Two-Fisted Toy Talk!

These Toys Aren't Going to Photograph Themselves…

Rise of Cobra: The Coloring Book

Last Christmas, my wife bought me a fun stocking stuffer in the form of Yo, Joe!, a G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra coloring book.

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It is a pretty mediocre affair, even by coloring book standards; none of the portraits resemble the actors, and even the ostensibly heroic characters look mean and ugly and unpleasant. However, a lone, triumphant page redeems the entire book.

But first, some context.

Here are some members of the G.I. Joe team, circa 1985:

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What with the stilted poses and the constipated grimaces and the Village People flamboyance, this image is admittedly not particularly stirring to anyone who wasn’t eleven years old and retarded in the mid-1980s, but if nothing else it boasts a campy, pulpy spirit of fun, and the characters certainly possess distinct personalities… or distinct types, at any rate. (Actually, a closer look suggests that the painter used the same model for each character’s face. Perhaps Hasbro hired a young Alex Ross).

Compare the group shot above with the following portrait of another group of G.I. Joes, this time from the Rise of Cobra film.

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Longtime fans of G.I. Joe offered many a nonsensical criticism of The Rise of Cobra. My favorite concerns a character’s lips. This might strike you as too trivial a detail on which to base one’s cinematic criticism, but make no mistake: G.I. Joe fans were enraged that their beloved ninja hero Snake Eyes had lips sculpted onto his face mask.

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The histrionic protests surrounding these sculpted rubber lips (“You raped my childhood!” and “Trukk not monkey!” and you’ve heard it all before) cited the fact that no redesign was necessary, for the Version 2 Snake Eyes action figure from 1985 is the definitive, classic, iconic, perfect Snake Eyes design, and those Hollywood hacks should have used it as a template, dammit!

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Alert types will note that the cherished action figure in question boasts lips.

But moving on…

If nothing else, fans were correct to criticize the uninspired aesthetic of The Rise of Cobra. With its heroes all clad in black, there was little to distinguish them from the film’s villains, let alone from one another.

So what does the coloring book have to do with all this rambling commentary? Simply this:

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Ah, ye olde color-by-numbers activity… which in this case serves as an unwitting commentary on the lackluster wardrobe and design efforts Paramount invested in The Rise of Cobra… assuming this hilarious page doesn’t represent a very conscious commentary on the part of some knowing coloring book illustrator.

The color code offers three colors: black, green and red… and of 118 sections to color, thirteen are labeled 2 (for green) and four are labeled 3 (for red).

If my hasty calculations are correct, then…

86% of the Rise of Cobra color-by-number code is black.

Tremendous.

UPDATE:

I posted the color-by-numbers image at the Hiss Tank forum, and Tanker Python_Puckman composed this in response:

 

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