. Even more problematic is the fact that because of the way her knees are designed, you can’t really spin the lower leg around to make things look right because then she has backwards knees. That trick works pretty well for some figures’ arms, but it doesn’t work on her legs. Up on the chest, Undertow Officer also has the same chest harness that diver Baroness wore. Again, it helps make this figure look different from Scarlett and it makes the pads on her shoulders symmetrical, which looks nice on a wetsuit. Up top, Undertow Officer uses the head from 25th Anniversary Glenda (aka pilot Scarlett). I like it because it’s a piece I don’t have in my collection, but I’m still a little bummed that the GIJCC didn’t give us a new piece for Undertow Officer. Yes, there were already four new heads in this con set, and that’s how many they gave us last year, but I still think a reused piece here makes Undertow Officer feel just a little cheap. It’s at least better than the diver Baroness’s head because the breath mask isn’t permanently molded to her face, but the Glenda head is yet another Scarlett part used on a figure that’s built primarily out of Scarlett parts. Considering how slowly Glenda moved on the pegs, someone with a spare Glenda could almost make this figure in its entirety just by repainting her. It always bugs me with a GIJCC figure feels a bit like a cheap repaint, and Undertow Officer’s design kind of does.
While I’m relatively unimpressed with the overall figure design of the Undertow Officer, I have to admit that the color scheme is great. The paint work isn’t perfect, but the look itself is still quite striking. Considering how much Joe fans, myself included, loved the black, red and gold Iron Grenadier color scheme from the M.A.R.S. Invades con set, it made perfect sense for the GIJCC to use those colors here on the Undertow Officer. The base of the figure is black, with red used on her leg wraps and trim. The red and black look good together and it helps distance
Undertow Officer from this figure’s previous use as diver Baroness. However, the red on her straps and piping leaves just a bit to be desired. There’s a lot of black bleed through on these spots and consequently, it makes the figure look kind of cheap. There’s some gray on her chest straps to break up all the black on her chest and that same gray is used on her gloves and swim fins. Surprisingly, there’s actually very little gold on the figure herself. The gold is limited to the Iron Grenadier logo on her left breast. It’s a bit surprising how little gold there is on this figure considering how much gold there was on the earlier con set that used these colors, but I’m fine with that. Gold is a color that is best used sparingly. The paint work on Undertow Officer’s head is spot on. The Glenda head looks pretty good painted with an African-American skin tone and the GIJCC’s paint team handled painting over black quite well. My only wish is that they could have done something to get just a little more anger in her face through the paint work. The filecard describes her as a cold and vengeful person, but I just don’t see that in her face. Yes,
part of that ties back to the sculpt originally being designed for a Joe, but I think the paint team could have done something to give her a little more angry fire in her eyes.
To help complete the figure, Undertow Officer has some great accessories, though I’m going to start with the one that’s conspicuously absent from all my photos of her, the Undertow facemask. The facemask is a very well designed new piece. It’s a spot on recreation of the vintage Undertow facemask, but it fits the Undertow Officer’s head way too tightly. It looks good on her head, but it is damn near impossible to get off. The straps fit tightly under her
hairline and I had to spend literally 30 minutes using a wide variety of thin, dull tools to peel it off. I’m reluctant to put it back on her head again because I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get it off again. The Undertow facemask looks good in red and the detailing done in gold looks quite sharp. Undertow Officer has the same oxygen supply backpack as 25th Anniversary Torpedo and that’s a great call. It’s a nice small piece and I think that fits for Undertow Officer. The filecard has always made Undertows sound more like underwater sabotage agents rather than combat divers. The Undertow Officer isn’t going to need nearly as big an air supply as a Cobra Eel since she’s not going to spend all her time underwater. However, I do have a little problem with that backpack because I’ve always seen the Undertow mask as having a built in rebreather. That means the Undertow Officer wouldn’t necessarily need to have any oxygen supply, however, since she’s got one, I think it would have been smart for there to have been a way to connect the oxygen supply to the oxygen mask. Undertow Officer’s primary weapon is the same compact laser pistol that diver Baroness came with. This is a piece I don’t have in my collection and I like seeing it in Undertow Officer’s hand. I’ve always liked when named Cobras have weapons unique to them so Undertow Officer (aka Barracuda) continues that trend. It’s a great weapon for an underwater saboteur and since it fits best in her left hand, it also means Undertow Officer is added to the ranks of left-handed Joe figures. Of course, no Undertow is complete without their trademark trident and Undertow Officer has one as well. I always kind of liked this piece as a kid, and I’m glad the GIJCC decided to give it to all the Undertows in this set. I only wish it was bigger. It looks just a little too small for the modern figures so it’s kind of disproportionate. The Undertow trident looks great in black and gold and I can see Undertow Officer employing it with deadly efficiency. Undertow Officer’s final accessory is the barracuda that the vintage Undertow came with. I love that the GIJCC finally explained why Undertows came with barracudas. As part of the training regimen she instituted when she took over, Undertow Officer makes all Undertows swim through a tank of hungry barracudas and only those that are strong enough swimmers and vicious enough fighters will survive that experience. Giving the Undertow Officer the lone barracuda in the set is a nice touch.
While Undertow Officer isn’t the worst figure out of the Peril in Paradise con set, she’s still not my favorite and that bums me out. The GIJCC created a great character in the filecard, but unfortunately, the figure they created to represent it isn’t all that impressive. Yes, I don’t have diver Baroness so the figure is kind of new to me, but the parts themselves are kind of dated and the permanent flippers limit her usefulness. Add in the fact that her lower legs are built wrong and it’s kind of hard to like this figure. I like when the GIJCC throws in a new character here and there, but this is one of the first times that the figure they created to represent that new character is kind of weak. By virtue of not being something I have in my collection already, she’s at least better than Tiger Force Dial Tone, but she’s still not great. Also, if anyone that reads the blog has ever popped apart a modern Joe, I’d like to know if I can fix Undertow Officer’s legs by unscrewing the screws in her thighs. Normally I’d experiment, but with as expensive as this figure is, I don’t want to risk damaging her for something that won’t work. Please let me know in the comments if that will fix the problem of her inverted lower legs.