As some waves of the 25th Anniversary seem to have been done in a hurry, it only makes sense that a lot of the figures are redecorated versions of existing toys. Sgt. Stalker here reuses almost all of the parts used to make the Snake Eyes figure in the multi-packs from wave 1. Aside from the head and a different weapon, the two figures are identical except for paint. (The green Stalker, though, has one additional change.)
While seemingly one of the more popular figures from the wave, this figure's popularity was in no small way boosted by the running change to it. The very first shipment has a yellow body suit (pictured above) while later releases are dark green, and also have a peg hole in the back so the figures can use backpacks. Interesting, no?
Ready to rumble in the forests of the world, Sgt. Stalker has 16 points of articulation, storage on his person for two weapons, and a removable bandolier/belt piece.
As the original Stalker was part of Wave 1 of the original Joe line from 1982, it used the same body as several other figures in an effort to keep costs down. 25 years later, it seems the toy business still works pretty much the same way. The figure has a great body suit which is generic enough to be repainted into different colors to create new and exciting characters. There's a fair amount of detail to admire, from the wrinkly pants to the ridges around his shirt collar. All the straps are painted, so his costume looks much more realistic than on some other figures released over the years. While it would be nice to see more deco added to the snaps and buttons, and possibly the boot laces, what you see here is a figure that hits most of the marks quite well.
The one major shortcoming is in the figure's hands. Rather than sculpt new hands, Hasbro decided to just paint Snake Eyes' gloved hands in a flesh color, resulting in, well, this. It's not a huge problem, and you won't even notice it unless you look really close. However, if you put a weapon in his hand, you're looking pretty close so this is a detail that's likely to get noticed by the collector over and over again. Since detail in 2007 is so much greater than it was in 1982, you can't get away with under-detailed hands working as both gloved and ungloved through the magic of paint. You can do a lot with paint, but unless you're aiming for geriatric hands here, this doesn't quite work as well as one might have hoped.
The head is good! Not great, but good. The neck is a little too long, but it's really a fairly minor thing overall. The figure is fairly expressive, and features an intense glare. Eye paint makes a big difference in how the personality can be perceived, and in our case, Sgt. Stalker looks a little excited as you can see by the large whites of his eyes. Our green Stalker looks a little more mellow, so keep a watch out for the best possible face when you buy yours.
The knife slips into a holster on his leg, but it doesn't go in very far-- a lot of it sticks out and it feels very fragile, so take care not to snap it off. Our sample seems to have been molded incorrectly, in that there's a small hole in the side. It appears that most if not all Stalker figures from this line have a flaw in this area, with some having a hole and others having what appears to be some form of visual distress.
A knife, a pistol, a stand, and a machine gun. The original 1982 release only had a machine gun, so I'd say this is a big improvement.
Sgt. Stalker can carry both his knife and smaller pistol on his person in holsters, but the larger machine gun has to be carried around by hand-- which is sensible, as I don't believe you could easily conceal it in a pouch or anything. The knife has a painted silver blade, the other weapons are molded in black.
The display stand is essentially the same size and shape as those used for Star Wars figures in 2006 (and again in 2008). The peg size is also smaller than other Joe toys, making these action figures compatible with modern Star Wars and not the previous two decades of Joe product.
For the 25th Anniversary, most figures feature what appears to be a character portrait that's about 90% the same as the original with a few minor tweaks. In the case of Stalker, it seems the portrait was done in a similar pose, but was completely redone-- the limbs are positioned differently, the face is different, and it seems a lot of work went into trying to replicate the original look and feel of the painting used in 1982.
As you can see, it very closely follows the old design. The old white/yellow/red explosion is there, the old logo is there (but now it's foil), and even the old Hasbro logo is on the front of the package. It's a modern update of a classic, but retails enough of the original design where you won't be confused as to what Hasbro was going for here, nor will any collector with any sense mistake the new release for the old one.
Finally, it's worth noting that, like the rest of the line so far, there are no product photos anywhere on the package. All products are instead represented by artwork.
Comparisons & Variations
As of this review, two distinct variants of Sgt. Stalker have been released in this line. One is yellow, and one is green-- but there are other differences as well. (Well, OK, one more difference.) As the figure was based on Snake Eyes, let's take a look at that first.
From left to right: Snake Eyes (individually carded, 2007), Snake Eyes (5-pack, 2007), Stalker (yellow variant, 2007.) The same basic body is being used for all three figures, with a different head, new deco, and in some cases, different bandoliers and belts.
From left to right: yellow variant, green variant. As part of wave 3, the yellow version was described by Hasbro as a factory goof and was quickly replaced with the green. As such, the yellow one will likely be tougher to get in the long run, but when I found mine it was one of only two Joe figures at the store. The packaging on both figures is essentially identical, but the figures are obviously different.
From left to right: yellow variant, green variant. As you can see in the "back" images, Yellow Stalker has no hole in his back, but Green Stalker does. We have yet to hear of a Green Stalker with no hole, or a Yellow Stalker with a hole.
For a Snake Eyes repaint with a new head and a new gun, well, it's not too impressive. Had Hasbro actually retooled the hands from gloves to real hands, I'd say this would be a fine example of how to reuse molds, but it's just so weird to see the poor guy with saggy, wrinkly flesh on his fingers. Since the original Stalker and Snake Eyes figures shared a the same bodies, it's appropriate that it was done again here-- but with the modern standards as they are, there are some things that it just looks weird if someone takes a shortcut. Still, it's a good figure, and while not the most exciting out of the first few batches it is certainly an overall fun release. (It'd be more fun if, say, the grenade was removable from the bandoliers, but I can't complain too much.)
A full look at the green Sgt. Stalker will be coming soon.
Text and photos by Adam Pawlus
Review posted on November 8 2007
Samples purchased in the month of October 2007 at Target stores in or around Los Angeles
[Check availability at our sponsors]