Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Toybox REVIEW: GI Joe Classified Series Destro

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Release Date: April 2020
RRP: $19.99/£19.99

Hasbro’s
continuing expansion of its six-inch figure lines continues with the return of one of its most iconic properties - GI Joe! Whilst as a British person who grew up in the 90s I may not have experienced the popularity of the franchise in the same way America or other parts of the world did, its reputation and legacy shouldn’t be understated. But then neither should the fact that GI Joe has definitely fallen on hard times in recent years, likely due to the middling response to the two live-action movies. Now in 2020 Hasbro are ready to try once more on both the classic 3.75 and 6” fronts - the latter debuting in the new GI Joe Classified Series line. Among its first wave are operatives from both the heroic Joes and the terrorist organisation Cobra, including the Scottish arms dealer James McCullen Destro XXIV, better known as simply Destro. Through M.A.R.S. (Military Armament Research Syndicate), Destro maintains a steady alliance with Cobra in order to reap the profits of war - however he’s also not adverse to turning against them if it’s better for business.


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One look at the packaging that’s been produced for the Classified Series and you can immediately see why Hasbro felt the need to upgrade their Star Wars Black Series boxes to something a little more eye catching. These are by far the best boxes Hasbro are putting out for their six inch lines, sporting some incredible artwork as well as a combination of card and plastic that makes the overall design pack a much bigger punch. The front of the box features a nice big window to gaze in at the figure inside, with the GI Joe Classified Series logo across the bottom alongside some Destro art - his collar properly morphing into the Cobra logo is a really nice touch. The background of that image (which itself is an up close shot of Destro’s face) is then repeated on one of the spines, with the other spine featuring some little images that explain Destro’s role (money, weapons etc.) and his number designation in the line. The back of the box is the best of all, featuring extensive colour artwork of the GI Joe cast - offering a sneak peek at character designs that’ll be used in future figures. There’s absolutely no images of the toy itself on this box, which given that Hasbro has a tendency to lie on those stock images/renders is probably for the better. Inside the figure and accessories are stored on the usual moulded plastic tray.

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Whereas some of the characters already revealed for the Classified Series are sporting updated looks, Destro remains pretty faithful to his original design. There’s some modernisation in regards to costume materials, panel-lining etc., but it’s still Destro’s classic black jumpsuit with the open chest and red Cobra-like collar. Though the suit is predominantly black the use of dark grey on the gauntlets and boots helps break it up a little bit, as does the red of the collar, belt and wrist-mounted rocket launcher. Of course the stand-out part of the design is still Destro’s beryllium steel mask, represented here with a shiny silver paint job that isn’t quite chrome but doesn’t feel that far off in terms of effect. The panel lining running across it is subtle, but adds so much more depth to the mask when viewed close up. Completing the look is Destro’s swag gold chain, which hangs around the neck of the figure as a completely separate piece - giving it a nice bit of realism as it dangles down and can be positioned for different poses. The ammo pouches on the leg are attached to belt, and both can get a little twisted about when posing, but overall it’s a very solid build that’ll please just about any GI Joe fan.

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If you’re familiar with any of Hasbro’s other six inch figure lines (Marvel Legends, Star Wars Black Series, Power Rangers Lightning Collection or the new Ghostbusters Plasma Series) you’ll be pretty at home with what’s on offer with the Classified Series, but Hasbro have also thrown in a few other surprises that’ll make the line a real contender for toy fanatics going forward. Destro sports a ball jointed head and neck assembly, swivel hinge shoulders with added butterfly movement, ab crunch, ball jointed waist, double hinged elbows and knees, swivel hinge wrists, bicep and thigh swivels and swivel hinge ankle rockers. The big thing I missed out in that list are the hips, which are a drop down ball joint variety in the same vein as the S.H. Figuarts line. While they aren’t as fluid as the ones Tamashii Nations have perfected over the years, the fact Hasbro are trying it out could mean big things for future figures - both here and in their other lines as well. Destro is a joy to pose, and for anything the figure can’t manage on its own Hasbro have even included a stand port on the back to give him some extra support.

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Accessory-wise Destro comes packaged with a small gold pistol, a larger black/red rifle and a working suitcase which opens up to reveal a computer control panel and (in proper Destro style) a huge pile of cash. At least I’m assuming it’s money anyway - with detail except it being green rectangles with yellow bands it could easily be explosives of some sort as well. Money is definitely more Destro’s style though. When not in use, the gold pistol can be stored away in Destro’s thigh holster. All three accessories look great - while the golden gun might stand out as far as colour goes the rifle and suitcase have some great detailing to them and suit Destro’s colour palette perfectly. The suitcase even has a painted red Cobra logo on one of the sides! While the computer screen inside perhaps isn’t quite as detailed as the one included with Lightning Collection Blaze, it still has a hell of a lot of moulded detail to it. Displayed open or closed it suits Destro perfectly, since he’s the man raking in the money as he shows the terrorists his latest wares. Given how similar the Classified Series is to both Marvel Legends and the Lightning Collection I’m a little surprised Hasbro didn’t throw in a pair of alternate hands with the figure too - Destro could have certainly benefited from them but leaving him with just two accessory holding hands isn’t much of a loss either. He can shoot, dual wield, protect his briefcase goods or do all of the above.

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Six inch GI Joe figures are something that have been on a lot of collectors’ wish list for some time, and with the way the franchise has been overlooked in the past few years Hasbro had a lot of expectations to meet with this line. Based on this first wave of figures it looks as though they’ve really come out swinging, and Classified Series Destro is a fantastic figure which bodes well for the future. Hasbro have taken all the best parts of their other six inch lines and pulled them together, adding in new flourishes along the way that continue to make these figures a real rival to the higher-end Japanese ones. As a casual GI Joe fan at best my original plan was to simply pick up all the Cobra characters and skip the Joes themselves, but judging by the quality displayed that might not be as doable as I once thought. The Classified Series has some serious potential.

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