2004 was a year that Hasbro really began to do things that on the surface would would appeal to collectors. The main G.I. Joe line was taking a turn into an odd, and not particularly good Sci-Fi realm, which featured a lot of strange Animal based COBRA figures, and even more damaging, “Action Attack” a bunch of gimmicks added to figures to give them features that would result in a decrease in articulation, and an increase in frustratingly good designs being wrecked so that magnetic swords and bowleggedness. I’ve always believed that a fundamental change in articulation is always the first step towards the grave for whatever G.I. Joe line is on the shelves. It happened with Ninja Force and Armor Tech. It happened with Action Attack, and it happened again in the Modern Era when all of a sudden vehicle drivers have less articulation than figures from 1982. It’s a fact.
At the time, the new head sculpts for the comic pack figures were heralded as incredible improvements over the originals. Time hasn’t been so kind, as things overlooked, like size, have been looked at again. I will say that the best looking of the new Comic Pack head sculpts, was that of Stalker.
While they might be more modern looking, these heads had A LOT of issues, the most noticeable being the fact they’re all so damn small. There’s another possible issue from these heads, and that’s the likelihood they’re responsible for causing cracks to form in the figure’s chest plates. I’ve only seen the cracks develop on figures that received new heads in the Comic Pack era, so that’s the only thing I can blame them on.
From a distance, this is a good figure. The colours are good, the sculpt looks like Stalker, and there’s enough details painted that he looks like high quality figure. Unfortunately upon closer inspection, the mirage wears off. His head’s small, his waist and legs are a poor fit for his body, and the overall quality shows that Hasbro was starting to skimp on G.I. Joe, probably due to it’s slow down at retail.
Stalker uses the typical Comic Pack OG13 build, of the Grunt torso and arms, an ’86 Roadblock waist, and the Talking Battle Commanders Hawk legs. This Stalker is probably the best that set-up ever looked, as he’s got the camouflage that really hides the awkward parts fit, and this version is a much better green that the issue #3 Stalker. The yellow used for the webgear seems more muted than some of the earlier uses in the Comic Packs, and the red collar on the sweater is a great touch.
This is a figure where the intentions behind it are excellent, they’re just bungled horribly. When looking back on the 2000s, I sometimes question how interested in G.I. Joe the design team actually was. I think a lot of it viewed G.I. Joe as a way to show that they might be capable of doing an Energon era Transformer or a prequel Star Wars figure. The Comic Packs would’ve been an opportunity for a true Joe fan to at least find some parts that meshed better than “Roadblock parts for everyone!”
This Stalker came in a 3-pack with two October Guard figures, and issue #7. It was one of the better Comic Packs in terms of providing something worthwhile, most had something wrong with them, but the October Guard sets weren’t. Honestly, if Hasbro had actually listened to what fans were griping about in regards to the Comic Packs, they wouldn’t have messed them up so quickly. The sameness of the sets were called out immediately, because fans knew that a MULTIPLE green sets was a recipe for disaster, and that a lot of the issues chosen weren’t great. Had the first wave been Issue #1, #21, #49 (with maybe slight modification to #1’s line-up), then followed up with the Civil War issues, and the the third wave being #6, #7 and # 101, you’ve got a far more diverse and likely to succeed series, on the shelves.
Issue #7 is the 2nd part of the first two-part storyline in the Marvel G.I. Joe comic, it’s one of the better issues, and features one of my favourite scenes in the entire comic, where Stalker laments the untimely demise of his beret, as he’d “Just got it nicely broken in, too”. It’s one of those scenes that added a bit of character to Stalker, and also took what had been a fairly serious story and added a bit of levity to it. Another note that is more often than not ignored, is the fact that actual concept for Issues #6 & 7 was developed by Herb Trimpe, who I don’t think could really write good issues of G.I. Joe, but had very solid story ideas, and probably should’ve been used in that capacity more often. In the first 10 issues, 3 of the best stories were his ideas.
For a Stalker in the classic get up, this is a pretty good figure. Stalker’s a good character, so even the weakness of the overall figure is hidden by that. This is probably the third best Stalker figure in that design, so he’s not champion the ’82 or the ’97 is, but he’s better than the Comic Pack #3 figure.