A.V.A.C. v.3 (2015)
Way back on March 31 (almost 4 months ago) I ordered my 2015 Joe Con exclusive box set. The Con took place the weekend of April 10-12 and the sets were supposed to be mailed out soon afterwards. My set has still not shipped. On the other hand, I pre-ordered the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) exclusive box set on July 7, the Convention was held the weekend of July 9-12, and my set arrived on July 20. Thats the way things should work. So a tip of my hat to ebay seller skdauntless for the prompt shipping and a wag of my finger at the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club for the complete opposite of that.
SDCC exclusive G.I. Joe figures have been around since the dawn of the modern-era. It started with Destro in his animal print “pimp daddy” uniform in 2007, then Cobra Commander in a 3-piece suit in 2008, then Destro’s ancestor James McCullen IX in 2009, then Sgt. Slaugther in 2010. The first three didn’t feel essential to me but I had to have Slaughter. That was the first SDCC exclusive I got and I never looked back. I picked up Zarana (both versions) in 2011 and Jinx in 2012. In 2011 Hasbro upped the SDCC ante from just single carded figures to exclusive Transformer/G.I. Joe crossover vehicle box sets as well. The first was Starscream as a Skystriker with Cobra Commander, then came Shockwave as a HISS tank with Destro and a B.A.T. in 2012, and lastly Jetfire as a Skystriker with Hound as a Vamp, Baroness, Snake Eyes, Ravage, and Bludgeon in 2013. All those crossover exclusives were awesome but I was glad to see them go; that s**t was getting expensive. I passed on the 2014 SDCC offering which was a simple repaint of the Flint, Vamp, Eel, and Raft 50th anniversary set, “Danger at the Docks”.
For the sake of my bank account I was really hoping the 2015 SDCC set would be something I could pass on as well. As it turned out Hasbro released two SDCC exclusive vehicle sets this year. The theme this year was that Cobra had captured and repainted some iconic Joe vehicles and G.I. Joe had captured and repainted some iconic Cobra vehicles. I managed to pass on the “Desert Duel” set (so far) but I could not resist the “Crimson Strike” set. The main reason for that was the inclusion of a green, G.I. Joe deco’ed, HISS tank. I’ll talk about that more in my next post. For now I’m going to focus on one of the four figures included from the set, A.V.A.C. (Air Viper Advanced Class).
Before I get to him though I just want to quickly comment of the excellent packaging these guys came in. First, I was quite surprised at just how large the box was. I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked 10 minutes down to the Post Office to pick it up yesterday. I must’ve looked quite pathetic lugging the massive box back home because some guy even pulled over to see if I needed a lift. The box had a protective slip case that looked weathered and shot up which was pretty cool on its own but inside was another box with a really cool painted mural of the contents. This was pure 80s throw-back awesomeness. Anyway, on to the figure…
The first AVAC figure was released in 1986. He was packaged with the Cobra headquarters play set, the Terrordrome. He was later available as a mail-away. My brother Doug owned the original. We never owned the Terrordrome and I don’t recall Doug ordering him through the mail so I’m not sure where he came from.
The second version was released 22 years later in 2008. That first modern-era AVAC was built using re-used HISS Driver and Zartan parts with a new head. I thought it was a pretty decent update despite the fact he was Frankenstein’ed from the neck down.
This new SDCC version of AVAC reuses the head, arms, and legs of the 2008 figure but uses a Crimson Guard body for the torso. It makes for a unique look. The Crimson Guard jacket has more of a dress uniform vibe so it makes this guy look like he could be a senior-ranking AVAC commander What really makes this figure stand out is the paint job. The helmet is still metallic silver but it has a red/orange visor this time. It also has a red winged crest on the forehead and a black paint app on the breather. The uniform is black with mostly silver highlights and red piping around the panel on his jacket. I think it looks pretty cool. There are a few subtle paint apps on the back but at a glance he looks to be solid black from behind.
My only major issue with AVAC is that the 2007/2008 parts used to make him are getting pretty dated. He looks scrawny and his articulation is wonky in places. This figure really would have benefited from some newer parts.
For accessories AVAC version 3 comes with a display base, a knife that can be sheathed on his boot, and 2 machine guns which are both pretty cool looking (one even has red paint apps).
Overall, I like this figure. If he were available at retail for around $12 he’d be a must buy. At Convention price though I cannot recommend him unless you are absolutely compelled to acquire one of the pieces from the Crimson Strike set like I was. 7 out of 10.