Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Heated Battle Blowtorch
Someone at Hasbro obviously loves a good pun. When I think of a “heated battle” I don’t necessarily conjure up images of flame throwers and incendiary anti-armor weapons lobbing “hot death” across a battlefield. Yet, that is exactly what this 50th Anniversary two-pack- the “Heated Battle” is all about. It’s a pack that consists of two figures and much like the bride’s tradition before the wedding it has “something old and something new.” Or at least something quasi-new. So, before this introduction gets anymore tenuous, it’s time to take a look at the figures from the “Heated Battle” G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary two-pack that’s exclusive to Toys R Us and select online retailers.
This two-pack is comprised of two figures: Blowtorch and the HEAT Viper.
Until recently, no one can ever accuse Hasbro of inundating G.I. Joe fans with a deluge of Blowtorch figures. His single appearance in the A Real American Hero line came in 1984 and there wasn’t another version of the character until his G.I. Joe vs. Cobra release in 2002. In 2009, an updated generation 3 25th anniversary Blowtorch was released and many fans assumed that this would be his only release in the updated construction style. Hasbro, apparently, had other plans. Blowtorch saw an additional release as part of the Pursuit of Cobra line in 2009.
For the 50th anniversary, Hasbro went back to the 2009 PoC version, slapped a gold star on the figure’s arm, and called it day. That’s the recipe for this “50th Anniversary” figure! (Remember, the PoC version is a slightly altered version of the 25th anniversary version.) As such, this figure has all the strengths and weaknesses of his 25A predecessor. The body sculpt is extremely faithful to the 1984 original and I still like the floating collar over the torso which lends some nice bulk to what should be an insulated suit. Like the PoC version, the colors in this figure are more muted than the 25A version which gives the figure a more realistic look-- and also doesn’t burn the retinas upon anything more than a casual glance.
To make this a “50th Anniversary” figure, Hasbro made one small change to the overall paint scheme-- the addition of a single gold star outlined on the left bicep. That’s it-- a single star to celebrate 50 years of the original action figure brand. It feels lazy to this Joe fan and doesn’t really differentiate the figure from the 2009 version to any real degree. I miss the days when G.I. Joe was considered an actual priority by Hasbro.
The downside is that this figure also has the articulation limitations of the 25th anniversary version-- primarily in the elbows that can only dream of ever reaching a 90 degree angle. Given how little effort Hasbro actually put into the entire 50th line I’m not surprised that no effort was made to fix this design oversight. Perhaps the diminished range of motion is intentional-- possibly the result of wearing an insulated fireproof suit? Yeah, that’s it-- that’s the explanation that makes me feel only marginally better about this figure.
One benefit of reusing the 25th/PoC figure is that the Blowtorch head sculpt sees another re-release here. Call me crazy but I actually like this sculpt quite a bit. For one thing it hasn’t been used over and over like other heads in the Gen 3 era. This means that Blowtorch is really Blowtorch and doesn’t have numerous clones walking around. (If only the same could be said for Grunt/Grand Slam/Flash/Bombardier…) The original Hama file card back in 1984 made Blowtorch stand out for his slightly paranoid tendencies and, at the risk of reading too much into the design, I can see some of that personality here. Say what you will, but I do like the head sculpt.
In terms of gear, Blowtorch holds few surprises over his previous version. Included in his kit are the following:
I have two issues with the figure’s kit. The first is a result of quality control and the second is one that just leaves me scratching my head as it did with the PoC version. (Which I’ve never reviewed-- go figure. JBL seems to be perpetually behind after taking a few years off.)
The silver fuel line that runs from the flamethrower to the fuel tanks is painted silver, which isn’t an issue. The problem is that the line was plugged into the port on the back of the fuel tanks while the paint was apparently still wet. As such, the piece is now all but permanently attached to the rear of the back which shortens the effective reach of the line considerable. Combined with the figure’s limited elbow motion this really limits just how dynamically Blowtorch can be posed with his signature weapon. Ah, quality control at it’s finest.
The other issue I have is really a result of parts choice. Blowtorch is a “Infantry Special Weapons” specialist and a “Small Arms Armorer”, according to his file card. As such, the flamethrower and the SCAR make sense. However, he’s also equipped with two fire extinguishers (one is permanently attached to the small of the figure’s back) and a fire axe. So, now he not only starts fires but he also puts them out? Sure, I get it-- he’ll keep an extinguisher handy in case things go wrong but the axe too? Seriously-- stepping on Barbecue’s toes in a BIG way. Plus, the two mines are the most puzzling addition. I’m not a military veteran and I’ve never had any military training. Therefore, my civilian comprehension of demolition techniques fails to reconcile the pairing of explosives with incendiary devices. To me, this would be a BAD thing, but whatever. Hasbro apparently likes this kit combination that they released it twice. Either that or they’re just too lazy to care at this point.
Honestly, I’m torn on how to review this figure. See-- I’ve always liked Blowtorch and I actually prefer the PoC version OVER the 25th simply for the improved color scheme. The problem is that I already own the PoC version and really didn’t need an almost exact duplicate molded in softer plastic. To make matters worse, if fans want to acquire a HEAT Viper (or two or three) then those fans are going to find themselves essentially stuck with extra Blowtorch figures. There were far better candidates in the 2013 concept case that could have been included in this two pack than what is essentially a straight reissue of a figure from five years ago. (Gung-Ho vs. the HEAT Viper could have been EPIC IMHO.) As such, this figure is really only essentially if you missed the previous version or if you’re one of those folks who has to have one of everything. Otherwise I can see these slowly but surely piling up on the secondary market in the same fashion that Arctic Threat Destro clogged store pegs a few years ago. It’s a shame too as the character of Blowtorch certainly doesn’t deserve such a fate. Of course, that’s just my opinion.
The Bottom Line: This was a "decent" figure when it was released years ago as part of the 25th Anniversary Collection. Now, with nothing new to make it stand out it's just redundant.
Questions? Comments? Would you rather have seen the concept case Gung-Ho in here instead?
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