MARS Invades General Mayhem
I’ve mentioned before how much I love it when new characters are added to the Joe line. I enjoy getting to meet a new character for the first time and learn his or her story far more than I like getting new interpretations on characters I already know. Sometimes new versions of old characters are necessary, but my childhood collection bears my opinion out when I say I think if you can give me a new character with the same specialty as someone I already have, I’ll happily buy that new character but I might pass on the reinterpretation of the old one. I think the addition of General Mayhem to the Joe line is another big reason I liked the M.A.R.S. Invades con set so much. Sure, he had some mild stylistic ties to Voltar, Destro’s other general, but this was a new Iron Grenadiers character added to the Joe line through a con set and I thought that was brilliant.
Much like a lot of figures from the early con sets, General Mayhem is a pretty fast and dirty custom figure, using one figure’s entire body but with a different figure’s head on top. However, when the base figure in question is the W.O.R.M.S., I have no problem with that. I remember always kind of wanting to find a Maggot when I was a kid, but I never did. That means I never had the W.O.R.M.S. in my collection, so I don’t mind seeing another figure using his entire body since I don’t have someone using the exact same parts. In fact, I think the GIJCC was really smart in reusing these parts because, having discovered the W.O.R.M.S. online, I think these parts work better for a general like General Mayhem rather than someone commanding a large artillery piece. The legs are rather simple, with knee-high jackboots and a large holster on the left leg. The boots have some nice details on them. There are metal plates over the instep of each boot that I believe are a throwback to the cavalry. I’m not 100% sure on that, but I seem to recall seeing cavalrymen (and people that ride horses in competitions) with something similar on the tops of their boots to help keep their boots in decent shape while they’re in the stirrups. Moving up the figure, the waist piece is well done, though like the legs, there aren’t a lot of details on it. The strap from the holster continues up the left side of the waist and attaches to his belt. Of course, the main draw on the waist piece is the really cool skull and crossbones belt buckle. Rob featured this piece during Belt Buckle Week and I like seeing it on General Mayhem because it does have a pretty strong evil vibe to it. I think it also works a bit better as a detail on a unique character rather than a detail on someone who’s supposed to be a trooper commander. The upper body of the figure has a lot more details on it than the lower body and it really helps General Mayhem look nice. The arms are relatively simple, with forearm length gloves, but the look meshes very well with the fancy field jacket the torso is designed to look like. The torso really helps bring this figure together. It definitely has an Eastern European vibe, which makes sense since General Mayhem is listed as being from the Ukraine. The shoulders have some nice, fancy epaulets and he’s got a relatively impressive chest full of medals. Considering his experience in the Soviet military, that makes a bit of sense. The jacket itself is a bit open and it looks like General Mayhem is wearing an ascot, which I kind of like. It’s definitely a throwback to the old style military, but considering how old General Mayhem looks, I think it works for him. Finally, there’s a strap that runs from his right shoulder down to the left side of his belt. Rounding out the figure, I have to talk about General Mayhem’s head. The head is a combination of Gnawgahyde’s head with Long Range’s helmet glued on. I’ll admit, I think the Long Range helmet is something that drew me to this figure because I actually had Long Range growing up and I thought his helmet was awesome. Long Range’s helmet has a nice high-tech vibe that fits well with the Iron Grenadiers and I’m a sucker for a helmet with an eyepiece. I think that’s part of why I liked Voltar so much. Yes, the Iron Grenadiers now have two guys with helmets with eyepieces, but I don’t mind that. I think making this figure a new character rather than an updated Voltar was the smart way to go. Voltar was kind of a joke in the online Joe community because of his color scheme. I can see the GIJCC not wanting to take the risk of criticism for making a character “nobody wanted” in a con set. The choice to make the helmet non-removable is surprising, but I kind of get why the GIJCC went that way. The Gnawgahyde head is unique. If General Mayhem was running around without his helmet, he’d just look like Gnawgahyde in fancy clothes. However, covering one eye and the top of his head does a great job of obscuring the original figure’s head. He’s still got the really angry snarl Gnawgahyde was originally sculpted with, but it fits with the characterization the GIJCC gave him.
Like the rest of the M.A.R.S. Invades con set, General Mayhem is wearing black, red, gold and gray. Of all the figures in this set, I think the colors work best on General Mayhem. The base of the figure is black, with gray getting used on his boots and gloves, red for the straps and trim and gold for the metal detailing. Even though General Mayhem is ex-Soviet, I get a pretty strong Nazi vibe from the paint scheme and I think that really helps sell him as a malevolent force on the battlefield. General Mayhem is definitely a tactical genius, but he’s also just plain evil. The filecard calls him a “mad genius” and with the Nazi vibe I get from the paint work and the snarl permanently molded on his face, I can definitely get behind that characterization. The mold and the paint scheme come together beautifully to help create a new character that fits well in the Joe line. On his left arm, the GIJCC also tampoed on a new logo. It’s kind of hard to read in paint form, but in the box art, it kind of looks like a black bat over a radar screen. It’s actually a pretty nice design, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t print terribly well on this slightly smaller Joe scale.
I’m a bit of two minds on General Mayhem’s gear. I like what the GIJCC gave him, but I’d almost like to see something a bit more ceremonial with him. Yes, General Mayhem is the kind of commander that leads from the front, but I would have liked to have seen a weapon with him that in normal hands would be difficult to use because it’s a ceremonial piece, but in the hands of General Mayhem could be a deadly surprise. General Mayhem’s primary weapon is a Soviet-style RPG. That piece was relatively new at the time (I think it was first created for the comic pack Horrorshow figure) and I’m pleased that the GIJCC was able to get their hands on it. While the first weapon I think of when I think of the Soviet military is the AK-47, this model of RPG is a close second. Plus, I kind of like the idea of General Mayhem being crazy enough to charge into battle with an RPG. It’s just not something you see a general do. His other weapon is a large pistol. I know I’ve seen this accessory before—heck, I know I have it in my collection—but I’ll be damned if I can figure out who it came with initially. Even YoJoe’s WHOBIT accessory database let me down because I couldn’t even find it in there. If anyone can figure out who this came with first, please mention it in the comments. It doesn’t often bother me when I can’t come up with the origins of an accessory, but I know I had this piece with a figure from when I was a kid, I just can’t remember who. The pistol has a rather interesting design and truthfully, it looks a bit oversized. However, I think the high-tech design fits with the Iron Grenadiers and with General Mayhem so I’ll give it a pass. General Mayhem’s weapons are solid pieces, but there’s just nothing that really screams General Mayhem to me, and I think that’s a bit of a shame. I always liked that named Cobras usually had one accessory that looked like it really belonged to them, even if it got reused a lot later. I kind of wish General Mayhem had a weapon that I can see as uniquely his.
I waited five years to get the M.A.R.S. Invades con set. All the figures had a lot to live up to, but as a new character, General Mayhem definitely had the highest expectations. Thankfully, he managed to not just meet, but exceed, the lofty standard I held him to. It’s a solid design and the paint work really helps make all the great elements in the design shine. Add in how well the overall design and color scheme play into the character the GIJCC created, and you have an exceeding successful figure. I know the GIJCC sometimes takes crap for creating their own characters instead of making them into modern takes on vintage characters, but I just don’t get that criticism. The Joe line would be boring if every infantry man was Grunt or every commando was Snake Eyes (though even without that being the case, we still are pretty overloaded with Snake Eyes figures). I already have Voltar. I didn’t need General Mayhem to be Voltar. General Mayhem is a cooler character and I think the fancy dress uniform fits him better than it does Voltar. So Destro has two generals now, big deal. Voltar was cast as a guy who was a good mercenary commander but tended to rely on luck rather than skill. General Mayhem, on the other hand, is a tactical genius with a sadistic streak a mile wide. I actually kind of like the idea of Destro’s two generals having completely opposite command styles. It just shows how Destro operates as an independent faction. He wants the best, not people that will do what he tells them to. Sure, he’s probably never going to have Voltar and General Mayhem running joint operations, but it’s still nice to have options when it comes to who to put in charge. In fact, I kind of wish I either had the ability to do dio-stories myself or that someone in the online Joe community had explored that facet of the Iron Grenadiers command structure in a story. I can see a lot of interesting story options using General Mayhem and Voltar because they’re such different characters.