The GI Joe Figure Subscription service Closes strong with TNT, Barrel Roll and Blackout.
I have to say I’m very impressed with the end result of the GI Joe Club’s inaugural Figure Subscription Service collection. We’ve seen a lot of dead-on hits and very few misses in this collection of thirteen new modern era Joes and Cobras, and while the final set may not be the most show-stopping, they’re all welcome additions.
By process of elimination, we knew that the final round of figures would include TNT and Barrel Roll, which on their own seems like an odd pairing. I had assumed we’d see Barrel Roll alongside Sure Fire, as a pair of newer recruits from the Valor vs. Venom era, but instead we got some connections that were much more vague, if even hinted at. Holding off on Barrel Roll probably should have been a more obvious clue that the 13th mystery figure– available only to those who subscribed to the whole series– would be his villainous brother, Blackout.
Like I said, both Joes are solid additions, if not the most rabidly desired. TNT is pretty much a straight repaint of the 25th Anniversary Blowtorch (as he should be), and his weird color pattern of silver, blue and yellow looks just as striking as the vintage international figure. The bomb disposal expert makes a nice companion to the Club’s 25th style Argentina figures, and between those four Con exclusives and the Glenda-esque Pilot Scarlet, we have a pretty well rounded Argentina team now… especially if you add in the FSS tan Grunt to stand in as Sokerk.
Barrel Roll is a bit of a blank slate, as a more recent addition to the Joe ranks. His angle of having a sister also on the Joe team and a brother who defected to Cobra made for an interesting concept, but one that was sadly too late to be highlighted in Larry Hama’s Marvel comic or the cartoon show (although it would have fit right in to the later days of either series, honestly). Based somewhere in between his second and third figures, the Air Force Spec Ops troop features a good makeup of Modern Era parts, along with a Resolute winged backpack and a nice crash helmet. The figure’s tan color scheme works a lot better than his early grey and blue design, and he features a new head that appears to be a tweak on his Direct To Consumer figure.
Rounding out the set is our surprise figure, Blackout. In retrospect, the Cobra sniper was an obvious candidate for the 13th spot, but he still came as a pleasant surprise. Like his brother, Blackout employs some smart pieces, with the Resolute Snake Eyes legs and Zartan harness giving him a realistic yet now very military sense of style. While most of him is black, the figure’s silver highlights go a long way to keeping him from looking too plain, and like Barrel Roll he gets a tweaked recast of his Valor vs. Venom head, complete with removable goggles. Something about this guy looks more Star Wars-y than G.I. Joe to me, but that feels somehow appropriate, considering his era in the early 00’s of Joe history.
I found myself pleasantly surprised by all three of the closing figures in the Joe Club’s first subscription. While none are center-stage material, each looks great on display, especially with their respective teammates. The Figure Subscription Service was an experiment that took a while to get off the ground, but we’ve seen some amazing figures in retrospect. The Joe Club did a great job with these figures, although I still fear they are stretching themselves too thin with this now ongoing Subscription Service, the annual membership figure AND Convention Exclusives… we saw a definite drop in quality in regards to both Iceberg and the 2013 Con exclusives, and from the outside it would appear that the Club’s effort and attention to detail and quality control was too embroiled in the Subscription figures to stay focused on the rest of their products. Hopefully as they regulate to the new pattern, the Club learns how to keep all the plates spinning properly. When they are on point, the Club is fantastic, delivering the exact caliber of figures Joe collectors want. Even when they stumble from time to time, a collection like the Figure Subscription Service proves the Club still has what it takes.