Here’s the situation: at 21:30 local time, a group of Coil extremists seized control of a Boeing 747 that was parked on the runway at O’Hare International Airport. The flight was full—over-booked in fact—and was taxiing down the runway in preparation for takeoff when one of the flight crew caught a glimpse of a weapon. She was able to alert the captain who delayed take-off and alerted the authorities. Unfortunately the young stewardess from Canton, IL lost her life in the process. The plane is grounded and the authorities are on the scene. Unfortunately, they’re not qualified to deal with this unique situation—the Coil troopers are demanding the return of the body of someone called “Serpentor” and are willing to blow the plane sky high if their demands are not met. The situation has been a stalemate for 2 ½ hours now with no sign of improvement. It’s at this moment that a group of feds roll in—some unit called “Counter-Terrorist Group Delta” and take command of the situation. While sharp shooters are deployed, one man steps up to the officer in charge of the situation and asks to speak to the terrorists. Bullhorn is on the scene.
Bullhorn is a Joe who could fit in at a police stakeout or on a military operation. His uniform, which is composed of grey-brown shirt and brown pants, is almost civilian in appearance. Unlike the Joes of the following years, his uniform opts for a more functional approach rather than the sci-fi themes that will soon follow. An insulated long-sleeve shirt covers his torso while brown pants complete his attire. His belt and harness are surprisingly simple—with just two gray pouches painted on the torso and a single gray holster strapped to his right thigh. Light brown spats with a darker brown crosshatch pattern cover the tops of his gray boots. Four plastic grenades (flash/bang or smoke I would presume) are fastened across his chest. His hands are covered in gray gloves. It is an extremely simple character design for a Joe of the 90’s and one that bridges the gap between the final “neon extravaganza” years and the more staid designs of the 80’s. If it were not for the lack of badge anywhere on the design I might assume that this figure was part of a police toy line rather than a member of the GIJoe team. I can see him standing behind a squad with the likes of Dennis Franz, trying to talk down a bank robber whose job has gone drastically wrong. He’s grounded in the real world and for that reason alone I like this design.
Bullhorn’s head sculpt is one that never really made all that strong of an impression on me. I don’t know if it’s the combination of the slicked-back hair, the odd sweat band (I’m presuming that’s what it is) that adorns his forehead, or faint air of sadness that seems to be reflected in his features. Regardless, I’m just not sure how to react to it. Unlike some of the other sculpts of this era, the expression isn’t grim. (Something that various artists on “ America’s Elite” should learn—not everyone looks like their constipated and trying to pass a cantaloupe!) The down-turned corners of the mouth and the set of the eyes convey a sense of sadness, at least on my Bullhorn. It’s almost as if we’re seeing Bullhorn after a job gone wrong. Either that or this is the character at that moment when he realizes that negotiations have fallen through and the only option left open to him is the “final solution” found in his back pack. Regardless, I’ve never really known what to make of this head sculpt which just seems a bit ambiguous to me. (It would, with some modifications, make for a great Spirit custom but that’s another story.)
When it comes to equipment, Bullhorn is a figure that does NOT disappoint. He’s got everything that you might expect from a negotiator: a gas mask, rifle with scope, mega-phone (or is it—more on this in a moment), and a “final solution” backpack. Just pop open Bullhorn’s pack and you’ll find three pieces that assemble into a rifle that looks like it could punch a hole through a door, the guy behind the door, and quite possible the wall on the other side. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment that, while Bullhorn can’t really assume any type of shooting pose with it, adds another layer to the character and his specialty. It shows that, if talks break down, Bullhorn is prepared to do what it takes to end the situation and free the hostages. Oddly enough, Bullhorn isn’t the first figure to feature a backpack with a disassembled weapon inside—that honor goes to the original Destro figure. He is, however, the first figure whose weapon can actually be removed and assembled rather than just being a part of the plastic mold. There is one piece of his gear that puzzles me—and that is his bullhorn. Ever source that I’ve checked states that this is supposed to be the piece of equipment that gives him his code name—the very thing that he uses to communicate with terrorists, kidnappers, etc. However, it doesn’t resemble a bullhorn (megaphone) so much as it does a very large parabolic microphone. The lack of mouthpiece on the back and the exaggerated nature of the cone on the front, along with the protruding element inside lead me to believe that this was originally intended to be used as a listening device rather than as a speaking appliance. Yes, I realize that I’m flying in the face of 16 years of established tradition but I just don’t see this as anything else. It still works as part of his gear—giving Bullhorn an edge in his negotiations by allowing him to listen in on presumably “private” conversations. However it is used, it’s a solidly-designed piece of equipment and one that compliments the character’s specialty.
I don’t actually see Bullhorn as a member of the GIJoe team. I see him as a specialist that has worked with the Joes numerous times in the past and one that has the clearance to do so. While the text of his file card doesn’t mention it, there is a Joe logo just below his picture. As such, Bullhorn could really go either way. In my Joe-verse, the team is small but has a roster of “reserves” that can be activated to help them deal with any situation that arises. Bullhorn is one of those reserves—someone who doesn’t have a permanent slot on the team but is still able to be relied upon when the chips are down. Regardless of how he is used I can recommend Bullhorn as a solid addition to any Joe collection. As stated above, he’s got some solid equipment and his character design is practical and realistic enough to fit in with the earliest Joes. He’s an excellent compliment to figures like Shockwave and even Sure Fire and would work well with groups like the DEF in taking down Cobra’s urban operations. Plus, there’s no denying just how amazingly cool his modular rifle is. He’s also a figure that isn’t going to “break the bank” if you try to add him to your collection; just make certain to snag a complete figure as his gear is his strongest asset.