ICEBERG v.4 (2013)
The G.I. Joe Collector’s Club operates the way most fan clubs do, you pay a subscription fee to receive monthly newsletters full of Joe related content like comic strips, reviews, and news. For signing up, the club rewards members buy mailing them a free exclusive figure. The exclusive figure is a nice touch and in years past I wouldn’t have expected it to necessarily be of the same quality as the Hasbro produced Joe figures. Some of the exclusive figures of years past intrigued me but they didn’t wow me enough to join the club. The Canadian membership is around $70 or so and, while they make for some nice light reading, the newsletters don’t add much value to me. If I was going to shell out my 70 bucks it would solely be for the purpose of obtaining the figure. My Joe collecting became a more serious hobby when the new sculpt era was launched in 2007. I loved the new figure designs and wanted them all. The club was a little behind the times in that regard, continuing to offer O-ring styled Joes as their exclusive membership figures. The first modern sculpt exclusive from the club came in 2011 with Dial Tone. Dial Tone was the Joe’s telecommunications specialist first released in 1986. He had not yet been released in the modern style so he was in high demand. I planned on buying him on ebay but I did not expect his price tag to skyrocket on the secondary market the way it did. People were asking upwards of $200 for him on retail sites, they still are, which is why I still don’t own the figure.
Lesson learned. When the club began soliciting their 2012 subscriptions which would include a free Footloose figure ( another popular character from the 80s who had not been updated by Hasbro) I opted in. I paid my $70, got my Footloose in the mail, and then got to enjoy 8 glossy pages of Joe goodness every month for the next year. Other perks of Club membership is that you’re able to sign up for their Figure Subscription Service and you get discounted prices in their store. I’d say it’s worth the money and I wish I had done it a year earlier.
When 2013 rolled around it was an easy decision to renew my membership. The Club announced that they’d be offering up yet another popular 80s Joe who had been passed over by Hasbro in the modern sculpt era, Iceberg. I was excited about Iceberg. As cool as Dial Tone and Footloose were, they were both characters that my brother Doug owned when we were kids so I don’t have the same personal attachment to them as I do with Iceberg, a character that I owned. I owned most of the snow themed Joes and Cobras in those early days: Snow Job, Frostbite, Blizzard, Snow Serpent, and Ice-Viper. I’m not sure why this was the case, I wasn’t particularly fond of snow, but I did like all of those figures. Every time I got to add another Joe in a parka to my ranks it made Snow Job seem like less of a weirdo sitting around the PIT in a hood and skis.
There was nothing overly exciting about ’86 Iceberg so he was rarely the hero of any of my battles but he was a solid figure and he made a great addition to my Joe team. Hasbro has neglected their snow-based troopers in the modern age so I was glad to see the Club filling one of those holes in my collection. But then the Club released a picture of the prototype figure. He looked wonky and fans called them out on it. The Club assured fandom that the picture was just of a prototype and that the final product would differ. Well, my Iceberg arrived in the mail a short time ago and he remains a wonky looking dude.
This is the kind of figure I might have expected to receive as a freebie from the Club a couple of years ago but my expectations have since been raised. The Club has been producing some stellar figures in their FSS and convention sets lately so a bungled figure like Iceberg is much less forgivable. The head is a retooled version of the 1986 original’s head. Those decades old parts just don’t gel in the modern era. The Club did the same thing with their Blackout figure, used the original figures head, and that didn’t work for me either. At least in Iceberg’s case I liked the original head so it’s not too bad re-used here but it does come across as flat and dated, at least to me.
The real problem is the body. Figures constructed using previously released parts is common in the toy industry. New figures created by “kit bashing” are sometimes referred to as Franken-Joes and never has that description been more appropriate. This figure is a monstrosity. None of these parts work well together. The neck is too long but at least that problem is mostly hidden by the furry shawl on his shoulders. The legs are the nail in the coffin for this figure. The Club used Spirit’s legs to replicate the fur trimmed boots of the original Iceberg but they are way too scrawny to carry this figure’s weight and there’s a distracting gap between his legs and his pelvis. The paint apps on this figure are way too bright. Stark white may have worked in the old days but this guy comes across looking plastic (for lack of a better word) when compared to other modern snow troopers in their toned down, dirtier outfits.
One good point about this figure is his abundance of accessories. The original only had a white rifle. This version has multiple guns, a rocket launcher, a backpack, a snowboard, and more. Most of the accessories, including the snowboard, can be attached to his pack, which is nice. Unfortunately all that gear makes him too top heavy and so his gimpy legs give out.
While I am happy to finally be able to add an Iceberg figure to my modern Joe display I’m going to hold out hope that Hasbro or even the club, give us a better version in the near future. 4 out of 10.