Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
FOE Striker (Forward Observation Encampment)
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Desert Duel set
I don’t know about you Fred, but I’ll be the first to say I hate the A.W.E. Striker. It was fine when it first came out, but it’s been the lazy lynchpin of Hasbro and the Club for far too long. When I heard about yet another re-release, I rolled my eyes and thought nothing more about it until it arrived in my mailbox with the rest of the Desert Duel set. Needless to say, my mood softened a bit.
It’s been seven years since I first reviewed the 25th Anniversary A.W.E Striker here at JBL. Since then, the dune buggy been released FIVE additional times with the FOE Striker being the fifth. At this point, it’s safe to say that I no longer look at the A.W.E Striker frame with any “awe” left in me. Yet, with this release, Hasbro took the vehicle in a decidedly different direction with some additional tooling and new armaments and the result is a pleasant surprise.
In a decidedly smart move, Hasbro has tooled some brand new parts for the F.O.E. Striker breathing in just enough fresh air to make it viable one more time, and give fans a playset as well.
First and foremost, the F.O.E. Striker has removable parts that can form a small campsite: soft-goods camo tent/tarp, tent poles, and a new removable rear running board/bumper. As mentioned, this allows the vehicle to form a small campsite. In vehicle mode, the new parts in the front allow for left and right hard points for mounting the M2 Browning and SAW. It also offers a new protective view screen for the driver, and it can hold two gas cans. The rear running board doubles as a standing platform for a rear passenger to operate the 20mm Gatling gun on a new roof mount, or in camp mode. As an added bonus, all tent parts are storable and attach to the vehicle and the tent call roll up and snap onto the frame with clips. Nothing is left behind when the camp is packed up.
(It should be noted the tent camo pattern is shades of gray, NOT desert or forest camo show in in promo pics.)
My only gripe, is, the vintage tooling doesn’t allow for taller figures like Night Fox to sit inside the vehicle, but this shouldn’t be a distraction for those figures that will work---like Chuckles.
Anything else you want to mention Freddie?
I have to say that the new tooling goes a long way in breathing some new life into a vehicle that I was getting sick of two iterations ago. (The color scheme is what saved the ECO Striker for this Joe fan.) The new hood-mounted rack/wind screen attachment really transforms the look of this vehicle from one that we’ve seen ten total times in the G.I. Joe line into something new and different. While I find it a bit bizarre that the gas cans are stored on the hood of the vehicle right in front of the driver, I’m loving the addition of the wind screen. It’s a simple low-tech way to offer the driver a bit of protection when tailing an enemy—something that was completely lacking in the original and ALL subsequent releases with their open roll cage design. The twin hinged weapons mounts to the sides are an excellent bonus feature as well.
The ability to remove the tail plate and use it as the base for the “encampment” configuration is icing on the cake for me. This addition to the vehicle’s back bumper now allows for a gunner to stand tall on the back and actually use the Striker’s only offensive weapon. Granted, the gunner has to be REALLY TALL to actually be able to sight with the weapon due to the articulated mount that is used in the Encampment configuration but, let’s be honest, the figures in this line have been creeping upwards in scale for the past few years anyway.
The only real downside of the newly-dubbed FOE Striker is that the vehicle frame itself is still the same size that it was when the first A.W.E Striker was released back in 1985. This wouldn’t be a problem if G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero figures had also remained the same size; sadly, they haven’t and the result is a much tighter fit for any figures attempted to sit in the F.O.E Striker’s seats. The included Chuckles figure fits but it takes a bit more work than it ever did to put the 1985 Crankcase behind the wheel and you can just forget figures like the 50th Anniversary Leatherneck ever driving this. It’s one of the reasons that, if the ARAH-themed line is to continue, Hasbro needs to STOP trying to reissue vintage 1:18 scaled vehicles for figures that are now pushing 4” tall. The newer Joes just don’t fit into the classic vehicles any more than a Sgt. Savage Joe easily fits into a vintage VAMP.
All-in-all, Hasbro took a boring and clichéd vehicle and not only upped the offensive firepower, but also gave it a new lease on life by the addition of welcomed new parts. The result was a successful blending of vehicle and playset that should satisfy fans of both
There are two elements of the Desert Duel that really drove me to acquire the set. The first was the new Chuckles figure and the second was the FOE Striker. When it was unveiled at the 2015 G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention in Springfield, IL I looked at this AWEStriker variant and experienced something I’ve not encountered very often—genuine excitement over the prospect of acquiring the latest version. If Hasbro is going to persist in revisiting the ARAH era vehicles over and over then the FOE Striker represent the correct strategy to use. Don’t just slap a new color on the same old dune buggy and expect fans to acquire them out of anything other than pure brand loyalty. Instead, by tossing on some new accoutrements, Hasbro has taken a classic 1985 vehicle and breathed new life into it. Yes, it’s not a perfect fit for most of the recent generation 3 Joes but it’s a fresh enough take on an old standard that I can’t see any Joe fan turning their nose up at this latest addition to the motor pool. The best part is that this is one of the pieces that is available in both the SDCC exclusive and standard versions of the Desert Duel sets meaning that any fan that wants one shouldn’t have too hard of a time acquiring it. Well done, Hasbro! Well done indeed!
The Bottom Line: The FOE Striker takes an over-issued dune buggy and breathes new life into a vintage 1985 concept. A perfect new acquisition for any Joe collection!
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