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GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

I believe I've mentioned before that my favorite Joe as a kid was Blowtorch, but he wasn't the only fire trooper we had.

Charbroil is a member of the GI Joe team and specializes in the use of flame-based weapons, incorporating the latest gas propellents and flammable liquids. He designs flamethrowers that can undermine Cobra fortifications and scatter a blockade of Cobra troopers.

The original Charbroil was a 1988 release and back then, he actually had a personality: he grew up in northern Minnesota, and as a kid he spent nights in the basement with a blowtorch to keep the pipes from freezing; as a teenager, he worked in a factory shoveling coal. Character! I know Poe's ideal toyline would have no bios for the characters, but me, I like stuff like that. That's part of what makes toys like GI Joe better than Green Army Men - these guys are more than just the weapon they're holding.

ROC Charbroil is like a mustard-and-ketchup negative of Blowtorch's design: rather than a yellow suit with red elements, he's in a red suit with yellow elements. The original was no treat to look at, either, with an orange-brown suit and silver chest armor, so really this doesn't stray too far from established territory. The torso is the same as Blowtorch's (meaning it originally came from Arctic Snake-Eyes), but the arms and legs come from Resolute Duke. That's kind of ironic: bodyparts from two cold-weather troopers were combined to make a guy who uses heat as a weapon.

The figure's head is a re-use, as well, though you may be hard-pressed to recognize the source. See, it actually has two sources: the outer helmet came with Resolute Duke (yes, same one as before), while the head inside it is Cobra Commander's. The helmet is glued on, but you can recognize that pointed chin. The overall effect is of a mirrored visor on the helmet, which is cool.

Since the helmet is Duke's, Charbroil doesn't get the mask with the hose that connects to the chest that Blowtorch had. That's the only major difference, though: he still has the same chest armor, the same belt with a fire extinguisher on the back, and the same flamethrower weapon (gun, hose and backpack with removable panel). Since he's a movie toy, he also comes with a Stupid Giant Gun that's nearly as tall as he is - at least its projectile looks like flame.

Charbroil's bright red colorscheme doesn't exactly blend with the GI Joe movie aesthetic of blacks, greys and dark blues - even Flash did his part to mix with the crowd, and he was wearing a bright red smock! But the figure is a good one, not just a glorified repaint, and the use of the Resolute limbs works well. It also gives you an out, if you don't want to put Charbroil next to Sgt. Stone and Shipwreck: stand him with Gung-Ho and call him Resolute Blowtorch.

-- 01/14/11

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