BIG BEN v.7 (2015)
This is the final figure for me to review from the G.I. Joe Collector Club’s third annual Figure Subscription Service (FSS). All-in-all it’s been another impressive line-up of figures. The highlights for me were Spearhead, Bombstrike, and Frostbite. Slice, Repeater, Hit & Run, Vypra, and Alpine were also very nice figures. And rounding out the set were Psyche Out, Muskrat, Night Creeper Leader, and Crimson Guard Immortal. Big Ben is a great looking figure who would easily make my highlight list if I had any nostalgic attachment to the character but since I don’t I’d place him in the middle tier.
The original Big Ben was released in 1991 which is the year after I stopped collecting Joes as a kid. Big Ben hails from England; as you may have guessed from his choice of code name. He is a member of the British Special Air Service (SAS) and he works with G.I. Joe on special assignment. It’s nice to see that Hasbro added a little international flavour to the team. Being Canadian I would’ve liked to have seen more of that but I suppose it would have went against the whole “Real American Hero” (RAH) concept (In Canada some of the character’s file cards were altered to show that some Joes were born in Canada but none of that is canon).
A second Big Ben, repainted in a brown uniform, was released in ’93 and a third version, repainted in white, was released in 2000. During the new-sculpt years of 2002-2006 three more Big Ben’s were released in various colors. Six figure variations is pretty impressive for a character who was created so late in the RAH line. The last newly-created character I got as a kid was Rampart who was released in 1990 and to this day there has not been a second Rampart figure produced.
Even though I was collecting Joes during the new-sculpt years I never acquired any of the Big Bens of that era. It’s because I missed out on all six versions of him when they were originally released that I have no nostalgic ties to him from my childhood or even from my 20s. However, I did get Big Ben versions one and three years after their release. Version one came to me in last summer’s epic haul and I found version 3 carded at a flea market not long after that.
Looking at the original figure now it’s impressive that such a realistically sculpted and painted military figure made it into the line in 1991. Things had gotten pretty bright and science-fictiony by that time. I think I would’ve really liked that figure when I was a kid had I owned it then. It’s simple design harkens back to the early days of Joe.
The Club’s modern-era Big Ben is modelled after the original which was a wise decision because none of the later repaints looked as good as version 1. The look of the original has been recreated quite faithfully here using existing pieces for the body plus a brand new head from Boss Fight Studios. The body parts all appear to be fairly recent pieces so he’s not plagued with any carry-over issues from the early modern-era figures. There are plenty of sculpted details in the uniform like pouches and wrinkles and I especially like the sculpted fabric texture in the pants.
This BFS head is perhaps the most impressive newly sculpted piece we got in this years subscription. I absolutely love it. The face has a unique look and depending on the angle you view it from it can look stern or friendly. There’s a small silver bluetooth sculpted in his right ear which is true to the original’s earpiece and the hat with the fur flaps is perfectly proportioned.
For accessories Ben has a sniper rifle with bi-pod, a knife, another gun, a TNT satchel, a couple of grenades, and a massive backpack which can hold some of the other items. It’s an impressive arsenal for one dude.
The paint job is very true to the original and it looks great. There’s just the right amount of highlight colors (golds and reds) peppered in to break up the primarily green color scheme. I really like that the Club added a Union Jack on his right sleeve as it matches up nicely with his fellow brit, Quarrel’s, uniform. On his left sleeve he has a logo for the SAF. Is that the same as the SAS? I don’t know.
Between the sculpting, the paint job, and the accessories this is a nearly perfect G.I. Joe figure. My only gripe is that the legs don’t line up with the torso as well as they should. It creates a noticeable gap and it makes for some really loose legs. He stands up fine and is a solid display figure but if you hold his head and shake him his legs rattle around like some of my vintage Joes who only got that loose after years of play. By no means is it a deal breaker though. This is still a must-have figure. 9.5 out of 10.