Breaker (1997 Stars and Stripes Set)
In honor of Thanksgiving Day in the US, I thought I’d serve up my own thick slice of deep-fried turkey, Joe A Day style. Think hard about the absolute worst Joe figure you’ve seen. Golobulus? The Fridge? Something from the 90′s, perhaps? Say, Robo-JOE? Or maybe it’s something from the 2002 T-crotch travesty, maybe Duke? Could it be the jaundiced Tiger Force Alpine of 2004? Nope, none of those begin to plumb the depths of sheer awfulness that is today’s figure. Dig this, mes amis: your average Joe fan has never seen a figure like today’s figure. Your average Joe fan has not even begun to conceptualize the horror which is today’s figure. So, Mr. Average Joe Fan, I give to you Breaker, from the Stars and Stripes set. At least I think it’s Breaker; more about that later.
There have been very few occasions throughout my years of Joe collecting when I’ve looked at a toy and said, “They just didn’t care.” Sure, we’ve all been disappointed when faced with a retail version of a figure that doesn’t measure up to what we saw months before online or in a magazine feature or pre-production photo. When the Stars and Stripes set came out in ’97, I was so excited, based on the pictures I’d seen in Previews magazine, and even on the back of the box. We were getting new remolds of eight of the original Joes!
That excitement quickly turned to deep disappointment, despair and finally seething anger when I finally got the set in my hands. You see, several of the figures had their classic paint schemes changed in favor of pointless color changes, two-toned shirt and pants combos or sloppy camo patterns. But by far the worst–the worst–were Rock n’ Roll and Breaker. Apparently, the parts needed to reproduce them weren’t available, so a substitution was in order. How did it turn out? Uh yeah, they just didn’t care.
Instead of classic ’82-83 parts, we have a Roadblock torso, Gung Ho arms, Hawk head and legs. Why, oh why did they not try for something close to Breaker’s actual mold? Wasn’t most of it (sans the short sleeves and head) also part of this set, and used to make Grunt? Instead of swapping out those missing parts with something similar , they went full on with a different figure. Why, in the name of all that is good and decent did they do this? They just didn’t care.
Yeah, that’s not a screw up on the picture, his visor doesn’t fit and just droops down to his chin. Cool, huh? Oh, and the laser rifle’s cable just juts off into nothingness, since the backpack with the plug hole was not included. Nice. I guess they blew the paint app budget on the pants, and had nothing to work with for the torso and arms, so they just glopped a little paint on the shoulders and called it a day. They just didn’t care.
Based on the inclusion of his laser rifle and a visor, this was probably meant to be Flash, but if you go by the file cards and the accessories included with the other figures, one can only assume it’s Breaker. I don’t know, and at this point, I don’t care either. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to reminisce with Robo-JOE. At least he’s got some charm.