One of the most ambitious vehicles of the RAH line was the Mobile Command Center. Part tank, part headquarters it gave young Joe fans the opportunity to have the Joes take the battle to Cobra, with all of the comforts of home. Since the relaunch in 2000, the Joes have sadly been without any type of command center or playset. (Yes, Cobra got the Cobra Mountain playset but let’s not talk about that right now.) However, in the DTC line Hasbro has finally given the Joes a mobile base of operations. While not nearly as grandiose a structure as the MCC, the ROCC is one vehicle that no well-equipped Joe team should be without!
To accurately review the ROCC, you have to break it down into its component parts: tractor, trailer, mini-jet, driver, and finally combined mode. We’ll start with the cab. It’s a pretty straight forward looking tractor, at first glance. Carried along on four massive tires, and featuring up-front seating for three, this vehicle conveys the impression of power needed to pull the massive trailer along. The roof is open in two areas, each of which supports hard-points to attach various weapons. The passenger-side hard-point is the smaller of the two and accommodates the DTC Spirit’s sniper rifle fairly well. The second hard-point, which is located behind and to the side of the driver, is significantly larger and will accept any of the extra weapons from either the Jungle Strike or Night Ops Humvees. The front canopy is nicely detailed and even goes as far as having molded windshield wipers. Each of the side running boards sports a foot peg to add on additional figures.
Raising the canopy exposes the interior of the tractor that can seat three Joes across the front and two in the rear. It’s the rear passengers, however, that get the shaft when it comes to the accommodations and they might want to consider applying for a ticket refund. The left rear passenger has access to the left roof hatch and can be assumed to be a spare gunner. The right rear passenger seat, however, can only be accessed once the roof top missile launcher is raised and is seated facing the rear. I’m not certain what the person is supposed to be doing but they are definitely guaranteed to have NO view whatsoever while the ROCC is in motion. Back in the front seat, the driver controls this massive land vehicle via a ball-jointed control stick that reminds of the steering wheel used by KITT on Knight Rider. It’s distinctive looking as well as quite modern and is something that I could see being used on a vehicle of this scale. It also has a great range of motion that allows for a greater ease of positioning the driver in a realistic posture.
Upon the roof of the cab is the missile launcher. This offensive/defensive system is initially folding down facing the rear of the vehicle. To deploy, simply raise it up and then rotate the launcher forward. Four buttons on the top fire the eight spring-loaded missiles one at a time. The launcher gives the tractor some desperately needed firepower, as the forward unit is otherwise unarmed. The launcher armature feels a bit fragile, however, and can throw the tractor off balance if positioned to any extreme. While I don’t see the tractor driving off much on its own, it is nice to have some sort of weapons system included and the firing missiles are pretty fun. (My cat has already learned to avoid the tractor at all costs.)
Moving on the trailer, we get to the real meat of the ROCC. First off, I want to give props to whoever designed this plastic brute. Once the trailer is detached, two fold-down stanchions immediately support it. Sure, it’s not a “major feature” of the ROCC, but it shows that the design is well thought-out. Once deployed, the stanchions ensure that the trailer is stable whether is it opened or closed. Mad props to whichever Hasbro designer came up with this little feature. The trailer itself is otherwise quite plain, sporting a communications dish on the leading edge of the roof and a few hard-points for optional weapons mounts. (Not included.) The sole defense of the rear unit comes in the form of an enclosed turret. Sporting a single cannon, the turret itself is functionally designed with a reinforced canopy to protect the driver and an elevating weapon. A single Joe sits comfortably inside to ensure that the bulk of the ROCC isn’t completely defenseless while on the road. Yet, this turret has to perform “double duty” as there are two turret mounts on the roof! The turret is raised out of one and slides along a track to the second mount. To deploy, simply rotate the turret 180 degrees and then drop it into the hole. The mechanism is well designed although a bit awkward and I’m sure kids will enjoy being able to slide the turret back and forth. I myself prefer to leave it in the rare position to cover the otherwise vulnerable trailer. My only grievance with this feature is that the empty turret mount is nothing more than a giant gaping hole in the roof of the ROCC’s trailer. In all honesty, I’d have preferred simply having two turrets and would have scrapped the whole “turret slide” feature. It’s ungainly and I can’t help but think of an old-style chain-driven carnival shooting gallery target every time I move it back and forth. Also, two turrets would have given the ROCC some much-needed defensive firepower. However, overall the exterior of the trailer is sharp, detailed, and just plain fun.
Okay, enough about the exterior—let’s get to the real meat of the ROCC! To open the trailer and convert it to the command center mode, simply open the hatch on the right rear side and then lift the top cover up toward the trailer. The design is so simple that the top rises up easily and comes to rest on a “treaded support” molded onto the trailer’s back bumper. Once the top is raised, simply swing out the side containing the gantry and the ROCC is ready for action! (Okay, not quite—the hinged communications array which is now located at the top of the tower swings forward!) The interior of the trailer can be divided into three distinct sections: vehicle bay & repair, command center, and launch tower for the mini-jet. The vehicle bay is pretty straight-forward: two ramps open on the sides of the trailer to allow access and a robotic arm is then used to help load ordinance, change engine blocks, etc. The arm performs a similar function to the crane that was located in the bottom level of the Mobile Command Center—minus the extra engine block. Otherwise, the vehicle bay is pretty Spartan in terms of appearance and accessories. It’s actually quite small and, while it’s idea for working on something like the Defense Mech, larger vehicles just aren’t going to fit inside. There is some nice detailing in the upper platform including some painted hoses and a small console, as well as a pair of short stairs but overall this is one area in which the ROCC is a bit lacking. Perhaps a fuel pump or even a storage rack for rifle (a la the Tactical Battle Platform) might have made it more impressive. Still, it’s decent-sized space that I can see servicing vehicles like the Desert Coyote and my ever-growing unit of Mechs.
The next area of the trailer can only be described as the Command Center. It features a total of four detailed monitors/ workstations and four swivel chairs all atop a grid-hatched section of gray flooring. In many ways, it reminds me a bit of the classic Star Trek bridge with the main swivel chair evoking images of Captain Kirk’s “throne”. The low-backed chair on the center dais swivels to allow the occupant an uninterrupted view of all activities taking place in the ROCC. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the other three chairs, which almost seem tossed in at random. Aside from the command seat, none of the other chairs actually face any of the consoles! So, when fully crewed, the Command Center gives the impression of one Joe doing all of the work while the others sit around and “supervise”. It’s actually kind of amusing—just look at the picture of the crewed command center and you’ll notice that Wild Bill and Scarlett seem to be carrying on a conversation while Bombstrike has completely turned her back on the console behind her! I’m beginning to think that Hasbro originally designed the primary seat and consoles first and then, upon finding that they had dead space on their hands, simply added in the other seats. It’s the only way that I can explain having so many non-functional stations in an otherwise functional unit. So, aside from the wacky seating arrangement, I find no fault with the command center section of the ROCC.
The last portion of the deployed trailer is the launch gantry and mini-jet. Honestly, there’s not a lot to describe here. The launch gantry is built into the side of the raised trailer roof and evokes a steel-frame gantry. A small one-man elevator travels the height of the gantry and can transport a Joe to one of several small platforms along the side or to the mini-jet. The gantry also has a raising mechanism (by hand) that elevates the mini-jet to what is presumably its launch position. The gantry itself is hollow and a figure can be dropped down it to slide out the bottom in what is presumably some sort of “escape tube”. Either my Joes have been skipping PT or this tube is pretty narrow as I’ve dropped four different figures down the shaft and not one has emerged from the bottom to tell the tale. So, it’s either too many pork rinds for Wild Bill or this feature is a bit of an afterthought. (I’m going with the latter.) So, aside from a rather odd escape mechanism, the launch gantry is a pretty solid bit of design.
Remember that moveable gun turret from the exterior of the trailer? Well, Hasbro didn’t forget about it and found a way to incorporate it into the deployed mode of the trailer. The turret swings out of the forward turret mount and deploys against the side of the trailer to provide cover fire for the back 180-degree arc of the ROCC. This is the most useful application of the “traveling turret” gimmick mentioned earlier in this review although it does leave the gunner stuck in an isolated position until the trailer is folded up again. Better hope that whoever gets stuck up there didn’t take a Big Gulp with them!
The mini-jet itself is exactly what I’d expect for a small vehicle attached to such a large vehicle/playset at this price point. It is loaded with molded detail included several wing cannons and even contains a few hard points for optional weapons to be attached. (I’m thinking of the ROCC’s missile launchers in this case.) It has a molded pilot’s seat and a single control stick to one side of the cockpit. However, aside from that it is essentially a hollow plastic shell. Normally, I’d be all over this like Morton Downey Jr. one a weak show guest except for I recognize this mini-jet as an accessory to the larger ROCC. Sold on its own I’d crucify this jet for being so basic but as part of this set I see it as nothing more than a short-range reconnaissance jet akin to the RAH Firebat. There is one interesting feature to note on the mini-jet: the jet exhaust. For reasons unknown, the rear exhaust nozzle on the jet is hinged, allowing it to be rotated downward. This feature appears to serve no practical purpose as far as the toy itself is concerned and is not mentioned in the blueprints or instructions. I’ve been able to rationalize this as part of the jet’s VTOL system, allowing it to land aside the ROCC in whatever terrain the behemoth is deployed. It’s too bad the vehicle bay crane was situated next to the launch gantry or it would have served a dual purpose in helped to reset the tiny aerodyne back on the launch platform. Still, the mini-jet is a fun piece of equipment and is something that certainly adds more playability to the already loaded ROCC.
Whether you love Sigma 6 or hate it, you have to acknowledge that the show has made the ROCC’s driver Long Range distinctive. Normally I’m not a big fan of repainting a figure and simply calling it a new character (as is the case with the RHINO’s Cannonball) but Long Range is an exception. First off, I like the reuse of the body of Leatherneck to create this new vehicle driver. It’s a great military mold that is just generic enough to be believable as a standard troop body. Secondly, the new head sculpt and remolding of the arms makes Long Range appear completely new and different. In fact, Long Range actually makes better use of the Leatherneck body by featuring more paint applications. These color contrasts bring out all sorts of detail that I glossed over in the initial release. I also like the new head sculpt which is not only proportionate to the body (something that Hasbro has struggled with ever since the relaunch) but also distinctive. The expression on the face, the ponytail haircut, and the skin tones all serve to bring this character to life. My only grievance with this figure is found in the attached belt and holster combination that renders him unable to sit down. So, simply pop this plastic annoyance off and Long Range is read to ride at the helm of the ROCC! While his file card makes NO mention of his Sigma 6 specialty as a sniper, I see Long Range joining the ranks of Clutch, Steam Roller, Steeler, Crank Case, Rollbar, Cover Girl, and others as a proud member of my Joe motor pool crew!
So, in the end, is the ROCC worth your hard-earned cash? Absolutely! Don’t let a few nitpicks in each area distract you from the fact that, for less than $40.00, you can add in an amazingly detailed large-scale piece of Joe hardware to your Joe collection. The ROCC is a great vehicle as well as a great display piece for any Joe diorama. With loads of “action stations” and features, this vehicle and be fully crewed and deployed at a minute’s notice! However, that’s just an adult collector’s opinion; it was Samurai Jack31’s post at the JBL forums that really showed me just how much fun kids will have with the ROCC. So, whatever the age group Hasbro has really designed a stellar piece of Joe equipment that is sure to be a hit with whomever owns it!