Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 3
S.A.W Machine Gunner – Code name: Repeater
Since G.I. Joe re-launched back in 2002, Repeater has been a frequently requested fan-favorite character. Unfortunately when he was finally released to fans in 2009 as part of a TRU battle pack, he was butchered. Not only did he lack all the characteristics that made him ironic, he was also given a vexing race change from Caucasian to Black—despite his TRU file card showing him as White. Needless to say, it wasn’t until the Club stepped in and gave us a proper Repeater in the Nocturnal Fire convention set that fans got a taste of what they’ve been asking for. But with even a fantastic and newly tooled head, he still wasn’t his iconic version because he was in the Night Force deco. The FSS version fixes this, but does it finally gives us the updated Repeater we’ve been asking for almost 20 years? Sadly, not quite—as we will detail below.
It was during the 2005 “hiatus” that I reviewed the vintage 1988 Repeater figure and came to appreciate the character. From his “R. Lee Ermy” face to his articulated steadi-cam gun, Repeater was nothing but “WIN” to this Joe fan. As such I was pretty excited when he was included in the 2013 Nocturnal Fire convention set – especially in what I have always viewed as a superior color scheme. Could this vintage ’88 homage ever surpass the convention exclusive Night Force version? Read on, and find out two Joe fan’s opinions!
Head: Night Force Repeater (Review coming soon! We’re working on it right now, actually!)
Body: Retaliation Roadblock
I can understand why Repeater uses Roadblock’s body. But the body is perhaps too big. (Actually, there is no ‘perhaps’. It is too big!) When scaled next to normal figures, Repeater stands about 7.5 feet tall. And with a proportionate head, his face is almost double the size of most other figures entire heads! So needless to say, Repeater is a big boy. Despite his hulking body, at least things are streamlined from top to bottom so while he is tall and super buff, he looks anatomically correct.
As for the sculpt itself, the body is fairly accurate. The only real difference being the original had his trousers bloused in his boots, while this version has the pants out and over.
Back in the day Repeater’s camo was ahead of its time, as it was the precursor to pixilated (digital) camo as what is commonly seen on battlefield today. The Club decks him out in vintage-accurate colors, and the result is a near perfect homage. Despite being a character 20 years old, his forward thinking design back in the day still allows him to seamlessly fit onto a modern battlefield without looking out of place…
…Unfortunately we do have one glaring mistake that looks out of place: His hair color. Repeater has black hair. The Club made it brown. Several people including myself even pointed out the mistaken color on the Club’s forum and Facebook page when they were showing previews and asking for opinions, but never-the-less, they ignored the problem. Perhaps if more people would have shown the same ferocity of complaint as like they did with the coloration mistakes on Night Creeper Leader and Hit & Run, Repeater’s hair color would be correct. But even then, it’s not hard to look up photos of what Repeater is supposed to look like, so the Club’s laziness and lack of continuity in this case is a strike against the figure.
Sigh… this is the part of the review where I know we’re going to lose people and be labelled “nitpickers.” (Apparently offering constructive criticism is, in some circles, akin to trashing the brand in general.) When this body was first used for the Retaliation Roadblock figures I didn’t find the large scale of the frame to be all that distracting because, let’s face it—Roadblock has always been depicted as one of the larger Joes. However, I hated its use for the 50 th Anniversary Leatherneck because it’s almost TOO large. With Repeater it works well enough simply because he was a Joe that never received the media attention that either Roadblock or Leatherneck had but I really don’t want to see this be a habit where Hasbro pushes the scale of Joe more and more beyond the 4 inch standard and where many 25 th Anniversary era figures look like children next to their peers.
Like with Psyche-Out, Repeater is entirely a repaint except for a newly tooled head. But it’s the head that really makes the figure come alive. Mr. Meyer, you always enjoy it when Boss Fight gives you head, so I’ll let you, so I’ll let you sing the praises of this one! 😉
Wow! He went there! He really did!!!
Apparently, I’m a Boss Fight Studio fan boy when it comes to head sculpts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the smartest decisions the GIJCC has made in years is to out-source the sculpting of figure heads to this group of former Hasbro designers. Not only are they solid artisans but they’re also fans of the brand and the sculpts that they produce really do emulate the spirit of the original figures that they’re working to recreate. This holds true for Repeater, who had strong features in his 1988 original figure. I’ve commented in the past that he reminded me of R. Lee Ermey and while that resemblance isn’t quite as strong here, the figure’s head sculpt gives Repeater character. The strong jaw is still there as is the furrowed brow and the result is almost that of a pensive Bruce Campbell. (Hail to the King, baby.) I’m probably over-thinking this but I have ZERO complaints about this head sculpt!
In terms of weapons and gear, he comes with:
Repeater’s primary weapon load is a “WTF?!” moment. His hallmark feature—and the entire basis of his character, was his specialty as a Steadicam gunner. He was obviously based on Drake from the film Aliens right down to the single most important aspect of his character—the “smart gun” he wore. Without that, he’s just a normal machine gunner and that’s not what Hasbro wanted when they made him, otherwise he’d just be another Roadblock or Rock ‘n Roll. No, Repeater was a smart gunner pure and simple. Unfortunately in a momentous lapse of logic and respect, the Club took that away by making him just a machine gunner—exactly what he was never planned as. (They even changed his file card to reflect their edits.) And that was very baffling considering the Club claims they want to keep a character as true to the vintage one as they can, yet in this case, they completely robbed him of his core. (And hair color!) What is even more bizarre, is, Hasbro actually SCULPTED a movie-accurate M-56 Smart Gun lifted directly from Aliens for the PoC [Heavy] Iron Grenadier! So the perfect Repeater combination was there, but for whatever reason, it was cast aside and aborted. Almost as if a Repeater with a dedicated M-56 would be too cool for the space/time continuum to handle, thus if it was done, the universe would collapse. At least with the Night Force set they tried, but not this time around.
Now, I will say the M-56 Hasbro sculpted wasn’t without issues. First off, it was much too large. The barrel size and length of the gun looked more like an anti-tank cannon than a machine gun. Then there’s the practicality side of things to consider. How practical is it to wear a machine gun? Sure, it looks badass… But in the real word? Yeah, not so much. The weapon alone would be too unwieldy, but to have it attached to you would make it all the more difficult. Not to mention Repeater has to fire from the hip and can’t go prone or fire from the shoulder. So in that regard, the M-56 is impractical whereas the real-world SAW does make sense. But since this is military fantasy, I think we should have been given the option to make Repeater real-world, or “Colonial Marine”. Even if potential copyright issues with the M-56 was the reason it was removed from this offering, the Club could have at least included the support arm and Iron Grenadier vest, that way we could have at least made Repeater “whole” at home.
So Fred, do I have a point, or is that inner nerd rage getting too anal?
Of the two of us, I’m sometimes seen of less of an “angry fan boy” but I agree with Chris on the Steadi-cam issue entirely. In fact, one of the strongest aspects of the Nocturnal Fire version of Repeater is the creative lengths that Hasbro went to in recreating his Steadicam gun without generating any new tooling! Let’s be honest— with so many Joes having overlapping specialties, it is often the character’s weapon that helps to provide some level of distinction. For Repeater, it actually helped define the character as he was unique in all of the Joe forces. Plus, the massive weapon and backpack of the Nocturnal Fire version helped to justify the use of the larger Retaliation Roadblock frame. Now, he’s just another big guy with a heavy machine gun and I feel that something has been lost in this update. Go ahead, call me a “nitpicky fanboy” but Repeater will always be a Steadicam gunner to this Joe fan!
Also, when did Repeater go out and get his gear chromed? I like my figures to have gear that looked weathered and realistic, not like something that Super Trooper left behind.
As for the rest of his gear, it works well enough, though the backpack is difficult to attach because the vest blocks the peg hole. If you really w ant to get things centered, you’ll need to take the vest off and soak it in hot water until it becomes soft and malleable. Otherwise it’s too rigid to properly position.
One final note, I would like to mention his card art. Unlike Psyche-Out’s (which had good art), Repeater’s profile art is flawed. The head is much too small and short compared to the shoulders and hands. While not a huge deal considering I don’t save the packaging, never-the-less it’s the thought that counts. At premium pricing, I’d expect anatomically correct art. Not for me, but for those collectors who do appreciate the cards.
Overall Repeater is a great looking figure who is a wonderful tribute to his vintage incarnation, and is a worth addition to the FSS because while we did get him in Night Force deco, the mass majority of fans don’t see that as his default, so now we have the most sought after version. Unfortunately the baffling and embarrassing gaff of his gear takes away some of his grandeur, but that’s easily fixed if you have some spare IG’s and some green paint.
Anything else to add Fred?
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it: I like the convention version better. It’s not just the Night Force color scheme which I think really helps make this figure mold “POP!” Repeater, while a nice-looking figure, loses something without the larger weapon that his parts-predecessor equipped. I can understand that the Club wanted to do something to make this version stand out more from the Nocturnal Fire version to alleviate the inevitable cries of “Lazy repaint!” from their membership. Yet, this Repeater feels like a marathon runner that makes it to 21 miles and then decides that they’d rather go home and watch TV than finish the race. He’s so close to being an awesome update of the original 1988 version but in terms of gear he fails to cross the finish line. I know that some readers will accuse of me being nitpicky and just complaining to complain but had the Club gone the extra mile and recreated the 2013 convention figure’s gear here, ole Repeater would have been THE star of the FSS 3.0 in the eyes of this Joe fan. He’s good but he could have been so much better. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: A solid looking figure that fails to hit all of the marks due to a reduction in his included kit. Solid sculpting but not quite as AMAZING as the 2013 convention version.