A.W.E. Striker w/ Leatherneck
Review by Justin Bell
I'll say right off the bat that I don't really have any childhood memories of the A.W.E. Striker...no rememberences or anything like that. It wasn't a special Holiday gift, or a long lost need, it was just one of dozens of G.I. Joe vehicles that I owned as a kid that sort of got lost in the shuffle, but now I have a much larger appreciation for it. Or, I did, anyway, before we ended up with nearly a dozen different versions of the same vehicle.
The A.W.E. Striker really packs a nice punch. It's small and easy to handle, yet it's got a wealth of play value and lots of fun in a small package. It can hold four figures, has working suspension, lots of intricate detail, and it's an awesomely designed fast little buggy. Obviously not engineered to go toe-to-toe with a COBRA HISS or even potentially a Stinger, it's meant for fast-moving recon missions, yet has a powerhouse cannon just in case a little extra "oomph" is required.
Sleek, low profile, yet with some backbone...plus it's just fun as heck to play with. I'd like to say that I was grew older the Striker pushed aside the old and tired VAMP of my younger days, but for whatever reason this dune buggy never caught on with me as a kid, though I do have more of an appreciation for it now.
I hope other Joefans have an appreciation for this vehicle as well, because we've sure seen a lot of it over the past few years, and in fact, this is the second version of this vehicle we've received in the past few months!
While the previous version of the A.W.E. Striker released in 2008 was a more familiar green one, very similar to the original, it was only released for a limited time in Target Department stores, and in fact was quite difficult to find. For the mass retail version of the vehicle, Hasbro went with a desert motif, which surprisingly the A.W.E. Striker has never appeared in thus far (unless you include the Stargate toy line). We've gotten about every variation of this dune buggy that you could expect from Night Operations to Urban Warfare, but this has really been the first desert themed paint scheme. I'm not a huge fan of desert vehicles usually, but this buggy looks like it was built to roll in the sand, and it fits the design exceptionally well.
That's not to say I'm really in love with this version. At it's core, this is the same A.W.E. Striker we've received many times before and offers little in the way of new bells and whistles. Hasbro limited their retooling to the pegs on the running boards, so the end result is a vehicle that is relatively unchanged from one we first received (and have received several times since) over twenty years ago. I can appreciate fans who missed the boat the first time around wanting another crack at it, but frankly I can think of a few dozen Joe vehicles I'd rather get the re-issue treatment over this one, as cool as it is.
That brings us to the figure as well... "Leatherneck".
Leatherneck was a character that I always sort of liked until he appeared in the Sunbow cartoon, and then I detested him. The same could be said of Beachhead. These two characters were such belligerent jerks in Season 2 of the cartoon that it really affected how much I liked the characters and figures as a whole. Over the years that opinion has lightened a bit, and I find more appeal to those two guys these days, but as a kid, those two figures got relegated to my storage bins because they were obnoxiously written in the cartoon.
Now I would absolutely LOVE to see Leatherneck released as an Anniversary figure, but I'm sorry, this version doesn't really cut it. I actually don't mind the re-used Gung Ho head at all, and in fact, I think it works much better as Leatherneck than it does as the first G.I. Joe Marine, that's not even an issue. Heck, the parts choices don't bother me a whole lot either (I've even managed to avoid using the term "Duke Arms" up until this point) and I can see where they were going with each piece and part. In fact, to me this figure DOES resemble Leatherneck, quite a bit...jut not the version of Leatherneck I want.
The Anniversary line has always been about the definitive version of a particular character, and I've really been drawn into that concept. I've now got a "Cartoon Display" section of my shelf where many figures who got their showcase from Sunbow are standing together...and I'd love for Leatherneck to be there amongst the Season Two crew, but not this version. Granted, I know Hasbro was designing this for desert ops, and they went through the trouble of approximating the Special Missions: Brazil paint scheme, and that's all well and good, but that's not the version of Leatherneck I want, especially if it's the only one I'm getting. I would rather have seen a camouflage A.W.E. Striker, or heck even one another lighter shade of green with the properly colored Leatherneck than the one we got. I understand that time and cost are an issue in some of these cases, but it's just unfortunate that this might end up being the only version of this character that we get.
This is coming from a guy who's willing to overlook the Arctic pants and boots he's wearing in the desert ...I'm willing to overlook the Dreadnok-themed belt buckle, the re-used head, and the random armored shoulder pad that he gets from Buzzer. I can look past that stuff, but I need a Leatherneck in jungle camouflage, or it just doesn't work for me.
The weapons are nice, the vehicle is nice, the figure isn't bad, but it's all a matter of "been there, done that, got the t-shirt"...and at this point I've almost got a closet full of them.
A.W.E. Striker w/ Leatherneck (v6)
More action shots:
Images from the collection of: Justin Bell
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