Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
Master of Mind Control – Code name: Dr. Mindbender
2015 G.I. Joe Collector’s Club renewal figure
Back in January 2015, the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club unveiled the mockup of its annual 1:18 membership renewal figure. Hot on the heels of figures like Footloose, Cross Country, and Iceberg, many fans were wondering just what the GIJCC had in store as an incentive for 2015. When the announcement came, it was met with surprise by some, anticipation by others, and outright disdain by a few. Cold Weather Dr. Mindbender? Based on a character design seen in a few short minutes of the Sunbow animated G.I. Joe: The Movie? Was there really a demand for this? Now, months later the figures have begun arriving in member’s mailboxes across the globe and the question can be answered—was this figure really worth it? The answer just might surprise you.
How does one build a cold weather Dr. Mindbender? To this Joe fan’s eyes, the recipe appears to be deceptively simple:
The result is a surprisingly cohesive design that works rather well for Cobra’s resident mad scientist. While the purple fur-collared coat and pants might seem a bit audacious at first glance, one has to remember that Dr. Mindbender spent much of his career running around the Terrordrome shirtless in purple pants and high jack boots. If nothing else, fans should be happy that the good doctor decided to cover up more! It is a bit odd how similar this coat is to one worn by the Baroness in part 2 of the original MASS Device mini-series. Could Mindbender be raiding her closet when no one is looking?
The Renegades Cobra Commander torso was a perfect choice for recreating the torso with its sculpted twin rows of buttons. The designers of the new pieces carried that element over to the rubber skirt and added one more row of the simulated fasteners which provides a nice design continuity with the rest of the body. In addition, the new fur collar blends in seamlessly with the fur at the bottom of the skirt and ties the entire torso together. The skirt does limit the movement of the good doctor’s lower torso significantly by rendering the hip joints all but useless but, for once, this isn’t an issue for me. After all, Dr. Mindbender has hardly been portrayed as an acrobatic “man of action”. While I’d love to be able to have the figure actually sit down I’m okay with just having the former dentist standing and attempting to look fashionable in his winter coat.
One of the more surprising aspects of this figure is the fact that he’s got a brand new head sculpt, presumably from Boss Fight Studio! Mindbender was last released in the generation 3 “modern era” style back in 2009 in the Defense of Cobra Island boxed set. With this head only seeing one single use it would have been easy for the Club to simply reuse it here and yet a new sculpt was designed. Whereas the 2009 sculpt had a neutral expression, this one goes for a bit more character with Mindbender’s mouth captured mid-sneer. In addition, this head seems to be much more Sunbow inspired with a significantly bushier moustache that almost seems to be lifted directly from an animation cel. In addition, the eyebrows are thinner and more expressive than in the previous sculpt giving the good doctor a much more classic mad scientist look. I find it amazing that a few months ago I wouldn’t have thought that Mindbender’s sculpt needed to be updated and now I can’t help but prefer this newer version over the 2009 release. Nicely done, GIJCC!
It’s hard not to draw comparisons to the 2009 version of Mindbender but since it’s the only other version released such comparisons are unavoidable. That figure was packaged with a bare minimum of gear including his trademark silver cattle prod and a cloth cape. This time around, Mindbender’s kit has been expanded quite a bit. Included with the doctor are the following:
I find it ironic that this version of Mindbender comes with MORE gear that is directly inspired by the 1986 vintage version than the 2009 release! The cattle prod makes much more sense when it is packaged with the pack back to power it and the inclusion of the Cobra laptop (the C-book?) only makes sense for someone of Mindbender’s scientific role. He’s likely to be checking data on his latest experiment while in the field—or sneaking in a quick game of Angry Birds. Either way, it makes sense. Plus, the inclusion of the pistol works for a couple of reasons. First, it’s designed to fit specifically into the hands of this figure and secondly it’s a nice homage to the pistol carried by the late Dr. Venom in the Marvel Comics series. While these two had never officially met face-to-face I like to think that Mindbender would use a similar pistol. Plus, it just looks good with the long coat.
So, at the end of the day, is this figure worth acquiring? I found myself surprised by the answer once I received my figure. Yes, this figure is a bit impractical as it’s only suited to cold weather displays. It’s true that the color of the coat and the fur collar embody a sense of fashion that only WWE legend Ric Flair would find appealing. Yet it is these very reasons that make this flamboyant figure so much fun! The sheer audacity that it would take to walk around in a purple fur-lined coat like this are part of Mindbender’s appeal and the Club really knocked it out of the park in recreating a character’s uniform that appeared ever so briefly outside of Cobra-La in the G.I. Joe animated movie. The very fact that it’s hard to take this figure seriously is part of what makes this figure so much fun. Honestly, even though figures like Iceberg and Dial-Tone are more “on model” and practical, I find this figure slipping head of them in the ranking of the Gen 3 renewal figures and I’m pretty happy to be able to add this version of Mindbender to my Cobra shelf. He may look like he's dressed for "It's a Cobra Christmas" but he's a heck of a lot of fun. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: This is a surprisingly fun figure that is a near perfect recreation of a Sunbow design. With a brand new head and a great practical gear compliment, Mindbender is one of the most fun Club figures released this year!
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