I’m a sucker for characters with colorful backgrounds. I’m more likely to buy a figure that has an interesting back-story over a figure that is written as “just another Joe”. It’s also something that I look for in figure designs—the little subtle details that allow a particular figure to stand out from the “rest of the shelf”. It’s those aspects that spark my imagination and helps to make the character come alive in my mind. When I come across a former circus acrobat who speaks a dozen languages and who is trained in both demolitions and mountaineering, I know that I’ve hit the jackpot!
Note: The Renegades team is comprised of Mercer, Taurus, and Red Dog. All three figures were originally sold together in the one of two three-packs that were released that year.
In his circus days Taurus’ act seems to have been a combination of “strong man” and “acrobat” and it’s reflected in his uniform. His yellow shirt appears to be very form-fitting with short sleeves cut to show off his biceps and raised epaulets on the shoulders. The shirt also sports a deep v-cut down the front to draw further attention to his pectorals—something that a circus performer of his type would do. His left hand is covered by a gray wrapped brace akin to what you see trapeze artists wearing to support their wrists due to the stresses placed upon them. His pants appear to be loose-fitting with pads stitched above and below the knees. He wears a knife strapped to his left thigh, a revolver in a holster on his chest (he’s ‘right-handed’ according to that positioning), and even has a small grenade attached to his holster at the left shoulder. A double-belt encircles his waist with an empty brown holster secured to his right thigh. Each of his belt buckles is adorned to with a stylized gold eagle—which was a prominent symbol in Turkish heraldry. (A two-headed eagle was the standard of the Seljuk Turks as far back as 1058!) While each of Taurus’ emblems sport only the single head, perhaps he wears two as way of honoring his heritage. Regardless, it’s a subtle nod to the character’s origins as presented in his file card. As stated earlier, Taurus was a former acrobat and strong man and his sculpt reflects the musculature of someone in this profession. Varujan Ayvazyan is ripped, plain and simple. Had the figure been over average build, his back story wouldn’t have been as believable. However, Hasbro came through in producing a figure that is every bit what it should be.
Taurus’ head sculpt is actually a mixed bag for me. On one hand, Hasbro produced a terrific “Eastern” look for the character without going overboard on some design elements. From his shaved head to his bushy moustache and full beard, Taurus conveys a “Eurasian” feel very effectively. His head is not that of a muscular dullard as there is a hint of intelligence in the set of his brow and the slightly intense expression on his face. Yet this is not the face of a purely academic either; the wide-set features fit with the file card description of a man who breaks boards over his head. The aspect I’m not crazy about with this head sculpt is the length of the neck. I’d expect someone of Taurus’ build to have a very thick-set neck and instead Varujan’s head almost seems like it’s been set on a post above his shoulders. The length of the next actually detracts from his otherwise “built” countenance and gives the figure a slightly comical appearance. It’s a shame that the fit is slightly off as this is otherwise a very solid character design.
Taurus, like the rest of his team mates, comes with very little gear. A recolored Recondo backpack and a compact silver rifle are all the gear that this former circus performer turned Interpol asset carries. The rifle, while a bit under-sized for my tastes, does feature some nice detail in the form of a wood grain texture on the stock, as well as the etching on the hand grip. No where on his file card does it list Taurus as a marksman and yet I can see him using this small rifle to great efficiency—removing Cobra sentries from their posts (and lives) at a distance. It is a shame that the original figure didn’t come with any kind of scimitar; he was depicted with one in GIJoe: The Movie and it would have helped to fill out his kit a bit more. Also, the notion of a trooper like Taurus carrying a sword of some type would have been a nice nod to his Turkish circus days. Remember kids, not everyone who carries a sword has to be a ninja with ties to the Arashikage clan. (Just about 95% of them.)
As is the case with the other Renegades, I have to give Taurus a pretty solid recommendation. In the word of Joe figures, he’s distinctive without being gaudy and his membership in the Renegades is enough to make him stand out from the rest. While portrayed as little more than a brutish animal in GIJoe: The Movie, the character is actually quite useful. His knowledge of a dozen languages, as well as his demolitions training and acrobatic background make him an ideal choice for covert sabotage and demolitions missions. There are parts of the world where a US soldier would stand out like a Lanard figure at the Collector’s Convention and yet Taurus would blend in with relative ease. As far as his figure design is concerned, he walks that line between gaudy and distinctive but never quite teeters over the edge of bad taste. You can usually find Taurus complete for a pretty reasonable price so he’s not going to deplete your Joe funds too much. Snag him and add him to your collection—I’m pretty certain that once he’s “in hand” he’ll become a valued addition to any Joe display.