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.
Yes, G.I. Joe fans, a new episode of the What’s on Joe Mind podcast is available and online at Podbean.com!
This one has been in the hopper for a long time, but hopefully it is worth the wait. Some of the news isn’t necessarily timely, but I hope you’ll come join me, Gary, Mike, and NEW FOURTH CHAIR Joe Colton to kick off the G.I. Joe podcasting whirlwind!
Check out the show notes below and you can either hit up Podbean.com or listen to the embedded player below.
This whole episode will speak for itself. New 4th chair, Joe Colton officially joins the rotation! Zack Hoffman and Brian Cummings join us to talk about JoeCon 2015 in our first ever double-interview. None of this episode is timely – AT ALL, but we hope you enjoy it nevertheless. We have two more shows in the “can” that we will be working on in the coming weeks. So, something to look forward to. In the meantime, help the #savegijoe campaign and sign the petition by going to www.savegijoe.org or https://www.change.org/p/hasbro-save-gi-joe.
Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding during our “hiatus.” It has been a busy year-of-change for all of the hosts.
I can’t quite explain why, but in my younger years, I couldn’t quite get my head around 1990. Where the years leading up to then were a mixture of classic characters and new blood, the main line in 1990 was new blood soup-to-nuts. Being someone that appreciates new characters now, I’m surprised that my younger self didn’t embrace that fact, but for some reason I didn’t.
It’s only now, over two decades later, that I recognize 1990 as perhaps being a “soft reboot” of sorts, giving us a whole series of new characters and taking play to a different level with many smaller, more intricate accessories making these figures unique. Pretty much every single figure in that 1990 line came with elaborate and well detailed accessories that really enhanced the play value. From Stretcher’s air sled to Bullhorn’s take-apart sniper rifle, not to mention Ambush’s camouflage tent and Topside’s backpack mortar launcher. Pathfinder was no different, coming equipped with two hip-mounted heavy machine guns as well as a full blown weed whacker. While parts and tooling restrictions made it so we couldn’t get the hip-guns with a modern release, I’m happy to say the updated Pathfinder is ready to go, weed whacker and all!
The figure has Lifeline’s existing head sculpt, which matches the look of the original figure, and the removable hat does an okay job of replicating that look, too. To copy the brim fold of the original figure, the hat is positioned in a way that doesn’t stay on the figure’s head very well. Once I swapped the hat around it actually fit a lot better, though that small piece of vintage accuracy is lost. I think I can live with that.
Pathfinder uses Kwinn’s torso and arms, which are a great choice, as they pretty accurately mimic the original, but are newer construction, offering very good range of motion. If I have any complaints, the somewhat tight hand grip doesn’t fit the handle of the machine gun very well, but you can work with it.
His legs are from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation era and also are excellently sculpted, with some great baggy effects, though the more I see these legs used, the more annoyed I get with the weird rocker ankles. They end up pretty stiff and difficult to pose, and the footholes are becoming an increasing issue on existing battle stands. This figure isn’t nearly as bad as the Night Creeper was with the last installment, but it can still be somewhat difficult to get him to stand.
Paint deco is pretty fantastic. Straight black on the upper body, and the camouflage pattern and colors on the legs are pretty close to spot on perfect. Great articulation, effective parts choices, and the base figure for Pathfinder is excellent.
As we’re used to with the 1990 era Joe characters, Pathfinder comes pretty well equipped. A couple of his accessories are pulled from the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Strike Duke, which I’m completely cool with, including his backpack and flashlight. He has a great pistol for the holster at his hip, a gray colored heavy machine gun, inspired by the original’s hip mounted weapons. His removable hat works moderately well, and the removable vest does as well. The plastic is a bit stiff, which makes the vest a challenge to remove, but it’s not insurmountable and the end result is a figure that looks much more like his vintage counterpart.
Of course the focal point here is the weed whacker, and I’m happy to say it fits his hands well, looks pretty nice, and ends up being a cool finishing touch to the figure. If given a choice between the hip-guns and the weed whacker, I probably would have chosen the hip-guns, but I can understand the Club not being able to retool a piece (or a belt) to make that work.
All in all, Pathfinder is a very effective figure. The paint work is really nicely done, and he’s got a good number of fun accessories. A pretty great installment for the FSS 4.0.
Any day we get a modern update to our favorite European special missions force is a good day, and I’m a pretty big fan of Jammer. Even back in the 80s, Jammer was a barely repaint of the original Stalker, essentially a slightly different shade of color with the trusty Zed Force logo in red on his chest as well as a red beret.
When the Club revisited the whole Action Force/Red Shadows conflict in the Convention set in 2010, we saw another update to Jammer, this time using the Comic Pack Stalker formula (o-ring version). Now, for this final iteration of the infamous Zed Force Communications Specialist we get much the same, though with some interesting twists. His head sculpt is from the Convention Tiger Force Stalker, which is nice for folks who might not have that figure yet (and it certainly helps that the head sculpt kicks all sorts of ass). The torso is from the 25th Anniversary, which is a bit of an oddchoice, in my mind, as it makes the figure look somewhat short and misproportioned, and the torso is visibly less detailed than the rest of the figure. I understand why they made that choice, to tie him into the vintage “original 13” aesthetic, but I would have loved to have seen something a bit different.
His legs are the updated “Original 13” legs that were seen with Attack on COBRA Island Zap and the discount store Duke, which is a cool enough choice and fits the theme. His arms are more modern, large and baggy with the updated wrist joints, which is all well and good, except they somewhat add to the misproportioned look, making the figure look somewhat top heavy and creating a mis-match between the exceedingly wrinkled arms and smooth torso. As much as I love the Pursuit of COBRA Shock Trooper arms, I can’t help but think they don’t jive 100% with the rest of the figure here. I am glad to see the increased articulation, though perhaps if the Club had used the Shock Trooper torso, the flow would have been a little better.
Where this figure does really shine, however, is with the paint applications. The shade of green and black is fantastic and fits well with the Zed Force look and feel. The “streak” pattern of the black camouflage is exceptionally well done, and I love the striking color of red in the logo and the beret. Great to see the Union Jack on his right shoulder, too, which blends him well with Quarrel, Big Ben and Blades, who both had that distinct patch on their uniforms as well. Great touch.
Jammer comes with a removable beret and the same chest strap that Zap and the Duke came with, which is a departure from the vintage version, who shared the same torso as Stalker with the double-strap webgear. I don’t mind the change, as this webgear fits the contour of the chest well and is detailed nicely, however it also covers up a big chunk of the great Z logo on his chest, which is a bit unfortunate. I have to admit, though, that older 25th Anniversary double strap webgear does look a little dated.
He’s got Dial Tone’s backpack, which fits the communications theme as well as a nice machine gun and two holsters. A nice touch is that one holster contains the traditional pistol you’d expect, but the other holster holds a smaller mobile phone to fit in with the communications motif. Unfortunately the peg on Dial Tone’s backpack is a little on the large side, and doesn’t fit real seamlessly into his back hole. You can generally rotate it and get it to sink in, but I’d be concerned about wear and tear on the peg of the backpack long term.
When it comes to a figure trying to resemble the original 13 look, generally I love using that Zap template. It retains the vintage look but with slightly more modern sculpting, and I am in love with the twin holsters and removable pistols. Unfortunately, while I completely applaud the choice to use more modern arms for the enhanced range of motion, it does look a little off compared to the rest of the figure in a way that my eyes can’t quite reconcile.
Jammer has great accessories, I’m a big fan of the character, and the paint apps are pretty terrific as well. Overall, I approve of the figure in most ways, I just wish the parts formula looked a little bit more consistent and uniform.
I loves me some Night Creepers! Even with the strange purple and gray camouflage of the vintage versions, I always really dug the overall look and concept of the Night Creepers. Ninja assassins and saboteurs who leveraged next generation technology was always a really awesome concept, and Larry Hama executed it pretty nicely in the Marvel Comics throughout the 90’s. The way the legs were somewhat thick but still moved really nicely, as well as the elbows on those classic o-ring figures just made the toys felt really “natural” for me and made the figures really easy to play with, which was important back in the day. More modern repaints (specifically the COBRA Urban Strike Force version) made me love the figure even more, especially because the softer plastic for the hands made the thumbs a lot less breakable. And before anyone says anything, no I don’t really consider the Rise of Cobra Night Creeper to be a proper “Urban Strike” repaint.
When Hasbro revealed an updated build for the much maligned 25th Anniversary Night Creeper at JoeCon a number of years ago, I was pretty ecstatic. I wasn’t wild about the COBRA Island 7-Pack version with those dated 25th Anniversary parts, and the more modernized parts combination was fantastic.
The Collectors Club seemed to take a page from that book, but instead of giving us just a new classic looking (or even better, an Urban Strike version!) they used the parts combo as a modern interpretation of the 1998 Toys “R” Us exclusive Arctic 3-Pack. I’m pretty sure I could count the number of fans who wanted a modern update to that figure on one hand, but as a devout fan of the Night Creepers in general, I’m pretty happy to see any iteration of that figure in modern format.
Replacing some of those dated parts with limbs from the Wave 1 G.I. Joe: Retaliation Storm Shadow makes a world of difference, giving us a more modern iteration of the arctic Night Creeper with parts that are better sculpted, larger, and have far better range of motion. The seamless integration of martial arts and technology lives on in these Storm Shadow parts and suits the Night Creeper to perfection. I am a big fan of this updated parts recipe, that is for sure.
Looking at the deco of the figure, he certainly resembles the arctic 3-Pack version from 1998, and from a cost perspective, I suppose I can see why the Club went that way. By eliminating paint masks for elaborate camouflage, they can bring costs down, fitting this figure better within their constricted budget. If money were no factor, I would have much rather preferred an updated vintage deco Night Creeper or the Urban Strike.
The COBRA Night Creeper comes with a decent set of accessories, including a crossbow and the trademark wavy sword that initially came with the vintage figure. He’s got a modern version of the Night Creeper backpack as well as the shoulder cape that originally came with the Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper. Somewhat strange is that he cannot wear the cape and the backpack at the same time, so you have to pick and choose one or the other. While the cape does have the backpack hole, the peg of the backpack isn’t quite long enough to accommodate for it. He also has the familiar head dress and chest armor that we’ve been getting on versions of the Night Creeper since the COBRA Island set.
I love the Night Creeper. I don’t necessarily love the arctic version of him, and desperately wish the Club had found a way to use this much improved parts combination on a figure with a somewhat more exciting deco. Even as this figure stands, he’s got a great selection of parts and decent accessories, and is a fun figure overall. I just wish his paint scheme was a bit more exciting.
While many a G.I. Joe fan will bemoan the Battle Corps era for its outlandish colors, spring-loaded weapons and plethora of sub teams, I remained quite interested in G.I. Joe even through those somewhat strange years.
It’s nice to see the Collectors Club pay some attention to the Battle Corps years within the Figure Subscription Service, though I have to admit, somewhat begrudgingly, that the execution leaves a little to be desired.
Back in the day, Barricade was a “Bunker Buster” soldier, the guy who broke down the doors, took volleys of gunfire, but led the rest of the team into the breach. The vintage version of the figure was very large and blocky, yet managed to maintain the great range of motion of those classic o-ring figures, a combination that I really loved, even if some of the colors of the time were questionable.
This version of Barricade seems to want to continue that philosophy, but ends up looking more cybernetic than armored (likely a result of a lack of parts choices that fit the aesthetic well). Using parts from the Rise of Cobra Accelerator Suit figures, the parts are exceptionally well sculpted and have great articulation, and from a pure visual perspective, the figure parts look outstanding. Instead of the Accelerator Suit arms, the Club went with Battle Armor Cobra Commander arms, which is a little unfortunate, as the elbows aren’t quite as flexible as some others, and the arms end up looking just a little “stumpy”. They’re also pretty distinct for Cobra Commander and it’s tough to see them utilized in a different way.
The head sculpt here is a re-use of the 25th Anniversary Chuckles Rise of Cobra “Aqua Viper Officer” which has been used here and there (I believe it was also Dice’s head sculpt) but it works okay as a generic head that doesn’t look too much like anyone else.
In the past, the Club has had a tendency to take really bright figures and mute their colors somewhat for a more modern release. Barricade is actually somewhat the opposite. The blue used is brighter than the vintage version, and even though they added some paint wipe detail to the deco work, the gold ends up looking a little brighter as well.
As for the paint applications themselves, that’s where I really struggle. There is a ton of sculpted detail throughout these Accelerator Suit figures, but Barricade himself is just mostly gold with just a few hints of the blue. He could have been much better served with some additional areas of blue deco where there was armor separation, even if it didn’t completely match the vintage paint masks. Looking at Barricade from the front, it just looks like there’s way too much gold, and they don’t quite capture the “metallic” look of the original.
One thing I have to give the Club some props on with Barricade are the accessories. The figure gets a nice spring-loaded grappling hook launcher, a great shotgun, very nice submachine gun, removable pistol and helmet, as well as a really cool breacher tool/battle axe. There’s a lot of gear here, and a lot of it looks really great. I love the blue pistol, even if it does look somewhat futuristic (either that or it’s some kind of taser). Regardless, I really like the blocky barrel and how well it fits in the holster, even though the holster really struggles to stay flush with the leg.
He’s got the Accelerator Suit helmet which doesn’t jive real well with the original look of Barricade, but it’s still a neat helmet that I really like the design of.
Barricade has been one of my favorite characters and vintage figures, and I was really excited to hear the Club was bringing him into FSS 4.0. Unfortunately the end result isn’t quite as good as I hoped it would be.