Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Retaliation wave 3.5 "Ultimate Roadblock"
It’s almost an unwritten rule of the toy industry—whenever a toy company produces a movie-based toy line there is almost always a central character that dominates the line. Recent Hasbro lines like Thor, Iron Man 2, and Captain America have taken this to an extreme with cases half full of every conceivable variation on the title character. The same can also be said of G.I. Joe Retaliation—one has just to look at the line’s card art and you’ll have a guarantee that Roadblock is central to the entire marketing campaign. While Snake Eyes may still dominate in terms of number of figures release for this film’s toy line, Roadblock as portrayed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the pillar upon which everything else is built. In wave 2, Hasbro released what was a very impressive version of the character and yet wave 3.5 claims to have the “Ultimate Roadblock” action figure. Is that tagline true or just more marketing hype? Read on to find out one Joe fan’s opinion…
I’m going to toss out a disclaimer here. Much of this review is going to refer back to my review of the Battle Kata Roadblock. I’m not getting lazy in my old age; it’s a simple fact that the “Ultimate Roadblock” is essentially the same figure with a few minor differences. As such, almost all of my comments about the Battle Kata figure still hold true.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences:
Aside from the new biceps and shorter sleeves, most of these differences are purely cosmetic in nature. They do, however, present an action figure that is much more accurate to how Roadblock was depicted on screen. This uniform and color palate seems to be lifted directly from the marksmanship competition scene that occurs very early in the film and conveys the impression that this is a soldier that you could conceivably see in the field. I originally picked this figure up at Coil Con IV over the summer of 2013 and I’ve found that he’s become my default cinematic version of Roadblock. (Yes, I’m insanely behind on reviews—it’s a recurring theme around here.) From the more muted color palate to the addition of the Rock’s tattoo, the Ultimate Roadblock figure just comes across as more plausible. There’s nothing wrong with the darker greens used on the Battle Kata Roadblock—this is merely a personal preference. I do find it interesting that Hasbro saw fit to update the figure’s biceps with a newly sculpted piece. This accomplishes two tasks by shortening the sleeve length and further increasing the sculpted muscle mass of the figure. (Like his biceps weren’t already HUGE.) This small change adds bulk to the arms and actually makes the previously-used forearms seem more proportionate. Overall, all of the changes indicated work very well.
In terms of head sculpt there’s not a lot to talk about. This is the exact same head that was used with the Battle Kata Roadblock figure two waves back. To freshen it up a bit, Hasbro opted to release it with a new paint deco. It’s not a huge difference but this time around Marvin seems to have misplaced his razor and is now sporting a healthy crop of stubble over his jawline and side burns. It also seems to these old eyes that his goatee is darker as if Hasbro is trying to bridge the gap between the vintage and movie designs a bit more. It’s a solid deco and even though I originally preferred the Battle Kata head this one has grown on me quite a bit.
In terms of the figure’s kit, all of the “Battle Kata” pieces are back: the handles, gun mechanism, large and small knife blades, and operations baton are present. In addition, the figure now has a small boot knife, automatic pistol, newly sculpted M249E2 SAW, and a brand new M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun. (There’s also the requisite ammo belt for the M2 Browning.) It’s these latter two pieces that really have garnered most of my attention with this figure. In the film, Roadblock spends more time with the SAW which makes sense as it is a weapon that the actor could feasibly lift and wield. As such, this has become the default piece of gear for him. With incredible detail (including a sculpted ammunition feed) and a painted ammo can, Hasbro really knocked one out of the park with this accessory. However, many fans are going to gravitate to the M2 Browning which was the character’s signature weapon for the vast majority of his appearances in the original Marvel Comics series. The brand new vehicle weapon can be held by the figure with a bit of patience using the sling grip on the barrel or, as a brilliant added bonus, it can replace one of the door guns in the 2013 Eaglehawk (Tomahawk) helicopter. It’s the latter detail that really shows the amount of care and detail that the design team at Hasbro put into this series of figures. However, I tend to leave him with the SAW for a more realistic look.
There is one other piece of gear that is included with Roadblock and that’s a large plastic back pack that features a string and two hand grips. This piece is designed to clamp onto a shelf for some simulated “rappelling action” using the pack itself as a pulley for the figure. There’s also a small hole mount on the side of the Eaglehawk just aft of the side compartment that will facilitate the pack’s mounting. Unlike with previous accessories, however, there are no included instructions for this particular feature. Personally, I like this type of “action feature” accessory simply because it doesn’t interfere with the playability of the figure in any way. Individuals who want to use it may and those who don’t can toss it into a parts bin without diminishing the overall aesthetic of Ultimate Roadblock in any way.
So, at the end of the day is “Ultimate Roadblock” really all that “Ultimate”? While I’ve grown tired of the “ultimate” moniker being thrown around by everyone from toy companies to comic publishers I have to say that this is THE version of Roadblock to buy in the Retaliation line. While Battle Kata Roadblock is a good figure in his own right, this version is clearly superior in the eyes of this Joe fan. Sporting a better color scheme and having a more functional accessory set, Ultimate Roadblock fits like a glove in any display of G.I. Joe movie figures! Of course, that’s just one Joe fan’s opinion.
The Bottom Line: This is THE version of Roadblock to get from G.I. Joe Retaliation. Skip the rest—and buy the best!
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