Thursday, January 19, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe Dreadnoks Battle Set - Gnaw

Produced by Hasbro | Released January 2012 [Big Bad Toy Store Exclusive]

Clyde ''Gnaw'' Hyde is a poacher, hunter and trapper. In other word's, he's a lethal threat to every living creature on the planet. This alone would have made the DREADNOK gang greet him as one of their own. He's also a thief, card cheat and he always smells like the rancid hog fat he covers himself in when he hunts. To the DREADNOKS, these are prize-winning qualities. 

Dreadnoks Battle Set Gnaw
Based upon the 1989 release Gnawgahyde, Gnaw is the fourth figure from the Dreadnoks Battle Set we've looked at so far. Will he match-up to the generally excellent standard set by his predecessors? Read on and find out...

There's really little I can say that hasn't already been said about the excellent packaging used here. It looks great, does a good job of keeping the figures in-place and is - in a departure from the usual GI Joe figure packaging - resealable.

The only minor issue I experience is that Gnaw's hunting knife can be a little difficult to get clear of the restraining tray. On the plus-side though, at least that means it won't go missing in transit...

Sculpt And Design
Like most entries in this Battle Set, Gnaw is an update of an earlier release. And as with Burn Out, Hasbro's designers have done an excellent job giving him a 21st Century update that modernises the figure yet retains the core - in this case - ''Gnaw-ness'' of the original.

The basic body sculpt is - again, like most of the figures in this set - recycled from previously-released Joes. But when it's as good as this, there's really little to complain about. The musculature detail and basic body shaping is superb. He's muscular without being cartoonish and looks every bit the grizzled hunter. Perhaps the pants - or more specifically, the knee-pads - are a little modern/mechanical-looking for an outback hunter but they're a nice little tribute to the original Gnawgahyde design, so I've no issues there.

What really makes Gnaw pop is his hunter's vest. Not only does it give him a great identity/role but it also looks superb. The detailing here is amazing, with a fur-lined collar, pouches and trophy teeth all present to really make the vest something special. Beyond that there's also some wonderful detail such as the back straps and - on a more practical level - a knife sheath that does a superb job of keeping his hunting knife in-place when not in use.

The head sculpt is also something very special and for customisers who are fans of Metallica, here's your James Hetfield head. Seriously, this has to be somebody at Hasbro doing a little nod to the Metallica front man. It can't be a coincidence.

The superb head sculpt is topped-off with an excellent smirking expression, complete with twisted lip curled back to reveal teeth. Yes, teeth. I told you it was an amazing bit of work.

Gnaw's articulation is pretty much the standard GI Joe set-up. Sadly there's nothing in the way of extra joints (the tilting wrists would have been a most welcome addition) but you can get him to do most of the posing you'd expect with little difficulty.

Unlike Zandar, Gnaw has no issues with his arm positioning although his knees do feel a little ''ratcheted'' but not to the point of feeling that restricted. As you can see, he can kneel with ease, for example, and there's plenty of movement available between the fully-bent and fully-straightened positions. The joints did feel a little on the stiff side, though. Not to the point of being restrictive but just enough to give a little more resistance than you'd expect. Personally I'd rather have that than loose or slack joints, so again, it's not a big deal.

Gnaw's paintwork is also very strong.

The basic colour scheme is a great tribute to the original Gnawgahyde figure without being too over-the-top. Granted, the blue of his pants and the silver knee-pads are maybe a little out of keeping with his earth-tone/animal hide ensemble but he manages to pull it off and, as mentioned, it's a nice nod to the original.

The actual application is very clean, with his vest details being nicely picked-out and all the edges and lines being very neat. There's also a very effective wash/highlight brushing on the fur, which looks excellent and adds a great textured look to his outfit.

I'd have liked to have seen a few extra details being highlighted in the app, though. His right breast, for example, has some extra animal fangs that are not painted and his right ear has an earring sculpted but not painted. This really is just nit-picking though, as the remainder of the paint app - especially on the vest and head - is very good.

Extras And Accessories
Like most of the figures in the Dreadnoks Battle Set, Gnaw doesn't come with a ton of accessories. But the equipment he does have is very well-produced.

We've already mentioned how excellent the hunting vest accessory is but this is joined by a rather natty - and equally great - hat. Like the vest it's not only a great-fitting accessory that gives him a strong sense of purpose/identity (in other words, you look at him and immediately ''get'' that he's a hunter) but it's also a superb bit of sculpting. The band features more trophy fangs and a cheeky little side-fold that both look great. Unlike some head accessories, it's also a great fit and sits well on the figure's head without looking as if it's about to pop-off.

Weapon-wise, Gnaw comes with a hunting knife (that fits perfectly into the vest's sheath and also is a good fit in his left hand) and a rifle. The rifle is simple but effective. I particularly like that there's no trigger guard to get in the way and although it may appear to sit at an odd angle in his hand, it's actually a very good fit and - when you start posing him - any doubts about the position vanish. Both weapons also feature neatly-applied paint detail. I especially like the animal print on the rifle stock.

Gnaw also comes with his own base.

Final Thoughts
Put simply, Gnaw is excellent. I'm always a fan of strongly defined characters and Gnaw - with his cocky look, hunting rifle and outdoorsman outfit - has purpose and an identity that leaps off the shelf. I imagine him as a kind of anti-Recondo, as he's got that same kind of uber-macho tough guy thing going on. If Recondo is Jesse Ventura, Gnaw is Vernon ''Commando'' Wells. And that's a movie I'd pay to see.

Gnaw is not only a great figure in his own right but is also a very cool tribute to the original Gnawgahyde. Unlike the unashamedly-retro Zandar, who seems stuck in an 80s timewarp, Gnaw has been updated to sport a more modern (and less comicbook) look that also retains a few nice nods to the 1980s version of the figure. I like that a lot.

There's really not much here to dislike. The figure's sculpt is strong (especially the head and torso), he's got some great ''costume'' accessories in the form of his vest and hat, his weapons not only look good but also work perfectly with the figure and his paint application is clean. Add to that the strong character identity and you're left with an excellent example of Hasbro getting it right. He may not be the most complex or over-accessorised of figures but that really doesn't matter, as what you get here is excellent.

Buy the Dreadnoks Battle Set now, if only to get your hands on Gnaw. 

Sculpt and DesignA
Extras and Accessories A-
Final ScoreA-

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