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Big Bear

GI Joe Figure Subscription Service 2.0
by yo go re

Remember when the Oktober Guard was going to be the Pravda Patrol? And they all had to be changed before publication? Then you may remember that Horrorshow's not-legally-clearable original name was "Big Bear." My, how times change!

Big Bear grew up in a place where the conditions are cold, wet, and nasty - every day! He can be meaner than a Siberian wolf with its leg caught in a steel trap, and wilder than a Murmansk fur merchant. After several years of service, he was transferred from the elite 103rd Guards Airborne Division onto the Oktober Guard team. As their heavy weapons specialist, he carries a shoulder-launched rocket weapon with High Explosive Anti-Armor (HEAA) rockets. He has a particular way of handling any situation, especially during combat operations. It looks as if he actually savors every moment before destroying fortified bunkers, tanks and other mechanized infantry vehicles.

In all our lives, there comes a time when the power of evil becomes so threatening to world peace that global leaders must join together to stop its impending danger; Cobra is just such an evil. That's when they send Big Bear into the fight alongside the GI Joe team.

There have been two previous versions of Big Bear, and the filecard just referenced them both: the first paragraph comes from the solo-carded release, while the second pareagraph comes from the "International Action Force" bagged set, which teamed him with Big Ben, Budo and Spirit (and had them all share a single filecard). Well played! On the other hand, it lists his allegience as "OKTЯБPE" when it should really be "AKTЫЯБP," so there you go.

The toy itself is based on the original version - he's got a red beard and a green uniform, rather than black and also black. Suiting a Russian trooper, he's wearing a heavy winter coat with fur trim around the hood that's laying down against his back. This coat was originally designed for a Pursuit of Cobra Arctic Threat Duke, but that was cancelled. Then it was going to be used for a PoC Alpine, but that was also cancelled. The arms showed up on Horror Show, but this is the first time the coat has ever been available.

It's a very nice design, sculpted with greandes on the chest, straps crossed over his back, a canteen on his left side, several large pouches on his front, and a rope and two carabiner clips at his belt. There's a radio strapped to one thigh, and two round canisters (flares, maybe?) on the other. Considering that the original figure was just wearing a plain uniform, this is a great step up.

Also great? His head. This is our fourth Boss Fight Studios creation in Series 2, and it really shows that Hasbro never should have let those people go. Big Bear is wearing a (stereo)typical furry blue-gray ushanka with a red star on the front. He has a big bushy beard, but even though the collar of the jacket comes up high, the head's motion is not impeded.

But that doesn't mean all the articulation is perfect, and the problems can be laid at the feet of the coat. The lower edge, like many action figure coats, keeps the legs from moving all the way up. And the pieces on the sides keep his arms from moving all the way down. So while this is a nice sculpt that we've been waiting a long time to see, and it's very highly detailed, don't think that it's completely without problems.

The rest of the joints are all fine (well, other than the fact that the torso can only swivel, not flex forward or back, but that's to be expected with a coat this size).

Big Bear comes with two Russian guns: a PP-19 Bizon, and an AK with a big scope. But he's an anti-armor specialist, and neither of those fit the bill. So the figure also comes with an FMG-148 Javelin rocket launcher, for all your bunker-busting needs. Yes, the Javelin is an American weapon, but is that really a problem? The filecard specifically says he's working with the Joes; wouldn't it make sense that they might provide him with some weapons? Nobody says you have to bring your own guns to the war.

We don't quite have a complete G3 Oktober Guard yet - we still need Gorky and Misha, and a Wong would be a nice addition, too (plus a cartoon version of Daina). But this Big Bear is an awesome update of a forgettable old character, and he looks great in the ranks of the team.

-- 04/25/14

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