It’s been a crazy month or so at GeneralsJoes HQ, including the receipt of the latest shipment of the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Figure Subscription Service. 1990 favorite Bullhorn and the COBRA Inferno B.A.T. have arrived and the reviews have now been posted.
You can check them out on the G.I. Joe Collectors Club Review Page, and I’ve also linked them below. Video reviews are posted as well, which are also linked in the individual reviews, but also embedded below, too.
As I mentioned in my review of Pathfinder, the FSS figure shipped just last time around, 1990 was a bit of an enigma to me in my younger years, but one character I completely latched onto was Bullhorn. It was in 1990 when my own little personal G.I. Joe universe first got rolling, and where Hit & Run became such a central part of my mythology. At the same time, Bullhorn was introduced, a rookie Joe communications specialist, who quickly took center stage alongside Hit & Run and became a very important member of the G.I. Joe roster.
When it comes to new characters I can’t quite explain why certain ones appeal to me, but Bullhorn had some unique traits that I just loved. The face camouflage, the nice patterned shinguard things, and a somewhat bulky mold, that was still quite well articulated.
Not to mention in 1990 Bullhorn came with quite possibly the greatest accessory that the line had seen so far. The backpack with the take apart sniper rifle was absolutely ingenious back then, even if Bullhorn himself couldn’t really hold it.
Looking at the Figure Subscription Service update to Bullhorn, the Club did a pretty good job approximating the vintage look. The figure is essentially a Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper from the neck down, with Pursuit of COBRA Dusty’s head sculpt (with black hair). Both components of the figure have been in use for what seems like forever, though with the right paint applications, the figure manages to still look relatively unique.
Variations of grays and browns make up Bullhorn’s overall deco, with camouflage on the knee pads to resemble the vintage shin guards, and the colors match pretty well. It’s tough for me to give a real in person opinion, because my vintage Bullhorn is viciously discolored, but from a quick look, the modern version certainly looks like Bullhorn.
I’ve seen quite a few customs in the past using the grenade strap webgear from the COBRA Trooper from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which is a little strange, since it doesn’t very closely resemble the vintage look for Bullhorn. From a functional perspective, it makes sense, because you could see a negotiator carrying around tear gas grenades. Of course, Bullhorn doesn’t come with a grenade launcher at all, but a little suspension of disbelief could allow you to assume he throws them by hand.
The FSS Bullhorn is pretty well stacked with great accessories. Along with the COBRA Trooper grenade strap gear that I already mentioned, he’s also got the removable headband, the pistol for his holster, plus Low Light’s sniper rifle and sniper rifle case. He also comes with a second sniper rifle, gas mask, and his megaphone.
His Low Light sniper rifle is included to resemble the classic version, and as a bonus, he can actually hold this one, though like the Pursuit of COBRA version, the scope doesn’t stay on all that well, which can be a challenge.
Although all of the parts that make up Bullhorn have been seen many, many times in the recent past, the combination of those parts and the updated paint scheme does still resonate as the 1990 hostage specialist. I have a real affinity for the Bullhorn character, and while this modern update doesn’t look nearly as cool or unique as the vintage version, I appreciate the update and I think it fits the 1990 aesthetic quite well.
It was a simpler time. G.I. Joe had just barely made it’s splash back at mass retail, and the biggest debate at the time was o-ring vs. no-ring (though it wasn’t much of a debate, to be honest) and how many paint wipes Hasbro was lathering on their tail end TRU releases. The property as a whole still felt very fresh, Devils’ Due was getting in the groove, and Fun Publications was introducing their first entries into the 3 3/4″ convention realm. Things were amazingly uncomplicated.
In 2002, Hasbro experimented with an online exclusive and shipped out a white-box package of o-ring B.A.T. army builders. Rather than dipping into the more familiar 1986 well Hasbro went with repaints to the 1991 version, including a classic themed deco and the fantastic Inferno B.A.T., a transparent red repaint that immediately became a fan favorite.
Obviously tooling limitations leave the Club a bit ill equipped to do a true vintage inspired homage, so as they have done in the past, they blend a few different inspirations together, and bring us the FSS Inferno B.A.T. which is conceptually pretty awesome, but unfortunately in execution it drops the ball somewhat.
Leveraging the nearly perfect 25th Anniversary B.A.T. as a template, the Club shifts gears a bit and gives him Retaliation Storm Shadow’s lower legs. I can only view this as some kind of homage to the new sculpt B.A.T., as both iterations of that figure have streamlined metallic legs rather than the more typical pantlegs of the earlier versions. I actually think it’s a great choice and I love the look of it, though the more we get these rocker ankles that can’t fit on existing battle stands, the more tired I get of them being used. It’s a shame because the figure looks great with these different lower legs, but the battle stand thing is a real pain in the rear end.
Like the original Inferno B.A.T., the Collectors Club goes with transparent plastic throughout most of the figure, to pretty great effect. It’s not quite as stark and clean looking as the vintage figure, but the basic effect remains spectacular. Over the top of the transparent plastic they drop some black trim and sprinkle some gold, both as a manner of homage to the older version. By and large, these additions are great, until you get to the chest.
For whatever reason the transparent plastic didn’t carry through to the front half of the torso and so the Club just elected to go all black, and the look is not a good one. I’m not sure if there were some kind of production or factory issues, but whatever it was, the way the black jumps away from the red makes the figure look slapped together and incomplete. I love the inspiration for the transparent red, unfortunately they were not able to pull off the execution as I’d imagine everyone wanted them to.
The FSS B.A.T. comes with a number of the same accessories that the 25th Anniversary version did, with two hands, a laser gun, flamethrower, and the familiar opening claw. However, this version of the B.A.T. also comes with the terrific long bladed sword that was initially released with the new sculpt B.A.T. in the early 2000’s. This is also meant as an homage to an older version of the figure, and I love the addition. It makes for a really great new weapon that further enhances this figure’s release.
Like most of the attachments, the backpack that holds them comes with the figure as well, and the Club has added some interesting deco to the back, making it strongly resemble to look of the gears in his chest. A neat touch.
I wanted the Inferno B.A.T. to be awesome. It isn’t a figure that many fans have been clamoring for, but the way the Club was approaching it seemed interesting. Unfortunately for whatever reason the transparent plastic didn’t “take” or wasn’t applied to the front half of the torso and the end result is a figure that could have looked amazing, but unfortunately ended up tipping the other way towards disappointing. They took a chance at trying to do something pretty cool and outside the box, but it was a chance that hurt this particular figure in the end.
Beyond that disappointment, much of the figure is really interesting from a design perspective, with the Storm Shadow lower legs and the new sword attachment leading the charge.