It is fun to be able to watch the evolution of an action figure line from the ground up. Upon the announcement of the Classified Series, I was so excited to collect my first Joe line. It was a bit of a rocky start, but I cannot remember a line in recent history that has been able to course correct on so many levels so quickly – it has been an amazing not-yet-two-years.
Seeing that evolution prove true in real time is made most apparent when a new figure is the best figure the line has offered to date, and friends, Spirit is an absolute TRIUMPH. I might be caught up in some of the newness of the figure, and the fact that Dorkside Toys shipped him out so early, but the overall achievement of this figure highlights all of the great things about this line, and the improvements we have seen happen so fast.
I appreciate the updating and modernization of the Real American Hero corner of G.I. Joe for this line. Hasbro is wise to treat G.I. Joe as an evergreen franchise, and not a nostalgia property, so while there were so stumbles up front, namely in the design and color palette choices, more recent figures have struck that PERFECT balance between old and new, and oh boy, I am more excited for this line than ever before. Classified Spirit does a wonderful job of balancing his iconic look and design, while bringing him forward with modern sensibilities.
I kind of knew that, as long as the production quality and engineering held through, I was going to love this figure. When he was first shown in a livestream last year, the Hasbro Joe team did a great job showing off the details, accessories, and updated character history. All of those things clicked right away for me, and even in a line where the colors are being drawn down into more realistic tones, I knew Spirit would stand out in the collection in the best way. This is a figure that the designs NAILED, and frankly, he is the standard for Classified now going forward. That is so exciting because thinking of what is yet to come, the possibilities are just so cool.
Something this line has always had going for it is the sculpted detail in all the figures. So many of the characters are stunning in their presentation, and the little details that are captured here and there are so much fun. The sculpting talent Hasbro is utilizing on this line is second to NONE, and I know that Spirit was a group effort. Our friend Fred Aczon of 2dsculpts rocked it out on the portrait and other spots, so knowing a line like this is being handled by talented individuals who are also FANS is very comforting. I am going to let the pictures mostly speak for themselves, but there is so much personality in this figure that you need not know anything about him to get an engaging story. The subtle details in the face and his stern expression tell a tale without the need of words, and this chunk of plastic has more personality than many of the people I have met over the course of all my years.
Like all Classified figures, Spirit comes with a bevy of accessories, and many of these show the same design improvements as the figures over the course of the line. I am not even in the same universe as someone who out be considered a weapons expert, but even my lack of knowledge can appreciate the sensibilities of the more realistic/less sci-fi weapons approach this line is now taking. Spirit is a sniper, and he comes equipped with a rifle and scope appropriate for the job. He also has his sidearm pistol (with a gorgeous friggin’ eagle motif sculpted right in), a “standard” knife, his unique knife (that can be kept in a specialized sheath), and backpack. The latter can store the rifle when not in use, and that is another great point about most all of the accessories in this line thus far: when not being used, they can be properly stored.
The highlight here is that Freedom the bald eagle is also included, and I would not call him an accessory, my like a “sidekick” or companion figure. This is an impressive inclusion for a standard figure, but most certainly an essential one. Freedom boasts seven points of articulation and freakin’ swappable WINGS so he can be perched or (literally) spread eagle. He can rest on the perch built into the backpack or on Spirit’s left arm via the peg holes in both spots. I realize that we will be getting Croc Master in just a bit with a gigantic croc figure, but Freedom is awesome in his own right and makes this release absolutely stoic AF.
Spirit features all of the standard articulation you have come to expect from this line, so if you have just about any of the figures, you know what to expect. I really like the neck scheme for all of these figures, and I am appreciative that the design team always picks the right wrist movement (up and down or side to side) to best handle the accessories. Spirit does have the drop-down hips, and like all of the GIJCS figures, I gave those some silicone shock oil pretty much immediately. That is the one design niggle that seems to continue here, and those are really tight – so it scared me. The oil helps a lot though, so if you can get some, be sure to do so.
Hey, when you get a candidate for Figure of the Year the first week of January, you have to consider things off to a great start. Sprit ships in a case alongside Storm Shadow, so I have to admit I have not opened that figure yet, he might already be giving Spirit a run for his money. That is a hell of a problem to have. With Classified, O-ring, ULTIMATES!, and ReAction, we are living in a pretty unprecedented time for G.I. Joe, and from the looks of it, we are just getting started. YO. JOE.