Peril in Paradise Tiger Force Big Brawler

By KansasBrawler

Judging by my handle in the online Joe collecting community, I’m guessing my feelings about Big Brawler being used in the Peril in Paradise con set are going to be pretty obvious. I love seeing Big Brawler here, ready to brawl big for Tiger Force. I don’t know why I’ve always liked Big Brawler. I think it had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t annoyed that he took Tiger Force Outback’s “spot” in the Toys ‘R’ Us Tiger Force set. I thought it was a good figure made out of good parts (seriously, I love the Salvo body they used—it’s one of the few vintage molds that works for a big guy) and didn’t see what the big deal was about him showing up. I’ll admit, the modern Tiger Force Big Brawler isn’t a perfect figure, but considering how universally loathed he’s become on Joe message boards, I’m a little shocked the GIJCC was willing to risk collector backlash to make a modern version of him.

Big Brawler 01

Big Brawler is a big guy so he uses a lot of big parts. The legs come from Resolute Roadblock and I think they work great here. I do miss the old Salvo bullet belts on his legs, but that would require some extensive new tooling, so these big legs are perfectly fine. The boots look great and the legs themselves look like they belong to a very large and very strong guy. The torso, somewhat surprisingly, comes from 25th Anniversary Bazooka. I like the choice, but it did surprise me a little just because a football jersey doesn’t look quite the same as a t-shirt. It still works well, but it does play into my one overall criticism of the figure that I’ll get to after I finish talking about his parts. Having passed on 25th Anniversary Bazooka, I don’t feel like I already have this piece so I’m fine with him using it. The arms, to my eyes, appear to be a combination of Retaliation Ultimate Roadblock upper arms with Resolute Roadblock lower arms. The only reason I say that is that the upper arms look to have the vein details that are on my Retaliation Ultimate Roadblock that weren’t present on 25th Anniversary Bazooka’s upper arms. I kind of wish the GIJCC had been able to use the Retaliation Ultimate Roadblock lower arms just so the veins could continue down the lower arms. The lower arms look a little undetailed compared to the uppers. Up top, Big Brawler reuses a surprising head—that of 30th Anniversary Red Dog. Initially, I wasn’t wild about that call, but it has grown on me. Personally, I would have preferred the 25th Anniversary Clutch head since that head looks a bit more like the original Big Brawler figure, but the Red Dog head does look a lot like the original Tiger Force Big Brawler’s head (shared with 1991 Low-Light of all people). However, the Red Dog head does lead to my one criticism. A lot of this figure reminds me of my 30th Anniversary Red Dog figure. The chest and lower arms are the same and the upper arms are similar enough that they’re not distinguishable from each other at a quick glance. That means Tiger Force Big Brawler is close to a repaint of a mass market figure and I don’t like it when the GIJCC releases a premium figure that’s extremely similar to something I have in my collection from a mass market source. The Resolute Roadblock legs do make the figure look quite different from Red Dog, but at the same time, there are a lot of similarities between those two figures and I think the similarities would have been minimized had the GIJCC not used the Red Dog head. Despite all the common parts he has with Red Dog, though, this is a pretty great modern representation of Big Brawler and as a Big Brawler fan, it’s hard not to be pleased with the results. Big Brawler has only ever had two paint schemes and personally I think the Tiger Force version is the way to go because it’s much more interesting. It’s not often that I prefer a repaint to the original, but while Big Brawler looked very military, I also felt he wasn’t that eye catching.

Big Brawler 02

That can’t be said about the Tiger Force version. The like original Tiger Force version, his look is pretty simple, but that just means it’s easy to make it look good. Big Brawler has green pants, black boots, a brown belt and a yellow and black tiger striped shirt with “BRAWLER” printed on it. The paint work is cleanly done and everything looks sharp. The detail work on the belt and straps is solid and the black tiger stripes and “BRAWLER” are cleanly tampoed on the shirt. My only real complaint about the paint work on his shirt is that I think there are a few too many tiger stripes on it. The stripes on the vintage Tiger Force Big Brawler figure were much thinner and fewer in number which meant they didn’t draw attention from the writing on his shirt. The modern Big Brawler’s shirt just seems a bit too busy for my tastes. My only major issue with his overall paint work is his skin color. Big Brawler is extremely pale. Yes, there were two versions of Tiger Force Big Brawler and one was pretty pale, but my Tiger Force Big Brawler had a nice healthy tan and I think that was the more common of the two figures. The pale look isn’t out of place since there was a skintone variant back in the day, but I think Big Brawler would be able to brawl a little bigger if it didn’t look like he’d just come out into the sun for the first time in his life. He’s a jungle warfare expert. He should have a bit of a tan.

To help Big Brawler brawl as big as he can, the GIJCC gave him some great accessories and honestly, I’m still not sure which accessory kit I prefer. Initially, I equipped him with the PIT Commando assault rifle and the Retaliation Ultimate Snake Eyes sword. I’ve always liked that rifle and the sword is a reference that just makes me smile. The Funskool Big Brawler had a pretty random assortment of accessories included with him, including a sword. That’s the only time Big Brawler has ever had a sword, but I love that the GIJCC referenced it here because it’s kind of a running joke in the online Joe community that not only is Big Brawler a soldier but also a badass ninja since only Joe figures that came with swords were ninjas. The comic justified it as a sword Big Brawler took as a trophy after beating some unnamed ninja, and that little reference just makes me smile. As someone who was more amused by Big Brawler’s growing ridiculousness in his filecard rather than being angered by it, I like that the GIJCC is continuing the tradition of Big Brawler being the most awesome soldier in the Joe team. However, as much as I like that look, Big Brawler looks like he’s really ready to do some brawling with his other set of equipment. He also came with the 25th Anniversary Roadblock backpack and bullet belt and Rise of Cobra Heavy Duty’s Vulcan cannon. Big Brawler can lay down some serious fire with this thing, and much like Roadblock, Heavy Duty and Repeater, he looks big enough that he could carry this much equipment in the field without breaking a sweat. I’ve since switched him back to the rifle and sword combination because it takes up a little less space in my display area, but it’s hard to ignore that Big Brawler looks pretty cool carrying the heavy equipment. Finally, because Big Brawler is such a big guy, he also gets a big pistol. I believe this is the same pistol (that looks a bit like a .50 Desert Eagle to me) that came with Reactive Armor Heavy Duty. It’s a great piece and it’s a pistol that doesn’t look too small in Big Brawler’s hands. Big Brawler also has a couple of other non-combat accessories. Big Brawler gets Kwinn’s hunting vest and it looks pretty good on him. The vest is molded in green, so it brings the green up to the upper body and the vest fits his larger frame surprisingly well. On his head, he’s also got the same headband that came with Red Dog, this time in gray. Honestly, having taken off the headband recently (I didn’t do it before grabbing photos though), I think without the headband, the Red Dog head actually looks a little more like Big Brawler, so I may leave it off full time now. I appreciate it for completeness’ sake and even in the vintage card art, Big Brawler had a headband, but I’m not sure it was necessary for the GIJCC to include this accessory here.

Big Brawler 03

Big Brawler is a figure I never thought the GIJCC would pull the trigger on. Aside from me, I’ve never found that Big Brawler had a terribly big fanbase and so many people were so pissed off back in the day when he showed up instead of Tiger Force Outback (even though Hasbro never said they were going to put Outback in that set), that I thought even the GIJCC would leave well enough alone and not touch him, but I’m glad they didn’t. I thought Big Brawler was a nicely-designed figure back when he first came out and I never understood all the hate for him. I liked getting a couple of new-to-me characters in that Toys ‘R’ Us set and I like seeing both Wreckage and Big Brawler in modern form as well. Plus, Tiger Force is pretty close to tapped out, so grabbing Big Brawler for the set actually makes a lot of sense. While I wish he used a few different parts to separate him from Red Dog a bit, he’s still a good figure and I’m glad I have Big Brawler brawling big on my shelves again.

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  • Seeing how he’s named after a Club member, his inclusion in a Club offering makes a lot more sense.

    I think the JoeCustoms crew did a solid swerve on this figure and took it to a laughingstock that’s in on the joke. So, the vitriol reserved for him is generally good hearted. Plus, the Funskool version made it impossible to ever take the character seriously.

  • My annoyance with the character is more what we didn’t get. We didn’t a get an Outback V1 repaint but we got Big Brawler, we didn’t get Salvo entirely reissued/repainted, but we got Lowlight v2s head on Salvo’s body as Big Brawler, twice.

    I don’t mind Crossfire, because we got Big Ben and Dialtone repaints. Or Leatherneck 2001 because we got a Duke 1992 repaint.

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