Sideshow Collectibles Rock n Roll - A guest review by Mysterious Stranger

Favorite characters.  Most every G.I. Joe collector has one.  Some people love the big names like Snake-eyes and Duke while others dedicate their collecting energies to army building third tier folks like Crystal Ball.  Me?  I love Rock ‘n’ Roll.  The original 1982 straight arm Rock ‘n’ Roll was one of my first figures (along with Snake-eyes, Flash and the RAM cycle) and he’s become the center of my collection.  I think what endeared the original Joe machine gunner to me was that he was blonde (like me), played in a rock ‘n’ roll band and was a surfer.  It was the characterization presented in those few lines on the filecard that really made an impression on me and RnR has been my go to guy ever since.

When I started collecting Sideshow’s 12” G.I. Joe line I told myself that I would be happy to stop once they put out a Rock ‘n’ Roll figure, knowing that the odds of that happening were pretty slim.  I mean, sure he’s probably the greatest G.I. Joe ever but he’s not high on anyone’s list of popular characters (aside from mine that is).  So you can imagine my delight when Sideshow debuted their 12” Rock ‘n’ Roll figure several months ago.  And that’s what I’m looking at today.

Rock ‘n’ Roll has only had a handful of figures in the 30 years since his debut back in 1982 and Sideshow has gone back to that first version for their inspiration for this figure.   But in true Sideshow fashion, they have taken that classic look and updated it with a modern flair and it comes off really well.

Rock ‘n’ Roll comes in the usual Sideshow box.  I can’t tell you how great this packaging is.  From the full color photos all around to the magnetic closure flap and the removable trays for easy storage, this is probably the best packaging I’ve seen in this scale.  I just wish I had the room to display the boxes behind the figures because I think they’d make a great backdrop.

The figure itself is what I’ve come to expect from Sideshow.  The regular portrait is a nice modern update to the bearded surfer we all know.  But for me the real standout is the bandana portrait that is the exclusive for this figure.  With a bit of a bushier beard, bandana wrapped head and gritted teeth, this head really gives RnR some character.  He looks like he’s been in the field for a while and is ready to take the fight to Cobra.

The figure comes dressed in the standard olive drab BDUs to match his ’82 figure and they do the job.  What really set RnR apart from the other Original 13 is the bullet bandoliers he wears across his chest.  When I spoke to one of the Sideshow designers at 2011 SDCC I was told that getting the bullet bandoliers right was the key to putting RnR into production.  I think they’ve done just about as well as could be expected.  They wrap around the torso naturally and once you futz with them a little they look really good.  I will say that the connection point is a bit touchy.  If you don’t get the two ends hooked together just right they’ll fall apart easily.  But once you find that sweet spot you shouldn’t have any problems.

The other part of the uniform I wanted to point out is the red T-shirt he’s wearing under his BDU shirt.  From the initial promo images it looked like this was just a red undershirt to simulate the red collar look of the uniforms from the early Marvel comics.  But when I undid the shirt to check it out I saw that it’s actually a graphic T-shirt with “Locals Only” printed on the chest, a reference to RnR’s surfer days.  This is one of those subtle little touches that Sideshow throws into these figures to make them more than just the typical military figure.

I’d be a horrible reviewer if I didn’t mention the updated body that Rock ‘n’ Roll gets.  Sideshow has taken their stock Prometheus body and added giant muscle arms and a new neck with flesh like texturing to create this new “buff” body.  The neck gives the figure more of a realistic look but the real big selling point here is the new arm set.  These big muscle arms are really well done.  There is a bit of range of motion lost in the elbow due to the single hinge rather than the double hinge we’ve seen before.  But it’s not as much of a loss as I thought it would be.  And the new sculpt more than makes up for any loss in the articulation department.  Also, I had thought these new arms would be comparable to Hot Toys recently released muscle body.  Boy was I wrong.  The Sideshow biceps are a good deal larger than the Hot Toys arms and I really like that.  Again this new muscle body ties into the backstory of the character and his body building days before joining the Joes.

Oh, and how about that forearm tattoo.  A flying guitar… pretty sweet huh.  The lines are nice and crisp and the coloring looks like a real tattoo.  Maybe a bit darker like fresh ink but not overly so.  The detail work here gives me confidence that when Sideshow gets around to a certain sailor known for his body art that they’ll nail it like they have here.

Speaking of details, I have to point out another of those hidden gems that Sideshow likes to throw in.  Rock ‘n’ Roll comes with a great new machine gun.  It’s not the same model as his ’82 figure came with but instead a nice modern equivalent.  And RnR seems to have personalized his gun with the words “Rock” and “Roll” on each side of the butt and “Snake Charmer” across one side of the stock.  The white lettering is clean and looks like it was done by hand.  A great touch that again shows the level of detail they put into these figures.  But that’s not all.  RnR comes with a couple of ammo box pouches and they have a small cardboard box inside to fill them out.  Out of curiosity I pulled one of the boxes out of the pouch and was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn’t just a filler piece but a full on accessory.  See, Sideshow went to the trouble to print a description on the outside of the box detailing its contents and 7.62mm NATO ammo.  This is something they could have easily left off and I wouldn’t have been the wiser but they included it and it makes all the difference here.

Rounding out his gear and accessory compliment, Rock ‘n’ Roll comes with a nice set of brown webgear, a few pouches, a pistol and holster, knife with ankle sheath, brown backpack, helmet, assorted grenades, hands and action pose boot feet.   As an added bonus, there is a small sticker sheet with three surf stickers to add to his helmet if you so choose.  Again, another little personal touch to add to the character that isn’t necessary but makes the figure all the more special.

To sum things up, this is a fantastic representation of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Yes it has a few flaws but the accomplishments more than outweigh any minor nitpicks.  At the beginning of this review I mentioned telling myself I could quit the line if they ever made Rock ‘n’ Roll.  I’m pleased to say that not only will I be continuing to support this line but I’ll be doing it with my favorite character sitting front and center on my shelf.