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GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

If Torpedo is the Joe team's wet blanket, then Barbeque is his diametric opposite. You could say they're almost like... water and fire. Yes, nothing like a bad joke to start things off.

If Kelly hadn't joined the GI Joe Team he would have been the seventh Kelly in his direct line in the Boston Fire department. His love for the job is not based on family loyalty or even a more general sense of duty; he simply likes riding on the back of the truck with the wind in his face and sirens wailing, lights flashing and the bells clanging. Being allowed to knock down doors and smash windows with his axe is just frosting on the cake.

Owing to his substantial role on the cartoon, Barbecue has always been one of the more popular Joes. More than half of his appearances in the first season were speaking roles, and he was the main star of the memorable "The Viper is Coming" episode. Meanwhile, he was only in 10 issues of the Marvel comicbook, yet the package proclaims him to be "from the GI Joe comic series." Simple mistake, or did they have something specific in mind?

Barbecue's body is a typically clever G3 repaint: if you can see past the orange plastic, you'll recognize Snow Job in everything between the knees and neck. What was once thermal protection against the cold is now going the opposite direction, thick material to resist the heat of the fires Barbecue wades through. He gets new big boots, and all the accoutrements on his suit are grey. He's got an air tank on his chest, and substantial shoulder pads to help offset the weight and protect him from falling debris. Fictionally, of course.

Part of Barbecue's iconic look is his distinctive full-head helmet, with its black goggles and silver face mask, and that's in full effect here. The helmet is dark grey, and doesn't look nearly as oversized as the 1985 version. Sadly, Hasbro did not take the opportunity to give us a removable helmet (or alternate head) that would show off Gabriel's smiling face and curly hair. However, if you tilt the head far enough, you'll notice that his neck is painted fleshtone, rather than left orange - that's a surprising detail for an area that will almost always be unseen!

Like all the G3 figures, Barbecue is closer to 4" than 3¾", and has very nice articulation. There's a balljointed neck and hips, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, torso and ankles, swivel wrists and double-hinged knees. His accessories are all direct updates of the original toy's, and so include a grey frame backpack with removable orange tanks, a foam gun connected to the tanks by a hose, and a one-handed axe. The design of the hands makes it clear that the gun is meant to be held in the right hand (ie, the one with the trigger finger extended) and the axe goes in the left. However, the left hand is too open to properly hold the axe, and the hose crimps too easily when it stretches to the right. So basically, put the weapons in the wrong hands to begin with, and you'll be fine.

Barbecue's position on the Joe team apparently confuses some people. They can't figure out why a firefighter - someone they view as "support staff" - not only gets a name and a personality, but gets to go out in the field and do something. It's simple, really: bullets hurt, but they can be stopped by adequate armor. What stops fire? The guy in the heat-proof suit waddling in to save your ass. And just remember, like the fourth issue of IDW's new GI Joe comic proved, guns may run empty, but an axe is always fully loaded.

-- 05/29/09

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