Chuckles (25th Anniversary)
Over the years, I’ve become increasingly of two minds about the figures in the Cobra Island sets. The Joes especially haven’t held up well over the years. I was very excited to get everyone in the set, but now, I’m hard-pressed to find one that I’ve kept on display since I moved and needed to downsize my display space. Honestly, the only reason Chuckles is even back out is because I liked the idea of him riding in the Tomahawk because one of his accessories fits well with the idea I had in my mind of the Joes dispatching a rescue team in the Tomahawk to help a Joe in trouble. The Assault on Cobra Island set was definitely an artifact of its time, and while I liked them initially, the years have not been kind to most figures in the set.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a weird affinity for Chuckles. He was one of the few Joes in KansasBrother’s collection that I actually developed any real attachment to. For the most part, our collections were very different and we were cool with that, but for some reason, I always liked Chuckles and kind of wished he had been mine. That said, I’ve had a lot of trouble warming up to this version of Chuckles. While the parts choices are okay, there are just enough weird little decisions that make me have trouble with him. The legs come from Duke and they’re a nice basic choice, though I think that’s my problem with them. I realize that Hasbro hadn’t tooled up the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Assault Duke yet, but the untucked pants fit his look just a little better than the more military look that the Duke legs have. I realize that a guy in a Hawaiian shirt isn’t exactly stealthy, but nothing screams “military” more than pants tucked into combat boots. While the legs aren’t a great fit for Chuckles, the use of Shipwreck’s torso and arms for his casual look is a smart call. It fits really well and while it’s the obvious choice, that doesn’t make it a bad one. However, I still have a little trouble with the use of Spirit’s open hand. He can’t really hold anything in it and that’s a strike I always hold against a hand mold. Some reviewers have said they use it as a cocky little “See ya” wave that he’s throwing to Cobra security as he makes his daring escape, but given the choice, I’d rather have him be able to hold a weapon with his hand than have it in a pose that’s only conditionally useful. At the same time, though, I will admit that like that he’s wearing gloves this time around. I realize it was a concession to the parts library of the time, but I think it works well considering Chuckles wouldn’t want to leave his fingerprints around everywhere lest someone he’s spying on runs them and learns his true identity. Finally, we have to talk about Chuckles’s one new piece—his brand new head sculpt. I’m still not really sure where I come down on this piece. I like that he’s got a little bit of a cocky grin, but I still don’t really feel that much of a Chuckles vibe from it. He looks rather non-descript, which works well for an undercover agent, but at the same time, I kind of miss the original Chuckles’s more distinct look. He looked rather old, like he’d been working for the CIA for a long time before he joined up with the Joes. I’ve always thought he might even be just a few years older than Hawk. He’s by no means past his prime, but he’s also quite a bit older than the rest of the Joes, turning him more into a contemporary of Mainframe than guys like Flint. However, 25th Anniversary Chuckles looks a lot younger and I think that hurts him a little. He seems almost a little too fresh-faced, and I have a little problem with that for some reason. His youth works well with his slightly-cocky grin, but the Joes already have a cocky younger guy in the form of Flint and I don’t know if they need two of them. Plus, I’d rather have my undercover agents be a little bit more reserved. Young brashness is a great way to get yourself killed in the undercover game. Everything they did works well for a character, but it’s just not a character I necessarily planned on associating with Chuckles.
Despite my misgivings about the parts choices, I can’t really fault Hasbro for how they painted Chuckles. I’ve always loved that Chuckles wore a Hawaiian shirt. I don’t know why, but I do. Thankfully, Hasbro listened to fan criticism because the prototype had him wearing a far darker shirt than what he’s wearing now. The colors Hasbro initially planned on using were very close to what the GIJCC used for their Night Force Chuckles from a few years back. I’m glad the GIJCC referenced it in their later release, but I’m also very glad that Hasbro went back to the brighter blue and green that he wore back in 1987. The bright blue shirt has green leaf tampos over it and they did a pretty good job with them, but I wish they could have devoted a little more money to his paint work so they could have put some pink and red flowers on it as well. I own quite a few Hawaiian shirts and I can count on one hand the number of them that don’t have a flower motif on them somewhere. The loss of the flowers is a little bit of a shame, but they at least kept the bright blue and bright green so I’ll forgive it. The legs are fairly simple, being just a standard pair of olive drab pants with black boots, but they still execute the look well. Chuckles also still has blonde hair, though I think it could have stood to be a shade or two brighter since, as you might be able tell from my pictures, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between his hair color and his skin color. It’s not quite as bad in person (believe me, I checked while I was writing this up), but it’s still not the best. I wish they would have gone all out here rather than a subtle blonde.
Finally, we have to talk about Chuckles’s gear, and again, they do some things well, but the things they don’t are just head scratchingly odd. Starting off simple, he has the standard 25th Anniversary knife to fill the knife sheath on his right leg. It’s a piece we’ve seen a lot but I’d rather keep seeing it than have an inexplicably empty sheath on this leg. As befitting an undercover agent, Chuckles is carrying a stolen M.A.R.S. briefcase. It’s the same mold that Destro came with, which also means it’s got a small submachine gun inside it. I like the M.A.R.S. briefcase and that’s the big reason Chuckles is on display right now. I like having my Tomahawk on display with Chuckles in it because in my head, it’s been mobilized because Chuckles needed a quick extraction from a hairy situation so the Joes sent in a Tomahawk crew to get him out. If it weren’t from the M.A.R.S. briefcase, Chuckles wouldn’t have a single firearm and that’s a bit of a disappointment. Even a standard Joe pistol would have been nice, but considering he’s using the Spirit hand, he can’t carry both the briefcase and a pistol at the same time anyway, so I guess it’s not that big of a loss. As a nod to his original gear, Chuckles is wearing a shoulder holster, but, surprisingly, it’s not functional. Chuckles’s holster in 1987 was functional, but the version made 22 years later (and in a slightly larger scale) they couldn’t figure out how to do a functional, removable shoulder holster. I’ll admit, the scale of the original holster may have been a bit wonky for a figure that was truly 3 ¾” tall, but I think in this slightly larger 4” plus scale it would have been doable and Hasbro could have made it look good. Finally, Chuckles also has a satchel that he can sling over his shoulder. I like it from the standpoint that it’s something that’s pretty ubiquitous anymore. For a guy whose cover is clearly based on being a tourist, you’re not going to look twice at someone carrying an oversized satchel. Add in the fact that he’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and you’ve clearly got a dumb tourist that no one is going to give a second glance to. Chuckles can really hide well in plain sight in this get up so as a whole, I really have to like what Hasbro did here.
Chuckles is unfortunately rather indicative of the product being released at the end of the 25th Anniversary line. He was so close to being a good figure, but there were just enough strange decisions that make me have a lot of trouble liking him. Had the 25th Anniversary line not been followed up by the amazing Pursuit of Cobra line, I think time would have been a little kinder to Mr. Provost here. As it stands, though, what was a decent figure now winds up looking pretty badly dated. The added paint work and holster/satchel combo helps obscure the parts reuse on his torso, but you can clearly tell that his legs were initially designed for someone else. Hasbro made a great effort to try and recreate Chuckles and they got a lot closer than some 25th Anniversary figures (Cutter, I’m disapprovingly looking in your direction), but close only unfortunately counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Chuckles is by no means a terrible figure, but he does wind up being an awful lot more “meh” than I was hoping. A Joe who specializes in undercover operations that wears a bright Hawaiian shirt should be an easy figure to do well, but for some reason, this Chuckles doesn’t capture my attention quite as much as the 1987 version did. Personally, I blame the lack of bright pink flowers…