Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
Undercover Agent - Codename: Chuckles
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Desert Duel set
I find the current resurgence of Chuckles’ popularity rather ironic. In terms of Sunbow, the character only appeared in a few sequences of G.I. Joe: The Movie. In terms of Hama’s original Marvel Comics run, he was relegated to token introductory appearance and then appeared only sporadically in the rest of the series. For years, the Hawaiian shirt clad undercover operative languished in relative obscurity until writer Brandon Jerwa made Chuckles the centerpiece of his “History Repeating” arc in the Devils Due Publishing G.I. Joe Frontline title. To this day, I credit that story for putting Chuckles back on the fandom’s radar—something that was only enhanced by his role in IDW’s G.I. Joe: Cobra title. After all, the guy who killed a Cobra Commander gains a bit of notoriety—even if it did cost him his life. With two prior Generation 3 era figures, was I surprised to see a new version of Phillip Provost released in the 50th Anniversary line? Absolutely! Is the figure worth hunting down? Well, read on and find out the opinions of two long-time Joe fans!
Chuckles being included in this set was a decision that came out of far left field, but it was a wonderful one. Not only do we get a slightly more tactically colored Chuckles, but we get a great new head sculpt as well.
I think it is safe to say someone at Hasbro was a fan of IDW’s Chuckles, as this is what his head is based on. And it was a world of improvement over the 25 th one. This was also a bonus, as usually Hasbro is hesitant to create new head sculpts nowadays. The 25 th Shipwreck/Chuckles torso is dated and the large belt buckle and near diaper crotch is noticeable, but thankfully new arms and legs offset this. (Though it does need to be said those PoC Snake Eyes legs are flawed, as one leg is longer than the other, thus he can’t stand straight unless he’s on a stand.)
As for deco, Chuckles has a brown Hawaiian shirt with a smaller rust/orange colored pattern, and light tan; almost ghost gray pants. While he still has a casual look about him, his colors are more desert appropriate and more subdued than his classic look. At the same time, holstered and geared up, he looks quite combat capable---almost like a PMC operator.
In terms of body design, I have to say that parts chosen work pretty well to update Chuckles’ look slightly while also visually helping to tie him to the more desert-themed FOE Striker. As a fan of Hawaiian shirts, I have to say that I’d snag this particular shirt design if I found it on a rack somewhere. The bronze/orange shirt is a nice change from the louder patterns typically attributed to the character and presents a slightly more serious take on the character. As far as the legs go—while I am getting tired of seeing these two lower limbs used time and time again they do work relatively well to provide a more tactical look for the character. They worked on the Nocturnal Fire Chuckles from 2013 and they work well here.
If I had to pick a token gripe, it would be the eye deco. The left pupil wasn’t as large as the right, thus he looked like he had a lazy eye. It was easy to correct, but not cool right out of the package. The eye lashes are also hit or miss, as they are done in black paint. Mine are a little thick so some might mistake it for mascara, but thankfully it doesn’t really detract from his facial features, so it’s easy enough to ignore. (But so what if it was eye liner and Chuckles likes to wear it! Who are you to judge, you hater!)
The new head sculpt was a bit of a surprised but it is very clearly inspired by the version of the character that appeared in IDW’s G.I. Joe: Cobra series. When compared to the previous Assault on Cobra Island head from the 25th Anniversary line, this head seems to belong to an older Phil Provost. The features are more firm and there’s a bit of world-weariness to it. Granted, I’ve got some really odd paint apps on the left eye of mine but overall I like it well enough.
Weapons and gear:
Nothing new in terms of weapons, but it was a nice touch his M-4 was painted in a similar manner to Retaliation Lady Jaye’s. (His SAW can also mount on the FOE Striker.)
Anything more to add Freddie?
Equipping an undercover operative is kind of a tricky prospect—especially in a brand like G.I. Joe where characters wield sometimes outlandish signature weapons. Do you give him the gear of the faction that he’s infiltrating? Do you give him a standard kit? Do you throw caution to the wind and dig out some Sound Attack gear from the GvC era? (The answer to this last question is always “No”.) Personally, Chuckles is one of the few characters for which the inclusion of the pistol and silencer makes perfect sense. He’s someone who would tend to travel light, relying on his ability to blend in rather than on massive amounts of firepower. I like the painted M-4 and tend to view that as more mission specific gear. The same goes for the SAW. The face mask also makes sense for a desert environment—or in case Chuckles decides to throw his career away for a string of Seven-Eleven robberies. Either way, I like the kit quite a bit.
Overall Chuckles is a great update and another example how a brand new head can save even the most milquetoast of parts. This is also a rarity in the ‘Joe line when Hasbro dips into the G.I. Joe comics to create figures. I wish more of that was done. Whether you buy the whole set, or just Chuckles alone, I’d highly recommend him.
In all honesty—this Chuckles figure was one of the reasons that I wanted to get my hands on this set as soon as possible. The new color palette and the new head sculpt were definite selling points for me and I’m pretty certain that I’m not alone in that assessment. This figure is one that comes very close to be completely awesome for me—hampered only by two things. First, the dodgy paint apps on my figure’s left eye knocks him down a peg or two. Second, the standard swivel wrists really limit the poseability of the figure with regard to his included weapons. Maybe I’ve become spoiled over the past few years but it’s my honest opinion that hinged wrists should be standard on all figures anymore. It’s the lack of this extra articulation that pushes me back to the Nocturnal Fire version as my default Chuckles. This is all down to personal preference but this new version was sooo close to taking the title, only to fall short at the finish line. He’s good but he really could have been better.
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