Review by Fred Meyer & Chris Chung
The vintage Eco-Striker was originally released in 1992 which explains why it was never on my G.I. Joe radar. (Joe-dar? Is that a thing?) Only if you come from Nerdville. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the vehicle’s existence during one of my YoJoe.com browsing sessions. I feel sorry for you. It was brightly-colored, it was based on the AWE Striker (which was never a favorite, sorry kids), [---good man, maybe there is hope for you yet!] and it was tied to ECO-Warriors. As such, it had three strikes (three AWE strikes? Speaking of Nerdville…) against it in my eyes. In fact it was such a specialized vehicle that I was pretty certain it would never see a re-release and would instead fade into obscurity along with the Dino-Hunters sub-group. (For the record-- I actually LIKE that group a lot!)
The original Eco Striker was a literal POS. Here we had a light vehicle made to go up against enemy armor and troops who spew liquid death. But instead of, ooh, I don’t know, some PROTECTION against the Plasmaox, it has NO protection what-so-ever. Yeah, way to go Hasbro. Real solid thinking on that one. I wonder how some of these toy designers would like to field test their own vehicles in real life combat situations? If that was the case, I’d suspect we’d see a lot more sealed crew areas. The convention version is just as bad with the same exact flaws.
Flash forward to 2014 and the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club has released an updated ECO-Striker, this time based on the G.I. Joe Retaliation Ninja Commando 4x4. This updated neon dune buggy was offered as the free attendee exclusive vehicle to the folks who attended Joe Con 2014 and as a bonus vehicle it certainly offers a significant amount of value. It sucked so bad, they had to give it away free. After the initial fanboy rush from non-attendees , these were a dime a dozen on eBay. In 2013, attendees received a quad ATV as the bonus vehicle but in 2014 they received a free AWE-Striker. Seriously-- there’s no comparison!
Not to mention the quad didn’t have colors that looked like Captain Planet’s buggy driven at a Pride Parade.
In terms of form, the Club did a solid job of recreating the original design. Not hard to do. Lazy crap is pretty easy to replicate because it’s lazy and it doesn’t require any thinking. Besides, we need another AWE Striker as much as we need a hole in the head. The base body is blue while the roll cage, lights, and weapons are all the bright yellow that only an ECO-team member can pull off. (Or T’Jbang…) I actually like the painted logo on the hood as well the highlights on the sides. It’s a simple color scheme but the decos on this really are far superior to anything I’ve seen in the 50th Anniversary line. For a free attendee bonus, it’s really quite nice. Ummm…???
When it comes to function, the ECO-Striker is surprisingly robust. The use of the Ninja Commando build provides a more rugged roll cage along with a small pair of foot pegs to facilitate a rear gunner. The top-side weapon has been replaced with a giant spring-loaded launcher with a projectile that I can only describe as “bizarre mutant grappling hook.” For fighting zombies it makes little sense and I was completely prepared to write it off-- until I saw the movie Godzilla this summer. As a result of that film (and my subsequent purchase of the giant Godzilla figure at Kmart as well as binge marathon of the InHumanoids) the weapon makes a bit more sense. Sorry, there are no Imperial Walkers to trip up. That grappler is worthless. If one views the ECO-Force as more than an anti-plasma-toxx team and more as an “environmental containment unit” then the grappling hook could make sense. Think of the team as a unit tracking down mutated creatures such as the King of All Monsters, or bio-vipers, or what have you and suddenly this bizarrely armed dune buggy makes some sense. Of course, I’m probably hyper-rationalizing here. No so much rationalizing, but more apologizing via justification.
Is the ECO-Striker worth picking up? I’ll be blunt-- it’s not for everyone. The garish colors really don’t work well for anyone other than the ECO-Force or T’Jbang who seems tailor-matched with this dune buggy. Bah! Too Hades with the dumb ninja and “his” confounded color coordinated car. If Cobra was smart, these two brightly colored misfits with no protection would be the first victims to the Compound Z. I can just see T’Jbang rushing up into combat, being spotted at range because his and his car’s colors are so bright, getting slimed, then not being able to warn the rest of his team because he has taken a vow of silence. Then bang, everyone dead. TPK! Con attendees were able to acquire these as a free bonus item which means that the secondary market value has no retail baseline. If you’re a neon 90’s fan, you either want one or already have one. However, if you’re more of an early ARAH era fan you can skip this entirely and really not be missing all that much. It’s not that it’s a bad vehicle-- quite the contrary! It’s just that it’s not for everyone.
I understand why this pile of crap was included with the set--- it was easy to do, this was a default vehicle of choice that Hasbro can cheaply throw out during every line, and because the original Eco team had it. But that’s just an excuse. The Club could have completed the full vintage Eco team, could have offered something new, or done any other things instead of this turd. But here it is again. I cannot justify this as a purchase for anyone. The Eco-Striker is a vulnerable death trap for any passengers and crew, and it doesn’t have any offensive weapon save a grappling hook. Like the AWE Striker tooling, this needs to be burned and never, ever offered again in the G.I. Joe toy line. I mean really, how many times do I need to flush to make this go away? And for those of you who actually paid for this lemon at scalper prices, all I can do is point and laugh at you. And I’m pointing at you right now, Fred!
The Bottom Line : Neon 90’s fans are going to want this nimble 4x4. Fans of the more traditional look of the early ARAH years can skip it entirely.
Skip. ‘Nuff said.
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