OUTBACK v.8 (2014)
The first Outback figure was released in 1987 and it was a nice one. He was buff and wore a tight white T-shirt that said “survival” which made sense seeing as he’s the Joe team’s survival training instructor. He was a rugged looking fellow with shaggy red hair and a bushy red beard to match. My brother Doug had the original Outback figure and I think he was one of Doug’s favorites. I know I always liked him. I think a large part of his appeal was that he was one of the “new” characters fortunate enough to be given a starring role in one of Larry Hama’s Joe comic storylines. With the constant influx of new toys Larry was forced to shoehorn a lot of Joes and Cobras into his stories and many of them ended up as little more than background characters. Larry did a great job of infusing new figures with individual traits and personalities in the limited space he had on the file cards but it was always better when a Joe got the spotlight in one of Larry’s comics.
Ripcord is one of the Joes who most notably received a big bump in popularity based solely on his comic book appearances. The particular storyline that gave Outback a chance to shine took place in the main book’s sister title G.I. Joe: Special Missions. I remember the cover vividly, Outback was crouched beneath a snowdrift hiding from a squad of bad guys just above him. He was only wearing his signature survival T-shirt and his icy breath threatened to reveal his position. The cover was so vivid you could practically feel the tension and the bitter cold. I barely remember the interior of the book but the cover alone was enough to make me a big Outback fan.
Outback had a few makeovers in the 90s and 2000s (his hair even went white for a time) but returned to his original look in the modern era. Version 6 released in 2009 was my first Outback figure and a decent version of the character. The face had much more detail than his vintage counterparts but his body seemed far too skinny for an outdoorsy mountain man. The lack of removable web gear (which practically all modern-era figures have) further reduced his bulk. I wish Hasbro had gone with one of the buffer body molds, like the one used for Roadblock. While that 2009 figure wasn’t perfect he was good enough for me.
Which is why I wasn’t very excited about this figure at first. It didn’t look like a bad figure when I first saw pictures of it online, it just didn’t look like classic Outback. I have a deep rooted nostalgia for the era of G.I. Joe that I grew up with (1983- 1989). So when the modern style/25th anniversary line was announced back in 2007 I was stoked about getting high quality updates of the characters I grew up with wearing their iconic version 1 uniforms. I know some collectors might rather see updated, more realistic versions of old characters but I like the sometimes cheesy 80s uniforms.
For that reason I actually passed on a lot of the modern figures that many fans rave about. The Pursuit of Cobra and 30th anniversary waves are prime examples. Some of the figures produced during those years looked fantastic. We got cool updated versions of Spirit, Recondo, Duke, Dusty, Firefly, and more but I passed on them all. I try to avoid doubles of characters when I can and in each of those cases I felt that I already had a more iconic version of the character (even though the iconic versions were usually inferior to the newer figures in regards to articulation, design, and accessories).
This version of Outback (the 8th) is a prime example of the kind of figure I likely would have passed on had I seen it at retail. It’s a cool figure with lots of neat accessories but it doesn’t look like the classic 1987 Outback so I’d have been content to keep on displaying the 2009 version as my default Outback. But since this figure was included in a box set with other figures I wanted I ended up with him anyway. But I gotta tell ya, he’s really grown on me over the past 2 weeks that he’s been sitting on my desk waiting to be reviewed.
Many parts of this figure, including the head, were originally found on Snow Job version 7 released in 2010 as part of the aforementioned Pursuit of Cobra line. It was a figure I passed on, again, because I already had a figure (2008’s Snow Job version 3) which was truer to the character’s original look. If I did own Snow Job version 7 I wouldn’t like this Outback very much because they’d look too similar and all I’d see is Snow Job when I looked at it. But since I don’t own that Snow Job, I don’t immediately make that association when I look at this figure.
It does seem a little weird that Outback would be wearing big goggles, a cap and earmuffs but this Outback is dealing with a Zombie Apocalypse so anything goes. It’s probably a good idea actually to cover up your ears and other easily biteable parts. The padded forearms make sense for the same reason. I can totally imagine a guy dressed like this showing up in the Walking Dead; a survivalist who’s been on his own for a long time. His backpack is loaded with removable accessories perfect for just such a situation: a gas can, a radio, and multiple bladed weapons. Most of these items came with the POC Snow Job figure so if you already own that figure you wouldn’t be as impressed with this wide array of survival gear but since this stuff is all brand new to me I think it’s really neat.
Overall, I don’t feel this figure was necessary and while it’s well suited for a zombie invasion I don’t generally like the idea of zombies mixing with Joes. However if you are a fan of updated versions of classic characters then this is a nice figure which is superior to the 2009 Outback in a lot of ways. I don’t mind that I got saddled with it at all. 7 out of 10.