Retaliation Ultimate Firefly
I really liked Firefly in Retaliation but I’m still having a hard time figuring out what to make of the Ultimate Firefly figure. I think Hasbro made some better choices for this figure than they did for the first Retaliation-inspired Firefly, but there are still some things that the first Retaliation Firefly did right that I really wish Hasbro would have carried over instead of some of the changes they made on this one. I was very excited for this figure because he came with the H.I.S.S. Drone and I would have gotten him just to get my hands on it, but both versions of Retaliation Firefly did some things wrong and neither is perfect. If you call something the “ultimate” version of something, it should be the perfect representation of it, and on that front, Ultimate Firefly ultimately falls a little short. There might be a way to do a fast and dirty custom by combining the two Firefly figures, but I have a hard time justifying the purchase of a figure I really don’t like just to make another figure I like work better but still not quite perfectly.
The movie-based ultimates really accomplished some great things despite being made mostly of reused parts. However, I think Ultimate Firefly reuses some wrong parts. My biggest complaint comes from the choice they made for his torso, which is shared with the Rise of Cobra Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow. It’s a decent stand in, but considering they tooled up a brand new, movie-accurate torso for the previous Retaliation Firefly, I’m a bit confused as to why they didn’t use it here. It doesn’t appear that any torso articulation got taken out due to his funky action feature, so it would have been reusable. Paris Pursuit Storm Shadow is close enough, but I’m just confused as to why they didn’t just use the newly molded piece that was more accurate to get a little more use out of it. His arms are a combination of the Pursuit Shock Trooper and 30th Anniversary Lifeline. The arms and torso come together and do look like a fancy leather jacket, so while it’s not quite screen accurate, it at least passes the squint test. The legs are Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes II and are a welcome addition, especially since they got new knees that don’t have holes for kneepads to attach to. They’re good, military-styled pants and they work nicely for Firefly. While his torso didn’t get to use the new piece they made for the first Retaliation Firefly, he does get to use the masked Firefly head from the first release. I like the masked head and it’s new, but if we were only going to get one head, I’d rather see the unmasked head since we saw Firefly unmasked a lot more in the movie than we ever saw him masked. The Ray Stevenson likeness was good enough the last time around and I really don’t want to have to buy a Firefly I don’t want just to get the head he probably should have come with to begin with. My Firefly’s head was also slightly damaged by the packaging. It’s mercifully not that visible in photos, but for whatever reason, there’s a spot towards the top of his head on the left side that’s been a little flattened down, for lack of a better term. I noticed it when he arrived in his package, but it is something that is only visible under certain lighting conditions at certain angles, so it’s not as bad as it could have been, but I still wonder what happened in the production process that could have caused that kind of damage to his head. They designed a good figure here, but the design choices are just a little maddening since they made so many new, movie accurate parts for his first release. If they can release Battle Kata Roadblock with different upper arms and make me like it as the Ultimate Roadblock, why couldn’t they take the good movie Firefly from the line, get rid of its one problem area (his funky arms that were made that way for a light up feature that according to most reviews didn’t even work well anyway) and give him a more accurate color scheme and call him the Ultimate Firefly?
The clearest place that Ultimate Firefly got things right was in the color scheme. I really wanted to like the first Retaliation Firefly even with its weirdly-done arms, but I just couldn’t. I don’t mind bright figures, but when it’s based on a look from a specific source, I like the colors to be a fairly accurate representation of the source material and Firefly was definitely not wearing a neon green jacket in any of the Retaliation scenes I saw. Like in the movie, Ultimate Firefly is wearing dark blue-green jacket with some camouflage and dark pants. While this isn’t a perfect translation of Firefly ‘s costume from the movie, I’d argue it’s far closer than the first Retaliation Firefly in terms of color. At a quick glance, I can tell which version of Firefly this is supposed to be. Honestly, the other Retaliation Firefly shares more with the 1992 Firefly in its color scheme than any other version of Firefly. Don’t get me wrong, I have very fond memories of 1992 Firefly, but that’s not what I’m looking for when I’m going after a Retaliation figure. I really like how they modernized Firefly’s look in the movie and I’d like my Firefly to reflect that. The paint job on what little we see of his face is very good. Firefly’s once again got a pretty icy stare. It’s not as angry as the Renegades Firefly, but there’s at least some emotion behind those eyes and it gives a little more character Firefly than just a blank stare.
I’ve mentioned many times that I’m a sucker for unreleased tooling. I would have bought Ultimate Firefly either way because it’s a very solid figure and works better than the other Retaliation Firefly, but the inclusion of the H.I.S.S. Drone really sold me on this figure. Turning the clock back to Joe Con 2009 once again, the Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Cobra Commander was originally slated to be a mail-away figure with a mini-H.I.S.S. Drone that was supposed to be (in-universe) a small-scale proof of concept for the H.I.S.S. tanks. However, when that figure was shifted to a chase figure, that accessory got cut. The GIJCC did get access to the original mail-away version with its special card, a letter from General Hawk detailing the mission to bring down Cobra Commander and all the original accessories. Unfortunately, the GIJCC is anything but a mass-market release. I’ll admit, I was tempted to shell out a little more than I should for a figure I already had just to get that sweet H.I.S.S. drone, but it wasn’t a terribly fast seller and shortly before I weakened enough to go for it, Hasbro announced that Ultimate Firefly was going to be coming with it as well. Now, after years of waiting for it, I finally have the H.I.S.S. Drone, and I really do love this little thing. I’m not sure why Firefly has it, but he does and it’s at least a little more available than before. I also think it’s ingenious how Hasbro was able to modify the original design to turn it into a missile launcher to fit more in line with the movie accessories but still found a way to make it work as it was originally intended. Cobra Commander’s funky rifle was supposed to be able to plug into the front and they managed to accommodate that and the spring-loaded launching mechanism into the same piece almost seamlessly. The rifle was slightly remolded since originally the opening in the front of the H.I.S.S. Drone wasn’t round, but it just plugs into the front of the drone but doesn’t go deep enough to apply tension on the spring and turn it into a projectile. It’s nicely detailed and really does look great next to the Pursuit of Cobra H.I.S.S. tank. My only real complaint is now that I wish I’d been able to find the black H.I.S.S. variant at retail since I think it would look better next to the black one that it does next to either my red one or my brown one. The rest of his accessories are all rehashes, but they’re pieces I like so that’s fine by me. He has a pair of knives, a pistol and 30th Anniversary Law’s shotgun. They’re all appropriate for a Cobra commando and he can carry all his gear on him at one time. He also has a backpack and it’s relatively generic, but at the same time, it does do a surprisingly good job of looking like the backpack he was wearing when he was riding his motorcycle to raid the prison that Cobra Commander was being held in. The gear is all Firefly appropriate, but I find myself wishing they could have given him a little something extra. In the movie, Firefly was all about crazy bomb tech, but there’s really nothing here that gives off that vibe. I know that making some firefly bombs would be out of the question, but even the explosive charges that the Cobra Invasion Firefly had would have been a welcome addition and gotten the idea of an explosive expert across. Since his backpack is hollow, you could probably have even stored one or two in there.
If I had to sum up Ultimate Firefly in one word, it would probably be maddening. The color scheme is far superior to the first Retaliation version, but when they had access to the parts from the first one and decided not to use them, I just don’t understand it. Take the colors of this figure, paired with the torso and unmasked head of the first Retaliation Firefly and the rest of Ultimate Firefly’s parts and you really would have the ultimate movie Firefly. As it is, though, this is definitely not the ultimate version. Both Retaliation Firefly figures make mistakes, but they make very different mistakes that create problems for the figures in different ways. Over all, I’ll still take Ultimate Firefly over the first release just because he’s got full articulation, isn’t obnoxiously bright green and doesn’t have a light up feature that doesn’t work well, but he’s still probably not what I would consider the ultimate Retaliation Firefly. He’s still very good, but he doesn’t really live up to the moniker of ultimate. The H.I.S.S. Drone is a nice treat for Joe fans like me who have wanted one since 2009, but calling it a mass-market release since it came with Ultimate Firefly isn’t really that accurate since that entire wave was pretty hard to find at retail. It’s not Joe Club rare, but it’s still not an easy figure to run down. I really do like the look the Firefly had in Retaliation and Ray Stevenson was fun to watch in it. I hope they find a way to bring him back from the dead for G.I. Joe III just because Firefly is such an iconic character and is kind of the Boba Fett of the Joe universe, but much like Boba Fett, he kind of went out like a punk. As it stands, if this is the only time Firefly shows up in the G.I. Joe film franchise (wow, that’s not something I ever thought I’d say), he got treated very well and his two figures do him justice. While Ultimate Firefly isn’t perfect, he works well enough for my needs and he’s another Retaliation figure that just screams play with me for some reason and that’s what I really want from G.I. Joes anyway.