GI Joe

Secret of the Savage Swamp

Fifth in the new Adventure Team boxed sets!

The Secret of the Mummy's Tomb - 1970

Hasbro continues to create new Adventure Team sets in 2004. This set, Secret of the Savage Swamp takes an idea I suggested several years ago when Hasbro was creating its "Adventures of GI Joe" sets, including a GI Jane into the series. There are five different GI Joe figures available in this set, and for the first time, one's a Jane.

The set contains one figure, tan shorts and shirt (with AT logo), brown boots, black socks, brown web belt with holster and black .45 pistol, a tan hat, a long (working) alligator capture noose, weighted throwing net, AT dog-tag, and one functioning alligator. The alligator's mouth opens and clicks into place. Touching the tongue will trigger its jaws to snap closed. There is also a button (near the shoe in the picture) on the alligator's back that raises its head off the ground, and pushes its front legs down somewhat.

This set continues the Adventure Team theme of Adventurer vs. Beast. Like so many classic-era Adventure Team sets, Secret of the Savage Swamp pits its hero against a fearsome creature which could kill Joe in an instant if not for the skillful training and gear provided by the Adventure Team.

The Story

The story of this set, however, is slightly bizarre. As you can read from the back of the box (below) the Black Dragon organization is once again up to its nefarious purposes. Apparently they have created mechanical, robotic alligators to patrol the swamp around a possible Black Dragon hideout. But after using a subtronic remote jamming device (not included in the set) Joe (or Jane in this case) finds out that there are also real, living alligators in the swamp to worry about. I guess the kid playing with the set can decide whether or not this one is one of the electronic 'gators or a real one.

The BLACK DRAGON criminal gang is notorious for creating ingenious devices to protect their hidden strongholds. Stories of strange alligators living in a remote swamp alert the GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM to a possible BLACK SPIDER hideout.

Arriving at the swamp, the villagers tell them about dozens of alligators that swarm from nowhere and cannot be stopped. Electronic surveillance reveals the truth: the gators are sophisticated mechanized monsters that guard the waters around a remote compound! Using a subtronic remote jamming device, the team disables the alligators' circuitry, leaving the way clear to assault the BLACK DRAGON base. But as they enter the murky water, a real alligator bursts from the shadows to attack! They wrestle with the beast and finally subdue it with a capture noose and net. The team storms the hidden lair, taking the unsuspecting gang members by surprise! As the ADVENTURE TEAM boards the extraction helicopters, they free the captive gator, which slithers into the water and disappears into the menacing shadows of the savage swamp.

Let's talk about the details:

The Figure

The figures in this set feature for the first time various different head sculpts with naturally colored Kung Fu Grip. Four races and two sexes are represented, and quite well. Each head (apart from the female) is flocked, one of the trademark features of a true Adventure Team Joe, and each has the newly re-designed Kung Fu Grip, but this time in flesh tone.

There have been a lot of complaints among Joe collectors about the female head sculpt. They claim she's ugly. Well, certainly she's not the most attractive of their female head sculpts. But the helicopter pilot has proven to be a hard act for them to follow. One look at any Princess Leia headsculpt and you can tell Hasbro has not done well with female sculpts in general. Still, I think this female looks like a young Cloris Leachman, and as my wife said, "She's fighting an alligator. She looks just about right for the job." Good on ya, Carol.

The only other flesh-tone Kung Fu Grip so far was in Danger of the Depths. The Search for the Yeti set had Kung Fu Grip, but the hands were molded in gray to portray gloved hands. Also, for the first time, GI Jane has Kung Fu Grip, though since the trigger finger is not separate, it isn't equal to the male KFG.

With the exception of Jane, the figures in this set feature the super-articulated bodies. The Kung Fu Grip is a modern take on the classic that closer resembles later UK Action Man Kung Fu Grip, with its more resilient and strong plastic. The fingers are thicker, and less prone to breaking off.

Like all of the new modern Adventure Team revisions (as opposed to the Timeless Collection Adventure Team Joes) Attack of the Savage Swamp Joe and Jane have reproduction in gray plastic of the Adventure Team dogtags:



The Gear

The outfit is a standard tan shorts and short-sleeved shirt as seen elsewhere in the vintage Adventure Team era. I featured a similar kitbashed outfit for my revisited "Mummy's Tomb" set that was made from a non-Hasbro uniform. The buttons are white, which is a little distracting. Tan would have been better, or brown. Black may have worked better too. The AT logo is always nice to see, placed well on one of the pockets. The pockets have flaps but don't open. Both the top and shorts have pleated pockets. The top has epaulettes. Nice job in all.

The brown boots are standard-issue Hasbro short brown boots first seen on military figures such as Ted Williams, and John F. Kennedy as well as the Civil War soldiers, Johnny Reb and Billy Yank. The black socks, like the white buttons, don't quite go. The tan socks that went with Hasbro's earlier Save the White Tiger set would have been better, or even white socks would have worked a bit better. Few people wear black socks with brown boots.

As for the white buttons, Hasbro, take a look:

Here, the male's buttons have been replaced, and he's wearing tan socks. Jane, however, is just as she comes from the box with white buttons, and black socks.
Here, Jane has had her buttons replaced with brown, and her socks replaced with tan high-socks. I also replaced her slightly over-sized boots with Action Jackson repro boots which fit her better.


I bought a 40 pack of doll buttons, 5 small and 5 tiny of four colors. White, black, ivory and brown. The five tiny brown buttons went on the jacket, leaving one larger button on the pants. A simple $2.00 change for me, and the improvement is large.

The web belt is plastic, and not bad but I would have preferred cloth. The color works. The holster is shabbily done. I woudl have preferred a holster similar to the one Teddy Roosevelt's figure had. But I'm very grateful they didn't use an Action Man or Hall of Fame rehash with oversized holster and ugly belt. The pistol is still a bit oversized, and thanks to Jane's lack of trigger-finger (I'll be pulling out an X-Acto knife for the necessary surgery) she can't hold it very well.

On to the good stuff. The had is excellent. Fits on her head well, and works off and slung over her back too. I love the mold of the hat. The AT dog tag is standard issue, of course, and unlike the Timeless Collection tags, are like the original gray plastic ones, not metal. I'm glad. The metal ones are nice to commemorate the AT in the TC sets, but these sets should have closer to vintage tags, and they do.

The weighted net is actually made from the material used in a lot of sports jerseys these days. The open weave material. It is not an actual net woven from line, but it works. The plastic weights allow you to toss the net and it seems to work. It is a bit small for this 'gator, though.

The capture noose is perfect. It contains a shoe-lace-like brown string inside a hollow tube, and the noose knot is molded in a similarly colored painted plastic. It really works, and is excellent. Certainly miles better than the one they put on a carded set last year.


The Alligator

The Gator is quite nice, actually. Its function is sharp. Click open its mouth and it awaits its prey, then venus-flytrap-like, its jaws snap shut on anything that touches its tongue. But what's really cool is the fact that this one is made of a rubber skin over hard-plastic skeleton or frame. The look and feel is pretty nice, and it's quite fun to play with. Its tail can whip back and forth as it is made of several hinged segments.

The following paperwork is included to show you how the alligator works, and how to use the capture noose:

(Click to see larger image)


The Box

This box is excellent, if a little monochromatic. Using a painting of the set on the back, it features one good play scenario for kids to follow, and shows the gear in a fairly accurate manner. For the first time Hasbro has shown images of all the available head sculpts in the set.

(Click to read the back)

The box boldly displays the AT logo, combined with the GI Joe "Real American Hero" logo. It seems Hasbro has been blending the two themes together of late. It also features this new element:

The side of the box shows all five possible figures helping take down a 'gator.

(Click for larger image)


This set, the fifth in the modern Adventure Team series, is a marked improvement over some recent sets. The excellent array of face sculpts, the inclusion of a Jane, and the overall adherence to the beloved Adventure Team theme makes this one a solid hit. The minor gripes don't amount to a hill of beans to me. The 'gator is probably the second best creature Hasbro has yet created. The Yeti of course takes the top honors in that prize.

Keep it up, Hasbro, and I'll keep buying!

(Thanks to Daniel Edwards for the initial scans of this set.)

Overall Rating


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