Sometimes GIJoe is cutting edge and sometimes Joe lags behind the times a bit. Back in the classic Real American Hero line, the Joe team had some pretty cutting-edge gear including unmanned reconnaissance drone, roto-craft helicopters, and even laser weapons. However, it took the Joe team nearly 20 years to catch up to the army when it comes to land vehicles. Take for example, the HMMWV (High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) that is better known as the “Humvee”. First introduced into service in 1985, the Humvee has become the go-to workhorse vehicle of the US Armed Forces. Used as the baseline for 11 variants, the HMMWV’s are found anywhere the US Military has a presence; in 2004, a realistic version of the Humvee finally joined up with the GIJoe team in the form of the Jungle Strike Humvee. How does this military icon fit into the world of GIJoe? Read on…
The first time I laid eyes on the Jungle Strike Humvee was at Toy Fair 2004 in NYC. I was floored by what a terrific yet playable replica of a HMMWV it was. The proportions seemed accurate to my non-military eye and it was loaded with small details that made me desire to possess it like Gollum loves his Precious! It was a few months later that the Humvee landed in stores and the final product did not disappoint in the slightest. There have been a number of companies that have attempted Humvees in 1:18 scale – bbi, 21 st Century, Power Team Elite to name a few. Each one accomplished their goal with a varying degree of success. Somewhere quite small, others were too narrow but the Hasbro-produced version seems to hit the ground rolling! (For a detailed comparison of several different toy companies Humvee products, check out TheToyRoom-Redux.com for a humorous look at the differences.) Unlike previous attempts by Hasbro (namely the Hammer (1990), Brawler (2002), and the Smokescreen Transport (2003), the Jungle Strike Humvee conveys the sense that the Joes are using a REAL vehicle and not a caricature of real equipment. In fact, glancing over the JSH, I’m reminded of the vehicles from the first few waves of Real American Hero products from the 80’s. Everything, regardless of how fantastic it might have been, looked believable and real. The JSH is a terrific return to that era.
Okay, enough banter—let’s get down to why this vehicle works. First off, it’s got seating for four Joes plus one in the turret. It has an opening rear hatch and a tailgate that drops to all full access to the rear compartment. Seriously, of all of the Humvees I’ve seen the JSH has the most useable “back end”. There’s room in back for any amount of Joe gear, wounded, captured BATs, etc. All four doors on the JSH open which makes figure placement quite easy. However, the strong points don’t stop there. The JSH features four rubber (yes, I did say rubber) tires—each detailed treads. The two front doors have attached rearview mirrors, and the back end features a whip antenna. There’s even a trailer hitch—which is “mostly” good. What do I mean by this? Simple, the hitch is a female hitch, which means that you can hook up any “male” trailers. The problem is that all of the tow-able GIJoe vehicles and accessories have female connectors. So, without an adaptor, there is no way for the JSH to tow much of anything.
The armaments are where the JSH really shines as the top turret allows for three different weapons configurations. First is the TOW launcher that features a spring-loaded missile. The second is a .50 cal heavy machine gun and the last is a smaller machine gun. The ability to interchange the weapons means that collectors and kids can customize these vehicles to whatever display or mission they have. In theory you could have 3 of these and outfit each of them with a different weapons set. However, there is one more aspect of the JSH’s turret that needs to be discussed. In the bed of the truck is a floor-mounted storage rack that accommodates the two unused turret options. That’s right, the JSH is a vehicle that actually comes equipped with storage for the extra parts! The rack doesn’t occupy the entire bed so even the TOW can be stored in the back without taking up the entire back end. It’s a nice design touch that really adds to the overall appeal of the vehicle.
Included with the Humvee is a new addition to the cadre of GIJoe vehicle drivers: Rollbar. As is the case with the JSH, Rollbar is very realistically styled—right down to the helmet on his head. His uniform is simple, yet effective with virtually no gear or detailing added. The same can be said of the head sculpt used—just a non-descript face with close-cropped hair. Rollbar works very well as a troop-builder as there is virtually nothing to make him stand out in a crowded shelf of RAH figures. (You’d almost think this guy is Zandar!) He comes with no gear other than his helmet—a distinction shared by more vehicle drivers released since 2000. If the JSH has a weak point, it’s found in Rollbar who, despite his file card, is just too bland to make an impression. I can see lots of these figures being cannibalized for custom parts as the body would make a terrific Greenshirt or other generic military soldier but there is nothing dynamic about this figure.
The Jungle Strike Humvee is a dream come true for me. I was always a fan of the more realistic “early years” of the Real American Hero line and the HMMWV is one of my favorite pieces of military gear. The thought of being able to purchase a Humvee that is both inexpensive and realistic made me go “all fan boy” when I first saw these at Toy Fair. Now that I’ve had one (or two or three) in my GIJoe collection this past year, I’ve come to see it as one of the shining jewels in the relaunch crown. Sure, we’ve had vehicles like the Battle Hornet and the Assault Quad but we’ve also had the Night Attack Chopper, the Thunderwing, and the Patriot Grizzly tank. The Jungle Strike Humvee fits into the latter grouping— fantastically designed vehicles with loads of playability that are both realistic and dynamic at the same time. If you don’t already own a few of these, pick them up and add them to your Joe motor pool today!