RIP CORD v.6 (2011)
After posting my review of Netossa the other day I realized that it was the perfect time for me to review one of the few black female figures in my collection because February is Black History Month. That got me thinking that perhaps I should review a few more black action figures before the month is through.
At first I thought I’d review a Lando Calrissian but I just boxed up my Star Wars figures the other day. They’d been sitting out for nearly a month since the last time I hauled them out for my Storm Trooper review. To avoid making another big mess I decided to grab one of the black figures that was readily available in my man cave. I had a few options but I settled on a somewhat controversial one.
Ripcord was the name of a red headed G.I. Joe paratrooper released in 1984. It was a great figure but the character really came to life in the Marvel comics written by Larry Hama.
But after one dynamic storyline involving a murdered girlfriend and a feud with Zartan Ripcord drifted into the background and never again played a major role in the series.
Which is why I was quite surprised to learn that the writers/producers of the first live action G.I. Joe movie had chosen to include him in the 2009 film Rise of Cobra. I was even more surprised when the actor hired to fill the role was announced: Marlon Wayans.
I couldn’t wrap my head around the decision. I could understand if they wanted some diversity on the team and there were no black characters from the original line-up to choose from but the G.I. Joe brand has a ton of great black characters. I could also perhaps understand the justification if Ripcord was a comedic character and Marlon best emmulated his brand of humour but historically Ripcord was not a funny character. Or maybe if they had already locked in Marlon for some reason and it was critical to the script that his character be a paratrooper but that wasn’t the case either. Yes, Wayans parachuted from a plane at the end of the movie but I think any Joe character would’ve been capable of a single jump. I just didn’t get it.
Did Marlon do such a fantastic job in the role that he changed my mind? No, but I don’t hate him in the role either. There’s plenty to dislike about the movie, including Wayans, but all-in-all it felt like an extended episode of the cartoon. It was fun and I enjoy it. In the years since Rise of Cobra more and more characters I grew up with in comics and cartoons are going through changes when they appear in film and television. In G.I. Joe both Doc and Dialtone have become women and in the Marvel movies Nick Fury and the Human Torch also went through a white-to-black change. I’ve come to terms with these being separate interpretations of the characters. Comic Nick Fury is comic Nick Fury and movie Nick Fury is movie Nick Fury.
However, the casting of Wayans as Ripcord has had ripple effects in other Joe media. Rip Cord is now African American in the comics published by IDW and he was also black in the short-lived 2010 animated series “G.I. Joe Renegades”. This action figure, Rip Cord version 6, was packaged as if it were based on the stylized Renegades design but it doesn’t really resemble the animated Rip Cord or any other previous version of the character for that matter.
This Rip Cord is black but he’s completely bald and his outfit is a departure from anything we’ve seen before. He’s got a bulky vest with a high collar, baggy pants, lots of pouches, and some slick yellow goggles. I initially passed on this figure when it first came out because I was still hung up on the race change but I snagged it a short while later after taking a closer look at it and I’m glad I did.
If you can look past this being “Ripcord” its actually a wonderfully sculpted figure with a great paint job. One area where it’s lacking is the color of the weapons. Both his large laser rifle and his small pistol, which can be holstered on his leg, are molded in baby blue plastic. Its an odd choice that diminishes the realism of the figure but at least they add a splash of bright color to the otherwise earthy toned figure. The removable goggles fit on his head perfectly and the translucent plastic looks great; they’re some of the best Joe goggles I’ve ever seen. He also came with a full paratrooper mask but that’s tucked away in my accessories bin.