GRUNT v.13 (2013)
It was just a couple of weeks ago that I told you about the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club 2013 Figure Subscription Service. They announced the upcoming line-up of figures at this year’s Joe Con. I provided my initial thoughts on the character choices in a blog post soon after the announcement. Not long after that the Club began revealing images of the figures. The images succeeded in getting me more excited about the 2013 roster than I was initially. I signed up for the 2013 FSS yesterday and was told to expect my first shipment of figures in the fall. Hopefully they’ve ironed out all the kinks in the process. Last year’s FSS hit some production snags and the figures didn’t start shipping until many months after the projected start date. That’s why I’m still getting my 2012 FSS figures halfway through 2013. But only 1 more 2012 shipment remains so I know what two figures to expect in my mailbox in the coming weeks, Barrel Roll and T.N.T. The exciting part is that this last shipment will contain the mystery 13th figure. My fingers are crossed for a Billy or Pythona.
I’ve been trying to stay on top of my FSS Joe reviews because I assume people out there might be curious to see what collectors think of the 2012 figures before shelling out hundreds of bucks on the 2013 service. Of the 10 2012 FSS figures that I’ve already received I’ve reviewed 8 of them, this review makes 9, so only Jinx remains. I can tell you that I was very impressed by each of the 2012 figures so I strongly recommend that you sign-up for the 2013 service if you’re on the fence about it.
My April shipment of figures consisted of Cover Girl, who I reviewed a week or so ago, and Grunt. There may have been some people out there who weren’t overly excited about Grunt (I know he looks kind of plain) but he was one of the figures I was most looking forward to getting from last year’s FSS.
The first Grunt figure was released in 1982 which was the very first year of G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero, the re-branding of the popular line of dolls from the 60s. There were 16 figures released that first year, 13 Joes, Cobra Commander and two nameless Cobra troopers.
Those first 13 Joes have since become known as the “original 13”. Most of those original Joes were made up of re-used pieces. Only Snake-Eyes (ninja dressed all in black), Scarlett (red haired chick in a blue and yellow jumpsuit), and Stalker (black guy dressed head to toe in camo and sporting a beret) immediately stood out from the pack. The other 10 guys all looked kind of the same, at least to moms; kids could appreciate the subtle differences.
Each of them were wearing very basic green uniforms decorated only with a strap or two. Flash and Grandslam both had red padding on their outfits which made them stand out a bit but between the 10 characters only 3 different heads were used. Clutch, Rock n’ Roll and Breaker all had the same bearded face but they were painted with black, blonde and brown hair respectfully which made them seem different enough. Flash and Steeler had the brown haired boyish face while Hawk and Short Fuze shared the blonde version. Grandslam, Zap and Grunt were saddled with the older face complete with receding hairline. Grandslam had his pads and visor to help him stand out leaving Zap and Grunt to be the two most boring of the lot. But even Zap had a cool bazooka and in the comics and cartoon he had a mustache. Grunt was just a kind of an ugly old guy with a rifle. Even his name made him seem generic.
Grunt and Clutch were later re-released in tan uniforms which helped to give them a unique look. I owned the tan Clutch but not the Grunt. I actually didn’t own my first Grunt figure until 2003 when the first “new sculpt” version of the character was released. Grunt’s look had evolved quite a bit over the years. My new sculpt versions included him in a dress uniform and even in a Cobra disguise.
When the modern sculpt era began in 2007 I was quite excited at the prospect of getting updated versions of the original 13 in their classic green uniforms. Some of them got really nice updates (like Zap) while others got really lackluster ones (like Short Fuze, my favorite character of the bunch). The first new sculpt Grunt was released in 2008 in a 3 pack with 2 characters whom I had no need of, Hawk and Duke, so I passed on it. A second new sculpt Grunt was released in another 3 pack as part of the Rise of Cobra movie line. That pack also included a couple of wankers I didn’t need and the Grunt didn’t have that classic look that I was pining for anyway, so again I passed on it.
For years my new sculpt “original 13” display was a man short. Many times I considered buying one of the two underwhelming Grunts that were available just to say that I had him. Well I’m glad I waited.
The Collector’s Club has hooked me up with the Grunt I’ve been waiting for. He’s not in his ’82 greens but he’s in his ’83 tans which is maybe better. His body is made up of parts from his original 13 brethren so he still fits in just fine amongst them. Sadly these aren’t the best parts. Modern Joes have come a long way since 2007. The outdated parts hurt this figure but only a little. My favorite part about this toy is the newly sculpted head. It’s got lots of personality but it also looks age appropriate and kind of weathered. It’s the perfect Grunt head except for the fact that his helmet is very loose. Grunt also came with a couple of rifles, a pistol, and knife that can be stored on his person. As an added bonus he came with a funky glider backpack. The pack can be folded up snug but with the click of a button the cloth wings shoot out where they can be strapped to his ankles to give him a full gliding kit, pretty rad. I really like this figure. It feels fresh and nostalgic all at the same time which is how any good modern joe figure should be. 8 out of 10.