"Son of a bitch."
That was my response when I read a first review of the new Tollbooth figure from the GI Joe Club's FSS 2 collection. I then read a second review and was a little less stressed out. I have great fondness for Tollbooth and the bridge-layer for a peculiar reason. I'll have to unearth a little history for you.
I'm kind of an old guy, I've been around for a while. Well, I'm not ancient, but I was playing with the original GI Joe back when I was a kid. No, not the original 13 figures, the Big Guy! On and off throughout my life growing up, I've always collected and played with toys. My parents never told me that I needed to stop playing with toys and grow up. So I never did! Well, you know, I did grow up. Discovered girls, had various jobs, bought a car, that sort of stuff.
But I still collected toys. When Star Wars came out in 1977 and my older brother bought me the Early Bird Certificate, I was hooked as soon as those figures started showing up. Along comes 1982 and GI Joe returns and just dominates the toy aisle for nearly the next twelve years. In 1982, I was 19 years old when I bought my first 3 3/4" GI Joe figure. Been pretty much hooked ever since.
In 1984, for Christmas, my girlfriend gets the Bridge-Layer for me for Christmas. Of course, I had to marry her! Well, not just that reason, but it certainly helped! So the Toss n' Cross and Tollbooth have always been a little more special to me because it was a gift from the woman who would become and still is my lovely wife.
Plus, the vehicle was very unique, very different, and I just really liked the character of Tollbooth. A simple sculpt, but such a cool character based on the file card. I just liked the guy!
I've also become a bit of a cheap-skate. I don't mind paying retail or a little more for a figure, but that first bunch of figures from the Club's first FSS offering, while cool, where just too damn expensive. And then along comes FSS 2. And Tollbooth and another fave, Keel Haul, are revealed. DAMMIT!!
So I did it; I signed up, knowing, hoping that I could sell off the figures that really didn't interest me that much and maybe almost zero out the cost of the ones that I wanted. Maybe... We'll see how that works out.
The Tollbooth reveal looked just fantastic. Sure, there were those crappy Shipwreck arms, but not a deal killer. Looking back at that original reveal, it really stands out that the legs are a bit off. The lower legs are definitely shorter than they should be when compared with the thighs.
Tollbooth really turned out to be short. I mean, really short. Even shorter than some of the female figures.
So I tried out a quick custom using an extra Joe Colton figure. Not bad, not bad at all.
Why couldn't the Club use this body for Tollbooth? I suppose what really made me think more about the figure and the whole design process that the Club has to go through goes back to Episode 86 of "What's on Joe Mind?" The guys at WOJM talked to David Lane about the process that the Club has to go through in order to make a figure.
It doesn't really seem to be an easy process. The Club has a lot of hoops that they have to jump through in order to use the Hasbro molds. Hasbro seems willing to work with them, but it may not always be a smooth process.
Was it a shocking surprise to the Club that Tollbooth was going to turn out to be shorter than most figures? Probably not. They're doing the best that they can and, dammit, I'm going to be grateful for that.
Hell, Hasbro wasn't planning on revisiting the character, so many thanks to the Club for bringing him out. Besides, aren't real human beings quite different in their heights? Duh!
So, yeah, I'm a little disappointed, but I'll manage to survive. I'm just glad to have Tollbooth in the modern era and am looking forward to including him in more and more pictures in the future.