G.I. Joe’s modern error didn’t provide much in the way of memorable new characters, which is reasonable for a thing that was a nostalgia based exercise. There were a few new characters, though, most of them were dudes wearing balaclavas, women, or were additions from other toylines. The only new character I can recall gaining any traction was Shadow Tracker. Shadow Tracker was due to be popular, he came out in the one slice of the modern era that G.I. Joe was showing any growth and new ideas, the Pursuit Of Cobra, and was a COBRA agent that wasn’t all that redundant. He also looked like Predator.
When Red Laser showed off his planned 2018 releases, Shadow Tracker was the first one shown. It showed there was definitely going to be a lot of innovation with his releases, this year. The figure itself is a pretty good appropriation of the Shadow Tracker design, but with 82-83 parts, the Clutch torso was an underused mold and looks good in the black with yellow highlights (matching the original’s design fairly well), he also has the v1 Snake Eyes head, but it’s in yellow with a black skull face on it. When I originally had seen that in the preview I didn’t really expect it to work, painted on details like that are either a hit or miss, luckily this was a hit. All three heads that had this paint app turned out well, though the Asa Negra figure I think had the best look. Shadow Tracker lost the dreadlocks, but to me that’s not really a big issue, I thought they were cool from a design standpoint, but definitely not the figure’s most defining characteristic.
Shadowtracker, along with Rampage and Shimik all have decent skin tones, but definitely not the vintage afro skin tone. I’d say the best match is the 1998 Heavy Duty. I like it, but if it had been closer to vintage it’d be a slam dunk! One of the best aspects of these Factory Customs, is they do provide additional diversity to the early years of the line, which is a big plus, as one of G.I. Joe’s biggest strengths has always been that it was an integrated toyline without any attention being called to it.
Quality wise, this figure is pretty solid. Paint apps are solid, the figures this year are far more capable of holding guns than figures of 2017, and for the most part a lot of the figures have good joints. A few figures had issues (Alpinista being the most notable) though most of the issues were announced up front. Though I think with the third party figures, expectations need to be in line with what these figures actually are. The Red Laser 2018 releases had some issues, production was backed the hell up, and a few things didn’t turn out as shown, Shadow Tracker wasn’t affected, he looked just like the preview. The production issues should probably be expected considering the nature of these kinds of releases. While I’m disappointed we still don’t have a swivel arm Cobra De Aço, it’ll have to happen eventually.
As a character, Shadow Tracker is pretty much a blank slate, I think he might have had some pseudo Predator character or whatever, I dunno. To me he’s a veteran of the bush wars, and more of an unaffiliated terrorist, though feels becoming even a middling COBRA agent is the career path to take. Since this figure uses series one parts, to me he winds up as a likely casualty in the bloody days of the early G.I. Joe vs. COBRA conflict. War isn’t all lasagna and breath mints.