Being a Joe collector, you sometimes wonder what was going through the minds of the designers at Hasbro during any given year. Some years saw the release of terrific sculpts, realistic and believable designs, and just plain fantastic figures. Other years saw… “less positive” results. Thankfully, 1988 was one of the “good years” as it is the era of some of my favorite Joe sculpts. One of the “shining jewels in the crown of 1988” is Repeater—a soldier that not only has personality but some of the greatest gear in a Joe released up to that point. Of course, you could just take my word for it or you could read the review and see if Repeater really is one of the best.
At first glance, there seems to be absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about the body sculpt for Repeater. He seems to be an average army soldier, clad in desert BDU’s sporting only standard gear. There is nothing futuristic, neon, exaggerated, or over-done. So, if he’s pretty non-descript, what’s so great about him? The answer is simple: he’s perfect because he’s so believable! From his detailed tac-vest to the rolled up shirt sleeves, Repeater looks like he could have stepped out of any picture of a modern soldier in the field. His uniform, much like that of Recoil, foreshadows the modern digital camouflage used by the armed forces today. However, aside from the camo pattern and the socket on his belt (which I’ll talk about later), there is nothing “science fiction” about Repeater. It’s a practical design that befits a 20-year career trooper who refused to allow himself to be promoted to any sort of command position. This is the body of a Solidier—a man who truly believes that he has found his position in this world and will not let anyone or anything take him away from it. I’ve seldom seen such a basic design convey such personality the way that this sculpt and file card do but it really shows the 1988 design team at the top of their game.
Okay, is it me or does Repeater’s head sculpt bear a passing resemblance to R. Lee Ermey of “Full Metal Jacket” and “Mail Call” on the History Channel? Seriously, “Full Metal Jacket” came out in 1987 in which Ermey brought to life the character he is most known for—Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Granted, I don’t know how long in development Repeater had been but it seems more than a bit possible that someone at Hasbro decided that Repeater could ever so slightly resemble the DI who pushed Private Pyle to his limit. Either way, the head sculpt used for Repeater is as distinctive as the rest of the body. Strong-jawed with a determined expression, Repeater conveys the impression of that older no-nonsense Marine portrayed by Ermey. The features are almost a big exaggerated but not to the point of coming across as a complete caricature. Instead, I’m reminded of another old soldier on the Joe team—Mainframe. Repeater’s face carries with it a similar “aged” quality as did the sculpt that was used for Mainframe. It’s not completely overdone and it works for the character.
If Repeater’s sculpt was elegantly simple, then his gear is a masterpiece of minimalism. In later years, the GIJoe line would go overboard with the amount of gear packaged with each figure. Thankfully 1988 marked a year where “less is more” seems to have been the attitude in Pawtucket and thankfully so. Remember the military science fiction classic “Aliens”? You know—the movie where the Colonial Marines had some of the coolest practical gear yet seen on the big screen? Well, it would seem that someone at Hasbro was a fan of James Cameron’s 1986 sequel to the classic film “Alien”. Repeater comes equipped with a counter-balanced heavy machine gun that is suspiciously similar to those carried by Drake and Vasquez in the film. Hooking into a socket that is molded into Repeater’s waist, this “instrument of destruction” can be pivoted up and down on a single joint built into the harness. The end result is one of the most innovative and yet believable pieces of Joe gear I can remember seeing. Seriously, the steadi-cam harness gives Repeater the ability to move a heavy piece of firepower quickly and effectively and yet doesn’t require him to be a walking tank of a man like Roadblock. So, while Repeater may only come equipped with a backpack and a single weapon, it’s more than enough gear for this troop!
Let’s face it—Repeater is an example of the best of the “less is more” philosophy of design. He doesn’t need a neon plastic tree of gear nor does he need a garish uniform that’s sure to light up the room—even in total darkness. He’s a soldier and the functional nature of both his gear and his uniform speak volumes about the character. As such, Repeater goes down in my book as one of those “forgotten gems” of the GIJoe line that is overshadowed by fan favorites such as Rock ‘n Roll and Roadblock. He may not be the most well known of the Joe heavy machine gunners but he’s certainly earned a place in my collection. While I don’t (yet) own the Night Force version, I can whole-heartedly recommend Repeater as a welcome addition to any GIJoe collection. I snagged mine from GIJoeHQ and I've been happy with him ever since his arrival. Seriously, if you have the chance to snag him, do so; this is one vintage purchase you won’t regret!