Big Brawler Brawl Big!
It seems almost ridiculous almost fifteen years later, but the truth was, in 2000, Big Brawler was kind of a big deal. In the early years of the online G.I. Joe community, we had only known a Real American Hero, and it had been mostly dead and gone since 1994. Sure, the 97/98 Toys “R” Us exclusives brought a minor resurgence to retail, but a true G.I. Joe line was a memory. Big Brawler (as well as Sure Fire and Crossfire) were important because they represented a new cast of characters being introduced to the Real American Hero universe, something we really take for granted these days. Don’t forget back then we didn’t even have Convention figures to look forward to every year.
Because of this, because of his filecard, and because of a passing resemblance to Christopher Lowell, certain segments of the G.I. Joe community latched onto Big Brawler as a mascot of sorts, and the character grew far beyond his origin as an Outback repaint with a new head. His legend grew as he was introduced in Tiger Force, was given a new sculpt figure, and even arrived as a Funskool figure, complete with yellow shirt and Brawlin’ sword. Within the span of a few short years, Big Brawler transformed from “cheap new character” to legend status. In retrospect, it’s almost surprising that it took this long to get a modern format version of him.
Like with Dial Tone, the Club looked to the Toys “R” Us set as an inspiration, but also introduced elements from his 12″ version as well, bringing it all together into one figure.
Wanting to maintain his large stature, the Club looks as if they used
Retaliation Roadblock’s 25th Anniversary Bazooka’s torso and Ultimate Roadblock’s upper arms, with the lower arms and legs from Resolute Roadblock, giving the figure a very tall and broad appearance. It’s a great parts combination for a character who stands larger than life, and also gives them plenty of real estate to etch “Brawler” across his chest. Using the head sculpt from Red Dog actually isn’t as bad in execution as it looked to be in images beforehand, especially with the lighter flesh tone colors that the actual figure ended up with.
Like with Dial Tone, the Club took inspiration from the pattern of the tiger stripes from the Toys “R” Us pack, but injected some vintage color pallet to them, bringing him in line with the other Tiger Force team members. Where Dial Tone sort of failed in this endeavor, I think Big Brawler largely succeeds. In 2003, the Tiger Force Big Brawler was a pretty bland tan, gray, and light green color that was not especially interesting or appealing. By enhancing the color contrast, the Club goes a long way towards making that basic design snap, all while bringing Brawler nicely into the existing Tiger Force demographic. He looks like he fits, even though he comes from a pretty different era.
Big Brawler comes with a headband as a tribute to the 12″ version of the character, while also coming with a mini gun, regular machine gun, and not to mention a true “Brawlin’ Sword”! I love the call back to the Funskool version of the character with the included sword, it shows the right sense of humor in regards to the character. As another small victory, the green color of the gun and sword handle is beautiful as well. I’m not sure why but that particular green hue really speaks to me.
Big Brawler played a very important role in the fandom during those formative early 2000’s, and I’m glad to see him get a modern update. The Club made some good improvements and executed a solid build for the figure. Not a spectacular Convention entry, but a decent one, to be sure.
Great character from the new sculpt era that suffers just a bit from the limitations of the reused parts. Great accessories and an interesting paint scheme are a big help, landing Big Brawler square in the middle of the pack.