Black Out (2003 12 inch)
The 2000s series 12 inch figures continue to fascinate me. I was mainly collecting the 3 & 3/4 inch releases at the time of their rekease, but I did keep a watchful eye on the bigger guys. I was turned off initially by the lack of full cloth uniforms. Since revisiting them in the early days of this blog, I’ve come to a greater appreciation of the figures. There are some gems to be found, even if you have to add your own accessories here and there. After all, if you don’t like the molded shirt on a figure like Black Out, find an extra cloth one and put it on him. Problem solved–and hey, you’ve also created an incredibly easy custom.
Much attention has been given to the Stall family drama first introduced during the Spy Troops series, and though the story didn’t reach a conclusion (at least in the file cards) it was certainly a refreshing thing to see so many character connections on toy packaging. Black Out is not only a Joe washout who’s found gainful employment with a certain ruthless terrorist organization, he also has an interesting character element. He approaches his job in a cold, repetitive way. My take on the character is a chilling portrait of a “by the numbers” mercenary taken to the nth degree. I don’t want to say he’s calculating, but maybe rather soulless in his drive to perfect his deadly craft through constant practice. He’s even supposedly responsible for the disappearance of his own sister, Bombstrike. Sounds like one creepy dude.
The 12 inch head sculpt is much more impressive than its small scale counterpart. Actually, that figure’s main issue lies in its goofily painted cross-eyed pupils. I’ve often wondered if his errant gaze was some sort of purposeful design choice. After all, the file card described him as not brilliant, but simply incredibly diligent in honing his marksmanship enough to become very proficient. The. Again, he just could be crosseyed. This larger version is one of the nicest head sculpts of the era, and the face conveys the right kind of personality to reflect this cool new Cobra baddie.
The uniform is an interesting mix of molded details, and removable elements. I think the 2000s series succeeded in that aspect where the Hall of Fan line didn’t. Not only were the figures more possible, but the accessories were playable. The rifle in particular is a real standout. I don’t recall seeing it before, and its uniqueness is a nice break from the AR-15s that seem to populate the Joe lines.
I’m not sure what a sniper is doing with a powered gauntlet, but I don’t care. It’s simply the coolest hand accessory to come along in the 12 inch line since Operation: Shadow Ops’ Power Glove.