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REVIEW: BJ's G.I.JOE 3-3/4" 8-PACK
By Thomas Wheeler

For those who continue to enjoy the occasional "traditional-style" 3-3/4" G.I.JOE figures that turn up now and then, there's a set out there that you'll definitely want to consider -- if you can get it. It's an exclusive to a warehouse-type store called BJ's. Unfortunately, BJ's doesn't exist in Tucson. I'm honestly not sure how widespread the stores are. However, the set has also been turning up at some Fred Meyer stores. Unfortunately, those don't exist in Tucson, either. I have just found out that the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club will be getting some of these in around the first week in December. They will be $33 plus shipping for the set. Watch for them at the club store at http://www.mastercolletor.com/shop.

Fortunately, with a little help from some online friends, I was able to obtain the set already. It's a special 8-pack of recolored figures -- four Joes, four Cobras, in a large boxed set that includes accessories and an issue of the new comic from Devil's Due.

I feel that the best way to review this set of figures is to take them by group: The Joes first, then the Cobras, with a few concluding comments following.

THE JOES:

DIAL-TONE: Well, at least they remembered his mustache this time. Somehow they forgot it back in 2000. The figure has an interesting color scheme. Green overshirt, longer black sleeves and gloves, metallic blue vest, black trousers, metallic blue knee pads and boots. Fairly complex, actually. Of particular interest is the fact that the figure comes already outfitted with an extra harness that I have not previously seen on any Dial-Tine figure. I doubt that it was created especially for this eight-pack of repaints, but I really don't know whom it might have previously been assigned to. Overall, though, this version of Dial-Tone is an interesting one.

ROADBLOCK: Hasbro has clearly gotten the name "Roadblock" back. The last time this figure appeared he was named "Double Blast", and Hasbro was giving the established character "Heavy Duty" a boost to try to fill Roadblock's boots. But the big guy is back, and this is an interesting recoloration of his original 1984 incarnation. Instead of the tank top, his arms have been colored the same as his chest, a very dark blue, making it look like he's wearing a rather right-fitting sweater. The trousers are a molded camouflage of light grey and black. And even though I personally don't pay a lot of attention to accessories, it's not too surprising that Roadblock has the biggest gun in the set.

SNAKE-EYES: This is actually a very cool version of the 1989 edition of everyone's favorite ninja-commando. The body is molded in a very dark grey, and has some black trim, but even more pronouned is the silver and gold trim on the uniform. On some, this would look garish. Somehow, on Snake-Eyes, it works. The rather prominent "G.I.Joe" logo running up the left leg is a little much, but overall, this is a very cool version of this popular character. No complaints here.

WET-SUIT: The 1986 version of this popular SEAL has seen a lot of action. In addition to the original 1986 version, there was a silver-colored version that was part of a Toys "R" Us set (in my opinion the coolest version of the figure), and this version of Wet-Suit was also enlisted once again in 1998, as part of that year's 3-pack of Navy SEALs. At that time, the figure was colored in a most impressive black, with light grey and turquoise trim. I rather liked that version because I felt it made the figure look that much more dangerous. Well, this 8-pack version looks even more the part, as he's been molded in black, and the trim has been done in medium blue and grey. This is a Wet-Suit that could sneak up behind any Cobra Eel in the depths of the ocean and the poor sap wouldn't know it until it was too late. And maybe Wet-Suit's been spending too much time down there, because this figure has the palest skin of any G.I.Joe I've ever seen.

THE COBRAS: Cobra must be seeing red for some reason, because all four figures have predominantly red uniforms in this special set. It works better on some than on others.

FIREFLY: One of the ones it doesn't work so well on. This is the 1984 version of Firefly, which has seen three prior uses -- the first in 1984 and the second in 1998 in the Cobra Arctic Set, and the third in 2000. The first had a grey camo pattern. The second was molded mostly in white, which only made sense for an arctic set. The third had a molded woodland camo. This version -- is a little strange. The "ski mask" is molded in brown, and the gloves and boots are a very dark gold that I think is meant to nearly match the brown. The rest of the uniform is red except for grey straps. I won't say this is a bad version of Firefly, since this is a cool character, but it is an odd one.

UNDERTOW: Talk about red! This Cobra diver is entirely red except for a white Cobra logo and some minimal grey detailing. There's even a few sections that have been painted a slightly lighter shade of red, but it's still red. Actually, he looks pretty cool. I'm not sure what color this outfit would appear in deep water, but I think red tends to turn pretty dark, so there may be a practical purpose to it, if you want to think that far about it.

STORM SHADOW: This is the 1991 Ninja Force version of Storm Shadow, which was also used in 2000, with, fortunately, that annoying spring-action feature removed. Stormy actually looks good in red, and except for black gloves, boots, mask, and a few details, and a white Cobra logo, the figure is entirely red. Some people with an awareness of international figures are taking to calling this figure an updated version of a red-uniformed Storm Shadow that was made available in South America under a different name. But whatever you want to call him, it's a cool figure.

FAST BLAST VIPER: A character created for the 2000 line that consisted of the body of the original HEAT Viper and the head of the Undertow. That original version had a black uniform with white trim. This version has a red uniform with black and gold trim, and it works quite well. If you want to work him in with the other figures, and have a number of Fast Blast Vipers around, maybe this could he their squad commander or something.

Overall, this eight-pack is well worth the effort to obtain for any longtime fan of the traditional 3-3/4" G.I.JOEs. There's really only two aspects where the set falls a little short. One is the accessories. The weapons have been set up to work with the "Sound Attack" feature, but you need to buy one of the new vehicles for that to operate. Personally, I've always sort of frowned on that sort of sideways sales pitch.

The other is with regard to the file cards. They're not bad, they're just -- a little weird. Someone WAS careless with the Roadblock card. It uses the Heavy Duty illustration from the new figures, the Roadblock name, but the Double Blast information, including Double Blast's real name. Roadblock's real name is Marvin F. Hinton.

What's interesting is the file cards for Undertow, Fast Blast Viper, Dial-Tone and Firefly. There's a new and very different version of Firefly in the new figures, and in the 2000 line, photographs, not line drawings, were used for Dial-Tone, Undertow and Fast Blast Viper. So -- where did these three line drawings come from? Were they created especially for this set? And if so, then why were the 2000 color schemes used? Undertow has a blue uniform, Fast Blast Viper has a black outfit, and Dial-Tone is dressed in his all-green uniform from 2000 and is missing his mustache.

I'm not saying in this case that this is a BAD thing. I'm honestly pleased to see the drawings, and they're excellent illustrations. But it is a bit peculiar, and I regard it as something of a mystery. And I hate mysteries.

Overall, though, any complaints about this set are minimal. The set features eight cool figures, and is quite affordable.

If you have the opportunity to get this G.I.JOE 3-3/4" 8-PACK, then I highly recommend that you do so. You won't be disappointed. YO JOE!