Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
Cobra Industries C.E.O – Code name: Cesspool
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 2.0
I was introduced to the original 1991 Cesspool figure back when G.I. Joe went on “hiatus” after the end of the DTC line. It was an uncertain time for the Joe community with no new 1:18 product hitting stores and so I delved back into the vintage ARAH era for figure reviews. Along the way I discovered quite a few new figures that were released “after my time” in the late 80’s and early 90’s. One of those figures—whose backstory shared a few elements with Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker from the 1989 Batman film was Cesspool. With his chemically scarred history as a former heartless CEO he was tragic embodiment of 80’s “Greed is Good” culture and I found myself quite impressed with both the figure and the character. Flash forward to the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club FSS 2.0 and Cesspool is given new life in the ARAH generation 3 era. Does this figure live up the legacy of the original? Read on and find out two Joe fan’s opinions!
As has been the case for FSS 2.0, I’m joined again by visiting G.I. Joe scholar Chris Chung of JoeSightings.com. His cruel sabotage of my keyboard continues and so Chris’ comments will be presented in bold.
The original 1991 Cesspool had one of the most unique body sculpts of the latter half of the vintage ARAH era. Featuring a giant sculpted Cobra logo on his chest, ornate shoulder pauldrons, a golden armored (cybernetic?) right arm, and a small computer on his left leg, this figure would prove quite a challenge to recreate with minimal new tooling. Thankfully, the folks at the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club got clever and put together a recipe involving what appears to be the arms of the 30th Airtight (recently reused in the Tiger Force Airtight), and the legs of the 30th anniversary Sci-Fi figure. Over the top of this is placed a 30 th Techno-Viper chest-piece and a purple web belt which completes the ensemble. Overall, it’s a really solid attempt at replicating the original design. Rather than the ornate Cobra head on the chest, Cesspool is giving a Toxo-Viper insignia which is a logical choice. I will say—I miss the sheer gaudy audacity of the giant Cobra head as I felt it really was a sign of Cesspool’s ego and how importantly he viewed his position in Cobra but I can understand the reason for its absence. Also missing is the armored golden arm but oddly enough I don’t miss it. The overall design is close enough that the figure is immediately recognizable. Plus, after years of Major Bludd released with that LOUSY non-functioning arm I’m glad to see Cesspool have full poseability in his upper torso. All-in-all, this is a solid body design and character update. Chris, do you have anything to add?
Yes Fred, I do. While I can’t place the torso at the moment, Cesspool is made from Airtight arms and Sci-Fi legs. But most impressively, he also comes with a newly sculpted head from Boss Fight Studios that does not disappoint. While the part selection may seem hodge-podge, it actually works to convey a successful tribute to the original.
Cesspool’s colors are reminiscent to the original and the overall look successfully pays homage to his O-ring predecessor. It also immediately tells us who this character is supposed to be. So in that regard, this figure is a resounding success.
The single strongest feature of the original Cesspool was his head sculpt. The scarred countenance of the former C.E.O. showcased a fractured psyche that turned a greedy corporate raider into a megalomaniacal villain whose aim was to pollute the entire world. Therefore, the head sculpt on the FSS 2.0 version was the “make or break” point of the entire figure. If this didn’t work, the whole thing was going to be a bust. Thankfully the folks at the GIJCC had the good sense to call in the “big guns” on this and turned the head design over to the incredibly talented team at Boss Fight Studios. The result is pure plastic gold that not only recreates the original but actually improves upon it in every way.
Much like the long-time Batman foe Two-Face, Cesspool actually has two head sculpts. When viewed from the left profile, Cesspool has the strong confident face of a corporate raider—the kind of guy who can announce the elimination of 30,000 jobs in one sentence and the positive impact that it will have on the stock prices in the next breath. With slicked back white hair, strong cheek bones, and a smile full of perfect teeth, he looks like he belongs in a Wall Street board room as a captain of industry. However, just view the figure from the right-hand side and you’ll see elements of that same face after they’ve seemingly been ravaged by a chainsaw. (This was apparently part of his original back story as designed by Hasbro before the character was sent to Larry Hama for his file card write-up.) A brutal jagged scar runs the entire length of the figure’s face, destroying his confident good looks and instead leaving a dead eye staring lifelessly amidst a sea of ruined flash. This is the face of Cesspool—the insane villain that is seemingly waging a chemical war on life itself. Simply put—it’s just plain AWESOME and the Boss Fight head sculpt takes the left of brutality found on the original vintage head to a whole new level. THIS is the reason to buy this figure, make no mistake and I love every twisted crag of this sculpt.
In terms of gear, Cesspool comes equipped with the Pursuit of Cobra Arctic Destro rifle, the chemical injector seen in the Rise of Cobra line, a retooled version of the 30 th Sci-Fi armored head, the now-infamous “case of cash” seen in both the 30 th Destro and the SDCC 2012 Destro, and the back-pack from the 25th Anniversary Barbecue figure. The Destro rifle works well to simulate the original “Plasma-Tox” rifle although the included plastic hose will actually need to be stuffed into the hold at the rifle’s stock in order to work properly. I suspect that the original intent was to utilize both the backpack and rifle from the Arctic Destro but somewhere in the manufacturing process changes had to be made. This combo works well enough but the hose really doesn’t attach properly to the rifle otherwise. It’s an easy fix but one that it worth noting. My only grievance with the figure’s kit is the altered Sci-Fi helmet. It’s a good attempt to recreate the original HAZMAT-style head gear of the original figure but the altered helmet doesn’t completely fit the incredible new head sculpt and Cesspool’s jaw ends up being visible. Okay, this may sound like a bit of nitpicking and I may catch some flak from some corners of the fandom for viewing this as a negative but in my opinion this diminishes the appearance of a proper HAZMAT suit. However, there is another easy fit for this—the original vintage Cesspool helmet is not only a perfect fight but a near perfect color match for the figure as well. It’s also sufficiently bulky enough to worth well with the larger proportions of an ARAH generation 3 figure! Otherwise, the kit works quite well for the figure and I personally can never get enough of those suitcases full of money! Chris, are you satisfied with Cesspool’s gear?
Yes, for the most part his weapons work, but I do agree with you that the exposed neck and jawline is a tad disappointing considering he’s supposed to be protected from bio-chem threats. However, despite being a drawback, this doesn’t ruin the figure. One other thing to mention: when the Techno-Viper debuted there were some complaints about his vest not closing all the way; or the closure tab rested somewhat high when snapped shut. But here it’s not really an issue. However for those of you do who insist on a fix, I offer simple solution: Super glue!
So, at the end of the day is Cesspool worth tracking down? Unless you’re just not a fan of the character I’m going to say “ABSOLUTELY!” As was the case with Night Force Falcon, Cesspool was another one of my reasons for subscribing to the FSS 2.0. From his solid body design to the KNOCK-OUT head sculpt from Boss Fight Studios, this figure is an essentially addition to any modern construction G.I. Joe collection. Considering that this year’s set features the Eco-Warriors (now Eco-Force tie-in), Cesspool is guaranteed to have a place in most collections. Seriously—this is what I expect from the Figure Subscription Service: the chance to own a terrific figure of a character who might not have made the cut for release at retail. In this case, the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club delivered in SPADES! Of course, this is just one Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: A fantastic release from the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club. Sporting a KILLER head sculpt, Cesspool is a near-essential addition to any modern G.I. Joe collection!
Chris, any closing thoughts or should I just keep gushing on the keyboard?
Fred, on a few reviews I have harped about the Club not properly analyzing the mythology and make-up of a character or his gear in a meta-fictional manner, but this is one case where they did spend the time to do that with his filecard, and it was much appreciated. The 80’s chemical “Plasma-Tox” which caused the Toxo-Zombie effect has been refined into “Compound Z”—something I had envisioned myself for my own “Joeverse” (I hate that term), so it’s nice to see the Club was also thinking about the mythology and continuity of this character in more substantial ways than some other their other offerings who fell short in that department.
So what is my final verdict? Highly recommended! At last, after months of some poorly designed FSS 2.0 figures, we finally start seeing some of the better offerings. As with Falcon, Cesspool is a very successful carry-over made even better by an excellent brand-new head sculpt. However, unlike Falcon who we can argue wasn’t needed considering this is his third modern incarnation, there has only ever been one Cesspool, and that was done 23 years ago. Thus he fills in a critical slot for the remaining few named-Cobra individuals that still needed to be made.