Zombie Initiative Flint
I’m KansasBrawler and I’ve professed my love for Flint a few times already on this blog, however, I have a different confession to make this time. I never owned (and honestly hated) the 1991 Eco-Warriors Flint. I don’t know why, but it was the one Flint figure I could never get behind. I didn’t get any of the later ARAH versions because I liked my Tiger Force version so much that I didn’t really think I needed to replace him, but I at least thought the 1994 version
was okay. However, I thought Eco-Warriors Flint was terrible. That being said, when the GIJCC announced that they were going to be making ECO Force this year, it made sense for Flint to show up there. Though the hazmat-certified Flint still isn’t my favorite take on the Joe team’s premiere Warrant Officer, I have to say, the Club’s design made me accept a version of Flint I never really liked all that much to begin with. I think that’s partly due to the fact that they fixed a couple of the things I never liked about the original Eco-Warriors version, but I think it’s also a bit of a testament to how much of a large nostalgic soft spot I carry around for the Wichita-born Joe.
The GIJCC did an excellent job picking out parts for ECO Force Flint. They give off the idea of a hazmat suit while looking a bit more like combat-oriented equipment than the stuff guys like Airtight wear. The legs are still shared with 30th Anniversary Airtight, but that’s a fine call. They’re a great basic pair of legs that sell the idea of them being part of a protective suit of some sort. His chest comes from the Retaliation Cobra Trooper and while it surprised me at first, it really does capture the 1991 design very well. The 1991 version had a relatively high collar so the one on the Retaliation Cobra Trooper makes sense here. Over the torso, he’s wearing a set of black webgear that was used by some version of Snake Eyes. It’s one I don’t have in my collection so I’m not 100% sure which Snake Eyes it came from, but I know it’s one of his. It’s a very combat-oriented harness with shoulderpads, crossed straps and plenty of pouches. It’s a bit of a departure from the 1991 Flint’s chest, but honestly, not as much as you think. While he lost the breathing gear on his chest, there were four things that look to me like pouches on his chest and there are some pouches on this harness, so I can accept it here. Flint’s arms come from a rather unusual source—Ultimate Retaliation Cobra Commander. They’re appropriately wrinkled so they work well with the legs and the long gloves are what he had back in 1991 and give me a bit of a heavy, protective glove vibe as well. I know that in an actual hazardous material lab situation, you wouldn’t want gloves with wide flairs like that at the top, but they really do work well for Flint here. On his left wrist, he’s also got the really cool shotgun shell carrier strapped on. Interestingly, this time, the shotgun shells appear to be carrying a payload of Z+ compound to cure the zombies. Don’t ask me how a shotgun blast of cure would actually fix you, but it’s a nice attention to detail to turn them into Z+ shells so ECO Force Flint isn’t actually killing civilians infected with Compound Z. ECO Force Flint’s head comes from the Retaliation Ultimate Flint, and that’s part of why I made sure to jump on this con set, but not for the reason you think. Last year, Hasbro had a bit of a problem after Comic Con when Harmony Gold sued over their use of Jetfire (more specifically some of the art). Hasbro apparently had some leftover stock after SDCC (surprising, no) but it was stuck in limbo until the Harmony Gold lawsuit was dealt with. In light of that, I was slightly concerned that Paramount could object to the GIJCC selling off any extra stock after the convention since Flint is rocking a movie head. From what I understand, it was a mistake on the factory’s part and the GIJCC wasn’t planning on using a movie Flint head, but it was enough of a concern that I didn’t want to run the risk of not being able to get him later. Those fears never materialized, but I’m still glad to have him in my collection, even with a DJ Controna head. Plus, if I really want to, I can always swap out my Resolute Flint’s noggin here since I prefer Flint without his helmet on.
The original Eco-Warriors figures were all about rather bright, color changing paint schemes and while the color change plastic isn’t part of the ECO Force look, Flint’s wearing some bright, yet military-appropriate colors. ECO Force Flint is wearing the same green and yellow he wore back in 1991, but it’s not nearly as blindingly neon as it was back in the day. It’s a nice balance between vintage accuracy and making concessions to those fans who abhor neon Joe figures. I’ll admit, I’m of two minds about it. The first thing I noticed after putting the Zombie Initiative on display is that it was nice to see some color on my Joe shelf again, but there’s a sick little part of me that kind of misses the overly-bright neon green and yellow. The paint work is crisp, though the coverage on the gloves is a little weak. It’s not atrocious, but when the hands are so nicely covered the fact that you can see some of the green peeking out from underneath the gloves is a little bothersome. Also somewhat bothersome is that the green on his legs doesn’t quite match up between above and below the knees. It’s not noticeable at a glance but when the figure is sitting in front of you for a while, you do eventually notice it. The webgear looks good in black, but at the same time, it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the figure in that color. I’m sure it was a concession to keep him a little more military accurate, but when the base colors are green and yellow, the use of black doesn’t seem to work for me. Perfect world, I think it would have been interesting had they tried it in a dark purple. It would have been a nice throwback to the 1991 figure and might have helped it mesh a little better with the green and yellow color scheme he’s already got.
Where the GIJCC really saved the figure for me, though, was in his accessories. Some simple changes did a great job of addressing all my childhood criticisms of the Eco-Warriors Flint. My biggest issues with Eco-Warriors Flint came from his headgear. First of all, I didn’t like that Flint was running around without a beret. To remedy that, the GIJCC included the removable beret we saw first with the 30th Anniversary Slaughter’s Marauders Falcon. It’s a great way to let Flint look like Flint and it means if I ever get tired of this Flint wearing a beret, I now have one that I can pass over to Retaliation Ultimate Flint. However, what bugged me even more about Flint not having a beret was that the reason he wasn’t wearing it was so he could wear a really stupid looking removable helmet. I really didn’t like that design and while the GIJCC initially said they were going to be doing a helmet based on that, I’m happy that plan fell through and they reused the same helmet that they made for Ozone. It’s a much better piece and gives the ECO Force a little bit more unit cohesion. It’s a great angular design with a rebreather that wraps around the base of the helmet. The green and yellow on this piece work really well together and I think it makes it look unique even though his helmet’s design is shared with Ozone. For weapons, he’s also carrying two pieces that I like. Starting off with the more basic Flint weapon, he’s got the same shotgun that we’ve seen with Retaliation Joe Colton and Retaliation Kwinn. It’s molded in green, like Flint’s original shotgun back in 1985, and it looks really great in his hands. I do wish he could hold it a little better since I’ve got it in his left hand which is molded a little more open since Cobra Commander was doing the “angrily grasping at the air” thing with his left hand when the mold was originally tooled up, but it’s not a terrible fit. It’s not as secure as I’d like, but he’s also not dropping it at the drop of a hat. His other weapon is the same funky grenade launcher we’ve seen with some of the Retaliation figures. It’s amazing what molding a gun in the right colors can do. My only experience with it was from Retaliation Joe Colton and molded in orange, it looks pretty dumb. However, mold it in black, paint the drum below the barrel yellow to make it clear that he’s launching Z+ canisters with it, and I’m all for it. It really is a pretty cool design and I’m glad I finally have a version of it that I don’t think looks absolutely ridiculous. Plus, I think there’s a case to be made that it’s an analog for the funky rifle that the 1991 Eco-Warriors Flint came with. I also have to say, I do like that they didn’t give Flint a backpack sprayer like they did for Repulsor and Cesspool. While I liked that the GIJCC has tried to reference the Eco-Warriors’ original water-squirting weapons, I’m okay with them not doing it for Flint. I never really felt that looked right for Flint back in 1991, so I’m glad I don’t have to question whether it’s right for him in 2014. While Flint may be the ECO Force commander, I can see him leaving the clean up tech to the Joes that are more adept at using it, like Clean Sweep and Ozone. Flint’s your man for leading the squad because he knows combat tactics and how best to deploy the Z+ cure, but for cleaning up the aftermath, he knows it’s his time to step aside and follow the lead of the guy with the clean-up robot or backpack system.
ECO Force Flint really surprised me since I wasn’t expecting to like him all that much. I like Flint a lot, but it was never enough to get me to like the 1991 version. However, the GIJCC found a great middle ground for me. They kept what worked (the hazmat suit and color scheme) and left behind the things that didn’t (the really bad helmet and the lack of a beret). ECO Force Flint is a solid figure and while he’s not the most exciting or innovative figure in the Zombie Initiative set, he’s a solid update of a relatively unloved version of Flint.