25th Anniversary Doc
Doc is a tough figure for me. Like a lot of the 25th Anniversary product, he looks a bit dated. However, I went through the work to snag the stickers for the Doc mail away (and bought a couple comic packs I probably wouldn’t have bought otherwise to get said stickers), so I feel I should leave him on display. He’s an exclusive that I went to the trouble of running down and the day he showed up on my doorstep, he really did brighten my day. I was quite surprised to see his mailer box sitting by my apartment door when I got back from the final meeting of my 20th Century American History grad class. Heck, to be honest, I didn’t even realize that’s what it was. I wasn’t totally sure my form got in before the offer expired. I think I mailed it off literally the day before the offer ended. The plain outer box was about the same size as a lot of books I picked up from Amazon for my graduate school coursework so I thought something for that class that had finally shown up a few weeks too late. Flipping the box over and seeing the G.I. Joe logo made me happy and I’m glad to have Doc in my collection, but at the same time, I’m still a little surprised that he’s still on display.
From neck to knees, Doc uses Duke parts. Mercifully, I ordered mine late enough in the Doc production cycle that I got a Doc with fixed Duke arms. Not all Docs got that treatment and I have to say, the fixed arms really do help this figure a lot. They still have the same flawed elbows, but at least the wrists look better. Duke’s body does a surprisingly good job at looking like Doc. I do like the idea of a field medic having rolled up sleeves and I think the look works for him. Doc does get brand new lower legs and while I was critical of Jungle Assault Duke for having combat boots that look like normal shoes, I’m okay with them here on Doc. Doc’s not a combat trooper. Most of the time, he’s going to be on base, working in the hospital. There, all he’s going to need to survive is a pair of sensible shoes. They should be good enough that should he wind up out in the field he doesn’t become a liability, but at the same time, he doesn’t have to be wearing combat boots. Doc also has a brand new head, and I’m of two minds about it. It really does capture Doc’s look pretty well, but there’s just something that seems a bit off about it. I think part of it is that his sunglasses look just a little bit too small. The original Doc (who I only know of through pictures) kind of looks like he’s wearing big aviator sunglasses, but this Doc has shifted the size of his glasses down a little, and I think it hurts him. It throws off the look a bit, and I think that’s a shame. The original Doc’s face also had a bit more character in it. This Doc’s features just seem a little soft. Despite being done on a smaller scale, I think the original Doc has more detailing in his face. The original Doc looked like he was a bit older than the rest of the Joes, while the 25th Anniversary Doc seems a bit more fresh faced. I just don’t see Doc’s age and gravitas in his face like I do in photos of the original Doc. Overall, I think the head itself might also be just a little too small and that’s problematic. It’s not a bad design, but I think they just missed the boat a little on the execution.
Doc’s paint job is well executed and faithful, but at the same time, it seems a bit bland. Doc is predominantly khaki-colored and that’s fine. It’s a faithful update of his original look, but it strikes me as just a shade too dark. Either that, or they really needed to give the red cross tampos a little more color. The red crosses on his right arm and his left pocket blend in a little too much to the base of the figure. They stand out a lot better on a slightly lighter khaki color judging by photos of the original Doc. Doc doesn’t have a lot of other paint details, but what there is applied well. The buttons and belt are spot on and there’s no slop around these small details. Doc’s skintone also feels just a little too thick. I think part of the reason that some of the details on the face get lost is that you can’t see them for the paint color. Much like the khaki uniform, I think the 25th Anniversary Doc’s skintone is just a little darker than his original look and it’s kind of to the detriment of the figure. I think part of my problem with Doc’s sunglasses also stems from the fact that the details blend in just a little too much against the rather dark backdrop. Doc still looks good, but I think he’d look a bit better if they’d used something a little closer to the skintone they used for Roadblock the year before. For all its faults, the details on Roadblock’s arms and face sculpt didn’t get lost because you couldn’t see them and that’s just as important as a good mold in my book.
Doc has always had a unique set of accessories and Hasbro did a bang up job at giving Doc the exact same gear he had back in the day. Starting off at the top, Doc has a new helmet with a pair of what looks to be pill bottles strapped to the side of his head. Honestly, I find that kind of an odd choice. A cursory look around the Internet shows that Doc is really the only medic that’s ever done that. I just don’t quite know why he’d be carrying pills up there when he’s got as many easily accessible pockets as he does. Doc’s satchel is all new and has two pockets on the strap in addition to the carrying capacity of his satchel. I’m pleasantly surprised Hasbro went as far as to make this a new piece. The explosives bag 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes carried would have been good enough, but I’m glad they went the extra mile to give him something unique. Doc, as an avowed pacifist, carries no weapons, but that doesn’t mean he’s completely without other gear. Doc carries a small flare gun and an even larger flare launcher. I like the small flare gun. They really did a good job of making it look like an old flare gun. Plus, it’s designed to fit in the holster he has from his Duke legs, so Doc isn’t a figure with an empty holster. I don’t know why, but in the modern era of figures, empty holsters bug me. If they’re going to go to the trouble of giving a figure a functional holster, please give me a weapon that makes sense to be stored in it. Doc can also sling a larger flare launcher over his shoulder, but aside from being a throwback to the original figure’s accessories, I don’t quite know why Doc would need two flare launchers. They’re both good pieces, but it just seems a little redundant to me. Doc’s final accessory is also his largest, an old school stretcher. While 30th Lifeline has the more modern backboard, Doc is carrying around a stretcher that wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of M.A.S.H. just like he had back in the day. However, they did do a great job of updating the piece. First and foremost, it’s larger so a modern figure fits on it. They also recolored it so it matches Doc’s new color scheme. I also appreciate that they decided to keep the little legs on the bottom of it. I realize that a real stretcher wouldn’t have those underneath them. You carry stretchers places and then set them on top of things to help them lie flat. However, you can’t do that in this scale so to help the stretcher sit flat when on the ground, they put little nubs on the bottom just tall enough to keep it stable but not tall enough to make it look like it’s way off the ground. That was a great design idea when they originally made it and I’m glad it carried through. The underside of the stretcher also has a few pouches on it and the metal tubes tied to it got some attention from the paint team and the largest patch also gets a red cross tampo on it. Finally, I have to talk about the texture of the stretcher. I didn’t expect they’d do it, but they really did a great job of making the plastic look like canvas. That’s the level of detail I love from Hasbro. Sometimes they really surprise you with unexpected details like canvas texture on a stretcher. The accessories on Doc really shine and help pull the whole package together.
Doc comes together quite well, considering how many of the much-maligned 25th Anniversary Duke parts he uses. It replicates his classic look very well and they did a pretty good job of updating his design where necessary. I’ll also admit, that compared to other Joe exclusives, he’s the perfect piece. I believe the toy blog OAFE (in their own review of Doc) was where I saw this idea from, but once I saw it, I agreed with it wholeheartedly. An exclusive should be a figure who is popular but isn’t vital to a collection. Doc has always had a fan following, but I think a lot of Doc-less collectors would agree with me that not having Doc in their collection didn’t create a gaping hole in their collection. I never had a Doc growing up and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. As I said, I think I just barely got my Doc mail-away form in under the line. That’s why I wasn’t even expecting him to show up. The mail away stuff said “while supplies last” so I figured I wasn’t out anything aside from the cost of a stamp it they’d sold out of Docs in the meantime. When I think of both Zarana and Sgt. Slaughter, I don’t see the same non-essential personnel status that Doc has. I see them as two characters that played key parts in different parts of the Joe mythos. My Dreadnoks seem a little incomplete without Zarana there and I remember Sgt. Slaughter fondly as a kid. I’ll admit, Zarana’s not as much of a bother to me as Slaughter, but considering I have both their teams, I do wish I’d been able to complete them without having to drop the kind of money those figures both go for on the secondary market.