2003 Agent Faces

2003 Agent Faces

I don’t really understand the fascination collectoys used to have with mail-away figures. To my understanding, the Agent Faces mail-away was well done and met with a great amount of collector enthusiasm. I wouldn’t really know since I was 9 when it happened, but there seemed to be this residual sentiment by GI Joe fans when I started browsing the forums later of “DO A MAIL-IN JUST LIKE IN THE 80‘S!!!”, followed by the 25th Doc mail-in, which proved a disaster. Who likes jumping through more hoops just to get crap? I don’t, but apparently Agent Feces was the last good one, so here’s some sentences strung together about him, along with two old pictures as always.

2003 in some ways was the last best year for GI Joe. Say what you will about them, the Spy Troops toy line had a robust selection of characters, figures that were good enough, visual variety, fun gimmicks, and even fun little side-shows like Agent Faces to encourage more and more Joe purchases. It was a toy line that was still for kids, but after Valor vs Venom and Sigma 6 shit the bed, GI Joe has been strictly reduced to a line supported by the often fickle, nostalgic longings of old men. I could rant about the miserable progression from then till now, but the point is that Agent Faces feels like something that’s as far gone now as those beautiful aisles of an eighties TRU lined with GI Joe from front to back.

We tend to make these funny little mental barriers splitting up Joes by their construction, and often even release year. It makes this figure funny to me, since you could say that he’s meant to be interchangeable with the New Sculpt Agent Faces, even though this figure is made up of classic tooling. More over, he’s made up from both 1985 sculpting (Crimson Guard), 1992 sculpting (Duke and DEF Shockwave), and the newly sculpted helmet from 2003. The parts look mildly mismatched, but as someone who invents weird rules for my photos and collecting, I find a lot of amusement in the stuff that completely turns that on it’s head.

Do the 2000‘s Crimson Guards really get a fair shake from most of us Joe aficionados these days? Seems like “Black Major did them better.” and “V1 is still the best.” is the general notion I see, typically with this figure being used as a case study for why removable helmets don’t really work out so well. I say that because I tend to think all of those things, but Agent Faces does good to remind me of the childlike value of a gimmick. Sure it looks worse, but isn’t it more fun? I find room to forgive the odd looks of the helmet just for enhancing the play value. The Duke biceps that limit his articulation less so, but at least this version has a slightly better head than the normal Segies.

His paint job is decent. There’s no arm patches like the original had, which cheapens the look of the figure. Though, I do think the dark gold trim and buttons nicely differentiate this figure from the original, without looking bad. The main thing I don’t like is the orange Cobra patch on his chest. They did this color with the Infantry Forces too, and it doesn’t look too good. A metallic emblem looks much better, like with the Crimson Guard Force set, but orange was something they were trying out… for some reason.

Besides his helmet, Agent Faces comes with a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun. Why? I have no clue. Hasbro seemed to have decided that this shotgun was the standard arms of the Crimson Guard, as the Operation Crimson Sabotage guys all came with one too. The later TRU set swapped it for a generic M4. Never really was sure what to think about that, but the M4 is probably a better replacement for their classic carbines as opposed to these somewhat random shotguns. Oh, and as for the helmet: it’s really big and doesn’t fit on the reused Duke head too well.

Mail-Away Agent Faces don’t show up for auction that much, but you can get the complete figure, usually still in his original bag for around $14. In 2024 money, that’s cheap entertainment, though it still feels like a lot to pay for a repaint-era figure. Though, I think Agent Faces is especially worth having, as he has the added novelty of being a new character, as opposed to doofy take on the Crimson Guard that doesn’t look as good as the original.

If you spot Agent Faces in this photo, he’ll have to kill you!

2003 Agent Faces Links:

Forgotten Figures

Half the Battle

Generals Joes

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4 Responses to 2003 Agent Faces

  1. Mike T. says:

    “I don’t, but apparently Agent Feces was the last good one”
    Don’t know if that was intentional or a Freudian slip. But, bravo. 🙂

    The thing about Faces was that he was easy to get. I think it was just bar codes or something. So, it was stuff everyone had…not like Doc where it was specific stuff that everyone had already recycled. And, while there was a “limit” of 2. Really, it was a limit per order. Everyone got all they wanted with no issue. I think I ordered three different times and got them all. So, that was cool. The ease of ordering was the real factor in his popularity. Plus, the figure was one that everyone kind of wanted, but was also OK with just having 1 since it was a character.

    As a figure, he was initially really important because the “Market 6” pack had been cancelled and we didn’t know about Operation Crimson Sabotage or the TRU 6 pack, yet. So, this guy was actually kind of expensive to buy, even while the mail away promo was still active. But, collectors got their fill and stopped caring when the other mold uses were announced.

    Spy Troops was really the post vintage Joe pinnacle. Nothing else has come close to the retail demand for the brand since. We forget that JvC figures were everywhere. And, traditional stores had huge displays of figures. But, it was the advent of Spy Troops, especially in the latter half of 2003, that really saw demand spike. While figs weren’t hard to find if you were looking, they didn’t stick around long. And, once a wave was gone, it didn’t come back. Hasbro even had to cancel small dealer orders for late year waves to fulfill the demand from TRU, Target and Wal Mart. Then, VvV was released and all interest in the line died almost instantly. It was really weird how fast interest plummetted.

  2. A-Man says:

    I guess I only got two of him. I forgot there was a limit.
    The forgotten mail-away was Storm Shadow with removable mask from Valor vs Venom, it gets lost in the gobs of slight repaints of that mold. How many times can you change the accents on a base white figure? (I also forget about the reservist from 2002 because I never sent off for that…t-crotch kit bash)

    Duke with a painted on goatee is kind funny for a few reasons, because that facial hair was sooo in at the time. It was a cliche in the new sculpts themselves.

    I still don’t know why they didn’t use all of Shockwave V2’s arms. I’ve never taken figures apart to see if it works or doesn’t.

    You’ll know which CG is Agent Faces because he can turn his neck.

  3. HitandRun says:

    Agent Faces as a character is something I am not familiar with. I have seen the figure many times when perusing ebay but have yet to pull the trigger. In my mind he would just be another CG army builder. I feel the CGs from this time were a really nice update to the original 1985 version. The helmet is a little oversized but still works and I always thought it was cool to have removable helmets. I certainly have no qualms of the colors or designs used for this era of CG. I have all my original CGs from that time and I love those figures. The photo of the CGs with the CAT above is great.

    As for the collecting climate at the time I can’t recall the details. The more I think back on that time in my life I don’t think I started doing my huge Joe hunts until summer 2004. It is an interesting observation that Spy Troops was huge though and their was a huge drop off with Valor Vs Venom. I’d argue that VvV actually perfected the “new sculpt” designs of the early 2000s – much better proportions, better figure designs etc. I do think that the 2008-2010 ME collecting days were pretty great, lots of Joe product everywhere – TRU, Target, Wal-Mart, K-mart, CVS were all places I purchased ME figures. I do agree that modern era certainly pivoted away from Joes being toys to collectibles though and most of us at the time were in our early 20s-early 30s just eating up the nostalgia.

  4. cyko9 says:

    Agent Faces was after my time; it sounds like a cheesy codename for Chuckles without a Hawaiian shirt. I really liked the ’85 CGs as a kid, but they were often depicted without helmets or in civilian disguise, so had the figure started with a removable helmet (even oversized), I would’ve enjoyed it. The reason I don’t much use this vintage of CG is the arms. In context of the ’00s, it beefed them up, but it’s a weird choice that doesn’t fit the torso well. I wonder if the orangey yellow sigils were an attempt to save money on gold paint?

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