Monday, June 13, 2011

REVIEW: GI Joe Jungle Assault Blowtorch

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2011

Blowtorch is thoroughly familiar with all military incendiary devices and flame projection equipment. To Blowtorch, the use of fire in combat is a science that predates the bow and arrow. He is studying structural and chemical engineering, because he wants to know everything he can about the weapons he uses or are used against him, and about structures he might be called upon to attack or protect.

Packaging Shots

Jungle Assault Blowtorch
I dislike Mondays, I didn't sleep very well last night and now I have Blowtorch to Review. I think it's going to be one of those weeks...

Let's get straight down to it: Blowtorch is a re-release of the 25th Anniversary figure of the same name. I find it a little annoying that Hasbro is ''slipping'' these figures into the Pursuit of Cobra line virtually unchanged but the one minor plus is that at least I don't own the 25th Anniversary version of Blowtorch.

Blowtorch is clad in thick, flameproof pants and a vest, complete with (removable) backpack and helmet with breathing apparatus (again, removable.) Everything is nicely sculpted and assembled but it's just a little uninspiring and there's not really much to make him stand-out (dayglo colouring aside.)

The head sculpt is actually pretty good. Blowtorch has a unique head design (even if he does look a little like Dusty) and the facial detail is nicely rendered. It's too bad the helmet obscures this, as it's actually one of the better bits of design on the figure.

Articulation isn't great, sadly. Whilst Blowtorch has the normally excellent GI Joe joint set, the sculpt is quite prohibitive due to its bulk. Knee and ankle joints, for example, are restricted due to the folds/cuffs on the pants and the upper body joints suffer a similarly limited range of movement. Add to this the accessories - many of which have connecting pipes/cables that inhibit movement and pop-out regularly - and it becomes quite difficult to get much out of the figure, pose-wise. His head, for example, can barely move due to the breathing tube/mask. As you can see from the images here, I struggled to really get any kind of decent pose or stance out of him.

Strangely, my Blowtorch's torso joint is quite loose and has a lot of play in it. I'm not sure if this is an across-the-board issue or whether it's just limited to my figure.

UPDATE: I've been informed by fellow HISS Tank poster Laser Viper that he has encountered this loose joint on two other Blowtorch figures, so it appears to be a common issue. 

Whilst Blowtorch's paintwork is nicely applied, I'm not a fan of the colour scheme. Given he's the Jungle Assault Blowtorch, I'd have expected a more muted choice of colouring, rather than the garish red and yellow we get here. Yes, I understand this is the 25th Anniversary figure and is based on comic/cartoon character's looks and he's all into flames and fire and stuff but just because I like Slim Jims, it doesn't mean I should dress like one.

The actual application is pretty clean though and aside from a few overly-zealous apps to the silver canisters on his backpack, it's all nicely done.

UPDATE: See the note below on the upcoming colour variant.

Blowtorch comes with a number of accessories and weapons.

There are a few issues with the figure's equipment. For starters, Blowtorch struggles to grip the flamethrower due to a combination of the hand sculpt and the springy cable connecting it to the backpack. As a result of this, you'll find the flamethrower regularly pops out of his hand. And don't even imagine you'll get Blowtorch to hold the flamethrower in both hands... On the plus-side though, the flamethrower can be stored on his backpack when not in use, thanks to the side-slot on the pack and the matching peg on the weapon.

The thermal mines (a new addition since the 25th Anniversary figure's release) are borrowed from Firefly. Sadly, the designers had no way to store these items on Blowtorch, so they wind-up being the kind of accessory you'll stow in your spares box or lose. The axe is a nice piece but I'd have liked to see somewhere to stow it when not in use. Similarly, the rifle is a nicely-produced weapon but a pain to get him to grip in his right hand and again, has no storage slot. There's also a fire extinguisher that features a nice tampo transfer but is pretty much redundant and just looks odd no matter how you try to pose him with it.

The equipment just feels very thrown-together. Many of the items can't be held or - if they do fit in the figure's hands - they do so badly. No real thought has been given to the storage of his spare weapons and there's a general feeling of Hasbro just bundling whatever what was at hand in an attempt to give this figure an edge over the previously released Blowtorch pack.

Blowtorch also comes with his own stand.

Final Thoughts
If I hadn't seen Blowtorch and somebody described him to me - a Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault figure based around incendiary weapons - I'd envisage some Jesse Ventura-esque tough guy with a flamethrower and kick-ass attitude. What we get though is the 25th Anniversary, cartoonish Blowtorch with a couple of extra accessories. 

From an engineering and production perspective, Blowtorch just about works. The articulation is a little loose on his chest and the baggy outfit makes posing him difficult. The accessories can be a pain to work around and the paint - although garish - is nicely applied. It's just there's not really anything to get excited about from a character perspective and he's just a bit of an also-ran.

If you don't own the 25th Anniversary Blowtorch and like the concept/character, then you'll be pleased to see Hasbro re-issuing him as part of the Pursuit of Cobra line. But if you're a fan of the realistic-looking, militaristic feel of the Pursuit line or you already own Blowtorch then you can safely give this one a miss.

UPDATE: Moments after posting this Review, Jason at Atomic Martians posted this shot of the alternate colour-schemes for Croc Master and Blowtorch. Note how much better he looks in the more muted tones, which - we're informed - will be the new ''norm'' for this figure. If that's the case, we'll no doubt be revisiting Blowtorch in the near future.

Production QualityB+
Final ScoreB-

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