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Anthony "Flash" Gambello

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

To win over sceptical Real American Hero fans, the first movie costumes shown off were Baroness and Snake-Eyes, because they were closest to their G1 counterparts. Not everybody could stick that close to the source, though: some are downright outlandish.

Anthony "Flash" Gambello is a heavy laser specialist and an expert in all things electronic. He keeps the team armed with cutting edge high-energy laser weapons and pulse energy projectile systems, and he can repair weapons in the field with whatever's at hand.

Flash gets a lot of mentions here at OAFE: whenever we need to pick on a Joe for being lame, Flash is the guy we go to. We've called him "ultra-generic," a "perennial nobody" and said he "blended in with the wallpaper and nobody ever noticed he was around." Thing is, with his unique costume, he was actually one of the most visually distinct Joes in the original 1982 lineup. Why, then, do we pick on him so much? Because one of our loyal readers is a huge Flash fan, and constantly making fun of that is our own little shoutout. Well, that and the character's pretty much a useless blank.

Sgt. Gambello didn't appear in The Rise of Cobra (unless he was out of uniform in one of those long crowd shots), but he does appear in the RoC videogame, apparently one of the worst movie tie-in games of all time. Just like in the '80s, Flash is a laser trooper - however, unlike the '80s, that actually makes him special. Back when both Joe and Cobra were arming their soldiers with color-coded laser rifles, Flash might as well have been any other greenshirt, but in the movie continuity, he's still a standout.

Flash's body is an all-new mold: none of his pieces have been seen before. When prototype images were leaked from the factory in China, nobody could figure out who this was supposed to be. He's wearing a black uniform with grey boots, bracers and girdle abdomen armor. In a nod to the RAH figure, he's got additional red armor: the pads on his shins, forearms and biceps are molded on the figure, but the piece on his chest is a separate bit held on by the head, and the all-important groin guard is glued on. There are several canisters and even a small knife sculpted on his belt.

The original 1982 figure had one of those helmets with the clear visor, and beneath that, a rather plain face. The movie version has apparently confused and angered some fans, because he's wearing a full-face mask, like Beachhead or one of the ninjas would. It, too, is a new sculpt, and designed to match the rest of the uniform in texture. The eyes are exposed, and a large (sculpted) seam runs up the center of the head.

It seems likely that hood is designed to provide some padding beneath his helmet, which has also received quite the update. Rather than a simple combat helmet with a bit of eye protection, this is a complete full-head helmet, covering all exposed skin in a safe, armored shell. There are air filters on the cheeks, and a clear section where the wearer can see out. Is the laser Flash carries toxic, some kind of environmental hazard? Well, considering the kind of power it would take to turn light into a weapon (remember, the laser pointer you can carry on your keychain doesn't cut through wet paper, let alone tank armor), it's entirely possible.

So, speaking of lasers! Flash's obligatory Stupid Giant Gun is presumably the DEW-Series Electromagnetic Tactical Anti-Aircraft Laser Cannon mentioned on the filecard - we can guess that because it fires a red missile. Red being the color of lasers. Solid lasers. Apparently. Oh, and "DEW-Series" does not mean it has something to do with action sports: it stands for Directed Energy Weapon. Most DEW prototypes would need to be mounted on heavy machinery, so this one is actually fairly small, even though the accessory is ridiculously big, even by this line's standards.

Once you throw that in a box to never be thought of again, Flash still has some nice goodies, starting with an XM8 rifle, the generic "futuristic weapon" from many videogames and movies. He has a smaller laser rifle (small enough to be held in his hands, we mean) that's also detailed nicely, and can plug into his armor, similar to the way the original's gun plugged into his backpack. This figure doesn't have a backpack, but there's detailing sculpted on his back that's similar.

Cleverly, instead of a stiff plastic tube that will rip the accessories out of his hands at every opportunity, Hasbro has made Flash's "power cable" out of black string, which works tons better at this scale. Hell, I wish the Ghostbusters Minimates had done the same thing. The plugs can fit in both laser weapons, but not the XM8, backing up the idea that this is giving the guns juice.

Movie Flash may be a pretty radical departure from the Generation 1 design of the character, but that doesn't mean it's not good work. The old Flash really wasn't anything to emulate: I mean, just look at his Joepedia page; the guy did all of nothing! Other than wearing a quilted catcher's chestpad into battle, what's his claim to fame? Redesigning Flash from the ground up - while still remaining true to the idea of the character - has worked out really well, and finally we can say "Flash is a Joe worth getting."

-- 09/11/09

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