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!

Big Bear (1991) Big Bear (1991) Big Bear (1991)


  • I got my old Big Bear from my uncle which he picked up on one of his many business trips.
    For those who want to know, Big Bear appeared in the DIC episode, ‘Chunnel’ in which he is seen playing chess

  • Big Bear’s a solid figure and I got a lot of use out of it.

  • This is a solid mold and good figure. I’d argue the 1998 Lt. Gorky usage is better just due to the offbeat, but realistic colors and additional paint masks. The 1993 Mail Away figure isn’t bad, either. There was a time I army built this figure for a Russian strike force. I liked the gear and the figure enough and they were easy to get in the late 1990’s if you were buying up lots of ’92-’94 figures.

    • You know, now that you mention Lt. Gorky, when I first saw that figure at a Toys R Us store back in the late 90’s, I thought it was Big Bear. I also thought that Colonel Brekhov was Red Star. I found out many years later, that both Lt. Gorky, and Colonel Brekhov have different names, and last names, so they are supposed to be different characters. I think. Or I’m not sure. Because Lt. Gorky seems to be from the same place in Russia as Big Bear. And also, Colonel Brekhov, and Red Star are both from the same place, Odessa, Ukraine. So, those are just two coincidences that just happened, right? What? And to make matters even more confusing, in the website, it says that the character Volga, is supposed to be Daina. So why didn’t the Hasbro folks just named that Volga figure, Daina instead? And let’s not forget that there are still many members of the Oktober Guard, that to this day, they have never been released in o-ring mode yet. Which makes me very angry, since I am a big fan of the Oktober Guard. And didn’t the Oktober Guard have their own vehicle? I would really appreciate it if the Hasbro folks would make that vehicle.

      • I was browsing yojoe one day and I got confused at many of the figures from that era. For example, there is a repaint of Roadblock who is supposed to be a new character who is fixit man and not a machine gunner. That’s not the only example. Most of those ‘new’ characters are repaints of older figures.
        My guess is that Hasbro planned to create new characters but had to settle with 12th hour repaints instead.

        • It was mostly trademark issues. Hasbro didn’t renew their trademarks for Roadblock’s name or General Hawk’s or the Baroness. Roadblock clone Double-Blast was still a machine gunner, though. Make matters more confusing, the 8-pack Roadblock has Double-Blast’s file name.

  • I’m not a fan of Big Bear as a character, but he’s a solid figure.

  • Pingback: Joe A Day – Big Bear! | Mobile Strike Force

  • Another figure whose backpack and rifle were reused ad nausem in the New Sculpt era.

  • I love the Oktober Guard, even the two “new recruits” we got in the original ARAH series. One of Big Bear’s seldom mentioned features is his similarity to the 60s GI Joe Soldiers of the World Russian Infantryman. The particular shade of green, brown web gear, and furry hat are all visual nods to the 60s original. I’d say that BigBear looks like an updated version of the original with cold climate gear.

    My only real gripe with Big Bear is his weapons. The launcher is just ridiculous, and the gun is the worst “AK47” released in the line. Hasbro had made several Kalashnikovs and a Dragunov by that point, it’s a shame they used this one.

  • Big Bear was a decent figure. Red Star was the more distinctive Russian though.

  • Awesome mold sculpt on this one. The Lt. Gorky repaint with the gray tightened up the molded textures and details, but the skin tone was too pale to knock that one above the original for me.

    Spring-fire launchers are not my thing. There are some good ones, this one was not one of them for me. The short AK style rifle I am okay with, however, shoulder straps not much fun, I would have preferred a second hand grip or something.

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