DR. MINDBENDER v.7 (2015)
When the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero toy line launched in the early 80s Hasbro partnered with Marvel to produce a comic books series to help promote the brand. Larry Hama was the man who wrote those comics. In the early days there were only a handful of toys available to write about so Larry fleshed out the Joe universe with original characters. One of his original creations was Dr. Venom, a mad scientist type fella in the employ of Cobra. He was introduced in issue 10 and killed off in issue 19 published in 1984. Dr. Venom finally got made into an action figure for the first time in 2010. Two years after Dr. Venom’s demise Cobra needed a new mad scientist so they recruited Dr. Mindbender.
Mindbender debuted in both action figure and comic book form in 1986. My brother Doug owned that original figure. The file card on the back of the package explained how Mindbender was once a kind and gentle orthodontist experimenting with electric brainwave stimulation as a means of relieving dental pain. He used himself as a test subject and that lead to a total personality change, transforming him into the mad doctor we all came to love via the comics and animated series. Voice actor Brian Cummings did a brilliant job portraying him on the old cartoons.
He may have been a man of science but Dr. Mindbender did not dress like your typical scientist. He was always decked out in purple pants, knee-high boots, a black cape and, best of all, no shirt. To complete the look he wore a monocle. It was a pretty outlandish design but Doug and I never questioned it; it seemed to make sense in the world of G.I. Joe.
Updated versions of Dr. Mindbender were released in 1993, 2002, and 2003. The costume went through some tweaks and changes but Mindbender never lost his unique and colorful sense of style. It wasn’t until 2004 that we finally got a version of the doctor in proper scientist clothing; a white lab coat, drab grey pants, and sensible footwear.
The first modern-era Dr. Mindbender came out in 2009 as part of a Cobra 7-pack called Defence of Cobra Island. It and a Joe-themed 7-pack called Assault on Cobra Island were the last gasp of the 25th anniversary branded toy line before the movie-based Rise of Cobra figures took over. I was happy to get an updated Mindbender, especially one based on the 1985 original, but it wasn’t a stellar action figure. Some of the previously released parts used to construct the body came from one of my least favourite 25th anniversary figures, Gung-Ho. At least the head was brand new and it was a pretty good one. Overall, the figure was adequate and, despite its flaws, I never felt that I needed a new and improved Mindbender to replace it. Which is why I was underwhelmed by the Collector Club’s announcement at last years Joe Con that Arctic Dr Mindbender would be the 2015 free Club membership figure.
I should have learned by now to stop doubting the Club. They almost always surpass my expectation…almost. Arctic Dr. Mindbender arrived a month or so ago and I love him. This figure is based on his appearance in the 1987 animated movie when he travelled to the Arctic to meet Cobra Commander’s prehistoric ancestors.
I never would have considered this a figure I needed for my collection but it comes together really nicely. The torso and arms come from Cobra Commander version 48 and the legs come from Techno-Viper. The fur collar, lower jacket, and head are all brand new pieces. The reused parts are fine but the newly created pieces are what elevate this figure to must-have status. The fur is super detailed and looks surprisingly believable and the head is fantastic. It’s got an expressive face, a monocle with a painted edge, and an epic ‘stache. To top it all off the cartoon accurate purple paint job on the jacket is straight killer (I’m not even sure if thats real slang but it sounded good in my head).
For accessories Mindbender comes with a white display base, a pistol, and a laptop as well as new versions of the backpack, hose and cattle prod(?) combo the 1985 figure came with. I like this figure so much it prompted me to buy the Arctic Destro figure I previously had no interest in. Nice job Collector’s Club. 9 out of 10.