When the retro G.I. Joe line was announced, I was excited. While not handled perfectly, Hasbro was doing a pretty decent job reissuing figures from the 1980s. Sure, the Star Wars retro collection was underproduced, and bought up immediately, but I’d seen Generation 1 Transformers reissues, that were well stocked and well done. So, I thought that maybe Hasbro would be as faithful to G.I. Joe as they were to The Real Ghostbusters.
Sadly they weren’t. The figures weren’t the O-ring versions of 84 Roadblock and 82 Cobra Commander I was hoping for. I had some fears that they’d be rehashes of Modern Era figures, but I figured the fact they were doing “Ray Stantz with Wrapper Ghost” indicated that maybe Hasbro wouldn’t screw G.I. Joe up. When they finally started appearing online, it was obvious they had gone the pseudo modern route, and my attention turned to a singular item from the Retro Collection; the A.W.E. Striker.
The A.W.E. Striker is a strong vehicle, it’s got the panache of G.I. Joe, without straying too far from the core Military fantasy of the earliest years of the line. While the A.W.E. Striker is somewhat similar to the VAMP, there’s at the same time differences enough between the two of them, that it’s not just a replacement.
While the VAMP is more of an attack vehicle, I’ve always felt the A.W.E. Striker was more of a recon vehicle. It’s fast, it’s not really well armoured or all that safe. It’ll scout ahead, figure out what COBRA is up to, and then head back and allow the Joe team to determine what kind of strike team they need to send in.
I like the A.W.E. Striker because it’s a lot of fun, the suspension gimmick, is one of the better vehicle gimmicks, since it doesn’t really impede the actual toy, and the steerable wheels provide enough oomph to separate it from other vehicles. The design is nice and sleek, but has enough oomph to it, that it doesn’t feel sparse. There’s removable parts, but they make sense, and the antennae help complete the look of the toy. The engine gimmick is pretty fun too, because it’s one of those things that helped make G.I. Joe the best toyline of them all, an auxiliary feature that gave the line more depth than “GREEN GUYS SHOOTING BLUE GUYS”.
For some reason, the A.W.E. Striker is something I knowingly call by the incorrect name. For some reason “Awe-Striker” always sounded really dumb to me, so I’ve always separated the initials. I’ll call it the “A-W-E Striker”. I don’t know why, I don’t do that with the FANG, or VAMP, or MAGGOT or any other acronym’d vehicle. Just the A.W.E. Striker, I guess it’s due to listening to all sorts of punk bands with 3 initial names.
On one hand, I’m fairly disappointed by the entire RETRO Line, but I also feel that the chance at a vehicle I’ve wanted for a while, without too much difference from a vintage version, is a worthwhile silver lining. Especially considering that the A.W.E. Striker isn’t really known for it’s durability.
The vehicle itself is fairly solid, the plastic quality is good (it feels better than some of the 25th anniversary era reissues) and I haven’t had a decent quality A.W.E. since the 2001 version, and I recalled that not sitting in place, even on a flat surface. This one sits well.
The green used on this, isn’t the same as the vintage, but it’s a really nice shade of green, that fits well with various vintage G.I. Joes. One issue that can always come with thirty five year gaps, is the shades don’t naturally mesh. Not really the case with this one. The wheels, and seat are a darkish grey, not as dark as the 1982 accessories, but perhaps closer to the Accessory Pack versions. It’s a nice combo with the green, shows a difference between the two prior green A.W.E. Strikers, and still maintains the integrity of classic A.W.E. Striker design.
While there are definitely some differences between this A.W.E. Striker and the 1985, it’s also the first one to feature the cannon over the passenger side seat, since the 1991 Eco-Striker. The mold modifications for the Star Gate version, wound up placing the cannon at the rear of the rollbar, which would be continued on with the 2001, 2004, and the various Modern Era releases. Personally I’ve always found the rear attached canon to be somewhat awkward looking, and “off”, so for it to be returned to it’s original placement is a welcome change with me.
This vehicle came unassembled, which was nice, but it wasn’t entirely unassembled, the dash board and it’s accessories were already installed, as was the engine and the suspension. The parts came in multiple packages with parts was fun, as it worked for a process. I was pleasantly surprised that they preassembled the canon, which was always a finicky piece. The best part about not having the vehicle come preassembled, is that the whip antennae weren’t warped.
The retro line was an utter disappointment, mainly because there was enough promise to the line, and both Hasbro’s handling of other revival lines, and the obvious market for O-Ring style G.I. Joes, made it seem like Hasbro doing O-Ring figures had more likelihood than the snowball’s chance in hell, it would’ve had even 5 years ago. At the same time, Hasbro did produce a couple of vehicles that weren’t not complete wastes of time, so it was nice to get SOMETHING. Of course Hasbro has gone and re-made the 1983 COBRA F.A.N.G. (something they did in 2007, but this is an entirely new mold), which was confusing at best, and disappointing at worst, because honestly there were plenty of things they could’ve re-done, like a COBRA Bunker or an A.S.P. where the figure doesn’t just lie there.