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Feb 04

Metal-Head (1990)

Who would’ve thought that the words memorable character and DIC GI Joe could co-exist in a sentence? They can to me, thanks to this guy. The series was crawling with lukewarm characters, due to some pretty pedestrian writing and voice acting. There were exceptions of course, and Metal-Head was one of them. Now, I have to explain that memorable doesn’t always mean cool. Metal-Head in the cartoon is a doofus, and can quickly get on one’s nerves. He has more life in his portrayal than many others in the series, thanks to spirited (if at times grating) voice acting by Gary Chalk.

I think that mostly due to this fact, he is one of my favorite post-86 named Cobras. Even though he’s kind of a nutjob, in my Cobra heirarchy he’s got pride of place along with mainstays like Zartan and Major Bludd. He’s a goofball of the highest order in look and attitude, but loveable despite it.

Metal Head is literally a walking missile arsenal. With launchers on his legs and back, he’s even more heavily armed than Scrap Iron. He’s got some fairly thunderous thighs, but they must serve him well when a leg mounted launcher fires off. This isn’t one of the more realistic figures in the line, considering that he’d probably end up cartwheeling all over the battlefield when his missiles fire. Then again, you have to credit Destro and MARS for thinking outside the box and developing a human missile platform.

Speaking of Destro, I often forget about Metal-Head’s affiliation with the Iron Grenadiers. I suppose it’s due to the cartoon portrayal and his all-around prominence in the series.

As a figure, I’m more impressed by his accessories than the mold itself. The figure looks better without the helmet on, and is another whose card art look surpasses the toy. While I like the figure and its connection to the DIC cartoon, I find myself using the 1994 version and its convention set repaint more often in displays.

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  1. Acer

    Ah, now THIS was one of the early figures I got when I first got into Joe back in 2005. I got him at the same time as Dee-Jay, Countdown, and Deep-Six V2 from one of my favorite antique shops. These days, I just need to get him a new set of thighs with unbroken pegs, and the launcher for his right leg.

    Speaking of his thighs, I do wish that Hasbro could’ve spared a part of their budget to paint the straps to match those on his torso, and continue the red plating from his lower legs up to his thighs.

    Also, did you misplace his pistol?

  2. Skymate

    I have never seen the DIC series but according to other people i know [who havnt seen it either] its ‘terrible’. I didnt know Gary Chalk [Optimus Primal] was the voice of Metal head. Now i know and we all know how the rest of that goes

    1. Acer

      Chalk also voiced Pathfinder, Shockwave, Gristle of the Headhunters, and BIOK on that cartoon as well. Here are some of the other Beast Wars alumni who lent their voices to the Joe toon:
      -Don Brown (Scorponok): Sub-Zero, Drop Zone of Sky Patrol
      -Jim Byrnes (Inferno): Alley-Viper in the “Operation: Dragonfire” miniseries.
      -Ian James Corlett (Cheetor): Rampart and Gnawgahyde
      -David Kaye (Megatron): General Hawk in season 2.
      -Blu Mankuma (Tigatron, Tigerhawk): Roadblock
      -Scott McNeil (Rattrap, Dinobot, Silverbolt, Waspinator): Freefall, Storm Shadow, Headman, Slice, and Dice.
      -Pauline Newstone (Airazor) and Doug Parker (Terrorsaur) provided additional voices.

    2. Little Boa

      I was going to say Gary Chalk was most famous as Optimus Primal. He also voiced one of the characters on the very underrated cartoon Conan the Adventurer (the viking Snagg). Zula in that cartoon was voiced by Arthur Burghardt (Destro). Gary Chalk can be seen in person in a handful of episodes of Stargate SG-1 as a Russian general.

      Following up on the rest below (Beast Wars), albeit a tangent here- IIRC Jim Byrnes was on the Highlander series. Blu Mankuma’s been around. He was in an early X-Files episode, at least 1 ’90s Outer Limits episode. I found it fun to keep an eye out for voice actors’ appearing for real. Alan Oppenheimer (most known for Skeletor, Man at Arms) did a lot of stuff and Chris Latta (Cobra Commander) was in 2 Star Trek episodes.

  3. Carson

    My favorite detail on Metal-Head is the target engraved on his goggles…. really nice touch there!

  4. Kansas Brawler

    This was the only version of Metal Head I had as a kid, and I really liked his look, but man, it was also a figure that looked a lot more fun on the card than when playing with him because he’s one of the few characters that relies so heavily on his accessories to make him work…and unfortunately, those accessories are rather cumbersome. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the design (especially the target on his goggles like Carson) but he just suffered a bit from having to have all that extra stuff hanging off him to make him a worthwhile use on the battle field (in my opinion).

    1. Little Boa

      Cumbersome yes. I wonder who could win in a duel, Fast Draw or Metal-Head?

  5. Clutch

    I can’t see Metal Head lasting very long in battle wearing all that gear, yet his debut appearance in the comic portrayed him as a Dreadnok-like street punk who carelessly blew up the Joes’ armor division while mocking them simultaneously. A couple of issues later someone remembered that Metal Head was an Iron Grenadier and he suddenly switched to a more proper Scottish “yes, Sire” accent. It was just as bizarre as DIC’s take on the guy.

  6. Scott

    Being an Iron Grenadier and individual bad guy, Metal Head is an important part of my collection.

    I’ve had this one since at least 1991 or early 1992. Compared to Fast Draw, he was never left in the box as often in set ups. However, Metal Head was never a prominent figure in any set up that I can think of now.

    At one point, the rear-lower-back peg snapped and left me with nowhere to connect the hose. A thigh peg may have done the same. I did come across a second Metal Head and fixed him up, luckily.

    The delicacy of the little pegs have led me very rarely put anything more than the backpack for Metal Heads gear now.

    1. Nega

      There were early releases with standard size pegs on the thighs and later with thicker pegs (and launchers to go with them). Had both, neither held up well. IIRC, I broke at least one peg off each version. Not a good design by Hasbro.

      1. Rob Buzan

        Yeah, I had several in a lot a few years ago, and not a one had two leg pegs intact. Luckily found an unbroken one at a local flea market a while back.

      2. Scott

        I knew of the different figure peg sizes, however, I had not considered the attaching gear hole sizes! I most likely have the smaller gear from my first figure! Yikes!

  7. Nathan Noah

    The first Joe my brother ever owned. My first was Repeater. Before those, we just played with out friend’s and neighbor’s Joes.

  8. Scot

    He’s a decent figure and a nice addition to the IG ranks. You have to come up with a role for him, though, like Scrap Iron so he’s not totally dependent on lugging around cumbersome (if neat) accessories. In lack of a Sgt. Major (ARAH, of course), Metal Head could help lead ground troops. Or, with that visor, maybe fire the main gun in the Razorback.

    Dunno what’s up with that goiter though. He and ’94 Stalker have been drinking some funny water…

  9. Anonymous

    One Of my favorite 90s cobra characters. I only use the missile pack and use one of the thigh launchers as a holster for his pistol. Oddly the 1994 sci fi helmet of the funskool version works better than the helmet with this figure.

  10. Nega

    I found the Dic characterization off putting. I had the figure months before the Dic series aired. I got the impression Metal-Head was more of a ruthless killer type than wild-man screw-up.

  11. Neapolitan Joe

    Great M.A.R.S. character!

  12. dave

    He’s very strong.

  13. sf1378

    Great toy but the sculpt was let down, especially with no paint on his thighs AND around his neck to simulate the rollneck top he has on as per the card art. In the UK the pack made no mention of the IG’s but that he was Destro’s Anti Tank Specialist. The card had the Cobra Enemy emblem too, well the then Euro version of it. Also after a short while they repackaged the red translucent masked Cobra Commanders glider bomb, launcher and gold machine gun even though the card art wasn’t changed as Hasbro UK were including spring fire launchers with all the range we got in the 1990s, some other figures like Ambush, Desert Scorpion, S.A.W Viper, Bullhorn even got new card art done by presumably a UK artist who used those Pantone Marker Pens to render the artwork in a wonderful style. It really annoyed me seeing Metal Head and S.A.W Viper (who was repacked with Incinerators launcher, bombs and flamethrower gun!) as they just didn’t seem ‘right’ without their ‘correct’ weaponry. However, many others in the UK range still had their original weapons etc AND a spring fire weapon too so it did seem odd to me that some had their weapons replaced while others had a launcher simply added to their gear (in a matching colour even – check out the UK Ambush, he has the pack and launcher with missile from Snow Serpent V2 but in matching colours more appropriate to Ambush…).

  14. sf1378

    Ha, not a goiter, Hasbro cut costs by not applying the paint app for his roll neck sweater collar as per his card art.

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