1997 Rock ‘N Roll

The 1997 G.I. Joe collection featured an awful lot of good intentions, but the actual execution of the releases, often times didn’t match up with what was originally intended. I don’t think any figure suffers from this more than Rock ‘N Roll.

The first Rock ‘N Roll is a classic design, that was highly connected with the character. The bullet belts, the short sleeves and the blonde beard were defining physical characteristics that were just as important to Rock ‘N Roll as the fact he was a surfer, a weight lifter and a bass player. The follow up Rock ‘N Roll figures were for the most fairly strong, the 1989 mold features enough of the classic design that it works well as an update to one of the highlights of the first series of G.I. Joe figures.

The 1997 Stars and Stripes Box Set, featured a picture on the box, showing the prototype design for the figures raising the flag. This was a terrible thing, because it showed you what you were supposed to get, sure as shit wasn’t what you got! 

stars-and-stripes

So if you look, you see that you didn’t get a Breaker featuring Zap’s colours, a Straight Arm Hawk, Flash, a Zap with a broken thumb, a Snake Eyes that was just a random 82 Joe airbrushed black, or most importantly, that you didn’t get a really nice take on the 1982 Rock ‘N Roll figure. 

What you actually got, was a 1986 Roadblock, with a 1986 Hawk head on it, and it was named “Rock ‘N Roll”. Remember how I said the bullet belts and blonde beard were just as important to Rock ‘N Roll as the traits of guy who wants to pick up weights and hang ten in east Berlin? Well, that’s probably why this figure is often decried for being up there with the worst Rock ‘N Roll figures (Honourable Mentions to: Space Man Rock ‘N Roll, and 1994 Flint Rock ‘N Roll).

97RR3

This is a figure, that once the disappointment of what could’ve been, as well as removing who the figure was supposed to be, is cleared up, it’s actually not a terrible figure. The colouring on it is well done. The 1997 figures are good for having paint apps in the right spots (except wrist watches), but the problem is sometimes the colouring was goofy, or featured odd choices. Hawk ‘N Roll, here, features the fairly common green and browns that were visible on a few 1997 figures. They’re good choices, and fit the “Vintage, but not actually vintage” motif the 1997 series seemed to go for.

One place 1997 excelled at, and was never really surpassed, was doing camouflage. In the vintage line, camo was often a fairly basic one colour affair. It worked well, and got the point across. In the repaint era, they often tried too hard, and would do designs that didn’t translate on a 3 3/4″ action figure, like chocolate chip desert camo or digital camo, or they’d do the marbleized plastic that looks like a mossy tie-dye. 1997 took cues from the vintage line, but managed the size of the camo stripes to be better on the figures, and would do the pattern in multiple colours. Something that worked a hell of a lot better than the single colour.

97RR2

The 1986 Roadblock mold, is pretty weak, but not using the terrible ’86 Roadblock head does improve the overall quality of the mold. This 1997 repaint features a reminiscent of the original light green torso, but now it’s more a shirt than a vest. It’s also got white and red highlights that actually match up with where they were white and red on the 86 Roadblock figure. It also features some sharp dark green paint apps, that even fix some of the missing paint apps from the vintage use of the mold.

The accessories the figure included were pretty on point. Sure the 1997 Helmet is too small and terrible quality, but at least the 1997 Rock ‘N Roll might be the ONLY figure from that entire series that can actually fit the helmet. It’s weird, but true. He also comes with a black (rather than charcoal or grey) version of the original 1982 Rock ‘N Roll MG-42. It’s funny though, as the prototype on the box is the 1982 mold, but carrying the 1986 Roadblock gun, or maybe the 1990 Sonic Fighter Law’s version, if you want to get overly technical.

Now, is this a good Rock ‘N Roll? Not at all, but it is actually a fairly decent figure in the scheme of things. It’s incredibly disappointing that it’s not the classic Rock ‘N Roll figure, or even the 1989 mold (Which would’ve really been nice to see in this colour scheme), but it’s still a figure that rates fairly middle of the pack in the 1997 series, as it’s a lot better than some of the duds, but it also isn’t better than some of the high quality 1997 releases.

97RR4

97RNR

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3 Responses to 1997 Rock ‘N Roll

  1. Mike T. says:

    In a different color scheme, this figure would have been a really solid kitbash. Honestly, the black head variant released as Roadblock would have been pretty cool and better than having this Rock and Roll. Red Laser said his Hollowpoint figure was meant to be the 1997 Rock and Roll. It’s close enough. But, he should have gone with the Rock and Roll head instead of the Stalker head. (Him not having helmets, though, would have hurt that release.)

    It’s sad that neither the ’86 Hawk nor the ’86 Roadblock chest ever appeared again. While I’m not a huge ’86 Roadblock fan, it would have been a better choice for the 2004 Night Force set than the ’84 figure.

  2. A-Man says:

    I skipped Star and Stripes at retail and still don’t have all the figures, actually I think I’ve only ever owned Hawk’n Roll and Fakebreaker…Roadbreaker? Hawker? Whomever. I got them during the “everyone was jumping on modern” price slump 11 or more years ago, when o-ringers were cheap. But they had no accessories.

    He’s a bad representation of the character but can be used as a new character. It’s the quality of the figure is the problem. Those shoulders get hairline cracks if you look at them. Or was that my Breaker that did? Or just any 1997 figures.

    I wonder what the substitute criteria was…whatever worked? The Hawk molds were being used for the Thunderbolt, but the 1986 Roadblock wasn’t part of the 1997 release…except he appeared on the Silver Mirage artwork…which he did NOT in 1985. So was he supposed to be part of that set but removed for costs? Who knows. There were a lot of beardy heads that could’ve been used for Rock & Roll, though maybe Big Bear and Snow Job would not have been ideal. How about Battle Corps Frostbite? That mold was in use. RnR in a beanie? Of course Outback V1 comes to mind.

    Back to MODERN era, odd there was no attempt to redo Stars And/Or Stripes 4-Ever in modern format. They certainly liked milking the same molds in 25th/Modern enough.

  3. generalliederkranz says:

    I love that last picture. I had never consciously realized that he has the same color scheme as 97 Duke.

    I got the 97s right at the point I stopped playing with Joes (I still kept collecting them full speed ahead, with the transition helped by finding YoJoe.com that next summer). The ones with old 82-83 molds got a lot of playtime in my last year, since I had been trying to find the originals for a long time. But this guy and breaker…nah. It wasn’t that he didn’t live up to the original R&R, since I didn’t have the original in swivel arm. They just didn’t impress me and didn’t fit in with the older molds from the set. But you make a convincing case that he’s ok in his own right. That camo certainly is!

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