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G.I.JOE: A Real American Hero
Iron Grenadier
Cobra Infantry

Toy Review

By Mark Patraw

file card

package photos

Manufacturer Information:
Pawtucket, Rhode Island


The Package:
First, I must note that, while these are undoubtedly still Sigma 6 figures, Hasbro has dropped the Sigma 6 subtitle--they're just plain "G.I.JOE: A Real American Hero" figures again, which is fine by me (and probably what they should have done from the beginning). That said, I'm going to keep calling them Sigma 6 figures anyway, so there. Iron Grenadier, like all the Sigma 6 "Soldier" figures, comes on a blister card, with the bubble taped and heat-sealed to the cardback (the "Commando" figures come in the larger, box-like containers that incorporate the two halves of the storage locker into the packaging--they also cost more). The back of the card has the Iron Grenadier's file card (don't forget to cut this out if you're throwing the package away) and some photos of him and his gear (both can be seen in the images above). Other figures available (namely the JOEs Gung-ho, Inferno, and Lockdown, and the Cobras Samurai Storm Shadow and Toxic Zartan) are advertised on the side of the package, rather than the back, now. There were a few twist ties, and a whole lot more of that transparent rubber band stuff holding the Iron Grenadier and his gear in the interior bubble--getting it all off, and him out of his plastic coffin, wasn't much fun. The folded, instruction sheet for the figure lays at the bottom of the bubble.

Iron Grenadier:
Veteran G.I.JOE: RAH fans will remember the original Iron Grenadier figures as being troopers in Destro's private army, not flunkies for Firefly (as they are now), and sporting a predominately black uniform. The new, Sigma 6 design looks like some kind of creepy cyborg (they remind me of the Radiation Rangers from the old Playmates Toxic Crusaders toy line, albeit not as brightly colored). Cool? Definitely. True to the original concept? Vaguely. You may also notice that most, if not all, of his body, with the exception of the head sculpt, is just a repaint of the previous Firefly figure, which is kind of lame. Looking at him, I can't help but think that it's really Firefly in some kind of chemical warfare disguise, rather than a unique figure. He's a big boy too, towering at eight-and-three-eighths inches in height. The paint work is very well done and clean, although I should note that a lot of the color comes from the plastic the pieces were molded in. He's predominately black, silver, dark blue, and dark/bright red in color--the Iron Grenadier definitely gives off the "bad guy" vibe visually. Joint assessment time--Iron Grenadier's got: A ball-jointed neck with a good range of motion (the hoses don't interfere with it at all); a forwards/backwards pivoting mid-torso; a rotating waist; ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, and wrists; spring-loaded "Kung-Fu Grip" fingers on his right hand which works quite well for gripping different sized accessories; ball-jointed hips (the gear on his upper legs does limit these somewhat) and knees; and pivoting ankles. Some of the joints, especially the elbows and ankles, are looser than I expected for a new toy, which didn't make me very happy and results in some posing difficulties.

In pure numbers, the Iron Grenadier comes with quite a bit of stuff. However, that said, most of it is either gear for his body or parts for his grenade launcher, which, at least to my eyes, gives the impression of less than there actually is. Still, you're getting a lot of gear for your money (equal to, or more than, what comes with some of the Commando figures). You get:

- Iron Gren-5 Grenade Launcher. This is molded in silver plastic with some black paint ops on the bottom of the barrel and handle, and the button for firing the projectile is a slightly darker silver in color. It looks cool by itself, but becomes something special when you trick it out with the removable clip, projectile rack, and the grenades themselves. The projectile firing action feature works great; it launches them a long way and has the punch to actually knock other figures over. The scale on this thing is pretty ludicrous though, it's almost as big as the figure. If this was a real weapon, unless it was made out of some kind of super light alloy, it'd be quite cumbersome to lift, let alone use. Realistic? Nope. Excellent toy? You betcha!

- Stun Grenades. Okay . . . so, my Iron Grenadier has this cool, huge gun and you're telling me all its' shells do is daze people? Hasbro can call these whatever they want, but at my house, they are deadly, fragmenting explosives not lame "stun" grenades. Anyway, you get three of these. They're molded in silver plastic with the heads painted yellow. They're pretty stiff too, none of that soft, bendy projectile crap we often get that makes them "safer".

- Projectile Rack. This is molded in silver plastic with no paint ops and the silver is a different shade than the launcher. The rack comes in two pieces; these snap together and the completed unit slides on top of the launcher. Two of the three grenade projectiles can then be stored by placing them into the corresponding holes. This is an excellent addition to the main weapon, as, aside from looking killer, it gives you a place to keep your extra missiles so you won't lose them.

- Gun clip. This is molded in silver plastic with no paint. It does what a clip does best--pops in and out of the corresponding slot on the grenade launcher. While I can appreciate the play value that comes from having a removable clip, it's a rather absurd design flaw here in my opinion, as this is a dedicated grenade launcher that fires--you guessed it--grenades, not bullets, and the clip is very obviously a bullet clip. Now, had this weapon been a double-barreled affair, with one barrel as the grenade launcher, and the other as a gun, then the clip would make perfect sense. The only thing I can say is, maybe, just maybe, the gun's design allows it to fire bullets when there's no grenade in the barrel (which will work out just great when a forgetful Iron Grenadier decides to fire a bullet when there IS a grenade loaded in the barrel . . . KABOOM). Now, maybe you're thinking to yourself, "But there could be a safety feature where you can't fire bullets when there's a grenade in the barrel.", and I say back to you, "Cobra Commander doesn't give a damn about the safety of his infantry."

- X-3C Capture Spear. It's molded in silver plastic with the handle, and a couple of long sections along its length, painted black. A silver, spiked collar and a pair of handcuffs are attached to two black strings that run through the hollow device and connect to the spear point on the other end. By pulling on said spear point, you can pull your helpless prisoner towards you. I thought the collar/cuffs would be more rubbery in nature, but they're actually fairly stiff, which can make it difficult to get them on your captured figure, depending on how wide their neck/wrists are (this is accomplished by squeezing an appendage through the slits in the circular restraints). My assessment: Blah. I honestly considered not buying this figure because of how ridiculous I find this accessory--I really would have rather had another firearm, or, in memory of the original Iron Grenadier, a sword of some kind. Back in '89, when I was in Cobra, serving as an Alley Viper--which, oddly enough, doesn't do a thing for my employability when I put it on my job applications--when we caught JOEs, we just shot them. Simple as that. Not one time can I recall shackling the prisoners in spiked collars and handcuffs and dragging them back to Cobra HQ behind us. Your opinion may very well differ from mine on this item, but I just don't have any interest is playing suspiciously S&M-like games with enemy POWs (like I said, back in the day, we just shot them). A final note: One of our cats, much to my annoyance, really likes to chew on the string on this thing, so it also has some feline entertainment value. Just thought I'd mention that in case there are any cats reading this review.

- Shoulder Pads. They're molded in black plastic and them painted silver with some red highlights. Surprisingly, they're actually unique sculpts, rather than duplicates of one another. A small peg allows you to attach them to the Iron Grenadier's shoulders (FYI: they can also fit on top of the hands and look kinda like oversized brass knuckles, which is kind of cool). The right one fits great, but the left one on mine doesn't--it pops off very easily, particularly when you move the elbow joint below it. When you open the toy up, these are rubber banded in place--if you don't ever intend to remove them, I would advise leaving them trussed up like that, as they won't fall off that way. It's worth mentioning that both have slats cut into them where you can attach straps if you're so inclined (in fact, the instructions show straps attached to them--I wish the finished product had them, then they wouldn't fall off, even if the peg came out of the hole).

- Thigh armor. It's molded in black, rubbery plastic with the armor plate painted silver and red. It's removable/adjustable via the two straps. The figure comes packaged with it on his left thigh, which is where I left it (pun intended). The straps do interfere slightly with the hip joint, so you may want to adjust the fit so it hangs a bit lower, which is what I did.

- Backpack-Canister-Hose assembly. The backpack is molded in silver plastic with black and red paint ops. It attaches to the figure via three pegs that fit tightly into the corresponding holes on the Iron Grenadier's back. The canister is dark blue and silver in color with two rubbery black straps wrapped around it, which are used to secure it to the right thigh. The hoses are made out of a rubbery red material. One runs from the pack to the canister, and the other two connect the pack to the figure's face mask. The cables pop in and out of the mask easily, but the hoses don't seem to want to come out of the backpack or canister (I think they're glued), so I wouldn't recommend yanking on them. All-in-all, a cool assemblage that really adds a lot to the character's appearance. I'm guessing that this equipment is intended to protect the Iron Grenadier from the effects of its own stun grenades and/or chemical/gas attacks from the enemy, but it looks more like a life support system to me, which reinforces the cyborg look the figure has.

- Belt. It's molded from rubbery black plastic with silver paint highlights. It features a large belt buckle, a couple of pouches, and some other sculpted details. Initially, I wasn't sure if this even came off or was glued on, but, happily, it is removable, which is accomplished by unhooking the clasp in the back.

- Instructions. An illustrated sheet of glossy paper, printed in black, white, and red ink, that details assembly and various features for this figure.

I don't know if it's just my local Wal-Mart, or all of them, but for some reason, they're selling Sigma 6 G.I.JOE figures cheaper than anybody else, and no, they're not clearanced--these are their regular prices: $9 for "Soldier" figures, "$13" for "Commando" figures (they use to charge $10 and $15, respectively). In a time when toys keep getting more expensive, it's nice to see someone bucking the trend with a price drop like this.

Final Analysis:

- Creepy appearance/design.
- Large, well-articulated figure.
- Excellent quantity and variety of accessories.
- Vise-like Kung-Fu battle grip works well.
- Price actually went down, rather than up, for a change, hooray!
- Like most Cobra troopers, this guy has "Army Builder" written all over it.

- The concept for this figure's specialty--a glorified JOE wrangler--leaves much to be desired. They're supposed to be infantry, not Cobra Pokemon collectors.
- The Sigma 6 figures are plagued with a ton of body part re-use (not to mention a ridiculous amount of Snake Eyes, Duke, and Storm Shadow variations). While he's cool looking, when you get down to it, the Iron Grenadier is really little more than a modified and repainted Firefly figure.
- Some of the joints are loose, right out of the package.
- That crazy capture device is just lame.
- The shoulder pads could have, and should have, come with straps attached. The pegs alone only do a so-so job of keeping them in place.

Where to Buy:
Wal-Mart, Target, Shopko, and Pamida stores all carry G.I.JOE Sigma 6 figure assortments in my area. I only found the Iron Grenadier at Wal-Mart though. Any store that stocks significant amounts of toys probably has G.I.JOE figures. In the unlikely event you can't find any where you live, you'll have to shop online.

For Parents:
Hasbro recommends this figure for ages 5 and up. It's probably a good idea to remind your child not to shoot the projectiles at other people and/or pets.


launcher disassembled
launcher assembled
capture spear
shouder pads
backpack/hose/canister assembly
belt and thigh armor

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