G.I. Joe was a big part of my childhood. Not as much as Transformers, for a variety of reasons, but the Real American Heroes were the last toys I was into as a kid. I still have a good part of my childhood Joe collection, in my original collector’s case, in fact. But all that remains are figures, not any vehicles.
As an adult collector of vintage toys, I’ve tried to focus on Transformers, Power Rangers, and robot toys only, and for the most part I’ve succeeded. But I made an exception for G.I. Joe. In 2007, the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe line caught my eye. I limited myself to buying only three figures: two versions of Cobra Commander, and a sweet gold-headed Destro. I had Destro when I was a kid, as he was still on store shelves in 1985, when I was suffering a severe case of Joe-mania. I never had a Cobra Commander, as by ’85 he was only available via mail order. I eagerly snatched up a light blue, helmeted version of the head Cobra baddie, as well as a darker blue hooded version. The three have been displayed proudly on my bookshelves ever since.
Several years back, Hasbro began making G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover sets. They released a Skystriker colored as Starscream, and a purple tank decoed as Shockwave. These caught my eye, but sold out quickly, and were quite expensive to pick up on the secondary market. I wasn’t too upset I missed out, honestly, as space has always been an issue for my collection and G.I. Joe vehicles are quite large.
This year, another crossover set was released. This time, the iconic Cobra Rattler was repainted as Autobot Powerglide, with Scarlett as pilot. Cool, but not mind-blowing. The other half of the set, though, awakened my collector’s instinct in a big way. It was a H.I.S.S. tank decorated to look like Soundwave. (The driver is Zartan, but I don’t really care about him too much.) One look at the pictures online, and I knew that I had to have this toy! There are so many cool things about it that I love:
- Soundwave is one of my favorite Transformers, one of the ’84 originals. With the cool voice and the cassette minions, Soundwave is awesome.
- I had a H.I.S.S. tank as a kid, and loved posing my Cobra guys all over it. The tanks were shown in the cartoon all the time, too.
- The tank has so many callbacks to Soundwave’s design! The clear and gold cockpit is similar to Soundwave’s cassette door. The cannons and missiles up top are shaped exactly like his weapons. With the stickers on, the deco is even more representative of everyone’s favorite evil stereo, with all sorts of red and black lines and silver trim.
- The color scheme was a perfect backdrop for my trio of modern figures. Hooded Cobra Commander is the same shade of blue, and Destro’s black/red/gold color scheme fits right in with the stripe accents. Helmeted Cobra Commander is the wrong shade of blue, but hey, someone has to drive.
There was just problem: it was a waste to drop $99 plus shipping for the whole set when I only wanted the tank. However, a friend online (Rob of Tformers and Radio Free Cybertron fame) did a review of the set, and was willing to part it out. I was able to obtain Soundwave for a very reasonable price, and just a couple days later, I was applying stickers to a H.I.S.S. tank for the first time since December 25, 1985.
I love this toy. Love, love, love it! It’s a huge solid hunk of plastic, the design is classic yet modern, and there are all sorts of slick molded details. Having the Soundwave H.I.S.S. tank on my desk is totally awesome. (It’s too sweet to keep on a shelf, out of arm’s reach.) My only complaints are that some of the stickers don’t quite fit into the molded sections, and the peg on the back is too large for the hole in Destro’s foot. Presumably the peg is sized for vintage toys? Not sure why, but maybe I can mod it somehow.
Overall, I am thrilled with this new addition to my collection. I will admit, though, that owning it is a dangerous thing. Having just one entry from a toyline really bothers the completist in me…