Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
Air Force Special Ops Command - Code name: Barrel Roll
G.I. Joe Collector's Club Figure Subscription Service 1.0
The G.I. Joe fandom has a complex relationship with the GvC era of the brand. For some fans, the release of brand-new o-ring figures was a welcome sight. Others lamented the odd animesque proportions of the figure designs and child-focused toy gimmicks such as Sound Attack. Still, if there’s one thing that most fans can agree on it’s that this era was known for introducing some new blood into the line. Characters like Widescope, Dart, Hi-Tech, Link, and even Sgt. Hacker all made their debut in this early 2000’s period. However, few characters from that timeframe have captured the imaginations of Joe fans like the members of the Stall family. Blackout, Barrel Roll, and Bombstrike all included file cards that suggested a complex family story involving betrayal, kidnapping, and more. Thanks to the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club, the first member of this family to see release has been updated to generation 3 construction. However, was it worth the effort? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s opinion!
The Club seems to have taken the inspiration for their FSS Barrel Roll from both the 2004 v2 and DTC versions. Each of these figures sported a more desert-appropriate color scheme, eschewing the blues and grays of the 2003 original version for browns and tans. However, when it came time to choose a parts recipe the Club designers went with a decidedly more tactical approach. Barrell Roll’s recipe appears to be:
I have to admit-- as a parts build goes, there’s a lot to like here. The Resolute Duke arms do a decent job of mimicking the rolls sleeves of the original figure design while the PoC Zartan legs given Specialist Stall a more tactical feel. In addition, the PoC Duke torso takes the webgear approach of the DTC version and amps up the modern edge. Combine this with the aforementioned desert color scheme and fans are left with a parts build that is both functional and aesthetically appealing.
If I had to improve upon this build in any way, I’d add in hinged wrists. It’s true-- I say this about pretty much every figure to come across my desk that doesn’t possess this point of articulation but I stand by my remarks. Hinged wrists make it much easier for figures to hold weapons such as rifles in a realistic pose. Given Barrel Roll’s specialty as a sniper, it only makes sense that he also have this extra articulation. Now I’ll get off my soapbox and get on with things.
In the first FSS series, the Club made some interesting choices when it came to head sculpts. In this case, I’m referring specifically the reuse of the original o-ring head molds on larger generation 3 bodies. Jinx, Blackout, and even Barrel Roll are all examples of this. In this case, the Club opted not to use the more-popular-but-stylized GvC head but instead opted for the more realistic DTC Barrel Roll noggin. It works well enough in terms of articulation but there’s an issue of scale. This head was designed for a figure that was truly 3.75” in height. The current build is much closer to 4” which means that poor Dwight Stall ends up looking a bit pinheaded. Granted, it’s nowhere near as bad as what happened with Jinx but I’ll discuss that in the Jinx review. (Which I’ll hopefully get to writing someday. Really.) All-in-all, I’d have preferred a new head sculpt for Barrel Roll as this one just comes across a bit too small in my eyes.
Barrel Roll is listed as “Air Force Special Ops Command” specialist. Previous releases have labelled him both a “high altitude sniper” and a “high altitude markman.” As such, one would expect his kit to include some sort of sniper rifle-- and in this case the Club didn’t disappoint. BR’s kit includes:
I have to admit-- this is a pretty solid kit. I’m a fan of the Barrett that has been used so many times over the years, from the PoC Recondo to the Zombie Hunter Outback. It’s a solid-looking weapon sculpt that really amps up the tactical appearance of the figure. The M1911 is also another solid addition, particularly as it mirrors the pistol included with the FSS Blackout figure. (For some reason I have an odd fascination with taking pictures of the brothers in a pistol standoff.) While it’s an older sidearm it fits well in the figure’s hands.
The inclusion of the Resolute jetpack was initially a bit of a surprise when the figure was announced but I have zero problems with it. The original Barrel Roll figure was packaged with a SpyTroops era glider and this serves well as a modern equivalent. As it was used in G.I. Joe Resolute, the glider pack essentially replaced a parachute for a HALO drop. For someone like Barrel Roll, it means that he’ll use it for quick insertion behind Cobra lines. It’s high tech and comes across as something “about 10 minutes into the future” which is precisely the space that I think G.I. Joe should occupy.
If Barrel Roll’s kit has a downside, it’s the helmet. I’ll be honest-- I hated this helmet when it was released back with the DTC Barrel Roll and I continue to dislike it here. It’s supposed to be a Pro-Tech helmet but something just went amiss in the sculpting/production process. The general shape just got distorted and, well, it just looks off. When compared to the helmet that came with the Retaliation Ultimate Flint, it just doesn’t hold up. Sadly, it was designed to work with this particular head sculpt and so I kind of feel that the Club was backed into a corner with this. Just another reason why a unique head sculpt would have been so much better.
At the end of the day, is Barrel Roll worth owning? I’d have to say “Yes.” The parts build and color choices for the body are really pretty solid and there’s a lot to love with the figure’s kit. The reuse of the smaller DTC head could be a deal breaker for some folks but as long as he’s wearing some sort of headgear it’s not quite a noticeable. My only real issue is that the helmet really hasn’t aged all that well but that’s a minor quibble. The pictures in this review span a period of four years and I find that I still enjoy this figure as much today as I did on the day that he first arrived from the GIJCC. Plus, thanks to the FSS, he’s part of the “Stall family trilogy” along with Blackout and Bombstrike. He’s a solid figure-- especially for the first wave of FSS figures and one that most collectors will be happy to own. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: Barrel Roll is a solid figure with a strong parts build, an odd head sculpt reuse and some solid gear. A strong addition to any collection.
|Copyright 2003 JoeBattlelines.com|