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Switch Gears Hasbro, 2003

Switch Gears
Review Capsule
As this is a new character, it's fairly generic, but includes a fair amount of accessories and a disguise-- he can turn into the Cobra character Overkill. A bit of a snooze without the accessories, but with them, he's worthwhile. $7.99.

Introduction

A revival of an old property can only go so far without new blood, which Hasbro has always managed to keep in mind when relaunching their old brands. Switch Gears is one such new figure. He really can't strike a chord with the fans of old, but the kids of today may get a kick out of his ability to change outfits and to help fill out the ranks of the good guys.

Of course, as the figure has no real history, all the personality that he has comes from his file card, and apparently he's a unique, can-do member of the G.I. Joe team... just like all the rest of them.

Figure

Switch Gears really doesn't come off as an especially nifty or ornate figure, just another guy to man a Jeep or to pilot a jet. The sculpting is good, and the presentation is excellent, it's just that there's really nothing to him.

Unlike his companion, Cobra Commander, Switch Gears is pretty unexciting. There's a decent level of detail here, with baggy pants, lots of wrinkles, and other details that imply movement and some sort of limited action. Problem is, they sculpted the clothing details into the arms, so his flesh-colored elbow joints are sculpted to be flesh with a lot of genuinely off-putting wrinkles. As such, it's a little freakish, but thankfully will go missed by most fans.

He has a somewhat small head, most likely to allow for the use of headgear. There's a lot of added armor-like garments that beef up his appearance, but only add to the fact that he has a small head. It's about the same size as the Star Wars Episode I Anakin figures' heads, which could make for some interesting customs, or, more likely, just make for a bad Switch Gears.

It seems this figure exists primarily to act as Overkill in disguise, because without that feature, there's really nothing exciting to speak of here.

Accessories

As he's in a set with another figure, a vast quantity of amazing accessories was not expected. He includes a pair of helmets, some armor, a weapon for Overkill outfit and a weapon for his normal configuration.

The most important thing about his accessories is the fact that, as mentioned several times above, he can be disguised as a villain. It's a little chunky looking, but nowhere near as awkward as some of the "Quick Change" Bruce Wayne/Batman figures of days gone by, and he doesn't have a head that's as ridiculously small as some of the older vintage Kenner Star Wars toys with headgear. Of course, this is fairly damning praise as Hasbro has managed to make small Joe figures with decent sized removable helmets for nearly 20 years.

Still, the idea of a disguise is a fun one, and as such it has a lot of potential. While he doesn't look exactly like Overkill, this is a fairly close replica of the cybernetic leader of Cobra's B.A.T. army, right down to the gun for an arm that fits quite snuggly over Switch Gear's wrist. The armor is a little chunky, and the headgear doesn't fit perfectly, but it's an adequate fit. It's not quite two figures in one, but it's interesting enough that most kids will probably get a kick out of it.

Of course, this isn't to say it's perfect. The decision to emblazon the logo of the good guys on his left leg is a little silly when he dons the armor of his enemy, as he's wearing allegiance to two separate warring factions all at once. Surely, as a Spy Troop, he fails.

Switch Gears' standard accessories are par for the course, with a green army helmet and a fairly sizable rifle which he can carry, but it seems just a little too big for him. Still, he can interact with all of his accessories properly, and there are a lot of them. As such, Hasbro did a pretty good job here.

Packaging

This figure is packed with Cobra Commander, version 14. It seems the premise of individual figures is one Hasbro no longer considers, but if it keeps costs down, why complain?

Fin

He's many things. He's a Cobra, he's a Joe, and he's a brand spankin' new figure. He's just not very exciting. The play value is up there, and the fact that he comes with one of the most exciting figures of the year is a plus, but in the end he's basically just a generic trooper. With his gear, though, he's a little bit more fun, so people buying this two-pack just for the other figure shouldn't be too disappointed as long as they have some use for the good guys.

The figure's pretty good, but doesn't carry the sort of plastic charisma that the other characters, especially the villains, tend to do. Still, for the price he's an interesting toy, and his packaging companion makes him all the more desirable.

Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample found at Phoenix area Wal-Mart on September 27, 2003
Reviewed on October 2, 2003.

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