Okay, so you’ve got a set that includes Shockwave as a HISS tank and Destro decked out as the pilot with enough cash for a quality weekend with all of the Jem figures he can afford. (Did I really just go there? Yeah… I did.) Yet this isn’t quite enough to justify the same price-point as last year’s set. After all, the Skystriker was a MUCH bigger vehicle and it sold for more at retail than the HISS. So, how else would a Hasbro designer provide more value in this set? Include more figures and even more accessories!!!
I’ll just say it—this idea is so simple and so inspired that I’m surprised I’d never seen it done before by the countless talented customizers that comprise the online G.I. Joe community. The recipe is simple: take a 25th Anniversary BAT, throw in a Constructicon-inspired neon green and purple color scheme, and watch fans go nuts! Seriously—the idea is brilliant and it works surprisingly well. The BAT itself seems to be a Sunbow animation model with its red visor but the rest of the body has been reproduced in retina-burning neon green while the boots and belt are in purple. Even the backpack and the extra weapons accessories have been reproduced from the original Generation 3 BAT only in matching purple. Not only that but the BAT also comes with the same rifle that debuted with the 25th Tomax & Xamot comic pack, an automatic pistol, and a silver Iron Grenadier side-arm. It’s a great compliment of accessories to an already inspired figure. Sure, he’s cheese-tastic but he manages to pull it off well. (That’s two official uses of “cheese-tastic” so far. I’m thinking this is going into the dictionary sooner rather than later.)
If I told you right now that I’d saved my single favorite part of this set for last and that it was small enough to fit onto the back of one of the other figures, you might think me mad. However, it’s true—my favorite part of this set is an entirely newly produced piece. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first-ever G.I. Joe release of SOUNDWAVE!!!
I first encountered Soundwave a kid at music camp. I was sitting in a concert as a grade-schooler and I was bored out of my mind. My eyes started to wander when I noticed a kid a few seats down from me fiddling with his Walkman. (They were new back then so this is really dating the story.) All of the sudden, this peer of mine started pulling his expensive electronic device apart and all of the sudden there was a tiny robot in his hand! What sorcery was this?!! Forget Brahms—I wanted to know more about this tiny mechanical marvel and thus the wait for intermission became even more painful. However, it was love at first sight when it came to that tiny Decepticon and thus my obsession with Megatron’s loyal lieutenant was born.
For this piece, the designers chose to replicate Soundwave in his Walkman form. Now, the most cynical of fans will immediately notice that Soundwave is a bit too large to be a Joe-scale cassette recorder. Considering that the Walkman is now a thing of the past and that even the MP3 player seems to be on its way out, I’m going give this one to the team in Rhode Island. Soundwave is closer in size to a boom box (another out-dated 80’s concept) but it works. He’s got a tiny post so that he can be worn on a Generation 3 figure’s back in place of a pack. He’s also been faithfully replicated in this smaller scale, from the sculpted Decepticon logo on the front of the face plate to the silver painted tape player controls on his front face. Seriously—this is the absolute high point of this set for me. However, before I fall into a catatonic state of “plastic nirvana” the design team took it one step further. Soundwave has accessories. That’s right—not since the 30 th Anniversary version of Lowlight has an accessory had its own accessories. Soundwave is packaged with three tiny plastic cassette tapes! In Joe-scale these would be about the size of VHS tapes, which shows just how far behind the times old Soundwave is. Now, I don’t pretend to be enough of an expert to tell you which tape is supposed to be which Decepticon but I’m willing to bet that Lazerbeak and Ravage are in there somewhere. To me, this accessory is like the infamous rug in the film “The Big Lebowski”—it’s the thing that ties the entire set together.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the final piece of the set. Quite honestly, I should have covered it BEFORE Soundwave but my gushing over the not-so-tiny tape recorder could be contained no longer! The final piece in tying this set and its storyline together harkens all the way back to the DVD packs of the 25 th Anniversary line. In the first set, based upon the MASS Device storyline, a Cobra Trooper was packaged pushing a flat cart with three cubes containing the catalytic elements that made MASS transmission possible. Those same cubes and cart are presented here—only now the cubes have been re-colored pink to represent the Energon cubes that provided fuel/food for the Transformers. Fans of the series will remember that in the early episodes, empty Energon cubes were generated by Soundwave! So, in terms of the set it would appear (and the filecards/tech specs cover this as well) that Destro has struck a bargain with Soundwave. In exchange for fresh Energon cubes, the Decepticons will give the Scottish Laird enough cash to keep the Baroness in Prada for the foreseeable future. Sure, it’s a tenuous storyline but have you read the first Marvel G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers crossover? Trust me, this is Shakespeare by comparison.
So there you have it—the entire set. Shockwave, Destro, Constructicon BAT, and Soundwave. It’s an impressive slate of offerings in one not-so-tiny box. Was it worth it? It all depends on how much you’re willing to pay for it. The sets were originally available at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con and then later on HasbroToyShop.com. Sadly, their online availability didn’t even total 20 minutes before they sold out. At the original retail price, this set is an absolute STEAL. At secondary market prices, fans are going to have to ask themselves: “What is this worth to me?” Last year’s set more than doubled in value on the secondary market and hasn’t really dropped much. If you’re a fan of the 80’s then this set will have tremendous appeal—especially if you watched both G.I. Joe and the Transformers weekday afternoons. Or, if you were a fan of the Devil’s Due crossover series then I’d again recommend snagging it. The beautiful thing is that this set isn’t an essential part of any Joe or Transformer collection. It’s one of those great pieces that “it’s great if you can get one” but you’re not going to feel as though you’re missing something by not acquiring one. However, I absolutely LOVE this set and am glad that I was fortunate enough to be able to acquire one this year. Now I just regret not being able to pick up the Starscream/Cobra Commander set from last year. Well done, Hasbro. Well done!