CHUCKLES v.5 (2015)
I recently posted my “top 15 action figures of 2015” list. I got a lot of great toys this year that didn’t quite make the cut. Chuckles here probably would have been number 16.
According to his file card Chuckles’ Primary Military Specialty is Criminal Investigations. It describes him as being “undercover for so long that nobody is really sure who he actually works for. He is so conscientious about keeping up his cover that he’ll volunteer for missions that nobody else want to go on.”
The first Chuckles figure was released in 1987. My brother Doug owned it. I didn’t mind not having it in my personal collection because I didn’t care for that figure. It wasn’t even the fact that he was wearing a floral pattern Hawaiian shirt that bothered me, it was the face sculpt.
He had huge bags under his eyes which made him look incredibly tired and old. I also wasn’t a fan of the swirl in the front of his hair. His portrayal in the Joe cartoon didn’t help to endear him to me. His first and only animated appearance was in the ’87 animated movie as a new recruit alongside Jinx, Law, Big Lob, and Tunnel Rat. Chuckles was drawn as a muscle bound oaf and he didn’t have a single line of dialogue. His most memorable scene came during a training montage when he ripped a missile off of a downed vehicle hurled it overhead at an enemy tank. He did appear in the Joe comic published by Marvel a few times but he didn’t leave much of an impression on me then either.
When the G.I. Joe toy line was revived in 2002 after a decade of near dormancy it was my first opportunity to collect many of the Joe and Cobra characters that Doug had as a kid. I got my first versions of marquee characters like Duke, Destro, and Zartan during the new-sculpt years. Some lesser known characters like Chuckles didn’t make the cut for the updated toyline. The Joe team seemingly replaced him with a new undercover operative named Agent Faces. The Collector’s Club released a new Chuckles figure in 2007 just as that era and the O-Ring construction was being phased out. It was nothing special and wasn’t worth the premium Club price.
The Modern Era of G.I. Joe kicked off in 2007 and many vintage characters got updates in the new non-O-Ring construction style. The initial 25th anniversary line flourished for two years before being replaced with the movie-based Rise of Cobra line. A modern-era Chuckles was added to the anniversary series in ’09 as part of the Attack on Cobra Island box set just before the changeover to movie toys. I was pleased to get Chuckles because I wanted to collect modern versions of all the vintage characters but the figure itself was underwhelming. From the neck-down the figure was made up of reused pieces and the result was not great. It was lanky and had awkward wrists. I that find the mid-torso joint found on modern-era figures doesn’t usually detract from the look of the figures but in this case it did. Chuckles flowing silk shirt looked odd with a seam running horizontally through the middle. At least the outfit matched the original quite well, flowers and all.
The thing I liked least about the 2009 Chuckles figure was the head sculpt. It looked nothing like the tired vintage head but I didn’t see it as an improvement. The curly hair and the smug grin did nothing to make the update cooler than the original. I would’ve rather had an update of the saggy-eyed swirly haired ’87 face because at least then there would be some consistency.
The Collector’s Club released a Night Force version of Chuckles in 2013 that consisted of the smug ’09 head on a new body made up of Viper, Law, Snake Eyes and Duke parts. It was an improvement over the 2009 figure but since it still had the same head I wasn’t impressed so I never bothered with it.
I wouldn’t have minded that the only Chuckles in my collection was the mediocre 2009 figure if the character had never evolved beyond the mute meathead featured in the cartoon. However, in the past 10 years Chuckles has been featured prominently in comics produced by both Devil’s Due and IDW. His portrayal in the Devil’s Due books made me think that Chuckles was kind of cool for the first time ever but it was the IDW Joe books that really put Chuckles on the map.
When IDW obtained the license to produce G.I. Joe comics they launched three titles: a core Joe book, an Origins book that told untold tales, and a Cobra book that focused on the enemy. The Cobra series starred Chuckles who was tasked with infiltrating the Cobra organization as an undercover operative. The Cobra series was fantastic. Not only was Chuckles written with depth but artist Antonio Fuso made him look more like Daniel Craig than any of those goofy action figures. That series turned Chuckles into a fan favourite and I think every Joe fan (myself included) wanted a Chuckles figure that did the character justice after reading it.
It took a while but I think we finally have a cool Chuckles figure. Version 5 was released in 2015 as part of the 50th anniversary series. He came packaged with an updated AWE striker (now called F.O.E. striker) a Cobra Elite Horseman and a Cobra Basilisk. I’m generally not a fan of being forced to buy vehicles in order to get figures I want but both vehicles in the set are pretty cool.
Chuckles v5 is made up of Shipwreck’s arms and torso and Snake Eyes’ legs. I’m still not a fan of the seam through the middle of the shirt but otherwise the body is quite good. It’s well proportioned and there are lots of nice sculpted details like wrinkles in the fabric. The head is a brand new piece and I love it. He has short cropped hair and a stern stare. No swirl and no saggy eyes. This is a Chuckles that means business.
The accessories included with this figure are top notch. He has a knife that can be sheathed on his boot and a pistol with removable silencer both of which can be holstered on his leg. He has a two-toned rifle that matches the color the of his pants and he has a machine gun with a tripod. I love the shoulder harness that fits around both arms. It doesn’t hinder his movement or look too busy and it sits naturally. Lastly he has a nifty neck scarf that I boxed up before I took my pictures.
The last thing I need to mention is the paint job. I love the earthy colour palette of this figure. It’s true to Chuckles’ style but its a vast improvement over the original. The shirt is still patterned but it isn’t nearly as flamboyant. I also like the skin tone. This is a desert Chuckles and it looks like he actually has a tan, brilliant. Some people don’t like the intense eyes but I quite like them. There’s very little to complain about here. A great figure. 9 out of 10.