|Code Name: BIG BEN|
The SAS had been the inspiration for some of the most popular Palitoy Action Force figures in 1983/84, but it took until 1991 for a member to appear in G.I. Joe. Between the line's primary market being America and filecard writer Larry Hama being a foaming xenophobe, very few characters weren't American. Big Ben was one of the exceptions, though with the twee codename and "Gor blimey Mary Poppins!" dialogue given to him in his comic appearances, this isn't really case a good thing. Big Ben was also in the DiC animated series, though I've never made it past the third episode of that to check - I suspect he's got an awful voice in that too (UPDATE: he certainly does!). Someone at Hasbro must have really liked the guy, though, as recoloured versions of Big Ben were released almost annually from 2000 to 2003. No sign of any G3 update yet, though.
The figure itself is pretty bland to look at - the mix of greens (with a white furry hat) is certainly a far cry from the slick predominantly-black Palitoy SAS Force schemes, and truth be told with a different filecard and codename he could be anyone - just another guy in camos.
Being a later figure, Big Ben comes with a daft amount of accessories - a heavy machine gun with bipod, a rifle, a backpack (the figure's real one is also massive - mine came without this, and has a smaller version from another figure), a satchel and a pair of grenades. He can just about hold all this stuff at the same time, but looks rather silly. As a result, my Big Ben's generously lent his rifle to someone else.
The satchel's biggest problem is it looks like he's carrying around a bin, though the grenades are very cool - it's nice to have them as parts if nothing else, and they're cleverly sculpted so they rest in the palm of the figure's hands, with the gap between the thumb and fingers just right to hold the detonator. However, it's not really enough to save Big Ben himself. This was probably the best thing likely from a year that gave us the Eco-Warriors, and to be fair while the personality Hama gave the guy was dire, at least it was memorable. Sadly, neither of these things are anything to boast about.