Big Ben (1991)
The 1991 series still holds a special place for me as a collector. It was the first set of figures I encountered upon re-entering the world of GI Joe. When checking out the cardbacks, I was excited to see not only some old favorites newly redesigned, but also some new faces. Big Ben was an immediate standout. The head sculpt in particular impressed me. There’s a a lot of character in his stoic face.
Ben here is a figure whose body mold and accessories were plundered time and again during the later second o-ring generation. How many times did he get reused? Well, there were several more versions as himself, and bits of him were reused in various comic packs. His machine gun was included with fifteen different figures from 2000 to 2006. The backpack appeared six times during the same period. Even the satchel and grenades showed up a few times. Wow.
Big Ben’s usefulness has been somewhat limited for me. The bundled up nature of his uniform made a great arctic repaint years later, and he always generally looks good in cold weather situations. However, he seems out of place in some other environs, which is a shame, since he’s the team’s SAS operative. I’d like to throw him into some desert ops, or a jungle theater sometime.
He made a few appearances in the DIC animated GI Joe series, and of course he was outfitted in his heavy jacket and hat, despite the locale. If you’d like to experience Ben in animated action, check out the episode General Confusion, in which the Joes are the victims of budget cuts, and Big Ben gets all hot and bothered over an attractive US Senate budget specialist who turns out to be…well, I’ll give you two guesses who she really is.
While Ben has been re-released in o-ring format enough times, he’s not had a reinterpretation. Something along the lines of the Palitoy Action Force SAS trooper would have been a welcome change. Maybe with some recent attention for the 90s from the Collectors Club, we’ll see a modern style Big Ben show up. I’m ready for one, as long as he doesn’t wear out his welcome again.