GIJoe is a franchise with a very disparate continuity. Technically, a character can have three completely different portrayals between the file cards, the cartoon episodes, and the comic series with Bazooka being a perfect example of this. In his file card, he’s described as a “decisive fast-thinker with all of the instincts of a natural survivor.” In the Sunbow animated series David Katzenbogen was the guy who communicated in sentence fragments that a Neanderthal would have found frustratingly simple. In the Marvel Comics series Bazooka was only a minor presence, seen more often than he was heard. (Devil’s Due took care of that by making him a middle-aged guy who found Quick Kick’s stash of Frozen Fudgies and made short work of them.) Regardless of how he has been portrayed, Bazooka is a character that made some sort of impression upon fans of the classic ARAH-era line so it seems only fitting that he be included in the 25A series. All I can say is that the past twenty-three years have seemingly been very good to Bazooka.
I always envisioned Bazooka as being one of the bigger guys on the Joe team but even I am taken aback by the size of this new figure. Rivaling even Roadblock for the designation of “largest guy on the team”, this figure is massive when compared to other previously-released “no-ring” Joes. (Seriously, he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Roadblock!) In terms of sculpting, Bazooka’s character design is perfectly reproduced and updated—which actually isn’t all that hard of a task considering the nature of the character’s original uniform. David Katzenbogen is essentially a gun in a football jersey and a pair of BDU pants with a web belt and a pair of those trendy 80’s wrist bands that were “essential” when working out. The sculptors at Hasbro could have simply taken the easy route and produced a very basic and bland design and it would have been faithful to the original concept. However, this figure is loading with lots of subtle “fabric” details such as wrinkles on the shirt and on the pants. The end of the figure’s sculpted belt even appears to be folding away from the figure’s body! There is a subtle texture to the wristbands that simulates the terrycloth material that so many of these 80’s relics were made from. However, the sculpting isn’t the only high point to this figure’s design. Hasbro, in their efforts to continually improve upon their product, has given Specialist Katzenbogen subtly different shoulder joints than many of his larger 25A compatriots. (Just look at the comparison shot of him and Roadblock and you’ll see what I mean.) The shoulders are inset more into the body to a greater degree than previously released figures and the result is a much more natural shape to the upper body. Rather than giant ball shoulders protruding from the body these joints are much better integrated into the figure’s torso. As such, I’ve got no complaints about this figure’s character design whatsoever.
In terms of Bazooka’s kit I’m left with a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Bazooka was never the most boisterous of Joes in any of the various media and yet his gear would indicate otherwise. While not as large as the “Death-o-matic 6000” launcher that the Valor vs. Venom release of the character carried, Bazooka’s anti-armor rocket launcher is a faithful reproduction of the original figure’s weapon of choice. It’s a simple weapon, with a small shoulder brace on one end and a hand grip attached at the end of the shoulder strap. Unlike the original figure’s weapon, however, Hasbro has included removable rockets that can be placed into the launcher. (I’m not really certain why this was done as the launcher doesn’t have any sort of spring-loaded functionality.) The remaining rockets fit into one of four slots on the figure’s backpack for easy storage—as does the launcher itself! Slipping snugly onto a pair of braces at the base of the back, Bazooka is one of the few figures in this line who is capable of stowing all of his gear on his body, leaving his hands free to deal with whatever sea serpents may cross his path. Honestly—this is one of those small improvements that cause me to lean more toward being a fan of this new “no-ring” style of construction than being forever a detractor. If Hasbro had added details like this to more of the figures it would be increasingly more difficult to not completely embrace this new line. (However, as long as articulation remains more limited in range than the original figures I’ll still remain a critic.) Bazooka’s noggin is topped off with an updated version of his original helmet to complete his classic look.
If I had a criticism of the original Bazooka figure it was that he was a bit too gangly in proportion. For some reason the original figure just never seemed to have quite enough body mass as far as I was concerned. It would seem that some folks in Pawtucket shared this assessment as the 25A Bazooka is far bulkier than any of the original versions ever were. This figure, with his massive stature, thick arms, and broad chest more closely resembles a football linebacker than any other attempt to update Bazooka’s design ever has. He’s also one of the most proportionately perfect figures I’ve seen in this line—having not run afoul of the witch doctor who cursed poor Wild Bill or inflated Breaker’s noggin to the status of “Mentok the Destroyer.” (I’m never letting go of that one.) This is one of those figures that really showcases Hasbro’s “A game” and tangibly illustrates the quality of product that the design team in Rhode Island is capable of when they put their mind to it. As I stated earlier, if more figures in this line were as solidly designed as Bazooka I’d be all over this new era of Joe construction like an army-builder on $2.00 mint Vipers. Consider Bazooka HIGHLY recommended as one of the best of the new line! (Now if only the Big H would release Alpine soon!)