As promised, I’m back today to once again start spreading a little Joe loving around these parts. In a perfect world the stores would have been crammed full of toys to honor the 50th Anniversary of one of the greatest action figure lines of all time. In this world, the line is all but dead and the 50th was quiety acknowledged by Hasbro and Toys R Us with some exclusive figure packs and a couple of vehicles. Seeing as how I don’t have a TRU within 50 miles of here, these passed largely unnoticed to me until browsing an online retailer and finding some of them up for sale. I grabbed two and the first of those is what we’re looking at today… Behold the Arctic Ambush!
The packaging here is pretty damn cool. You get a blister card with a large bubble showing off two figures and a shitload of weapons and gear, The top of the bubble is molded to look like part of a star and the insert on the front features the GI JOE logo, the 50th Star and the names of the figures: Snow Job and Arctic BAT. I absolutely had to get this when I saw it because Snow Job was my very first Joe figure when I was a kid. I can still remember going to get pool supplies with my dad in Newark, NJ. There was a huge pool-slash-toy store there and he got me Snow Job and the Poler Battle Bear. There was no coming back from that and ever since then Snow Job has had a special place in my collection. The back of the card has filecards for each character and a little saying about how GI JOE has filled our imaginations with exciting adventures for fifty years and it makes me want to cry. Before I get all weepy, I’m going to open this baby up and start with Snow Job.
Snow Job comes all bundled up for action in a set of toasty warm arctic combat fatigues, which include a parka with high collar that prevents his neck getting frostbite and his head falling off (Trust me, that joke is going to be a lot more tragic when we get to the end of this Feature). As a result, there isn’t a lot of variety to this figure’s outfit, but it sure looks great, right down to all the sculpted stitching and the painted camo patterns. The head sculpt includes a sculpted cap with a set of goggles permanently down over his eyes and about the only thing you can see that’s actually Harlan under all that is his glorious red beard. I do kind of wish the goggles were removable or maybe have an extra head in there, but it’s hard for me to criticize the lack of a spare head when I see how much stuff comes with this guy. Let me just run through it all…
- Backpack with Sculpted Bedroll, Antenna, and Removable Equipment Rack.
- Cloth Bedroll
- Cookstove and Frying Pan.
- Skis and Ski Poles
- Gasoline Can
- Ice Pick
- Machine Gun with Bipod.
God, I love all this gear and I particularly love the fact that just about all of it attaches to his backpack in one way or another. The bedroll is about the only thing I can’t find a way to attach, but you can still tuck it in there somewhere. As a kid, I used to picture Snow Job as a survivalist and a loner who was always out there in the white wilderness maintaining some god-forsaken JOE base camp and waiting to be called on when some strategic piece of satellite happened to soft land up there and Cobra wanted it. This figure really gives me the feeling of the original 12-inch figures from the 70s, because they used to come with all this great stuff. It’s beyond cool that Hasbro is able to make it work with such a small scale action figure.
Snow Job also features far better articulation than anyone wearing this much cold weather gear should possibly have. His arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and swivels in the wrists. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and rotating hinges in the ankles. He can swivel at the waist and he has a ball jointed neck.
What possible match could Cobra have to go up against Snow Job’s cold weather combat skills? An Arctic BAT of course! Why go bundling up humans to brave the bitter cold climates when you can just send in machines? I always loved the Battle Android Troopers. They were an ingenious way to cash in on the robot craze of the 80s while also giving Cobra a disposable army that GI JOE could smash to bits on the cartoon without censors crying foul about violence. Frankly, Hasbro was missing out on a great opportunity by not repainting the hell out of these things into various different specialties like Desert BATs, Jungle BATs, Stealth BATs, etc. Well, I guess it’s never too late because here we have the Arctic BAT and he is freaking glorious.
The sculpt and deco on this BAT is absolutely crazy. He’s got the same arctic camo pattern on his fatigues as Snow Job plus a transparent chest unit so you can see all the doo-dads and what-nots of his inner android workings. The BAT includes a total of five different Borg-like attachments for his arms and he can tote two of the extras around in his backpack. He also comes with an automatic pistol in a functional holster, a machine gun with a bipod and a HUGE capacity magazine, an assault rifle that’s all taped up, and a pair of ice picks, which aren’t painted as nice as Harlan’s.
The BATs articulation is pretty standard stuff for modern JOES. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows and a swivel in the forearm where the arm pieces detach. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have rotating hinges in the ankles. There are ball joints in the torso and neck. If all that gear wasn’t enough, each figure also comes with a personalized display stand. These are the same style of stand that was introduced back in the 25th Anniversary line only with the GI JOE and Cobra emblems painted, which makes them look mighty snazzy.
Oh, wait! Did I mention that the BAT also comes with a battle damaged head and chest plate? How cool is that? Did I mention that when I swapped the head the second time the entire neck post snapped off my figure? How cool is that??? Nope, that’s not cool at all Hasbro. Here I am making a point to talk up GI JOE and you stick me with poor quality control. This is seriously the first time I’ve ever had this happen, and I’ve been collecting action figures nearly all my life.Oh well, I guess it’s better the BAT broke rather then Snow Job. Crippling QC issues aside, everything about this set feels like it was aimed right at me. It has a great new version of one of my earliest JOE figures, an environmentally specific BAT, you get a ton of gear, and with one good guy and one bad guy, it has that battle pack mentality that I love so much. Just leave me alone with this 2-pack and I’ll be staging battles on my desk all afternoon long… at least until the head snaps off one of them and then the fun stops short. Next week, I’ll circle back and take a look at the other one of these sets I picked up. Hopefully noone will get decapitated.