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Battle Kata Roadblock

GI Joe: Retaliation
by yo go re

Why didn't they make this guy a chef? Were they afraid we could all smell what he was cooking?

Roadblock battles evil Cobra enemies with his unique battle-kata fighting system. The GI Joe leader uses on-the-fly weapon switching and martial arts moves to take out his attackers.

No, he really doesn't. While the prequel comics and the toyline kept trying to push this idea that Roadblock was an Arashikage, the movie didn't imply it even a little bit - he was friends with Snake-Eyes, but so what? I know a guy who used to be a professional poker player, but that doesn't instantly mean I know how to draw an inside straight. And although the deleted scenes on the DVD feature a little bit of the battle kata system, it was also almost entirely removed from the film. So basically, that bio means nothing.

But that doesn't mean the figure is crap. For one thing, this 4" toy (actually 4⅜", because Roadblock is huge) has a better likeness of Rock "The Dwayne" Johnson than any wrestling toy of him, and those were twice the size and laser scanned. Whatever their other complaints, everybody agreed that getting The Rock for Roadblock was good casting, so it's nice to see this figure looks just like him.

The first Roadblock released for the Retaliation line was an utter piece of garbage. The body was an original sculpt, but the likeness was bad, the articulation was lacking, and he had half of a gun (yes, only half) permanently molded into his hand. That toy should never have been let out the door. This toy, however, is a breath of fresh air. Again, the sculpt is entirely new - he's wearing dark green fatigues, black boots, and black gloves. If you take off his ornate vest, there's a nice plain shirt beneath it. the only exposed skin is on his forearms, allowing us to see that he's appropriately ripped. He does have the Arashikage tattoo painted on his right arm, unfortunately; like we said, it wasn't in the movie.

Roadblock's articulation is excellent - he's right on par with the 30th Anniversary and Pursuit of Cobra figures, with swivel/hinge rocker ankles, double-hinged knees, balljointed hips, swivel/hinge wrists and elbows, a torso joint that is only partially restricted by his vest, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. Since the previous figure was released in the first series, and was lacking things like "ankles" and "useful wrists," there's no question this is a superior toy. And that's before we even get into a discussion of the accessories!

So, the "battle kata" system. Hasbro had so much faith in it that they released roleplay toys, and then it didn't even make it into the final film. That had to sting. It's a shame, too, because it's exactly the kind of awesome thing you'd dream up when you were a kid: a single handle that can can turn into whatever kind of weapon you want when you plug in different pieces. So cool! The figure comes with two battle kata handles, two guns, two long knives, two punching daggers, and a baton. The pieces all plug into the handles, and everything - everything - can be stored on his person. The guns fit in the holsters on his hips, the punch daggers and one of the knives fit into sheaths on his chest, the other knife goes onto his shin, and the baton stores on his back. The handles themselves even hang from the belt! Very, very cool. It was nominated for a 2013 ToY Award for a reason! He also comes with the same .50 cal that Roadblocks have been coming with since the 25th Anniversary Collection in 2007.

Battle Kata Roadblock is a superb GI Joe action figure. Great head, great body, great articulation, great accessories... it's everything the first figure wasn't. And yet we're going to tell you not to buy it. Why? Well, because the "Ultimate Roadblock" that came out near the end of the line comes with all the same accessories as this figure, plus a bunch more. It's also painted in desert colors that are closer to what was seen in the film. So get that one. Or get this one. But whatever you do, make sure you get one of them, because GI Joe toys don't get much better than this.

-- 06/20/14

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