Granted, it’s still very early in the G.I. Joe: Classified line, but I’m finding it pretty awesome that there are already just as many versions of Roadblock as there are of Snake Eyes. Give it time… I have no doubt that will change.
It’s been fascinating seeing the evolution of G.I. Joe: Classified over the past six months, going from whispered rumors, to sneak peeks, to Deluxe Snake Eyes blowing peoples doors off. What I found interesting upon initial reveal was just how lukewarm so much of the Joe community was at first. Six inches wasn’t their scale, the figures weren’t strictly based on classic designs, etc…
Fast forward a few months and suddenly everyone and their brother is waiting in an hour-long line outside of Target before they open just for a small sliver of a chance to buy some of these figures. Scalper bots are clearing them out before normal collectors can even add them to carts and the furor seems to have reached a fever pitch.
As I write this, I have been watching friends from afar, quietly jealous that they actually have the ability to walk into Target and search, even if they’re not having much luck. I don’t have any Targets near me, but thanks to some great friends, I’ve still managed to get caught up. Now I just need to figure out how to get me a small squad of Troopers…
But I gotta save that “Trooper” talk for a different review. I’m here to talk about Roadblock.
I think it’s safe to say the revelation of the Special Mission: COBRA Island series took everyone by surprise. They dropped suddenly one random night and my Facebook feed was suddenly inundated. But for everyone raving about the COBRA Trooper, Beachhead and the Baroness, they were clearly turning their nose up at Roadblock, and in many cases writing him off as “Heavy Duty” instead.
I can understand. Beachhead is a new character with some great new tooling, COBRA Trooper is a highly desirable army builder (and looks bad ass to boot), and of course The Baroness– well, she’s The Baroness. Roadblock does seem like the odd man out.
In spite of that, I think he has some great redeeming qualities and truly goes above and beyond a mere “repaint” or “rehash”. Already I see G.I. Joe: Classified doing something that I really loved about Sigma 6. Feeding us secondary versions of existing characters, but giving them life in new and interesting ways. They definitely did that with Roadblock.
First of all, the design. Okay, I admit, Roadblock is nothing special. He’s a guy wearing a t-shirt and bandana, evidently caught behind enemy lines after spending a little too much time on COBRA Island. On the surface, nothing really to write home about.
But, they do some really fun things. First and foremost, obviously, is his new head sculpt. The basic facial features for Roadblock look the same beneath that bushy beard and bandana, but he has a very gruff look about him, looking like a special forces operator who has been in the wilderness for a long time. The sculpted earpiece communicator is a great touch and those removable sunglasses? Chef’s kiss.
Another benefit to this larger scale is that Hasbro can make pretty seamless secondaries that replace existing parts and look like they were made for the figure. This version of Roadblock has a great forearm guard on his right arm, and a thigh pad full of grenades, neither of which were included on the first figure.
Judging by images of the upcoming Gung Ho, these are both removable parts included with that figure, which is an aspect of this line that I love.
This is cool in two different ways — it adds variety to this second version of the figure, but also allows for removal of some of these pieces for a “mix and match” to make customs or otherwise enhance the character.
I will admit, I’m not especially fond of the t-shirt design, though I can see it being a pretty straight forward night camouflage pattern with the G.I. Joe star and stripe as a familiar (yet somewhat non-descript) logo. This version of Roadblock clearly is one designed to operate at night, with the colors being primarily dark, his black shirt, gray camouflage and gray pants giving him a nice covert operations feel.
That being said, the figure does feel just a little bland without a cool tactical vest or other accoutrements. Tough to complain too much, though, even with a basic design, the sculpting and nice new flair for these other additional parts and pieces makes up for it, and to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Roadblock’s clunky vest anyway.
This base figure is the same as Roadblock v1, so the articulation is the same as well. That’s to say, it’s pretty amazing. Double jointed elbows, knees and neck, almost flawless balance, great range of motion, and the larger “buck” immediately makes this guy feel solid, poseable and “playable” which I know isn’t something most grown up Joe Fans care about, but dammit I do.
Say what you will about the six inch scale, but it really feels like designing at this larger size allows for a lot more experimentation with deeper articulation cuts, and the end result is a figure that manages to look fantastic, but is exceptionally poseable at the same time.
This is kind of a bummer. I would have loved to have seen them give Roadblock a nice new, bad-ass heavy weapon (it doesn’t even need to be a machine gun, just something different). Instead, we get the same sorta clunky rail gun over again, which doesn’t provide much excitement. I like the new colors and the “Broiler” stencil is a great touch.
At least we’ve got the removable sunglasses which puts a little more shine on this. They’re a tiny part of the overall aesthetic, of course, but one of the neat benefits of these larger scale figures.
Like the previous figures, Hasbro does fantastic work bringing in professional artists to really give the package a unique (yet cohesive) feel. Ken Lashey’s art is really awesome, very “comic book” and oozes with personality on the front and side of the box.
With these COBRA Island figures, they’ve also included a really awesome map of “COBRA Island” on the back of the package which is chock full of really cool imagery and details. You can see the numbering scheme here, as well, and if you want a better idea of exactly which figures belong to which numbers, check out my G.I. Joe: Classified SuperPage.
Look… I won’t lie. These Target exclusives have been a pain in my ass. The initial pre-order online blasted out before anyone even got an item added to their cart, and watching the stories of many of my fellow collectors struggling to figure out which stores have them in stock, and even if the stores have them in stock, which ones will sell to them– this isn’t a fun way to collect.
As I write this, Hasbro claims Target will be putting the assortment back up for sale on August 14th (yes I wrote this review a while ago, although it’s just getting posted now, closer to late August), though the question remains as to whether or not anyone will be able to buy those either, or if the scalper bots will clear inventory just as quickly as the first time (spoiler alert – the bots won).
I seriously hope Hasbro (and Target) are taking steps to try and fix this, because they are taking a fun hobby and making it stressful, which is the last thing anyone needs considering what’s going on in the world these days.
BUT I am fortunate. I have some really good friends who have been willing to help me out, and I cannot thank them enough. You guys know who you are, and know that I appreciate the help!
All that being said, Roadblock is a fun figure, though certainly not a “must have” and definitely not the highlight of the COBRA Island assortment. I absolutely love his head sculpt and the removable sunglasses, though the rest of him feels a little bland and uninteresting compared to these others.
G.I. Joe Classified Roadblock (Special Mission: COBRA Island
There are things I LOVE about this Roadblock and things that are just kinda– there. I understand why Hasbro needs to continue releasing “core characters” and I’m glad they were able to spark some life into this guy with the head sculpt and sunglasses, but the fact remains that he’s not especially exciting if you look beyond those changes. I would have loved to have seen a different wepaon.