Government Issue 90mm 'Thermonuclear Rodeo'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Resin with lucite rod|
This figure is based on a character from the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film "Dr. Strangelove"
USAF Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), the commander of Burpelson Air Force Base, initiates a plan to attack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons in the paranoid belief that there is a Communist conspiracy involving water fluoridation which will lead to contamination of everyone's "precious bodily fluids." Ripper orders his nuclear-armed B-52s, which were holding at a fail-safe point as part of a special training exercise, to move into Soviet airspace. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers), an RAF exchange officer serving as General Ripper's executive officer, issues the command on Ripper's order, but later realizes that it was issued inappropriately and not in retaliation to a Soviet attack on America. He resolves to recall the planes on his own authority, but Ripper refuses to disclose the three-letter code needed to get the bombers back to base and locks the two of them in his office.
In the "War Room" at The Pentagon, General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) briefs President Merkin Muffley (Sellers). He reports that Ripper apparently took advantage of "Wing Attack Plan R," a wartime contingency plan which is intended to give Field Commanders authority to retaliate with nuclear weapons in the event that a Soviet first strike obliterates Washington, D.C., and incapacitates U.S. leadership. When President Muffley scoffs at the idea that such an option was ever considered, he is reminded that he supported and endorsed the plan when it was first proposed. When President Muffley states that General Turgidson had assured him that the "Human Reliability Program" would make it impossible that a Field Commander would exceed his authority in this manner, the General responds that he doesn't "think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up."
Turgidson tries to persuade Muffley to seize the moment and eliminate the Soviet Union by launching a full-scale attack on remaining Soviet defensive capabilities. Turgidson believes the United States is in a superior strategic position and a first strike would destroy the majority of the Soviets' missiles before they could retaliate significantly. Without such a response, the US would be annihilated by "Red Retaliation." Muffley rebukes him and summons the Soviet ambassador, Alexei de Sadeski (Peter Bull), calls Soviet Premier Dmitri Kisov on the "Hot Line," and gives the Soviets information to help them shoot down the American planes.
Over the phone, a drunken Kisov tells his ambassador that their country has deployed a doomsday device which will automatically destroy all life on Earth if there is a nuclear strike against any strategic targets in the Soviet Union. The President expresses amazement that anyone would build such a device. The President now calls upon Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi and weapons expert. Strangelove uses a wheelchair, is apparently paralyzed, and has little control over his right arm (it occasionally snaps into a Nazi salute or attempts to strangle him). In moments of excitement he forgetfully addresses the President as "Mein Führer".
Dr. Strangelove explains the technology behind the Doomsday Machine and why, once activated, it is essential that not only should it destroy the world in the event of a nuclear attack but also destroy the world if anyone attempts to deactivate it. He further points out that the "whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret. Why didn't you tell the world?" Ambassador de Sadeski sheepishly answers it was supposed to be announced the following week at the (Communist) Party Congress because "the Premier loves surprises."
U.S. Army forces arrive at Burpelson to arrest General Ripper. Because Ripper has warned his men that the enemy might attack disguised as American soldiers, the base's security forces open fire on them. A pitched battle ensues, which the Army forces finally win, and Ripper, fearing torture to extract the recall code, shoots himself. Colonel "Bat" Guano (Keenan Wynn) shoots his way into Ripper's office and suspects that Mandrake, whose uniform he does not recognize, is leading a mutiny and arrests him. Mandrake convinces Guano he must call the President with the recall code, OPE, which he has deduced from Ripper's desk blotter doodles, but the regular base phone lines are down. When Mandrake attempts to use a pay phone, he doesn't have enough change and the Pentagon declines a collect call, so he persuades Guano to shoot open a Coca-Cola machine to extract the necessary coins. Off camera, Mandrake finally contacts the Pentagon and is able to get the code combinations to the President and Strategic Air Command.
The correct recall code is issued to the planes, and all those that have not been shot down by the Soviet military turn back toward base, except one. Its radio and fuel tanks were damaged by an anti-aircraft missile, leaving the plane unable either to receive the recall message or reach its primary or secondary targets, where the Soviets have concentrated all available defences at the urging of President Muffley. Instead, the pilot heads for the nearest target of opportunity, an ICBM complex. Aircraft commander Major T. J. "King" Kong (Slim Pickens) goes to the bomb bay to open the damaged doors manually, straddling a nuclear bomb as he repairs sparking wires overhead. When he effects his electrical patches, the bomb bay doors suddenly open, the bomb releases and Kong rides it to the ground like a rodeo cowboy, whooping and waving his cowboy hat.
The bomb detonates, but the Doomsday Machine does not activate immediately. In the War Room, Ambassador de Sadeski says life on Earth's surface will be extinct in ten months. Dr. Strangelove recommends the President gather several hundred thousand people to be relocated into deep mine shafts, where the radioactivity would never penetrate, so the United States can be repopulated. Strangelove suggests a gender ratio of "ten females to each male," with the women selected for their stimulating sexual characteristics and the men selected for youth, health, intellectual capabilities, and importance in business and government. He points out that with proper breeding techniques, the survivors could work themselves up to the present Gross National Product in 20 years, and emerge after the radioactivity has ceased in about 100 years. At one point, Strangelove's errant right arm tries to strangle him.
General Turgidson warns of a possible "Mineshaft Gap" that might be a factor when the survivors emerge. Just as Dr. Strangelove miraculously gets up from his wheelchair, takes a couple of steps and shouts, "Mein Führer! I can walk!," the Doomsday Machine activates. The film then cuts to a montage of multiple nuclear detonations across the world, accompanied by Vera Lynn's haunting recording "We'll Meet Again."
Though not specifically identified, this is a figure of Slim Pickin's character Major 'King' Kong, the pilot of the lone B-52 to ignore the call back message. It is posed as one sees him near the end of the movie as he successfully gets the bomb bay doors open, but is unable to get off the bomb before it falls to the Soviet missile site below.
The figure is superbly molded without any flaws. It consists of a nearly complete torso astride the nose of the bomb. This nose section is included and is one large resin molding. The figure is posed as one sees it when falling with the Major yelling and waving his hat. The details on his flight suit, including the parachute pack, are superbly done and quite accurate. Some have commented that the face doesn't look like Slim Pickins, but honestly, does your face look like you when you are yelling at the top of your lungs with your mouth wide open? I think not. Compared to images from the movie, there is no doubt as to who it is.
The kit comes with a resin base and a Lucite rod. This rod can be bent into various shapes simply by dipping in for a moment in very hot water. The kit includes color information for painting and recommends the bomb be painted red with a black nose tip and a white after-body. Your choice really as the bomb is pure fantasy. The kit includes instructions and a painting guide. Two nicely done decal sheets are provided. The letters sheet is for your USAF and the other is for the graffiti found on the bomb and the white/black checkers around the nose section. They also include the flight suit patches and insignia. Decals are well printed. I've included a couple of images from the film for additional reference when building this.
I have to say that I was anticipating this one and it does not disappoint. The molding is first rate and it will surely make a neat addition to your collection. For those of you with desk-bound day jobs, it is the perfect thing to have next to your phone!
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer
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