Peril in Paradise Metal-Head
I’ve made it pretty clear through my Field Reports that I’m a Joe child of the 90s. I was just a little too young to have gotten in on what many older Joe fans consider the last great year, 1989. I had quite a few of those great figures and so did my older brother, but to me, 1990 was just as good a year, if not better because not only were there a lot of great figures that were new characters but they were all loaded with unique accessories. I never saw much of the DIC cartoon, but guys like Bullhorn, Freefall, and Sub-Zero were just as important to my Joe team as classic Joes like Flint, Lady Jaye and Duke. On the Cobra side of things, that meant a guy like Metal-Head was almost like my Major Bludd. He wasn’t a part of Cobra leadership, but he was still important enough to be his own man on the battlefield. I’ll admit, I was super jealous of the attendees of the New Jersey Collector Con that had the opportunity to win a modern version of Metal-Head a few years back. I didn’t think he had enough of a fan following to be made by Hasbro proper and he was such a doofus in the DIC cartoon that I think the Joe fandom at large is kind of sour on him. When the Peril In Paradise con set was announced, I wasn’t sure whether Metal-Head would get some love from the GIJCC or not. Thankfully he was, and the GIJCC did a great job with him. There are a few things I’d have done differently had the GIJCC tasked me with designing this figure, but they’re largely based around my personal preference and I have to admit that what they did with Metal-Head was incredible.
Metal-Head is a bit of a tough nut to crack if you don’t want to break the bank on your tooling budget. His original look was unique and not a lot of modern pieces replicate that look. The GIJCC gets close in some respects on the overall design, but it’s still a little weak overall. The legs come from a somewhat surprising source just because they haven’t been reused all that much, the Pursuit of Cobra Jungle Viper. The original Metal-Head came off as a pretty beefy guy, which makes sense since he was walking around with six missiles and their launch gear on his body. The Jungle Viper legs are very stoutly built and the wraps and kneepads do a decent job of referencing Metal-Head’s original boots. The parts used for the upper body come from decent sources, but unfortunately his upper body lacks the beefiness that’s appropriate for this character. The torso appears to come from Retaliation Cobra Trooper while the arms are from Retaliation “G.I. Joe Ninja” Snake Eyes. Those parts actually work pretty well together, however, when paired with the thickly built legs, they leave Metal-Head looking a little too scrawny up top. The Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Snake Eyes II webgear does add a little bulk to the upper body, but unfortunately, it fits so loosely it only accentuates his scrawniness. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the GIJCC deviate from the 1990 Metal-Head look on his torso and use the Pursuit of Cobra Arctic Threat Destro torso and arms for Metal-Head. The chest armor would make a lot of sense for a guy who’s a walking anti-tank weapon and the bulky upper body would have worked very well with the stoutly-built legs. What saves Metal-Head for me is the amazing head that the guys over at Boss Fight Studios came up with. I’ll admit, the original Metal-Head’s noggin was a bit of a weak point. The hair looked too perfect for a guy who’s loony enough to run around carrying an entire salvo’s worth of missiles on his body and even his facial expression was disappointingly neutral. The GIJCC’s Metal-Head has a lot of character in his face. The hair is appropriate shaggy and disheveled and it looks a lot like the drawings of Metal-Head in Issue #114 of the original Marvel series. I didn’t read that issue until I was well into my late 20s, but man, had I known that Metal-Head had an entire issue of the vintage G.I. Joe comic series devoted to him fighting the Joes when I was a kid, I would have totally lost it. Metal-Head is a bit of an also-ran in the Cobra ranks, but Larry Hama did a great job with him. I’m glad to see that influence here on this figure. The modern goggles are also far better-looking and streamlined than the vintage figure’s. The goggles were just a little oversized yet somehow underdetailed on the original figure but that’s not a problem here. The design is great and I like the sleeker, angular look and the targeting reticule over his right eye stands out well even without paint work on it. This is definitely what my childhood brain saw when I looked at my original Metal-Head figure. Metal-Head’s also got a collar piece under his chin. I’m sure this was to disguise the Retaliation Cobra Trooper torso a little more since it’s seen so much use in the line lately. I don’t mind it, but it does look just a little awkward. It’s not a deal breaker, but it still doesn’t quite look right and I think that’s only magnified by the fact that it throws off the fit of his webgear just a little bit. All in all, though, Metal-Head is a great update of a surprisingly popular 1990 figure. I’ve loved Metal-Head since I got him in 1990, and it seems like the GIJCC has a bit of a soft spot for Destro’s anti-tank specialist as well.
Since Metal-Head was originally an Iron Grenadier, his vintage color scheme reflected his ties to Destro’s personal army. Of course, that means he uses black, red and gray. Like back in the day, Metal-Head’s body suit is black with gray reserved for the kneepads and straps and red for the boots. However, there are a few new paint details, one that I love and one that I don’t quite get. Even though Metal-Head was an Iron Grenadier back in the day, he didn’t have a Destro logo anywhere on him. I’m sure that was done since in the cartoon Metal-Head was more of Cobra Commander’s lackey, but it was still odd. However, this time around, Metal-Head gets the Destro logo on the middle of his chest, filling in the open area between the straps of his webgear. That’s a great place for the logo and the white logo stands out very well against the black base of the figure. However, the red circles on his biceps just confuse me. As near as I can tell, the GIJCC meant to reference his red shoulders, but that’s an odd way to do it. If they were bullseyes or crosshairs, I’d be okay with it, but the red circles just seem a little odd. I think they’d be okay if they were actually on his shoulder, but on the bicep, the placement just doesn’t work. The paintwork on Metal-Head’s head sculpt is spot on. The detailing is crisp and I love the black paint for his targeting reticule. It makes that molded detail pop and it fits perfectly for Metal-Head. The skin color is slightly too thickly applied. It doesn’t mute the details as badly as it has on other figures, but his face looks just a little too flat to be realistic. The paintwork is definitely on par with some of the best GIJCC-made figures out there.
Considering how important I felt Metal-Head was to the set, I’m happy that the paintwork is as good as it is.
For me, Metal-Head is another figure that’s defined by his accessories. If you can’t give him a lot of missiles, honestly, just don’t bother making him. He’s just not Metal-Head without some sort of crazy personal missile system. The GIJCC really delivered on that and it really completes the figure. The missile system comes from Pursuit of Cobra Desert Battle Duke and just because it’s the obvious choice doesn’t mean it’s not the right one. Metal-Head has always had a set of shoulder-mounted missile launchers and these are great. I liked the design back in 2009 and I think they’re great here. Parts of me kind of miss the leg launchers, but honestly, I didn’t use them all that much when I was a kid because they were a lot fiddlier. He’s packing more missiles now over his shoulders than he carried back in 1990, so I think that’s a fine trade off. For other weapons, Metal-Head has a pair of pistols. One can be stored in the ankle holster that’s held over from the Jungle Viper. The other looks nice in his hand, though I do kind of wish one pistol was something a little cooler. Metal-Head had a unique pistol back in 1990 and considering how well the GIJCC did referencing some of the more out there accessories in last year’s Eco-Warriors set, I was hoping there would be something a little more interesting. Thankfully, Metal-Head comes with more than a pair of basic pistols. He also gets the very cool assault rifle that came with Retaliation Cobra Commander. I’ve been a fan of that piece for a long time and I really like seeing it here with Metal-Head. It’s got enough of a futuristic styling that it looks like something Destro had M.A.R.S. design and I like that Metal-Head has a semiunique weapon. Metal-Head also gets a knife to fill the sheath on his webgear. I’ll admit, I applaud the GIJCC for finding a way to reference his original chest knife, but honestly, since you can’t turn the sheath so it runs across his chest like it did back in the day, I don’t think it was totally necessary. The one weak point for me with the Desert Battle Snake Eyes II webgear was that bulky sheath up by his face. It’s wasn’t a good look back then and it doesn’t look any better now. It is noticeable that Metal-Head doesn’t have a helmet anymore, but honestly, I also never really used his helmet that much as a kid, so I don’t miss it that much here. Considering the GIJCC would have had to invest tooling dollars into a new cone helmet for Metal-Head that wouldn’t have a lot of reuse potential, I’m fine with that being left on the cutting room floor.
I’ll freely admit, Metal-Head isn’t a perfect figure, but he’s still awfully good. Sure, Metal-Head doesn’t have a huge fan following, but that’s why I think he’s a wise choice for the GIJCC to put in a con set. On his own, he might not draw a lot of attention, but paired with a group of great Iron Grenadiers figures and he’s a great addition. I wish Operation: Bear Trap wasn’t so hard to track down because I’d love to get a Voltar so I could reunite my childhood Iron Grenadier team of Iron Grenadier Destro, Metal-Head and Voltar. I have some pretty strong memories attached to Metal-Head and I think the original figure and gear worked so well together that he just became something special. The slightly scrawny upper body prevented the GIJCC from completely recapturing that original lightning in a bottle, but he’s a great addition to my collection and, since I got lucky and got one of the later run Metal-Heads with a left and a right arm, I think he’s a great looking figure and he fits well with the rest of the Iron Grenadiers in my modern collection.