The Backyard Patrol is an oddly named yet surprisingly nifty little two-pack in which the main character, Firefly, has two unique costumes for two different espionage jobs.
While very expensive repaints of a mold that's seen a lot of action since 2000, these figures are surprisingly good looking and an interesting combination of modern sensibilities as well as the finest aesthetics 1984 had to offer.
One's a black-suited terrorist with shiny silver boots. The other appears to have gotten drunk and passed out in a paint factory. Can they get along in the big city?
On the left: Cobra Island Infiltrator. On the right: Black Dragon Infiltrator.
Both figures are cut from the same cloth, the 1998 Polar Firefly mold which was itself based on the 1984 original. Since then, it's also been used to make the very cool Firefly from the Firefly & Undertow two-pack, a bright red version in a warehouse club exclusive pack, an urban repaint for Toys "R" Us, and an upcoming repaint for a comic book set. So odds are you've had plenty of opportunities to buy the character. But why buy these?
For one thing, they make a compelling illustration of what paint can do for a mold. For example, on the right, he has his knife (see his sleeve) painted bright silver, while it's more or less unpainted on the version on the left. By assigning camo or highlights for metal components, you totally change the personality of a sculpt, and this is of course very nifty. The idea of a trooper becoming less conspicuous by donning a black suit with such garish colors splashed across it seems a little goofy, but I have to admit the camo version-- inspired, no doubt, by another Toys "R" Us repaint of this mold named Wreckage-- does blend in nicely in certain toy shelf environments.
I picked these up to satisfy a curiosity-- how do the convention figures work? Well, I'm glad to say I now know. Like all modern Joes based on old molds (save for a few Lampreys from 2000) these are made of the softer plastic for the arms-- not the super-soft plastic as seen on the Greenshirts, but soft enough so that it doesn't feel like a thumb might snap off. The eyes are not like the modern figures, nor is any of the paint, really. While the Cobra logo on the arm has been updated and the details are sharp and rarely sloppy, these don't feature paint wipes, whites around their eyes, or any of that. On the whole, this is a very 1980s design, and that's part of what makes it a little cooler. If you're going to be asked to pay $50 for two figures, they may as well look old enough to be worth it.
You get a lot of stuff, but not a ton of stuff.
Like Noah, you get two of each. Two stands, two machine guns, two walkie-talkies, and two backpacks with removable panel. These are the same accessories thrown with this mold for years and they've held up to the ages quite well, with sharp details and good coloring. The fact that the stands are clear strikes us as a little odd, but since the figure's foot holes plug right into it without a problem we're not going to complain. It's a good selection of guns for the figures if not nearly as diverse as some of the other sets.
Hasbro has released several multi-packs since Joe relaunched, and this is the third style of packaging used for sets of five or more figures. The Valor vs. Venom ones come with brand new art that looks... unique.
Like most convention figures, the filecards are quirky and should bring a smile to the faces of fans. Little references-- like a quote from Cobra Commander that sounds as if it were written by the non-existent man himself--make you want to hold onto these instead of ditching them.
We bought these on a lark-- we put in a low bid on eBay and got them. Were they too expensive still? Yes. But in our defense, we didn't expect to win.
For the roughly $50 these reportedly sold for in 2003 at the convention in San Francisco back in 2003, it seems kinda pricey-- but we also heard these sold out pretty much immediately. Which, again, is surprising-- despite the cost, the run of 500 pieces seems very low and we'd assume there were more than 500 people who'd be in to this sort of thing. We very much like them but then again, we're stupid like that. If you have some money to burn, if you can get these at a price you can justify as being fair, or if you just looooove crazy freelance terrorist toys with ties to Cobra, it's easy to say "yes, go pick these up." If you just want a Firefly, though, buy another one. The version that was packed with Undertow was especially nice.
Text and photos by Adam Pawlus
Review posted on March 3 2005
Sample purchased in February 2005 from eBay