2004 Dreadnok Ripper

Dreadnoks are an interesting phenomenon, as they’re both very popular and detested at the same time. One thing that really showed this, was the 2004 Convention set, where the main force in the set were the Dreadnoks. I don’t remember this set being well received at the time, and it’s still viewed as a dud of a Convention set, though time is starting to make more and more of the convention sets look like duds. One of the biggest failures with the Dreadnok convention set, is the fact they chose the Dreadnoks. The problem with Dreadnoks, is that it’s not really a concept that works well as a large force, there were glaring omissions (Torch), they did some cutesy “Ha Ha this isn’t Gnawgahyde, but looks just like him!” thing, and the Dread-Heads were an incredibly dumb idea. Sure people like the Dreadnoks, and there’s a lot of people who do cool customs of Dreadnoks. Even then, it’s VERY rare to see anyone in fandom use the Dreadnoks actually against the G.I. Joes. It was true in 2004, it’s true in 2020.

On the bright side, Ripper was available from Chinese eBay sellers for less than 10 dollars for years!


Dreadnoks are one of the aspects of G.I. Joe that I feel has it’s importance, as they were different enough looking from everything else that it provided some variety to the toyline, but also weren’t too out-there and idea that they wouldn’t fit in with the overall theme. However that doesn’t mean these are actually useful figures, because they’re legitimately difficult to work into a scenario, and as I’ve grown older, and read some trashy true crime paperbacks on Bikers, they’re really not that cool a subculture, and unfortunately makes a lot of those Devil’s Due inspired customs of Women and Minorities hard to take seriously, considering that Bikers aren’t much more than racist drug dealing pimps.

Ripper is one of the original Dreadnoks, and he’s a character I really enjoy, because the first version’s filecard is highly entertaining, and perhaps the most disturbing one in the entire G.I. Joe line. I’ve always found his figure to be pretty good, too. So having another repaint of the original mold is appealing to me, and when there was a time you could get the figure for like 7 dollars, it became more so. The thing the original Dreadnoks had over some of the later membership, is there’s enough of a paramilitary look to them. While Thrasher and Road Pig are figures who look like Mad Max characters, Ripper and Buzzer looked like guys who could be amongst some of the highly unprofessional mercenary armies of the African Bushwars. They might not be done up in fatigues, but there’s still enough of the trappings of a soldier. This pseudo military look of Ripper is something I like, because with it you can see through a lot of the Biker nonsense.


This version probably doesn’t beat out the original, but it’s interesting in it’s own right. There’s a nod to the rare Funskool purple shirted Ripper, which I think wound up being missed by a lot of people, as it’s something I’ve never seen mentioned. The red urban camo jeans are one of those things that look terrible, but also usually wound up adorning people like Ripper. In the late 90s if a dude was parking his lifted truck with a NO FEAR bumper sticker over four parking stalls, he probably had Urban Camo capris and a backwards ball cap on. I think nowadays it’s just a yoga pants pattern. How the mighty have fallen.

Like a lot of Convention Exclusive figures, the paint apps on this figure are plentiful, though it’s a sculpt that always seems to have missing details, like eyebrows and tiny grenades! There’s also an interesting paint app change. The 85 Ripper’s beard connects through his sideburns to the rest of his hair. This version removed the sideburns to beard aspect. I don’t think it’s as good a look, but it shows that figures appearances could be changed slightly, via paint apps.

It’s funny though, as this figure features gold paint in the same spots as the 1985 version, but it’s a hell of a lot stronger. I figure that an 85 Ripper probably costs more than an 04 version, at this point, anyways! One thing the convention figures were much better at than the retail figures of the same time, was including the figure’s original accessories. Ripper came with some graphite versions of his original accessories, but I’ve always been partial to the silver 1985 Dreadnok weapons, as something that separates them from the military aspect of the line.

Despite the iffy colouring, I kind of like this figure, he’s colourful enough to be interesting, and since he’s someone who isn’t going to be involved in legitimate military actions, having him looking like a dude who sits parked outside the Circle K all night isn’t too bad.



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4 Responses to 2004 Dreadnok Ripper

  1. Mike T. says:

    This set was an absolute dud. I think the club had overstock into 2010 or something like that. They vastly overestimated the popularity of the Dreadnoks as a subset in general and, the Dreadheads were a completely useless army building idea that still has pretty much no fans.

    The thing I liked about this set, aside from the original gear, was that they at least tried something different in terms of coloring. Both Hasbro and the club failed often when they tried to emulate vintage coloring and seeing a new take was nice. Sadly, though, the Dreadnoks aren’t really the type of characters that lend themselves to solid repaints. And, these figures were in no way improvements over the originals. Which, at the time, were still both cheap and plentiful.

    The set not including Zartan and making him an attendee exclusive in colors that didn’t work with any of the Dreadnoks in the set seems shortsighted. But, that’s the club for you. Supposedly, there were going to be different factions of dreadnoks in the set based on their coloring. There was going to be some storyline around it. (Which is why you have the “blue” faction with Zarana, the “red” faction with the classic Dreadnoks and the “grey” faction behind Road Pig.) That idea got abandoned, though, and we’re left with a set of 12 figures that don’t really match and are missing some major players in Torch and Zandar.

  2. A-Man says:

    The Marvel comic got silly, Hama liked using the Dreadnoks, but all of them would’ve been shot dead many times over by the Joes. Some biker running at you with a chainsaw, you cap him. The Dreadnoks actually worked better in the cartoon! I’ve thought if they really wanted to update ARAH, redo the Dreadnoks along the lines of the mercs from that movie Elysium.

    I do think they idea of the Dreadnoks as a larger force flat out does not work. Another bad idea during the Devil’s Due run. The Dreadheads could’ve been okay additions, as maybe twins, triplets at most. 6 identical cousins? Move over, Patty Duke Show! (And the Smith and Wesson name references were kind of tacky, tbh.) Crusher and Demolisher were doomed additions from the get go, having Street Fighter character likenesses meant they’d never been mainstream releases. Even the club didn’t modernize them later.

    The problem with the original three Dreadnoks, is that Buzzer is the intellectual-gone-native one, and thus the trouble maker. Torch and Ripper, well, they are Thundercracker and Skywarp, beyond their bios and gear, who are they? Thugs.

    I don’t recall $10 Rippers back in the day, but I was also too cheap and was annoyed by the Club exclusives existing that I rarely made the effort to get any of it. The exclusives went from “oh, you can order the non-attendee set and you might miss a couple of attendee exclusives” to “Half the stuff is attendee only, put aside 2 grand to get it all IF they don’t sell out first”.

  3. mwnekoman says:

    I like this figure, as well as several of the other repaints from his set. There’s nothing really special about him or that makes him worth having over ’85 Ripper, but I like Ripper, so it’s cool there’s a repaint of him to get. Still, that’s not much of a reason for a figure to exist, and that’s very much the problem with the entire 2004 set. Simple repaints with no substance other than being an alternate color scheme.

  4. Pingback: 1984 Zartan | Attica Gazette

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