It’s hard to believe that it’s been months since I last checked in with Hasbro’s excellent GI JOE Classified line. Needless to say, I’ve got more than a few figures waiting for the spotlight. But since it’s Saturday and the weekend is upon us, how about a Barbecue!
Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly released under the Cobra Island tag, which meant that it’s another one of those pesky Target Exclusives. This one, however, was super easy to get thanks to a pre-order window that stayed open for considerably more than a nano-second. And it’s a good thing too, because I’ve yet to see him on the pegs at my local Target. I got the original Barbecue for my 13th birthday, along with a bunch of the other amazing figures released that year. It’s a testament to what a great figure he was, that he stood out among releases like Flint, Lady Jaye, Dusty, Bazooka, and Alpine. Wow! What a great year! Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to check out this new Classified version! After all, what’s even more badass than a firefighter? Someone who’s trained to do it while getting shot at!
I’m happy to say that Hasbro stuck pretty close to the original figure’s design, and boy does he look great! Barbecue sports his bright orange fire retardant jumpsuit with black boots and gloves. He’s got some gear strapped to his waist, a rather complex looking breather apparatus on his chest, and a black protective gorget. It’s a superb update that hits all the beats of my childhood figure and just refines it to accommodate the larger scale with a bit more detail and realism. And while there isn’t a whole lot of diversity to the color palate here, the black and orange really look quite striking together!
There’s an unwritten rule for when you’re 12 years old and playing with action figures… helmets and masks are cool, and Barbecue’s kick-ass head gear oozes that cool appeal. Sure, he wears it as protective gear, but it certainly has a palpable intimidation factor to it. The blacked out visor and the silver face plate would have no problem striking fear into the hearts of Cobra firebugs. Sure, I would have loved to get an un-helmeted head as well, or a removable face plate, but such things seem to be few and far between in the Classified line, and I guess that’s understandable. I’ll just have to wait for Super7’s inevitable release of Ultimate Barbecue to be able to get a look at Gabriel’s handsome mug.
The centerpiece of Barbecue’s equipment is his foam-dispensing backpack, and it is no small piece of kit! It consists of three red tanks protruding from the top of the black frame. Unlike the original figure, this is all one piece, but the detail is fantastic. You get valves, vents, pipes, and even little caution “stickers” printed on the middle tank. A flexible hose runs out the left side of the tank and connects to the pistol-nozzle, which can be stored in a holster on his left thigh. The hose is flexible enough for the nozzle to work in either hand, but I like him as a lefty, as it frees his right hand up for the chopping implements!
Because Barbecue also comes with a pair of axes! Both of these can be stored on his person, and I can’t tell you enough how much I love figures that can carry all their accessories at once. The smaller ax is patterned after the one that came with the original figure. It’s short, and has a studded knuckle-guard, making it quick to wield, and useful in a fight. This one clips to the strap on his right thigh.
The second ax is longer and more like a traditional fireman’s ax. I dig the fierce looking head on this thing, and it’s got sculpted grips for two hands. This beauty would be perfect for chopping down locked doors in a rescue situation, or Cobra fortifications in an attack. And if a Cobra Trooper should happen to lose his head along the way… well, sometimes shit happens!
I often thought it was cool that Hasbro peppered the GI JOE team with so many practical specialists, and Barbecue is easily one of the coolest of the bunch. As a kid, when a damaged SkyStriker made its controlled crash on the deck of the USS Flagg (but really our coffee table), Barbecue would be first on the scene to douse the flames and get those JOEs out of the cockpit safely. But because he was so cool looking, I often had him accompany squads on dangerous missions. Naturally, these missions often ended with him having a showdown with Torch! And while I was surprised to see Barbecue hit Classified so soon, I ain’t about to complain about it. He’s an excellent figure and pretty much a perfect homage to the original.