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By Thomas Wheeler

The latest addition to 12" G.I.Joe figures reasonably based on classic versions of 3-3/4" characters was supposedly scheduled for an October release. So how come I found him at Wal-Mart in early August? Oh, well, who cares?

BEACH-HEAD was originally introduced in 1986. In the animated series, he was fourth in command after Hawk, Duke, and Flint. In both the animated series and the comic book (Marvel and Devil's Due) hes been portrayed as a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails soldier with a penchant for whipping the younger recruits into shape and for having absolutely no tolerance for laziness of any sort whatsoever.

His listed specialty is "Ranger", and that doesn't mean that he's going around Jellystone Park trying to round up Yogi Bear (although I'd pity Yogi if he tried). It means he's representative of one of the toughest military specialties out there, and you don't want to be on his bad side.

The new 12" figure is a good basic likeness of the character, close enough to his traditional 3-3/4" version that I decided to add him to my collection. That, and he was under ten bucks.

The figure has a molded "sweater shirt", done in the dark turquoise which has tended to be Beach-Head's primary color scheme -- the recent Convention exclusive Tiger Force version notwithstanding. The figure has fabric trousers that are dark turquoise with black camouflage patches, and a brown belt, gloves, and boots.

Of particular interest is Beach-Head's ski mask, something the character is especially known for. It's removable. Now, I honestly expected, when I opened the figure, to find that the ski mask was molded out of a slightly flexible plastic and most likely had a large slit in the back to facilitate removal and replacement. But this is not the case. The ski mask is made from a very flexible, rubbery plastic, and there is no slit. Although not that easily removed, the ski mask more or less peels right off, and it's not too much of a struggle to put it back. Of course, the figure looks better with it left in place, or at least looks more like Beach-Head.

The main accessory that Beach-Head comes with is a gun that fires a grappling hook with a rope. One wonders if he swiped this from Alpine or something. He also comes with a knife and several grenades.

The text on the back of the package card outlines the basic "Valor vs. Venom" concept, but then gives a few details on Beach-Head's mission. It reads: "BEACHHEAD has to get into a lightly guarded Cobra facility and, after working on various plans, came up with the simplest solution: just go in and knock down anyone who gets in his way. Launching the grappling hook, he climbed over the perimeter walls and overpowered the surprised Cobra guards. After completing his mission, he climbed back over the wall, waving a friendsly good-bye to the tied-up troopers glaring angrily back at him."

Beach-Head's file card is as follows:

BEACHHEAD Ranger File name: Sneeden, Wayne R. Grade: E-7 Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Secondary Military Specialty: Small Arms Armorer Burthplace: Auburn, Alabama

BEACHHEAD hits the ground running and doesn't stop until he reaches his objective. An airborne Ranger through and through, he cheerfully rises before the sun, runs his ten miles before the regular unity physical training session and shouts "More P.T., Duke!" at the top of his lungs while doing twice the usual jumping jacks. A hard charger and a soft touch, BeachHead can always be counted on to stand the whole team for a round of sodas at the PX snack bar. Gregarious and sociable, BeachHead is amazingly well-liked for an individual who never takes off his ski mask and frequently jumps down to do a hundred push-ups during lulls in conversations. He is a national-level competitive battle-rifle marksman and is extremely proficient with a variety of edged weapons and blunt instruments.

"I'm the kind of guy who likes to hear stuff go bang. Can't stand watching TV or movies, and I don't like to play video games. I like everything happening right in my face. If I didn't have this job, I'd be in a world o' trouble."

Overall, this is an excellent 12" version of one of the better-known Joes, and I definitely recommend him. Interestingly, I haven't seen him since I found the one I bought, so maybe he really isn't supposed to be out until October. But whenever he turns up, I definitely suggest getting him. You won't be disappointed. YO JOE!