There’s no guest review today. Instead, it’s a half-guest review. Today, I’m joined by my friend Eric aka Alexx aka Toys and Tomfoolery. You probably know him already. You can visit his website (which he’ll update any day now), or check out his very active Instagram, which features so much good stuff I couldn’t even possibly describe it. He photographs every good toy line you can think, gives exhaustive rundowns of entire toy series, creates funny comics, and just shares his stunning art with the world. I am a big fan.
Eric acquired 1993 GI Joe Long Arm recently, so I asked him if he wanted to do a collaborative review. I’m not sure if he regrets it now, but he said yes. I took about 8 photos or so, but the rest are all Eric. You can tell which are which, I’m sure.
A Childhood With and Without 1993 GI Joe Long Arm
Dustin: Long Arm came out in 1993, which was one of the last two years I played Joes with my friend across the street. As I mentioned before, he had basically all of them released during a certain timeframe. When he got Long Arm, I was sort of blown away. The figure had a cool helmet like 1991 General Hawk and 1989 Deep Six, and just looked tough as hell. The file card’s description of him as a fast-acting, door-kicking “first strike specialist” made him extra cool. He was heavily armored, so he was always the first one in. Granted, that meant he usually took some Cobra fire along the way, but he always made it to the next battle.
Long Arm was never a main character in our games until 1994, though. Once I got Ice Cream Soldier, we teamed that figure up with Long Arm (the colors were a good match) and they were the Joes’ front lines against all the neon baddies of the mid-to-early 90s. ICS and Long Arm operated out of a mail-away GI Joe Hovercraft (WHALE to the elder statesmen among us), which they used to launch assaults on Eels, BATs, Flak Vipers, Sludge Vipers, and whoever else we had around at the time.
Despite the fun times I had with Long Arm as a kid, I never had my own until a couple years ago. And I honestly forgot about him for a while– I really liked him, but he was never burned in my memory like figures such as Ice Cream Soldier or Ozone were.
Eric, did you have any experience with Long Arm as a kid? Did you know about him or want him? What were your impressions of the figure before you owned one?
Eric: Sadly, I had no experience with Long Arm, back in the day. I saw him on the back of the package (probably my Cobra Eel package), and I studied it. I didn’t keep all my package backs, but I kept quite a few, and the 90’s figures were tougher to study than the 80’s ones, where they just showed an actual picture of the figure (albeit a prototype, in some cases, like how the Iron Grenadier had a white gun instead of a red one). The tiny picture was just a section of the package art, so you had to assume things, which is why so many of them were surprising when I finally saw the actual figure. Muskrat, for instance, looks like a crawling psycho cyborg, on the tiny picture. The actual figure does have a cool helmet, but the missile-launcher-on-the-helmet thing did NOT translate as well to real life as it did on that badass picture.
Long Arm’s picture actually got across the idea of the character: you can see him shooting and holding up his shielded launcher. Also he looked like was wearing a space suit, so I was interested straightaway. Sadly, I never saw him in stores, and none of my friends had him, to my knowledge. He remained a picture that I meant to hunt down, and I never saw the actual figure until the internet rolled around.
Dustin: I never even thought about him being an astronaut! He would have been a great and easy Star Brigade repaint. Instead we got three separate versions of Barbecue as Payload, which I appreciate– but Imagine if one of them had been Long Arm instead!
Catalog scan courtesy of YoJoe.com
And I agree on the 90s card backs. You had to squint at the character art, and sometimes it didn’t tell you the whole story and the figure was way different when you ended up seeing it in person. Sometimes it was a nice surprise, and sometimes it was not. Hell, even some of the 90s catalogs just had some figure prototypes mixed with character art, so you never knew what you were getting.
So, let’s take a look at what we actually got and jump into the review.
1993 GI Joe Long Arm Review
Eric: Long Arm comes on a card displaying exactly what it says on his filecard: he’s kicking ass, blasting away, and is clearly out front, taking the brunt of the attack. Funny thing is, when I finally got the figure in-hand and with a card…well, it’s clear that his suit is modeled after bomb squad suits! I had seen the figure in sales ‘n such, so I knew what he looked like, but I never looked up the filecard until I got it in my hands.
He’s not bomb squad at all! The man is basically in an armored suit, like Barricade, kicking down doors and shielding his team mates upon entering a firefight. Which is fine, of course; I wouldn’t have known what a bomb squad suit looked like when I was a kid, so I would have assumed this was an armored attack suit. Still, when you look at this beside a picture of a bomb squad suit…that’s what it is! The card art does a better job hiding it and showing you exactly how the character was sold.
Dustin: We’ll get deeper into that bomb squad vs. door-kicker thing a little bit later, but you’re completely right– he does look like he is wearing a bomb squad suit, if you’ve ever seen one in real life.
As for the packaging, I think the artwork is generally pretty good, but I find it funny that he’s blasting away with Sci-Fi’s laser rifle, which is not attached to a power source. And, of course, the missile launcher’s shield attachment looks way cooler and more detailed on the card art. You can see what the designers had in mind with Long Arm and where the figure maybe fell short due to budget constraints.
Speaking of which, the figure is cast in orange plastic, and only has a few paint hits– black for boots and gloves, along with gold for grenades. Even if they’d just used more black, they could have painted some more details on the figure.
Still, the overall look is very unique among Joes, and the bright orange certainly helps him stand out.
Before we get too into the accessories, Eric, what do you think of the figure’s basic design and paint scheme?
Eric: I didn’t even realize he was holding Sci-Fi’s laser! The artist kinda shrunk it down to a large pistol size. Plus, that gun was thrown around so much but never had the pipe to go with it. I kinda like that nowadays, since I found a nice pipe substitute and I can connect those extra Sci-Fi weapons however I like.
The launcher’s shield is definitely the most disappointing part, since the small picture on the back of the package shows it. I had assumed it would be a separate black part with a little window all this time, but it just turns out to be a red thing in the weapons tree!
The figure itself is BRIGHT, perhaps one of the brightest of the 90’s (I’ll have to check that). It may have bothered me when I was a kid; it’s hard to say now. I love it as an adult, though! I’m not gonna act like he couldn’t use a bit more paint details, but what we get works, I think. The solid color makes it seem even more like a totally contained and armored suit. Even if someone got him down, they’d be hard pressed to find out where to stick a knife.
Dustin: Good point. The lack of color does make it look like a more cohesive armored suit than it might otherwise. I still think a couple more hits of black would be better, though. And the grenades would be nicer in silver than gold. But that’s just personal preference.
Also, he has a pretty good head sculpt. But I think that’s true of 90% of ARAH GI Joe figures.
Okay, let’s transition to accessories since we’re already talking about them.
Long Arm comes with his orange helmet (which has a very cool clear blue face shield). He also features 1991 Grunt’s (modified) assault rifle, 1991 Sci-Fi’s laser gun, a newly-molded-for-93 knife (that also came with 93 Law and Street Fighter 2’s Guile), a figure stand, two missiles, and a shield that attaches to his missile launcher, all in red plastic. He also has a black missile launcher that slides over his arm.
(Update 7/1/21: My friend General Liederkranz informs me that the knife was previously released with 1992 Roadblock– but only with the recalled version. So no wonder most of us have never seen it before!)
The knife is fine, and the Grunt rifle works if you’re squinting, but I don’t think the Sci-Fi laser is a good fit for anyone but Sci-Fi or possibly a BAAT. If a giant walking space tank with no brain and no way to differentiate between targets wants to use a yellow laser gun with no power source, I’m not gonna say anything about it. I’m not looking to get melted, man. I’m also not gonna say anything about its reduced articulation, because it’s very sensitive about that.
Anyway, the missile launcher is my favorite accessory, when it’s coupled with the shield. The front line ass kicker seems like he needs a shield, and it’s cool that it attaches to the missile launcher. Granted, it would be much cooler if it actually looked like what’s on the card art.
What’s your take on the accessories?
Eric: The accessory loadout is classic 90’s Joe! I am very familiar with the weapons (except maybe the knife), but only from other weapon trees. The Sci-Fi laser, especially. I got that in yellow twice (Mindbender and the B.A.A.T.), so I didn’t even realize it was supposed to attach to a pipe until I was older. It’s another reason why I love the pipes I found; I can attach those old guns to whatever I want, now.
Besides the laser, he’s also got one of my old favorites; the one you called a modified assault rifle. That was always the BFG, back during the Star Brigade stories my friend and I played. It’s such a ridiculously THICK weapon. Not as big as the laser cannon thing that came with Eco Warriors Flint, but still a large weapon that you go to when you need to blast a lot of aliens.
Like you, though, I think the launcher takes the win. I loved the missile launchers that fit over the arms, and this is the perfect example. The only problem is that the arm hole needs to be a bit bigger; it actually doesn’t fit on too many figures. The only drawback of the launcher is the blast shield, which I probably would have left off, when I was a kid. Having a window in it would have skyrocketed Long Arm into the realm of the greats. That’s fine, though! The launcher, minus shield, is still a fantastic Mega Man-ish kinda gun.
Dustin: I like the rifle, too! Absolutely. It’s one of my favorite weapons when it comes to Star Brigade or Mega Marines. And it works decently well for Long Arm, too. I don’t have any of his accessories other than his helmet, though, so I tend to equip him with a Marauder Inc. shield and a Battle Corps version of Hit & Run’s submachine gun. I feel like a shield just makes him an extra good frontline door-kicker. Sort of the Joe equivalent to an Alley Viper– even more than Shockwave is.
I do feel like red wasn’t the best choice for accessory color, though. It’s a fine color on its own, but doesn’t really stand out against the figure’s bright orange. I would have chosen a more obnoxious color like neon green, yellow, or electric blue. Black or grey would be fine, too… I guess.
So Long Arm was originally intended to be a part of 1993’s DEF lineup, along with Law, Mace, and Muskrat. He really does make the most sense in an urban combat role, so that works for me. But, he got folded into Battle Corps as the team’s bullet sponge.
Eric, do you think he would have been a bomb squad guy if he’d actually been released in the DEF sub line? And that’s how you see him, right?
Eric: I actually think some gold guns would work well with Long Arm, especially to go with his gold grenades on his chest. Might have made for a better shield on the gun, too.
Anyway, the question: I’m not sure if he would have been Bomb Squad…he works either way! He wouldn’t have been out of place in his current role on DEF; they would need a door-kicker! But since they very much did sculpt a bomb squad suit, I imagine that was probably their original intent for a down-in-the-city style team like DEF. Bomb Squad is a missing specialty in Joe, I think, and DEF would have been a good place to put him.
As for how I see him…well, considering the all-orange attire and his filecard, I’m seeing more and more in his role as a door-kicker! Had he been a different color, it might be easier, but the shielded launcher plus his totally encased danger-orange body really does work for how the filecard portrays him! If they had intended a bomb squad guy and then had to repurpose him, then this is exactly how I would do it, if I were on the writing team. Plus, there’s no reason for bomb squad to stand out. If you have a door-kicker bullet sponge, you want him to be SEEN, to draw enemy fire, and you absolutely cannot miss this neon annihilator.
Dustin: Okay, I hadn’t even thought of gold guns for him. They used gold weapons all the time in 1993! That year’s Star Brigade Roadblock should have had red and Long Arm should have had gold. That settles it.
I’m glad you’re coming around to the door-kicker idea! We do have to mention, though, that Long Arm was repainted and released in 2008 for a convention exclusive– and he was a bomb squad guy!
That figure really shows you what some extra paint apps can do for the mold. Green and black also look good on him. But I absolutely HATE the exposed fingers. Like, I get why a bomb squad guy isn’t wearing full gloves with his protective suit, but to me it just ruins the look of this totally armored badass. This figure just totally spit in the face of my mental image of Long Arm and how he was portrayed in the childhood Joe stories my friend and I played out. I get why the convention people did what they did with the mold, and it gave this figure a new lease on life– but it just does not work for me.
Eric, I’m going to give you the last word(s) on Long Arm before we wrap up.
Eric: Yeah, those exposed hands completely ruin the bomb squad look, since those would be some very important parts to protect from an explosion, or an electrical jolt from, say, wires you might be dealing with in a bomb.
In the end, I’m on board with what they did in the 90’s – the all Danger Orange works well for the door kicker job. Maybe not realistically, but certainly for a 90’s Joe figure. The orange doesn’t really scream bomb squad, anyway; even if the suit clearly is.
Honestly, in terms of the second Long Arm, I think they should have changed the head (and painted the hands) and made him a different character. Changing the color of the suit is such a huge difference, and bomb squad is totally different from a door kicker. Just seems odd to change his profession so drastically when they could have cleverly used that mold to make a new bomb squad character (call him Red Wire or Blue Wire or something). If I were to remake Long Arm for a new toyline, I’d keep him a door kicker and redesign his suit a bit to fit the bill – AND KEEP ‘EM ALLLLL ORANGE.
Eric’s Overall Verdict: As for a rating, I’m gonna be that easy-to-please guy and say Highly Recommended. I like bright colors, I like 90’s Joes, and this is a great friggin’ 90’s Joe. There’s got to be a reason he’s always so expensive on the after market. Older fans will hate the bright orange, but…ya know, they’re wrong.
Dustin’s Overall Verdict: During our conversational review, we failed to mention that this figure has two more drawbacks– it’s hard to find (especially with its helmet) and can be pricey. Needless to say, the figure is also useless without his helmet but, luckily, it’s the only accessory for him you really need. Also, the black and gold paint are both very prone to wear. Despite that, Long Arm is a fun and unique figure. He fits really well into his role as a frontline door-kicker, and works great alongside Joes like Shockwave, Barricade, and Bullet Proof. I also like the colors but wish he had more paint. Because Long Arm shamelessly and boldly does his own thing, he is Recommended.
Closing Thoughts on 1993 GI Joe Long Arm
Big Ups to Eric for helping me out with this review and taking most of the photos! I always enjoy working with Eric, and I consider it a special occasion any time we get to work together.
So, which side are you on for Long Arm– door kicker or bomb squad? Let us know in the comments!