G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. The Transformers. Not since a commercial actor complained about getting peanut butter on his chocolate have two entities seemed so destined for crossover. Yet only in the word of comics have Hasbro’s top two “in house” properties ever co-existed on the same page. Back in the 1980’s it was the eponymous four issue mini-series published by Marvel Comics that brought the two franchises together in story-line that seemed average at best. However, nearly two and a half decades later, Chicago-based Devil’s Due Publishing reinvigorated new life into the notion that both brands could successfully integrate on the printed page. What followed were four excellent volumes of comic goodness that took the heroes to Earth, the past, the present, the future, Cybertron and even Cobra-La. Yet, that seemed to be the end of the intermingling of the two brands—until the 2011 San Diego Comic Con when a G.I. Joe Skystriker was transformed into the Decepticon traitor Starscream. Piloted by Cobra Commander himself and armed with none other than a diminutive Megatron the set was an instant hit. In 2012, fans wondered what Hasbro would do to top this highly-sought after exclusive item. It would seem that the design teams in Pawtucket had a few more tricks up their sleeve and so the 2012 G.I. Joe vs. Transformers Comic Con exclusive was born featuring Shockwave as a HISS tank, Destro, a Constructicon BAT, and even Soundwave. Does this set live up to the fanboy hype? Read on and find out one Joe fan’s opinion.
NOTE: This review has been split into three pages to facilitate faster load times. The pages are broken up as follows:
To render Shockwave in non-transformable Joe form, the design team at Hasbro turned to the newly-released (and then pulled, but that’s another story) G.I. Joe: Retaliation Cobra HISS tank. Based on the innovative 30 th Anniversary version, this new HISS features many design similarities to its parent and yet strikes off in its own direction. The tank itself isn’t as sleek at the 30 th version, featuring a clear canopy that seems more akin to that of a helicopter than the previous opaque version. The nose is more abrupt and features a smaller dual barrel laser turret. The entire back end has been redesigned with the tail gunner compartment removed entirely. Instead, a large external turret has been dropped on top of the redesigned chassis to provide a more conventional tank weapons package. The tail section turrets have been moved slightly, increased in size and are now attached to the sides of the tail. It’s a design overhaul that works in my eyes—bringing a dash of real world sensibilities to a fantastical design.
In order to turn this tank into Shockwave, the Hasbro designers started by molding the entire shell of the tank into a pearl-ized purple plastic with the exception of a few details found on the tail of the mechanical monstrosity. To complete the ensemble, the canopy has also been molded in a translucent purple shade. Gone are all of the various decals that fans have grown to “love”. (Sorry kids—no “No Step” stickers this time around!) Instead, Shockwave’s allegiance if presented in the form of 5 painted Decepticon sigils found on the treads, aft of the canopy and on the nose of the tank. It’s a simple and effective color scheme as the logos feature a strong white border that provides a clear contrast to the tanks purple hues. However, the most distinctive aspect of the tank’s body is found on the nose. The front of the vehicle has been repainted with a single sinister feature: Shockwave’s single electronic eye. Long-time fans of the Transformers will also recall Shockwave as one of the few characters that lacked any sort of humanoid features in robot mode; his face was made up of a single electronic light/eye. It was this inhuman characteristic that always set Shockwave apart in my eyes. This was a Decepticon that felt no need to convey emotions or provide a visage to help form an empathic bond with any humans he might encounter. This was the face of cold emotionless robotic warrior: alien, inhuman, logical. With this single paint app, the team in Pawtucket has succeeded in taking a purple HISS tank and transformed it into something so much more. However, the fun doesn’t stop there.
There are two things that Transformers fans will remember about Shockwave: his “eye” and his cannon. Since this is a HISS tank, the Hasbro designers came up with a simple and elegant solution to finalize the transformation of the HISS tank into Shockwave. Included in the package with the tank is a translucent purple missile—the similar to the action feature found on the standard HISS tank. However, there is an additional accessory that plugs into the barrel in place of the missile—a very familiar octagonal gray gun barrel. When installed instead of the missile, the result is striking. This is no mere HISS tank—this is Shockwave. True, he’s incapable of transformation but considering that this was accomplished almost entirely with existing tooling the result is nothing short of breathtaking.
I’m incredibly impressed with how simply the design team took a newly-tooled movie vehicle and turned it into an incredibly effective convention exclusive. If the set stopped here, I’d think that the price was a bit high but that the result was well worth it. However, there’s more kids so don’t touch that dial! You can jump onto page two NOW or skim through the rest of the tank pictures first. Either way, there’s more GI Joe/Transformers goodness ahead!