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G.I.JOE COMIC/FIGURE SET #8
By Thomas Wheeler

The Comic/Figure Set based on G.I.JOE #8 was shipped along with Sets #6- 7, but since those comprised the legendary Oktober Guard, and this set was Joe based, I decided I would review it separately.

The set includes figures for early Joe members SHORT-FUZE, FLASH (known officially as "Anthony "Flash" Gambello, no doubt to keep DC Comics happy), and ROCK 'N ROLL (known officially as Craig "Rock 'n' Roll" McConnel, to keep I don't know who happy).

As has been customary for these figure sets, new head sculpts have been created, and placed upon bodies that at least to as great a degree as possible, resemble their classic incarnations.

SHORT-FUZE is easily the most classic-looking of the three. Back in 1982, when the Joes first came out, the figures used a lot of common parts between them -- including heads. Short-Fuze's head sculpt was also used for Flash, Steeler, and Hawk, and Short-Fuze had the same hair color as Hawk. To differentiate him in the comic, the character was given glasses. The new figure has been given dark glasses (probably to keep from having to paint tiny little eyes), and a somewhat more individual, but not inappropriate, hairstyle.

The body is about as 1982 classic as it's possible to get, right down to the "crotch piece". I do fond myself wondering why, if Hasbro could create this, why we've been plagued with the ill-fitting 1986 Roadblock piece on so many other figures where classic 1982 type bodies and legs have been used. But that's really sort of a sideways gripe on what's otherwise an excellent figure. Yes, Short-Fuze looks a little undetailed. So did every other Joe released in 1982. And while I do look forward to seeing this series progress beyond those early issues and early figures, from a classic-looking standpoint, Short-Fuze is a definite winner. His file card reads as follows:

SHORT-FUZE - MORTAR SOLDIER File Name: Freistadt, Eric W. Primary Military Specialty: Artillery Secondary Military Specialty: Infantry Engineer Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

SHORT-FUZE was chosen from the top of his class to join the GI JOE Team at its inception. He comes from a traditional military family - all career soldiers. His artillery experience and expertise helped the GI JOE Team win many battles. He can actually plot artillery azimuths and triangulations in his head. His love for abstract mathematics makes him somewhat of a nerd, however, no one would dare tease him. It seems he's quite sensitive about it and can lose his temper very quickly, hence his code-name.

"I can pinpoint targets with over ninety-five percent accuracy so that we give COBRA forces a real incentive to turn tail and run if they know what's good for them."

Let's consider FLASH next. He was one of my favorite Joes in 1982. He was the team's first Laser Trooper, and his odd padded-paneled uniform and the fancy laser rifle he came with really made him stand out. In a team that was supposed to be fairly accurate to the military back then, the idea of a real-life laser trooper very much appealed to me.

It may strike some as unusual that the character is dressed up as an astronaut, but in fact, Flash does actually go into space in the comic book adventure that is included with the figures. Cobra is after a satellite that the Joes are launching, one that will help them detect and destroy hidden Cobra bases. Flash, and Breaker, go along on the Shuttle mission that is scheduled to launch the satellite once they reach orbit. Not surprisingly, Cobra tries several tactics both on land and in space.

Flash is dressed in the same astronaut suit used by the 30th Anniversary Action Astronaut, which was an exclusive that came with a boxed set that also included an Action Pilot, Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Marine, and a 3-3/4" scaled replica of the original Space Capsule toy from the 1960's. This set was released in 1994. Technically, the suit is a little dated, but in the comic, Flash is wearing a fairly typical, "real-life" white astronaut suit for his adventure in space. Nothing especially sci-fi here, so really, the figure works pretty well as is. The figure has a new head sculpt, and a removable helmet with moving visor. Curiously, the lower arms don't seem to be made of the semi- flexible plastic that most Joes have these days. That's not a complaint, just an observation. Flash's file card is as follows:

ANTHONY "FLASH" GAMBELLO - COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER File Name: Gambello, Anthony S. Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Secondary Military Specialty: Electronics Birthplace: Lodi, California

When electronic equipment breaks down in the middle of a tense mission, the team needs it up and running fast. That's where FLASH comes in. He's highly skilled in many aspects of electronic technology and is capable of equipment repair in the field. That's no longer as simple as splicing together a couple of wires. Now you need working knowledge of computer technology, advanced circuitry, and both analog and digital electronics. Flash always had a natural aptitude for understanding the guts of a machine. He brought his expertise to the military, and now he's happy to be where his skills are crucial to the outcome of a mission, instead of simply being the guy you call when your television won't go on or your house alarm won't go off.

"Your equipment can make the difference between getting out alive and not getting out at all. I'm there to make sure that the tech stuff won't let you down when you need it the most."

One thing I want to mention here. Flash has never been a Communications Officer. That was Breaker's job. I don't know why they weren't willing to call him a Laser Trooper here.

Finally, we have ROCK 'N' ROLL. One of the most popular and enduring characters of the Joe Team, Rock 'N' Roll is a former California surfer, and looks the part, and is the main machine gunner for the G.I.Joe Team.

As for the figure, this has to be the best Rock 'N' Roll head sculpt ever. The original Rock 'N' Roll from 1982 had a somewhat generic head, as they all did. He shared his with Clutch and Breaker. The next Rock 'N' Roll came in 1989, and his head sculpt was, honestly, a little overdone. A few too many wrinkles in the face made the figure look like a cranky old man who'd tried to dye his hair blonde. The last Rock 'N' Roll was in the Armor-Tech series, and it looked okay, but wasn't anything all that special. It just didn't have a lot of character to it.

Finally, in 2004/5, they got it right. Here's Rock 'N' Roll as he ought to be. Tanned skin, full mustache and beard, and blonde hair that is clearly over regulation length, but who's going to tell him otherwise? It took 22 years, but we finally have a Rock 'N' Roll head sculpt that really reflects the established personality of the character. I am immensely pleased with this.

The figure uses the upper body of Big Ben. A good choice, since it gives the figure the criss-crossed ammo belts he's always been known for. I might've preferred short sleeves on the figure, but that's really my only complaint.

Much as the Stalker figure that came with the Oktober Guard sets can legitimately be stated to be the ultimate classic Stalker, then there's no question that this Rock 'N' Roll can be stated to be the ultimate classic Rock 'N' Roll. This is the likeness fans have been waiting for. His file card reads as follows:

CRAIG "ROCK 'N' ROLL" McCONNEL - MACHINE GUNNER File Name: McConnel, Craig S.. Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Secondary Military Specialty: PT Instructor Birthplace: Malibu, California

A former surfer and body-builder, ROCK 'N' ROLL takes his role as the team automatic weapons specialist very seriously. It's his job to lay down the suppressive fire that allows his buddies to advance safely from one covered position to another. The combined weight of his weapon and ammunition is well over sixty pounds and that's not including his rucksack and body armor, which adds another fifty pounds to the total. Rock 'N' Roll has to run with all that weight to keep up with the team and provide constant cover while staying totally alert to any sudden changes in the tactical situation. "If I don't stay in shape, I'm about as useless as a wetsuit on a frog," he says. He knows the team is depending on him to do his job and nothing is going to stop him from delivering a hundred percent.

"I don't even have to like you. I could even hate your guts. If you're on my team and you're calling for my help, I am there."

I suspect this set could be easily overlooked by fans who are clamoring for its "assortment-mates", Sets #6 and #7, with the long-awaited Oktober Guard figures. And certainly I am among those who welcome Colonel Brekhov and his team, at long last, to the figure collection.

But overlooking Set #8 would be a mistake. It has three classic characters in it -- Short-Fuze, Flash, and Rock 'N' Roll, and while the Flash figure is a bit of an odd one, it's still cool, and the Short-Fuze and Rock 'N' Roll figures both have their own strengths and distinct merits that make this entire set a must-have for any established G.I.Joe collector. So when you see this assortment turn up at your local stores, remember to be prepared to buy THREE different sets of figures, not just TWO. Set #8 is well worth it. YO JOE!