Zartan's Dreadnoks may have just been one of the many factions that made up the Cobra hierarchy, but they were definitely the most memorable. When the average trooper is wearing a plain blue uniform, a bunch of rowdy Australian bikers are sure to stand out.
Torch was remanded to Borstal
(a reform school) at age fourteen. He escaped and went to sea in the Merchant Marine, where he learned the use of the cutting torch. He is an unrepentant thug whose penchant for sudden and unexpected violence is matched only by the utter depth of his stupidity.
Buzzer may have been the unofficial leader in the comics, but on the cartoon, Torch was the man. Maybe it's because he looked the most stereotypically "biker" of the bunch, with the bare torso, the leather vest, the headband and what have you. This figure shares the majority of his mold with Gung-Ho, but the paint changes keep him from looking very similar. The holster and pockets on his legs are new, too. His vest is a separate piece that closes under his left arm.
In a really neat move, the back of his vest has the logo of the Melbourne Maulers Motorcycle Club - the same group some versions of his 1985 filecard associated him with. The chains around the arm-holes on his vest are just a sculpted part of the piece, but they get their own paint apps and they look really good.
Torch's head is a great update of the original. He's wearing the black sunglasses and the red bandana, and his Franz-Josef beard is in full effect, helping to hide the neck joint. His eyebrows pop up above hs glasses, so even though you can't actually see either his eyes or mouth, he still looks rather angry. His hair spills down over his headband a bit, but just as a matter of design, not sloppiness.
Though Torch's weapon is specifically identified as an oxyacetylene cutting torch, it's most often portrayed as a flamethrower - that's like confusing a scalpel for a shotgun.
Whatever it is, his accessories are quite nice, though they do suffer from some odd design choices. The gun itself is designed well, but there's a hard pastic tube coming off the top that isn't really positioned properly to plug into anything. Since a torch needs a fuel supply, he has a backpack frame to cart around the cannisters. The tube plugs in here, but only if it's bent way out of position. You may not realize at first the green cannister can be removed from the harness, because it fits in so seamlessly. How cool is that! The torch itself can fit in the holster on Torch's leg.
There are devils in Tasmania and Ripper is probably the meanest of them all. He was expelled from nursery school for extorting candy from his schoolmates and spent most of his adult life in various correctional institutions. He is a professional criminal motivated by greed and a malignant dislike for the niceties of civilization - except for motorcycles.
There's no doubt that out of the original three Dreadnoks, Ripper is the least popular. Buzzer acted like the leader, Torch looked the best, and Ripper... Ripper was just sort of there to fill space on the team. But still, I've got a soft spot for him, because he was the only one I had as a kid. I think I got him for Easter - I definitely remember taking him to church to play with during the sermon.
Ripper shares most of his body construction with Buzzer: the arms and legs are the same, leaving only the head and torso to be different. Of course, his jeans are painted a lighter blue, his boots are black and the skulls on the front of them are silver - this really doesn't look like a blatant re-use at all. Ripper's fashion sense includes a torn camouflage belly shirt, a thick leather belt with a chain hanging off one side, a single shoulder strap and a few (non-removable) knives. He has a golden spiked pad on his right arm, and a single glove and shoulder armor on his left. He's got two grenades hanging from his collar, and a set of silver dogtags around his neck.
Sporting red glasses and a full beard, Ripper is looking pretty unhappy. His hair is close-cropped, save for the mohawk running back the middle of his head. It's only a few millimeters high on the figure, but it would probably be about 2" thick at full scale. His big bushy eyebrows poke are visisble above his glasses, and his hair actually has a bit of a texture. This is a fine update of the old look, even if he's not quite as ugly as he used to be.
Ripper's weapons have been updated nicely, but that doesn't mean they don't have any problems. First of all, his rifle (with its trademark "can opener" bayonet) is in Torch's hands in the package. That's a minor thing, obviously, and it makes no difference once you open them.
However, while his inexplicable jaws of life thing [it's the spreader, you idiot - it's bad enough you don't read anyone else's reviews, don't you even read your own? --ed.] has been upgraded so it actually has moving jaws, the hose that's supposed to connect it to his backpack steadfastly refuses to remain connected to either the spreader or the backpack. It doesn't flex well enough, so it is constantly yanking the tool out of Ripper's hands, and it can't be wrapped around the spokes on the backpack's frame. Yes, I could glue it in place, but I don't want to. The spreader has prongs that allow it to store on the backpack, but it wants to pop off. This is better than we got with the 1985 figure, but it could still use work.
Both figures come with Cobra display stands,
and share the same articulation: balljointed head, shoulders, elbows, torso, hips and ankles, swivel wrists and double-hinged knees.
These are the redesigned G3 bodies, which add a bit of range to the joints: specifically, the elbows bend further and the legs can come up straighter in the front - nothing major. The swivel portion of Ripper's right ankle is loose, so his foot is likely to just twirl in place. They also have matching Dreadnok tattoos on their arms - though it's not the design we know and love. And Buzzer doesn't have one, unless he's hiding it somewhere.
The pack includes a reprint of GI Joe #30 with a new painted cover by Greg Horn and all internal references to Marvel excised. It's a really good choice, because it's the first time we realy get to see the Dreadnoks in action, and al three of them get plenty to do - they're ordered by Cobra Commander to cut a hole in the fence around McGuire Field, which he believes is the location of the Joe's secret base. The Dreadnoks get bored waiting, though, and go into the base to generally cause destruction and mayhem, which alerts everyone of the sneak attack just before it's about to begin. Smooth move, guys.
In our review of Monkey Wrench, we said that a lot of the early Dreadnoks had "joke" names, and that's definitely true here: Torch, Buzzer and Ripper's real names are Thomas Winken, Richard Blinken-Smythe and Harry Nod,
respectively: that makes them not only a reference to Tom, Dick and Harry, but also Wynken, Blynken and Nod - someone was having fun with these three stooges.
Though the original three Dreadnoks have had a few updates over the years, this is the first time we've gotten all three of them in the same style at the same time since their original release in 1985. Sure, Buzzer is sold on his own solo card while Ripper and Torch are only available in this comic pack, but it's great to get the old gang back together at once. Now I just need to find some nice bikes for them.