Calvin ‘Jammer’ Mondale
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not huge on international Joe variants. For some reason, they never really appealed to me. As such, I wasn’t expecting a lot from Calvin “Jammer” Mondale. I thought he’d be an interesting diversion, but at his core, he’s not the much different than the classic Stalker figure. I wasn’t mad or disappointed at the GIJCC for including him (unlike some fans who get really upset when something they don’t like takes the slot of someone more “deserving”), but I figured he’d be someone that would get relegated to storage pretty quickly. It’s surprising how much getting a figure in hand can change your views of him. He’s not the most amazing figure in my collection, but surprisingly, I find him much more impressive than I figured he’d be.
Despite being based on an international repaint of Stalker, Jammer uses quite a wide variety of parts. The legs come from 25th Anniversary Clutch while the torso is from 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes and the arms are from Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper. I’ll admit, the torso does look a bit dated and still has a very visible torso gap but it’s replicates the vintage figure’s look quite well. The legs are decent and I’ll admit, it’s nice to see these legs instead of the slightly overused Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes II legs. Yes, they’re also a tad dated, but they’re still serviceable. I do wish the GIJCC had used the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper torso instead of the 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes one. The Shock Trooper torso is a little better-looking piece but it’s still basic enough that it would work with the overall aesthetic of the figure. Without his add-on pieces, the figure would be a tad boring, but thankfully he’s got a removable belt with a functional holster and a canteen on the back and the shoulder straps from the 25th Anniversary Zap figure. They’re quite effective at breaking up the basic look and making him a little more visually interesting. Up top, Jammer uses the head the GIJCC tooled up for Peril In Paradise Tiger Force Stalker. I’m already on record about how much I like this piece. It’s a nice addition to the tooling library and it makes him different from my primary Stalker (the 30th Anniversary version). The head is a great piece and I kind of like that I can attach it to a character I’m not familiar with without being instantly reminded of the one Stalker figure I have on display on my shelves. The head is a nice addition and though I know the GIJCC likely used it to recoup the costs of making it for the Peril In Paradise con set, it’s still a great piece and a better choice than going with one of the other Stalker heads that was available from Hasbro. I think part of why I’ve never been terribly big on international variants is because there are a lot of them that don’t do much different from the standard Hasbro release.
Unfortunately, the same can kind of be said about Jammer. The GIJCC did add a few new touches, but at his core, Jammer is still a Stalker figure with a red beret. The base of the figure is a vibrant green and it’s got black camouflage over it. Black is also used for his boots and straps. It’s very similar to the American Stalker figure, so the GIJCC decided to reference their souvenir Jammer and put the Z-Force logo on his chest in bright red. The Z-Force logo looks sharp and the black outline really makes it pop. Jammer has exposed skin on his fingers and face. The GIJCC decided to go with a slightly lighter African American skintone for Jammer and I really appreciate that. It does a surprisingly good job of making him look different from the other Stalker figures I have. Up top, he’s also got his requisite beret, this time in red. It looks quite sharp, though the red plastic does wind up looking a little plastic-y which is a problem. Jammer also gets a pair of great tampoed details on his arms. His left arm has the SAF logo and the right arm has the Union Jack. These details also showed up on FSS 3.0 Big Ben and I like that these two British characters have those details to tie them together. Jammer’s paint scheme might not be the most exciting, but the GIJCC did enough things different to make him stand out from Stalker while not deviating too much from his standard look and I appreciate that.
Where Jammer really differs from Stalker is in his gear. Stalker has always been one of the team’s recon guys and a de facto leader. Jammer is a communications specialist, so there’s thankfully not a lot of overlap in gear. This really helps me turn Jammer into his own man. Jammer’s primary weapon is the assault rifle that was released with Retaliation G.I. Joe Trooper. It’s a good, modern piece and it’s something that hasn’t been used a lot with FSS figures, so I’m fine seeing it here. To fill his holsters, Jammer has a pistol and a handheld computer. A lot of people have been criticizing the GIJCC just jamming the handheld computer in his belt holster, but I don’t mind it. It fits decently in the holster and it means that he can carry all his gear on him at once. I think the GIJCC made a smart choice by thinking outside the box on how to use a holster. The pistol is a nice piece, though many say it’s too big to be worn in an ankle holster. That’s a legitimate criticism, but I also think this is the Joe line, where dudes like Roadblock run around with ridiculously huge machine guns as their personal weapons. So what if a pistol that size would be cumbersome in an ankle holster in real life? Rounding out his gear load, Jammer gets the great modern Dial Tone backpack. I really like seeing it with Jammer for some reason. It’s a great piece, it looks nice in green and it clearly defines Jammer as a communications expert. A lot of people have been coming with the computer briefcase with its hidden MP5 while only Dial Tone and now Jammer have come with this backpack. It’s something that instantly says communications expert and that was a great call here. It’s another piece that’s specific to Jammer and helps make him more distinct from Stalker.
As a collector, I’m still not totally sold on international figure variants. They’re honestly just not my cup of tea. However, I’m pleased the GIJCC put Jammer in FSS 4.0 to expose me to a facet of the Joe brand I’m not terribly familiar with. Jammer is a solid figure. He’s not very flashy and he does use some slightly dated parts, but they’re still decent parts (unlike repainting 25th Anniversary Grand Slam for Bombardier and Grand Slam in FSS 2.0). Add in the great newish head and you have a very successful. I’ll admit, there are a couple choices I wish the GIJCC would have made slightly differently, but Jammer is still a great addition to my collection and I like that my Joe shelf is picking up a bit more an international flair.