2017 Red Shadows Star Duster (TBM)

2017 Red Shadows Star Duster (TBM)

Sometimes I feel like the staying-power of a TBM figure is dependent on how “needed” the given figure was. Over the years a lot of them have blended together and I can barely even remember when some came out. For others though, they seem a lot more remarkable if it was something there was a lot of pent up demand for, and such is the case with the Star Duster customs.

I don’t use most of them besides this Red Shadows Star Duster in photos a whole lot, though I’m tempted to say some of that comes from a subconscious notion that this Star Duster is the best one, so I always like tossing him around a little more than the others. Something about him really works as a Red Shadow for me, I think partly just because Action Force already has enough of a separate continuity from the American GI Joe media that it doesn’t feel so odd having Steeler’s evil twin wondering around. There’s a few more degrees of separation between them. Amusingly, the Red Shadows have a tendency to be the low-hanging fruit of the “factory customs”, since many of them tend to work so well. Palitoy seemed a little whimsical in their repurposing of molds, probably with Hunter being the best example of that.

The figure looking fantastic is another thing that makes him stand out as the best. The original Star Duster colors are pretty dandy, but the fluorescent red with black camouflage and details just pops. His red is not a perfect match for any particular Palitoy Red Shadow, though it does strike me as being very similar to the color some guns were cast in, which gives it some added novelty. The visor-helmet works pretty well for his look too, as V1 Hawk and Flash aren’t so iconic as to make the look sacred, and Scrap-Iron’s helmet wasn’t that much different either. I like that the opaque visor hides his face somewhat villainously while lacking so much overlap with all the Cobras that keep their mouths covered.

Overall the quality is solid on the figure too: Nice joints, solid construction, good paint-masks and sculpt looks fairly undistorted. I’m not to sensitive to TBM’s occasional quality defects, which I think partly comes from years of restoring junker figures with loose joints and other flaws. Despite that though, the Star Dusters felt better than average, especially the overall feel of the plastic; it’s much more Hasbro-like in tolerance compared to some of the other customs that strike me as a tad more brittle feeling.

Most of the TBM Star Duster’s also included and alternate torso casting, so you could chose between Duke’s torso and Recondo’s. The Recondo torso has that open shirt and looks a little more wild, so I like that better than Duke’s. Still, giving you the option is to switch to your preferred Star Duster configuration was pretty neat. There’s a very fickle audience for these sorts of figures, so this method is nice way of pleasing everyone.

Included is full set of Star Duster accessories in different colors, so a China Lake grenade launcher, a jet-pack, a helmet and visor all in solid red. The jet-pack’s pretty nifty, but also similar to the one with the Q-Force Deep Sea Defender, so it’s not too new. The helmet and visor completes his look and are integral accessories, but you’d also be fine to swap them for a few others. Lastly, the grenade launcher is still the classic part from Gung-Ho, and in my opinion, the best thing about Gung-Ho. A standard black or silver gun might look a tad better with him, but the red guns have their uses, and this makes a nice alternative for plenty of Cobras.

You can still find these floating around, if you look long enough. Almost all of the TBM Star Dusters, including this figure, go for a routine $30, which I don’t find that appalling. It’s still a fair bit of money to pay, but the nice thing is that he’s not an army-builder, so it’s not like he has diminished appeal for the lack of a squad. Plus, if you’re into Action Force, you don’t really have that much to collect to begin with, so in that context he’s a relatively inexpensive addition.

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2017 Red Shadows Star Duster (TBM) Links:

Attica Gazette

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2 Responses to 2017 Red Shadows Star Duster (TBM)

  1. Mike T. says:

    I swore you had written this guy up. I bought one, specifically, because you and RTG took such great photos with them. Though, I think mine is the Cobra version vs. the Red Shadows.

    But, yeah. Star Duster works a thousand times better as a villain. So, getting a cool Cobra version is nice.

    I still love that the Star Duster factory customs broke the collective brains of “serious” Joe collectors.

  2. R.T.G. says:

    Probably the best of all the factory custom Stardusters, from a quality perspective, and he’s got a fun change of pace on the Starduster trope.

    I’m happy to have a relatively expansive Red Shadows army, now, but I don’t know what to do with them. At one point from a usable O-Ring perspective, it was just this guy and Red Laser that kicked around, and it was a little more interesting, but then again G.I. Joe’s great for staying interesting because of what could come about, until you actually get it.

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