G.I. JOE – OPERATION BLACKOUT [Special Feature, Part 2]: Bludd ‘N Guts.

KJ Johnson
@nivekj1

GHG’s look at G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout continues as we plumb the digital archives in the game for clues and sneak peeks in the six-inch scale Classified Series. Last time, we hypothesized about possible variants in the line from a Grillmeister Roadblock a la “Red Rocket’s Glare” to a pimped-out, 80’s gangsta-leanin’ Snake Eyes (our Part 1 right here).

But we also know that more characters are debuting in Classified form in 2021, alongside the announced Zartan and Firefly. Could these be how the Joes look in fig form? Let’s dive in (and if you haven’t, peep our Operation Blackout review here)…

THE NEW RECRUITS

In the few short months since Classified’s unveiling at New York Toy Fair 2020, the response to the toy line has ranged from ambivalence to scorching-hot, disappearing off the shelves and skyrocketing in value on the secondary markets. But after 16 figures, and four Cobra baddies on the way next spring, the six Joes are heavily outnumbered. And no, I’m not counting Snake Eyes and Roadblock twice (unless Cobra Island Roadblock is your Heavy Duty, but that’s another article).

In Operation Blackout, the roster runs deeper for both factions and more than a little bit:

LADY JAYE

As elegant as she is deadly, Lady Jaye has been on fan’s lists since the announcement of Classified. Jaye, along with Flint and Major Bludd, were all but confirmed by Australian retailer Action Figure Industries who has been spot on about this collection in the past.

Her appearance in Operation Blackout is a pitch perfect update to her look throughout the ages, complete with javelin and the line’s signature shinguards. It’s about time we added some more ladies to the ranks, and Jaye is more than welcome. Anything else than a literal translation of this in plastic would be a letdown.

SCI-FI

The futuristic laser trooper isn’t necessarily a fan-favorite, but that may change with a highly detailed, ultra-poseable figure in the Classified Series. Everything about this line gets better once the toys are actually in-hand and judging by the heartfelt update from his 1986 release, Sci-Fi may soon be the next Joe that should not be slept on.

His blank slate as background filler made him perfect for adaptation, according to the game makers: “We choose Sci-Fi because he is one of those Joes with barebones lore. He doesn’t appear much in the comics or cartoons, and when he does, he reveals little personality.” Talk about a back-handed compliment!

STORM SHADOW

Already having debuted as an Amazon exclusive, with a Snake Eyes: Origins movie variant on the way, we have yet to see the Classified update to Storm Shadow’s mainline look until now in Operation Blackout. It’s a safe bet that this is the Arashikage scoundrel’s design for the line, and I simply cannot wait.

Several fans and customizers have taken it upon themselves to approximate this look, with a heavy assist from Articulated Icons’ White Ninja and their Arms/Hands/Wraps pack. Until this is officially released, those customs will have to do. Oh, the horror.. the horror..

COBRA B.A.T.S.

Long a personal favorite of mine, the Battle Android Trooper made it okay for the Joes to finally take head shots, rocket blasts and katana swipes at the Enemy, upping the carnage of Saturday morning to its sanitized maximum. No parachutes or last-second jumps for these bad bots; they were perfect.

The designers for the game took it upon themselves to update the classic design and I would pay good money to get this sucker in three-dimensional physical form. I’m talking by the caseload! We’ve already seen the frenzy that the ultra-exclusive Cobra Trooper caused as an army builder; I shudder to think what would happen if the B.A.T. was trapped on Target’s Cobra Island. I’ll stop before I give them any ideas!

G.I. JOE BATTALION

G.I. Joe has lasted as a brand for decades, from Adventure Team to Ninja Force, from Spy Troops to Sigma 6, even all the way through The Rise of Cobra, Retaliation and Resolute. And through it all, the name of the game is to lay your claim. Unfortunately for Hasbro, some trademarks lapsed and fell through the cracks, Steel Brigade chiefly among them.

Acquired by up-and-comer Valaverse, who also acquired Action Force from former Hasbro subsidiary Palitoy, the beloved mail-in figure is now off limits to Classified and Operation Blackout. Enter the Battalion. Originally designed as robotic cannon fodder, the teams at GameMill and IguanaBee considered making them real humans. The masked Battalion troopers could be the army builders the Joes need, and the answer to Hasbro’s Steel Brigade quandary. Now you can join the Classified Series!!

EXTRAS

The good stuff just keeps comin’! One of the strengths of Operation Blackout as a game is that it’s a love letter to all things G.I. Joe, chock full of Easter eggs and shout-outs. Many favorites make an appearance in the game, even if only for a secondary function or a cameo. Others still were cut from the game due to unrest and the global pandemic cutting development short. Still, we can gleam clues from the artwork for potential Classified characters including [deep breath]:

-Ace, General Hawk, Sgt. Stalker, Dusty, Wild Bill, Shipwreck, Lifeline, Alley Vipers, Dr. Mindbender, Major Bludd, and of course Tomax and Xamot.

Even more Joes and Cobras appear throughout the story campaign, tantalizing future action figures just waiting to happen. Perhaps that bench will be as deep and varied as Marvel Legends or Star Wars’ Black Series, but only time will tell.

-KJ Johnson

Join us for the final installment of our Operation Blackout analysis as we look ahead towards some of the vehicles that just may end up in stores and on our shelves!

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