BBTS GI Joe 7-Packs Are Tough, Cool and Essential

By bill - January 15, 2012

The first new Joes of 2012 have hit, in the form of Big Bad Toy Store’s awesome new GI Joe 7-packs! The two packs are reaching into the most badass corners of the Joe universe, and delivering two of the toughest teams to the Modern Era– Slaughter’s Marauders and The Dreadnoks!Each set includes seven great figures that round out a big part of the 25th Anniversary collection with some modern updates to these two teams of classic characters. Let’s take a closer look at the Dreadnoks and Slaughter’s Marauders!!

We’ll start with the Dreadnoks first… In this set, we are treated to seven characters, all new to the Modern Joe line– Zartan’s brother Zandar, Thunder (AKA Thrasher), Zanzibar, Road Pig, and Gnaw (formerly Gnawgahyde) all stem from their Real American Hero figures in the 80’s. We also get Burnout, one of the new Dreadnoks from the Valor vs. Venom era, and Zanya, the daughter of Zartan from the Devil’s Due comics. I didn’t even realize until I had this set in hand, but for all intents and purposes, this set complete’s the Dreadnoks in the modern style, which is something I never though I’d see happen!
There hasn’t been much discussion about each individual figure, so I’m going to break it down for every figure in this set:

Zartan’s brother is the last of the three siblings to get a 25th/ Modern update, and he was worth the wait. With colors that match the 80’s figure perfectly and a new headsculpt (previewed at this year’s Joe Con as an easter egg), Zandar is a must for any Dreadnoks collection. While there’s been some criticism of the use of movie Viper legs for the figure, I like that he’s a bit shorter than his brother and some other ‘Noks– it adds a realism that I really dig.

The original Dreadnok driver gets a new figure– and a new name! Thunder (nee Thrasher– I wonder if the skateboard magazine didn’t want them using the name?) perfectly captures the punky/ Mad Max look of the geared, from his clunky body armor and half-shirt to the green streaks in his hair. Thunder, like many of these new Dreadnoks, features a great new headsculpt that’s as ugly as it is filled with personality, the perfect fit for a gang of biker degenerates.

Road Pig
The Dreadnoks’ big man gets the 25th treatment with a very nice update, using the Resolute Roadblock body that has been perfect for any of the big bruiser kind of Joe characters. Big and bulky, Road Pig is probably the most faithful to his classic figure, from the white and red crew cut to his armored shoulder pads, and even his cinder block mace. He also comes packing an “alligator alley” shield which he holds very well, and it’s a great touch for the figure.

Gnawgahyde– or just Gnaw– brings the Dreadnoks poacher into the Modern Era with a more realistic outfit (gone is the garish, bright yellow cheetah print vest), a killer hunting rifle, and his classic side-brimmed hat. I’m actually surprised that the hunter didn’t borrow more parts from the fairly similar Pursuit of Cobra Recondo, but what we get is way cooler than just a rehash of that figure.

The pirate Dreadnok definitely fares the worst of the bunch when it comes to staying faithful to his original figure, but the pirate vibe of the character certainly still comes through. Gone is the 80’s version’s rooted ponytail, replaced with a similarly weird wedge/ mullet combo. Also gone is Zanzibar’s ripped shirt, replaced by a bare, scar-covered chest. It seems odd to use such a different body considering a repaint of the Ripper chest would have looked more accurate, but I like the new look for the pirate all the same.

One of the newer Dreadnoks, Burnout was introduced in the Valor vs. Venom era as a ‘Nok mechanic, and his updated figure is a great spin off of his first figure, with some great modern detailing. his pulled back ponytail of dreadlocks is incredibly well-sculpted, and the overall figure strikes a much meaner pose than I had expected from this n00b character.

Making her figure debut is Zartan’s daughter Zanya, heir apparent to the Dreadnoks in the Devil’s Due comic series. While the Devil’s Due comics aren’t for everyone, I like the inclusion of Zanya in this set, and despite her shared parts with her aunt Zarana, the fishnet print on her arms, the green dreadlocks and the mud-caked boots combine to make a unique new recruit to the Dreadnok ranks.

But the Dreadnoks aren’t the only new recruits to the army– we also get a 7-pack based on Slaughter’s Marauders! This pack is a little more diverse than the Dreadnoks, featuring Modern Era-style updates to Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades Mercer (here called Mercenary), Taurus (Bull), and Red Dog– plus three of the original Marauders’ repaints, Low Light, Spirit and Barbecue– and Lt. Falcon, as a nice nod to the animated movie.
The Marauders is another very fun set, and I love that the new versions of Spirit, Low-Light and Barbecue all avoid the originals’ straight repaint routes and feature different body parts than their standard versions… and it was a great idea to pit the rough-and-tough Marauders team against The Dreadnoks in this collection– the attention to in-toyline narrative we’ve seen in the Joe toys in the past few years has really been stellar. Let’s check out Slaughter’s team, one by one:

The ex-Cobra Viper turned GI Joe was always one of my favorite figures as a kid, and I was really happy with how great his Modern update came out! Mercer– now renamed Mercenary– sports the exact same color scheme as the original, and the heavy reuse of Cobra parts like the Alley Viper vest, and Viper gauntlets and rifle, adds to the character’s backstory nicely. From his earrings to the Cobra buster tattoo on his shoulder, everything about this figure is a great update.


Taurus, now known as Bull, has always been among the most unique-looking of Joe good guys, with his crazy red beard and yellow shirt, and his update here captures those visual flairs perfectly. While not as hulking as Red Dog, Bull still stands well above the average-sized Joes, perfect for Sarge’s demolitions expert, and his harness– shared with Dreadnok Zanzibar– features a working pistol holster, as well as a great, articulated knife sheath. My only issue with Taurus is the use of the absolutely terrible Renegades Air Viper legs, which feature knees that inhibit him from being able to stand up straight. I hated this engineering flaw when it was first released with the pilot figure, and it’s just as much of a problem now on this new figure.

Red Dog
Red Dog is the most distinctly different from his original Renegades design, adding a beard, tat’s, and a whole new uniform to the bruiser. However the updates really work here, and the character certainly shines through, from his mean face to his signature football jersey. There’s some great details I was not expecting on Red Dog, most notably a removable necklace and headband! While there are several tattooed figures between these two sets, I don’t think any reflect the quality of these intricate paint apps better than the tribals on Red Dog’s forearms.

The only straight repaint in both packs, Low-Light’s Marauders uniform uses the 80’s color pattern of maroon, royal blue and grey/ green camo, but plays with the patterning of the colors for a much-improved final product. With a wrapped, beat-up sniper rifle in hand, this new version of the Joe sharpshooter really made me remember what an amazing figure the Pursuit Low-Light really is.

The team’s tracker really went off the beaten path from his classic Marauder costume, and the resulting figure is way better for it! The shirtless Spirit figure– decked out in a maroon/ blue/ germ camo Marauder color scheme– is inspired by his Pursuit of Cobra look, but adds to the mix a sweet chest tattoo and the great web gear– complete with machete– from the 30th Anniversary Stalker. It’s a little uncanny how much this new Spirit resembles Sly Stallone as Rambo, actually…

The Joe flamethrower, like Low-Light, takes the Marauder colors but translates them into a much better design than his original striped look. While his helmet, chest armor and flamethrower are all repaints, I love that Barbecue gets new arms and legs here which help to distinguish him from the previous 25th versions of the character. It’s a nice touch, and the resulting figure looks quite practical as a jungle environment flamethrower.

While Lt. Falcon may never have been a Marauder in plastic, he was certainly connected to the crew through the ’87 animated movie, and his inclusion in this set is a nice nod to that era of the Real American Hero. The new Falcon is head-to-toe a new take on Duke’s cocky half brother, with a great new headsculpt and even a removable beret! I love the design of this figure, and understand why he would be sharing the color pallet with the rest of the Marauders, but getting a character update this great makes me wish we could get him in his classic colors, as well!

As a die-hard Joe fan, it obvious you need these– fourteen new Joes with all the gear, detailing and unique headsculpts you would expect, a one-stop shop to fill out your Dreadnoks gang, and some cool Joe variants on top of Sarge’s three personal soldiers make these sets virtually impossible to deny. Even the more casual Joe fans should take notice, if only to complete the core Dreadnoks team and add in Slaughter’s Renegades– between these two armies and the recent 30th Anniversary figures, we’re now pretty well caught up until the late 80’s! The only drawback to these sets is the lack of inclusion of Sgt. Slaughter and Zarana– each 7-pack is themed around one of the last two Comic Con Joe exclusives, which have sold out in record time, leaving many fans high and dry when it comes to Zartan’s sister and The Sarge– Hasbro has been saying for years now that they were trying to find a way to introduce Slaughter back into the line for those that missed him… a store exclusive box set like this seems like it would have been the perfect solution. The odd decision to leave the team leaders out of these sets aside, Hasbro and Big Bad Toy Store have two surefire winners on their hands here.

We’d like to thank Big Bad Toy Store for giving us the chance to get an up-close look at these great new Joes!!
CLICK HERE to order your sets NOW from BBTS!


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