Big Bear (1992)
Imagine my surprise when coming back to GI Joe collecting in 1991 and discovering that a member of the Oktober Guard had been released as a GI Joe figure. Red Star, though not one of the original members I remembered from the Marvel comic in the 1980s, nonetheless represented an element of the GI Joe mythos that I never though I’d see make it to the action figure aisle. Who else might have shown up–Candy Appel, Soft Master or the Red Ninjas?
Big Bear’s release the next year would be the only other Guard member until a pack in the late 90s and the amazing comic packs of the mid 2000s. He seems at furst glance to be a pretty nondescript figure, but a closer look reveals quite a lot of character building detail. The uniform is nicely bulky, befitting a character wbo’s likely seen action in frigid climates.
Big Bear had no comic exposure (unless you consider him an analog of an existing OG member) and only a handful of appearances in the DIC cartoon. That’s probably for the best, considering team mate Red Star’s stilted and stereotypical “Russkie” accent and delivery in his animated role.
Being a post ’91 figure, he’s equipped with a gigantic missile launcher that, while not ridiculously over designed, is still too large for the figure to hold and balance. Of course, the included weapon included a handy battle stand. His rifle and pack are pretty great, and hey–they’re molded in black!