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Beachhead & Dataframe

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

One's a computer-savvy nerd - the other's a hard-nosed jock. I smell a sitcom!

Beachhead was a Lane instructor at the Ranger School in Fort Benning and a Covert/Ops School observer/advisor. Meticulous, patient, and strong-willed, he likes getting up at 0600 hours to take a ten-mile run and PT (physical training) session before breakfast. He enjoys squatting motionless beside a jungle trail for three days straight waiting to ambush bad guys who might never show up. What he hates are people who aren't interested in doing their best. When faced with a problem, he can be relied upon to find a simple, yet effective, solution. (Can't shoot that Cobra BAT trooper because it'll make too much noise? Easy. Smash it to pieces with the butt stock of a gun.) Qualified expert: all NATO and Warsaw Pact small arms.

There was already a Beachhead in the TFAC line, and this is nearly a straight re-release. For all the info about the sculpt, we'll just send you over to that review; it's the same basic body, with a more vibrant paint scheme (probably meant to look "comicbooky," but also closer to the original 1986 figure) and blockier camo on the pants. The figure has new webgear, which is patterned on the G1 toy, with ammo clips across the chest and a red... rope? Beret? Something. ...tucked into the shoulder. He still has the large "75" painted on his left arm, suggesting he comes from the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The head is new. Actually, make that "the heads are new." Beachhead has two of them, and neither is a sculpt seen before. First we have the traditional "fully masked" head, with nothing visible except his eyes. It's larger than the head on the TFAC version, but that just makes it look like he's wearing a thick wool mask, rather than some thin neoprene thing. There's an odd ridge running around the middle, but the original toy had the same thing: figure he's folded the lower edge of his mask up so it doesn't bunch around his neck.

Pop that off, and you can give him his replacement head, which is unmasked. Now, we never saw his face on the cartoon, and I don't think we ever saw it in the comics, so Hasbro pretty much had a blank slate to work with. Still, I don't think this is quite what anyone would have pictured: he's blonde, has a handlebar mustache and a soul patch. Really? His head has a ridge on top, suggesting he's got a fauxhawk. Well, Wayne Sneeden is from Alabama, after all - any reason he shouldn't look like a hillbilly?

In addition to the new vest, Beachhead's accessories include a "scarf" piece (likely meant to be his mask/turtleneck pulled down) that fits beneath the unmasked head, a black satchel, a gray rifle with two removable clips, and a gray pistol that holsters on his leg. While only one of the clips fits into the rifle, the other fits in a slot on the ammo bag he carries. He doesn't come with a backpack, but this is still a very good assortment.

Mainframe enlisted in the Army Airborne at the age of seventeen and soon headed into battle overseas, just in time to get his Combat Infantryman's Badge. He left the Army to get his degree from MIT on the G.I. Bill then did a stint toiling in the antiseptic corridors of Silicon Valley, making big bucks and fighting boredom with a stick. Luckily, the Marines were looking for a few good men with just his qualifications. The proper papers were signed, and Dataframe was back in uniform. The world's ever-increasing reliance on tecnology makes him a valued member of the GI Joe team, and his ability to design computer viruses makes him a nightmarish muissance for Cobra.

Notice that unlike most of the Joes, Dataframe (or "Mainframe" as he used to be known) had already been through one hitch in the military, gone to school and gotten a job in the private sector before re-enlisting and eventually drawing the attention of the Joe team. That's why his '86 filecard said he was at least 10 years older than anyone else in boot camp, and why the cartoon showed him to have an ex-wife and kids.

Mainframe is built from Shipwreck's upper body and Snake-Eyes' legs. It's a good match, not only duplicating the short-sleeved collared shirt the original wore, but also giving him some nicely generic "military" legs and a sheath for his knife. He's painted with patches on his arm and chest - a red-bordered triangle and three black stars over a panel of stripes, respectively. He has a new chest strap and holster, and it seems to have an iPod molded on the shoulder. Technological!

The figure's head is new, in order to create his distinctive helmet. The helmet is a sculpted part of his head (probably because tooling it as a removable piece would have been too expensive), so he doesn't really have a strong edge between "this is head" and "this is not head." He's got kind of a sour look on his face, but his G1 toy wasn't exactly a handsome man, either, so this is an appropriate update.

1986 Mainframe didn't come with a gun, but this one does. In fact, it's an update of the submachine gun that came with fellow tech-head Dial Tone, so that kind of makes sense. His other accessories are updates of the originals: a small black communicator (wireless now, partially because of the march of technology, but more because he doesn't have a backpack to plug a wire into), and a portable computer. Not a laptop, but a handled case with a keyboard, disc drives and other sculpted details. With four little legs that fold down from the bottom, this thing looks like a portable hacker's kit, capable of breaking even the heaviest encryption. Completing the retro feeling, the figure comes with a cardboard sheet with four floppy disks printed on it - two 5" and two 3.5" - cut them apart and you'll have some wonderfully outdated media for him.

Beachhead and Dataframe infiltrate the dark, smelly sewers under the Silent Castle. Their mission: sabotage the Cobra organization's central computer. The two GI Joe team members encounter rats, bugs and bats (well, Cobra BAT troopers) and unknowingly treat Baroness and Zarana to a very frustrating day.

This comic pack doesn't have a reprint of an old issue, but rather a new story written by Larry Hama, "The Dark Beneath the Silence," #11 under their new numbering. The info from the back of the packaging provides a good summary of what happens without giving anything away. The fact that Baroness and Zarana are working together suggests this story would have gone somewhere between issue 87 (where Destro reorganized Cobra and made the two work together) and issue 97 (where Baroness and Destro took off together), but since they were in charge of Cobra's Manhattan embassy, I'm not sure they ever went to the Silent Castle during that time.

Most of the comic packs have one worthwhile character and one loser. In this case, that would theoretically be Mainframe and Beachhead, respectively. But while Mainframe is indeed worthwhile, Beachhead isn't garbage. He's not really any worse than the existing version, but not any better, either: just different. Different enough, in fact, that even if you already got the single-carded version, getting this comic pack is a decent buy.

-- 04/02/10

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