Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 3
Special Action Force Commando – Code name: Big Ben
The vintage Big Ben figure was released in 1991, the same year that I graduated high school, and therefore wasn’t on my radar one bit. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the character while reading back issues from the final two years of the original Marvel Comics G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic series. I actually didn’t even own my first Big Ben action figure until the GvC era in 2002 when he was paired up with an Alley Viper in a two pack. While the 2002 version intrigued me, I never really developed a strong attachment to the character so when he was announced as part of the FSS 3.0 roster, he didn’t make much of a splash. However, there’s a difference between the anticipation and the realization of a concept—and that certainly holds true with Big Ben. Read on, and find out what two long-time Joe fans think of this particular addition to the ranks!
Vintage Big Ben was an amazing looking figure plagued by an atrocious codename. It was so hackneyed, it would have probably have alienated him like Skidmark’s terrible codename if he hadn’t been so cool looking. But, because the sculpt and deco of Big Ben was so excellent, he was spared this embarrassment. The modern version shares this merit: a fantastic looking figure that is near perfect in aesthetic execution.
Big Ben is composed of a smashing new head by the talented lads at Boss Fight Studios, and it is a wonderful tribute to the original; even if he still retains his more cold weather uniform. The rest of his body is composed of a successful kit bash that does a good job in resembling his vintage counterpart. Some purists will inevitably gripe about how he now has knees pads when he didn’t on his original incarnation, but it’s a small issue and the knee pads make sense.
Hmm… maybe it’s just me but I’ve never been crazy about the PoC Dusty legs. I don’t know what it is but it makes the figure look a bit like he’s got his knees knocked together, as if he’s holding something between them that he doesn’t want to fall to the ground. (Wow—worst description ever. Seriously, my high school creative writing club advisor is rolling over in his grave right now.) However, that’s my biggest complaint/concern about the body construction. Otherwise, it’s a design that looks quite functional and yet still manages to be distinctive at the same time. However, I’ve never had a strong attachment to the original figure so that could account for my lack of significant input.
As for his deco, that is also very well done but there are some issues with the eyes not being properly painted or properly situated on some of the figures. I personally wasn’t that keen on the “SAF” patch on his shoulder. It was unnecessary and I felt that was a little too hokey of a lantern to hang on him. Not to mention and it’s not quite accurate since he wasn’t SAF. (See below.) I would have also have kept his headset’s mike black instead of the change to silver.
Anything you want to add Fred?
Totally wouldn’t have noticed that his headset was a different color. Who knew? It really shows the passage of time and the advance in technology in that what was once referred to as a “headset” could now be described as a “Bluetooth.”
As I’ve said time and time again, I’m a sucker for a new head sculpt on a premium price figure. It’s that extra distinctive feature that really ups the perception of value over a straight repaint like last year’s dubious Grand Slam figure. Once again, the talented individuals at Boss Fight Studio have crafted a brand new head sculpt that breathes life into an otherwise familiar body design. The result is a head that has “leading man looks” with strong cheek bones and firm jawline. I do like the sculpting detail on the simulated fur of the cap as well. All-in-all, more solid work from Boss Fight!
The SAF thing doesn’t bother me all that much. I just wish that if the Club was going to link Big Ben more closely with the previously released Action Force figures he would have been packaged with a gray figure stand.
His gear Includes:
I will admit I was a little disappointed in his guns, as none of them are British. Hasbro has made English weapons in the past, so it would have been nice if he would have come with one of those instead. The weapon colors are also non-vintage, so they look non-tactical and out of place compared to figure’s deco. But these are minor gripes, and easy to fix by swapping the weapons out with ones from Marauder Gun Runners.
My only other concern is the very antiquated and incorrect ammo “belts” from 25 th Rock ‘N Roll. They actually aren’t belts, but bandoliers. It was a mistake on RnR and it’s a mistake here, but I have to be honest, the great deco makes them almost tolerable. (But this is another example in which it would be a welcome move for Hasbro or Boss Fight to create new ammo belts that are correctly scaled instead of those huge .50 cal/20mm belts we’ve been saddled with since 2007.)
Freddie, does his gear hold up for you, or are you impossible to please like someone else we know?
I honestly leave the gear discussion mostly to you, Chris. He’s got a decent amount of accessories but it’s honestly more than the figure can comfortably carry w/o the backpack, which tends to weigh the figure down a bit. While the grenades are a nice touch, I’ve personally never been a fan of them as they really don’t fit easily into the figure’s hands. Instead, they end up as one more small item for one of my cats to try and swallow. Otherwise, the gear compliment works well enough in my eyes. It’s nothing special but it’s not too over the top either.
His card art is decent, but as mentioned above, I was a bit put off by the retcon to his file card making his Special Action Force. Yeah, it makes sense and I feel it can be justified; especially when the Club is trying to retcon American G.I. Joe and British Action Force into the same common universe, but if we are going by the “vintage accurate” mentality, it violates that tenet. Not really anything damming, but just an observation.
All in all Big Ben is a wonderful remake of a classic figure, and the Club kept everything they needed to keep to make this a modern classic. With the added bonus of a fantastic new head, this figure is highly recommended, and is undoubtedly one of the shining stars of FSS 3.0! Well done!
At the end of the day, does this Joe fan think Big Ben is worth a purchase? Well, for once Chris and I seem to be trading philosophical roles. While he gave Big Ben a resounding endorsement I find that I can only give him an average rating. Now, in all honesty, this has more to do with my lack of engagement with the character than it does with the figure but I’ve found it very hard to get excited about Big Ben. He’s not a bad figure at all—but he lacks that unique spark that so many other Joes have had. I think it all comes down to this—if you’re a fan of the character then you’ll most likely be happy with this update. However, if Big Ben hasn’t really registered on your radar before now, you can skip this figure and still lead a full and happy life as a Joe fan. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line : A solid update of a later era Joe that will appeal to fans of the DiC years. However, he’s not an essential addition for every generation 3 collection.