FROSTBITE BTR (2003)
Everybody loves the vintage Joe figures (1982- 1994) and the modern style figures (2007-current) seem to be a big hit with fans as well. It’s the figures released during the brief period known as the new-sculpt era (2002-2007) that often get forgotten or maligned. Many people especially hate the first wave of new sculpt figures and I can understand why; the construction, the plastic, and the character likenesses were all quite different from what we were used to. It’s my least favorite of the 3 generations of 3 3/4 ” Joes but there was a lot to be liked about those figures of the early 2000s, and that first wave holds a special place in my heart. Snake Eyes had a sculpted mouth, Storm Shadow had a pin head, and Destro just looked mental, but despite all that it was a rebirth for my favorite childhood toy line and I was stoked to see new Joes in stores. One of my favorite first wave figures was Frostbite version 4. He had a heavily padded winter suit with lots of sculpted detail and a fantastic new head sculpt. I loved the mask/helmet/goggles combo. The only thing that I didn’t like about the figure was that I felt he should have been a new version of Blizzard instead of Frostbite. The vintage Frostbite had a thick black beard and this guy was clean shaven. The overall look and colors were much more reminiscent of the 1988 Blizzard as opposed to the 1985 Frostbite.
Hasbro pumped out a lot of product during the new sculpt years and tried out lots of new concepts. One of their innovations was the built-to-rule (BTR) subset. BTR was sort of a precursor to the successful line of Kre-O brick figures that are presently available. BTR took regular 3 3/4″ Joe figures and incorporated a Lego-esque building block play feature. Each figure came with a build-able vehicle with one primary mode and several alternate modes. The sets didn’t contain too many pieces and were not very complicated to build. The figures themselves had Lego nubs on their forearms and shins so that bricks could be attached to them. I never saw any of the BTR sets available for sale in my area and they didn’t interest me enough to bother seeking them out from online retailers. I never owned any of the BTR sets and until very recently I never owned any of the figures either.
I was purchasing a few items from an online store the other day (the 50th anniversary Danger at the Docks set, a Transformers Whirl, and a Marvel Legends Agent Venom) and I decided to scan through some of their old stock before I checked out. I came across 3 new sculpt era figures that I missed out on the first time around, all for under $3.00; BTR Frostbite was one of them. This figure originally came packaged with the Forest Fox, a build-able dune buggy type vehicle. The figure has the same head, torso, upper arms, and upper legs as Frostbite v.4. He’s been given new forearms and shins to accommodate for the Lego nubs.
The Lego nubs are actually fine and don’t detract from the figure as much as you might think they would. What does suck about this version is how short the lower legs are. BTR Frostbite looks like a frig’n midget, even when displayed next to Frostbite v.4 which was already a short figure. He’s got these big gorilla arms and then these rinky dinky little legs. It’s really quite unfortunate.
I’m also not a big fan of this paint jobon this figure. Blizzard v.4 was actually first repainted shades of green and brown for Frostbite v.6 in late 2002, and then a brighter aquatic green when the mold was reused to create the G.I. Joe reservist figure (also in 2002) and I thought they both looked fine. This arctic attire actually translates fairly well into a less environment specific outfit. But the BTR version comes off as bland and ugly. The lack of paint apps on the jacket, upper legs, and goggles really hurt this figure. I’m glad I picked this guy up because at least now I have a BTR figure in my collection and for $3.00 he was a bargain. However, this figure is a dud through and through. 3 out of 10.