Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
Pics by Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector's Club Figure Subscription Service 6.0
Shoreline Defender – Code name: Rampart
The late 80’s/early 90’s were time of transformation for the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero brand. The first few years had leaned into a theme of “near-future military realism” in terms of design for the Joe team. However, an influx of ninjas, super heroes, and brightly colored competition in the toy aisles forced the brand to evolve. The team members got more outlandish, the deco’s more garish, and the gear more over-the-top. Yet, in the midst of all of this was 1990’s Rampart—a subdued video game junkie with a rather unusual specialization.
I had Rampart back in the day, but he didn’t get a lot of use exactly because of his PMS. I also wasn’t fond of his globus-looking face that sort of melded into his hood and made him look weird.
Limited to only a few appearances in animation and one single ARAH comic appearance, Dwayne Felix might have been a character with only a single figure release were it not for FSS 6. Now, 28 years after his original release Rampart is once again available in plastic form. Was he worth the wait? Read on and find out what two Joe fans think!
How does one go about updating a 28-year-old figure design with only existing parts? As we all know, there has been quite a bit of variation in the design of “modern era” Joes but the Club designers managed to pull off the following recipe in rebuilding Rampart:
I’ve given the Club a lot of grief over the years when it comes to “form over function”. In many cases, the Club traditionally opted for parts that look the part vs. pieces that work well together.
And you are right to do so, Fred. There were some blatant crimes committed against the hobby by some of the choices of the Club’s designers. I suspect if fans had put their foot down earlier, the Club would have been forced to up their game. But Salvo, Spearhead, and Hit & Run just came too late to sway the overall Club design mentality. Imagine if there was Salvo-level outcry over Sure Fire---a figure no one wanted, yet was paid for by our cash just so a Club staffer could make his own personal action figure of himself over dozens main-tier established characters that were never made in any modern format.
However, in the case or Rampart, this is a build that not only emulates the original 1990-character design —it’s a build that is also functional. The legs can assume a one-knee crouch, the hinged wrists allow for some great posing, and the shoulders move unhindered by any sort of extraneous web gear. My only issue with the design is that the fit of the head on the neck joint is off, giving Rampart a bit of a giraffe-look but it’s nowhere near as bad as FSS 5 Ambush. (You poor, poor mutant freak…) This figure’s build is solid in my book but Chris, you may disagree.
I actually don’t have much of an issue with the neck because it’s not as glaring as some of the other “giraffe” Club offerings such as Jinx/Dr. Biggles-Jones, Ambush, or Drop Zone. But I was disappointed in the lower leg choice. Rampart wore gaiters over his boots, but the Club’s use of the Flash legs do not convey gaiters, and no attempt was made to make them by bringing the paint down to simulate them. (This was the same problem with Cross-County’s legs.) There are modern lower legs with gaiters sculpted on, so I’m not sure why this choice was made. So again, the Club being faithful to the original source material is really only a cherry-picked notion rather than hard fact.
Let’s be honest—we live in era where the adage of “each Joe getting a unique head sculpt” is no longer commercially viable. Fans can expect to see each newly-tooled noggin from the Collector’s Club more than once and such is the case of Rampart. (The concept of #twinning is alive and well in the Joe barracks these days.) As such, rumors of Rampart’s eventual release began as soon as last year’s Joe Con 2017 release of Battle Force 2000 David “Blocker” McCarthy was unveiled. Honestly—I’m okay with this. With some new paint apps and a set of goggles that were oddly missing from Blocker, this head makes for a perfectly serviceable Rampart. The cross-hatched paint conveys the impression of the mesh netting that was originally part of Rampart’s look and the colors work quite well to convey the design of the original. Plus, thanks to the aforementioned safety goggles, Rampart looks distinctive enough when placed next to his “head brother.” Plus, he has eyebrows—something that Blocker lacked.
Yeah, what’s up with that omission?
(Possibly blown off in Benzheen? Too soon?)
Don’t even go there. BF2K is my favorite sub-team, and as much as I loved classic Hama, the cause of their demise was insipid trash. Sure, BF2K was basically Hasbro’s Captain Power, but still, there was potential that was pissed away by lazy writing. Of course, given I do not consider Hama’s; or any other comic’s or cartoon’s universe canonical, it’s a moot point and I’m getting upset for nothing. I must be feeling the full moon coming up…
The only detail that’s missing is the sculpted microphone from the 1990 original Rampart and I’m okay with its omission here.
The Blocker head really sells the figure, and it also offers us the bonus of having visible eyes under his goggles, as well as being able to remove the googles. That’s a plus the original one didn’t have.
With that said, I’m pleasantly surprised at the overall look of Rampart.
Sometimes, as a design concept, “understated” works and Rampart is a perfect example of this. Brown jacket, tan pants, a spattering of green camouflage on the boots and some brown netting over a tan cap. It’s a color scheme so simple that it almost feels like part of the 1982 roster vs. the more outlandish 1990 DiC era Joes. Yet, just like the infamous rug in the film The Big Lewbowski , this simple color scheme pulls Rampart’s entire design together. It’s simplicity itself, with the painted mesh on the head presenting the most intricate detail—and it works incredibly well. I have ZERO issues with the figure’s color scheme whatsoever. What’s your take on the deco, Chris?
I agree, Freddie. Sometimes simple is more effective. For Rampart, I always assumed his deco was based on the old Gulf War Desert Night Camo, especially the grid camo on his hood/hat. While the look may be dated now, it’s still quite effective and makes for an attractive looking figure. Aside from the gaiters mentioned above, I have no issues with his colors.
For a Shoreline Defender, the original 1990 Rampart packed a lot of firepower. A large heavy machine gun and a rocket launcher ensured that Specialist Felix was going to keep the coast lines safe from Cobra, Godzilla , Lemuria , and any other invaders that dared to crawl out of the oceans. For the update, the Club did their best to emulate the original kit and also take it up a notch. Included with Rampart are the following:
Yeah… that’s some firepower. The Stoner 63A first made its appearance in the line as an accessory for the second Valor vs. Venom Duke . The XM307 was included with the Club exclusive cancelled DTC wave 4 Lt. Falcon and the anti-armor rocket launcher/plasma cannon was originally packed in with the Pursuit of Cobra Duke . In some ways this is a greatest hits collection of heavy weapons that haven’t seen excessive reuse in the past few years! This helps Rampart stand out a bit from so many other Club and Hasbro figures from the past few years in which the same accessories have been included time and time again. It’s also a kit that emulates the original figure’s gear while bringing something new to the table. (Plus, it’s enough to blow the @#%$ out of anything that dares to walk into Rampart’s zone.) Totally down with the included gear for this figure!
Do you know what would have made him even more awesome as a “shoreline defender”? If he was packed with the Coastal Defender trailer! Oh-boy, look out Cobra, ain’t no one is setting foot on Rampart’s beach!
Joking aside, I do miss Rampart’s Aliens-esque Smartgun that “hooked” on the waist peg of the vintage figure, because he and Repeater were Smartgun brothers. But the M307 works well to give us some variety. The Stoner is also cool, but a problem with both weapons, are, they’re a tad too small to be properly scaled with 4” figures. The missile launcher is also fine, though the gray color really clashes with his other gear even if it’s a nod to the vintage launcher’s color.
Let’s be honest—Rampart was a 1990 Joe who didn’t exactly set the world of media on fire. He was limited to just a few appearances in the DiC cartoon and just a single near-cameo in the classic Marvel ARAH comic series. Plus, he had kind of an unusual specialization in the grand scheme of the Joe roster. Yet, thanks to a solid vintage design he’s a figure that many fans do remember fondly. The Club’s version of this arcade-obsessed shoreline defender lives up to the original in a way that few club builds do. With a solid parts choice, great colors, and a killer kit, he’s quite possibly one of the best Club updates yet released in an FSS. I’m not a huge fan of the character and yet I’m really digging this figure—far more than I thought I would. It’s crazy that Rampart ends up being one of the best FSS releases yet as he’s far from the most notable member of America’s daring highly-trained special missions force. Still Rampart is one of those FSS releases that absolutely warrants a purchase! Snag him and you won’t be disappointed! At least, that’s this Joe fan’s opinion…
I concur. I was pretty ambivalent with the mock-up photos shown months ago, but the actual figure is pretty cool. His design is for the most part solid, his colors work well and seem 1990’s“military realistic” as much as G.I. Joe can be “realistic”, and his simplicity gives him weight and allows him to stand out. I would also recommend a purchase.
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