Topside - Figure Subscription Service (Wave 1)

I think it's safe to say that in the original G.I. Joe line, 1990 was a bit of an anomoly. For many years leading up to 1990, Hasbro generally mixed new characters with existing characters, carefully building their roster while updating regular members as well. Then 1990 hit and suddenly the entire line was full of new characters. Not just that, but these new characters seemed to purposefully replace some older characters. Freefall took the place of Ripcord, Pathfinder replaced Recondo, Sub Zero jumped in front of any number of other arctic Joes from back in the day.

From my own perspective, I didn't mind this at all, as it makes sense to have multiple troopers with the same specialty in any military unit, but it just seemed like Hasbro had a keen focus in 1990 to go in this direction.

As a kid, Topside seemed poised to be a Shipwreck replacement, though a careful look at his filecard shows that he was something unique... a Navy security officer, which was actually a very neat idea, and one that I did not appreciate in my younger years. It would seem the flexibility of the modern era format has allowed the Collectors' Club to take this Topside concept and really make it shine. The vintage version was somewhat restricted by his permanent life jacket and his...well... really strange looking yellow eyes. I'm not sure if that stood out to anyone else, but it always looked really weird to me to the point where the character lost some of its appeal.

Now, with 21st Century sculpting, tooling, and painting this head sculpt has almost completely redefined the character of Topside. He has a great determined stare, an awesome flat top, and has a ton of character crammed into one tiny head. From the neck down, Topside uses the last version of 25th Anniversary Shipwreck (which came in that final 5-Pack) which works very well in my opinion. The articulation is solid, and the sculpting is terrific, not to mention he doesn't suffer from the popeye arms that the previous version was saddled with. Those early 25th Anniversary figures were very animated in nature, I'm glad they toned that down and went in a more realistic direction as the line went on.

The base figure here makes for a great generic sailor, and I absolutely love the new head sculpt. But a figure such as Topside is better defined by his accessories.


Topside doesn't get out of control with his accessories, but the ones he comes with suit the character perfectly. The larger helmet fits this new head sculpt really nicely and the Club used a lighter gray plastic to match the vintage version, which was a great choice. He's got a submachine gun, at least similar to his original (though still different) and the lifevest is now thankfully removable.

The nightstick and pistol are great additions for a security guy as well, and the best news of all is that Topside can hold all of these weapons very well. He's got the separate trigger finger that I love so much and it is exceedingly effective in weapon posing. I love it.

Of all the 1990 characters, believe it or not, Topside would have ranked pretty darn low on my list for needing an update. Guys like Bullhorn, Rampart, Pathfinder, Salvo, or even Stretcher would have been figures I wanted to see well before Topside. I have to hand it to the Club, though, they took a character I wasn't necessarily wild about and made me fall in love with him. He's got so much character in the head sculpt, and the modern format and accessories have completely redefined him from the ground up. I can now see him blending much better into my G.I. Joe universe. Kudos, Collectors' Club, you made me a Topside believer.