G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary Comic Pack Wave 6
Beachhead and Dataframe
Back in Wave 2, I pretty much thought Beachhead was about as cool as could be...but man, not any more. Even though there was no drastic need for a new version of the character, Beachhead is a drastic improvement over the previous version, plus we get a needed character (even though his name has changed).
Beachhead has a pretty big reputation in the cartoon, even though he was somewhat invisible in the regular Marvel comics series (though he played some great roles in the Special Missions series). It's amazing how much a few minor changes can totally change around your appearence of the character and feelings of the figure altogether.
At the base, the Wave 2 version of Beachhead and this new version are the same. Same torso, arms, and legs, but with a new vest and new head(s), this figure takes on a whole new life and works even better as the venerable G.I. Joe Army Ranger and drill instructor.
One of the things I never really liked about the vintage Beachhead was his oversized head that looked a bit goofy under the skimask. Well, for his first Anniversary release, Beachhead was corrected with a much slimmer, more realistic looking head sculpt, but it lacked some detail and some character. Plus, for whatever reason, the initial release had a totally different flak vest which didn't resemble what the vintage version wore before (at least not in 1986). Hasbro obviously took this chance to correct some of those mistakes, but they didn't just correct mistakes, they went way above and beyond, and gave us a fantastic version of Beachhead that not only pays great tribute to the original, but also adds a few nice new elements.
The first thing you'll notice is that the head sculpt is a bit larger and much more realistic, with the knitted balaclava wrapping around his head, and looking much more natural. It's great, because it's larger than the skin tight skimask we got in Wave 2, but tight-fitting enough so that it doesn't mirror the oversized "pumpkinhead" look of the '86 original. The detailing of the mask on the headsculpt is really fantastic, and is only accentuated by the layered material of the facemask. Along with the head sculpt and improved tac vest, the colors have been tweaked some as well to better resemble the original.
Another great thing about the figure is that even the original had pretty damn good range of motion (once he got released without the "diaper crotch"), so with these small added tweaks on top of an already great base figure, you have a very nice, definitive representation of everyone's favorite G.I. Joe a-hole.
The cosmetic changes are only a piece of the puzzle, though, and a small one at that. Where this figure really takes the ball and runs with it is the accessories. The stuff he comes with and what it can do are a testament to the amazing things that the Hasbro designers are capable of in such a small scale.
Of course, the most obvious coolness comes in the form of the weapon with removable clip (as well as two spares). One of the extra clips also hooks into his shoulder bag. This is an awesome touch and a nice tribute to the fact that Beachhead totes around extra magazines on his tac vest. Hasbro managed to still make the weapon extremely identifiable and the magazine fits into the rifle perfectly. Nice and snug so it doesn't fall out, yet not too tight. It really is the perfect marraige.
Along with the gun is a very nice addition to the figure in the form of an unmasked head that easily snaps onto the neck socket of Beachhead, which is a great touch. One of the highlights of the vintage line has always been the customizing potential, and really that continues on pretty nicely here. While it may be somewhat harder to "crack the torso" of the 25th Anniversary figures, with some hot water and muscle, you can do swaps of arms, hands, and heck you can do a head swap with the simple press of your thumb. I love the concept of swappable heads for different looks, but I do wish Hasbro took more initiative with designing some nice swappable hands. I'll talk about that issue a bit more further down the page.
Regardless of all that, Beachhead comes with a great masked head, a very nice unmasked head, and even a half-scarf to go with the unmasked head that looks as if he's pulling his mask down. Very cool.
An awesome weapon with removable magazines, a terrific ammo pouch, and an excellent looking flak vest all combined with the swappable head makes for one excellent figure. Hasbro took a high quality base and built something even better on top of it. For just a repaint/retool, this is one great, great toy.
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Often with the Comic 2-Packs, there is a definite desirable figure included, and they are often paired alongside a character that is less than desirable. This was the type of thing that drove so many Joe fans so nuts back in the 2-pack era, and it does continue to a certain extent here. Usually the new character ends up being the desirable part while the tweaked existing character is the tag along. However, I think that is not really the case with Beachhead and...err... "Dataframe".
Don't get me wrong...I'm not trying to indicate that this figure is a bad one, or that I don't like it. Quite the opposite. I think using the existing parts that they did, Hasbro did a very nice job replicating the G.I. Joe computer expert, and also gave us some nice body parts with good range of motion and lots of play value. However, taking this figure soup to nuts, I don't think the end result is nearly in the same league as the Beachhead figure that comes with it.
The use of the Shipwreck torso and arms is remarkably effective, nicely replicating the look of Dataframe's dress shirt and short sleeves. Nicely applied paint deco "patches" gives the figure a more unique look, and the newly tooled shoulder holster helps make him look a lot more like the computer whiz we all know and love. From the waist down, Dataframe has Snake Eyes' legs, and they work to a decent extent as well, giving him the generic military pants look, and a spot to hold his knife. The double-joint knees on this particular choice of parts works well, too.
Where the figure suffers a bit, is actually somewhat surprising, considering this is normally a high point where I'm concerned. His head sculpt. Dataframe's head is...well...unfortunately, it's awful. Hasbro elected to sculpt the helmet to the head rather than as a separate piece, and as such, it looks as if the head is crammed too tightly into this small black bowl, and judging by the facial expression on Dataframe, he's really not too happy about it. I can't really explain why, but the head and face just feel a bit "squished", and it really isn't a good look, which is a shame, because normally the head sculpt is one of the highlights of these figures, especially as the sculptors got more familiar with the design aesthetic of these toys. When compared to a first generation Anniversary figure, the head looks, well...okay, I guess, but if you compare it to Beachhead, Scrap Iron, or even the Hard Master, it's league's below those standards.
Along with the goofy head sculpt is the choice of hands. I can see what Hasbro was going for with the Spirit hands, thinking that the two-finger bow hand could also double as a computer-typing hand. And you, know... I love it. I've heard a lot of complaints, but I have no problems at all with that choice, I simply wish perhaps Hasbro had included an extra pair of more normal hands for folks who didn't want Mainframe to be eternally typing. Even with that funky limitation, though, I find myself really loving the hands and doing all sorts of neat little posing with them.
Its amazing to me how some little changes can really make a big difference, even as far as accessories go. With some minor alterations to the paint, and the addition of four legs, Dataframe's ancient computer becomes a neat little (though still ancient) portable machine with some added detail work. It is the perfect example of what I love to see with the Anniversary stuff...it maintains a nice homage to the original, but takes advantage of 21st century toy technology (and new ideas) to make it just a bit different. The computer still strongly resembles the classic, but has some nice Anniversary touches to go along with it.
The inclusion of Dial Tone's machine gun is a bit odd, though it works. In my childhood days, Dial Tone and Mainframe were often paired together as the "tech guys" of 1986, so I have no major issues with him coming with the same weapon, especially since he didn't even come with a gun of any kind back in the day. Seeing this weapon here also gives an indication that perhaps Dial Tone was in the works at one point, though with his recent sex-change operation, who knows in what capacity we may end up seeing him/her down the line.
The knife and walkie-talkie are fairly cookie cutter, but honestly I have little use for the cardboard floppies. Sure, there a neat little gimmick, but I could have done without them, even as a joke type of thing. All told, though, I can't help but be impressed with the level of gear that both Dataframe and Beachhead come with.
I'm sure folks have noticed that I haven't really griped about the name change from Mainframe to Dataframe...that's because it really doesn't bother me that much. A name is simply a name, and as long as the character is intact, I couldn't care less whether or not it's got a "Sergeant" or "Agent" in front of it, or whether it changes entirely. I know who the character is, Hasbro knows who the character is, the rest is merely cosmetic.
The comic here is not too bad, given what we've gotten in the past. It basically showcases Dataframe and Beachhead infiltrating a COBRA hideaway where the Baroness and Zarana are plotting something. They have a run in with a B.A.T., and successfully launch a G.I. Joe-based computer virus to put a wrinkle in the COBRA organization. Nothing revolutionary, though there is a neat cameo with Zarana and I love how they use the '91 style B.A.T. in some of these issues.
So, even with Mainframe's goofy looking headsculpt, this two-pack is a surefire winner. A fantastic update to a very cool existing character, and some subtle tooling tweaks to give us an entirely new (and much needed) character makes up for one hell of a nice comic pack. I have no hesitation when I say that this 2-pack is a must buy, and is definitely the highlight of Wave 6. I know these packs have been out for a while already, but if you haven't yet, you should definitely consider picking them up, this one especially. Both characters have found a permanent place in my collection.
GRADE: out of 5
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