2004 Crimson Guard

2004 Crimson Guard

There’s a lot of bad you can say now about 2000‘s GI Joe toys. Namely, the sculpts are weird, the plastics are degrading, and many other design choices were flawed, to put it lightly. Still, there was something highly appealing about having GI Joe figures at easy access, and even a wonky figure like the 2004 Crimson Guard was pretty cool, if only for being a Crimson Guard that was cheap and kind of easy to get.

Something that’s characterized my collecting habits over the years, is that I’ve never had a lot of money to spend on figures. Mind you, this is partly because I never really “grew out” of toys, in the way that most teens do, so much of my early years collecting vintage was done with jobless teenager money. This relates to my view on a lot of 2000‘s GI Joes, where figures like this Crimson Guard had long gone out of fashion with mainstream collectors, and provided a nice, cheap alternative to the pricey ‘85 figure. One of the nice things about the GI Joe fandom being dominated by flavor-of-the-week trend chasers, is that you can get some fun toys cheaply once they’re not cool anymore, as long as you’re a little open.

It goes without saying that this version pales in comparison to the 1985 Crimson Guard, though, it’s still fun in it’s own right. The removable helmet gimmick is poorly done, and features two main issues: the head cannot look left or right and the helmet is awkwardly large. The former issue is hard to forgive, but the later isn’t so bad, as they look fine around a lot of ‘86 Cobras who had similarly huge noggins. The head sculpt is also quite nice, and I’m tempted to call it one of the best 2000‘s heads.

Another huge issue with this figure, is the usage of ‘92 Duke biceps, with ‘92 Shockwave lower arms. It looks completely out of place, and limits the figure’s articulation by a solid amount. What’s even more frustrating, is the amount of alternatives that might’ve been preferable to these overly thick arms. Call me crazy, but I’d go as far as to say ‘83 Gung-Ho arms would’ve been nicer than what they went with. Painted-on gloves might be weird, but the toy would be more functional, and it wouldn’t have been as bad as painted-on sleeves like most Duke’s of the time had.

There’s basically three releases of this figure from around the same time, which you’ll see get used interchangeably in the photos on this post. The first is Agent Faces, who has an orange sigil and a Duke head; the 2004 Crimson Sabotage release, which features a different marking on the arm, and the new head; followed by the focus of this profile, the 2004 release in the TRU Crimson Guard Force set. For the most part, the releases all look the same, with the exception of this figure’s gold Cobra sigil.

For parts, you got a generic 2000‘s customized M4, a ‘91 Dusty backpack, and a helmet. Pretty scant, and a terrible stand-in for the fantastic parts from the original figure. I suppose the Dusty backpack makes them look a little more combat oriented, but it doesn’t suit them well at all. Pretty sure the M4 was just a lazy toss-in too, but if you wanted to give them the benefit of a doubt, maybe it was a reference to how the original Crimson Guard’s gun reused a portion of the sculpt from Airborne’s gun, which was also an M4? It’s lame either way.

Sadly, the days of easily buying these for small amounts of change seems to have long come and gone. They’re still only worth around $13, but you don’t see them so often, not priced like that anyways. Used to, you could easily get this figure for $5, maybe $8 at most, and they were very common. At a higher price though, I feel their flaws are too pronounced compared to a V1 Crimson Guard or a Black Major one.

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2004 Crimson Guard Links:

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

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3 Responses to 2004 Crimson Guard

  1. A-Man says:

    Why do the key classic Cobra army builders from that era have issues, even the new sculpt versions! The non-turning head is just infuriating. The head seemed to be an adaptation of the prototype Cobra Infantry Division head with removable helmet.

    There was to be a 3 pack of disguised Joes as CG’s, with Duke, Gung-Ho and Snake-Eyes v1 and it got really far into designing, as unpainted test shots exist including Snake-Eyes V1 head with ball neck that would never get used. Odd thing is the upper arms were from SAW-Viper, not Duke 1992. That choice make no sense, either. I’ve never tried it but I wonder if straight up Shockwave V2 shoulders work. If they do, then the Duke shoulder are even more baffling.

    Anyway that Infiltrate Cobra Island set was cancelled due to lack of retailer interest, IIRC. (MIKE T will remember!) The Crimson Sabotage set was rejected by Toys R Us, and KB wisely picked it up.

    That era was Crimson overload even before they got to the actual CG’s. It makes it easy to gloss over many figures and they run together. I forget there’s red BAT MK 4 for example.

    I guess we can look forward to Hasbro’s retro Crimson Guard for probably $20 a figure. I know, I know another “things suck now”, but it’s hard to not look back at how cheap army building was there. A Hiss, an ASP and 3 figures for $20. Recently HISS $25 with one of the worst designed modern figures I’ve seen.

  2. Mike T. says:

    The upside is that these figures aren’t discoloring like the Cobra Troopers/Officers…yet. At the time, they were OK. But, I got tired of them as it didn’t make a lot of sense to have Crimson Guards decked out in better infantry gear than the 2004 Troopers.

    But, at least Hasbro made them relatively easy to get. While the OCS sets sold pretty well, most people were able to get them. And, then these TRU sets dropped about a month or two later. I’ve never felt we lost all that much with the Cobra Island Infiltrate set being cancelled (other than the ball mount V1 Snake Eyes head) since we got plenty of other CG’s.

    I like them with their helmets off more than I do with them on. So, you see them in my photos sans helmet. And, the Fred Head from the comic packs is a perfect fit on this body. So, you can make some real Freds if you were prescient enough to buy up a ton of extra comic packs when Hasbro Toy Shop cleared them out for $3 each.

  3. R.T.G. says:

    Crimson Guards were a figure I kind of avoided for a long time, either they were too expensive or I was too strict about ’82-’84. I remember having one of these at some point, but the helmet was something that kind of bugged me.

    Your photos here are really good, the first one with the CAT II really makes them look good in a combat setting, and is posed really well to give the helmets a much more natural look. The final photo is great too, the tea set gives it a similar feel to issue #16.

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