Thursday, April 18, 2024

Action Figure Review: Franklin "Airborne" Talltree from G.I. Joe: Classified Series by Hasbro

 Last week I reviewed Big Boa from the newest series of G.I. Joe figures and now I'm checking out another figure, and this time it's a member of the G.I. Joe team: Franklin "Airborne" Talltree. Airborne never seemed to get a lot of attention in most Joe media but he definitely is memorable because he was from the second year of the line (1983) and because he was a pretty strong figure. Airborne is another figure that gets his fie name used because of some trademark issue. During the Spy Troops, Valor Vs. Venom, 25th Anniversary, and Retaliation eras he was called Sgt. Airborne and during the Rise of Cobra era he was called Air Raid. Oddly enough, there is actually another G.I. Joe codenamed Airborne (he was part of Sky Patrol) and another codenamed Air Raid (a different Sky Patrol member from the 2016 GIJCC convention). Franklin Talltree is the original, though: a Navajo airborne infantryman who passed the Bar exams but decided jumping out of plane was just more fun. Ready to check this guy out? Then join me after the break...

The Facts:

Height: 6 1/8ths inches

Articulation: Swivel/ hinge ankles, boot swivels, double hinged knees, swivel thighs, ball jointed drop down hips, ball jointed waist, mid-torso hinge, butterfly pecs, swivel/hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, ball jointed neck base, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: Goggles, goggle covers, helmet, night vision goggles, backpack, submachine gun, magazine, suppressor, pistol, and knife. 

Non-Scalper Price: $25 dollars

The Positives:

* I like the loo of Airbone's outfit. He's wearing a thicker jumpsuit and a really cool looking tactical vest that has MOLLE system straps and lots of pouches and straps. No parachute or anything, but he does have a harness. The jumpsuit has knee and elbow pads and the jumpsuit pantlegs are actually tucked over the boots. The muted colors look great with the blue standing out, but not drawing too much attention. The torso and arms are from Scrap-Iron, but I didn't even notice until I looked into it. 

* Airborne is a decent looking guy with dark hair cut short, a piercing stare, and quite a few laugh lines in his faces. While he's supposed to be a bit of a joker, he's clearly operating in the zone here as he looks ready to drop some Cobras to complete his mission. 

* Besides his Sergeant's insignia on his left shoulder, Airborne is also packing some gear on his vest. He's got a fragmentation grenade a couple spare pouches, and part of an American flag patch visible from behind his  knife sheath. The vest isn't removable but it is a separate piece permanently attached over his body which adds some sufficient bulky to make him look like he's got a bit of body armor in there. 

* Nothing much to comment about the articulation here as it's pretty standard: It's sturdy, there's a great range of motion, and Airborne can hold his weapons well. He makes the vintage G.I. Joes proud! The leg straps don't hinder his movement much at all, though the mid-torso hinge is pretty much useless with the vest. There's still a bit of movement thee, though, and the balljointed waist does help to still ensure that most poses can be taken. 

* I like Airborne's helmet. It fits him quite well and looks quite modern. The chinstraps hanging down also get a paint hit, which looks fantastic. 

* These night vision goggles are very cool. They're the modern kind with four different lenses and they plug right into the helmet. I don't like them as much as Wolf Spider's goggles, but they're not bad. They also flip around easy. Just unplug them ad plug them in upside down. 

* The goggles fit on Airborne's face quite well and make sense for someone jumping out of planes or rappelling out of helicopters. They look cool, too, especially when paired with the helmet.

* Airborne's backpack is the same as Duke's, which is kind of neat since the vintage Duke reused Airborne's pack. It's brown here with the entrenching tool painted black. I'm not sure it's the best fit for Airborne's MO, but it works and looks nice. It matches his brown straps, too, so it doesn't look out of place.

* I'm not really sure why, but Airborne reuses the weapons from the more vintage inspired Firefly. That's a bit weird to me as while they're good accessories, most of them feel like they fit better with Firefly's saboteur specialty than Airborne's MO of fast roping into dangerous situations. He seems more like he'd use a good assault rifle than a suppressed SMG. This looks like a Demro XF-7 Wasp, which was Beach Head's weapon in the vintage line (the upcoming Retro Beach Head comes with this same gun). It's still a nice weapon; just an odd choice.

* Like with Firefly's weapon, the included suppressor can fit on the SMG or the pistol and, of course, the Wasp has a removable magazine.

* The pistol is also from Firefly, but I think it works just fine here. Of course, the suppressor fits on it quite well. 

* The pistol and suppressor fit really nicely in this holster built onto the right thigh strap of Airborne's harness, so everything stays in place.

* Like with the Wasp, I liked this weapon with Firefly but it seems a bit weird with Airborne. Rather than a more standard combat knife or something with a serrated edge, this knife definitely looks like something used more for popping locks and causing damage to equipment than something used in standard combat.

* The knife does look cool in the sheath strapped across Airborne's chest, though. It ought to be easily accessible when some Viper gets a bit too close.

The Negatives:

* When not wearing his goggles Airborne has a goggle cover for them. It's a piece that looks like his goggles with a cover on them to keep them clean. It looks cool but it just doesn't fit on the helmet well. It's loose and wobbly and just looks awkward. 

* My goggles were all messed up right out of the package. It looks like someone chewed on them but it but it's probably just a molding error and stress marks. They're about to split! Fortunately, Hasbro is sending me a replacement, but this is still a bummer. 

   Airborne is still a pretty Great figure with some cool headgear (though the goggle covers and my broken goggle strap are a bit of a dud), an excellent sculpt, and a nice color scheme. His weapons aren't bad, but they're just not ideal for the figure. He needs something a bit more standard and powerful for someone who presumably fast ropes out of helicopters right into the heat of battle. Fortunately, thanks to Mark2 Toys and Valaverse I have dozens of solid rifles to equip him with. The base figure is solid and since I haven't heard anyone else complain about the busted goggles, mine was hopefully just a fluke. Everything else is solid, though. 

Looking for more of Franklin "Airborne" Talltree? I also reviewed the G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tactical Ninja Team set which came with Sgt. Airborne. 

For more G.I. Joe: Classified Series reviews check out the following:


  1. The one figure from 83 I really wanted and never got. I had just quit buying toys at that point. So glad Hasbro released this guy.

    1. I was born the year Airborne came out so I wasn't aware of him until much later when I started picking up the collector guides in the mid-late 1990s.

  2. Ugh, I have such a love-hate relationship with this line. On the one hand, I love how the newer technology and larger scale allows for elements of the original character designs that were "lost in translation" to plastic in the vintage 1982 - 1994 line to be retained, but on the other, it just drives me nuts how many of those designs have been unnecessarily "modernized" with the addition of random bits and bobs to what would otherwise be faithful recreations of the original designs (especially that stupid "Joe-Pro" device that every other figure seems to have stuck on his webbing somewhere). Like, just commit to making these figures either fully vintage-style or fully modern, Hasbro. Don't keep trying to awkwardly fence-sit between the two.

    1. See, I love the Joe-Pro. I'm pretty in favor of modernizing the figures and I'd probably modernize them more if I were designing them. That being said, I do like that they're keeping them recognizable for the most part. Tripwire is always an example that comes to my mind of a figure who was very nicely modernized but who still retains the look and feel of the vintage toy. The line keeps selling, so I think Hasbro must be onto something.

      There have been a couple figures that have felt too retro for me, though with the Retro collection now being a thing, it's not too bad.

  3. I think Joe collectors are just so starved for stuff to buy that they're happy to get anything they can, even this awkward 1/12th-scale line that can't seem to decide how modern or retro it wants to be, so we end up with with ill-conceived "modern" redesigns of characters like Rock 'n Roll, Grunt and Airborne coming equipped with practically archaic weapons like the M60, M16 and Demro XF-7, while nearly 100% accurate reproductions of the original RAH designs like Shipwreck and Hawk end up with over-designed modern-style handguns with Picatinny rails and extended magazines (and then there's the execrable "Joe-Pro" which shows up every couple of figures with no discernable reason as to why or why not). The line as a whole makes me think of Revelations 3:16: "But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth." XD

    1. I don't know, I came back into collecting Joes because of this line. The last time I purchased a new at retail Joe was probably when Retaliation came out and they released a few figures like Kwinn that they had never done before.

      Man, I love the Joe-Pros and I wish every figure had them. It's a cool, unifying look. I think G.I. Joe is more difficult property to update than most. Superheroes can sport old school looks just fine, though modern looks and characters can be woven in fairly seamlessly. Fantasy lines like MOTU, Thundercats, etc can update a bit, but it's really more changing the design rather than modernizing. There's nothing inherently old-school or really modern about any MOTU design over another. Star Wars is based on specific films, tv shows, etc, and is kind of timeless. G.I. Joe has elements of fantasy and such, sure, but there's also a real world component to it that does anchor it to a particular time.

      I think I would have been less interested in the line if all of the figures were straight up redos of vintage figures with older accessories. I kind of like the anachronisms at times, as long as they're more sparing. The vintage line has some figures carrying around modern, cutting edge stuff, experimental stuff, and stuff that was outdated when the line came out. I think I'm far more forgiving of a character with an outdated outfit than I am for a figure with outdated weaponry unless it's one specific item that adds some character.

      Still, the Classified Series is my favorite current line and is really quickly becoming one of my favorite lines ever. With the accessories easily available from Valaverse, Gridiron Studios, and a few other places, I think it's pretty easy to build the figure you want. This definitely seems to be the line getting the most of Hasbro's attention right now, though I think X-Men '97 has probably helped boost the Legends line.


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