Rip It is one of those figures that has been a non-factor for a long time. The figure is twenty years old, and even despite the fact it’s a more sensibly coloured version of a figure from one of the most highly thought of years in G.I. Joe, there’s barely any attention paid to it. Even when Army Building was at it’s apex, the figure wasn’t noteworthy. It’s kind of strange that in the days of people having armies of every retail released figure, lined up on shelves, you might see one or two Rip It’s, even though the HISS III was a popular vehicle, that people bought multiples of, maybe the HISS III was less popular than I recall, as it was a TRU exclusive.
Perhaps one of the things that caused Rip-It to never really be a popular army builder, was the fact he’s technically a character. Like most of the new characters of the time, it’s an awful character, consisting of a guy who learned his tank combat strategies from playing golf, and his codename is terrible. However there seemed to be some weird acceptance of a lot of the new characters from the A Real American Hero Collection. Even if they were amongst the worst in the entire G.I. Joe line, and often would’ve been better off being named “Roadblock” “The Baroness” or “HISS Driver”. I’m not really sure why that was, I think it might’ve been the beginnings of the “Guys, these figures aren’t perfect, but Hasbro’s really trying hard”, mindset that was used to shout down criticism of early 2000s retail offerings. Which thinking back is a hilarious form of mental gymnastics, since by looking at most figures released between 2000-2006, effort was not the defining characteristic.
That acceptance has gone by the wayside, 20 years later, and we’re now more likely to call Rip-It, HISS Driver, or refer to Double Blast as “Roadblock”. Progress was made, as sometimes you need to go backwards, before you can go forwards.
While the intended character is pretty abysmal, as a figure it’s pretty decent. The colouring is an attempt at “COBRA Blue”, which Hasbro didn’t really peg down until 2004 or so. However the greyish blue, while not a perfect match, tends to be close enough for a lot of the late 80s Greyish blue COBRA vehicles. It gives the HISS Driver sculpt a little more of a utilitarian slant, and reduces the redundancy of numerous different vehicle operators. So because of that, this figure is just a basic HISS Driver, the colouring difference from v1 isn’t one I try too hard to justify, though I rarely place the figure in the original HISS, usually just the HISS II or III or DTC version.
Despite this figure being a vehicle driver, packaged with a vehicle only available at Toys R Us, in 2000, they have been fairly easy to acquire. That’s because at one point in the late end of the 2000s, and somewhat into the early 2010s, Rip It was one of the easily acquired figures from Chinese eBay sellers. He was one of the earlier figures to sell out, but that’s likely due to the fact that it was a classic army builder, in decent colours that could be used to fill in every available HISS Tank turret and cockpit.
When this figure was readily available from China I picked up quite a few of them, so like the 1983 HISS Driver, I tend to use the figure as just the generic COBRA vehicle operator, he might fly the FANG, or drive a HISS, but that’s about it. The idea of an overall HISS Tank commander, is a good one, but I’ll use the convention version of Rip It. However, the great differences between the 1983 and 2000 usages of this mold, could allow for either version to take the HISS Commander mantle, if you were so inclined.
Though there is something interesting I’ve noticed over the years, I know for sure two of my 2000 HISS Drivers were purchased in America, with HISS III’s, and they both have a lot of Paint Wipes on them. I know I also picked other ones up from China, that barely have any Paint Wipes on them. I don’t think it means anything, but it’s kind of an interesting oddity.
Overall, this figure is kind of an interesting example of the A Real American Hero Collection being summed up in a nutshell. It’s not a great figure, but it’s not bad either. It’s decidedly mediocre. Now a mediocre G.I. Joe, is still a good toy, but the entire 2000-2001 was an exercise of “So close, yet so far”. When they first came out, there was a freshness factor, and an excitement at G.I. Joe being back, in a big way, that the fact a lot of these figures had very few paint apps, and other glaring issues, were overlooked. Then looking back there’s been almost an overly harsh criticism of the figures, probably because they were more of a let-down when the newness wore off. Though in a way, I still kind of miss the days of an obviously cost conscious, pseudo-generic G.I. Joe line. It’s just a shame that the ARAHC was done by people with very little understanding of any of the nuances of what made G.I. Joe such a great toyline. (I probably write this same paragraph everytime I write anything about a figure from the ARAHC line.)