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.