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Big Ben

GI Joe Figure Subscription Service 3.0
by yo go re

You know a soldier is tough when he can take a tea break in the middle of the afternoon and still kick everybody's ass by sundown.

Growing up in the rolling hills of the English Cotswolds, Big Ben spent most of his childhood outdoors, often without consent, leading to many games of "cat & mouse" with local search efforts. Needing discipline, Big Ben joined the British Army's Second Battalion, Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) which led to the Mountain Troops of 22 Special Air Service (SAS), the British equivalent of American Special Forces. He received initial training at Bradbury Lines Barracks in Hereford and likely participated in various covert and rescue operations in the Former Eastern Bloc, Gulf and Afghanistan before attracting the attention of the Special Action Force (SAF) team.

Big Ben is part of the Special Operations Force unit responsible for unconventional high-risk missions, usually behind enemy lines for long periods of time. He roots out and provides reconnaissance and surveilland of Cobra/Red Shadow encampments. He is self sufficient, acting alone or as part of an initial strike force, creating disruption and assisting Forward Air Control.

In Generation 1, Big Ben was just a member of the SAS - this filecard marks the first time he's been officially marked as a member of Action Force. The filecard even goes on to have a quote from the files of Rod "Eagle" Buckingham (Action Force's equivalent of Hawk). He has an SAF logo tampographed on one sleeve, and a Union Jack on the other.

It's hard to peg the source of this figure's construction. Well, the legs are easy enough, but the torso was a bit of a mystery at first. You've got an upper torso that looks like Dusty's, but a different waist with a molded belt and hem, rather than a separate piece. And the sleeves have pads on the elbows, but hang down lower in front of the hands than behind. There's no way this is a new mold, right? Right! It was previously seen on Night Fox! Unexpected.

The head is a new Boss Fight Studios piece, and it looks terrific. He's wearing a wooly hat that would make him look right at home among the Oktober Guard - in fact, it's very similar to Big Bear's, just with a knit pattern in the front instead of a red star. He's got some camo paint on his face, and is sculpted with a radio headset in his ear.

Big Ben's classic look included bandoliers of bullets crossed over his chest, but that's definitely not sculpted on the existing chest. To keep him looking appropriate, he gets the same straps Rock 'n Roll wore - which, since this chest was originally based on Dusty, means Schrage could have had his bullets, as well. We were robbed!

Most of the figure's accessories are references to his originals. He's got a machine gun with removable bipod and a satchel of TNT to sling over his shoulder (both from Tunnel Rat), a giant backpack, and two loose grenades, which appear to be the same mold the original toy came with. He's also got a machete and a fancy futuristic grenade launcher, which seem to have been included just because?

Big Ben was a 1991 introduction, meaning he's one of the last soldiers to actually look like a soldier. He's recently been a big part of the IDW comics, working off-the-books with Duke, and while he was in mufti there, he's still a cool character whether he's wearing his familiar greens or not. The parts chosen in the toy's construction make him look a little skinny, but despite the name, no one ever said Big Ben had to be huge.

-- 06/05/15

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