Friday, January 20, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe Dreadnoks Battle Set - Road Pig

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

ROAD PIG was kicked out of every low-life, outlaw biker gang from one coast to the other for smelling worse than was acceptable by even their standards. He joined the DREADNOKS as a probationary member. They're still making up their minds about him, even though his brute strength makes him useful to the gang and he'll willingly stomp anything to pieces with little or no provocation.

Dreadnoks Battle Set Road Pig
Road Pig is the fifth figure from the Big Bad Toy Store-Exclusive Dreadnoks Battle Set we've looked at so far (we'll be rounding-up the Reviews next week, so stick around for that!) and is - like the other figures - an update, from a production stance, of a classic 80s release. Will he be another runaway success or is the Dreadnok Battle Set about to land its first miss?

The Dreadnok Battle Set features a plastic retaining tray withing a windowed-box. The packaging is attractive and does a good job keeping everything where it should be, safely. I was initially concerned when I saw Road Pig's sabre was ''embedded'' in the restraining tray and feared it may have been bent out of shape but thankfully all is good on that front.

Sculpt And Design
Road Pig sports a pretty bold design. By that I mean he's one of those figures you'll find yourself really liking or picking fault with. His design is very much of the 80s school of bikers and he looks more like something from Mad Max 2 than Sons Of Anarchy. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I'll leave to you. Personally I'd have preferred just a shade more realism to his design, as to me it just looks a little too cartoonish.

One thing I think everybody will agree on is that the actual quality of production here is excellent. The figure is recycled from the previously-released Rise Of Cobra Night Adder figure but given a new set of accessories that work perfectly to transform him into a brand-new character. Whilst the basic buck is perfectly fine, it's the detailing on his accessories that really give him the edge.

The chief ''clothing'' accessory is the modified football shoulder pads piece. As well as featuring the ''regular'' plates and strapping, Road Pig has further adapted the piece with the addition of spiked straps and even chain mail. All of these details are sculpted to a very impressive level that evokes a great sense of improvised ''lashing together'' to the whole thing. The asymmetrical look works well and really gives Road Pig a unique look.

It's also superbly constructed and even features ''working'' straps to hold it in place. A very nice touch.

The head sculpt is also very good. Like Gnaw, Road Pig has a superb snarling expression and a much more aged-look about him (accentuated by his white hair and eyebrows) that really bestow a lot of character. Hasbro really should be commended for the head sculpts in this Battle Set, as they've all been excellent and Road Pig's is no exception.

As I say, whether you like the look of the figure or not will pretty much come down to whether you liked the original character design (or not) - but you certainly can't fault the actual quality of the sculpt work.

Road Pig uses the standard GI Joe set-up for his articulation, which is fine, as it's a very solid arrangement.

I did find my Road Pig's hip joints to be very stiff, to the point of almost immobility. A little more pressure than normal is needed to get them moving but they don't present any issues beyond that. I also found his shoulder pads could occasionally get in the way when posing him but there are few poses that you can't achieve with a bit of effort.

Road Pig's paintwork is cleanly applied on the whole. I have to admit though that I'm not a massive fan of his colouring, specifically his flesh-tone. For somebody who spends all day without a shirt he's incredibly pale and I'd have liked to see a darker tone being used. The white hair is also a bit of a misfire for me, personally but I'm sure others will like it (plus it's a nod to the earlier versions of the character so maybe changing it would be too radical a move.)

The detail on his pants is nicely picked-out and there are some cool tampo transfer tattoos (one of which is sadly hidden under his shoulder pads) that all work well. The head's paint app is very good, with his eyebrows, facial features and - unusually for the figures in this set - his earrings all benefit from a good, tight bit of paintwork.

I especially like the shoulder-pad accessory, which features a highlight brush of gun metal/chrome to accentuate the piece's studs and rivets.

Again, whether you like the colour design is a personal thing but - like the sculpt - the actual app is very good indeed.

Extras And Accessories
We've already mentioned the very funky shoulder pad accessory. But what about Road Pig's other gear?

Again, the standard of execution is very high. Look at the detail in the breeze block hammer, for example, or at the bashes and nicks in his improvised shield. Whether you think these weapons are suitable for a biker or that they're too comicbook is up to you to decide but either way their actual sculpting and production is excellent.

I'm also pleased to report that their function is matched by their form. Both the hammer and cutlass fit well in his hands (and the cutlass is a very good fit in the shoulder pad ''storage ring'' on his back.) The shield is a little more cumbersome, with the grip/strap piece taking a little work to get to into his hand and the shield ''plate'' doesn't quite ''snap'' into place as firmly as I'd have liked but it works.

Paint is cleanly applied to all the accessories and - as you can see - the shield's ''Alligator Alley'' tampo print is very cool.

Road Pig also comes with his own base.

Final Thoughts
Your response to Road Pig will be similar to how you feel about Zandar. If you like the 80s-style of Joe (or more specifically, Dreadnok) then you'll really dig Road Pig. He's an excellent update of the original 80s design, retooled with an excellent sculpt, tight paintwork and superb accessories. From a technical standpoint, there's really nothing to criticise here, as the execution of the design is excellent.

But that's where Road Pig may let himself down. Personally I find the design to be just a little too 80s punk for my tastes. He's simply too close to something from a bad post-apocalyptic, straight-to-video movie thanks to his ''improvised'' armour and weaponry. The addition of a t-shirt and a shotgun or other, more modern weapon would have helped exorcise that image from my mind but I have to admit that I'm struggling a little to really get my head around this figure's concept. And that's a shame, as the actual sculpt work is superb.

At the end of the day it comes down to this: if you like the look of the earlier Road Pig figures, then you'll love this. If - like me - the Mad Max ''homage'' is just too much for you, then you'll probably not be so keen. 

A technically excellent figure let down by a dated-looking design and a character concept I personally don't ''get.''

Sculpt and DesignB+
Extras and Accessories A-
Final ScoreB+

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