Before I get into the review of the awesome Defense Mech toy, I have something else to talk about. I never had any GIJoe toys as a kid; although I had a few M.A.S.K., which were intensely sweet, I was always more into the 6"-ish figures than the smaller-scale figs, and this continues through 'til today. I can't stand the 3 3/4" Star Wars figures, for example, and the similarly scaled GIJoes never appealed either - until now.
Wandering through a Toys R Us, myself and a piratey friend were faced with a full aisle of significantly marked down GIJoe toys from one of Hasbro's latest GIJoe lines. We had a quick browse just to see what it was all about, and were pleasantly surprised by a full line of interesting, quality army-men style figures, including the simplistic black-and-white American hero army men GIJoes vs. terrorist stereotypes Cobra, featuring every different type of caricatured character you can imagine: army sergeants, ninjas, mad scientists, regular troops on both sides, as well as all the different vehicles you can expect - tanks, helicopters, boats, even mechwarriors. Complete with lots of articulation on the figures, plenty of cool action features like missiles, sounds and motors, and plenty of great detail on everything. These are awesome!
And yet, everything was marked down dirt cheap - for the price of a McToy, you can own essentially an entire army. Why so? Simply and sadly because the kids aren't interested in any of these excellent toys. Nowadays, with the rage being video games, drugs, and having sex before reaching double-digit ages, great toys are overlooked in light of more adult things, and that's such a shame. Is it really a great idea for kids to be so into video games when the best and most acclaimed games are all very adult oriented? (I played Super Mario as a kid, not Grand Theft Auto.)
But more importantly, video games and the like aren't as healthy for children as toys as they don't involve any of that imaginative play and learning that children develop before they move into adolescence, and that's an important part of psychological growth. It's really no wonder that our youth are growing up so poorly, with record numbers of youth violence, sexual assault and general apathy, and then listening to rap instead of actual music. This is made all the sadder by the fact that these are good toys, with the kind of fun features and play value that I could have only dreamt of as a child, and even whilst being dirt cheap, they're being quickly overlooked because kids just want to grow up instead of enjoying and relishing their childhood. Meanwhile, Toys R Us goes bankrupt, GTA: San Andreas sells a billion copies and a 16-year-old puts out a cigarette on a girl's face during Schoolies Week and no one bats an eyelid.
The GIJoe Defense Mech is an awesome toy, including a highly articulated GIJoe figure (were GIJoe's always so articulated?M.A.S.K. never were) with plenty of accessories and his own Defense Mech vehicle, which we'll get to in a moment. With over 12 points of articulation, including ball-jointed shoulders, legs and midsection, the Joe has plenty of movement as well as being simply (but flawlessly) painted and decorated. He can be suited up with numerous cool accessories, including an army helmet, a pistol-belt and sunglasses - but the real 'accessory' is his Defense Mech, which is essentially a MechWarrior crossed with the Matrix APU, completely decked out with cool.
Standing about 6" tall (and looking awesome with many of your Japanese robot-mech figures, like Monev the Gale), the
Defense Mech is fully detailed with the army green-and-black and covered with plenty of little details, some painted, some not. The front hatch opens to seat the Joe in, his legs sliding into the legs of the droid easily and his arms reaching to hold the mech's armed... arms. Fully articulated, the Mech moves at the shoulders (two joints to create a slightly less-movable but workable ball-joint), left elbow, legs and knees, allowing him to go into battle nicely.
Both arms have action features making them kick ass in battle; the left arm has dual missiles which are fired one after another or together with a push of a button. The right arm features a laser action feature, in which pressing a button makes it flash a green light and make one of three different firing sounds (which also differ depending on how long you hold the button for). The Defense Mech also features removable antenna, working pneumatics and plenty of nifty details, as well as being highly durable for play.
This is a fantastic toy and I can't wait to head back to that TRU to buy myself some more of these GIJoe toys - as I mentioned, I was never a fan of the 3 3/4" but the fact that these are so well made, so much fun and so inexpensive means I can buy a whole miniature army to display on my desk easily, and that's awesome. But it sucks to think about what this represents - the lack of interest denotes a loss of innocence in which the only people buying fun, inexpensive well-made toys like this are grown men rather than the intended audience.
What's wrong with these damn kids today? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.