Ambush (FSS 5)
I think I’ve made it clear over the years that I’m a fan of the later years of Joes. My love of figures from 1993 and 1994 is usually fairly controversial, but my love of those great figures from 1990 leaves me in pretty good company. Looking over the figure listing from YoJoe, KansasBrother and I had almost all the standard carded figures from that year between the two of us, and that’s pretty impressive. The only carded figure on YoJoe one of us didn’t have was Rapid Fire, and considering he was released with a VHS tape, that’s not too surprising. I’m sure that tape drove up his cost a lot higher than the rest of the Joes from that year. While I can’t be sure this is the case, I think that Aaron “Ambush” McMahon was one of KansasBrother’s favorite figures from that year. I seem to remember him getting a lot of use in our joint adventures and usually when we combined our forces, only the best ones came along. As such, I have some pretty strong memories of Ambush and I’m glad the GIJCC tapped him for inclusion in FSS V. He’s another kind of underrated Joe from 1990 and is a character that deserves a bit more attention and respect than he gets.
Despite his specialty, Ambush’s design has always been fairly basic, and the GIJCC chose some good, basic parts to recreate him. Ambush’s torso and legs are shared with 25th Anniversary Dusty. That fits his vintage look quite well. Even back in 1990, he was wearing a fairly basic set of BDUs. The boots are a little bit taller than the vintage figure’s and he’s lost the belt of grenades around his legs, but beyond that, the rest of the vintage figure was fairly standard military and that’s what Ambush has here. Unfortunately, using the 25th Anniversary Dusty torso does leave him with the same problem that’s developed over the last few years with that torso—the incredibly loose waist. Ambush’s waist isn’t quite as loose as 50th Anniversary Falcon’s is, but it’s still not secure, and that’s somewhat disconcerting. That torso has clearly developed a problem from overuse and Hasbro needs to either retool the part or retire it. The Rise of Cobra Zartan torso is also a fairly basic set of BDUs, so there’s no need to keep using this now-flawed part. The arms come from a much more recent source—Retaliation Kwinn. The rolled-up sleeves reference Ambush’s vintage look, though he does lose the sweater-y texture his lower arms used to have. However, considering the proliferation of Under Armor in military circles, I’m okay with Ambush wearing something like that under his uniform now. To help distance his torso from 25th Anniversary Dusty a bit, he’s wearing the grenade bandolier that was used with Retaliation Ultimate Snake Eyes and the scarf and fabric cape from Pursuit of Cobra Dusty. The Snake Eyes bandolier is a great call because Ambush had a grenade bandolier back in the day and it’s a better piece than the Valor Vs. Venom Grand Slam bandolier that’s been used a few times with modern figures. The Pursuit of Cobra Dusty cape is an okay way to reference Ambush’s vintage ghille suit, but the bulky scarf rides poorly on the bandolier. If you want the scarf to sit even vaguely flush against Ambush’s shoulders and neck, you’ve got to twist the bandolier to the point where the bottom-most grenade is almost in his armpit. I never thought I’d say this, but I think the SpyTroops fabric ghille suit might have worked a little better here. I applaud the GIJCC for finding a way to reference Ambush’s vintage ghille suit, but the execution is just a little lacking. Up top, Ambush reuses the head I was expecting him to—the head from the Peril In Paradise General Mayhem. This was a great way to reuse that head and while it was the obvious choice, that doesn’t mean it was the wrong one. The sculpting on Ambush’s beard is excellent and while I wish his facial expression was a little more neutral, it still fits well for Ambush.
Ambush’s role on the Joe team is that of concealment specialist. He’s an expert at blending into the environment, so his overall paint scheme shouldn’t be all that eye-catching. Back in the day, though, Hasbro still managed to make him look interesting, and the GIJCC aped the vintage design effectively to make an interesting yet not terribly eye-catching figure. Ambush’s BDUs are done in a dark tan for the base color with a rust orange camouflage pattern tampoed over them. Though the colors are a few shades darker than the vintage figure, it’s still clearly supposed to be that look, and truthfully, I think the tan and rust orange looks a bit better than the cream and gold that Ambush wore back in the day. Like the vintage figure, Ambush’s undershirt is dark brown while his boots are, surprisingly, black. His belt and bandolier are both dark green and that color still contrasts nicely with the tan. The scarf is brown while the fabric cape is green. Ambush’s skin is still Caucasian, but his hair has gotten a bit redder over the years. While the vintage Ambush figure had reddish-brown hair, this version of Ambush looks almost full ginger. It still looks fine, but it’s a little surprising to see Ambush’s hair shift a bit further to the red end of the hair color spectrum. Ambush’s look is cohesive and while it’s a bit darker than the vintage figure, I think the colors are more effective and it makes for a good looking figure.
The vintage Ambush figure had some pretty complex gear back in the day, and unfortunately, compared to the vintage figure, Ambush’s gear falls just a tad short. His weapons are decent and reference his original gear effectively. Back in the day, Ambush had a scoped assault rifle and a funky-looking pistol. His primary weapon is the assault rifle with a scope on top and the underslung grenade launcher that Hasbro has used several times over the years. It’s a nice, basic military weapon and that fits with Ambush’s fairly basic overall look. His futuristic pistol is now the short-barreled assault rifle that came with Pursuit of Cobra Dusty. It’s compact but it still looks kind of futuristic and that’s Ambush’s vintage pistol in a nutshell. Ambush’s helmet comes from Pursuit of Cobra Dusty, and the helmet is a bit of a weak point. It just doesn’t look right on his head. It rides up pretty high on his head and while it’s a realistic- looking helmet, it just lacks a little bit of a wow factor. I kind of wonder if the helmet the GIJCC made for Footloose wouldn’t have been a little better. It might have fit his head a bit better and it has camouflage netting on it, which would fit very well with Ambush’s specialty. To reference his camouflage netting, Ambush gets the same net that Hasbro made from Pursuit of Cobra Shadow Tracker. This is an okay piece, but it doesn’t really work well to reference Ambush’s camouflage netting. Honestly, I think Ambush’s gear would have been a little more effective if he’d gotten Pursuit of Cobra Snow Job’s backpack and tarp instead. I think it would have referenced the camouflage tent he had a little better and given him some survival equipment as well. I’ve always seen Ambush as a guy like Recondo or Outback who spends a lot of time out in the field, observing Cobra positions and checking them for weaknesses. I think some additional survival gear would fit with his character really well. His weapons are solid, but the attempts at referencing his camouflage gear fall a little short, and that hurts his overall effectiveness as a figure.
Ambush may not do everything perfectly, but the GIJCC still made an excellent modern version of another solid 1990 figure. I always liked Ambush’s look, but what made him so interesting to me was his gear. Unfortunately, the GIJCC’s attempts to replicate his vintage gear fall a touch short. The Pursuit of Cobra Dusty cape is serviceable, but grabbing the Shadow Tracker net was just an odd call and I can’t really find a decent way to use this piece. The paint work on Ambush is excellent and the slightly darker color scheme looks a bit better than the vintage figure’s, so on that front, Ambush is a marked improvement. Overall, he’s a good figure, but the weak accessories do detract from him a little bit because Ambush was another great 1990 figure that was kind of defined by his gear.