Shadow Tracker (2018 Red Laser’s Army)

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.

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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.

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G.I. Joe Photos

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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Ripper

 

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As G.I. Joe progressed, more and more aspects that weren’t quite STRICT MILITARY REALISM, found there way into the line. The first major aspect was the Dreadnoks, a biker gang that hung around with Zartan and worked for COBRA Command. I’ve already looked at Buzzer, because I think in terms of ridiculous references made in a Children’s Toyline, he is the top. Today is Ripper, who is a much darker character.

The Dreadnoks had probably the best filecards in the entire G.I. Joe line, as the fact they were so far removed from the typical “SUBJECT graduated top of class at MILITARY TRAINING SCHOOL. KOOKY PERSONALITY TRAIT” style filecards,  that some real far-out ideas made their way into them. Ripper’s is great because it paints him as a institutionalized malcontent, who cares about nothing, and is just out to take. Pretty apt description of an outlaw biker.

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As a figure, Ripper is fairly well done, his biggest fault is that he has a lot of easily worn paint apps. The overall mold is really nice though, he’s got a far bigger frame and musculature than any other early Joe, and him being as jacked as he is makes sense, since there’s not much to do in Prison except work out. Like Buzzer, his face sculpt is a real winner, in the character department. While the Coup D’tat era Richie Stotts haircut is kinda bogus, the drug and alcohol ravaged face with the saggy skin is perfect for Ripper (guess that’s where all his greed goes to!). Despite not having painted eyebrows, Ripper also has an incredibly pissed off scowl.

The Dreadnoks had very cool accessories, Ripper was probably the owner of the coolest ones. His Jaws of Death are pretty neat, maybe not entirely practical at the 3 3/4″ scale, but they look cool, the Modern Error version with moving jaws is pretty great. His other weapon, is a modified Snow Job gun with a gnarly blade on it, and a scope added. Kinda neat how the stereotypical cartoon gun was modified a few times , the others being Alpine’s grappling gun and the Night Creeper’s giant ass crossbow.

If we’re talking about the actual G.I. Joe vs. COBRA conflict, Ripper along with the other Dreadnoks is pretty much useless, however I find great value in him as he’s a visually stimulating figure, with a great backstory and he can be useful for a fun distraction from the typical Joe fare.Graven Imagery

 

 

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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Great Moments In G.I. Joe History

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1985 Quick Kick

Guess what? The Attica Gazette hiatus I didn’t tell anyone about, is probably over!

QuickKick

A while back I found a real beat-up, yet complete Quick Kick figure, so I bought it. I hadn’t purchased a vintage G.I. Joe figure in a long time, and an even longer time had passed since I’d purchased one locally. Am I big fan of Quick Kick? Not at all, he’s not wearing a shirt, he’s not wearing shoes and he’s one of the worst offenders of the “racial stereotype affecting the figure” aspect of G.I. Joe. Stalker’s a stereotype, but the figure doesn’t let you know that. Quick Kick’s does.

Quick Kick is a fairly well designed figure, he might be a stereotype but that doesn’t take away from the fact the toy has some good sculpting. He does however have one of the things that’s always bugged the hell out of me when it comes to G.I. Joe, a mysterious floating backpack. It’s a pet-peeve of mine when a figure has a backpack, yet no way for the figure to actually wear it. If a figure has web gear on I generally assume that’s what the backpack attaches to, but then there’s Quick Kick in his hall monitor sash, and I can’t reason it away. Bazooka has the same problem, and Outback too, if he’s incomplete.

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Quick Kick isn’t a figure I bought because I like the character, I barely remember what his character was. However he’s a figure that falls into how a lot of my collecting goes, nowadays. Is he going to be useful for some photographs? I’ve taken more photos of figures now, then I ever did when the G.I. Joe line had some actual momentum. There’s also a pretty decent variety of ninja figures around, that gives Quick Kick a slight bit of use, even if it’s just as a dude bound to have a bad day at the hands of Storm Shadow.

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