By Past Nastification
Released as “Mercenary Wraith”, this figure is based on a character pulled from the GI Joe comic book while under the direction of Devil’s Due.
If I remember correctly, the character was created by Brandon Jerwa, not Josh Blaylock. This might explain why despite the over-the-top super villain costume, the character was handled with more finesse. Although the character came many years later, it echoes the hallmarks of ’84 Cobra lineup. He has a cloaking system reminiscent of Zartan’s holography, and a sneaky guy persona like Firefly, and looks like he’d pack a punch as Scrap Iron would.
Before we get to the figure, let me wander off course briefly because the character’s potential was never realized in any media.
As far as I know, Larry Hama has ignored all of the Devil’s Due creations since he reset and continued the ARAH storyline from where it ended at Marvel Comics. Correct me if I’m wrong, as I’ve only dabbled in the IDW stuff. Wraith, like Kamakura, is a character that really is good enough to have a Hama-version pulled into the ARAH storyline. But there might be some messy writing politics that would prevent that from ever happening. Didn’t Hama use Sean Collins anyway, having him become Throwdown instead of Kamakura? I dunno.
There were a handful of Devil’s Due characters worthy of action figure translation. Kamakura, Hannibal, Wraith, Zanya and Heartwrencher made the leap from page to plastic. General Rey, Firewall, Dameon, Alexander McCullen, Lillian, the updated Red Shadows, and General Gibbs got left behind. I wasn’t a fan of Devil’s Due, but a good character is a good character.
Back to the toys. Wraith was released in a standard version and an “invisible” version.
Some new parts and armor blended with Snake-Eyes (Paine Brothers uniform) parts give Wraith a design basically matching his comic book appearances.
I generally dislike variant and/or chase figures, believing that any kid or collector should be able to buy a figure without it being an ordeal- or a chance for eBay scalpers to gouge them. I can’t remember how hard it was to find the blue translucent version. As Wraith’s cloaking ability was part of the character’s fiber, this is a reasonable variant to have made.
The detailing is good. The flip-up faceplate revealing a Frenchman and his mustache is a nice touch, even if a bit too “Tony Stark”. The weapon and the backpack that must be a battery pack are nicely detailed, too. I somehow managed to lose the blue rifle. Oh, well. The rifle is somewhat overscaled and can’t be held correctly anway.
The forearm-mounted weapons have tiny cords that feed into the upper arms. It’s a good idea poorly done. The cords are too short to allow for the elbows to hinge. This keeps the arms locked in an unnatural straight position. The elbows don’t feel like they want to bend. Even when the arms are pointed straight out they don’t look right. Static arms with naturally bent elbow (think Major Bludd’s robot/armored arm) would have been better. It’s a pretty bad flaw.
Elbow issues aside, this is a good figure. Not a great one. It lacks something, but I’m not sure what. It doesn’t quite get across the techno-bad ass vibe that it should, but it’s almost there. It’s nice that Hasbro even made it.
I had only encountered the variant version once in the wild in (what I think was) a Tjmax when that was nearly the only place left to find 25th figures. This was not long before RoC hit theaters. Of course I picked him, and a fair amount of others (mostly for custom fodder), especially at about $4 a pop. I still can’t bring myself to open that one.
The regular one I had already and those bloody wires on the arms snapped not long after my finding the variant. Oh well, I didn’t have any real connection to the character anyway. Just another background player for when I ever get around to putting some dioramas together.
What a cool concept…….that failed flat in figure execution. IDW ideas aside (I like the devils due run, it was exciting at the time) This guy had alot of potential to be a cool figure.
But what a list of flaws! Im all for playability but this guy was anything but:
The shoulder pads being part of his chest armor limited his arm movement.
His hands were in a weird downward pointing pose like the viper.
That gun was oddly oversized and couldnt be held by ANY FIGURE.
That backpack looked out of place. strangely lacking texture or detail and an odd color.
Those wrist mounted guns were a cool idea unless you bent the elbow. Then you broke the cables.
This figure had notorious loose hips. He flopped everywhere.
What really made it all suck was that…….he was so cool looking! a novel idea in the joe verse. This figure started to sour me on the 25th figures. After all, what business did this guy even have in a line dedicated to 80s-90s characters?