Blowtorch (50th Anniversary)
All right, loyal readers, I have a confession to make. I bought the 25th Anniversary Blowtorch and had buyer’s remorse pretty quickly. I don’t know why, but I just really didn’t like the figure once I got it out of the package. I think part of it was that the facemask on mine didn’t fit properly and made him look off but his head sculpt wasn’t that great either, so I couldn’t display him without his rather derpy looking helmet. He’s still in my collection, but he’s buried pretty deep. However, the 50th Anniversary Blowtorch (which in itself is a straight-up rerelease of the hard-to-find Pursuit of Cobra version) just works for me for some strange reason. He’s not my favorite figure by any means, but I don’t dislike him nearly as much as I do the original release of the figure. I think there were just enough little changes that made this version work better than its 25th Anniversary counterpart.
The 50th Anniversary Blowtorch uses all the same parts as the 25th Anniversary version. The reused parts for Blowtorch come from a surprising place. His legs use new pieces for the lower legs but 25th Anniversary arctic Snake Eyes for the uppers. The leg pockets are swapped out for Blowtorch’s classic armor. The parts work really well together here. The legs are appropriately bulky and wrinkled for a heavy fire suit and the added armor makes it look like a combat-oriented fire suit. His torso also comes from the 25th Anniversary arctic Snake Eyes, though you’d never know it because he’s got removable chest armor and a new belt with an armored codpiece and fire extinguisher riding on his lower back. Pieces like this make me love the new modular Joe construction because they help disguise parts reuse a lot more. Hasbro can create a look like Blowtorch’s without having to tool up a totally new torso and I think that puts a lot more interesting figures on the table that might not be doable if Hasbro had to tool up a new full torso with little reuse potential for figures like Blowtorch or Sci-Fi. Blowtorch’s arms were molded just for him and while they look great, they’re not as functional as I would like. They look just as insulated as his legs and have some armored panels on them, but since they’re built a little heavier, the elbow joints can’t bend as deeply. Add in the fact that his wrists are cocked a little bit and you have arms that really don’t work all that well. He can at least hold his accessories decently, but whatever he holds in his left hand looks a tad unnatural. I really do like the thick gloves he’s wearing but since Blowtorch is an older figure, that means he doesn’t have all the articulation we’ve gotten used to. I realize it’s a petty complaint but considering how many 50th Anniversary figures pulled their tooling from late-model tooling, the lack of wrist articulation stands out and not in a good way. I didn’t mind it with 25th Anniversary Blowtorch, but now that he’s standing next to more modern figures as a 50th Anniversary figure, he seems just a little dated. Finally, we have to talk about Blowtorch’s head sculpt. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt his facial expression was just not right for the character. I’ve always seen Blowtorch as a pretty serious guy, but with his seemingly permanently cocked lips and eyebrow, he seems a bit more like a partier than anything else. Plus, that look on his face reminds me of that guy at the bar who’s always trying to pick up chicks. I hate that guy…I find him annoying. Blowtorch should not remind me of Barney Stinson. Maybe it’s just me, but I get a really skeevy vibe from Blowtorch and that’s unfortunate.
I think part of what makes me like the 50th Anniversary Blowtorch more than his 25th Anniversary version is that the paint scheme works a little bit better in my opinion. It’s the same darker red and yellow that the phantom Pursuit of Cobra version used and I thought it was a much better look then and think it’s still better now. While I realize Blowtorch’s original color scheme was yellow and orange, I just found that too eye-blindingly bright. I like bright figures as much as the next guy, but that was just a little too much for me. Blowtorch’s base color is still yellow, but this time all his armor is a nice dark red. It really looks so much better that way. The paint work on the figure isn’t amazing, but it’s serviceable. The red on his leg armor is a bit fuzzy, but it at least fills the sculpted element. The only bit of slop is unfortunately on his chest armor. There’s a pretty noticeable bit of red where it shouldn’t be on his yellow chest strap. It’s unfortunately eye catching. I think the other thing that saves the figure for me is that they gave some paint attention to his helmet. I don’t know why, but I really hated the yellow facemask on the 25th Anniversary version’s helmet. I realize that criticizing Blowtorch for being unrealistic is a bit of a stretch since the military hasn’t used flamethrower troopers in a while, but for some reason, I just couldn’t believe a military operator would be wearing a yellow helmet and a yellow facemask. However, shifting it to an olive drab facemask really makes him work for me. First of all, it keeps Blowtorch’s masked “face” from being an endless sea of yellow. Secondly, when you’re looking for a color that screams military, you can’t go wrong with olive green. The paint work on Blowtorch’s head is also better. First of all, I think they molded Blowtorch’s head out of flesh colored plastic. The details on 25th Anniversary Blowtorch’s head seemed somewhat muted because the paint on his head was applied too thickly. This time, the details are a bit easier to see since they’re not covered by an overly thick layer of paint. Blowtorch’s hair is also a couple of shades lighter, which brings his look much more in line with his 1984 look. While the rest of the figure’s look may be a bit more of a departure from his classic colors, I’m okay with that. Blowtorch has always been a very brightly colored figure and while I don’t mind that, I also appreciate that Hasbro eventually toned his colors down. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his original color scheme, but I think the toned down one looks even better.
The 50th Anniversary Blowtorch also benefits from getting the Pursuit of Cobra version’s expanded gear kit. Blowtorch’s primary weapon is still his impressive flamethrower rig. The backpack is very nicely detailed and the flamethrower looks great. While I think it’s a little more advanced that the flamethrowers we generally think of, that’s fine by me since the Joe line has always been a bit more fantastical in their interpretations of military hardware. The hose is nice and flexible and stays attached well whether the flamethrower is in his hand or attached to his backpack. I’m still not sure what place a flamethrower trooper has on the modern battlefield, but Blowtorch’s extra gear helps make him a more effective battlefield operator.
Blowtorch has the same great rifle that Pursuit of Cobra Beachhead has and I think it’s a great piece. It’s a basic weapon that works well for just about every Joe. Blowtorch also carries Pursuit of Cobra Firefly’s mines. The Pursuit of Cobra Blowtorch’s filecard calls them flame mines. I’m not quite sure what the battlefield applications of “flame mines” would be, but I do appreciate that Hasbro at least tried to justify their inclusion here. Since Blowtorch has always been characterized as equal parts flamethrower trooper and firefighter, Blowtorch actually gets some firefighting gear for a change. He’s got a red fire axe and another fire extinguisher that he can wear on his back in place of his flamethrower backpack. You can kind of fake a way for him to hold it and have the spray nozzle pointing towards flames. It’s not a great solution, but I do appreciate that considering how his filecard has mentioned that he’s always had a healthy respect for the power of fire, I’m glad he’s actually carrying a little fire suppression gear as well. I’ve always liked how Larry Hama’s characterizations sometimes did little things like that. I’m glad that Hasbro finally referenced it in the figure’s gear as well.
Blowtorch is definitely not the most impressive figure in the 50th Anniversary line. However, I do have to applaud him for at least being a bit more interesting than the 25th Anniversary version. I think part of that is because of his better set of accessories, but I think it’s also a testament to the fact that the Blowtorch figure is pretty solid, but some of the paint choices they made the first time were a little questionable. Some of the 25th Anniversary figures suffered a bit because Hasbro tried to perfectly replicate the original figure and I think Blowtorch was one that wound up being a little weak because they didn’t make some little changes of things that they had to do that way back in 1984 because they couldn’t do it then that they can do now.