RIPPER 12″ (2005)
As most of you probably know G.I. Joe began in the 1960s as a series of 12″ dolls. I am happy to say that was before my time. I was born in ’78 and discovered G.I. Joe when the brand was relaunched, after a several year hiatus, as a series of 3 3/4 ” action figures. Throughout the 1980s G.I. Joe consisted solely of those smaller figures and their vehicles. When the 90s rolled in the Joe brand was in peril. Popularity waned as kids like me grew up. Hasbro tried all kinds of things to keep kids interested, such as color change ninjas and space aliens, but ultimately none of the gimmicks worked and the brand went into hiatus for another 10 years or so. One of the things Hasbro tried in the early 90s was reviving the 12″ figures. I found the bigger figures kind of neat but never collected any myself. All of the goofiness of the 90s pushed me away from Joe completely and I moved onto other things. My little brother Brian kept on collecting Joes for a short while after Doug and I got out of it though and every now and again he’d get some pretty cool figures. Most of the Joes he acquired were crappy ninjas and street fighter wankers but a few he owned that impressed me were Beachead version 2 and the Icecream Soldier (lame name, I know, but a cool figure). Another pair of his I liked were a 12″ Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes that were released in ’93/94. The 90s 12 inch figures were a combination of Real American Hero (RAH) characters and standard nameless military men. I didn’t have much interest in the more realistic stuff but the RAH figures were cool and if they had come out a few years earlier I probably would have collected a bunch of them.
When the small Joe figures came back to store shelves in 2002 new 12″ figures accompanied them. Again Hasbro went with a mix of RAH characters and nameless troops of varying ranks and specialties. My wallet was overcome by the tidal wave of new 3″ figures at that time so I had little income to put towards the larger figures but I did pick up four of them. I got my own 12″ versions of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, along with Roadblock and Ripper. Why those four? I don’t really know. The ninjas were an obvious choice but neither Roadblock or Ripper were ever huge favorites of mine. Cobra Commander, Destro, or even a Cobra Trooper would have been more appealing but I think Ripper and Roadblock just happened to be on the shelves on a particular day when I wanted to buy something and there was nothing else at the store catching my attention.
The 12″ RAH Joe figures are pretty cool and, from what I remember, quite affordable. However they weren’t as of high a quality as the Star Wars dolls being released around that time. The Star Wars dolls made excellent display pieces where as the Joe figures seemed geared more towards play. They were bright and colorful with big missile firing weapons. So while my 12″ Joes never made it onto the display shelf, they were fun to goof around with.
A few years ago, right before moving into this apartment, I had a fairly major toy purge. I regret it now mostly because I could have written about those mostly oddball toys for this blog. I got rid of a bunch of Marvel Toy Biz stuff, McFarlane stuff, and a few other odds and ends. I kept Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow but my Ripper and Roadblock dolls got purged. I regretted selling them shortly afterwards as they were a fun piece of Joe history that I really should of held onto.
Well about a month ago I hauled out my multiple toy containers during another attempted purge. All I managed to part with this time around were a few stuffed animals (who, by the way, haven’t actually left the apartment yet). To my surprise I found Ripper and Roadblock safe and sound in my Joe vehicle container. Apparently I hadn’t gotten rid of them after all. What a nice little surprise that was.
Ripper is a member of the Dreadnoks, a motorcycle gang led by Cobra’s master-of-disguise, Zartan. The original 3″ Ripper figure was released in 1985 along with fellow ‘noks Torch and Buzzer. The three of them always appeared in the comics and cartoons together. More Dreadnoks were added to the gang over time but those 3 remained the core of the group. Why Hasbro decided to release a 12″ Ripper but not a Buzzer or Torch I do not know. Having all 3 of them in this scale would have been pretty cool. However, by releasing Ripper alone it elevates him in my mind; makes him seem less like one of the three stooges and more like an individual threat. When playing with my Joes as a kid I never would have paired Ripper against Roadblock as he would’ve gotten his ass kicked but by only having those 2 characters in this scale Ripper is forced to up his game.
I quite like this figure, in part because of how much it strays from Ripper’s iconic look. Ripper traditionally appears in blue jeans, a ripped green tank top, a full beard and a mohawk. This figure is wearing red camo pants, a grey tank top, a handlebar mustache, and a ballcap. It’s recognizable as Ripper but looks quite different from his smaller figure. He’s got removable rubber boots and the pants which stay on nicely thanks to an elastic waistband are removable as well. His shirt and gloves are painted directly onto the figure but he also has removable webgear. The webgear is cool because both his pistol and machete can be stored on it to free up his hands for fisticuffs. His sunglasses and hat are removable and he has a sculpted red bandanna on underneath. The face sculpt is great with lots of personality.
As I said earlier this doesn’t make for a great display piece but he’s big, durable, posable, and fun so if you see one I’d recommend you pick him up. 6 out of 10.