One of the things that really irked me about the GIJoe: A Real American Hero line as a child was the constant need to “replace” characters. Granted I was 10 or so, but I hated to see characters like Dial Tone come on to the team and, in my mind, replace old favorites like Breaker. As such, I developed a tremendous prejudice against characters like Wet Suit, Leatherneck, Footloose, and even later additions such as Recoil. For some reason, I couldn’t simply see the characters working side-by-side and so I ended up leaving the Joe collecting world in 1989. It wasn’t until years later that I realized my error and have such gained a new appreciation of many of these later Joes. One of those “lost gems” was an infantryman who only saw one version before fading into obscurity. Joe fans; I’d like you all to meet Recoil—one of my favorite “later Joes”.
In many ways, Recoil was a figure that was ahead of his time. Just take one look at the camouflage pattern painted on his BDU’s and you’ll see that it appears to be a forerunner of the “digital camo” now used by the US Armed Forces. His uniform is actually pretty straightforward—BDU pants and shirt, gloves, boots, shades, helmet, and battle harness. In fact, it’s the last piece of his uniform that really gave me a new appreciation for the character. Just take a look at a close-up shot of his harness and you’ll see that he’s packing 6 extra clips and two grenades up front and two canteens on the back. To me, this immediately describes a character that is used to long patrols and recon missions. He’s used to carrying all of the gear that he needs with him, and yet isn’t one to waste ammo or resources. Of course, some of this “cool professional” impression that I have might also come from the fact that Recoil is wearing shades, giving him a decided “cool” look.
There are only two things that I find a bit “odd” about the sculpting design of this figure—the helmet and the neck. The former baffles me a bit because I’m not certain what the designers were going for with his headgear. I know that at this point in the line the team in Pawtucket was emphasizing a more “futuristic” look for the Joes and their gear (most especially the vehicles) were beginning to reflect this. However, when I look at Recoil’s helmet, I’m left with the impression that it’s a cross between an inverted bedpan and one of the hats from the band DEVO. It’s an oddly flat piece of design work that really doesn’t seem to offer that much protection. Perhaps someone felt that a simple ball cap was too bland but I think I would have preferred that to this piece of early 90’s kitsch! As far as the neckline goes, it’s just a bit odd that Recoil has his shirt unbuttoned down to a level that was fashionable in the disco era. All he’s missing is a large medallion and a promise of drinks at the Regal Beagle and you’d have a younger version of Mr. Furley that’s ready for love! A simply fix is to simply point from the neck down in a darker color to simulate a t-shirt however, I’m not about to start modifying my vintage figs quite yet. So, as long as you don’t fixate on it as much as I seem to have, his collar shouldn’t be a problem.
Recoil’s gear is another era that is both terrific and frustrating. He come equipped with a terrifically detailed mine and back pack. He’s also got a great M-16 rifle with scope and bayonet. However, then he comes with something—well, I know I’ll never use. Also released with Beach Head v3, Recoil is packing what appears to be a conjoined pistol and shotgun. This is another example of Hasbro going for a futuristic look that ends up being about as practical as a screen door on an Alpha class submarine. The weapon is about as cumbersome and impractical as I’ve seen in the line and, to make matters worse it’s molded in baby blue plastic! 1989 seems to be the end of the realistic colors for the molded weapons; figures in subsequent years had to endure their gear coming in all sorts of neon shades of green, orange, and even yellow. Call me old fashioned but you shouldn’t have to wear sunglasses in order to look at your own rifle. While I’m “okay” with Recoil’s rifle being molded baby blue, I can’t stomach this other hybrid abomination. It will never see use in my collection—not because it’s futuristic but because it is one of the most impractical things I’ve seen in the RAH line.
Despite some goofy gear and a helmet that will confound designers for decades, I like Recoil. He’s got a very “spec ops” look about him and his gear, for the most part, goes along with that. I can see him working alongside Joes like Pathfinder and Claymore, setting up recon posts to keep an eye on remote Cobra operations in the jungles of Southeast Asia or the rainforests of South America. Sure, he’s not Grunt—but he’s not meant to be. Plus, if I’m really that bothered by his weapons colors, I can just snag an M-16 or a G-36 from Marauder Inc and I’ll have him ready for action in no time. So, do yourself a favor and, if you don’t already have him, snag Recoil for your Joe collection. He’s definitely worth the purchase.