Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GI Joe Week Day 3: Toy Review – Dreadnoks Box Set (BBTS Exclusive) By Hasbro

Note: A few of these pictures do not look how I want them to look because Photobucket is being a dick. Also, some are kind of fuzzy because I hadn't figured out how to photograph packaging yet when I took them.

 I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do this one.

I’ve always felt very strongly that I need to review sets of toys as sets of toys since you’re going to have to buy the whole thing even if you just want one or two pieces (barring waiting for split up sets to show up on eBay). Normally this is no big deal. I think the largest box set I’ve had to review so far was the Slave-1/Mace Windu’s Starfighter set from a couple of years ago. That was two vehicles and a few figures and was a big task, but seemed easy enough at the time.

But now we have these big honkin’ seven figure sets from BigBadToyStore.com and for some reason seven figures seems like a more daunting task. As a matter of fact, I remember skipping reviews for the GI Joe Arctic/Desert sets for just that reason.


            Side Note: Okay, so I wrote those first two paragraphs a couple of years ago. These sets actually came out in the Summer of 2011. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do my standard review and would need pictures, so I was going to write these reviews at night. But I just never got around to it. The pictures and accompanying review outlines have been sitting in the “Unposted” folder on my flash drive since then. I’ve always meant to get back to them because they are such great sets, but just haven’t. Now is the time.

But I simply cannot skip this set and its matching set of foes – Slaughter’s Marauders. They’re my two favorite factions.

The Dreadnoks were the guys that got things done for Cobra Commander. Whether it was the cartoon or the comic book, these mercenaries were the ones that got all of the serious missions. Of course, this makes absolutely no sense given that the Commander has an entire army at his disposal, but whatever.

Buzzer, Ripper, and Torch – the original three Dreadnoks – were really my first introduction to any kind of punk rock aesthetic. Ripped jeans, studs, Mohawks, and leather vests were all much more interesting to me than blue t-shirts and red bandannas. Over the course of the storylines that I played out with my toys, Zartan eventually separated entirely from COBRA (as did Destro) to pursue his own goals. From time to time he would still take jobs from the Commander (as opposed to Destro, who truly went this own way) or Tomax and Xamot once they took control of COBRA.

Someday I might write a post recollecting my old storylines; as best I can remember.
I was a huge fan of the Dreadnoks, but I was always mad that Hasbro didn’t release any regular motorcycles to go along with them. Sure, we had the Thunder Machine and (that other motorcycle), but in the comic books and even the cartoon sometimes the Dreadnoks were on regular old motorcycles.

Side Note: There is a series of Sons of Anarchy motorcycles coming out soon. If they’re the right scale my Dreadnoks might finally have some proper wheels.

Alright, enough of all that. Time to pop open a grape soda and check out some lowlifes.

First Glance: These are some really great looking figures. Lots of color, lots of interesting parts. And they’re all characters I consider essential to my collection. Except for that guy on the left. Who the crap is that?
Articulation: I’m going to hit everybody in one shot on this one since they all feature the same articulation, which is the standard for a 25th Anniversary-style GI Joe figure. There are a couple of exceptions, but I’ll hit them under the individual figures.
Head – Ball joint
Shoulders – Swivel/pivot
Elbows – Swivel/pivot
Wrists - Swivel
Torso – Rocker
Hips – Ball joint
Knees – Double joint
Ankles – Swivel/pivot
This is a solid amount of articulation for a figure at this scale and these guys can achieve most poses you might want. Unfortunately, a common issue among 25th Anniversary-style GI Joe figures is a bit of looseness combined with strangely poor balance. As much as I dislike action figure stands, I find that I have to use them with these figures. And even with that added support it is sometimes difficult to keep them upright. I’ve got a Hall of Heroes Flint that I’ve had to reposition many times.
Having said that, these Dreadnoks all feature tight joints and stand fairly well.
Burn Out: Oh. That guy on the left is Burn Out. Who the heck is Burn Out? I haven’t read the Devil’s Due GI Joe comics in a while, but I think this guy was introduced in those. Possibly in the interest of diversity, since I believe he is the first and only black Dreadnok.
Burn Out has a great head sculpt. He has a distinctive hairstyle with the twisted-up dreadlocks, and his face has a lot of character. The paint is basic but applied well.
His outfit is actually a little bland. At first I thought the splotches on his shirt were camo, but now I realize they’re grease stains from his mechanical pursuits. I like that better, but I kind of wish they were on his pants as well. His harness is simple but works for the character. I like the wrappings on his forearms and the steel-toed boots look cool. There’s a tattoo sticking out from under his left sleeve. I love the design choice of sticking a partial tattoo in there. The kneepads are metallic and stand out from the pants. That looks good, but you can see the color difference from behind and that’s a little weird. This guy has minimal deco, but it’s just enough.
Burn Out’s accessories are a stand, Torch’s torch, and some kind of tiny shotgun. I’m not crazy about the hard line connecting the torch to the fuel supply because it limits your posing options. The little shotgun looks great, though. Both pieces have a bit of paint detail and that makes all the difference in the world on accessories.
I can’t call Burn Out essential, but he’s okay. His biography paints him as almost an alternate version of Thrasher, but in an organization as big as the Dreadnoks you’re almost certain to have more than one mechanic-type guy.
Clyde “Gnaw” Hyde: Originally known as “Gnawgahyde”. Neither name is particularly good, but the design of the character is very cool. Is some other toy line really using Gnawgahyde? That’s usually the reason for mysterious name changes.
Like Burn Out, Clyde has a new and unique head sculpt with tons of character. The combination of a shaved head and that wacky handlebar mustache looks great.
The figure sports a kick ass vest that is a separately sculpted piece. It has a snazzy fur collar, some sculpted necklaces, and a functional knife sheath built into the back. This is a great little piece. Underneath Clyde is shirtless and sporting some fingerless gloves. I’m not sure I like his silver knee pads. They just don’t seem to fit with the rest of the figure. Black or brown would have been better. Or maybe even none at all. His high boots do look good, though. I like the dark color . This guy has a great paint job. The vest has a number of details and I like the green belt thing he has on.
Clyde comes with a stand, a hat, a knife, and a hunting rifle. The knife looks good and fits into the sheath, but the other two pieces sport some truly awesome paint jobs for accessories from a retailer exclusive box set. The hat features a printed hat band and a string of painted teeth. It fits perfectly on Clyde’s head and stays there. The rifle has detailed parts and a printed hide strap on the stock. Both of those accessories look really great.
This update of Gnawgahyde is great. I would’ve bought him as a single figure. His bio is pretty basic – he’s a poacher. But then you get to the part about “the rancid hog fat he covers himself in when he hunts”. That’s strange enough, but the bio goes on to say that to the Dreadnoks that is a prize-winning quality. Okay.
Road Pig: I love Road Pig. I can’t say he’s my favorite Dreadnok (that’s Thrasher), but he’s up there. He always reminded me of Jacko:


This guy has another tremendous head sculpt. His flat-top looks great and the red stripe around it looks more like an afterthought than a dye job. I like that. He has earrings that are painted not-so-well (typical for the line). His facial expression perfectly captures the confused anger that I relate to Road Pig.
The shoulder gear is a separately sculpted piece that is chock full of detail. Not only are there all kinds of studs and lines and stuff, it is all highlighted with paint. It looks great and there’s also a bracket in the back where you can store the included sledgehammer. Road Pig is much larger than the average modern Joe figure in both height and bulk. It’s impressive that he got his own new buck. I dig his legs and feet. He has a Dreadnok logo on his belt buckle and I like the boot covers he has. The kneepads look great, too. They look more natural than some of the other figures in this set. I also dig the huge tread things on the boots. Road Pig also has an Anarchy “A” on the front of his left bicep, meaning he got one tattoo when he was eleven years old and then never any more. Truly the mark of a weirdo.
Road Pig’s accessories are a stand, his cinder block sledgehammer, a saber, and a shield made from an “Alligator Alley” sign, which I can only assume pissed Croc Master off. The saber is weird, as I don’t recall him ever using such a thing. The sledgehammer is painted nicely and I am really impressed with the sign. There was really no need to put that lettering on it. Not to casually shit on Mattel, but show of hands – how many people out there think we would have gotten that deco on a Mattel figure’s accessories?
Trick question! A Mattel figure wouldn’t have accessories.
Road Pig is another great update and one I would definitely have purchased as a single figure. His bio details his lack of smarts and his obvious brute strength, but fails to mention his slavish devotion to Zarana.
Thunder: Obviously this is Thrasher, my favorite of the Dreadnoks. I liked him because his original bio said that he was a genius but basically a sociopath. The idea of a smart Dreadnok was appealing to me. And his car – the Thunder Machine (the source of his new name) was one of my favorite vehicles from the line.
Personally I think Thunder looks like Gerard Butler. Not a bad choice. Rather than looking angry or crazy, he just looks like a smug sonovabitch. Which works. He has a duck’s ass haircut, which is different and kind of works, though it makes the green stripes seem a little off. Not a lot of rockabilly guys dye their hair like that. I do like the sideburns, though. His head is a little too fat for his long, skinny neck. It’s not terrible, but it’s noticeable.
The shirt and shoulder pads are a separately sculpted piece, and I’m starting to realize why Burn Out seems kind of dull. It’s because everybody else has all of this gear and he just has a filthy t-shirt and suspenders. Thunder’s gear isn’t quite as detailed as Road Pig’s, but it is solid and a good update. The green shirt is vibrant and the torn bottom is done well. The pants aren’t quite right, but look okay. The original Thrasher had a punker belt. But the colors and kneepads on this one do look good. I particularly like this guy’s arms. The mismatched gloves and elbow pads with painted plates look great.
Thunder’s only accessory is his weird club that looks kind of like a lacrosse stick. It’s bizarre, but faithful to the original figure. Oh, and he has a stand like everybody else.
I wish like heck we could get a new Thunder Machine, but at least we’ve got Thrasher. Er, Thunder. The new bio is a little dull, but at least he does have the spoiled brat thing going on, making him different from the other Dreadnoks. Also, I just realized his name is actually “Dreadnok Thunder”, which is silly.
Zandar: While I always liked Zartan’s sister, Zarana, I always thought Zandar was kind of fruity. Even considering the late 80’s/early 90’s popularity of neon colors. Hasbro has managed to stay faithful but make just enough tweaks that I can take this guy slightly more seriously. Of course, helping in that is the fact that Zandar was a complete fucking evil sinister douche in DDP’s GI Joe comic series.
Zandar does not change colors, which is a huge letdown. I mean, I knew he didn’t when I ordered the set, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing to get him in hand and realize that regardless of sculpt and paint he still falls short of the original. And his sculpt and paint is very good. This update has a much better haircut than the original. Actually, the overall sculpt is much more impressive. It has more rough lines and is less chubby.
Zandar has two separately sculpted pieces – his holster and his bandanna. The bandanna is large enough to almost be a scarf and despite being pink it looks pretty cool. The ragged edges are a nice touch. The holster fits well and is painted to match the shoulder armor. His pistol fits nicely into the holster and doesn’t stick up in his face like some other figures I’ll get to in a minute. The shoulder armor is the same as Zartan’s and has a great wash to give the light blue a dirty look. Zandar’s face and chest paint is applied well and is a vibrant red. The gloves and boots look cool and distinctive and have tight paint jobs. The kneepads look great from the front and terrible from behind. While the sculpted knife and sheath on Zandar’s right leg looks good, I wish the knife was removable. It seems odd when so many other figures in the line have functional weapons like that. Also, the original Zandar had lace-up pants. This box set got a lot of use out of this particular crotch piece.
Zandar comes with a stand, a knife, a pistol, a dart rifle(?), and a giant crossbow that I don’t really care for. It has been included with some other figures in the line and it seems just slightly too large to me. I also would have liked if he came with a quiver like the original, but I suppose the logic is that the bolts are stored on the weapon. The dart rifle – or whatever – is like the one that came with the original figure and looks good.
As far as the figure itself, this is a great update of Zartan’s brother. The only real fail is the lack of accessories. While I like this figure, he wouldn’t have been an acceptable single figure.
Zanya: I have to consider Zanya the big score of the set. Aside from Burn Out – who honestly doesn’t matter in the least – Zartan’s daughter is the only one that I just couldn’t see getting a single figure release. She was introduced in the DDP comics and has only ever been used there. And seeing as a major character like Zarana – who was central to the old cartoon and every pre-IDW iteration of the comics – only got a SDCC release (which pisses me off to no end), there’s no way Zanya was getting made outside of a retailer exclusive. Which is a shame because Zanya is a great character who brought new life to the Dreadnoks and to Zartan’s mythology.
Obviously this is a new head sculpt. I feel like the face is a bit too severe, but the dreadlocks look great and Zanya’s labret stud and nose ring are accurate. She also has earrings that are almost but not quite painted. I do really like the way her hair is colored – black with green highlights. It looks good.
I’ve got to say that I am totally confused as to why we never got a regular release Zarana. This is clearly her body and I can’t imagine Hasbro tooled it with Zanya in mind. And it is the same body they used for the SDCC Zarana. It does work for Zanya, though. The torn shirt looks cool and the DDP-era Dreadnoks logo with “FOR LIFE” on the back is well done. I prefer this Dreadnok logo to the one on the filecards for this set. The paint on the top of the shirt is a bit dodgy – you can see where they didn’t quite get the shoulder strap. The shoulder armor looks good. I like the glossy black with the dirty wash. The gauntlets are nice and I think the painted fishnet is about the best we could expect for this scale. It looks fine. The pants aren’t quite as clearly Zarana’s, as they have giant cargo pockets. But they look good and the way they sit low on the hips goes with Zanya’s style in the comics. I really like the boots on the figure. The sculpt is different and the paint job lends them a nice texture.
Zanya comes with a stand, an AK-47, and a revolver. The guns both look good and have actual paint apps. She can hold both of them just fine, but has nowhere to store them. I like that this little girl comes with that big revolver. It’s another subtle touch that suggests her character.
I have a couple of minor quibbles with this figure, but I’m definitely thrilled to have her. Zanya is one of my favorite characters that DDP introduced and I honestly didn’t think we’d see a figure of her. Nice work, Hasbro. Now could somebody please get me those Zarana figures? I got one of the regular ones, but I need a Cold Slither version and one to open.
Zanzibar: Zanzibar was another of my favorite Dreadnoks. Unfortunately, Hasbro totally blew it with this one, creating an update that is almost unrecognizable from the original. I am not happy with Zanzibar, and now I will tell you all about it. I hate to end on a stinker, but that’s how they were packed.
Despite the scars and eyepatch, Zanzibar’s head looks terrible. This guy is a fucking badass swamp pirate and they sculpted him with pussy face. He looks like he’s wearing that eyepatch because he took one too many loads to the eye, not from a vicious battle. Look at the expression on his face:
What the fuck is that? Also, the original Zanzibar had a topknot, not this weird Ed Grimly-looking hairdo. As a matter of fact, this guy’s whole head looks like Ed Grimly. This is just awful. I’m moving on.
Hasbro tried to make this shoulder armor look like the original figures and they did sort of succeed. The general shapes are right, but the thing is ill-fitting and the holster is up too high. When you put the gun in the grip is right in his face. But that almost seems right for this sorry version of the Dreadnoks’ resident pirate. I do like the sheath on the back and it does hold the included knife nicely. Now I’ll address the disaster that is this Zanzibar from the waist down. He has the same bland crotch piece as many of these other figures, only now it has worn out its welcome. Especially since the original Zanzibar had some kind of cool armor. The boots on this guy are interesting and weird, but the original figure had tattered pants with bandannas tied around them. Hasbro has sort of tried to recreate that look here and just failed.
Zanzibar comes with a stand, a sword, a knife, and a pistol. They all look good and have paint apps, but nothing can save this sorry figure.
Blech. I would have preferred a repaint and slight retooling of the Zanya figure to give us a Zarana over this hunk of crap. Bad enough he doesn’t have his swamp skiff, this is just a bad figure, possibly the worst update Hasbro has produced. His bio is pretty much spot-on, but whatever.
Packaging: Hasbro does a fair job with these window boxes. They display the figures nicely and have file cards on the back. The graphics are nice enough for a store shelf even though these will never sit on one.
Value: I purchased this and the Slaughter’s Marauders set for $90 plus shipping (which I think was about $8). That breaks down to $7 per figure. Even taking into consideration Burn Out and the suck pot that is Zanzibar that is a good deal.
Overall: The bare minimum for a retailer exclusive like this would be, “Well, at least I’ve got these characters”. Burn Out is a good figure that I would’ve skipped at retail. Zanya is just a bit better than good enough. Thunder is just right, but would need more accessories to pass muster at retail (though I would’ve bought him anyway). Zandar, Road Pig, and Gnaw are all great and would have made for excellent single card retail figures. Zanzibar is an utter turd.

4 out of 5

Aside from Burn Out these are all must-have characters and, sadly, I don’t see us getting a better Zanzibar. I suppose he could turn up in the Collector’s Club, but the prices on those figures are beyond fucking absurd. I honestly don’t see how anybody is justifying buying those.
You can still get this and the Marauders set at BigBad. While they have been in stock for a while, you might want to move on them. GI Joe stuff might get really hot if the new movie does well and the other two BBTS-Exclusive 7-packs are quite pricey, as you can see on the site.

-Phantom

4 comments:

  1. I can't believe they left the neon coloring... *shakes head in disbelief*

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    1. Oh, I think that was a must. I'm fine with that, silly though it is.

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  2. Replies
    1. Order 'em!
      http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=HAS20932&mode=retail

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