I was a huge fan of Ripcord as a kid. The whole story arc with him invading Cobra Island to rescue Candy was nothing short of brilliant! The concept of a trooper that capable of performing such a high altitude insertion into enemy territory struck me as one of the absolutely coolest concepts in a modern military. As such, when I order Freefall at Nomad’s recommendation, I knew that I was going to have a use for this figure in my Joe collection. Now, Ripcord would have some company on his missions behind enemy lines! Yet the anticipation doesn’t always live up to realization so I eagerly awaited the arrival of my box from GIJoeHQ.com. Did he live up to my collector hopes? Read on, and find out!
Like many of the figures I’ve recently reviewed, Freefall’s uniform might appear rather simplistic at first glance. Essentially it’s a tan dive suit (cover-alls) with a green camouflage pattern painted over it, and a yellow (?!!) undershirt. Over the uniform is a gray harness that features a molded ripcord handle, holster, and a few extraneous straps. His boots, which feature an odd crosshatch pattern are painted gray, as are his gloves. Upon initial inspection, this figure actually appears to have more of a Soviet feel than a member of the US military should. Maybe it’s just me but if his undershirt were adorned with blue and white horizontal stripes I could easily see him as a member of the Oktober Guard. Regardless, upon closer inspection it becomes evident that his uniform also features a variety of pockets and pouches. Also, and this is my favorite bit, the molding on his hands actually gives the impression that his gloves are tucked into this sleeves. So, the end result is a believable jump suit—not too encumbered with extraneous gear and yet just detailed enough to make him interesting. This falls in line with the original Ripcord figure that also sported a rather plain camouflage dive suit.
Freefall’s head sculpt is nicely detailed. Unlike the exaggerated expression of someone like Gnawgahyde, Freefall keeps his features decidedly neutral. His hairline, while a bit higher than most of the Joes of that era, indicates that he’s not just some “young buck” fresh out of jump school. His visage conveys the aspect of a seasoned diver who has done more than his share of work behind enemy lines and lived to tell about it. When it comes to gear, Freefall might seem to be a bit light on the equipment; what he does come with makes sense for someone who can only carry a limited amount of gear on his specified mission. The backpack features molded detailing for both his parachutes (two compartments) but also has two oxygen tanks—one on either side—which are ideal for a HALO jumper. These connect to his helmet via a black plastic hose so that he won’t be passing out for lack of O2 at high altitude. Unlike Ripcord, who featured a removable mask, Freefall’s fits onto two posts on the sides of the helmet and rotates up to reveal his face. The helmet itself also departs from Ripcords with the goggles of the air mask being replaced by a molded visor. The upside of this is that the helmet and mask assembly is more durable than the rubber gear that came with the GIJoe team’s first HALO jumper. The downside is that, once Freefall is on the ground, he either has to remove his mask and wear the goggled helmet or else lose the helmet entirely for the rest of the mission. A simple rifle rounds out his gear; the weapon can be stored with some difficulty across the top of his oxygen tanks but won’t stay there if the figure is moved around to any great extent.
I’ll come out and just say it: I like Freefall. He’s one of those “hidden gems” of the latter half of the GIJoe run that I never knew about until I got back into Joe collecting again. If it hadn’t have been for Nomad recommending him, I might never have added him to my collection. His gear is simple yet practical, his sculpt is detailed without being gaudy, and there is not a trace of neon to be found on him. In other words, he’s the kind of figure that I grew up appreciating as a child and can still find uses for today. While shooting the pics for this review I envisioned a dio-story scene involving Freefall and Ripcord HALO jumping at night into Cobra held territory. The two of them have to sabotage a communications relay and then slip out undetected before their hastily planted demolitions charge goes off. The sign of a well-designed figure is that it can inspire such imaginative tales such as this and so I can heartily recommend Freefall as yet another worthy addition to any GIJoe collection.