Friday, January 27, 2012

REVIEW: GI Joe Dreadnoks Battle Set - Dreadnok Thunder

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

DREADNOK THUNDER was spoiled rotten as a child, but getting everything was never enough to satisfy him. When he was in his teens, he stole a motorcycle and hit the road to corruption. He ended up in the swamps, where the DREADNOKS welcomed him into the fold and channeled his destructive tendencies into profitable acts of sabotage and chaos.

Dreadnoks Battle Set Dreadnok Thunder
Dreadnok Thunder - AKA Thrasher - is the final figure we're looking at from the Dreadnoks Battle Set. Does that mean we've saved the best for last? 


Dreadnok Thunder, as mentioned, is part of the Dreadnoks Battle Set. I'm a big fan of what Hasbro has done with this packaging. It's eye-catching, the figures are well-displayed within and the restraining tray - although a little stiff - does a good job holding the figures in place.

Sculpt And Design
Dreadnok Thunder is one of those figures fans of the 80s-style Dreadnok will probably like but the rest of us will just find comical. Like the majority of figures in the Battle Set, Thunder is displaying a lot of flesh, in this case his midriff in an oh-so-80s cut-off shirt and body armour combo. OK, I know that's what the earlier figures wore and it's an homage to that but times have moved on. Look at the way Zartan has evolved over the years and how the most recent versions of that character have managed to retain that essential Zartan-ness but also give him a modern spin. That's really how Hasbro should have approached this entire set.

The actual execution - however questionable the design - is solid enough. He's not particularly exciting in terms of detail but what's here is fine, with the arms - which are from the Toys R Us-exclusive Spirit Iron Knife - being particularly interesting. Despite the ripped midriff shirt, the chest piece is probably the highlight of the figure, though, featuring some nice sculpt detail such as straps and spikes. Again though, it's a case of solid execution of a weak design.

What really kills this design for me though is the head sculpt. Again, it's actually well done and looks pretty lifelike. It's such a shame then that the sculptors decided that Dreadnok Thunder would look awesome if he was modeled on a 1950s wannabe rocker. Seriously, he looks like he'd be right at home as a dweeby boyfriend on Laverne & Shirley. Sure, it's lifelike and very realistic but whoever thought that this face would work as that of a rough biker criminal is in need of help. This is the face of a bank manager called Arthur, not a criminal named Brutus.

I understand the whole look is an update to the original design but it's also a comically outdated look.

On a more positive note, Dreadnok Thunder's articulation is pretty good. He doesn't include any of the rocker ankle or tilting wrist joints seen in some of the recent GI Joe releases but what's here works well.

The only real issue you may encounter is that the shoulder pads tend to restrict his arms from elevating above the horizontal. But unless you intend to have Dreadnok Thunder dangling from the bottom of a vehicle or performing the YMCA dance (which given his look isn't outside the realms of imagination) he's flexible enough to handle most poses you throw at him.

Dreadnok Thunder is another figure that features a clean execution of a weaker design. Although not quite as day-glo bright as Zandar, Thunder does still have a touch of 80s neon about him in the form of a very brightly coloured shirt. It seems a little at odds with the rest of the muted, pretty lifelike colouring.

The head app is cleanly done but - and again, this is a design issue - the green stripes on his left temple are a bad move. It's typical of the 80s biker look that people with no actual experience of bikers or punks or rockers thought looked ''cool'' and ''rebellious.'' It's a cheap and quick - not to mention silly - way to evoke a punky, scary, weirdo look. ''Hey, so how are we going to make this guy all punky? I know, we'll spray some temporary green dye on his hair in stripes. That'll freak-out middle America!''

It's a shame the design is so poor, as the actual execution is very clean.

Extras And Accessories
Dreadnok Thunder comes with his own base and a mace.

The mace is actually a converted Lacrosse stick. You see, Brutus Cross (AKA Dreadnok Thunder) comes from a privileged background and so his weapon of choice reflects this. Again, for me this is a case of a silly design idea being well executed and - to its credit - there's some nice detail on the weapon, which is also very well painted. It's just a shame it's so silly.

Thunder's cut and collect card also makes reference to his ''knives'' as part of his combat gear, yet my Dreadnok Battle Set doesn't feature any such weapons. Given the absence of these items at Yo Joe's Dreadnok Thunder entry too, I suspect Hasbro pulled the items from the pack at the last minute but failed to update the packaging.

Final Thoughts
Dreadnok Thunder isn't the worst figure in the Dreadnoks Battle Set. That honour falls to Zanzibar. But he's also by no means the best, either.

There are two things I really dislike: the basic character design is just so dated looking that no amount of brilliant execution or cool sculpting is going to make him in any way cool and secondly, his head - or more specifically his face - is horrible. It's so utterly comical and so inept-looking. I know there's always been an element of the Dreadnoks being a bit useless at times but this sculpt is just comically bad. He looks less like a criminal biker punk than he does a pizza delivery guy. And that's really not good.

If you've bought the Dreadnoks Battle Set (or are considering doing so) then you've really no choice when it comes to Dreadnok Thunder - he's in there whether you like it or not (unless you do some trading with another collector...) and whilst he's not utterly terrible, he's not a figure I'd imagine many people would buy individually, either.

With a better head sculpt and a shirt, this could have been a pretty good figure. It's just too bad Hasbro stuck with this ''homage'' and went all 80s retro on us. And I know I mentioned in my Zandar Review that I liked that Hasbro had done that. For him it worked. But here, it just doesn't gel, especially with that awful face sculpt.

A weak, oh-so-retro design that's almost - almost - saved by a high quality of execution.

Sculpt and DesignB-
Extras and Accessories B
Final ScoreB-

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