Dr. Mindbender (2003)
By Past Nastification
GI Joe in 1:18th scale has had several eras. They are ARAH, New Sculpt, 25A/Modern. The 25A/Modern Era is currently in vogue, and the ARAH will always have its place in toy history. The NS era, though, was full of mistakes and missed opportunities. It never quite landed. It’s widely disliked by collectors.
As someone who liked the NS figures, I can generally find the good in them. But some figures capture only the bad parts of an era and none of its good parts. Sadly, this 2003 Dr. Mindbender is one of them. It’s everything bad about the New Sculpt Era in one complete package.
To further frustrate, this isn’t even a “mad scientist” Dr. Mindbender, it’s a “dressed like a circus performer” Dr. Mindbender. As someone who much prefers Dr. Mindbender in a lab coat, as opposed to a cape, I can’t find anything salvageable about this figure.
The head sculpt has an acceptable face, but not enough volume in the back. Is he missing part of his brain?
The costume is atrocious. The body is bad, but it would have better used for Tomax/Xamot, who actually had precedent for wearing circus performer costumes.
The monkey arms on this figure are some of the worst in the NS era. The fingers almost reach the knees. If the hands were sculpted in an outreaching position, the fingers would have hit the knees. As this figure doesn’t have any wrist articulation, the static hand position is about as unnatural as could possibly have been sculpted.
The feet are oversized, sporting shoes and lower leg armor (I think it’s armor) that would look more at place on an Iron Man figure than on Dr. Mindbender.
The gear included for Dr. Mindbender included the cape, two golden revolvers (I only have one shown), and a Tele-Viper scanner-gun thing. The revolver, I’m pained to admit, is pretty good. The Tele-Viper weapon is a plausible stretch, but its techno-feel makes it somewhat plausible for Dr. Mindbender to have. Had it been cast in the same golden color as the revolver it would have been better. The other use of this Dr. Mindbender mold included the Tele-Viper weapon in silver, and it looked interesting.
Please note that this is a figure that was packaged with another figure, Dart. Yojoe.com and I disagree over one of the weapons included with the figures. There was also a shotgun packed in with Dart and Dr. Mindbender, I saw it as more of a Dart weapon. But it’s your call to decide who gets what.
Hasbro went out of its way to disappoint with this figure, and it shows.
The same sculpt in purple and aquamarine, the one that came in a two-pack with Beachhead, looks significantly better, though still awful. (I hate how the legs do that side-kick thing.)
I appreciate owning this figure mostly for the accessories. Those gold revolvers were perfect for Wild Bill, and if not for that hand-held scanner, the Tele-Viper that came with my Trouble Bubble/RAM cycle two-pack wouldn’t have one at all.
I think the head and the legs are okay; fifty percent of the disappointment associated with this figure comes from the gorilla arms (and the associated failure wrists). Replace those with a pair that could pass for human, and you’d have an acceptable, perhaps even adequate, Dr. Mindbender. And who is Dr. Mindbender, of all people, to object to a little Frankensteinian surgery?
I have an old Astro-Viper; I think I might try switching his arms out with the purple version of this Mindbender, just to see how he looks.
The sculpt was done by Takara, IIRC. When Hasbro decided to redo GI JOE vs Cobra wave 2 to have o-rings, two results were that Wave 1.5 was created from ARAH molds and sculpting for wave 3 was farmed out to Takara. The results you can see a Japanese pop culture influence (for lack of a better term) in Baroness, Mindbender, Snow Serpent, Blowtorch, Beach-Head, Flint and Snake-Eyes.
Ming the Merciless!