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Night Specter w/ Grand Slam

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

In the early years, GI Joe characters on both sides of the battle made do with fairly mundane vehicles - jeeps, helicopters, stuff like that. Eventually things became more exotic and more toyetic, and therefore more iconic. Take, for instance, the Submersible High-speed Attack and Reconnaissance Craft (or SHARC), the angular flying sub that appeared in the opening credits of the cartoon, thereby becoming one of the most recognizable vehicles in the line. It's been renamed and re-released a few times, most recently as the Night Specter.

The GI Joe SHARC is the most advanced single-man attack submersible in the world. The Joes, always on the forefront of developing technology, have continually upgraded the SHARC with the latest in communications and weaponry. While the GI Joe Skystriker is the master of the air, the SHARC is the master of the deep. Wth its ability to move from water to air and back again, the SHARC is an amazing feat of technology. Even so, it is commonly advised against engaging enemy aircraft in dogfighting, as the SHARC is not nearly as maneuverable in the air as in the water, and can make for an easy target.

Incidentally, the only reason the SHARC (or today, the Night Specter) is a flying sub? Because the kids playtesting it in the focus groups all thought it was an airplane. Rather than bang their heads against the wall trying to get kids to recognize it as only a sub, the copyeditors added in the flying ability so we could play with it in either fashion. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

The name "Night Specter" is a nod to the 1988 release of the SHARC as the "Night Shade," when it was part of the Toys Я Us exclusive Night Force subset. Why that? Copyright reasons, probably. No matter what its name, this vehicle uses the same mold as the original, so you get the classic look: an angular body with two "wings" coming off the sides and several fins on the top and bottom. The body is a dark military green rather than the original white, but since the name has changed, who's to say whether that's right or wrong? The Tiger Force mouth decals are new, though.

The sub measures 8¼" long and wide, and 3¼" tall. The clear canopy is hinged on the side, and a single figure can lay down in the passenger area. There are two removable missles/torpedoes on the underside, and back in the day the pegs that held them on could also be used to hold two additional figures - however, since the back-hole size has changed for the TFAC line, that feature no longer works. It'll still hold old toys, though. Slide the tabs on the underside of the wings and guns pop up from the top. The fins move side to side, and a panel can be removed to expose the engine.

While the original SHARC toy included Deep Six, the guy who wore a huge diving suit everywhere. In the cartoons and comics, however, lots of people piloted the things, so the choice to give us someone different isn't that strange. Even if it's someone who's fairly obscure.

Grand Slam received initial training in conventional artillery and served with a 155mm battery. Graduated: Special Weapons School (Top of Class). Specialized Education: Artillery School; Advanced Tech School. Qualified Expert: M-16; M-1911A1; "HAL" Heavy Artillery Laser.

That thing about the HAL? It's because Grand Slam was originally the figure boxed in with that big gun emplacement. Anyway, he was one of the 13 original Joes, but because he was only available in the boxed set, most people don't have a clue who he is. Kind of fitting, then, that as part of Generation 3, he's yet again relegated to a vehicle pack-in.

The figure is just a repainted Flash, boring! same as he was back in 1982. With padded armor that made him look like a baseball catcher, Grand Slam was probably the most exotic of the original Joes (well, him and Flash, of course). He looks like he's wearing a standard green uniform under the pads, and for this update his armor is all-silver, instead of matching Flash's red - a reference to his second release with the JUMP jetpack. He's got a removable helmet with a clear visor. His boots and gloves are black, and for some reason his belt buckle looks like the old Hasbro logo.

Since he's going to spend all day in the cockpit of a submarine, Grand Slam doesn't get any accessories: of course, neither did the original, since he sat on a huge artillery cannon. He has balljoints at the ankles, hips, torso, elbows, shoulders and head, double-hinged knees and swivel wrists. He fits in the cockpit of the SHARC well, though it would probably look nicer with Torpedo or another Navy recruit under the glass.

Part of the Target-exclusive "Attack on Cobra Island" series, the Night Specter set retailed for just $10 - and considering that the original SHARC cost $6.50 back in 1984, that is an incredibly low price. The figure is just a repaint, but it's still a new character unavailable anywhere else, and the vehicle is good. Now that Hasbro is starting to do vehicles for the TFAC figures, there will probably be a white SHARC released sometime in the future, but this version is a cool offering that's available now.


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