BARREL ROLL v.4 (2013)
In my Jinx review the other day I told you that I was expecting my final 2012 FSS shipment to arrive in the near future. Well it showed up the very next day. This shipment should have been extra exciting to open as it contained not only the last two FSS figures but also the mystery 13th figure. However I was unable to resist the temptation and I spoiled the surprise for myself a week ago by checking out the reveal on the message boards. But even without the surprise factor I was still excited to receive some new Joes. I won’t reveal the identity of the secret figure just yet in case some of you out there are still waiting to be surprised but I’ll get to him soon. The final two figures to ship out along with character X were T.N.T. and Barrel Roll. If you’re an old school Joe fan you might be wondering just who the hell those guys are which is understandable. Neither of them are characters that ever appeared in the 80s comics or cartoons and you never owned them as a kid. T.N.T. was a foreign figure and Barrel Roll was a character introduced during the new sculpt era of the early 2000s.
Now the new sculpt days weren’t for everyone, I understand, but I think they get a bad rap. Sure the figures had some proportion problems, and some of the designs were goofy, and the computer-animated cartoons left a lot to be desired but there was some good stuff to come out of those years as well. Firstly, I thought the comics produced by Devil’s Due at the time were great. Many of those stories are being reprinted by IDW under the “disavowed” banner and they really deserve a look if you missed them the first time. Secondly, the Joe vs Cobra/Spy Troops/Valour vs Venom toy lines that ran from 2002 to 2006 brought an influx of new characters to the brand. Not all of them were great (looking at you Dr. Link Talbot) but many of them were. Some of my favorite new characters were the Stall siblings, Barrel Roll (Dwight Stall), his younger sister Bomb Strike (Alyssa Stall), and their disenfranchised brother who joined Cobra as Black Out (Thomas Stall). It was a nice little infusion of drama to the story being told on the characters file cards that I totally would have ran with as a kid. I only wish that Devil’s Due had enough time to fully explore these relationships before they lost the Joe comic license.
Barrel Roll first showed up in 2003 in the Spy Troops line. He included a Cobra disguise and you can read all about that figure here. At the time, Barrel Roll struck me as a fresh faced young kid fresh from basic training. There was a second version of Barrel Roll released in 2004 which was the exact same as version 1 except he had a brown uniform instead of blue; and instead of a Cobra disguise he came packaged with a glider. Version 3 came only 1 year later in 2005 but it seemed as though the poor kid had aged 10 years in that time. The version 3 face looked much older and his spiky haircut had been replaced with a receding hair line. Version 1 remained the definitive version of the character in my mind.
Not too many of the characters created during the new sculpt years carried over into the modern age of Joe but Kamakura seems to be the exception. He’s been released twice in the modern style and even showed up in the first wave of Kre-Os. A modern Barrel Roll had not officially been released but there was a figure named Air Raid, that came packaged with the Sky Sweeper Jet as part of the Rise of Cobra toy line, who looks like he was intended to be update of Barrel Roll. He’s got the blue outfit, the young face, and the spiky haircut. However, according to the file card on the back of the package, Air Raid’s real name is Franklin Talltree which would actually make him the Joe character Airborne .
But the Air Raid confusion is no longer an issue because the Collector’s Club has finally officially filled the Barrel Roll sized hole in my modern collection. Perhaps it’s because they felt Air Raid already captured the look of Barrel Roll version 1 that the Club decided to go with versions 2 and 3 as their basis for this release. This figure is a nice update of the brown suited Barrel Roll. I don’t immediately recognize where all of these re-used parts came from which is a good thing. They come together nicely to create a cool, solid, military figure. The head doesn’t have the young spiky haired look that I would have liked; it’s closer to the old receding hairline look but I don’t mind it so much for some reason. This version has short black hair and I actually quite like the head even tough it doesn’t scream “Barrel Roll” to me.
Now let’s talk about his accessories. The main one being his jet pack/glider. This thing is pretty cool. It’s a good size but it’s light weight enough that it doesn’t weigh him down. The wings tuck away nicely when not in use but can easily be pulled outward to give him a mini glider similar to the one he used in the Devil’s Due comics. The two small tail fins on the pack can be adjusted as well. Other than that he comes with a standard display base, a pistol, a cool two-toned rifle, and a helmet. I do not like this helmet. It’s a big clunky gray thing with a microphone. It’s the ugliest Joe helmet I’ve ever seen. It does nothing to enhance the figure and I think it makes him look “special”. Barrel Roll will not be wearing his helmet when he makes his way into my display, safety be damned. 8 out of 10.