In the months leading up to the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con Hasbro unveiled what would be one of their Con exclusives, Starscream as a G.I. Joe Skystriker. I was floored by it. Those of you who aren’t fans of the properties may not understand what a big deal it was but as a big fan of both Transformers and G.I. Joe it was f**king amazing. Joes and Transformers had crossed paths a couple of times in both the comic books and cartoons but this was the first attempt at merging the two properties in toy form. It worked great and it was probably pretty simple to pull off. They took the already released G.I. Joe Skystriker jet, , painted the nose cone blue, gave it orange glass for the cockpit and slapped some Decepticon stickers on it and voila instant Starscream. The thing doesn’t transform of course which would absolutely insane but it finally provided fans with a Transformer character to scale with our G.I. Joe figures allowing us to bridge the two properties at play time…well display time.
I did not think Hasbro could top themselves. I didn’t even expect them to try. I figured the Joe/Transformer mash-up was a one time deal. What could they do? They could release an Optimus Prime truck to scale with the Joes but the Joes are an army and having a red civilian transport truck wouldn’t really make sense. I should not have under estimated the Hasbro design team because a few months ago they revealed their 2012 SDCC exclusive, the Shockwave Hiss Tank. Once again, I was floored. This thing looked amazing and I knew I had to have one. My friend Cal who owns the Strange Adventures comic books shops mentioned to me that he was planning on making the trip to San Diego and that he would make an effort to grab this and a couple of other exclusive items for me. Well the Con came and went and Cal returned home empty handed due to some lame ticket raffle system they had set up in order to purchase the exclusives. This sucked because I knew that meant I’d have to turn to ebay where I’d get totally bent over on shipping rates but what can you do. I bit the bullet, threw down more cash than I would’ve liked and waited. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long. Only a week after ordering it, this bad boy showed up at my door this past Friday.
This thing is killer. First off there’s the box. Like last years Starscream, Shockwave comes in a box that depicts the cover of a fictional comic book. You see in the 80s there was a 4 issue mini series published by Marvel called G.I. Joe and the Transformers where the two groups first met. The box for Starscream was designed to look like what issue 5 of that series might have looked like had it continued. Shockwave’s box features the cover to a would be issue 6. It features Destro, the cobra arms dealer riding a Purple Cobra Hiss tank with an army of B.A.T.s marching behind him. In the background Shockwave, the Decepticons cold and calculating Lieutenant Commander looks on. On the back of the package the toy is shown and all of it’s play features are pointed out. In the background though there is a comic strip which explains how Destro and Shockwave came to work together. It tells of Destro selling Shockwave a large stock of energon cubes and the blue prints to a Cobra Hiss Tank for a suitcase full of money. Destro has his BATs load the energon for Shockwave. While this exchange takes place, a small cassette recorder who is actually the Decepticon Soundwave looks on and records the events.
Onto the tank itself. This is pretty much a straight repaint of the blue HISS tank released a little while ago as part of the G.I. Joe : Retaliation movie line. That Hiss tank itself was pretty much a re-release of the brown HISS tank released in 2010 as part of the G.I. Joe : Rise of Cobra movie line. A few major changes occurred to the toy between the release of the two movies though. Most notably this newer version has done away with the working rubber treads of the 2010 model. The body of the tank no longer pops up into a spring loaded attack position and a large central canon has been added to the body of the tank instead of having just two side mounted canons. Even though the working rubber tank treads were pretty cool I do prefer the newer 2012 model HISS tank that was used as a base for this Shockwave.
First off I need to talk about the colors of this thing. I have HISS tanks in black, red, white, brown and blue but never before has there been a bright metallic purple one. It looks amazing and it definitely stands out on a shelf full of other toys. The shade of purple used and the fact that it has that metallic shine make it very reminiscent of the original Shockwave figure. The side canons are cast in a translucent light purple plastic just as the original Shockwave’s laser hand was. The large central canon (and this is sooo cool) is designed to look like the large laser canon that Shockwave transformed into in his alt. mode. The cockpit glass is molded in the same translucent purple as the side canons which looks stellar. One of the coolest nods to Shockwave on this thing is the cycloptic yellow eye at the front of the tank which is immediately recognizable as Shockwave’s face. This thing is balls to the wall cool and you should go get one.
I’ll probably talk more about the figures included with this set in more detail at another time in their own review but I’ll cover them quickly here so you see just how cool this set really is. First there’s Destro decked out in a cool purple outfit which matches the tank nicely. He comes with a bright green laser rifle. He also comes with a purple briefcase that’s loaded full of bundles of cash. The designers actually went through the trouble of painting the small bills to look like euros and American currency. A great attention to detail.
Then there’s the Cobra BAT. The BAT is decked out in some pretty bright purple and green which at first glance may seem kind of ridiculous. However the colors are meant as a nod to the Deception team of Constructicons who were molded in these colors back in the 80s. The Constructicons merged to become the first ever combiner Transformer, Devestator. It’s a nifty little homage and it makes me hope for some bright green construction vehicles down the road.
There are some pretty rad accessories included in this set as well. There’s is a wheeled cart containing 3 energon cubes that the BAT can lug around. Energon cubes are the food of the Transformers. The Starscream /Cobra Commander set of 2011 came with a pretty sweet accessory in the form of the Commanders pistol. Trans fans would immediately know it as Megatron’s gun mode so in a way that set contained 3 characters and not just two. Well this set has the 3 characters that I just mentioned but as accessories there is also a tape deck and 3 teeny tiny cassettes that represent Soundwave and 3 of his soldiers who were able to transform into these items bringing the total numbers of characters in this set to 7! The reproduction of Soundwave is excellent, he looks just like the original. He even has a slot where you can insert the little tapes. Total awesome sauce. Whether I score this thing as a complete set or for just the tank alone it would get a 10 out of 10 either way.