BIG BEAR v.3 (2014)
There’s no rhyme or reason to the order in which I review my toys. Most of the stuff I review is on display all around me so I just grab a figure from the shelf and start writing. This is why you see so few Star Was, Marvel Toy Biz, and Joe vehicle reviews. I have plenty of all of those but they’re all boxed away and I have to consciously go searching for one to review when the mood strikes me.
I do however try to review my G.I. Joe subscription service figures as they come in. Just in case there’s some collector out there who’s on the fence about purchasing one of these figures on ebay or perhaps considering subscribing to the FSS next year; I want to be able to help that collector make an informed decision. I’ve fallen a little behind on my reviews due to my recent move but now that the final shipment of FSS figures has arrived I feel compelled to get the final few reviews posted.
The final shipment included the mystery figure, Grand Slam, as well as the final 2 regular figures: Dragonsky and Big Bear. Both of whom are members of the Oktober Guard, a kind-of eastern European communist G.I. Joe team. The Oktober Guard has been a part of the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero mythos almost since the beginning. In the early days of the Marvel comic writer by Larry Hama often populated the Joe world with newly created characters because the toy line wasn’t broad enough at the time to fill all of the roles required of the stories (hard to imagine now). The Oktober Guard were first introduced in issue 6, released way back in 1982.
I gotta be honest, I was never a big fan of the Oktober Guard. Other than Horrorshow, I could never remember the names of the characters. Larry gave them all unique personalities and military specialties just like the Joes but they failed to resonate with me. There weren’t any figures made of the Oktober Guard when I was a kid and I was actually okay with that.
The first two members of the Guard to get figures were Red Star in 1991 and Big Bear in 1992. Oddly enough both of them were newly created characters not having ever appeared in the comics or cartoons. Long standing members like Horrorshow and Stormavik got shut out.
The Guard resurfaced again in the comics published by Devil’s Due in the 2000s. It was around that time, during the new sculpt era that many were made into action figures for the first time. Three different 3-figure comic packs were released featuring the Oktober Guard. And while I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of the characters, it was kind of cool to finally have them in plastic form.
When the modern line started in 2007 it’s like we were back to square one. Hasbro produced the main characters while hard core fans complained about not having figures of Billy, Kwinn, and the Oktober Guard. Hasbro produced one member of the team, Red Star, who was available in a comic-pack with Duke.
In 2012 the Collector’s Club made the Oktober Guard the focus of their convention set. That set gave us modern interpretations of Colonel Brekhov, Daina, Iron Bear, Horrorshow, Schrage, and Stormavik. It was my first ever convention set and I was very impressed with the quality of the figures. It’s ultimately what convinced me to purchase the 2013 and 2014 sets and to take a chance on the FSS.
Between the 6 figures from the box set and Red Star I now had a pretty decent little Oktober Guard team to display. I was content with the 7 member team but the Club managed to squeeze two more Ruskies into their final shipment of FSS 2.0 and I’m glad they did. Again, I don’t love the characters but the figures are quite nice, especially Big Bear.
Big Bear was constructed using some existing pieces but he also has some new ones as well including a brand new head. The head sculpt is fantastic. This guy is one grizzled gingery bear who I would not mess with. There’s a ton of personality in his face and some finely-detailed sculpting in his beard and hat.
His outfit is big and bulky and makes a lot of sense because I hear it’s quite cold in Russia. I think the jacket is a new piece and it’s great. It’s got a big furry collar, a canteen, rope, grenades, multiple pouches, and yet it doesn’t hinder his movement. This guy is dressed to hunker down amidst a patch of trees in the blistering cold of the Russian wilderness for as long as it takes. And then when you least expect it he takes you out with either his giant rocket launcher or one of his two rifles. I think Big Bear might actually be my favorite of the 9 Oktober Guard figures. There’s just something about those furry hats that scream badass to me. It’s probably the influence of many 80s action movies. Even as someone who’s lukewarm about the Oktober Guard I give this guy a solid 8 out of 10.