Rise of Cobra Reactive Armor Scarlett
I know Rise of Cobra wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought it was a fun Joe movie and the action figure line had a lot of hidden gems. If you could find her on the pegs (which was at least initially no easy task), Reactive Armor Scarlett was one of those gems in my opinion. She is a nicely detailed figure and they did something a little more interesting with her spring-loaded missile launcher so I’m at least willing to accept it. Of all the Joes in the movie, Scarlett’s characterization was probably the most faithful of them. She was a very competent soldier with a background in martial arts due to her father who was also extremely intelligent. While I thought the whole romantic subplot with Ripcord was a little forced due to the use of “she’s so smart that she doesn’t believe in love” trope, the filmmakers treated her very well and the Reactive Armor figure is a solid representation of Scarlett from the Joe movie universe.
Since Scarlett was the only female Joe in the movie that wore Reactive Armor, she’s rocking all new molds, unlike the other Reactive Armor figures in the line. The overall design concept is the same, but it’s a clearly feminine design. Scarlett’s legs are relatively unarmored, with just some armor plates on her thighs, but she’s also wearing something over her regular pants that runs from just below the armored plates to the tops of her feet. I’m not quite sure what it is, but there are clear molding lines up by the armored plates that look like a seam of some sort and it flares out over the tops of her feet. She also has a small pouch sculpted on her right plate of thigh armor. I assume considering how close it is to her crossbow holster that it’s filled with the high tech crossbow bolts that she used to take down the Viper Commandos.Much like the male Reactive Armor, Scarlett’s torso armor is very anatomical. Her armor slips over a basic black bodysuit and covers her chest, stomach and back. I say it must slip over the bodysuit because on the sides you can see the straps that run between the front and back keep it secure. Her arms are basically completely covered with armor and very little of the underlying bodysuit can be seen here. However, this creates a bit of a mishmash with the rest of the torso. The male Reactive Armor figures make it look like the entire upper body is fully encased in armor. It made sense that the arms were fully covered because the torso was fully covered. However, Scarlett’s neck muscles are unarmored so it makes me wonder how the armor on her shoulders stays attached without having anything substantial to connect it to. I’m sure this is a flaw with the overall costume design since you can’t have women in armor without making it “sexy” armor, but it still seems like there’s something that just doesn’t quite work between the design for her torso and the design for her arms. My other complaint about the arms is that her right hand especially seems just a bit too open to securely hold a weapon. Neither her crossbow nor her pistol falls out of her hand when she’s holding it, but at the same time, the grip just feels awfully loose, and I don’t like that. Topping off the figure, Scarlett’s got a great new head sculpt that really captures Rachel Nichols’ look face well. I didn’t really like the first Scarlett figure’s head. I think part of it was that the hair was placed a bit too high (much like what happened with Resolute Scarlett), but I thought the likeness was also a little bit soft. I’m glad Hasbro either went back to the face scan and reworked it or had Ms. Nichols sit down for another session because this version looks far superior. Having been familiar with her work in Alias before seeing her in Rise of Cobra, I can definitely see more of her look in this figure than I could in the initial Rise of Cobra version. I generally tried to only buy one version of each main character (though that didn’t necessarily work) and preferred the Reactive Armor look for most characters anyway, so I’m glad that the version of Scarlett I wanted to have in my collection also had a head sculpt that had a bit better actress likeness than the other version.
As much as I like the concept of the Reactive Armor, unfortunately, my one problem with the movie aesthetic rears its ugly head again here. This figure is very dark. Her bodysuit is black, her armor is black, and all the straps holding it on are black. The weathering on the armored panels does help them stand out, but it doesn’t change the fact that the only color on this figure comes from her skin and hair. I wish the movie’s costume designers would have just associated a color with each character, much like Sigma 6 did with the Sigma Suits, so there would be more color on the figures on the pegs. Yes, the design looked fine on screen, but it just didn’t translate to an eye-catching action figure. There was a lot of sameness on the pegs during the Rise of Cobra line and I personally wonder if that’s why the figures didn’t move as quickly as stores thought they would when they bought a lot of Wave 1 figures. I think a little more color would have helped the overall movie aesthetic and made the toys look a little more interesting at a glance.
Out of all the Rise of Cobra Joes, I think Scarlett probably has my favorite weapons assortment because not only did they keep her classic weaponry, but they also did something a little more interesting than a BFG for her spring-loaded missile launcher. Scarlett’s missile launcher was a bit ahead of its time because it was a zipline system like they used a lot during the Retaliation line. I didn’t grab pictures of it because it’s hard to get pictures of something like that, but the launcher fired a large grappling hook tied that was tied to it and on the string there was a harness you could put on Scarlett so she could slide down it in a standing position like she did in the movie’s opening action sequence. I may not be a fan of spring-loaded missile launchers, but at least this was something different and a little more useable than a colossal missile cannon. The rest of Scarlett’s gear is equally good. She has a pair of pistols and a two-piece crossbow. The pistols are small, but at the same time, it works for her. I don’t recall her doing any John Woo double pistol fighting in the movie, but her design works perfectly for it so I can just see Scarlett doing some crazy acrobatic pistol fighting like this. However, I don’t generally having her double-wielding pistols all that often because her crossbow is just so cool. It’s a nice, high-tech crossbow that looks just like the weapon she used in the movie. What’s even cooler is that because it can break down it can be stored in her holster in a relatively interesting way. The crossbar on the front comes off but there’s a clip for it on the holster so if you have her carrying it on her hip and not in her hands, you don’t have a random piece just floating around to get lost. I love it when figures can carry all of their gear and while Scarlett may not be overwhelmed with equipment, I like that the crossbow can be broken down and that its two pieces can be carried securely on the figure. The crossbow holster is also large enough to accommodate her extra pistol if you happen to have her carrying the crossbow and a pistol instead of double pistols.
It took me quite a while to run down Reactive Armor Scarlett but in the end, she was definitely worth the trouble. The figure itself looks great and it moves even better. While I thought the movie aesthetic wasn’t great for a toy line, it was still a nice look and for all their faults, at least the toys were fun to play with. The 25th Anniversary line had some problems regarding form versus function, however the Rise of Cobra line had figures that both looked good in terms of accuracy to the source material but that also still moved like toys. I don’t necessarily play with my Joes much, but I will say that there were quite a few 25th Anniversary figures that when I pulled them out of the package, I was a little disappointed at how poorly they moved. Just because they exist in my collection as display pieces doesn’t mean they should be designed that way. They’re toys and toys should still have a playable element and the Rise of Cobra stuff definitely had that. That was the best lesson Hasbro learned that they carried forward into the Pursuit of Cobra line and I’m glad that the movie line reminded Hasbro of how to make figures that looked cool but still played well.