The original three Dreadnoks are some of the most interesting figures and characters in the G.I. Joe line, especially in the context of the line’s halcyon days, where they pretty much broke it out of the military fantasy realm. These were bikers, not soldiers or blue suited terrorists. To be honest, I’m not sure how the line would’ve progressed, if the Dreadnoks were a failure at the onset. It likely would’ve been a much different line.
Since Buzzer and Ripper have already been looked out, it was important to get around to Torch. Torch is interesting, because where Buzzer and Ripper have some semblance of military in their appearance, Torch is a straight up Biker. He looks like a piece of Tom Of Finland art, but a biker none the less.
Torch has a pretty solid sculpt. his centre-part hair, sideburns and handlebar moustache just screams “violent white trash criminal.” The body is pretty well done too, the heavy gloves and bicep strap fit the role well, the torso with the leather vest also looks pretty biker like, and the skull necklace is a really cool detail. The sculpting is fairly solid for it’s time, and I think it was probably better overall, to only have one figure that was stereotypically a biker, to both sell the Biker Gang idea, but also keep the trio from blending into each other too much. It was also nice to have an outlaw biker, as the line progressed, the biker look for the Dreadnoks began to be replaced with Mad Max stylings.
One thing about Torch, that’s quite neat, but also explains just how much went into paint apps, in the 1984/1985. If you look at Torch’s leg where the knife is strapped to it, there’s a “V” shaped split of the strapping. In it, there’s a blue paint app, rather than just blue from the base plastic. It’s an oddity, at least, but it’s also something that’s impossible to ignore after noticing, because it’s a different shade of blue.
Like his two Dreadnok contemporaries, Torch has a well written filecard. It doesn’t really go deeply into his psyche, like Buzzer and Ripper’s cards did. However, Torch’s explains how he wound up skilled with the acetylene torch, and describes what exactly makes him so dangerous. He’s stupid and violent.
Torch came with a pretty cool acetylene torch, and backpack tank. It’s cool because it’s exactly what the filecard talks about. The detailing and sculpting on the accessories is pretty solid, even if the cord from the torch to the tank is pretty rigid and not long enough. The cord was a different style from the Tripwire or Flash cords, but also not the accessory hose that became the norm in 1985.
There’s something I’m possibly wrong on, but I recall at one point reading on a message board someone discussing how it was strange that Torch only had his main accessory, and not a secondary weapon, like Buzzer and Ripper received. People went looking at the cardback and saw that early releases (Obvious ’85 cards, rather than the one with the grey filecard from 1986) had a black marker redacting something on the list of weapons near the figure’s bubble. I want to say it was “Entrenching Tool” or “Knife”. I have a good memory for stupid miscellany from decades old Message Board posts, but it’s not perfect.
While on the topic of mysteries related to the Dreadnoks, that doesn’t really warrant an article on it’s own; there’s a piece of lore regarding the Dreadnoks, that I’ve never really bought. That being the story that Hasbro was going to make some “Ewok” style creatures, as the Dreadnoks and that Larry Hama said “why not make them bikers or something”. Part of the reason I never bought that, was the fact that Return Of The Jedi didn’t come out until May ’83, so Hasbro was capable of designing characters and producing figures that would make their first media appearance in under a year? Considering that a lot of designs were in the works prior to G.I. Joe even being on store shelves, makes the whole thing seem far-fetched.
There’s also the fact the real goofy shit, didn’t start creeping into G.I. Joe for a few years, and there weren’t many hints at that direction, and the most outlandish stuff pre-1986 was still more grounded than Ewoks, makes me question that. I could be wrong, and if someone other than Larry Hama gives a similar story I’d like to know.
Overall Torch is a good figure, but definitely the weakest of the three Dreadnoks. For the most part, that’s just due to the lack of usability, the Biker look gives the figure. He looks like a guy who’s gonna ride his chopper from town to town stopping only to commit crime or do crank. The other two ‘Noks give the Biker vibe, but also look a little more military oriented. It’s not the best reason to knock Torch, but it has some relevancy. In a vacuum, he’s a tremendous figure, however G.I. Joe wasn’t a vacuum.