Tuesday, March 16, 2021

S.O.S. - Platirama Doc (Argentina)

I really like the Doc figure.  I liked him as a kid.  I still like him as an adult.  As a collector, the figure is excellent and perfectly suits Doc's specialty.  Despite this, though, there has been just one Doc feature in over 20 years of my looking at figures.  For some reason, he just never was able to capture my attention for additional photos.  Among early Joes, Doc's appearance in the background of photos is very rare.  And, all of this is in spite of the fact that Doc has multiple foreign releases.  While each of those foreign variants have differences from the American Doc, they retain the same, general, color scheme and don't deviate from his specialty.  In the case of the Plastirama version of Doc from Argentina, though, a lone feature allows the figure to stand out and be, in some ways, the best version of the Doc character.

In the early comic, Doc appeared quite frequently.  Usually, he was performing as a doctor, though, so his appearances were short.  But, they were always poignant.  Doc having to leave Scarface behind to be blown to bits in issue #19 of the Marvel Comic had to be a gut wrenching decision.  Even if someone is evil, doctors take oaths to save their lives.  It's a small moment from the comic that was never really further explored.  And then, Doc died.  Of the Joes who were killed in the comic, Doc was probably the most non-sensical.  He was a somewhat major character and had no logical replacement on the team.  Doc's death didn't hit me as hard as Breaker and Crankcase because they were figures who were more important to me.  But, it was still shocking to see him gunned down.

As a figure, this Plastirama version is visually distinctive from the American figure.  While Brazilian and Mexican Doc figures have a tan that's close to the Hasbro figure, this Argentine release has a much brighter tan color for the entire figure.  It makes for a visually distinct version of Doc.  In addition to the brighter tan, this SOS figure also has silver sunglasses.  Again, the silver is much more eye-catching than the traditional green sunglasses.  And, they offer a quick visual clue as to this figure being from Argentina.  The silver glasses are really the calling card.  And, as all the figures use the same mold, you can swap the head from an SOS with an American Doc for a nice upgrade.

Doc's overall figure isn't all that distinctive.  He's just wearing a shirt with some pockets.  In the early days of Joe collecting, you'd often see Doc's torso taken for use as civilian figures since it was so plain looking.  But, for a doctor, that's just fine.  Doc doesn't need an elaborate uniform to fit with his specialty.  The color and cross help set the figure out as a non-combatant.  And, the relatively simple uniform helps establish Doc as someone who supports the Joes rather than joins them on the front lines.  As a kid, I kept Doc in my HQ for this reason.  Here, he could be a doctor to Joes who were brought in with serious injuries.  Lifeline did the field patchwork to keep them alive long to get to Doc's skilled hands.  And, in adventures where Doc was wounded or captured, the peril in which injured Joes found themselves created all the tension and adventure.

The Plastrirama SOS includes the same cadre of gear as the American figure.  There is the medical helmet cast in a brighter tan color.  I always assumed the two canisters on the helmet were medicine.  But, they could be bandages or other medical supplies.  Plastirama liked this helmet, though, and reused the mold in blue for TNT, silver for Backstop and yellow for Antorcha.  SOS then includes a slightly glossy black flare gun and his stretcher.  (As with all the Plastirama overstock figures, though, the actual weapon may vary and you can find SOS figures with Footloose's rocket launcher as well.)  The stretcher can be in either a green or grey color.  Back in the days of common Plastirama figures, neither color seemed common over the other.  Though, modern collectors may pay premiums for a color they are missing.  SOS figures were also available in COPS boxes and those may contain all sorts of superfluous gear, too.

Doc saw a good amount of use.  He was released in the U.S., Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.  In Brazil, though, his arms were swapped out for Blowtorch's and you can tell the Estrela figure from the bands on his arms.  (The Auriken figure from Mexico uses the same construction.)  After that, though, he disappeared.  Oddly, Doc's stretcher appeared with the Action Force APC in Europe.  An Action Force green colored Doc would have been amazing.  Even a redo of him in red and white to match Lifeline would have been a great repaint.  But, none of these came to be.  Doc was probably underutilized for that reason.  And, not even the character made a return with a new mold.  While Doc wasn't the most exciting figure, he served a purpose and every kid I knew had uses for a medic in their Joe world.

In the early 2000's massive quantities of carded Plastirama figures were made available in the US.  S.O.S., though, was among an assortment of figures that saw lower numbers imported.  And, as such, he was never really as ubiquitous as Satan, TNT or Sokerk.  But, even in those days, you could still buy all the carded S.O.S. figures you wanted for under $10 each.  Slowly, though, the S.O.S. stock dried up.  And, he joined figures like Antorcha and Coyote as characters that got somewhat tough to find.  These days, carded S.O.S. figures don't show up like they should.  And, you might pay upwards of $50 for a good, loose and complete figure.  That's probably too much.  The figure isn't as rare as the  dealer wants you to believe.  And, while the silver glasses are awesome, they aren't worth a huge premium over the American figure.  But, if the price is right, this is a figure that brings some life to the Doc character and provides a nice variant to a character who was somewhat underrepresented in Joe toys.


  1. Some people came up with some clever LBC's using Doc's body with Duke's arms and whatever head fit the torso. Expanded the Joe's medical team.

    Hama killed Doc off because, as I recall him saying, it wouldn't be fair if he only killed off characters he didn't like.

    That's one reason why Doc never got updated. Around 1991 Hasbro started paying attention to who was popular in the comics and only Firefly and Mindbender got "resurrected" after their apparent deaths. And I'm sure Mindbender's return came as surprise to Hama. Yeah, Dee-Jay was a mail-in, but that was merely a repaint.

    Then in the 2000's DePriest went with no dead characters rule for the main line, leaving the comic packs as the only chance for a new Doc, which did not happen.

    1. Wasn't the "no dead characters" rule in effect as far back as the early '90s? I was under the impression that was why General Flagg turned into General Flagg Jr.

    2. Probably to some degree, and that's why Red Star wasn't Brekhov. But from what I know this have never been confirmed by anyone who was at Hasbro.
      Hama did ask Hasbro if he could kill off characters and which characters he could kill off.
      But still Hasbro made Mindbender and there wasn't a realistic means of him surviving after we see his corpse. The file card even has him surviving with bionic parts, not cloned. So the impression was still that Hasbro could do whatever it wanted they didn't hold themselves to the comic. DOC reappears in Sgt Savage's single cartoon adventure.