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Mutt & Junkyard

GI Joe Classified Series
by yo go re

I'll be honest with you: when GI Joe Classified started, we never believed the line would make it to 100 figures, which is why the filenames for these pages only have two digits in them, not three. And yet, here we are with figure #113, proving us wrong. Congrats on the milestone, Classified!

Mutt is a natural with animals. He likes them and they like him. The problem is that he gets along better with dogs than he does with humans. "If you're sitting next to Mutt in the mess hall, don't try filching anything from his tray - he'll bite your leg off!"

Well, we're back to the window packaging now, for better or worse. That means no footlocker for the accessories, and instead a bunch of wasted space. Just think - we could have gotten a cardboard kennel for Junkyard to sleep in! On the plus side, the stats are actually printed at a legible size on this style of packging, making it easy to see he's ranked with Security 3, Light Weapons 2, Jungle Combat 2, and, of course, Animal Handling 4. That one makes sense. Jungle Combat may seem like a surprise, but his original 1984 filecard said he graduated from jungle warfare training school, so it's really just an obscure reference. Possibly because nothing else in that section would make sense.

Fitting Mutt's profile as "the guy who's less friendly than his dogs," he looks like he's growling. Paul Harding sculpted the figure, and has given Mutt a big, angry snarl that reveals his teeth and makes the skin around his eyes wrinkle. He has two small scars on his left cheek, evidence of a life spent working with animals with sharp teeth and claws.

Mutt's black hair is mashed down against his head, which makes sense since he wears a helmet all day. The helmet is a simple dome, though painted with a bit of dirt or rust on it. The figure includes two pairs of goggle with angular golden lenses: one sized to go over the helmet, the other sized to fit beneath it, covering the figure's eyes tightly. He also gets the face guard - or maybe muzzle - that covers his mouth and nose and almost saw the character be introduced to the 1984 line as "Dog-Face." On the G3 figure, the helmet and mask were both oversized, hovering near his face rather than covering it, but here they actually fit.

Mutt wears a short-sleeved green uniform with a lot of extras over top of it: a sturdy brown vest with red padding over the shoulders and black clasps over the zupper, plus a knife sheath and several pockets on the left side beneath the silver badge he wears; a utility belt with numerous pouches, a holster on the right leg, simple kneepads, and flaps covering the laces on his boots. His gloves have extra protection on the back, and he wears a big bite pad on his left arm - one that's clearly been bitten quite often.

The uniform is a bluish green, rather than the yellowish green seen on the cartoon. Of course, the cartoon also colored his chest green, rather than making the vest brown like even the vintage toy had. This one could use more paint apps on all his snaps and buckles, but they did do a few sections of his mask in different colors, and painted black hair on his chest and arms, and even stubble on his jaw, so it's not like they were cutting any major corners.

His articulation is the same as the rest of the Classified figures, though my figure does have one difference: a broken joint! I have dozens of these toys now, and this is the first time I've run into such an iddue. The ring inside the left shoulder (the thing that allows for the "hinge" range of motion in a swivel/hinge joint) is broken, meaning the arm can pull right off. Haven't decided yet if it's annoying enough to be worth swapping for an unbroken sample.

In addition to all his cranial accessories, Mutt has a knife for the sheath on his chest, a pistol for the holster on his leg, a nightstick, and a machine gun. The guns both get green apps to match Mutt's clothes, which is an interesting choice. Right out of the package, the figure's hands are molded to hold the guns, but the set includes six others for him: the right hand can either be pointing strongly, relaxed, or curled into a fist, while the left can be open flat, clutching something, or offering Junkyard a treat.

You didn't think Hasbro would release a Mutt without a Junkyard, did you? Originally, the Junkyard toy was just a generic black dog of indeterminate breed, even on the card art and in the comics. It was the cartoon that decided he should be a Rottweiler, and everyone seems to have followed suit since then. His body is mostly black, with tan on the feet and lower legs, and under the chin and neck. His teeth, where we see them, are bright wight against the light pink of the gums.

Classified Junkyard was sculpted by Fred Aczon, who had do more than just create a dog: there have been eight Mutts and Junkyards before now, and while that comprises three different Junkyard molds, the most any of them has worn has been a collar. Today's Army cares more about its four-legged members, though, so now he gets a full protective vest, with armored panels and a handle grip on the shoulders for his handler to hold onto. That's a separate piece, so you could work it off the figure if you really wanted to have a "retro" version.

Another thing this Junkyard has that no other did is an alternate head. Like Timber, Junkyard can either be snarling angrily or more calm. The "good boy" head doesn't just have its mouth closed, like the wolf's did, but rather has the eyebrows up, the mouth open, and the tongue lolling out happily. On both heads, the Rotty's lower lips sag down just like a real dog's would. Be careful when swapping the heads, though: the collar is also a separate piece, so can fall off the neck when there's no head to hold it on.

The dog's articulation is great. He's got a barbell-jointed head, swivel/​hinged neck, balljointed waist, balljointed hips and shoulders, and swivel/​hinges in the elbows, ankles, and toes. The vest is soft, so it won't get in the way of the movement even when it's near the joints. We may have to pay deluxe prices to get these sets with animals, but at least the animals are always more than glorifed PVCs.

As the first GI Joe figure to historically come with an animal partner, Mutt is an iconic character. Hasbro assigning two of their best sculptors to modernize this duo means both Mutt and Junkyard look outstanding, and even the rare mistake of a broken joint can't bring the set down too far.

-- 02/23/24

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