Tuesday, March 6, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Resolute GI Joe Battle Set - Beachhead

Produced by Hasbro | Released 2010

BEACHHEAD has one goal: to do his best. That's what infuses everything he says and does. He focuses on the task he's been given and ignores anything that doesn't help him complete it. When things go bad, he channels his anger and frustration into fuel to help him to go further and fight harder. He pushes himself to exceed his personal best and be an example to others, such as running ten miles every morning in blizzards, heat waves and anything in between. Along with SGT STALKER and ROADBLOCK he deploys to the jungle to rescue hostage being help by DESTRO and BARONESS.

GI Joe: Resolute
For those unfamiliar with the series, GI Joe: Resolute was an Anime-influenced take on the GI Joe universe, penned by comicbook author Warren Ellis and aired as part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block. Designed to eschew the neon-bright, Saturday morning sci-fi tinged animation of the 80s in favor of a grittier, more lifelike take on the GI Joe concept, the cartoon featured realistic technology, redesigned characters and a more adult plot (i.e. multiple deaths.)

Although the show was a critical success, the series was only aired for a single, self-contained season - presumably to avoid confusion with the (then) upcoming GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Despite this, Hasbro produced a line of tie-in toys, which included two 7-figure packs, both of which have recently surfaced at discount retailer Ross: Dress for Less and are also available at a reduced-rate when bundled with the Big Bad Toy Store-exclusive Dreadnok and Slaughter's Marauders Battle Sets.

Beachhead comes with his six fellow Joes in packaging not dissimilar to that found in the recently Reviewed Dreadnok Battle Set (or rather, the Dreadnok Battle Set uses very similar packaging to the GI Joe Battle Set...)

Original images from Yo Joe!
The packaging is solid, the figures are nicely restrained (although getting them loose can be a little difficult) and it's certainly eye-catching enough. And in case you were wondering, the character file cards are included within the pack.

Sculpt and Design
Beachhead is one of those GI Joe characters that's always remained pretty constant, design-wise. Hasbro may tweak his color-scheme or modify his gear but generally Beachhead's look has remained constant since the earliest releases. And this version is no exception.

Beachhead's uniform is relatively simple but effective. There's his roll-neck shirt (and the roll-neck is removable), arm armor, padded vest and combat fatigues, all present and correct but Hasbro's designers have gone a stage further and added some great detailing to the figure in the form of a holster on his thigh, knee-pads and gaiter-style boot covers, all of which add a lot to the sculpt beyond Beachhead's fairly simplistic design. Indeed, this simplicity is one of my favorite aspects of the figure's design. It's a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done kind of look without looking half-hearted or as flat.

The vest includes a sheath into which his knife fits nicely (and the sheath can be rotated or even removed to suit your posing options) and whilst the pistol lacks a working holster, part of me likes the inclusion of the non-working thigh holster with gun. Sure, the real thing would've been better (especially as he comes with a pistol) but this is a nice detail.

Beachhead uses the fairly standard GI Joe set-up and it works pretty well overall. I particularly like that the vest layer isn't intrusive or overly bulky, which makes posing Beachhead with his weapons a pretty easy task. Sadly his neck-roll does restrict his head-tilt slightly but it's not a big deal. The hands are also nicely sculpted and he has no problems holding any of the gear he comes with.

The joints themselves are good, overall, but I did find his shoulders seemed slightly ''ratcheted'' at first. They loosened-up pretty well once he was out of the box though, but it's something to be aware of.

Beachhead's color-scheme sits somewhere between the more drab/lifelike tones of the Pursuit of Cobra line and the neon-bright of the Real American Hero line. And I really like it a lot. There's a vibrancy and richness of tone without it being day-glo but it's also eye-catching and vivid enough to make the figure really pop. I particularly like that there's a subtlety to the use of color here, with his pants being a (deliberately) different tone to his gaiters, for example, or the way the dark coloring of his elbows contrasts well against his skin tone.

The app is, on the whole, excellent, with clean lines around his webbing and neatly-applied detail on his holster, knee-pads and other costume details. However, my Beachhead's eyes are slightly misapplied and as a result his right eye is almost completely white. It's a shame, as the rest of the app is near flawless.

Extras and Equipment
Beachhead comes equipped with a removable vest and roll-neck, plus a combat knife, pistol and assault rifle.

Whilst the pistol and knife are cast from a lifelike black plastic, his rifle sports a rather unusual green hue. I'd have to watch the cartoon again but I don't recall Beachhead using a NERF gun in the show. It's a shame this weapon is so brightly-colored, as the actual design (and paint app) is pretty cool. Beachhead has no problems holding any of his gear and - as mentioned above - the knife fits neatly into the vest sheath.

Beachhead also comes with his own base and pre-cut file card.

Final Thoughts
There are some toys that really don't ''speak'' to the collector. Whilst they may be technically competent, they lack that wow-factor or extra surprise that makes them pop. Then there are those figures that - for all their simplicity - do a great job of conveying the character in a new, interesting way. And I'm pleased to say Beachhead most definitely falls into the latter category.

Don't take my use of the word ''simplicity'' as a negative - indeed, one of the things I like about this Beachhead is that he's straight-forward and efficient in his design without being dull. This is a pretty much ''essential'' take on the character in the sense that it's everything you expect of him, done well. There's just enough going on with the figure's looks, functionality and accessories to make him fun to handle and pose (and by extension, play with) but he's not a toy you worry about losing parts from or breaking. Neither is he overly simple or uninteresting. That's probably a pretty good metaphor for the character.

Yes, the green rifle seems very out of place and a holster for his pistol would have been great but there's so much that looks good on this figure that you don't really notice those issues and whilst he may lack a single gimmick or wow-factor moment, there's an indefinable sense of cool to the Resolute Beachhead.

A cool-looking collectible figure that's also a great toy.

Final Score: B+

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