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GI Joe Operation Bear Trap
by yo go re

The name "Voltar" doesn't mean much, but take heart: they could have named him "Graf." Or "Madagascar." Or "Field Marshall Null," which literally means nothing.

Voltar was an extremely successful mercenary commander. In fact, he was too successful for his continued presence to be tolerated by the provisional governments, revolutionary councils, and military dictatorships that employed him. He could pluck victory from seemingly imminent defeat in complete defiance of the odds, always just one step ahead of disaster, never looking back. Destro does not fear the challenge of any officer, especially one so capable of bringing him victory.

Voltar's battlefield strategies are nothing short of uncanny. His knowledge of geography, weather conditions, troop dispostion, vehicles, weapons, armaments and supply lines are all vast. Yet it is his ability to calculate their effects on each other, change strategies during battle, and see the long term results of these interactions, that brings him victory again and again. Destro hopes that this superior tactical ability will be enough to defeat the Oktober Guard General they have almost no record of, let alone experience engaging.

The original Voltar came out in 1988, so he was in that transition phase between "hey, this guy looks like a real soldier" and "you know what would be awesome? A neon snowboard!" Voltar fell more toward the second half of that scale, wearing a uniform that was pink and gold. Amazingly, the GI Joe Collectors' Club has managed to turn that into something a little bit respectable. He's a bit darker now, so the cloth parts of his outfit are closer to purple than pink, and that minor change is enough to save him. The gold is the same tone, and he's still accented with black, but the purple looks less ridiculous than the pink.

Giving Voltar a direct update would have required an entire new body, which is beyond the scope of a simple convention set. We're already paying $24 per figure, so an all-new sculpt would just be ridiculous. Rather than deal with that, they gave us one of those "spiritual" updates, where the specific details have all been changed, but the overall feel is the same. You know, like Serpentor. Voltar gets his upper body from the Rise of Cobra accelerator suits, and the legs from "Pursuit of Cobra" Beachhead, and together they make a very nice update of the classic look. It passes the squint test, and that's what matters. The hose that runs from the pack on his thigh down to his left ankle was unattached on mine, but a drop of glue fixed that easily enough.

The body may be old, but the head is new. He's got a pointy black beard and a curly mustache, and if you remove his helmet, he has a full head of hair. Actually, that's a bit of a problem: the helmet seems to be slightly smaller than it should be; if it were going on a bald head, it might sit properly, but as-is you have to fidget with it in order to get the eyepiece in place. We wouldn't even recommend trying to carve any plastic out of the helmet, because it's soft pvc and you might tear right through it.

Voltar's articulation is as expected. Balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed hips, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. The shoulder pads are actually attached to the outside of the upper arm, so you can only raise his arms so far, but it's enough for good poses. And though the unglued tube mentioned earlier runs between opposite sides of the knee joints, the ends are far enough away from each other that it doesn't cause any blockage.

In addition to the ill-fitting helmet, Voltar has an Iron Grenadier sword and the scabbard it fits into, a grey HK-G11, and a gold version of the Resolute rifle. What he doesn't come with is the pet vulture that gave him his name, nor the backpack it perched upon. Wonder if Schliech makes birds? Anyway, the weapons are all nice choices. The sword seems like a standard part of Iron Grenadier kit, the G11 has that futuristic flair MARS Industries brings to the battlefield, and the gold rifle is a reference to the weapon the '88 toy came with.

Voltar was a very unlikely character to receive a Generation 3 update - and that's also why he's a great idea for a Collectors' Club exclusive release. Sure, there's someone somewhere out there whose favorite character is Voltar, and they're kind of boned, but you have to admit that there is no way this guy would have sold if he had been put in a regular series. He would have made Arctic Destro look rare by comparison. It's stunning how well this update turned out, but part of a con-exclusive box set was the right place for him.

-- 11/09/12

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