Friday, January 13, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe 30th Anniversary - Renegades Tunnel Rat

Produced by Hasbro | Released December 2011

TUNNEL RAT is a street-wise infiltration expert. He has a small, wiry build and can get into tight spaces like air ducts and sewers. He is also right at home in dark places like subway tunnels. Because he knows many natural healing remedies, he ends up becoming the group's medic whenever someone gets hurt.

GI Joe 30th Anniversary Renegades Tunnel Rat
Released as part of the second wave of GI Joe: Renegades figures, Tunnel Rat is surprisingly well-equipped and - unlike many of his wave-mates - has a pretty good inventory of extras and gear. However, whilst this is a definite plus, the figure isn't without its faults.

Tunnel Rat uses the standard GI Joe blister pack packaging. One nice touch is that the illustration not only gives you a very good reference point for the figure but even sees him holding the included shovel accessory. A minor point I know and most Joes are usually shown with their weapons, but it's good to see some diversity in their poses.

Sculpt And Design
The sculpt work on Tunnel Rat is - on the whole - excellent. Although he may appear a little bulkier than the cartoon portrayed him, he's still a fairly wiry figure (rather than being simply skinny), which works well and avoids him looking, well, cartoonish.

Detail-work is good, with his shirt having some nice fold effects, his pants featuring some well-defined creases and there's a generally very interesting look going on. It's a sculpt that engages the eye and holds it. Add to this some great ''layer'' accessories - such as his neckerchief, harness, pouch-pockets and folded-down coveralls - and what you get is a very cool-looking figure that stands out nicely against the multitude of protective vest-wearing Joes.

I'm sure there are some recycled parts here, but Hasbro's designers have done a good job disguising the fact with the addition of some very bold features such as the aforementioned ''layer'' accessories. It's a pretty simple design overall but it works remarkably well.

The head sculpt is an oddity. Whilst it looks great, it doesn't look like the Tunnel Rat seen in the animated show. Personally I think he looks more like the unmasked Storm Shadow than Private Lee, probably due to a massive oversight on the part of the designers, namely that his chin whiskers are missing. Still if you can get past the fact that it's not a great likeness, it's actually a pretty good sculpt that manages to convey the look of an Asian-American character without falling foul of making him a stereotype.

Overall, it's a fairly simple - nay, bold - design that works very well and is probably one of the more lifelike translations of the Renegades characters from screen to figure. I like it a lot.

Sadly, while Tunnel Rat looks great, it comes at a cost, namely that his articulation set-up isn't the best.

The extra ''layer'' accessories Tunnel Rat comes with tend to restrict his movement somewhat, with the folded-down coveralls being the major culprit. It's very difficult to get Tunnel Rat's hips to bend (due to the hanging straps.) The backpack straps also seem to interfere with his shoulder/arm movement somewhat, too. Then there's the way his pants fold at the ankle, which makes moving his feet rather difficult.

Were he stripped of his ''layer'' accessories, I'm sure Tunnel Rat would offer the same high-level of articulation as that found with other GI Joes. But then you'd lose a lot of what makes his look so cool, so it's a trade-off between whether you want him to look good or whether you want to pose him in more ''dynamic'' poses.

I also found the actual joints were pretty stiff. Not to the point of being ''crack when they move'' stiff but still enough to make moving some of his joints a little worrisome. Unlike some of the other recent figures, Tunnel Rat does not include the rocker ankle or wrist joints.

Don't get me wrong, the articulation is still pretty good (and is certainly as good as any Marvel Universe figure or other toy of the same scale) but it's just a little disappointing that the excellent visual look impacts movement so.

On the whole, Tunnel Rat's paintwork is very good. The colours are suitably muted (giving him a practical/dirty look) and most of the detail is reasonably well-applied. There's a little bit of splodging on one of his coverall straps and his hair isn't as cleanly-applied as I'd have liked but other facial details - such as eyebrows and the eyes themselves - are very neatly done.

The only thing I'm not sure about is his green boots, which appear a little too bright when compared not only to the illustrations but also as part of the figure's palette. That aside, all is good.

Extras And Accessories
Where some of the Renegades figures have been seriously gimped in the Extras department, Tunnel Rat is gifted with a number of accessories.

I must confess, though - and forgive me if this is unprofessional of me - that the above image doesn't include all of Tunnel Rat's accessories. When I opened Tunnel Rat's packaging, I came close to losing some of the enclosed equipment, simply as some of the pieces are so tiny. They've since been stowed in my spare parts box, where they'll remain, safely. 

Whilst I appreciate all the extra accessories and detail, Tunnel Rat has a pretty major problem when it comes to carrying them all. There are just too many items for him to use. I know that sounds like I'm complaining, especially when I've mentioned in the past that the other figures in the line lack accessories, but unlike some of the Pursuit of Cobra figures that featured a multitude of weapons, knives, packs and accessories, Tunnel Rat doesn't include anywhere to hang his equipment. Give him an accessory or two to grip and you'll be left with a bunch of items laying around. I can't criticise Hasbro for giving us a lot of gear but I do wish they'd given Tunnel Rat a working backpack or similar storage option.

Anyway, the enclosed accessories include a heavy assault rifle (which interestingly looks like a real weapon, rather than the fantasy-style ''blasters'' of the show), a revolver (again, a realistic weapon and - like the assault rifle - the same weapon used by the previously seen Tunnel Rat figure), a shovel, a flashlight, a folding skillet, a pair of plyers, a laptop, a cell-phone/controller device, a bomb-disposal robot and a stand.


Overall, the accessories work well. Tunnel Rat can grip the majority of them pretty well (once you've jiggled them into place) and they look good. It's a shame the robot is cast from such an odd shade of plastic, as this tends to make it look very toy-like, but thankfully all his weapons are cast from sensible, dark/matte plastic.

Final Thoughts
For every good point Tunnel Rat has, there's a downside. And for every bad point, a positive. He looks great, but that comes at the cost of his articulation being somewhat restricted. He's equipped with a multitude of accessories, but he can't carry them all (and you'll probably wind-up losing some along the way, too.) The facial sculpt looks nothing like the animated character, yet it's excellent.

But at the end of the day, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Don't think these criticisms are so bad that they ruin the figure. They don't. It's simply more a case of ''buyer beware'' - or at least ''buyer be aware of.''

What I particularly like about this Tunnel Rat is it feels more akin to a Pursuit of Cobra interpretation than it does a translation from the Renegades animated show. There's a more lifelike, realistic feel to this figure than any of the other figures in the animated line and I'm really a big fan of that.

It's just too bad Hasbro didn't think to give him a better way to store his gear. I know it's not strictly canon, but the backpack used by the Pursuit of Cobra Low-Light or Firefly would have been an ideal accessory to include. But if you can live with the fact that this really doesn't look like the Renegades Tunnel Rat and that 60% of his accessories will be put in a box somewhere (hey, at least the abundance of gear gives you display options...) then you'll definitely dig this figure.

Just shy of awesome.

Sculpt and DesignA
Extras and Accessories A-
Final ScoreB+

Image Gallery


  1. While I'm a bit upset that they didn't carry on the tradition of Tunnel Rat being Larry Hama, at least there's a legitimate reason why that isn't the case.

    The most interesting thing about this figure is that the walkie-talkie / phone can't be stored... but there's a pretty obvious spot to use it on Law, which also gives you the ability to store the handcuffs that come with that figure. Bit of a serendipitous result, although the two figures didn't even share a case at first.

    But, overall, he's a really nice figure. After all the disappointing Tunnel Rats over the years, that's good enough for me. Although that Ripcord-to-Alpine sharpie is going to get hauled out again for his chin fuzz....

  2. Haha! Yeah, I miss his little soul patch.

    And yeah, much as I liked the Larry Hama-look Tunnel Rat (even if they did give the eyes a bit of a ''comedy'' Chinese look) this is a really good-looking figure.


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