Well, this is it: I've finally decided to start reposting my old "Alexx Shorts" G.I. Joe reviews. They're the reviews that lead to what eventually became this blog! I'll be posting them in straight copy-and-paste format, separating them with bold dotted lines so you know where they begin and end, and then I'll post some final thoughts on what I think of the figure currently.
For those unfamiliar: I used to take random pictures here and there, but by the time the Rise of Cobra toys came out, I was getting annoying with how much people had been bashing the figures which were clearly better than the previous 25th Anniversary offerings. I set out to show people how awesome they were, and things went from there, forming into "Alexx Shorts", named so because I thought I was going to keep to a short format with a few pictures. I did not do that.
Dangit, Zandar STILL cracks me up!
It's The Dreadnoks! This is the second set exclusive to Big Bad Toy Store; the first being the Slaughter's Marauders Set (not that there's any order to them). This set focuses on what I assume are fan favorites who didn't get any representation in the 25th line...more or less. I mean, I dunno who was looking to find Burn Out from Spytroops in the 25th line, but we have him! The names may not all be big, in this set, but I do commend them for avoiding yet another Zartan.
Before we start, let me say that I've never been that big a fan of the Dreadnoks. Seems to me like the designers that came up with this idea were playin' WAY too much Double Dragon when they made up the Dreadnoks, 'cause I'm pretty sure I've beaten the crap outta most of these guys in the course of a play-through (at least until I got to the caves...it's not like I could actually beat Double Dragon. I ain't that radical.)
'Course that's not really a bad thing...it's just that I feel like these guys have a hard time fitting in with each other. For instance: the original filecard for Zartan paints him as a paranoid schizophrenic with so many personalities that he doesn't even remember who HE is...so I always kinda took him to be a loner. Well, they randomly decided that this guy is a friggin' leader of a completely insane biker gang! I mean, insanity is a good thing to have on your resume, if you wana lead these guys, but every time I see a picture of the Dreadnok gang, I just CAN NOT see Zartan fitting in! How does he put up with these rejects? On top of that, there are a few here and there that could have been loners as well, like Gnawgahyde and Zanzibar...heck, I didn't even know Gnawgahyde was a Dreadnok until this pack!
Then, of course, we have Zartan's random siblings and a daughter and...well it just seems like this got as badly out of hand as Ninja Force. Anyone can be a ninja, and anyone with a "Z" name and a penchant for disguises can be a part of Zartan's family. I wonder if his parents were just teaching that to all their kids?
Okay, that aside, I think I like this pack better than the Marauders one! Though I'm not big on Dreadnoks, I can't deny that they are a colorful bunch that really stand out (in most cases). They all have some down-to-earth specialties (most of which involve breaking things, but that's cool) and they all come from classic delinquent backgrounds. You've got a poacher, a pirate, a rich brat, a mechanic (though I think that counts for many of them), a big dumb ox, and more members of the Zartan Clan of Disguises and Mental Issues.
One more note before we begin: I distributed the weapons based on how they were set up in the pack and how balanced some of them were. Take it how you will! Now, to begin, I'll kinda go with weakest to strongest:
I think it's a good sign that the weakest figure (for me) is only weakest because of the accessories. I've complained about the Recondo-neck thing, where he can only look down, but Burn Out doesn't appear to suffer from that! He can look straight ahead and down with no problem. This is fantastic, because the Recondo mold is really cool and I like seeing it again. I think this is the best place I've seen it so far and, though I never owned Burn Out, I think he worked out pretty well when compared to his original. I would have liked his brass knuckes worked in somehow, but there aren't any current hands that would have worked, so it's cool that the wrapped arm from Recondo at least carries over Burn Out's wrapped arm from his Spytroops figure.
Visually, I think Burn Out is one of the few Dreadnoks that could pass for a "normal dude." He does have a mean look, but at least he's not doing the usual 80's torn belly shirt. I mean ALL these guys in this pack are showing chest or stomach in some way. Burn Out is just barely passing the Dreaknok dresscode here, 'cause he's sporting a tattoo and mismatching arm wrappings. Otherwise I'm assuming he regularly gets angry looks for not at least tearing his shirt and showing a little chest.
Burn Out has "burn" in his name, so that sadly saddles him with the friggin' flamethrower from the vintage line, which means it's built for a shorter buck. He holds it terribly and, in most cases, the pipe connecting it to the backpack just makes it pop out of his hand. I think they should have given him a Techno-Viper backpack with some tools or something, since he's a mechanic, but oh well. At least he's got that shotgun!
...and he can barely hold it. I think this makes him the weakest in the set, not only because of the inability to use the accessories, but because of the lack of imagination the designers put in to the accessory choices.
Still, his headsculpt is AWESOME, so he looks damn cool. He can also hold other accessories well, his articulation is unhindered, and it's a pretty down-to-earth color scheme. Not bad! Especially considering that I was planning on using his head elsewhere for a different dude; I think with some different accessories, he'll be a cool addition to the nutty Dreadnoks.
Final note on Burn Out: Anyone play Team Fortress 2? I don't, but I've seen enough jokes about it to think this guy is pretty much PERFECT for a Demoman!
THUNDER! Previously known as Thrasher. Different name; same dude. I said I wasn't a big fan of the Dreadnoks, but that has slowly changed with time. Part of it is the various backgrounds for each of them, like how Buzzer is actually quite intelligent, or how Thunder is actually a rich brat who just wants to trash things. I dunno why, but that really gets my imagination going! The head sculpt helps as well, 'cause he really looks the part!
I mean, he looks the part in a 50's sense, but I am not counting that as bad thing in any way. The headsculpt is fantastic! Guy looks like he's ready to laugh at anything. What a jerk! I love how they really took his character into account here for the sculpt.
In terms of accessories, I gave him the crossbow, since it was next to him in the package. I suppose it makes more sense for Zandar, but Zandar already has a speargun and it just seemed kinda redundant. This way Thunder gets two weapons! Speaking of which:
Anyone play lacrosse? Me either. That's a lacrosse stick with a spiked ball tied in there. Yet another inventive wrecking weapon from the Dreadnoks! Not really hard to follow the Dreadnok way of weapon forging: grab a stick and somehow attach a dangerous thing to it. Bam! All done! Now you can hurt people or...I dunno, make up new sports.
I never had a desire to own Thunder (Thrasher, whatever) but now that I got 'em I think he's pretty cool! Which sucks, 'cause I wanted to use his head elsewhere, but now I'm liking his character. All in all I'd say this is a solid figure. He's using the Desert Zartan legs (that they threw around a lot between these two sets) as well as Desert Zartan's chest and arms. Only new thing is the harness and head, but it all works out! Solid parts reuse, nice new stuff, and interesting accessories. Only reason he's second in line is 'cause he's not as interesting compared to the rest, but he's still a cool figure.
Whoa! Quite a departure from the vintage guy. I can't really say if it's a good change or not, because both guys are butt-ugly. Only thing I can put over the old guy is that this one doesn't have that goofy sprout of hair coming out of his head! On the other hand, the new guy does have a hilarious...I dunno, shark-mullet? Like all the figures in this set, Zanzibar has a fantastic headsculpt that looks realistic:
This headsculpt looks, well....like a nasty pirate! I dunno who was sculpting these, but they are really good at grasping a character. I'm not missing anything from the vintage guy, 'cause this headsculpt gets the point across with the same idea (and the eyepatch on the other eye, but whatever). The only problems I have are mostly with the choice of parts. Granted, I'd have to dig through my figures to find better parts, but overall these only just work. If you look close, the parts kinda faulter: the legs are too long ('cause they belong to IG Destro, which is a large figure), the chest is wide, and the arms are stick thin. On top of that, his hands and arms come from Storm Shadow, and they don't hold his accessories well:
...course I can't blame the hands fully, because those accessories aren't built to be held by hands with individual index fingers.
It's not terrible, but the only way to get him to hold the accessories, without pushing them up, is to cut off the trigger guards.
At least he holds the bladed weapons well.
Then of course, there's the same problems that Taurus had in the Marauder's pack: the holster on the harness is too close to the face. I haven't done it yet, but I figure I'll make the same modification as I did with Taurus, where I swapped the holster and the knife sheath, like so:
Personally, if I just wanted to make a simple swap that fully utilized that head, I'd swap 'em with Thunder's body:
You can still get that pirate look, but without the awkward mix of mismatching body parts. Once again though, it's really only a problem if you look close. Overall, he's a neat pirate and the idea is not lost in the execution; I'd just would have used some different parts.
Alright, from here on out I think the next four are great, so I'm gona throw out the "in order of weakest to strongest" thing. The next four are all equally strong, so I'll go about them from a comedic standpoint and put the funniest last.
Yay, I had this one when I was a kid! I was super looking forward to him, and though he doesn't come with as much as the original, he still impresses me significantly. They made some changes, but they're all changes I can live with. The biggest change is in the face! Look at a comparison:
AH! OH GOD...no, don't look at my comparison. Just....just go look at Yojoe.com again. My original figure lost his arm after falling off of one of those zip-copters. Then, since he was already broken, we sent him up in an estes rocket. He came down in parts and his whole front was charred black, so we painted him red and used him as a dead body....soooo.....yeah....
*AHEM* Back to what I was talking about: His original face was this awesome exagerated grimace of insanity. I loved it...but I think I love the new head more.
I call it the Pornface.
It. Is. Hilarious. Never before has a horrifying grimace been translated into such a sleezy sneer.
I mean LOOK AT IT!
It's just fantastic. This guy's character has changed completely from how I used him as a kid. He looked so unbelieveably ANGRY originally, but now he's just so sleezy and disgusting. It's even more hilarious that his filecard says he smells like rancid hog fat! 'Cause you know, that's what that sneer looks like!
Okay, okay, on with the figure.
He no longer comes with a bow and arrows, or that awesome arm-mounted blade, but he does have a rifle and a knife. There aren't any figures with a knife sheathed in the front of a boot, so they put his on the back, which works out perfectly! I think it looks cool, and the knife fits perfectly. The rifle is even better!
Gnawgahyde is lucky enough to be using Jungle Duke's hands, which are amazing. They hold ANYTHING perfectly, and his rifle is no exception. They thought ahead for this one and didn't add a trigger guard, so nothing gets in the way of a fantastic firing pose.
This is one of the reasons to buy the set, honestly. I mean I'm a bit biased, because I already liked the guy, but they took out some of my top favorite things I liked about the vintage figure and STILL knocked this out of the park. Even if you don't like the whole figure, you're still getting some really awesome parts and the most hilarious head they've made next to Spirit's soul-sucking gaze. Awesome.
Things keep getting more awesome!
Wow! Never had this guy, but I always liked the look, however off his proportions seemed. Back in the day, you knew a figure was supposed to be big because they were just...wider. They all had to be the same height, so Road Pig had a big 'ol fat head and a wider chest. Nowadays he can be BIG, so he can have a normal sized head and just be tall and massive.
Speaking of the head...look at that sculpt! Like I've been saying; all of these headsculpts get the character DOWN. Big and dumb! That's what this sculpt says. Nothin' else to it. Perfect. The rest is Resolute Roadblock, or perhaps you'd be more familiar with Night Adder. It's the big body either way, and it was the only option for Road Pig, in my opinon. Just perfect! You'll also notice the cool tattoos for some extra flair. He even has a little Zartan symbol on his belt buckle! Now that is devotion to the cause!
The best parts are his accessories, which just bring the whole Roag Pig package together:
He comes with his classic cinder block-on-a-stick, his "Mad Max" football pads, and two new items! Instead of an arm guard with a crossbow on it, we get a freakin' road-sign shield! I find that hilarious and awesome, and from what I understand, the "Alligator Alley" thing is a homage to where the Dreadnoks are from, so that's some extra coolness right there.
The other item - which is a little strange - is a saber! No idea why. Still, it's his 'cause it says it on the filecard (though I think I'll still give it to Taurus) and it's not totally out of place, because that's a sword for a nice downward CHOP. It seems like something he might be carrying around just 'cause he found it and it's sharp, so it adds some more character to him and keeps with the eclectic theme of the Dreadnoks (since they carry so much random junk).
This figure is also a good reason to get this set! Absolutely perfect choice of parts, he holds his accessories well, the accessories themselves are awesome, and there simply aren't many big 'ol Cobra brutes. I've always wanted this guy, and now I have no desire for the vintage figure whatsoever. If you skip this set, then at least try to track down this one.
And finally we move on to Zartans family members; first up is Zanya. Filecard says she's his daughter, that he never knew about, until she decided to reveal herself to him. So...you know, she could be anyone.
Okay, that's not true.
Look at that face...that nose. That is Zartan's kid if I ever saw her! I keep gushing about the face sculpts here, but I feel I am justified. Only thing I could complain about is the paint, because she seems to be always looking up - but MAN, it actually helps with a lot of poses!
Zanya is using Zarana's mold, from the SDCC exclusive that was nearly impossible to get (hard to order something when the site gets bogged down to non-existence). The legs are a bit of a mix that I can't fully identify...the thighs are on a multi-pack Lady Jaye, but I can't seem to identify the shins and the feet. The only part that matters are the hands, because though they aren't terrible, they certainly could be better.
I didn't have any trouble with posing her and her weapons...but they still don't really fit in her hands. The hands are more of a arch grip rather than a C-grip. They sorta cover weapon handles, but not quite. You've gotta push 'em in there and hope friction keeps them in place. Once again, not terrible, but they've done better.
Otherwise this figure is great and yet another reason to get this pack. The paint and sculpting is awesome, and this is certainly a unique female mold; I'm glad I was able to get ahold of one version of it, at least. I'm also happy to have the character, as ridiculous as she is. I mean, at the very least she doesn't follow in the family trade of insanity and mimicry...
...though I'm sure her father will teach her. Once he gets over his myriad of mental issues.
It's time to move on to the final figure! Zartan's brother and fellow disguse nut, Zandar:
Of course, I keep making fun of the fact that all three siblings are great at disguises, but technically Zandar only changed color like his brother, and this new filecard changed that fact over to disguises. No idea why...I mean...*SNIRK* Zandar is perfectly capable of....of...you know HAHAHAHAHA....I'm sorry. No. No he's not perfectly capable of hiding. No.
Look at his filecard. His specialty is hiding. Covert opperations. Now look at him. LOOK AT HIM.
Look at what he is wearing and look at that face. I stand by my joke about insanity running in the family; the filecard doesn't mention it....but it doesn't have to. That is the face of madness.
That is the face of a man with red lightning bolts on his chest. That is the face of a man hiding while wearing hot pink and sky blue, and I have fixed his filecard accordingly.
So, moving on: Zandar comes with a spear gun, a knife, and a pistol. All cool stuff! Silent weapons for sneaking, and a pistol just in case. Sadly he is also saddled with that stupid leg knife that Tunnel Rat had:
You can't remove it so it is useless and gets in the way of his articulation. Otherwise they chose some good parts here, though the legs don't perfectly line up. His boots are from Desert Zartan, the chest is the same bare chest they used throughout this pack, and his arms are from 25th Zartan, so yay for sharing within the family! The chest holster is new (so far that I know) and so is his head and...and that scarf he stole from some poor little girl.
Zandar works out just fine, and for some reason he seems to have a fan following, so there you go! If I were a fan of him, I'd be happy enough.
'Course I suppose I've suddenly become a fan, but that's only because I find him hilarious and I can't stop imagining his voice coming out like Jimmy Wichard's from King of the Hill. I realize he matches his sister and all...but why didn't either of them try to match Zartan?
Ah, you know what...doesn't matter. I wouldn't want to miss out on something this hilarious just so he could be normal.
He just makes the Dreadnoks and the Zartan family that much better! Still, I did try to make him a little less Lisa Frank:
I'm not completely happy with either one, but I wanted to see if I could make 'em look at least slightly respectable. I don't even know if I'm going to bother trying again, because he's just so hilarious. Besides, I can always make up things for him to hide behind! I'm sure there's something...
So, as a guy that was not a fan of the Dreadnoks, I have to say that this pack was way more fun than the Marauder's pack. I think the figures worked a bit better here, the accessories were a little more fun, and the characters are wacky as heck. I don't know why I didn't get into the Dreadnoks before! They're hilarious!
Overall, if you had to pick one over the other: I'd pick this one. I feel there are more figures in here that are worth your time. So much so that some of them are worthy of tracking down by themselves! Still, there are enough good parts in here to use elsewhere, so I would suggest getting the whole pack for the gems and reusing what you don't want. Plenty to go around in this one! Plus...there's friggin' Zandar. That is a neverending joke in one figure.
I still stand by Past Alexx's assessments: This was a more interesting set than the Slaughter's Marauders set. Also, like Past Alexx said: I wasn't much of a Dreadnoks fan until this review! I had a lot of fun making this one, and it still has a lot of my favorite jokes. I don't think I ended up messing with any of these figures, either (as in, I didn't use any for parts). There were so many good ones! And Zandar was there, too!
Nah, I'm kidding, I love Zandar. He is the stand-out winner of the set, for being so goddamn hilarious. There was no other way I could have possibly reviewed him. Props to my man Zandar, keeping it real for the 80's by bringing the 80's with him wherever he goes.
If you're a Dreadnoks fan, I'd say this whole set is still worth tracking down.