Anyone who’s been reading the various GIJoe forums over the past few years knows that I’m a big fan of the Power Team Elite line of 3.75” scale figures, vehicles, and accessories. From the Humvees, to the Black Hawk helicopter, to the phenomenal gear that is packaged with each figure this line is veritable gold mine of accessories and diorama fodder for the GIJoe line. Unfortunately, PTE products aren’t readily available to most consumers outside of discount chains like Big Lots, Dollar General, and a few online sources. As such, some of the best 1:18 scale is something that many Joe fans only know of from pictures on the web rather than first-hand experience. However, Marauder Gun-Runners have stepped in by giving fans a chance to own many of the accessories produced by M & C Toy Center without having to buy PTE box sets. In other words, you no longer have to buy a 3 figure set just to obtain the one laptop you were interested in. So, without further adieu, it’s time to review the “Furniture & Diorama Accessory Wave” available exclusively at Marauder Gun-Runners.
To the best of my knowledge there are only 3 1:18 scale laptops currently available. BBi produced one for their Target-exclusive “Soldier Force” figure sets, Hasbro produced one for the Valor vs. Venom Dr. Mindbender figure, and finally M&C produced one for their Power Team Elite line. Of these three, the PTE version has long since been my favorite. (It was featured in the “Infantry Division” six-pack review.) This particular laptop is perfectly scaled, features a solid “snap” lock, and is perfectly detailed for its size. The piece comes painted—detailing a full-function keyboard (sans number pad) with a touch pad and power and status indicators. The flat panel monitor displays a topographical map with a zoomed image of four humanoid forms. It’s a perfect replacement for the bulky portable computer carried by Mainframe and will add a nice modern detail to any type of diorama setting.
When the PTE bunk bed sets first started showing up at Big Lots, I was as giddy as a five-year old on Christmas morning. I had planned on picking up several of these in order to build a barracks set to use in both reviews and a forthcoming dio-story. However, these bunks proved elusive as most Big Lots stores never received them. The bed itself is quite simple—two sleeping platforms held together by a head and foot board. A small ladder is molded on one end so that the occupant of the top bunk doesn’t have to practice his “jump shot” to get into bed each night. Each of the mattress platforms are wrapped with a pair of plastic bands—a carryover from the foam “mattresses” found in the PTE boxed versions. The beds are long enough to accommodate both RAH-era and GvC-era sculpts, including taller figures like Major Barrage. (I haven’t tried it with the abomination that is the Spy Troops Tunnel Rat and I doubt I ever will.) While Barrage may push the upper limits of who can sleep on one of these, the bunk beds are an utterly FANTASTIC addition to any diorama fodder and also to any GIJoe barracks displays. I have the feeling that these are going to go quickly and I don’t know what the future availability will be.
If I liked the bunk beds then I’m LOVING the lockers. Originally packaged with the PTE bunk bed set, the lockers are an often-wished-for-but-seldom-realized accessory that fans will go crazy over. Each locker features molded vents at the top and bottom of the doors (simulated), as well as three interior shelves. There is plenty of space for a figure’s helmet, smaller firearms, and back packs inside each storage device. Anything larger than a rifle must be stored elsewhere but that’s why Marauder Gun-Runners produced rifle racks in Wave 3. The lockers themselves look great singly or lined up in rows to create a very realistic-looking locker room. Dio-story authors will most likely be ordering these up by the dozens.
While not something that you’d use to secure your GIJoe headquarters from the forces of COBRA, theses barriers are akin to those seen at media events and political appearances. They’re a great way to keep the hordes of female figures from mauling any given Shipwreck figure—at least in his dreams. Each fence section can stand alone or can be linked together by a pin and hinge connection to allow for “red carpet” barriers. I can easily see these being used in conjunction with both Mutt and Law figures as they try to establish a security cordon for General Flagg’s next appearance.
Cooking bowl/ kettle:
If you own the PTE campsite box set then these should look quite familiar. Originally designed to attach to a cooking rack over the included campfire, these two accessories add a touch of realism to any bivouac or mess hall display. While a bit over-sized for standard kitchen use, these are the type of “commercial quality” kitchen items used to prepare food for the troops, not an intimate dinner between Flint and Lady Jaye. So, while their use might not be readily apparent to most fans, collectors will be surprised just what a dash of realism they will add to any “on base” display. (Plus, Roadblock’s been clamoring for some proper cooking gear for years.)
Sledge hammer/ bolt cutter/ shovel/ axe:
If Hasbro has neglected one area of accessory, it’s been small tools. Sure, Toll Booth had his sledge hammer, and Road Pig had a cinder block on an axe handle but overall the Joe team has been sorely lacking in realistic hand tools. (I can’t really count the removable tools from the Night Ops Humvee because of the pegs attached to the handles.) Thanks to MGR and M & C Toy Center, the Joes now have a sledge hammer, bolt cutters, shovel, and axe to finish out their gear. What SWAT unit would be caught dead without a sledge and bolt cutters? (Or what self-respecting Dreadnok for that matter?) Outback and Tracker can now add an axe to their field gear while Ambush can carry a shovel to help dig fox holes. Available individually, I’d recommend snagging at least one of each of these to add to your motor pool or Dreadnok garage displays!
It’s darned near impossible to find good 1:18 scale chairs for the Joes. However, the original Power Team Elite Headquarters came complete with four folding chairs that were just about perfect for GIJoe figures. Unfortunately, that particular HQ set is now as elusive as a Bigfoot sighting in downtown Vancouver and so it’s MGR to the rescue. The chairs themselves are reminiscent of the utilitarian folding chairs used by churches and schools across the country. Comprised of three pieces molded in brown, they’re surprisingly sturdy and stable considering their size. RAH-era figures might be just a tad short for the chairs and end up sitting forward to keep their feet on the floor. GvC-era figures (which tend to run a bit taller) have no such issues and can sit solidly in the diminutive furniture. Regardless, it’s good to finally have ready access to such a basic piece of furniture.
What good are a set of folding chairs without the table? Originally packaged with the fore-mentioned PTE Headquarters playset, this table is the answer to many dio-story and diorama-builder’s search for the perfect 1:18 scale table. Molded in four pieces, the table is able to accommodate four seated figures (two per side) perfectly. The surface area is large enough to allow for the placement of laptops, food trays, etc without the figures appearing over-crowded. The neutral brown color is an excellent choice—simulating the wood-colored utility tables found in meeting halls, schools, etc. While the leg braces don’t allow for anyone to sit at the head of the table, it’s perfect for setting up either a mess hall or a meeting room and sturdy enough to hold up to repeat uses.
To date, the only available stretcher I knew of in 1:18 scale was found in a few Chap Mei figure sets. (I’m not counting Doc’s original stretcher.) To obtain said stretcher involved purchasing a set that retailed for $7.00 - $9.00 just to acquire a single piece. The PTE version is vastly superior to the Chap Mei version for several reasons. First, this piece of medical equipment features actual rolling wheels! Secondly, the handles found at the head and foot of the gurney are able to be held by the hands of our favorite Real American Heroes. Lastly, the head of the bed can be raised up so that the patient isn’t confined to a prone position. (There’s no way to lock the head rest into a fixed position but I’ve not found this to be an issue.) However, there’s more -- the fact that the legs fold for transport in a vehicle makes these an invaluable piece of gear that fans are going to literally eat up! Think of the possibilities of Lifeline and Stretcher unloaded patients from the Tomahawk on these stretchers. (Sharp-eyed collectors will also note the bracket for an IV rack on the side. Hopefully this will be available in future waves.) This is one of those essentially pieces of equipment that I can see most collectors owning before too long.
I know that it might sound like I’m having an affair with Marauder John (I’m not—he’s got a good restraining order in place right now) but I have to say “thank you” to both MGR and M & C Toy Center for producing pieces of this quality at this price point. Now, I’m the first to admit that these are not “essential” pieces for every collection. Not everyone displays their figures in diorama settings and I can appreciate that. Yet I think that a majority of collectors are going to be surprised by just how much more dynamic these pieces will make any GIJoe display appear. Hasbro has given us some great character specific gear over the years but its companies like M & C that have provided the more general pieces of equipment that round out any scene. As with previous offerings from MGR, my advice is to not only snag the pieces that you absolutely want now but try out one of each of the others in this wave. I have the feeling that collectors are going to be truly surprised by just how much they’ve missed having gear like this all of these years.