Review & pics by: Fred Meyer
G.I. Joe Collector's Club Exclusive - Sold with the Adventure Team ATV
I attended my first full Joe Con in 2005 and it was there that I came to realize something about the G.I. Joe fandom. There actually seemed to be two separate events going on simultaneously for two different groups of collectors. There was the 1:18 convention that I had driven up for and yet there also seemed to be a 1:6 convention as well. Even more puzzling was the fact that there seemed to be very little co-mingling of the two groups occurring. It was as if there were two entirely different toy lines that resided under the banner of “G.I. Joe”. In years that followed this division remained prominent in my mind’s eye as I attended subsequent conventions. It was true that the A Real American Hero era dipped into the 1:6 scale world from time to time but ultimately the cross-pollination failed to unite the fandom in any meaningful fashion. In 2010, the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club attempted a new strategy designed to bring the two groups a bit closer together. Rather than yet another invasion of ARAH into the 1:6 world, the Adventure Team was coming to 1:18 in the form of a series of Club-exclusive sets. Was this integration successful? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s opinion!
In attempting to recreate the utilitarian functionality of the original 1970’s uniforms, the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club kept the Adventure Team members’ body construction pretty consistent across this line. As was the case with the Adventure Team Commander, the Land Adventurer borrows parts from a variety of figures. The arms were originally released with the 25th Anniversary Comic Pack #115 Captain Ace, the torso and waist come from the 25th Anniversary Cobra Viper, the upper legs saw their debut with the first 25th Anniversary Storm Shadow figure, while the lower legs and feet were released with the second 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe five pack version of Shipwreck. In terms of form, this combination works quite well to replicate the simple shirt and pants cloth uniform worn by the Land Adventurer forty years ago. Over the top of this is placed a gray repaint of the 25th Anniversary Wild Bill’s vest. The look is simple, practical, and just what you’d expect from the original Man of Action. In terms of function-- well, the parts share the limitations found in the entire 25th Anniversary line. This means that the elbows aren’t quite as poseable as one could hope for in the subsequent product lines. To further transform this parts combination into an AT member, the figure is molded in a light green plastic and then a terrific camouflage pattern consisting of darker green, black, and brown. It might look a bit odd when compared to the digital camouflage of the recent G.I. Joe Retaliation line but this pattern is spot-on in recreating both the uniform of the original 1:6 figure as well as the camouflage uniforms worn by soldiers of the 70’s. Of all of the 1:18 AT members, only the Sea Adventurer’s uniform captures my attention as much as this figure’s does.
If you’ve read my Adventure Team Commander review then you know exactly what I’ll be saying about the head sculpt used. As is the case with the body construction, all of the 1:18 AT members share the same head sculpt. The Land Adventurer’s is identical to the AT Commanders both in terms of sculpt and color scheme. In essence, he’s the Commander’s twin with only the uniform to help distinguish between the two specialists. I’m not normally in favor of “twins” in the same same line (unless it’s intentional as is the case with Tomax/Xamot) but in this case the sculpting works. After all, these aren’t supposed to be modern interpretations of the original designs but are instead recreations of the 1:6 scale figure at ⅓ the size. Once again, this figure might look a bit dated when placed next to more recent releases but that’s the entire point here. You can’t look at this head and NOT see the original 12” figure design and in that respect the Club’s product is a remarkably successful homage.
In terms of the Land Adventurer’s kit, it’s the same as was included with the Adventure Team Commander. This includes:
All of these items make sense for a figure that comes from a time when Joe wasn’t a member of an active military. The rifle is his primary weapon and could have been used for everything from hunting to firing tranquilizer darts. The pistol serves as his back-up weapon and vest is an attempt to recreate the holster found on the original figure. Personally, I found that the vest both limited the range of motion in the figure’s shoulders and covered up the Adventure Team logo so I removed it after a few shots. In fact, my default look for most of the Club’s 1:18 AT members is sans vest. Your individual mileage will vary.
In order to replicate the feel of the original Adventure Team, the folks at the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club decided to release the various AT members with a vehicle befitting their specialty. In this case, the Land Adventurer is packaged with an ATV molded in “AT Yellow”. For most fans, the Amphicat was THE signature land vehicle of the Adventure Team-- forming the backbone of such sets as the Secret of the Mummy’s Tomb. The six-wheeled vehicle is as recognizable as the team’s Mobile Support Vehicle. To recreate this, the Club was faced with limited options w/o resorting to new tooling and therefore the Battle Blitz was brought out of mothballs and given a new deco.
The Battle Blitz. The six-wheeled monstrosity that gave birth to the fan meme of “Battle Luge Guy”...
I’ll be honest-- I never owned the original Battle Blitz. A good friend of mine purchased it when it was initially released. I sat down with it, tried out the various features (including “Sound Attack”), and realized that I could live a full and happy life without ever owning one. The clunky boxy vehicle felt more “Fisher-Price” than it did part of the same toy franchise that gave me the VAMP and the Awe Striker. Yet, here it is again-- the same boxy plastic shell only now it’s bright yellow. Really bright yellow.
It’s no Amphicat.
Now I recognize that the Club had limited resources available to them and that this is the closest they could come to the original vehicle w/o having to invest some serious tooling dollars to produce something more accurate. It’s just that this “thing” doesn’t quite have the rugged off-road feel that the original AT vehicle did. Instead, the box-like undercarriage (originally designed to house “Luge Guy”) offers very low ground clearance and the plastic wheels have zero suspension whatsoever. The sculpted police light on the back seems to be more at home in an urban environment that it would crossing the sands of the Sahara in search of a lost pharoah’s tomb. In all honest, a snazzy yellow-deco’ed AWE-Striker would have been a more exciting vehicle than this. However, the vehicle does have one saving grace that keeps me from chucking it aside like the design abomination that it is. It has ample undercarriage storage.
Even the folks at the Club seem to have realized that reusing the Battle Blitz wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy most contemporary Joe fans. This plastic paperweight would need something more if fans were accept it at the nearly $40 price tag it initially carried. As such, two Adventure Team labeled equipment crates were included chock-full of gear that could help out the AT members on many a dangerous assignment. Even better-- those two crates fit within the under-chasis compartment that served as Battle Luge Guy’s pre-deployment prison. The contents of the two crates are identical and the contents do take the AT members in a more military direction than I’ve seen in the vintage line but they add a great deal more play value than the ATV itself. Included in each crate are the following:
I’ve long since lamented the fact that some figures come with more gear than they can comfortably carry. In this case, the Club not only gave fans an opportunity to re-equip their Adventure Team figures as they desired but also gave them two snazzy AT-themed crates to hold the extras. I love the variety of the gear and, quite honestly, it does help blunt the sting of finally owning a Battle Blitz.
At the end of the day, is acquiring the Land Adventurer and ATV worth spending your hard-earned cash? For the most part, I do like this set quite a bit. In spite of my Battle Blitz rant above, the vehicle is serviceable enough until I can find a better more AT-accurate alternative. The gun crates are a solid inclusion in the set that really ups the value quotient. However, it’s the Land Adventurer himself that remains the reason I bought this set. Back in 2007, I picked up one and only one of the Walmart exclusive Adventure Team reissues and that figure was the Land Adventurer. With his “life-like beard”, facial scar, and camouflage uniform he seemed to be a perfect representation of the Adventure Team era and, at that time, was to be the only 12” figure I owned. (This has since changed…) When it comes to the 1:18 line, the Land Adventurer is still the figure that I find the most interesting. He’s got a pretty good range of motion, and some killer paint apps that just make him the kind of figure you are compelled to take out into the back yard for some adventures. Add in the fact that I’ve been loving his portrayal in the Club’s monthly Adventure Team comic and you have a figure that you almost can’t help but enjoy. Plus, the nostalgic side of me loves the fact that he’s a tangible tie between the current 1:8 offerings and the more rugged days of high adventure that the line embodied from 1970 - 1976. Snag him with or without the ATV and get this figure into the thick of the action!
Questions? Comments? Think that Battle Luge Guy deserves to be part of the Adventure Team?
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