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Ghost H.A.W.K. w/ Lift Ticket

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

One advantage toys have over the real world? You don't have to worry about the laws of aerodynamics when you're designing aircraft.

Get in, get out, and don't get in the way! That's what every inch of the Ghost H.A.W.K. aircraft threatens as it pulls a quick vertical landing and take-off, extracting a GI Joe team from the middle of a Cobra ambush. And if Cobra forces still don't back off, the aircraft's cannons and missiles will deliver the message!

Let's just be clear: this is the Sky Hawk, the classic 1984 Joe vehicle. It's only called the Ghost HAWK because Hasbro couldn't get the rights to the name "Skyhawk" (apparently). That doesn't make it a different vehicle, though, just a different name.

The Ghost H.A.W.K. aircraft neutralizes the need for a conventional airfield. With a simple rotation of its twin turbofan engines, this V/STOL can take-off or land vertically from a short runway. Once the vehicle is airborne, the engines are rotated into a horizontal position for flight mode. The aircraft's lean profile has caused Cobra air troopers to underestimate its threat: the Ghost H.A.W.K. carries air-to-surfce missiles for ground assault and two sets of cannons to blast enemy planes. With the Ghost H.A.W.K., the GI Joe team can set up a small base of operations anywhere and maintain critical air support for their mission.

So not only was the Sky Hawk forced to sport a new name, it wasn't even thought out very well. The HAWK acronym doesn't stand for anything: there's nothing on the box, in the instructions or in the blueprints to suggest that the letters mean anything; it's like they just randomly decided to make half the name an acronym. You know why? Because it's easier to claim a trademark on a nonsense word than on a real word, so Hasbro can make a stronger claim on "H.A.W.K." than on "Hawk," get it? Since we've now probably used the term "Ghost H.A.W.K." enough to satisfy Google, we'll just be calling it the Sky Hawk from here on out.

The Sky Hawk is a new mold, and man, does it look great! It's 8¾" long, nearly 5" wide, and just over 4" tall. The entire thing has been redesigned, from the ground up, just like the G3 figures: in the widest sense, all the old pieces are there, but they've all been redone to a higher standard. It's not just that the seams, rivets and welds look better, they're all in different places, and there are more of them. There are four footpegs on the skids, not two. The cockpit is fully detailed, and even has a conrol stick. It's a good-lookin' vehicle, inside and out.

But more than that, the Sky Hawk is fun to play with. The detailed engines rotate, to facilitate the VTOL functions (and one of the new features of the sculpt is a jet exhaust low on the body of the vehicle, to help it fly). The canopy opens, in a different place than the G1 version's did, and it's actually got glass instead of being open to the elements. The front guns can be aimed side to side, the rear stabilizers can be removed, and although the SAMs are stored under the landing struts, just as they used to be, there are additional connectors on the insides of the stabilizers and under the support arm. Theoretically, you could load six missiles on the Sky Hawk, if it came with them. The engine cover can be removed, as well.

Back in the day, the Sky Hawk was sort of an all-purpose vehicle. Well, in the sense that anyone could operate it. There was no single "driver" associated with it, so you could put pretty much anybody in the cockpit. This release, however, includes a figure.

Lift Ticket was one of those guys who joined the Army to get out of his hometown. The big difference with Lift Ticket is that he scored so high on the aptitude test, he qualified for West Point Prep, Officer Candidate School and Flight Warrant Officer School. Nobody in Lawton ever suspected he was that smart, even Lift Ticket: he opted for Flight School, thinking that it was the only one that offered training applicable to civilian employment. He's known for his piloting expertise and stubborn persistence in getting into a landing zone in the middle of enemy fire for extraction.

Amusingly enough, Lift Ticket was never shown flying a Sky Hawk. Why? Because he actually was a specific vehicle driver: he piloted the Tomahawk helicopter, one of the largest 1986 sets. It's not the only thing he was ever shown controlling, but it was the major one - he didn't have time for the relatively shrimpy Sky Hawk. But since the odds of a Tomahawk being released in G3 are pretty slim, Hasbro took the opportunity to update him here.

Lift Ticket, like most of the new Joes, shares the majority of his pieces with other figures. In his case, that means Mutt's legs and the Viper's torso. His arms are new, since nobody had the right kind of shoulder pads, and he also has a new head. The original figure had a molded helmet, but this time it's removable, so you can see Lift Ticket's decidedly Gomer Pyle-ish face and his huge jug ears. He totally looks like a yokel who'd use the military to get out of Dogpatch, doesn't he?

Other than the helmet, Lift Ticket has a new tan vest with a silver radio mic on the shoulder and a (non-removable) gun holstered on the left. If you don't count the Sky Hawk (and who would?) his only accessory is a black knife. Eh, it's simple, but it works. Can't really complain about that. And yes, he fits well in the cockpit.

This set didn't need Lift Ticket to sell. In fact, they could have put just about anybody in the box, and they still would have been an appropriate counterpart. The Ghost H.A.W.K., as Hasbro now calls it, is an awesome vehicle with excellent details, and a very good part of Generation 3.

-- 04/10/09

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