Kre-O Dial-Tone and Tele-Viper
Communications has always been an integral part of warfare. The G.I. Joe line understood that from day one, with Breaker being part of the original the team. In 1985, Cobra decided to get into the communications game with the Tele-Viper and the following year the Joes gave Breaker a little support in the form of Dial-Tone. I’m not sure I ever saw any of the episodes of the cartoon with Breaker in them as a kid, so to me, Dial-Tone and Tele-Viper defined the communications specialty in the Joe line and I was very glad they both got attention in the later waves of Kre-O blindbags.
Dial-Tone was one of KansasBrother’s figures growing up, but I’ve always thought he was really cool, so anytime Dial-Tone gets a figure, I have high expectations for it. Unlike the GIJCC membership figure, though, Kre-O Dial-Tone really meets those expectations and probably exceeds them because they handled his accessories so well. The tampo work on Dial- Tone is spot on. All the classic details are recreated on this mini-figure, including his really tiny insignia on his left shoulder. That attention to detail is very appreciated on the Kre-O line. I am constantly amazed at how well the small details like that are handled on such small figures and while Kre-O was on its way out the door when this figure was made, Hasbro made sure not to half-ass it since it was close to the end of the line. Once again, I also have to applaud how much character they were able to get into Dial-Tone’s very simple face. I don’t have a lot of memories of Dial-Tone from the cartoon and I’m glad for that fact. The couple Dial-Tone heavy episodes kind of used him in more as comic relief and I’m not a terribly big fan of that. I got the complete Sunbow series for Christmas a few years ago, and I have strong memories from the episode where Dial-Tone gets released from the Joes (to set up an undercover operation, yes, but still, there were points in the episode where I wasn’t really sure even Dial-Tone knew that’s what was happening) where he was just kind of sadly eating a can of beans. That’s not what I want to think of when I think of Dial-Tone. This face is a lot more like what I remember Dial-Tone being like in my childhood. He was a determined military operator with a tough job. After all, if you’re like Dial-Tone, you’re carrying a pretty heavy amount of communications gear on your back instead of extra weapons. He has to carry a lighter load of weapons to do his actual job. Add in the fact that a communications signal can be traced and Dial-Tone could be the one left holding the bag should Cobra hack their frequencies, and that’s a lot of stress to be under out in the field. Dial-Tone is a guy who has to take his job seriously and isn’t going to crack under the pressure. The Dial-Tone Kreon reflects this character very well. To complete the awesome Dial- Tone Kreon, he also gets some great gear and I’ve always felt that nailing the gear was a key part of getting Dial-Tone right. Dial-Tone’s backpack was a defining accessory and the Kre-O design team handled that piece really well. It’s not a terribly complicated build, but those four little pieces look great and I love that they invested money to put a tampo on the backpack to make it look like the original molded piece. Also, I’m impressed that they found an inventive way to replicate his comm boom on the backpack. That was a smart design choice and it really helps bring it all together which is good because it was the one part of the backpack I wasn’t sure how they’d handle. Dial-Tone also gets his signature black beret and I still love seeing him wear it after all these years. Dial-Tone just isn’t Dial-Tone without his beret and it looks great on his head. My only real complaint is the choice the Kre-O team made for his rifle. I think the standard Kre-O rifle looks a bit more like his classic gun than the AK-47 does. I like the AK-47, but I think I’d prefer seeing the gun that looks like the cartoon laser rifle in his hand because the details line up a little better with his original weapon in my opinion. Now that Dial-Tone is manning the communications station on my Tactical Battle Platform instead of Clean Sweep, I found out something even better about his backpack. It rides up high enough on his back that he can actually sit in the chair and still have his backpack on and that’s great. I don’t want to separate Dial-Tone from his backpack and I don’t have to. I don’t know if that was on purpose or just a happy accident, but well done, Kre-O designers.
However, as a kid who always favored the Cobras a little more than the Joes, I’ve always loved the Tele-Viper. I had the Python Patrol version back in the day, but I love the classic blue and purple look too and when the Tele-Viper got released during the SpyTroops era you can bet that was one figure I definitely wanted to make sure to find. The Kre-O version is no different. This is a great little Kreon and I’m glad to have one Tele-Viper in the Terrordrome. The Tele- Viper is always a great scene filler and he’s just as good at that in the Kre-O form. The tampo work is very well-done and the purple and blue color scheme still looks great after over 30 years. The paint work is clean and he looks really good. Once again, I have to focus most of my attention on his face paint because I love it. The Tele-Viper’s visor is a painted element, but that’s just fine. It’s well done, though I do wish they’ve given us a sticker to let us decide if we wanted to have some red text on his visor like the cartoon Tele-Vipers had when they received a message. Like the classic figure, the Tele-Viper’s mouth is the only part of his face that’s exposed and the Tele-Viper looks like one bad dude. His scowl is great and is far better than the goofy grin the original chubby-faced Tele-Viper had back in the day. Sure, the Tele-Viper is adept in high-tech communications, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a thug as well. Like Dial- Tone, though, the accessories really make the man here. To recreate the big helmet the Tele- Viper has always had, Kre-O pulled some tooling from the Transformers line and gave him a nice, bulky, high-tech helmet. Coupled with his painted on visor, it really sells the look. Tele- Viper’s backpack and camera gun look really great in Kre-O form. The camera gun is built from five pieces and looks really great in his hands and a hose connects it to his three-piece transmitter pack. The instructions show the clip on the gun pointing down, but I found on mine at least that doing so really pulled the camera out of a natural alignment so I improvised a little. The backpack looks a lot like his classic accessory and I didn’t really know if you could recreate that with bricks, but the designers came up with a great way to do it.
Communications specialists don’t tend to get a lot of attention from action figure lines. I mean, Breaker was released without a gun and really so was the Tele-Viper. Without a weapon it is kind of hard to use them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important to a military team and Hasbro gave them the attention and respect they deserved. Dial-Tone and the Tele-Viper have always had a fan following because they were such good figures and their Kre-O counterparts are no exception. I appreciate that both figures got some nice mini-builds to create their gear and that they were given some good gear. Had either figure’s backpack turned out more like Scrap Iron’s missile battery, I think they’d be far less effective. The Joe Kre-O team really learned to step up their game with the minifigures to the point where I was far less concerned about dropping money on blindbagged figures because I knew their gear would be good and help sell the figure. That wasn’t something I could say about some of the Kreons in the first few waves.