Barrel Roll (2003)
Barrel Roll is one of the coolest figures of its time. What? Yes. How much cooler can you get in a GI Joe line when a new character not only starts an intriguing storyline, but also includes a disguisable vehicles?
To start off, Barrel Roll introduced a new specialty that’s interesting, a high altitude sniper. The concept is simple, and makes sense, at least from the fanciful side of GI Joe pseudo military jargon. What’s not to like about a guy in a glider picking off Cobras? There must have been something about him that’s struck a chord with creators and fans, since he’s appeared several times since. The backstory from his bio opens up a nice little story that continued with other figures in the line. He’s connected to Blackout and Bombstrike in one of the best dysfunctional family tales this side of Star Wars.
Articulation and accessories also shine. He’s equipped with swivel wrists, which help him assume more sniper like poses than Joe figures were previously able to accomplish. On the accessory side, there’s the glider. Looking at this as a whole package, I really miss the deluxe figures. In a unique move, the glider also Converted to a Cobra vehicle thanks to a snap-on symbol and different missiles. Finally, this supreme sniper is equipped with a unique new rifle.
I’ve mentioned the often ridiculous Spy Troops armor before. Barrel Roll has one of the most sleek disguises of the Spy Troops series. The outfit is I think actually useable as his own armor, a natural thing considering he’s basically unprotected when flying his glider. As a Cobra disguise it’s a bit lame, but I like the look overall.
The era was a missed opportunity in terms of introducing fun new characters to the GI Joe mythos, and allowing them to grow. There’s only so much to be done with the 80s crew, and a little new blood continuing the story could have kept things fresh for new young collectors. After all, beyond the great toys, it was the universe of characters that for most of us to stick with Joe in its heyday. There were a few gems like this guy hidden among the dozens of other figures from the early 2000s, and he’s one worth checking out.