Monkey Wrench was always the “George Harrison” of my Dreadnoks. He wasn’t nearly as flamboyant as the original three, but he so stylistically close that I just included him in their number. Not as distinctive as Road Pig or Thrasher, good old Monkey Wrench was always there to help bolster the Dreadnoks numbers. Still, when it came to discussing figures that needed updated sculpts, MW never made the list. It was always Torch, Ripper, Buzzer, Zandar, and Road Pig that were at the top of my list. You can just imagine my surprise when this particular Dreadnok trumped the last of the founding three and got the updated treatment first. However, is he worth acquiring? Read on and see.
Remember Burnout—the first African-American Dreadnok? You know Burnout—he’s the guy who resembled ‘Tyr Anasazi’ from Gene Roddenberry’s “Andromeda”. Large and muscular with a head full of dreadlocks, he was the first new character to be introduced to the Dreadnoks in a mass-market line since the 80’s. Well, if Monkey Wrench looks familiar it’s because he’s a complete reuse of Burnout’s body, albeit with far less color overall. (The figure even retains the swivel joints located at the top of the boots!) While the design is still very Dreadnok, it’s a radical departure from the original Monkey Wrench. No longer wearing just a red vest, Monkey Wrench has decided to scale up a bit and is now wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, wrapped in barbed wire with the phrase “Dreadnok 4 Life” emblazoned across his chest. His arms are now wrapped in what I presume to be bandages and he’s got Burnout’s spiked knuckles on one arm. Overall it’s a very ‘Nok look—but it really isn’t the level of update that I’ve become accustomed to from Hasbro. Most of the MW’s signature design elements are missing: his grenades, his harpoon gun, etc. The result is a figure that just misses the mark as an update of a classic character.
Monkey Wrench does share one distinction with Med Alert, however, and that is that he is the only other character in this entire wave to receive a new head sculpt. Based upon the Burnout design, Monkey Wrench’s head is entirely new—including the reworking of the neck and head as a single piece. Instead of the goatee’s that plagued previous series of figures, MW now has a full beard. Gone are the dreadlocks in and their place is a shaggy mane of hair with sunglasses perched atop his head. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can now see his eyes (something of an anomaly among Dreadnoks) but this still doesn’t quite work as an update to Monkey Wrench. Again, it’s a good sculpt—one that conveys a very hard and dangerous character. Yet something is slightly off and that keeps me from fully accepting this figure as whom it is supposed to be.
One area where the figure shines is in the accessory department. Equipped with two shotguns and the trench knife that Shadow Strike wielded in the Ninja Battles set, Monkey Wrench is ready for any bar brawl the Noks get into. Further adding to his appearance as a rough and tumble biker is the tattered sleeveless trench coat, replete with Dreadnok logo. Now, I may be mistaken but I’m fairly certain that the basis of the this coat can be found in the Power of the Force Star Wars line and the Endor Han Solo figure. He too sported a similar rubber coat that was fashioned in roughly the same shape. All Hasbro had to do was add in the tears, provide openings for the pockets, and voila! While I haven’t sat down and compared the two figures in person, I’m will to bet vital parts of Monkey Wrench’s anatomy that this is indeed the case. The coat, while restricting his movement to standing poses only, allows for the Nok to stash a shotgun in each pocket and rely solely on his knife. While I would have liked to see the bandoleer of grenades that came with Grand Slam packaged here instead I like the coat and it helps to salvage this character retooling in my eyes.
I’m actually torn on this figure. When I first got him in the mail from Master Collector, he was instantly my favorite of the wave. However, the longer I have him the less pleased with him I am. Sure, he’s got an entirely new head sculpt but he just doesn’t feel like the original character to me at all. Whereas updates to Torch and Buzzer resembled their RAH counterparts, Monkey Wrench comes across more as “Hey, you look kind of like that guy. You know, that Dreadnok—Monkey Ranch or something like that.” As a new character, he’d get high marks from me but as an update he just doesn’t quite work. I’d recommend Monkey Wrench to Dreadnok fans and completionists but I’ve come to realize that he’s a figure that could be skipped and not really missed all that much.