As we've been saying ad naseum for the past few months, the focus of the 2.5" line is obviously on vehicles. Highly detailed, playable, functional vehicles of all sizes to interact with the Sigma 6 characters in the Sigma 6 universe. Of course, we need to get figures as compliments to these vehicles, and so far, these complimentary vehicles have run the gamut between bleh and just plain bizarre. And in this pack of figures, you get every one of those all in one pack.

It's obvious that Hasbro is trying to walk the line between poseable, functional action figures, and highly detailed, dramatically posed statues. The functional figures have their uses and can be somewhat fun for what they are...but the statues prove to be less than useful, and again, you'll see examples of each type in this package here.


Speaking of "package", like all other 2.5" sets, there is some terrific art and very dramatic packaging with this particular Action Set. The characters are faithfully and excitedly represented on the card art, and the included Mission Manual is neat as usual:

As we've already come to expect, the layout of what's in the package is done very nicely, as is a cool lowdown of what Mission Sigma 6 is on at this particular time. While obviously not a highly advanced storyline, it does provide some background and some excitement about the pack, which is a good thing, even if the pack itself isn't a whole lot of fun.

The Toys

G.I. Joe and articulation have always been two peas in a pod since day one. I mean, they did define the term "Action Figure" over forty years ago. I think that's part of what rubs so many fans the wrong way with these smaller scale figures, because they lose a particular componant that has always made G.I. Joe what it is. Personally, I'm a little mixed. To me, poseability and articulation are both critical componants to a successful action figure. If you looked at my display shelves, you would only see figures displayed that have significant poseability. That's just a vital part of what makes a good action figure to me. But, as I've said, this line is about the vehicles, not the figures, which is a good thing, because the figures have left me a little cold so far. This set makes some improvements, but is still not nearly as fun as the vehicle sets.

First we'll look at Duke, who is the team leader, and is meant to be a pretty big focus of this set, I think. It's funny, I haven't had a single Duke figure in this line yet, and in one recent long distance trip to Toys "R" Us, I picked up three sets, and now have three Dukes. This one is modelled after the standard Sigma 6 Duke, and is actually not too bad. He's sculpted in a normal Sigma Suit, with no blue vest, and wears his familar green goggles. His hands are pre-molded with Switchfire blasters.

His articulation is where this figure is at least somewhat improved over others. He's got ball-joint shoulders, giving him arms a nice range of motion, and he's got normal "T Crotch" hips. Unfortunately his knees are not poseable, and are stuck in an awkward pose to boot, so he still loses some use. He also has a pretty cool ball-joint torso joint, which gives him even more flexibility. From one look, he looks like Duke, he's at least somewhat poseable, and has the ole John Woo twin-pistol thing going on, which is pretty neat, I think.

Of course, pretty much any positives about that figure are totally negated by the permenantly attached rock base on his foot. Yeah, that's right, those rocks are attached to his foot for good (unless you bust out some tool to separate them). Design wise the ricocheting shots are pretty neat, but I would appreciate this figure a lot more if he was more versatile, and not tied to a rock cropping.

The next figure is...well...hardly a figure at all. We got a somewhat servicable version of Tunnel Rat with the Dune Runner in the Mission: Heatwave set, and this version is far less than servicable. Permenantly afixed to a colorful base that is designed to "launch grenades", Tunnel Rat really doesn't work in any other format whatsoever. He's molded in a permenant crouch and is not able to be put in pretty much any other realistic position. His arms have some nice movability to them, but the way they're posed negates pretty much any viable uses and you end up with one of the aforementioned statues that is less than functional.

The base is colorful and well-animated, the launching grenade is a neat feature, it fires fast and far, but there isn't much else to recommend with this part of this four-pack.

The third figure I'll cover is by far the best figure of the set, and probably the best one I've seen so far. Heavy Duty is large, imposing, well-sculpted, and actually has some decent articulation. The figure has a relatively neutral pose, even with slightly bent (and unmovable) knees, but he does have "t-crotch" articulation at the hips, a nice jointed torso, ball jointed shoulders, and even jointed elbows, which is a first for this line so far. Perhaps it's because the figure is somewhat larger, it allows for more advanced joints and articulation, but whatever the reason, I'm happy to see some movement possible with this figure.

Unfortunately he does have translucent green "power waves" streaming from his gloves, but beyond that, the figure actually looks all right and can be positioned in a few different effective poses. Duke, Heavy Duty is also permanently attached to a strangely "fake dog poop" looking little pile of rock, which again kind of deflates the functionality of the figure. Heavy Duty is large, nicely movable, and a pretty cool figure, all told, but with this permenantly attached rock and strange glowing "Power Gloves" he continues to lose points, which is a shame.

Lastly, in this pack we get a second Heavy BAT (the first one appearing the BAT Attack set), and neither one ends up really being that functional or fun. This Heavy BAT is firmly attached to his odd base, and even though his shoulders have swivel joints, his poses are pretty limited. His guns are sculpted in "firing" mode, and the design itself of the robot is pretty cool...however, this "figure" really isn't much of a "figure" and in the end doesn't do a whole lot for me. It does make me really want to see this figure in 8" form, but besides that I don't have much love for the 2.5" version. As cool as the design of the robot itself is, this one just can't really do enough to make him worthwhile.

In a line that focuses on vehicles, we have sets of figures marketed and sold on their own. Why?

Honestly, I'm not exactly certain. I think Hasbro has a necessity to maintain at least some sets at a lower price point. They want kids with 7 bucks in their wallets to be able to pick up Sigma 6 Mission Scale items, too, even if they don't have enough cash for a larger vehicle. While Hasbro is able to put some cool miniature vehicles into these Action Sets, unfortunately the packs that are totally made up of figures end up leaving me a little cold, because the figures are not really that exciting to me.

G.I. Joe is about imagination. I want my figures to be able to pose how I WANT them to, not how their articulation limits them. That's been the cornerstone of the Joe brand for forty years, and I'm not wild about that departure for this 2.5" line even if the figures are just meant to be additions to the vehicles. I've seen knee joints on figures...elbows...shoulders...torsos...if Hasbro could somehow integrate ALL of these articulation joints into figures, I think I'd be happy. But the mini-statues and the characters shoe-horned into specific scenarios based on the way they're posed severely hampers the effectiveness of that character. That's the thing that G.I. Joe has always held high above all other toylines, and thankfully that mantra is still running strong with the larger figures.

Don't get me wrong...I'm really loving what I'm seeing for the 2.5" line so far, especially with vehicle designs and playability. But mini statues and mostly unposeable figures are not really my cup of tea, so when I get a pack that only has those in it, I feel the need to speak frankly about it. I know that conceptually these are like the "Green Army Men" of old, but part of the reason G.I. Joe blew away those Green Army Men was because of what the figures could do. I know you can do what you want with the 8" figures, and then use the smaller vehicles, but the smaller figures themselves (especially ones attached directly to environment-specific bases) don't seem to serve much purpose, at least not to me.

I do think Hasbro is on the right track. The sculpting and detailing are very nice and very cartoon-accurate. The poses are pretty dramatic, and the body styles themselves are excellent. If Hasbro can find a way to make a more standardized, articulated figure in this smaller, more animated style, I think it could be really, really cool. I've seen snippets of coolness here and there throughout different figures, if Hasbro can take those bits of articulation and work it into one figure, we could be on to something. If rumors from the San Diego ComicCon have any validity to them, Hasbro is working to vastly improve articulation as the line moves forward, which I think is a great thing.

And f rom what I've seen of Series Two, I do think Hasbro is making some nice strides. Even with the figure sets, the figures are pretty nicely designed and nicely posed, and in this pack I do get a pretty decent Duke and Heavy Duty. But given a choice, I'd drop the extra couple of bucks and get a Mantis Mech or Thunderwave, at least for now.















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