Here comes the Combat Squad!  Oh sure, there have been certain 8 inch G. I. Joe figures that have divided fans, (Ninja B.A.T., Demo Tunnel Rat, CheddarKura) but never before has an entire wave of figures provoked the amount of criticism that the Combat Squad has received.  First shown to us at Toy Fair, the Combat Squad appears to have a few different goals.  One of those goals is to appeal to Joe fans that prefer the more realistic nature of the 3 ¾ and 12 inch figures rather than the sci-fi style of Sigma 6.  Another goal is to do the job cost effectively; you see, even though Combat Squad is a new line, it is mostly made up of parts and accessories from existing figures.  To put it bluntly, these guys are Franken-Joes all the way. 

When these were first seen at Toy Fair, lots of criticism came out.  Sigma 6 fans are accustomed to a reused figure with a new paint scheme and new accessories, or a reused body with a new head, but Combat Squad was too much: it consisted of all reused parts, with only a new cloth accessory for each figure.  The reused parts did not always even make sense, especially in Leatherneck’s case, where Long Range’s head is placed on Grand Slam’s body, giving him a bit of a pin head look. Appearance wise, Leatherneck seemed to be the least popular of the Combat Squad before he was released.  After having him in hand, how does he turn out?  Read on, hear my thoughts, and decide for yourself. 

The Figure:


The actual name of this figure is G. I. Joe Marine [Codename: Leatherneck], but this guy is just getting referred to as Leatherneck.  And Leatherneck is a big boy: a big boy with a small head.  Yes, looking at Leatherneck for the first time, his head is quite noticeably smaller than it should be.  I do not believe that it is so small that it looks ridiculous, but it certainly makes poor Leatherneck look a little strange, and that hurts this figure.  The head is good, and the body is good, but not together.

The second thing I noticed when looking at Leatherneck was that he bears a passing resemblance to D-Day from the film Animal House.  I’m not sure what it is, perhaps the mustache, but Leatherneck definitely reminds me of D-Day.  And that is a good thing, because it means that Leatherneck does not look like a Long Range clone.  For Leatherneck’s head, Hasbro took the Long Range head and made some minor modifications.  One of these was changing the hair color.  It is now brown, and this actually makes a lot of difference in my acceptance of Leatherneck as a new character.  (And yes, I know the original Leatherneck from the A Real American days had black hair.)  The second modification was adding a mustache, and let’s be honest, there just haven’t been enough 8-inch Joes sporting mustaches lately.  It seemed like in the 3 ¾ days, every Joe had a mustache, but lately, we’ve had a severe mustache deficiency.  Well, that has been solved, because we now have Leatherneck and Gung Ho, to support the ‘stache.  The mustache is not a sculpted on feature, but merely a minor paint application.  Still, it is effective.

I really like Leatherneck’s head.  It not only looks different from the version used on Long Range, but it even evokes a different personality.  The only negative remark I have about the head is that the ponytail is missing from the back.  I’m completely ok with Leatherneck not having a ponytail, but I am a little aggravated that nothing was done to fill in the hole in the back of Leatherneck’s head.  It is only about half the size of a Sigma port, but it is still a hole in the back of someone’s head!

Leatherneck reuses Grand Slam’s body, and since that it is a good body sculpt, that works fine.  Leatherneck retains all of the cool features that Grand Slam originally had, including some cool looking sculpted BDU pants, nice armored fingerless gloves, and a Sigma communicator on his left wrist.  The main color scheme of the uniform is olive drab green with light brown shoulder pads and light brown camouflage stripes on the pants.  I’ll point out that the camouflage is pretty well done and looks great.  After getting so many different styles of 8-inch figures, it is pretty cool to finally be getting some realistic military styled ones. 

Just like the rest of the Combat Squad figures, Leatherneck comes with Kung-Fu grip on his right hand.  The right hand is sculpted in a gun holding pose, but the trigger finger is not separated from the other fingers.  Leatherneck also has the G. I. Joe starts and stripes logo in white on his left shoulder pad.  It is the same logo that appears on the dog tags that come with the figure.

So, my overall thoughts on the figure: It really looks pretty good.  The head still looks a little too small, but I find that I have gotten over that quite easily.  If anything, it gives the impression that Leatherneck isn’t really a naturally large man, but someone who has built his body into the perfect fighting machine, so naturally his head might appear a little small.  There are a few factors that detract from this figure, and really upset me a little.  One of those is the paint (or lack of) on some of the joints.  Leatherneck is wearing olive drab green gloves over a bare wrist on his right arm and over an olive drab gauntlet on his left.  It looks good, except that Hasbro forgot to paint the flesh colored wrist joint green, thus the flesh color runs up into the gloves.  This is a little more passable than the paint mistakes on Desert Wolf, but still appears to be a bit of an oversight.  Had this figure been in the 10 dollar range, I could understand that a little more.  It cost 15 dollars though, so I would hope that more attention had been spent on the paint job, especially since it is mostly all a repaint.

Tech Specs:

Although very little of it is new, Leatherneck still comes with some extremely cool gear, painted or molded in good, realistic colors.

The first piece of gear that I’ll point out is the new colored ammo crate.  It is exactly the same as the Sigma 6 creates, except that the Sigma 6 logo has been removed from the top, and the case is molded in a good military green.  I know many people are tired of these cases, but I still like them and am thrilled to begin getting them in different colors.

Leatherneck includes two dog tags: one that is sized for him to wear, and one that is the same size as a real dog tag.  Both tags come with a chain and are molded in plastic, unlike earlier dog tags.  Both dog tags feature the stars and stripes logo that has appeared on many Joe products lately (especially on the Direct To Consumer 3 ¾ inch figures.)  I’m glad to see the dog tags are still around, as they have always been a nice, consistent feature throughout the 8-inch line.

When it comes to offensive weaponry, Leatherneck definitely excels.

Leatheneck’s assault rifle is the same weapon that originally came with Ninja Armor Snake Eyes.  The assault rifle is one of my favorite weapons from the 8-inch line.  It looks realistic, molded in dull silver plastic with black and red features, and retains the working strap which was first included on the weapon when it was reissued with Ninja Paratrooper Snake Eyes.  I love this weapon, but it does take a little force to fit the trigger guard over Leatherneck’s hands.

Leatherneck’s knife has no changes from when it was originally included with Spirit Iron Knife v1.  It is still a great knife, and works really well with a larger figure.  There is a black elastic loop on Leatherneck’s vest that serves as a good place to hold the knife.

The pistol Leatherneck comes with is the pistol that originally came with Frontal Assault Duke.  While the holster for the pistol is not included, the pistol is still a welcome addition.  If a big, burly guy like Leatherneck were gonna carry a pistol, this would definitely be his choice.  It is a large pistol, and it looks like it delivers quite a punch.  Although the pistol is nicely molded in the same dull gunmetal gray as the assault rife, it does suffer from no additional paint apps. 

Lastly in terms of offensive weaponry, Leatherneck comes with the rocket launcher that was included with Duke v1, as well as with a Switchfire pistol to use with it.  The Switchfire pistol slides into the base of the rocket launcher and serves as the trigger for the weapon.  The rocket launcher looks great repainted in olive drab green with black highlights, and in my opinion, improves heavily on the original version.  It really looks like a real anti-tank weapon.  A firing rocket is included.

To round out the figure, Leatherneck comes with a few pieces of gear that really improve the look of the figure.  One of these is new, and it is a brown, cloth vest.  Although it might look a little plain, the vest is quite a cool accessory.  It looks like a protective vest but has the feel of something waterproof.  I’m not sure what the function is meant to be, but I like it.  It even provides a place to store some of Leatherneck’s smaller weapons, such as his pistol and his knife.  Other than the new dog tags, this is the only new accessory that Leatherneck comes with.

Leatherneck’s canteen is the same canteen that came with Desert Long Range, just in green.

Lastly, Leatherneck comes with the gas mask that originally came with the flame-thrower toting Heavy Duty.  This time the mask is done in all black, and it looks terrific.  When Leatherneck is sporting the vest and gas mask, he makes a truly fearsome looking figure.

So, how does this Combat Squad experiment work?  Leatherneck is made from all existing parts and includes only one new accessory, yet still, he manages to be a pretty cool figure.  Overall I like him.  He just looks like a tough character that you wouldn’t want to mess with.  There are some minor issues I have, such as his unpainted wrist joints, but other than that, Leatherneck proves to be a very effective figure.  If you demand something new from every figure you buy, than this might be a pass for you.  If you like having some figures that are more realistic in nature, than this is definitely one to pick up.  He looks awesome hanging out with figures such as Gung-Ho and Grand Slam.  














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