G.I. Joe Convention 2014 - Zombie Initiative Outback

Individual Reviews

Outback is one of those great characters who has been lucky enough to be included in the comic, but has not been overused, and has also gotten some really good action figure versions, without being crammed down everyone's throat. The result is a great balance of a fascinating character with some mystery to him and unexplored aspects of his mythology.

It certainly helps that Outback started off strong with a spectacular 1987 action figure, one of the first to feature removable webgear, as well as his flashlight that attaches to his leg. These days stuff like that seems common place, it's truly amazing to me that they were able to engineer that stuff so well 27 years ago. Since that year, Outback got an equally terrific Night Force update, and while his Eco Warriors/Battle Corps revision was a bit curious, his new sculpt version was pretty outstanding. For the 25th Anniversary era, he did fine, too, and now we finally get the survival expert in the "PoC" era. From an initial viewpoint, I wasn't entirely sold on this version of Outback, and I'll be honest, repeated handling of the figure hasn't moved him any further into "must have" category.

I was fortunate enough to be at JoeCon in New Orleans a couple of years ago, where John Warden described his idea of a "zombie hunter" Outback that made the character out to be a bad ass special missions operator, with a backwards baseball cap, sunglasses, and the trademark checkered scarf around his neck. With a ripped and torn uniform, he scoured the zombie-infected cities, taking revenge against the undead. According to the G.I. Joe Collectors' Club, those Hasbro concepts are what gave birth to this version of Outback, but without that terrific sounding new head sculpt, the figure suffers just a bit. Not to mention the Pursuit of Cobra Recondo parts, while they look good, their functionality is somewhat limited. I do really love how they integrated the "SURVIVAL" t-shirt into the figure's design, covering it up with straps and the vest over the top. Really clever use of paint apps to tie this figure back to the classic original.

From appearances, this is a great new version of the G.I. Joe survival expert. Arm wraps, huge, bushy beard, torn cloth uniform...it all adds up to someone who has been out in the wild, hiding from the zombie horde, and is a little worse for wear. Unfortunately, while the Recondo parts look really nice, the added bulk impacts the articulation, and you have arms that cannot really effectively hold his weapons two-handed, which is a shame. It's getting so one of my main judgements of a G.I. Joe figure is whether he can hold his weapons realistically, and if he can't, it's tough for the rest of the review, no matter how glowing, to get over that fact.

I like the muscular sculpt of the body, it fits Outback well, and the green and gray color scheme is very nice as well. The head sculpt? Well...I think the potential is there, but the winter-ready Snow Job just doesn't quite match up to Outback, in my opinion. I know the early Hasbro concept used this same formula, but in execution, it just doesn't work quite as well as one might think conceptually. I know the Club has very limited budget for new sculpting and tooling, but in my opinion, this re-use doesn't quite work for Outback.

ACCESSORIES

Along with Snow Job's head, Outback comes with the arctic specialist's great backpack as well, which allows him to hold a number of various zombie-killing accessories. The axe and knife from Shadow Tracker are great additions, along with the familiar machete and shotgun. Packing all of these items onto the backpack makes it seem like someone who is packing for a long trek through uncivilized country, which suits the whole "zombie hunting" thing to perfection.

Draped over Outback's broad shoulders is a rag tag vest that works for this function as well, looking more like a few scraps of cloth and a scarf. Recondo's sniper rifle compliments the rest of this quite well, though again, it's a weapon that cannot be held appropriately, which is a disappointment.

The formula seems like a winner. From the neck down and without the arms, I really love the assembly of this Outback. Large and imposing, packed with a ton of necessary gear, and ready to throw down with zombies anywhere. However, the limited articulation of the arms and the re-used Snow Job head are detractions that impact the overall effect of the figure. It's not as bad as many early reactions made it out to be, and standing in a static pose, facing off against zombies, I can dig it, but there are some construction issues that probably could have been avoided with some other part choices.

ADDENDUM - I have been corrected by a few folks who nicely pointed out that my left arm on Outback was positioned backwards throughout the entirety of this review. I'd like to pretend I did that on purpose as some sort of noble statement against a right-hand dominated world, but that would be a dirty lie.

Flipped around, the arm articulation on Outback's left arm is actually really good. His elbow bends quite far and as long as he's a south paw, he can hold both of his weapons quite well, actually.

Thanks to the folks who pointed this out!

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