As some of you folks might have gotten used to over the past year or so is Fred and I teaming up for reviews…a “dumb and dumber” approach if you will. Well, for the Dreadnoks we’re bypassing “dumb and dumber” and going straight for “the three stooges”.
Fred and I have enjoyed tag-teaming reviews here and there, but with the Dreadnoks coming out in a Comic Pack, we just couldn’t stop forum member Scott “madmac41” McAllister from putting his own .02 in. Believe me, we tried…but then the knives came out and the cutting started, and we finally relented. He’s merciless.
Anyway…it was the G.I. Joe Convention where we first heard that the Dreadnoks were coming, and it was a quick slideshow image of Issue #30. The reaction was positive, to say the least. As hard as it might be to believe, we haven’t received updates to all three Dreadnoks at once since the 80’s. It’s tough to say why, but for whatever reason, while we got plenty of Dreadnoks in the new sculpt line, we got Ripper and Torch, but no Buzzer. In the Comic Pack formats, we got Ripper and Buzzer, but no Torch. Even the Dreadnoks Convention set in Orlando didn’t give us new versions of all three original ‘Noks. So, frankly, it’s about damn time all three of them got the same treatment around the same time. Especially to those folks who are Dreadnoks fans.
Personally, I’m not a huge Dreadnoks fan…I much prefer the COBRA terrorists over the moronic biker thugs, but that’s probably just me. I know Scott is a diehard ‘Nok fan, what are your thoughts, Fred?
Oddly enough, as a fragile young mind first introduced to GIJoe by Sunbow’s first two mini-series, I loved the Dreadnoks. Of course, growing up I was a huge Three Stooges fan and so the immediate comparisons were obvious. The Dreadnoks, while menacing at times, provided a necessary burst of comedic potential into the Sunbow series without dragging the entire story line down to the level of “comedy” that was found in the DiC episodes. As such, the Noks have always been characters that can be portrayed for laughs—right up until you scratch one of their rides. After that, you’d better hope that your life insurance premiums are all paid up. Otherwise, it’s going to be an expensive funeral.
So conceptually, whether you’re a Dreadnok fan or not, I gotta say that it’s at least a good practice to get the figures out there. There are many Joefans out there who are also Dreadnok fans, so it absolutely makes sense to get the figures made. And the way Hasbro chose to go about making these figures really works quite well, too, even with the reused parts.
Scott, you’re a huge fan of these characters, so I’ll let you start.
I saw Torch and right off still in the package I wondered why they have him with Rippers rifle? No big deal we all know who that rifle belongs do don't we.
Torch looks great. I was a little worried about how the Larger Torch head would look on the Small Gung-ho neck but it really isn't all that noticeable. The color selection is dead on with the original although I really wish Hasbro would stick with Black and Brown for male boot colors.
I absolutely love the leather vest complete with the biker 'Colors' on the back. The accessories are a perfect compliment to this figure,I really like the holster for his flame torch and the removable oxygen tank on the back pack. Over all this is really a great homage to the original.
Unfortunately Torch suffers from two problems both are quite fixable. The first is his hands are too small to hold his torch and the second his he can't bend his elbow to at least a 90 degree angle. My solutions to the hands are to swap them with either a spare Beach head or Firefly depending what color gloves you want. The elbow fix involves cutting a small bit from the front of the elbow joint. The best way to do this is to cut very small amounts at a time you can always go back and take a little more off if you need to. If you take too much it will really take away from the look of the figure. I don't really mind the fixable problems I just wish it was correct right out of the package.
I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, Scott. The figure LOOKS great. From an appearance standpoint, even with the reused parts, Torch looks like Torch. The vest, the head sculpt, they all really work well and mesh with the existing parts to work very nicely. The problem lies within the existing parts that were available for use. Using the Gung Ho arms gives Torch some fairly restricted mobility and funky hands. It’s not a Torch problem, but an issue related to one of the early release Anniversary figures, which thankfully have been getting better as time goes on.
So, Fred, I know the original Gung Ho is one of your favorite figures from the Anniversary line (yes, that’s dripping sarcasm)… do the faults of the original tooling for that figure impact your love of Torch at all?
See? Justin knows me too well. Gung-Ho is a great example of wasted potential and ironically enough, Torch is an example of that potential unleashed. Yes, Hasbro has yet to fix the arthritic elbows from that character design but Torch surpasses Gung-Ho in a few key areas. First off, the improved articulation found at the waist means that the character is actually (GULP) usable! Torch can be displayed sitting or standing and still look perfectly natural. Better still, he can sit comfortably on any number of 1:18 th scale motorcycles I’ve posed him on and still look bad-to-the-bone. Secondly, Torch surpasses Gung-Ho in terms of his color palette. My favorite “ragin’ Cajun” is an example of “bland” taken to the extreme. From his skin tone to his uniform Gung-Ho is just an extremely drab figure. Torch, on the other hand, has a great mix of colors used throughout his character design without coming across as a cast-off from an episode of “Rainbow Bright”. His flesh tone is much more vibrant and there is a terrific amount of contrast between the lighter and darker tones in his riding gear, making for a much more visually interesting “whole”. Unfortunately, like poor ole Etienne, Tom Winken is constructed with a poorly positioned head. Gung-Ho was handicapped with a ball socket that was placed too far back in his plastic head. It looked alright from the front but profile viewings pretty much necessitated therapy afterwards. Torch also suffers from this same error in design although it isn’t as readily apparent due to the thicker nature of Torch’s jawline. (This is most likely helped by the sculpted sideburns.) Still, while the figure looks great from the front don’t try turn his head too far to the side or the nightmares will return. I think that’s about all I’ve got on the tooling of this particular figure, Justin.
Yet in spite of the aforementioned issues with the original sculpting of the Anniversary line, I think Torch manages to be successful. The new parts mesh well, the colors are spot on, and the accessories are great. Swapping out that leg holster to be a carrier for his blowtorch, the removable air tank on his backpack…the intricate paint apps in the vest. Hasbro designers managed to take a somewhat subpar original figure, added some spice, and created a Dreadnok who is on par with many of the later Anniversary figures out there, as far as looks go. Works well for me. Fred?
I have to agree—the changes to Gung-Ho’s tragic form that helped to transform this into my favorite Dreadnok are extremely successful. Personally, I would never have thought of using this particular body to produce Tom Winken and yet the figure embodies the very character of Torch. As Justin already mentioned, I’m a huge fan of the removable fuel tank on the back pack. I can just see Torch raising it over his head and howling “burn, baby! BURN!!” This is right before some poor sap’s house explodes in a ball of fire. As both Justin and Scott have mentioned, the inclusion of the “ Melbourne Maulers” logo on the back of the vest and the highly detailed Dreadnok tattoo on the forearm just seal the deal for me. My favorite Dreadnok is reborn and he’s looking pretty darned good for his age!
As for Ripper…as a kid, he was one of my favorite Dreadnok figures, mostly because of his awesome machine gun weapon he came with. Character-wise, Buzzer took the trophy, but as far as figure coolness went, it was all about Ripper. Does this new one hold up? Once again I’ll let Curly…err… “Scott”…. say his piece.
Next up is Ripper.
Ripper was probably my least favorite Dreadnok, Key word WAS. This figure is fantastic!
They absolutely nailed the look of the original. Ripper's got a new head, upper and lower torso. His arms and legs were seen before on his mate Buzzer. I really like how they made the boots black but painted the skulls silver......HMMM where have I seen that before.
The rest of the colors are also dead on to his original version. My favorite part are the little extra details you might not notice at first like the Tattoos on both figures and the removable belt on Ripper(You have to take his legs off to do this)With the biker wallet chain and the knife in the small of his back not to mention the spike knuckle trench knife attached to the strap alas this isn't removable.
He also comes with a rifle w/bayonet that is at first glance the same one he originally came with but it's not. He has a working jaws of life and a back pack generator. The best part of this is the jaws store on the generator while not in use and the hose wraps around the frame. Ripper doesn't suffer from the hand or elbow problems Torch does,But the hose is a little loose on both the jaws and the generator and doesn't wrap too well but these are very small issues.
It’s interesting that Scott has the opposite opinion I do about the original version of Ripper, but I do agree with him on the new version. Using Buzzer’s parts as a base is heads and shoulders above the Gung Ho parts that Torch ended up with. Sure, there are some aesthetic differences, but I think it still works perfectly as an update. From the newly tooled torso, to the blue of the legs, the tattoos, and the camouflage tank top, this looks JUST like the Ripper we know and love. Fred, how unhealthy is your “Ripper love”?
Um… Justin, I think we need to have a talk? Seriously man… we can get you some help.
As far as Ripper is concerned, this is probably the best Ripper head sculpt I’ve ever seen. The original ARAH figure was a bit too “Keith Richards” with his overly-lined gaunt face. The GvC version resembled “Tremors” Michael Gross as Burt Gummer far more than it dead the original Mohawk-ed Dreadnok. The VvV comic pack version was better but still didn’t quite capture the look of the character like I felt it should. However, this version takes all of the core elements of the character and presents, as Goldilocks put it, “just right”. The Mohawk haircut, the red shade, and the beard are all present but now Torch doesn’t have the haggard look of an aged junkie trying to make on stage for one more Stones concert. While his “uniform” is the most dated of the three, this version presents it well—and almost makes me forget what a dated look the “80’s punker” was. Still, the painted skulls on the boots and the Dreadnok tattoo all convey that classic Dreadnok look that fans have come to know and expect. So, while I wouldn’t call it “Ripper love” (mostly because that’s just scary), I think that Curly and Shemp… uh, Justin and Scott hit the nail on the proverbial head—this is the best representation of the character yet released and one that will be hard to surpass in the future.
From an accessory standpoint, Ripper comes with much of the same gear that he did back in the day. His familiar backpack, jaws of life (which actually open now as Scott said) and that fantastic rifle are all present and accounted for. His jaws of life also fit seamlessly into his backpack…a great accessory package for a great quality figure.
I might be the only Joe fan on the planet to say this but I never really liked Ripper’s accessories as a kid. Torch had this fantastic cutting torch, Buzzer had that really “cool” industrial chainsaw, and Torch had an over-sized bayonet and some bizarre jaws of life/jackhammer “thingy” that I never ever used. Seriously, I just didn’t get the kit of this character. While the other Noks were off guzzling grape zone and chocolate donuts, he’d have to be sharpening that blade on his rifle so that he could keep up with the other two. However, the inclusion of a working “jaws of life” took this character’s gear from “okay” and put it firmly into the “cool” category. It’s funny but this 25A comic pack character has really done a lot to help redeem the character in my eyes and the included gear is no exception.
All told, I think these figures do a couple of things. First of all, they do shine a little light on the different faults and shortcomings of the tooling used for some of the original Anniversary figures. Gung Ho’s elbows and hands being pretty top on the list. But the other thing they do is showcase just how nicely their formula is working. Even a shaky figure like Gung Ho is improved dramatically and provides a suitable backdrop for a totally new character with only a few additional parts. Both of these figures use lots of existing Anniversary parts, and they’re not all great ones, but the end result is accurate to the source material, and extremely display worthy. Nice job, all told!
Fred, you have some last things you want to say?
Hasbro has done the unthinkable and FINALLY released versions of the Dreadnoks that are worthy of the lasting appeal of this misbegotten trio of bikers. Previous attempts to either reproduce or modernize the looks of the characters have fallen short and never quite captured the essence of Cobra’s version of “Moe, Larry, and Curly”. (Or “Shemp” if you’re truly a Stooges fan. We do not speak of “Curly Joe” in these parts… ever.) However, in just one single pack and one comic pack, Hasbro has not only finally released all three of the original ‘Noks in one series but actually produced worthy updates of the originals. Of the comic packs released to date, this is my favorite hands down. (C’mon, how many of you thought I was going to say Comic Pack #24? You should all be ashamed of yourselves.) This is the pack the represents the possibility of a well-executed reuse of an existing mold not just once, but twice. It shows the true potential of what Hasbro can accomplish with a mix of parts old and new— the production of something truly inspiring to Joe fans both old and new. (Plus, it’s finally a way to keep Scott quiet. If they ever release an Outback figure we’ll never have to listen to his “Selkirk litany” ever again.) So, after the lackluster productions that were the majority of the first wave it would seem that the comic packs are finally reaching their stride. If this is any indication of what fans can expect in future waves, we’re all going to be a lot poorer a year from now.
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