FSS Barrel Roll, TNT, and Black Out Review

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FSS Barrel Roll, TNT, and Black Out Review

Postby Werecat » Sat May 25, 2013 7:40 pm

Before I begin, I apologize for the poor pic quality. I've been trying to do pics for thre last three days---and I'd done three separate photo shoots, but for whatever reason, my camera seems to be acting up with the lighting, and I can't quite figure out what the problem is... :(


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Barrel Roll:

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There’s not a whole lot to say about Barrel Roll. There seems to be a huge fan following of the Stall family saga, so I can see whay he was included, but it was a shame they couldn’t have spiffied him up and made him shining star of the set. With the possible exception of his BTR version, this is probably the most uninspired attempt of the character, and by far the most boring. Even a small thing like adding camo to his uniform would have helped to make him stand out, but as he’s presented, everything screams "cost cutting" though I’m sure that wasn’t the intent. This also harkens back to the almost hypocritical nature of the Club. On one hand they won't update a figure like Grunt or Cover Girl (who could be easily updated and made to look more modern) because they want to keep them as proper homages to a bygone era's character, but in this case, despite taking obvious cues from the DTC Barrel Roll, they deliberately choose to deviate from that version and in essence, create a new updated version that is significantly different. Well why then wasn’t that done with sloppy figures like Grunt who could have really used an update? It’s almost a case of trying to have the cake and eat it at the same time.

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Barrel Roll is PoC Desert Duke upper body and legs, the Resolute V-2 Duke arms, and a retooled DTC Barrel Roll head and helmet. While I’m fully behind the conceptual idea of retooling heads to give individuality to a character, one mandatory stipulation needs to be in place: that they are proportionate. Unfortunately as a common theme on these FSS figures, Barrel Roll’s head is grossly disproportionate. It actually might even be smaller than the 25th Wild Bill’s pin head. As such, he looks monstrous; it is unlikely any adult human being with a normal sized body could be alive with a head that small! True, the blame probably falls to the Chinese side in which the tooling wasn’t properly scaled, but the Club needs to step up the oversight so we don’t get messes like this. As with the Duke body Barrel Roll uses, the torso is slightly too short, but that’s certainly not an issue compared to the tiny head.

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He comes with a Barrett .50 caliber rifle, .45 pistol, glider pack, parachute pack, helmet, and stand. The way the packaging has the accessories situated, the rifle’s barrel is pressed up against the glider, slightly forcing the barrel to bend downwards.

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His primary colors are tan and brown, with some light gray details. To break up the monotony, an American flag patch is placed on his left shoulder, and a PoC insignia on his right. However, as many have mentioned, the blue and gray coloration would have been better a better choice to eliminate the lackluster presentation of the figure, and that would have been further enhanced by the retooling of the V-1 Barrel Roll head from Spy Troops. That head would have at least been proportionally correct for the body.

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With the initial Spy Troops era figures being almost 4" tall, you can simply use the original Barrel Roll as your default and he’ll be the same size as many Modern Era figures. True, the O-ring will be a distraction, but it’s better than a tiny head. Final Grade: D.


TNT:

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TNT is another foreign exclusive that was shoehorned into the FSS. He's not a G.I. Joe character, and he never was despite the revisionist history given to him. The inclusion of him in this set is merely an easy and cheap way for some people to get him who normally would not be willing to do the legwork or pay the prices the actual original figures are demanding on the secondary markets. TNT is also an example of an extremely lazy and easy-to-do figure, and the justification and use of his "foreign repaint" status is just a slippery way to charge premium prices for a crappier version of Blowtorch; whose 25th figure was a subpar figure in its own right.

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TNT a direct repaint of Blowtorch, and he comes with a helmet, Firefly’s backpack with related tools, VAMP shovel, Stalker’s M-32 gun, and stand. (Ironically his card art erroneously shows him carrying a HK USC submachine gun.) He suffers from the same articulation limitations and bent-down wrists as Blowtorch, making it difficult for him to properly hold a weapon two-handed. This folly is further compounded if you want to give him a pistol, as his hands are permanently set in a "gangsta-style" bent-down aiming position.

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His primary colors are silver, blue, and yellow, with some black highlights. The coloration, while awful looking in pics and highly unrealistic in a tactical sense, actually isn't that bad in person---and that surprised me. The colors sort'a play well off each other. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of it, but I didn't hate it like I thought I would. In an odd way, he fits in fine with other characters that are brightly colored and there doesn't seem to be much dissonance in that.

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TNT at his core is a perfect example of a convenient execution in laziness, but he's not wholly worthless. At best he does have the bonus of being a new character we've never gotten before, and for me, that's at least worth more than another Duke or Snake Eyes. Final Grade: C-


Black Out:

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Black Out is the freebie of FSS 1.0, and in theory, was a great choice. Unfortunately several things hold him back from being good, as we’ll discuss below.

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Black Out uses the Resolute Zartan torso and arms, Resolute Snake Eyes legs, and a retooled Spy Troops Black Out head and goggles. He comes with Resolute Zartan’s sniper rifle and chest plate, Low-Light’s handheld GPS and range finder & stand, .45 pistol, bullet box, cartridge, and stand.

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At first glance he looks very cool: he uses the same successful color palette as his Spy Troops version, and his filecard updates his membership into H.I.S.S.; as originally stated on Munita’s filecard. But the pros are fleeting, as upon closer inspection his flaws quickly add up in the physical presentation: His legs are too long, and his torso is too short. That alone gives him a slightly "off" and short stature; which lessens his physcial impact as an imposing character. Add in the fact his head is too small, and we have an underwhelming figure with a lot of lost potential. (I will add his head size isn’t as bad as Barrel Roll's, but it’s a quarter to a half the size of what it should be.) The Club also changed his various optics from red to green. While not a big deal, the application on the goggles was sloppy.

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As stated, the attempt on Black Out was a worthy one, but I am surprised a better recipe of parts weren’t used, as there are tons of good customs out there using ME parts---unless that was the reason, so no one could accuse the Club of stealing someone idea? Whatever it was, Black Out falls short of his potential.

I have one final gripe, and that’s Black Out’s card art. It’s pretty bad. (Actually, a lot of the FSS card art was bad.)

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I’m not sure who the artist was, but there are wrong angles on the figure's body and rifle, and his face is terrible! He looks like he's a pouty eleven year old whose daddy didn't buy him an ice cream cone---or worse, the modern incarnation of the dreadful Sneak Peak portrait back in the 80's that was supposed to be Stephen King's little boy's face on a grown man's body. Going back to money, at the price we are paying for these figures, we should get high end card art by professionals, not semi-amateurs whose only claim to fame was they were picked up to do Hasbro temp work because they could be paid scale, or they had a deivantART account. Final Grade: C-

(With both Barrel Roll and Black Out finished, let's hope the Club releases a Bombstrike in a timely manner to round off the family tree.)

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So overall what do I think of the FSS experiment? I think it was a good idea, and I hope to see it continue. With the Hasbro mentality of placing the primary focus on core characters, it's unlikely we'll see any many favorites as we would like. Thus the Club fills in this gap. But going forward, I expect to see improvement. The new-sculpt heads on Tollbooth, Keel-Haul, Cesspool, and others gives me hope, but I'd also like to see the Club expand into comic and cartoon characters instead of just foreign exclusives, and updating the characters for 2013 and beyond rather than just making them outdated rehashes of characters decades old.
Dullix, ix, ux. Yea, you can't come over Pontio; Pontio is above Pilato. + + +

"Thrill me with your acumen." Dr. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence Of The Lambs.
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