Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth over the larger scale GI Joes. I knew little to nothing about them as a kid, only being exposed to a few Adventure Team figures once at a neighbor’s house. It wasn’t until the Hall of Fame series in the 90’s, and the rise of toy collecting as a hobby that I learned about the world of 12 inch Joes. I picked up Tomart’s guide to action figures, and when I saw all the 60’s and 70’s Joes for the first time, I was hooked. I went on a buying spree for a while, and obtained several 60’s Joes, but ultimately sold them as funds grew short.
I picked up again with the late 90’s Classic Collection, and have recently jumped into the odd Adventures 2010 series. Though I’m usually a small Joe collector, I still have a heart for the big guys, and the advantage their scale brings in terms of detail and accessories. Enter the amazing Sideshow Collectibles.
I’ve also been a bit of a Sideshow collector, though not of their 12 inch figures. I purchased all of their 8 inch Universal Monsters series in the 2000’s, and was impressed by the film accurate attention to detail, quality of sculpt and nicely themed accessories. I had heard the same sort of positive things about Sideshow’s 12 inch GI Joe line, but hadn’t had an opportunity to check one out first hand. Thanks to the fine folks at Sideshow, I got the chance recently. I’m happy to report that whatever you’ve heard about Sideshow’s quality, attention to detail and dedication to the spirit of the Real American Hero line can be multiplied times ten when you get one of these figures in hand.
First up, the packaging. It takes cues from the heyday of the small Joe line, but works in its own modern takes. The package folds out, with gear on the left side and the figure on the right. The flaps in between provide copy about the accessories and the story of GI Joe and the figure itself. An 80’s style explosion covers the background behind the figure. The package is friendly to those of us who like to open our figures and also keep the packaging intact. Everything is held in with two part trays; the sort of thing I’ve seen in a lot of Japanese toylines. It’s nice to be able to see most everything in front of you when you open the box.
Which brings me to the first point of amazement; the sheer number and quality of accessories. The figure is loaded with so many accessories, you can display Rock ‘n’ Roll in many different configurations, from fully loaded to a stripped down, bare bones look. This goes all the way to the hands, which include both gloved and non-gloved versions in several different positions. There’s also a set of posed boots, to help with those kneeling poses that can be difficult to maintain with flat soled feet.
Rock ‘N’ Roll is supplied with an arsenal of weapons, from his standard machine gun, to a sidearm, knife, grenades and even a very familiar looking rifle. Where have I seen that before? The weapons themselves have their own share of details, and I was surprised by the opening magazine and removable scope in the rifle. The trademark bandoliers are also provided, and can be draped over his shoulders to really get that vintage 80’s figure feel. I’ve often remarked that I find figures more interesting when they take elements from old designs and give them a new twist. That’s what ultimately makes this figure successful from a pure RAH perspective: it updates an older GI Joe character while keeping those little touches of personality that made the 80’s toys so much fun.
The figure wouldn’t be much use if the body underneath wasn’t poseable. Rock ‘N’ Roll incorporates the Prometheus 1.2 body, with over 30 points of articulation. Joints are easily movable and stay in place. Poses are easy to maintain, and again the posed boots help with balance for those crouched positions. There’s also realistic texture to the arms. For someone who’s accustomed to basic, flat molded arms, this is a revelation that adds to the overall realism.
The cut and fit of the uniform is well done, and it drapes realistically. The cloth used also appears to be scaled down, with a small, tight textured weave. The same applies to the web gear, straps and snaps.
Removable insignia is one of my favorite elements, and they can be placed on certain velcro backed areas of the uniform, providing another customization option. The outrageous number of display options, from body parts to weapons to the uniform, bring to mind the hobby level Japanese figure kits of the past. I’ve heard some collectors recently mention that the Pursuit of Cobra Snake Eyes was like a scaled-down Sideshow figure. While I can see the comparison, in terms of included gear and changeable head, no previous GI Joe figure I’ve seen can compare to what Sideshow has accomplished with this series. Absolutely amazing.