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Rex "The Doctor" Lewis

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

There seems to be a constant threat with movie toys: spoilers on the packaging. There have been lots of offenders over the years, from those that just give away plot points to those that reveal characters who are meant to remain secret. This figure falls in the latter category, so you've been warned.

Rex is the chief experimental doctor for M.A.R.S. Industries and developer of advanced nanotechnology. Disfigured in an explosion, he relies on life support equipment as he launches a diabolical plan to satisfy his thirst for power and revenge.

Okay, so the original Rise of Cobra casting news told us Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be playing science officer Rex Lewis. Fair enough. Then rumors began circulating that he'd secretly be playing Cobra Commander. And to top it all off, this figure is called "Rex 'The Doctor' Lewis" right on the front of the bubble. Remember, it was supposed to be a surprise both that Rex became the Doctor, and that the Doctor became Cobra Commander - so much for that idea, huh? Best thing we can say is that this figure wasn't released until after the movie had opened.

In the film, the Doctor is rather plain. He wears a smooth black coat that is closed at all times to cover whatever he's wearing beneath. Dull, huh? Well, the toy takes the basic idea of the design and turns it into something cool. He's still got a long black coat, but it's more of a high-end labcoat than a garment worn for fashion. The outfit beneath is apparently strap-covered leather, for whatever reason. To keep the doc from looking too bulky in his coat, the figure is remarkably skinny. You know how some folks made custom Solid Snake figures from Joe movie toys? This body would be the perfect base for a Psycho Mantis.

The important thing, though, is the face. The breathing mask looks like it joins the chest seamlessly, but it's actually a separate piece; to remove it, you just have to pop off the figure's head. And just like in the movie, his hair is actually a wig: it's a separate, molded piece that just rests on top of the head. Take everything off, and the burned face is revealed. It's not as horrible as this, but still visibly damaged. The work is subtle, so you have to look closely, but that's a good thing.

One item of note: once you remove the hair, it will never stick to his head as securely again. It's held on by nothing but friction - no pegs, no tabs, no special indents in the sculpt... nothing but plastic on plastic. It takes about six weeks to get toys from the factory in China to your local store, and all that time the figure is in his plastic tray, giving the two surfaces a nice long time to cling to one another. If you leave the figure undisturbed again for a month and a half, maybe the hair will be tight again.

The Doctor stand 4⅛" tall with his hair on, and has all the usual articulation for a GI Joe figure these days: head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso, hips, knees and ankles. The coat and breathing mask (which, in the film, inflated and deflated as he respirated) restrict the movement some, but if you strip all that off, the exceedingly scrawny body allows for some really dynamic poses.

Beyond the coat, the frog-neck and the toupee, the Doctor has a decent selection of accessories. His Stupid Giant Gun is actually more of a Stupid Giant Claw, which could probably serve as a stand-in for the machines he uses in the film. Not bad so far. He's also got a pair of removable silver clawed gloves, which are an odd choice, but again, you can make excuses for them.

The more normal gear includes a Steyr AUG rifle, a small black injector pistol, and a black briefcase with three green and silver nanomite canisters inside - yes, that's the carrying case from the film, making it almost an indispensable accessory for those building movie collections.

There are two versions of The Doctor available - the one in this review, and one wearing a white labcoat. The white one was released after the black, and is definitely harder to find. Was it a running change? An intentional variant? We can't say, but either version is good. Heck, both versions are good (though I'm still looking for the white one). The Doctor is a character who will look right at home even in among old-school Joes, even if it's as a nameless scientist designing Cobra's newest Weather Dominator or what have you. If you pass up on this one just because he's not straight out of the '80s, you're missing out.

-- 01/08/10

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