Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
Pics by Fred Meyer
Artillery Operations Specialist – Code name: Grand Slam
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 2.0 Bonus Figure
My first real exposure to G.I. Joe occurred in 1982 with the purchase of the VAMP w/ Clutch and a single Snake Eyes figure. It wasn’t too long afterwards that the HAL (Heavy Artillery Laser) joined my meager fighting force and Grand Slam was added to the roster. Resplendent in his olive and red padded uniform, he was a favorite of mine for weeks. Unfortunately, 1982 was also the year of a new puppy who, as puppies are wont to do, went through a chewing phase. Grand Slam was, thankfully, my only Joe casualty but he was pretty much rendered unusable for anything other than “explosion victim #2”. I never replaced him—even with the silver pads JUMP (Jet Unit Mobile Propulsion) version as the JUMP was already acquired through a Flag Points mail-away offer. As such, Grand Slam fell off my Joe radar for years, until he saw a mass-market release in 2007 with the Night Specter at Target. Now, thanks to the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Specialist James J. Barney arrives once more in his original “red pads” version and my collector’s find themselves faced with a dilemma. Which version of Grand Slam should stand in their “Original 13” displays? Read on to find out the opinions of two Joe fans!
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Snake Plissken uttered these words in John Carpenter’s “Escape from L.A.” and they hold true here. Just a few weeks ago, JBL posted a review of the Bombardier figure from the FSS which utilized the 25 th Anniversary Sgt. Flash mold. As was the case then, there’s really NOTHING new to talk about with this figure sculpt. I reviewed it with the 25th Anniversary Night Specter in 2007, the 25th Anniversary Sgt. Flash in 2008, and the FSS Bombardier in 2014. Honestly—there’s nothing much left to say about this design as it has been used, reused, reused again for figures I’ve not even reviewed from the Rise of Cobra series, and then reused twice more by the Collector’s Club. I can understand wanting to preserve the authenticity of the original but at this point, it’s a bit played out. Yes, there are differences between this version of Grand Slam and the first Target version—mostly in the color of the paint application on the pads on the chest, arms, and upper legs. Also, the figure’s best is painted entirely black this time. There’s also a few missing paint applications on the figure’s back side including the harness straps on the lower torso and the “tension straps” on the backs of the calves. That’s it. If placed next to Sgt. Flash, the figure’s uniform is a darker shade of green and his gloves, boots, and belt are black but that’s it. There’s nothing really new to see here, folks. Chris, do you have anything to add?
Fred, when you texted me pics of this figure when the images first started to surface, I actually thought it was a hoax being passed around to piss off the fandom. I think I even said you were a sucker for believing it was real. I also distinctly remember saying, and I quote “There’s no way the Club would go that low.” Guess who the sucker is now?
Bland Scam is shocking bad. He’s an exact repaint of a repaint of a repaint with nothing changed up, and no new parts. Know what that’s called in the customizing community? A “LBC”---a Lazy B*stard Custom. It used to only mean swapping heads out with no painting, but now it means something so easy, so cheap, and so mindless, that it falls into the “even a one-armed chimp can do it” category. Since this figure was so mindless and so easy, you’d think it would at least have some quality to it. You’d be wrong. The paint is inconsistent, some of the silver around the red padding is either not there, or is sloppy, and the stirrups on his pant leg cuffs weren’t even painted. Thanks. But the worst thing about this? How the club offered him. He might have been tolerable if he was in a different set spaced out a couple years. But for the Club to put the same exact figure in the same exact set is mind boggling stupid. I mean seriously, who is that dumb in the marketing department? Wait, I can hear it now: “No wait Mr. Werecat, it’s a bonus freebie figure that you should be happy to have! And since he’s free, you would have only gotten 12 figures in this set instead of 13. So this was done for you to maximize our costs!” That argument is crap because there is no such thing as a free figure. We still paid for that to be made, the Club just marked up the whole set price tag to cover it.
Another thing that bothers me, is, who the hell asked for this figure to be made? Six people? We’ve already had two Grand Slams. Know how many Pathfinders or Grid-Irons or Manglers we have? Yeah, none. Or gee, maybe they could have filled in the Stall-Family-Saga slot with Bombstrike; the Oktober Guard slot with Gorky or Misha; or the Night Force slot with Crazylegs or Lightfoot? How about filling in all the various slot before we do twosies or threesies?! If Hasbro couldn’t get him right with two tries, forget him and move on, because at this point, it doesn’t matter. Don’t like his 25 th silver pads or his RoC blue ones? Buy a jar of red paint. (Apparently that’s’ what the Club did as well, but charged us $37.00 for it.)
What’s next, a tan repainted Clutch next time because he’s O-13 and he hasn’t been done yet for the ’83 collection?
This is where I usually talk about the figure’s head sculpt but… if you’ve stayed with this review this far you’ll know where I’m going. Aside from a lighter shade of brown used for the hair and eyebrows, Grand Slam uses the same head sculpt that was used for every 1:18 scale version of the character save for one since the 25 th Anniversary line. Worse yet, it’s the same head sculpt used for Flash and even Grunt as well as Bombardier. I’m just going to say it now—Grand Slam deserves better. This was a golden opportunity for the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club to use either a new head sculpt or repurpose a different existing one to help make their version of Grand Slam stand out from the others. Instead, we get a straight repaint of a straight repaint that was issued the month prior. It would be one thing if the Club was reusing an existing head sculpt that was unique to Grand Slam only to provide a consistency of character as that would have made sense. Instead, this figure almost feels like a custom version of the Target release. Without going on a negative rant, I’ll just say that I’m disappointed by the lack of effort that was placed into really making this figure shine. Chris?
So wait! Here we have a figure that has never had his own unique look, and we also have a studio working for the Club that makes brand new heads! Hmm, I sense an idea forming… Yes! There are definite possibilities here! Let’s think this through. Character with no original look + Boss Fight Studios = brand new Grand Slam head! Yes, that makes perfect sense! Like chocolate and peanut butter, two great things that go great together! I think most reasonably intelligent people (and dumb people as well) could have also put two-and-two together to see both of these things combined would complement each other in a great third incarnation. Nine out of ten people figured this out, but not the Club. They were the one that didn’t. They rode in on the sort bus and instead; decided to evolve laziness and cheap cost cutting measures to a newly defined art form worthy of a Wiki entry. And what’s most amazing about this? They aren’t even embarrassed!
(As a side note, while these figures are expensive, I think most collectors would be happy to pay even a bit more if it meant their figures would have a unique head/facial likeness if they weren’t a troop-builder. But even if not, to put the same head on the same body in the same set is beyond the pale. The Club AND Hasbro should be ashamed of themselves for this.)
At least Grand Slam’s kit warrants some discussion even if most of it is nothing new. Included with specialist Barney are the following pieces:
I don’t even care about his named stand because you can download templates and print them off on label paper at home to place on spare stands, so that void has already been filled in.
Sigh, this is the part of the review where I state whether or not this figure is worth purchasing and, in spite of my comments above, I’m actually pretty torn on how to answer. Here’s the deal— the red pads version of Grand Slam does hold a nostalgic note with me only because it is the version I had as a kid. However, in my case, that version was mutilated by my dog and so I never really got much use out of him. Over the years, I’ve seen more folks use the silver pads version of the character simply because it provides a greater contrast to Flash whose uniform is extremely similar. Unlike in the original ARAH era where the two characters at least had different head sculpts, this figure is a virtual clone of Flash meaning that color is all fans have to tell them apart, aside from the included figure stand. He’s not a bad figure at all and for folks who weren’t fortunate to acquire the Target Night Specter this is a great opportunity to acquire a Grand Slam for their collections. However, for folks like me the decision of whether to purchase him or not comes down to one piece of plastic: the included figure stand. Honestly, as much as I hate to say this because of the perceived negativity that will be associated with a character that I’ve always had a soft spot for, I’m going to have to say that this figure is a “PASS” for most collectors out there. Unless you find that you simply can’t live w/o that figure stand or unless you prefer Flash and Grand Slam to be virtual twins separated only by a few color hues, he’s just not worth plunking down the extra cash for. In my case, I’m going to borrow his stand and give it to the silver pads version from the Night Specter and set this version aside.
The Bottom Line: With only some color changes to differentiate him, he’s not worth picking up unless you don’t own a Night Specter version, unless you really want the figure stand, or unless the red pads version is your preferred look for Grand Slam.
As most of us collectively bend over and cough as this one is thrust onto us, there’s one more aspect of insult that can be added to injury, and that’s the card art. Since Bland Scam shares the same head as Bombardier on the toy, the art follows suit by having the exact same fat, ugly face on both characters’ card art, as well as the same body pose---just tweaked between the two. They couldn’t even bother to do a new portrait. How sad is that? But hey, look on the bright side, at least the art was consistent with the laziness of the figure, so at the very least, consistency was maintained in that area.
To me, this figure is a stinking turn that’s too large to be flushed. It is a miserable, mindless, lazy, and pathetic offering. As mentioned, this figure can be made by purchasing a $1.39 jar of Testor’s red enamel paint, so there is no need for anyone to buy it if you haven’t already.
As a final note, there’s a well-known but rather crass faux Club site out there that I won’t mention by name, but most collectors will know what I’m talking about. For the uninitiated, this site’s running joke is the Club puts out obvious garbage, and then laughs at all the “nerd money” they make from fanboys that will seemingly buy anything just because it has a G.I. Joe name attached to it. Sadly, this is one case where life imitates art.
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