TOP SIDE v.2 (2013)
So last week I threw together my initial thoughts on the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club upcoming 2013 Figure Subscription Service. I thought it was an alright line-up but that it could have been better. Most of the readers that responded to the post seemed quite happy with the figure choices so I guess that’s a good thing. I wasn’t unhappy with the Club’s selections necessarily, it’s just that I was really hoping to see a couple old favorites of mine.
1990 was the last year that my brother Doug and I bought any Joe figures from the vintage line. Not only were we growing up, I was 12 and he was 14, but the line seemed to be getting stale. Repeat characters were appearing more often and new characters were popping up seemingly as replacements for some of our beloved 80s characters, sharing military specialties. But looking back I’m actually kind of surprised that 1990 was the year that we jumped ship because 1990 had a pretty solid selection of figures, most of which were new characters. It was the next few years afterwards that were littered with sub-teams like DEF, Ninja-Force and the ECO-WARRIORS that brought about the rampant character re-use. My last Joe figure purchase was 1990s Rampart, a character I really liked and who became a key player in my little Joe universe. Rampart is the type of character who isn’t old enough to get much love from vintage collectors and therefore he’s never been remade. He’s one of the characters that I was really hoping to see in the 2013 FSS line-up.
I had high hopes of seeing Rampart because Top Side, another new character introduced in 1990 who has gotten little attention since, made it into the 2012 Figure Subscription Service. Oh well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I get a rampart update in the 2014 FSS or maybe one of the convention sets as I’m sure he’s low on Hasbro’s list of characters to revisit. So while I never owned the 1990 version of Top Side and have little attachment to the character I take comfort in knowing that somewhere out there he’s somebody’s Rampart and that collector is super stoked to see him updated.
So let’s take a look at Top Side version 2. From the neck down Top Side is made up entirely of the 25th anniversary Shipwreck’s body. Sure it would be great if every Joe could be made up of totally unique pieces but that would be very expensive. Therefor Hasbro and the Collector’s Club often have to work with what they’ve already got. I don’t mind that at all in situations like this. While this may not be an exact representation of the original Top Side it’s close enough and the pieces work well. Cutter was also made up of Shipwreck’s body and I kind of like that the re-use of parts gives all of the NAVY boys a consistent look. They’re all colored differently at least to give them each a unique feel. Top Side has gray pants and a blue shirt to match the vintage figure. Like Cutter he’s got a life jacket slapped on which helps to hide the similarities to Shipwreck even further. I think the fact that this body fails to capture the look of the original in some areas is a good thing. The 1990 figure had boots up to his knees, rolled up short sleeves, and a life jacket that appeared to be tucked into his pants. None of these would have bothered me before but when I compare them side by side I think this new one has the better body design.
The head is a newly sculpted piece and it’s a great one. This face has a ton of personality. Top Side looks like a seasoned soldier who doesn’t take any guff. He looks mean and tough and he’s got a wicked flat top. Probably the biggest improvement in this figure over the original is the face. The original had a nice head sculpt too but for some bizarre reason Hasbro decided to paint his eyes the same color yellow as his hair and eyebrows. The 1990 Topside is the only figure I know of to receive such a paint job. He just looked creepy and weird. The cold, steely, black eyed stare of this 2013 version is much better.
For accessories Top Side has a white helmet that hits on his head just right, a display base, a pistol that can be holstered on his leg, a machine gun, a billy club, and a hook on a rope. Cutter came with the same hook on a rope. I’m not sure what they’re supposed to do with those things but they look kinda cool.
Because I had no previous attachment to the character Top Side was not one of the 2012 FSS figures that I was excited about. I thought he’d be a decent addition to the collection but characters like Jinx, Iron Klaw and Big Boa were the big draws for me. Top Side, much like other underdogs Sure Fire and Quarrel, has surprised me. I find myself really liking this figure. Considering how much I’ve enjoyed each of the 2012 FSS figures thus far, even the ones I didn’t expect to, I have high hopes for the upcoming 2013 line-up despite my initial misgivings about a few of the choices. I look forward to being proven wrong again. 8 out of 10.