It's always tough to judge a new toy before getting it into your hands. Imagine how hard it is to judge an entire toyline before you get ANY of those toys in your hands. It's a virtual impossibility.

Over the past 40 plus years, G.I. Joe has undergone a vast variety of scales, sizes, and articulations, each one holding their own place within the Joe mythos. Whether the figure has 32 points of articulation or 5 points, each item has it's place in Joe lore, and each one has it's fans. From Super Joe to Bulletman to G.I. Joe Extreme, there are people out there who can find merit in everything, and I would say a lot of people consider me one of those people. I don't think that's necessarily true, because I can find plenty of fault in lines like G.I. Joe Extreme, and I do feel a responsibility to try and get the truth out there, especially when I'm lucky enough to get my hands on an item this early. I want to educate people and show them the pluses and minuses of the line, and let them make up their own minds.

As I run through this coverage, though, please keep in mind that this new scale line is built around fun, dynamic, dramatically constructed vehicles, with the figures mostly as a compliment to those vehicles. With that behind us, let's move on.


Well, regardless of your preference of scale, no one can argue that this packaging is just completely off the charts. Hasbro really took things to the next level with their detail, package art, and interactivity with such a simple thing as card art.

Twenty-five years ago, Hasbro revolutionized the way toys were packaged with the "clip n save" filecards, and now they put it to a whole different level with the "Mission Manual" packed right in with the card. Innovative plastic binders keep the four-page manual attached to the card, and it's sealed with a cool little piece of red labelled tape on each side. Opening the Mission Manual, gives you the following "assignments" for the B.A.T. Attack Set:

The manual basically gives a cool rundown of what figures are included in the pack, and it lays out a potential mission to send your units on. This is a great thing to spark the creativity in your average young boy, and I think was a very cool way to include some additional value to these blister carded sets. Diagrams of the assault targets are nicely detailed, and the layout is pretty darn cool.

Beyond the Mission Manual, the art itself on the package is eye-catching to say the least.

A fantastic combination of computer generated art and striking colors really draws these sets off of the shelves and makes them stand out. The action is dramatic, the characters look just like they should, and it's a terrific way to "jump into" the customer's shopping cart. Interested in G.I. Joe or not, I can almost guarantee your average kid is going to stop in his tracks when he sees this art and really take a look at the package.

The back of the package has some nicely laid out art for other sets, as well.

Each of these pieces really has some amazing action scenes, nicely rendered computer graphics, and a very professional appearence. The metal gray surface of the package makes the art stand out all the more and you end up with a very modern, cutting edge looking packaging system that will absolutely stand out amongst other toys on the pegs or shelves.

The Poster

The great art and presentation continues with the enclosed poster in this package. The poster features a lot of the 2.5" offerings (as well as the incredible looking Sigma Strike Duke figure) and looks terrific.

Click here to see more shots of this awesome poster.

The Toys

Since G.I. Joe's inception way "back in the day" something that has always made Joe what it is is articulation. The most successful componants of the Joe brand, namely the classic 12" guys and the Real American Hero figures all took articulation to an art form, really being the first toys out there that made movement more of a focus than design. Well, unfortunately the Sigma 6 2.5" figures kind of take an opposite approach, definitely favoring asthetic design over articulation and movement, especially in this particular set. It almost looks as if the design team here is trying to incorporate dramatic motion, intense action, asthetic style, and articulation all into one package, but is only moderately successful. You end up with figures that do have movable joints, but those movable joints don't serve a whole lot of useful purpose.

But, you doesn't end up bothering me a whole lot. I'm not saying I love these figures, or that they should be the focus of anyone's collections, but I am saying as compliments to the vehicles (which is what they're designed to be) or as display pieces to go alongside the vehicles on your shelf. Those of you who are strictly interested in figures and characters, you can safely move right along...these toys are not what you're interested in. For those vehicle fans, and those people who want some troopers are characters standing alongside or fighting with their vehicles, then this might just interest you.

COBRA Commander is obviously the focal point of the B.A.T. Attacks Action Set, dramatically sculpted to be tossing up a forcefield and sneering angrily at those Sigma 6 members who oppose him. I really love the sculpting of the figure, as it captures the animated form of COBRA Commander well and is nicely decorated. The paint looks good, the cape and helmet are surprisingly well detailed. But as a figure, he suffers from some of the same problems some others do. While he does have movable joints in his neck and shoulders, they prove pretty worthless as all he can do is rotate his arms around, which doesn't offer much other range of motion. In this one particular pose, he looks menacing and defiant, but it is pretty much the only pose he can realistically be in and still look natural. I do love the translucent orange paint on the shield and the staff, but essentially this ends up being a collectible mini-figure more than a usable character, but that is kind of what Hasbro had in mind with these to begin with.

The Sky B.A.T. is the next figure in line, and he's pretty familiar to everyone who even slightly follows Sigma 6. This figure is obviously detailed to match the cartoon and eight inch figure versions and he's got the dramatic animated color scheme down pat. He has more movable joints than the Commander does, and they are at least a little more useful (with a swivel joint in his waist as well as two swivel shoulder joints), but still it's tough to get him in any other realistic poses other than this one.

His foot is sculpted to a rocky base, which also somewhat limits his uses, but it does add some flair to the small figure and gives him a way to stand at a dramatic battle angle. The gunfire coming from the barrels is nicely red/opaque and captures this single moment in time somewhat effectively, however I wish that poses were more optional. He also isn't helped by the fact that softer rubber/plastic is used on the figure, which ends up giving you a pretty unthreatening warped cannon.

This figure is the absolute highlight of the set. While poseability and character are infinitely important to me, there's something to be said for cool miniature collectible figures, and while COBRA Commander and the Sky B.A.T. don't wow me all that much, this Ninja B.A.T. just looks neat. First of all, he is in a very dramatic pose, blasting off from the ground, his body twisted, his eyes narrow, and his arm-claws ready for action. This Ninja B.A.T., strictly from an appearence standpoint, actually looks more imposing than the 8" version!! The way his body is positioned just looks a lot more dangerous than any pose the larger version could get into, and I really, really love it.

This figure has extending claws as well, which actually work more nicely than I originally thought they would. Sure, when his arms are compacted he's got a pair of huge metal poles jutting out of his back, but it doesn't end up as distracting as I thought it would be, and the flexibility of his arm positioning works nicely. There are swivel joints in each shoulder, too, which allows the arms to move, although the position of the torso makes it so they come closer together as they lift higher.

I actually find myself really liking the stark white coloring of the mini-figure, and it contrasts very nicely with the dark black of the foot-thrusters and metallic componants of the robot ninja. The COBRA logo and eyes are a nice shade of red, and the forearms/laser blades all look very cool as well.

The crowning point of this mini-figure is the jet thrust/stand at his feet. It serves as a permanent way to stand the mini-figure, but blends in perfectly with the pose and really ends up looking pretty authentic. It really looks like this little Ninja B.A.T. is taking off with his mini-thrusters. Ultimately this figure is still limited by a very static pose, but at least this pose looks cool and dramatic, and makes for a very nice display piece, which is all you can ask for from a toy that has two points of articulation or less.

Here is the first brand new character we get to check out in the 2.5" line, although it's more of a machine than a character, I guess. Described as a "Heavy B.A.T" this version is seen throughout the first series of the cartoon, and while I would prefer seeing an 8" version of this cool new robot, I can appreciate the fact that tooling costs might limit our vast armies of B.A.T.s to 2.5" scale.

The design asthetic on the Heavy B.A.T. is pretty neat with a sleek, aerodynamic head sculpt and a single red eye peering out of it. He's larger and bulkier, obviously designed to withstand more punishment, and holds a massive rocket cannon on his right arm. In fact, the rocket cannon IS his right arm. His shoulders have nice swivel joints, as do his hips...but unfortunately he's locked into this rocky terrain base with severely limits his leg movement. The torso sculpt here is quite interesting, with a gaping hole in the middle, but some nice wire detailing throughout. Overall, this mini figure manages to look stealthy, angular, bulky and stylish all at the same time.

The paint work is all right here, too, with some white base which matches the Ninja B.A.T., and a nice muted orange trim throughout the figure (though I hesitate to use the word "figure" here).

As I mentioned, he is permenantly attached to his rocky base, but there are some kind of neat spark effects going on, which look to be shooting chunks of rock out of the ground he's standing on. All in all, a pretty neat mini figure all told, though, again, I would love to see it in larger form, backing up the Sky B.A.T.s and Ninja B.A.T.s.

To be brutally honest I've really had to rack my brain for how to proceed with this review of these new 2.5" figures.

My first love in the toy aisle for the past 25 years has been a Real American Hero. 3 3/4" fully articulated action figures that maintain a certain quality that just endears them to me and brings them instantly to life. They are, quite simply, the epitome of what a toyline should be and what action figures in general should be.

These are not them.

However...these are not MEANT to be them.

Make no mistake about it...the 2.5" line is a vehicle driven line, completely conceived and designed to be a showcase for the incredible talents of the G.I. Joe design team. If you look back over the past 5 years, I would challenge anyone to show me a vehicle that was half as cool as the stuff we've been getting over the past year. The RHINO...the R.O.C.C....the new HISS. And now with the Dragonhawk, VAMP, Firebat, and CLAW Mech? Anyone who thinks Hasbro isn't at the pinaccle of their vehicle design prowess within the past half-decade is fooling themselves.

But I know what you're thinking. "Well, sure...and if it was all 3 3/4", we wouldn't be complaining". And I agree with you 110%. If these were compatible with 3 3/4" figures, you'd probably be able to hear me shouting for joy wherever you were. These could potentially be the "be all end all" vehicle assortment for G.I. Joe. But I also understand the limitations Hasbro has placed on them. It has become well known that for shelf-space reasons and price point reasons, 3 3/4" compatible vehicles are not currently financially viable from a retailers' point of view. It's a simple fact of life. Sales haven't warranted it lately and as much as we talk about how we'd support the line, our dollars simply haven't been enough. So concessions have to be made.

I know, I know... "it's only one and a quarter inches!" Well, that doesn't sound like much, but that's 25% of the overall size of the scale. That's a big difference. That's pracitcally the difference between a 3 3/4" figure and a 5" figure. Take a look at vehicles for some 5" figures out there and tell me how much shelf space they take up and how much more expensive they end up being.

So, the result is an absolutely incredible line of beautifully designed vehicles that end up being too small to use with "our Joes". But to me that does not negate their coolness or effectiveness AT ALL. I love the Sigma 6 figures regardless of their scale, and I love the looks of the 2.5" vehicles regardless of their scale. Personally, I've already got over a hundred vehicles I can use with my 3 3/4" figures, so I guess I can live with how things end up here, especially because, regardless of how big they are, these vehicles simply rock.

As I said at the beginning of this little review...if you're a figure fan who is huge on character, and wants their figures to move and live and breathe...sorry, these figures are not up your alley and nothing I say will change your mind (nor would I want to). But those folks out there like me who plan on stocking up on these terrific looking vehicles to display alongside the terrific looking 8" figures...well, these little mini-figures have some nice character and end up filling in the holes next to these vehicles just fine. You won't see me playing with them like I do the larger figures (yes, I'm 32 years old and I play with telling me you don't?!?), and you won't see me using them in dio's...but they'll be sitting there on the shelves next to their corrosponding vehicles, and that is exactly what they're made for. The fact that Hasbro has made the packaging so appealing and the price point relatively affordible is all gravy, and I'm hoping you end up with a new generation of G.I. Joe fans who grow up loving Sigma 6 the same way we did the Real American Hero, twenty-five years ago.















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