In late 2017, another individual producing factory GI Joe customs (bootlegs) showed up going by the handle of Letal Customs. The first set of figures is the 1988 Iron Grenadier in four color schemes. Like The Black Major’s customs, these figures are of high quality and this writing will profile my thoughts on all four figures from the first wave.
They come mainly in environment themed color schemes, with one being a Crimson Guard teemed palette. All of the colors are vaguely reminiscent of existing Hasbro figures, such as the Snow Serpent, Desert Scorpion and Night Viper. They’re similar enough that they blend in well with those figures, but different enough that they’re able to stand on their own as well.
Each figure comes with a very nice assortment of five parts. You get the original Iron Grenadier’s gigantic Uzi, sword, and pistol as well as a smaller Uzi, and Iron Grenadier Destro’s sword. The Destro sword was a very nice inclusion and a great extra mile these figures didn’t have to go, but are hugely benefited by. The smaller Uzi is also great, as the vintage one is somewhat risky to use for it’s tendency to break thumbs. The load out does a really good job covering all of it’s basses.
The quality of these figures is very good. Overall, the plastic has a nice feeling akin to that used on the vintage figures, and is thoroughly pleasing. A few figures have reversed rivets in the shoulders, but that’s the worst I can say and it’s hardly a problem. The paint applications are also very clean.
Moving along here are my thought on the individual color schemes.
Crimson Guard colors
Of the lot, this one is the most eye-catching and my personal favorite. I also feel like there’s a lot of applications this figure can be used for, as the colors work well enough with the Iron Grenadiers still, but also look excellent with most of the existing Crimson Guard figures. Below is a comparison of the Crimson Iron Grenadier with Hasbro’s Crimson Guard Immortal, Funskool’s Crimson Guard Immortal, the Crimson Guard Commander, and the 1985 Crimson Guard:
As you can see, the particular shade of red isn’t a perfect match to the V1 Crimson Guard, but it is almost the exact same shade as the Crimson Guard Immortals. I’m not quite sure if this was intentional or not, but it’s pretty cool and opens you up to some LBC (part swapping) potential as well.
I was really torn on this color scheme, and I have to admit that at first I didn’t like this one. Though, it’s greatly grown on me, especially after seeing how it looks with the Desert Scorpion. Personally, I’d have much preferred for all of the yellow to be replaced by either gold or another shade of brown. However, when coupled with the orange accessories, you have a figure that looks like he jumped right out of the 90‘s, which I appreciate for it’s retro appeal.
Snow Serpent Colors
These colors are really interesting. The blue and white makes it the opposite of the vintage Iron Grenadier, which is a cool look. Of course, I believe the colors are meant to resemble the V1 Snow Serpent, which it also does a fairly good job of. I’ve always figured MARS probably operates often in cold, northern climates, so as an environmentally themed repaint, this one makes a bit of sense too.
Forest Green Colors
Lastly, we have the green one. He’s an odd shade of green that I don’t think matches any other Cobras exactly, but looks good with a few regardless. It’s a bit harder to see the details on this guy, as they’re painted largely in black and brown shades, but it’s a nice look regardless. He comes off as a bit bland to me, but that’s mainly because I just prefer the more regal palates such as the Crimson one.
All in all, these are some excellent figures and I’m really pleased with my set. Right now you can get them off eBay or from Letal Customs on Instagram, which I recommend doing if you have any interest in these. Most of these customs tend to be figures you have a short window to acquiring before they’re gone, so I wouldn’t suggest waiting too long.