Anthony "Flash" Gambello
It seems like a really long time ago that we first got grainy overseas pictures of this figure, back when no one had any clue who the hell it was, or whether it was even a COBRA or a Joe. Sure, there was a small Joe logo on the figure, but at that point, what did that even mean? Well, months later we now know that it's not only a Joe, but a fairly well established Joe who has a totally different look than we're all used to, and as usual, there's a lot of fan outcry. Personally? I don't care what name's stitched on his chest, this figure is all kinds of cool, and that's the only thing that matters to me.
In spite of the fact that my first ever figure was Flash, I've never really grown attached to the character the way a lot of other folks I know have. I actually have two Joe buddies who count Flash as their favorite character, and I can't really figure it out. He barely showed up in the comic, he wasn't anywhere of consequence in the cartoon, what's the appeal? Of course, keep in mind, this comes from a Hit & Run fan...where did he ever leave his mark?
Regardless, if you'd asked me what I thought a movie-themed "Flash" might look like...well, this ain't it. This is about as drastic a reinterpretation as I can imagine, but you know what? It works. It works really well.
In the somewhat more realistic world of the G.I. Joe film, it would seem apparent that lasers aren't quite as common place as they were, even in the Hasbro world twenty-seven years ago. So, anyone operating one of these state of the art weapons needs some protection. So Flash has it. He's got it on his head, his chest...hell, even his crotch has it. And honestly, I don't see anything wrong with it. To me, the quality of the figure is of most importance, and this figure rocks. The head sculpt with the lined mask is great, though it looks a lot different than the spiked head we saw in pre-production versions. The layered, wrinkled uniform with those armored gauntlets add to the character of the figure as well. In fact, almost everything about Sgt. Gambello just screams "cool". Flash has never really been a ninja mask kind of guy, but he is here, and regardless of who the character is, the look works for me.
Along with the great concept and nice sculpting, this figure has some pretty great accessories as well. Being a laser trooper, you figure he's gotta come with some laser gear, and he does. I can't quite explain what the heck his oversized spring-loaded weaponry is exactly (besides the "Tactical Anti-Aircraft Laser Cannon" that the back of his package proclaims) but it hooks into his more portable laser weapon with a string. I gotta say, I love the string! Sure, Hasbro's getting some serious string-related mileage these days with all the grappling hooks and ziplines these figures come with, but a string for a cabling system is brilliant. Much more flexible and workable than the stiff rubber hoses of old. The string plugs into both laser cannons, then plugs into the back collar of his armored vest. Some folks have wondered about the functionality of this, but I can see how it works. Flash appears to have a power pack actually sculpted into his uniform (that bears a striking resemblance to his classic backpack!), so perhaps his armor somehow cables into the powerpack within his layered uniform, and provides power to the weapon. Works for me.
He also has a nice, futuristic XM8 Assault Rifle and of course, the terrific over-the-head protective mask that looks so awesome, too. There's just the perfect amount of gear for the figure, and the gear is pretty nice, too, even if a bit unrealistic.
Along with his weapons, of course he's also got his battle armor pieces that identify him so much. It's evident that some of this protective armor (the lower part anyway) was originally part of a Resolute Firefly mock up, but I strongly doubt that the entire figure fits that mold. Regardless of the history, Flash looks awesome all geared up. Quite the deviation from previous versions of the character, but if it gives him a bit more uniqueness, I'm all for it.
This is about what I was least expecting from the movie stuff, and I'm happy to say I'm pleasantly surprised. By all accounts, Flash is a player in the upcoming video game, and this is pulled from that appearance, and I'm thrilled to hear it. If Hasbro can continue working in these more elaborate looking figures into the main movie line, I'm going to be a hell of a happy collector going forward. Flash is a rock solid figure with rock solid gear and some great colors. A win all around.
Buy this figure at the Big Bad Toy Store!