Wednesday, May 30, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Dojo Night Ops Roadblock

Produced by Hasbro | Released May 2012

GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Dojo 3-Pack
Yesterday we took our first look at the new GI Joe: Retaliation toys in the form of the surprisingly excellent Ninja Showdown Snake Eyes. Today, just to keep things interesting, we're looking at a figure from the other three-figure pack, the Ninja Dojo Night Ops Roadblock.

Night Ops Roadblock
Roadblock is currently available in two formats: there's the single carded figure and this, the Night Ops Roadblock, released as part of the three-figure Ninja Dojo pack. Whilst I don't have the former at hand - and so I won't be doing any kind of side-by-side comparison - it's worth noting that the single carded version of the figure comes with weapons pre-molded into his hands, whereas this version comes with ''standard'' GI Joe gripping hands. That's one of the reasons I chose the three-figure set over individual purchases but you may prefer the non-camo look of the other figure.

With that out of the way, let's get onto the figure itself.

I won't dwell too long on the packaging, which is almost identical to the Ninja Showdown set - the chief difference being the package wording and the interior tray backdrop. If you read yesterday's Snake Eyes Review then you'll know what to expect.

Sculpt and Design
The Night Ops Roadblock is an amalgam of previously-released figures (I'm reminded of the Rise of Cobra Heavy Duty and the Night Adder) and new parts. We'll come back to those in the next section of the Review...

Overall it's a pretty decent-looking figure. Initial impressions are solid and it's a strong, fairly striking-looking toy. The movie Roadblock is a very different beast to the Real American Hero continuity character and that's reflected in this design. Whether you like that is a matter of how attached you were to the original look but I think this is, overall, a pretty good look for the character.

Sculpt detail is pretty solid, again. There's some nice detail on his arm musculature, the pants have some neat fold and crease detail and there are some nice touches like laces on his boots. The removable vest (which is the same as that used by, among others, the Resolute Roadblock) is particularly well-detailed, with an array of pockets and ammo belts helping to break-up the vest's surface. Whilst there's not one particular stand-out detail or cool bit of sculpting on the body, it's fine for what it is.

The head sculpt, however, is particularly good. Even without being told who this figure is modeled upon, it's pretty obvious that this is Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson, so hats off to Hasbro for nailing his look.

Overall, it's a solid-to-good sculpt, with the head sculpt being a real stand-out.

We now come to the area of the Review that will probably be of most interest to GI Joe collectors: the articulation. You see, Hasbro has attempted to cut costs on some figures in the line by reducing the articulation level. Although some figures (such as yesterday's Snake Eyes) include some additional joints, others sport reduced articulation. Can you guess which category Roadblock falls into?

The articulation set-up is pretty much as you'd expect for a GI Joe figure until you get to his knees. Above that, you've got the usual, very good joint arrangement and although he doesn't sport tilt-able wrists, there's nothing to complain about up-top. However, his knees - unlike previously-seen GI Joes - use a single-joint (rather than the standard double-joint) and, worst of all, there's no ankle articulation, with his lower-legs being cast from single pieces.

Having played with both Roadblock and another figure with the same set-up (Zartan, in case you were wondering) I have to report that personally I didn't find it that big an issue. For sure, it's a shame to lose the ankle and knee joints we've come to know and love but if this were any other toy line, this would actually be a pretty decent set-up. Wearing my Joe collector hat, it's a disappointment to see. As a collector of other toys as well as Joes, it's not that big a deal. Which camp you fall into will probably influence your views on the set-up.

One thing that I did find very annoying though is that my Roadblock has very weak hips - to the point of only being able to hold a couple of poses - which is something that does accentuate the lack of lower-leg articulation somewhat. I spoke to Jason at Atomic Martians and he reported the same issue with his Roadblock, so it may be something to watch for. The head is also a little loose - not to the point of being a  Roadblock Bobble-head but it is still kind of slack.

I didn't personally find the reduced articulation to be that big a deal but die-hard fans of the original set-up may be disappointed. Personally I'm more frustrated by the weak hips.

The Night Ops Roadblock sports a camouflage paint-job on his exposed flesh and some facial detail. The remainder of the coloring comes from his black-cast uniform.

The paint app is pretty solid, with the facial detail being particularly good, especially around the eyes. His goatee is perhaps a little more stubbly than the real-life version - or that found on the other figures. Maybe he had a shave just before going on his Night Ops mission... The camo paint falls into the OK idea, fine execution camp and although there's nothing much wrong with it, I'm not sure how much it adds to the figure's overall look.

Extras and Accessories
This version of Roadblock is interesting in that Hasbro isn't playing-up the Ninja aspect of the movie character and is instead sticking to Roadblock's Old School Big Guns ethos.

There's nothing in his arsenal we haven't seen before, with the mini-gun from the Jungle BAT, Heavy Duty and a few other Joes cropping up (complete with ammo belt and backpack), plus the machine gun sported by the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Duke rounding-off his armament. They're cool weapons, overall, and thankfully Hasbro has elected not to cast them in baby blue or powder pink plastic. They did, however, use a slightly lower (and softer) grade of plastic for Roadblock's backpack and as a result, getting the soft peg to slot through the vest and into his back port can be difficult (hence all the images show him wearing it, as I don't fancy trying to replace it!)

It's a decent-enough level of gear but I have to admit that the mini-gun is somewhat restrictive when it comes to posing him, thanks not only to the ammo belt but also the figure's arm scale in relation to the weapon's size and it can only really be held in one or two poses.

The figure does not include a base.

Final Thoughts
The GI Joe: Retaliation Ninja Dojo Night Ops Roadblock (Special Edition GT-i Coupe) falls into that unexciting middle ground of average figures. It's a toy that's hard to really get fired-up about either way because there's some not-bad stuff and some not-so-good stuff going on here. I really hate to sound so wishy-washy about him, but really he doesn't make much of an impression either way, as there's no single stand-out feature to make you love - or indeed hate - this figure.

Sculpt-wise, this figure is pretty much what you'd expect from a modern GI Joe figure, mostly because 75% of the figure features previously-used parts. The palette is pretty subdued and in-line with what you'd expect from the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary line so again, he's not going to look out of place standing beside your other Joes.

As for the articulation, as I said, it's not a deal-breaker for me but I can understand that Joe collectors will be disappointed with this set-up. For me the real killer is the hip articulation, though and if this is a run-wide issue then I can see most collectors getting Roadblock into a ''comfy'' pose and then standing him on their shelf, to remain untouched.

Is this version of Roadblock better than the single carded version currently available? My feeling is that yes, this is the one to go for, simply because he has working hands and comes as part of a three-figure pack that costs about the same as two single figures. That's not to say it's a particularly good figure, just one that's better by comparison.

But the real problem with this Roadblock is that this figure seems to lack any kind of identity as a GI Joe and he could easily be from The Terminator or Jurassic Park or any another line of toys. Put simply, it's The Rock with a big gun. If that idea appeals then you'll probably like this figure. But for GI Joe purists, this is a figure you could probably live without.

Not terrible. But not great.

Final Score: B

Image Gallery


  1. The Rock w/ a big ass gun? Yeah I don't mind! lol
    Great review.

    1. Thanks - glad it was useful. And yeah, if the sound of The Rock with a big gun appeals, you'll dig this figure.


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