Charbroil (2004 Anti-Venom Task Force)
The Anti-Venom Task Force set I must admit was a pretty cool idea. Released as a Toys R Us exclusive during the Valor Vs. Venom series, it presented a group of Joes tasked with the assignment of tracking down the animal/human hybrids created by Cobra. The set was a nice tie-in to what was going on in the main line. On the downside, the set also hails from a time when these mutli-packs began to play fast and loose with character names and matching up artwork and file cards with what was actually in the package. Case in point: the top of Charbroil’s file card lists him as a Warrant Officer. Say what?
While I would have preferred that the Anti-Venom team been made up solely of hazardous environment and medical troops, I understand the inclusion of Joes like Duke and Roadblock. It’s just a fact the first stringers have to make an appearance, be it a regular figure wave or a multi-pack. When I saw that Charbroil was part of the set, I was excited to see the mold make a reappearance, but confused as to why a flamethrower would be useful. Well, if you read the file card, his flamethrower is now equipped with anti-venom serum rather than incendiary fuel. Admittedly, it’s a pretty inventive way to work the guy into the theme, but couldn’t he have just as easily been named Airtight? Oh well.
The removable Steel Brigade style helmets are my favorite element of this set. While they don’t all fit snugly, having a unifying design beyond a paint scheme is a great addition to the group. Each helmet helpfully calls out the individual’s code name, and is also emblazoned with a unit insignia. While a lot of the later Toys R Us multi-packs left a lot to be desired, they did have their share of decent offerings. Charbroil stands out in the multi-pack releases as a little-seen late 80’s mold that thankfully also included his original weapons.