This is Crankcase. G.I. Joe driver of the A.W.E. Striker (All Weather/Environment). First released in 1985, he was exclusively available packaged with that vehicle. Most vehicle drivers were only available packaged with their respective vehicles and for the most part I was fine with that. Mom and Dad always came through on Christmas and Birthdays when it came to Joe vehicles. I don’t recall a single one in which I was left wanting. We had most of the vehicles produced in those first few years of Joe and the ones we didn’t have we didn’t really want. Most times how bad we wanted the vehicle really depended on how bad we wanted the included figure. The figures themselves always held much more appeal to us. It was frustrating when figures were released packaged with vehicles such as the 6 foot long air craft carrier or the space shuttle, toys that were a little out of our price range. Luckily the figures included in those sets weren’t all that cool. It was Doug that got Crankcase and his Awe-Striker back in ‘85. I liked the character and the vehicle but they weren’t anything special. The Awe-Striker didn’t hold a candle to the VAMP jeep in my mind so it always seemed second best. And Crankcase got limited exposure in the cartoons or comics so his personality was under developed and I don’t recall Doug infusing him with any interesting character traits. He was just kinda there like a lot of Joes were but he still felt integral to the team.
Crankcase was one of those characters that never got repainted or revisited for the rest of the real American Hero (RAH) days or during the new sculpt era of the early 2000s. It wasn’t until the 25th anniversary collection expanded beyond its initial concept of 25 recreations of fan favorite characters that Crankcase got another shot at glory. He was once again packaged exclusively with the Awe-Striker and was exclusively available at TARGET stores along with a handful of other midsize vehicles. Luckily my local comic shop Strange Adventures got the sets in allowing me to score new versions of vehicles like the VAMP and the SHARC. But with specialty shop convenience also comes specialty shop prices and at $30+ I opted to leave the Awe-Striker behind. I figured I’d find it cheaper eventually or at least I’d score Crankcase loose on Ebay for $10 or so as I really didn’t care about the vehicle anyway. As more and more time went by and Strange Adventures had long since sold theirs I was really kicking myself for not grabbing it when I had the chance. Loose Crankcases were nowhere to be seen and the minimum I could find the Awe-Striker set on Ebay for was $30…plus another $30 in shipping. Grrr. How many times would I make this mistake? Leaving a desired item behind to save a couple bucks in the short term only to end up paying extra for it in the long-term. This is why I’ve changed my philosophy to “buy everything”…to save money.
Well it only took about 4 years but finally I found a loose Crankcase on Ebay a couple of weeks ago. With the shipping the figure cost me nearly twenty bucks and he didn’t come with his helmet, web-gear or display base. All that time waiting to add him to my collection and now he’s not even complete and it was all just to avoid buying an Awe-Striker that I didn’t want. Ironically I purchased my first Awe-Striker a couple weeks ago. It was painted black and released with a Snake-Eyes as part of the Retaliation movie line. So Crankcase arrived in the mail the other day and his vehicle was here waiting for him. The figure itself is made up of reused parts and it doesn’t resemble the original Crankcase all that much. The original seemed older and had only a red mustache, where this new one seems younger and has a full red beard. The head is a repaint of Breaker’s head. I think the head looks better on this body as Breaker always appeared a little melon headed but I don’t see that with Crankcase. I don’t mind that his facial hair has been changed as that stuff does happen in the real world from time to time. I actually quite like this Frankenstein’ed Crankcase and am glad to finally have him join my collection after all this time. Yo Joe. 7 out of 10.