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REVIEW: G.I.JOE 12" ROADBLOCK
By Thomas Wheeler

The 12" line of G.I.Joes based on the characters from the 3-3/4" world continues. Some are better than others, as one might expect. My standard rule is this: If the 12" figure bears a decent resemblance to its classic 3-3/4" incarnation, I'll consider getting it. Tunnel Rat and Flint were a definite "yes". Recondo and Firefly were a definite "no", for example.

So along comes Roadblock, one of the most classic, popular, and best-known characters in the line. How's the figure? Pretty darned good.

I wish, I really wish, that Hasbro would stop using the 1984 mold set whenever they turn out a classic version of Roadblock (most recently seen in the Night Force set). The 1992 molds are much superior. Roadblock is supposed to be a big dude, and that set of molds really conveyed that, and had the best level of detail of all of the Roadblocks, and the head sculpt was perfect.

The head sculpt was also what lured me towards the new 12" Roadblock. It's truly superb. Obviously with the 12" Joes, a greater level of detail and, dare I say, realism is possible. There's nothing cartoonish about this face, nothing lacking in the detail. Scale this head up to full scale, and it's not hard to imagine this being what a real-life Roadblock might well look like.

The body is the "molded shirt" body mold that a number of 12" Joes have used of late, but that's okay. It still works. It's molded in orange, but is thankfully lacking the Tiger Force-wannabee stripes of its smaller counterpart. Roadblock has olive drab trousers, black boots, and a very nicely sculpted and well-detailed vest/harness over the plastic shirt that carries a generous supply of molded-in supplies, as well as a holster for his small pistol.

But Roadblock is best known as the Joe Team's HEAVY Machine Gunner, a position he takes very seriously. He has a reputation for lugging around by hand weaponry that one might normally expect to see mounted on a vehicle, or carried by several individuals. Remember that scene in "Terminator 2", where Arnold carried a helicopter's "mini-gun" to a window and started opening fire with the thing? Roadblock probably would see that scene and think, "Yeah, man, I could do that -- for a light workout someday."

So, appropriately, the Roadblock figure comes with an immense machine gun. It's a spring-loaded missile launcher, too. While I suspect the overall design of this piece of artillery is either exaggerated or just generally implausible, the thing certainly looks impressive, and certainly fits Roadlock's profile.

The funniest thing about this entire package -- is on the package. And it's not part of the file card. It's part of the character explanation just below the overall explanation of the "Valor vs. Venom" concept. I won't repeat that part, but I will state part of the story of Roadblock here. Let us remember that Roadblock is also known for being a gourmet chef:

"Roadblock was in the middle of cooking dinner for the team when explosions rocked the G.I.Joe base, sending G.I.Joe team members running for their weapons. Roadblock grabbed a machine gun and proceeded to lay down heavy fire to stop a surprise assault of Cobra BAT II Troopers. 'This is for the ruined Bearnaise Sauce!' bellowed Roadblock as he disabled another android with a well-aimed missile."

Several thoughts leap to mind. #1 - How many kids buying this are going to know what Bearnaise sauce is? Heck, I don't know what Bearnaise sauce is (a comment which I'm sure will see me inundated with e-mails in response). Granted, I am no cook. If I can't put it between two pieces of bread, pour it directly from its container into a bowl, or slap it into a microwave, it's generally not part of my menu.

#2 -- Gotta admit, though, that's not the sort of battle-cry you're going to hear every day. One's a little surprised that the Cobra BATs didn't take the day, since after a bellow like that, it's a wonder the rest of the Joes didn't break down laughing their heads off.

#3 -- Still, a joke line like that is one of the hallmarks that made the G.I.Joe line so great. You get a one-liner that needs a certain sophisticated sense of humor to get, and they're still willing to put it on a toy product. The file cards were generally major treats in the classic G.I.Joe line, and some even are today (thank you, Larry Hama).

And as for that file card, it appears to be lifted pretty straight from his Night Force file card, which I assume was probably taken pretty directly from Roadblock's most recent basic figure version, although I did not buy that figure . However, it's a good file card, and worth repeating:

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ROADBLOCK HEAVY MACHINE GUNNER

File Name: Hinton, Marvin F. Grade: E-6 SN: 825-38-MF48 Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Heavy Weapons Secondary Military Specialty: Cook Birthplace: Biloxi, Mississippi

A qualified expert with anything that weighs more than fifty pounds and has a full-auto switch on it, ROADBLOCK prefers the M2 "Ma-Deuce" .50 Caliber heavy machine gun as his personal weapon. He can be totally depended on to provide all the fire suppression necessary to carry out a mission, and anyone on the team will tell you that there is nothing more comforting than seeing Roadblock coming up behind you, laying down a steady protective covering fire. Roadblock is a world class chef, and equally at ease with preparing a seven course gourmet dinner as he is with laying out a staked-out field of fire for an ambush. Amiable and well-liked by his fellow team members, Roadblock does not appear to have any irritating faults - other than a tendency to put a dash too much cayenne pepper in his famous crawfish stew.

"You keep telling me that my ma-deuce is not a hand-held weapon, and I keep saying, maybe not for your hands..."

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I would be remiss if I didn't mention one further item -- the incredible level of detail sculpted into the molded gloves on his hands. Should you buy this figure, take a moment to study these, just for a minute. It's really a superb job, and the sculptor should be commended for his work.

Overall, this 12" ROADBLOCK figure is a real treat. The head sculpt is marvelous. Hasbro could do a lot worse than to shrink it down and use it the next time they want to make a classic 3-3/4" Roadblock. The uniform colors, if a little untraditional with an orange shirt, work effectively nonetheless. The weapon is as imposing as the man himself, and the file card catches the character's personality perfectly. And you get the whole works for about ten bucks.

I most definitely recommend the 12" ROADBLOCK as a worthy addition to the growing line of 12" G.I.Joe figures based on the classic 3-3/4" characters.