Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector’s Club Figure Subscription Service 5.0
Z-Force Mechanic – Code name: Gaucho
In 1984, a strange phenomenon occurred in UK toymaker Palitoy’s Action Force line. Whereas the figures released were previously all solid plastic five points-of-articulation builds, the 1984 line saw the introduction of a new more articulated style. Through a licensing agreement with Hasbro, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero molds were now being used to populate the Action Force line. The same even applied to familiar vehicle and playset molds. Such was the case of the Command Centre, a repaint of the US-released G.I. Joe Headquarters playset. However, unlike its American counterpart, the Action Force HQ was released with an included figure—a mechanic and former strongman from Mexico who joined in the fight against the dreaded Red Shadows. His name was Gaucho and he just happened to resemble a certain bare-chested Marine from Louisiana, right down to the signature globe and anchor tattoo on his chest. Now, Gaucho has been updated into the 25A era of construction. Does that make him a worthy addition to a modern G.I. Joe collection? Read on and find out what our two reviewers think of this FSS release!
Nothing I can really say about this figure that hasn’t already been said, Fred. It’s “Tropical Sun” Gung-Ho. I don’t know a whole lot about Z-Force, and I never really collected Action Force except for a few individual characters here and there. But I did look up his codename, and a “gaucho” is a skilled Central American horseman much akin to a cowboy.
Gaucho is composed of:
Gaucho is entirely a repaint of Gung-Ho.
Yes, yes—he is. This works both for and against him in my eyes. I’ll go more into my reasons for this remark further down in the review. In terms of build, I loved this parts combo when it was released as Gung-Ho. Everything that applied then still applies here. At the risk of appearing lazy there just isn’t anything more to say that hasn’t already been said previously.
Sometimes, it’s just difficult for me to objectively review a figure—especially when that figure is a repaint of my favorite G.I. Joe. I’m going to let Chris lead off on this part…
As for his colors, they are fairly accurate to the vintage version, except the Club uses a slightly diluted red—which isn’t a bad thing. His skin tone is also a bit more tanned.
I’ll say this—the Club did a good job of replicating the original Gaucho’s color scheme, as simple as it may be. The muted red in the vest gives him a more real-work appearance while still paying homage to the vintage design. The shift in the skin tone also helps to set him apart from Gung-Ho—at least as much as it can given that he’s almost a straight repaint.
The only other new feature is a tattoo on his chest of the Mexican flag’s eagle. The tampo is actually very detailed, and I think the blues used work very well to offset his other colors.
I’m going to give the Club designers massive props for updating the figure’s tattoo. The one feature of the vintage Gaucho that has always bothered me is his tattoo. Why would a former circus strongman and mechanic originally from Mexico but serving in a UK-based international military organization have a tattoo of the United States Marine Corps logo emblazoned across his chest?!! It made sense for Gung-Ho but there is ZERO reason this same logic to apply to Gaucho. The Club wisely updated this to the sigil from the center of the flag of Mexico—the eagle on a cactus devouring a rattlesnake, an image tied to the legend of the settlement of Tenochtitlan, which eventually became known as Mexico City.
THIS is a tattoo that makes sense for Gaucho. It’s a symbol of nationalistic pride and part of his cultural heritage. It’s a shame that it took this long for someone to correct the original design oversight but I’ll give the Club massive kudos for this design change!
Gaucho comes with the following accessories:
Like regular Gung-Ho, Gaucho carries a grenade launcher. He also carries a back-up pistol, knife, and wrench. (After all, he is a mechanic.) A tool satchel and vest completes his gear.
***A fair warning to those who want to take his vest off: soak it in warm water for a couple minutes to get it flexible. The vest is normally quite hard, and if you force it to come off, you may leave stress marks or even tear the plastic. ***
Apparently Chris likes for his muscle-bound mechanics to be displayed shirtless? Ookay…
While the color scheme marked an attempt to help differentiate Gaucho from Gung-Ho, the accessories are a bit of a step backwards in my opinion. I like the inclusion of the satchel and the wrench—two things that make sense for a mechanic. However, why in the name of Colton’s Ghost would you give him a grenade launcher—the signature weapon of his source figure? I’m probably just overthinking this kit because of my affinity for Gung-Ho but including the Milkor as Gaucho’s primary weapon just invites comparison to my favorite 1983 Marine. I don’t know—give him a SAW or an RPG or ANYTHING ELSE but a grenade launcher. It just takes any progress that had been made in giving Gaucho a unique identity and sets it back to “zero” in my eyes.
Overall this isn’t a bad figure, but nothing has really been done to differentiate it from Gung-Ho proper in any meaningful way. Unless you really like Z-Force, he’s a pass and a slot that could have been better utilized for someone more desirable.
Is Gaucho a worthy addition to a modern G.I. Joe collection? Honestly—I don’t feel that I can answer this objectively. As an action figure, he’s great! The parts build is excellent and the gear is very functional. He’s got a great color scheme and I love the updated sigil on the torso. My problem is that I’ve seen this figure build before and I have a hard time NOT SEEING it again here. This figure is, aside from some color choices, the 50 th anniversary Gung-Ho. This is a figure that most modern G.I. Joe Collector’s already own, just in a more familiar color scheme. As such, I can’t really recommend paying the Club prices for Gaucho in spite of the fact that his color scheme is so solid. Unless you’re a die-hard Action Force fan or an aficionado of international figures, there’s just not enough here to make Gaucho a true must-have. It’s a shame as I feel that the character probably deserves better. This just feels like an easy cost-saving release by the Club and nothing more. Of course, that’s just this Joe fan’s opinion.