Friday, May 27, 2011

G.I. Joe Pursuit of Cobra: Steel Brigade (Wave 5)

Presenting the G.I. Joe Steel Brigade Trooper from Hasbro's G.I. Joe Pursuit of Cobra Wave 5. I fondly remember the G.I. Joe Steel Brigade Trooper from way way back in 1987 when he was first introduced as a mail-in promotional prize. In essence, the G.I. Joe Steel Brigade Trooper was probably the first "Frankenstein" born of Hasbro spare parts - save for the head which was an original piece - or probably the only left-over of a failed figure. While the G.I Joe Steel Brigade Troopers were supposed to be personalized, they were all the same and the only thing happily personalized was the blister card that accompanied the figure. Back then you filled up the form that was usually found in comic books, assigned a military specialty, a personality (Whether he was brash or cool-handed, etc...), and a name. You could even make the G.I. Joe Steel Brigade Trooper a ninja - which seemed really weird considering his uniform. Sadly I never got one since the promotion was only open to United States residents. Still it was a cool idea so it was a pleasant surprise to see that the G.I. Joe Steel Brigade Trooper was part of the Pursuit of Cobra Wave 5. They return as the "Grunts" of the G.I. Joe Team: Special forces members who just not as good as the G.I. Joe members yet but are quickly climbing the ranks hoping for the day they can claim a unique name for themselves. 

The Steel Brigade trooper's blister card reads "Steel Brigade Troopers are the backbone of the G.I. Joe fighting force. The "Grunts" of the team. They are chosen for their exceptional dedication and skills. They work hard to hone their skills so that they can move up the ranks into specialized positions. They meet every challenge with determination and enthusiasm, and eagerly go on missions where they can watch and learn from their superiors."

What's to like about the POC Steel Brigade Trooper?

Clearly the amount of accessories that the POC Steel Brigade Trooper brings to the battlefield:
The POC Steel Brigade Trooper comes with an AR-8 Paratrooper Combat Rifle with Close-Quarter Bayonet; a Ballistic Helmet; Tactical Backpack; Rocket Storage Backpack, four rockets; Bazooka Rocket Launcher; Heavy Machine Gun with stand; A Battle Harness, a Bandolier; and; ..... what is clearly not a Rotary Grenade Launcher as is indicated on the blister card and is instead another Assault Rifle. 

What makes the number of accessories so grand is that because the POC Steel Brigade Trooper clearly pays tribute to the original G.I. Joe Steel Brigade Trooper: customize or build your own figure. There are at least three major Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) that you can assign to each POC Steel Brigade Trooper in your collection: Anti-Armor, Infantry and Heavy Weapons as seen below.

Simply pick your poison and mix and match the accessories and uniform parts. You can also opt to remove the bucket that is the historic hallmark of a POC Steel Brigade Trooper, but then you're left with the puppy-dog eyes of Beachhead.

Here is the POC Steel Brigade Trooper as an infantry-man alternating between the two assault rifles:

Note that there is a trench-trowel in the backpack. It does not come off.

Personally I prefer the anti-armor version of the POC Steel Brigade Trooper. He comes with four removable rockets in the POC Steel Brigade Trooper's backpack, but I'm really not sure if putting it in the front end is the right way to load a bazooka.

Personally I think the POC Steel Brigade Trooper's Heavy Weapons MOS variant leaves much to be desired. But then, to be fair,  I've yet to see a G.I. Joe able to use a short tripod. 

Note that the Heavy Machine gun of the POC Steel Brigade Trooper does not come with ammo. The belt is from my still-not-on-display Cobra Jungle BAT.

As you can see from the photos above, articulation is excellent and happily the POC Steel Brigade Trooper comes with the new wrist articulation.  Unfortunately the POC Steel Brigade Trooper doesn't have any weapons to hyper-extend, but it does help with his hand-to-hand combat using the Assault Rifle and! Yes, the POC Steel Brigade Trooper can shoot around walls without looking.

Don't fall for my puppy-dog eyes
What's not to like about the POC Steel Brigade Trooper?

Well let's start with that helmet. While it does give me a sense of nostalgia for days when life was simpler, you have to admit it looks.... "dorky":  Like the G.I. Joe Fighting Force is some kind of fraternity and all the "named" Joes get to hit the POC Steel Brigade troopers behind the head. Happily you can take the helmet off only to be greeted by Beachhead.  It's debatable though as to whether the POC Steel Brigade trooper should have warranted a new head because, well let's face it, you can't tell one G.I. Joe figure's head from another anyway (Save perhaps for Duke with the scar or Hawk with the sideburns). So why not indeed just give the POC Steel Brigade Trooper a balaclava? Personally I'm fine with the balaclava if he just didn't look so much like Beachhead. Simply painting it black (Despite the fact that the POC Beachhead's balaclava is black) would have gone a long way for me.

The colors: Pastel sky blue with khaki and olive-drab? I'll have to sit on the fence on this one as it is conceivable. Also note from the photos that the only time the POC Steel Brigade Trooper looks like it is ill colored - in my opinion at least - is when it adds the silver bucket on his head.

The POC Steel Brigade Trooper 's Heavy Machine gun has no ammo. As aforementioned, I had to borrow an ammo belt from the recently reviewed Cobra Jungle BAT. I think it's already an issue that the POC Steel Brigade Trooper has difficulty using the Heavy Machine gun while the tri-pod is attached.

Nostalgia endears me to the POC Steel Brigade Trooper. Despite it's color and bucket flaws, I do like it. And I am looking forward to seeing a genuine Steel "Brigade" which I'm sure someone out there is striving to do right now. I'm just not sure if new collectors will find it just as endearing.

And they should have made him a ninja :)

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