Review > G.I. Joe Micro Force

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I’m digging the mini-figure revolution I’m seeing taking place in toy aisles right now. As someone who has collected Battle Beasts, Z-Bots, Army Ants, Trash Bag Bunch, M.U.S.C.L.E., and so on since my childhood, it’s nice to see lines like Trash Pack, SLUG Zombies, Fighter Pods, and Squinkies dominating large portions of the toy aisles these days. Other than the zombies, though, none of these lines have gotten my attention quite like Hasbro’s new line, G.I. Joe: Micro Force.

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As far as their size, they’re a little bigger than Trash Pack, Squinkies, and Fighter Pods, but certainly smaller than the last G.I. Joe micro line, Combat Heroes. These are similar in size to the oft-overlooked toy line Fistful of Power from about 2005-6, which were a little bit smaller than M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. This is really an ideal size: large enough to capture character likenesses and other little details, small enough to fit a bunch of them in the palm of your hand.

While these toys are meant to coincide with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Hasbro was smart enough to know that their sales are determined more by nostalgic adults like you and me than kids who only know the look of the characters from the movies, so the vast majority of figures are characters in outfits that resemble their original looks from the 1980s. For example, there are four different versions of Snake-Eyes, with one version in his V1 outfit, two versions sporting his V2 outfit (which is very similar to what he wears in the movie…and Timber is a separate figure), and the fourth and final version wearing his V3 outfit.

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The vast majority of characters err on the side of their vintage looks. For example, Duke clearly resembles the blond All-American we grew up with instead of Channing Tatum, and Joe Colton, the original G.I. Joe, looks like the original bearded soldier from the 1960s rather than Bruce Willis. Even Roadblock, who clearly evokes The Rock’s portrayal of the character, definitely hearkens back to his V1 design.

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In addition to a wide variety of main characters, we’re treated to a bunch of “army builders,” and I suspect many of these characters must have some part to play in the new movie. There are quite a few recognizable characters from our childhood, like Cobra Vipers and Cobra Troopers. However, there are also a few different generic ninjas who might be a mix of good guys and bad guys. My favorite group of generic characters is an assortment of skull-faced, kabuki like warriors wearing sedge hats like the one worn by Raiden from Mortal Kombat. Regardless of what role these likely villains play in the new film, I think they’re just cool-looking characters, and I don’t mind having a bunch of them.

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This is clearly a line designed with younger fans in mind, and it’s not the first time Hasbro has attempted a line like this. I always thought Hasbro’s Galactic Heroes/Adventure Heroes/Combat Heroes were a bit large for mini-figures and perhaps a bit too kid-friendly in some cases (if you were trying to collect them as an adult), while I don’t quite like the very, very compressed design of Fighter Pods (which are very much meant to evoke the same scale as the seemingly ubiquitous Squinkies toy line). Additionally, I always felt that the GH designs were very static, while the Fighter Pods are too small to really allow for dynamic poses. This line manages to find a happy balance in between those two scales, and many of them are striking awesome, action-packed poses.

In this initial assortment, you can purchase these figures in one of two ways: (1) carded 5-packs where you can see exactly who you are getting, and (2) blind-bagged 2-packs where you can’t. There are 43 figures in total to collect, according to Hasbro. From what I can gather, it looks like you can amass the set from both means. In other words, there aren’t any figures that are exclusive to either the 5-packs or the 2-packs.

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I first found the figures in the 5-packs. It’s easy to start building your set, but when you start trying to complete it, it definitely becomes more of a task. In the first batch I bought, it seemed like there was no way to find a 5-pack that didn’t contain at least two figures from another 5-pack in stock. In the second batch I saw, I had trouble finding 5-packs with more than one figure I needed, but I sucked it up because I didn’t mind a few extras of some of the generic army characters and I hadn’t found main characters like Storm Shadow and Duke in the first batch.

It’s very clear to me that certain characters are much easier to get. Is Snake Eyes your favorite character? Getting him will not be a problem, and even if you want all four versions, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. I saw very few of characters like Zartan, Low-Light, Destro, and a few others, so there might be some classic characters that will give you trouble, at least initially.

The price has been all over the place. The blind bagged 2-packs cost $2.99 each. When I found the 5-packs at Toys R Us, they were $7.99 each, but when I found them at Target, they were $4.99. Either one is charging too much or the other is charging too little (Hasbro says the MSRP is $5.99). It probably seems like quite a bit of money for figures that are so small, but I think it depends on your affinity for mini figures like this. If you go by the Target price, for $30 (plus taxes where applicable!), you could either get three standard 3-3/4” figures or an army of 30 micro figures. I’d rather go for the latter, but that’s just me.

There is a game element to this, but it’s pretty lame. I actually don’t mind when toy companies attempt to incorporate built-in games with toys to give them a little bit of additional play value (which is why I fell hard for Hasbro’s Attacktix back in the day). However, this one seems like an afterthought. Each figure has a little disc. You flick the disks in an attempt to knock over your opponents figures. Your opponent does the same. Last one standing wins. That’s it. However, the good news is that these discs essentially end up functioning as stands for your figures, which is incredibly helpful for display purposes.

I’m fine if this is the only assortment of figures we get, but as with every classic Hasbro toy license, there is a lot of potential to take this line even further. There are still many, many iconic Joe characters that haven’t been tackled yet, like Baroness, Scarlett, Firefly, General Hawk, and others. And if the line is successful, I really hope Hasbro considers making vehicles in this scale. Seeing a miniature Rattler or Killer Whale for these figures would be amazing.

Overall, I think your love for the line will depend on how much you like the G.I. Joe license and how appreciative you are of figures in this scale, but I think Hasbro really knocked it out of the park in a way that, in my opinion, they haven’t really been able to do with their other mini figure lines in recent years. As of writing this review, I’m only seven figures away from a complete set, and I have every intention of finishing it off.

When Ben Leach isn’t asking Poe to pick up rare toys in Massachusetts for him, he’s busy checking every flea market and toy show in the New Jersey / Pennsylvania / Delaware region looking for obscure crap like Tacky Stretchoid Warriors and Galoob’s Army Gear (mostly because he’s a glutton for punishment and only seems to want the most absurdly rare stuff for his collection). He has written about action figures for Toyfare, Lee’s Toy Review, about.com, and thejawa.com. You can read about his current collecting adventures, along with those of the rest of his family, at CollectorGene.com. And yes, ladies who read poeghostal.com, he’s single!

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  • Love GI Joe and I (belatedly) got into the Combat Heroes line. Would rather have seen that one continue (seriously, how awesome is that Shipwreck??). But I haven't been persuaded by these. I think it's the price, despite knowing that good things often come in small packages. Perhaps if they did a Whale — or a Hydrofoil! — I might come on board.

  • I've been a little tempted by these guys, but I just don't really need another series of tiny static figures to stand around on a shelf. I feel like I really need to get some "play value" out of the toys I buy with my limited funds these days, and if I can't pose it or transform it or whatever, it's hard to justify.

    I bet they'd look cool displayed with Robot Heroes, though. Dang it! Still not getting them.

  • I love these guys. I know that the minute I see them in stores I'm going to have to buy them. Of course, the Kre-os look pretty cool, too. Much better than a good deal of the 1/18th movie stuff.

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