Monkeywrench (1986)

by KansasBrawler

This figure was the final one I snagged from the dealer floor on Joe Con, and weirdly, was one I’d wanted since I first got into Joe collecting. Monkeywrench was one of the few figures my brother had that I’d always really wanted, but for the most bizarre reason humanly possible, I mean, it’s Monkeywrech—he didn’t do much in either the cartoon or the comics but…his head sculpt looked quite a bit like my father’s. It’s a coincidence, yes, but the fact that I felt he looked like my father made Monkeywrench awesome.

The figure itself is a nicely designed Dreadnok. I always appreciated his look a lot more than the Dreadnoks like Zandar, Thrasher or Zanzibar. While those three look more like refugees from other groups, Monkeywrench had pretty strong ties to the original three Dreadnoks, looking more like a badass biker than a new-wave English punk, a refugee from Road Warrior, or a modern pirate. I realize Zartan’s got a weird look, but I’m more willing to forgive that since he’s the leader of the Dreadnoks and has stronger ties to Cobra than the rest of the Dreadnoks. Let’s be fair, everyone in the higher echelons of Cobra dresses pretty weirdly and Zartan should be no different, but I’ve always preferred my Dreadnoks to look more like bikers than anything else. Growing up in South Dakota, I’ve seen bikers crossing my state for the Sturgis biker rally since I was three…and let me tell you, I’ve seen more bikers dress like the original three Dreadnoks and Monkeywrench than I ever did any of the other later additions to the group.

While his look is simple, it’s simplicity is really well done. The dark red vest with a popped collar is a bit of an artifact of the 80s, but it still looks very nice and the five grenades across his chest are nicely detailed. His gloves look very nice and would make sense for a biker and when you look closely at them, you’ll notice that the band around the wrist is even supposed to be spiked, which makes them even more intimidating. The lower part of the chest also has a nicely-defined musculature so it’s clear Monkeywrench is supposed to be a bit of a bruiser.

While the upper half of Monkeywrench’s body didn’t have that many extra details, Hasbro really put a lot of focus on the lower half. His patched jeans look nice and the patches help break up what could have been kind of boring light blue legs. The outsides of both legs also have the heavy-duty denim seem sculpted into them and looking closely at the waist piece, you’ll notice he even has pockets on the front and when you take a look at the back pockets, you’ll find Hasbro went as far as to sculpt in the stitching on the pockets themselves like almost every pair of jeans I’ve ever owned has on them. That level of detailing impresses me greatly and I have to give Hasbro credit for throwing in a lot of little details like that which I’m sure kids never really noticed—I know I never did. The pistol and holster sculpted on his right leg looks nice and the red bandanas tied just above the boot look great, though to be fair, I’m not sure if they would serve any purpose in real life. Rounding out the legs, Monkeywrench also has a pretty nice pair of biker boots. While it’s not noticeable at a quick glance, even the boots are pretty well detailed as he’s got a strap and buckle across the boot where the foot meets the leg and a reinforcing plate running across the top of the boot. Having known a few bikers in my day, this is very similar to the footwear that they actually wear, and that attention to detail is quite impressive.

Finally, any discussion of Monkeywrench has to mention his rather strange weapon, something I think I often called a pitchfork launcher as a kid. I’ll freely admit, it’s a strange weapon…but you have to admit, it’s also pretty iconic. I’m quite sure had the 1990s Joes not gone to the weapon tree format for gear, Monkeywrench probably would have been the only character ever to have a pitchfork launcher as a part of his gear. I imagine it was meant as a throwback to the original Dreadnoks who all had some sort of industrial-grade destruction device, and while the pitchfork gun does look pretty intimidating, it’salso a pretty odd thing to have on the battlefield, especially when it appears it’s designed to shoot the fork into something and then reel it in. I’ll admit, that’s a pretty nasty thing to do to someone, but it’s also a little hard to understand why you’d think that was a good tactical idea in the first place. I know when I played with this figure as a kid with my brother, we tended to ignore that weapon and focus on
him always throwing grenades at people because of his nice bandolier there.

Having finally added Monkeywrench to my collection, I’m glad to have him. However, that’s likely moreso due to the personal history I have with him than anything else and why I saved this Field Report for close to Father’s Day. He’s a decent looking figure, but his lack of a real weapon that could be effective on the battlefield does understandably limit his appeal to collectors. That said, his design is solid and his weapon is unique, and in my opinion, those two things are the hallmark of the Dreadnoks especially and in that respect he’s probably the best of the later additions to that particular group of figures.

Also, P.S.—Happy Father’s Day, Dad

  • Acer
    #1 written by Acer 10 months ago

    Nice report. The only Monkeywrenches I have are the DTC version and the ROC one. I always wondered what went into the decision to give an explosives expert a trident launcher.

  • Dreadnok: Spirit
    #2 written by Dreadnok: Spirit  10 months ago

    Great looking figure and he does fit the original three Dreadnoks better than any of the other additions.

  • Dekkard
    #3 written by Dekkard  10 months ago

    I always figured, as he had no spare tridents, he needed to reel it back in to fire again. A bit of a limitation. I also struggle to think of him with a Welsh accent but I guess that’s what he would have.

  • Neapolitan Joe
    #4 written by Neapolitan Joe  10 months ago

    Monkeywrench, a cool action figure! Great review, thank You!

  • troublemagnet
    #5 written by troublemagnet  10 months ago

    Nice review.I took an accessorry pack trident-gun and painted it black and grey.
    Looks terrific now.

  • Skymate
    #6 written by Skymate  10 months ago

    My Monkeywrech [usally labelled "Spanners" down here] has seen better days. I still have his origonal head and torso. The rest of him is made from C.O.R.P.S figures who had simmilar looking parts.

    I really didnt like their portrayel in the comics, they were always beating the Joes in their sorry rattle trucks. Come on the H.A.V.O.C could beat the thundermachine any day.

  • Clutch
    #7 written by Clutch 10 months ago

    Very thorough review, KB.

    I’m not a ‘Nok fan for the same reason Skymate cites, (they proved way too effective, far more than the actual Cobra legions) but I did pick up a carded Monkeywrench a few years back in order to help complete my Battle Ribbons set.

    Monkeywrench here wraps up the classic Dreadnok era since he continues the motif of wearing blue jeans, eye gear, and/or facial hair like the previous 3 guys, but his weapon is very ’86-ish in terms of something that Dr. Mindbender might have come up with.

    It’s also cool that he looks like your dad. I have a few figures in my own collection which remind me of relatives or acquaintances. Happy Father’s Day to you guys.

  • Skymate
    #8 written by Skymate  10 months ago

    Is it Fathers Day?

    @Clutch i much prefered them in the cartoon as the comic releif/ bumbling oafs.

    There is no way a pack of poorly equiped bikers, wearing tattered jeans could take on the U.S. army or other defence force and win. Lowlight could have easily picked them off at two miles away.

    I also much prefered Zarana in the cartoon [computer complications] to the way she acted in the comics

  • Nega
    #9 written by Nega  10 months ago

    Since his name is a joke on the Scottish nursery rhyme “Wee Willie Winky”, he should’ve been Scottish.

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