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Powerglide & Scarlett vs. Soundwave & Zartan

GI Joe and the Transformers
by yo go re

After two years off (releasing "Danger at the Docks" and "Crimson Strike" instead), Hasbro has finally returned to the GI Joe/Transformers crossover well for Comic-Con 2016.

The worlds of GI Joe and the Transformers have collided in the past, resulting in exciting action and adventure. They meet again in another epic encounter!

The box identifies this set as issue #8, but unlike issues #5, #6 and #7, there isn't a comic on the back. Oh, there's art, but no text, so it doesn't really count as a comic, does it? Come on, guys! The art is nice, but the conceit that these were lost issues of the comic was half the fun! Don't just show us Scarlett rappelling and Zartan firing a missile, throw some hyperbolic narration on there!

A show-off. Proud that he's one of the few Autobots that can fly. Has incredible maneuverability. Delights in displaying his dazzling aerial virtuosity to friends and foes. Just wants their appreciation of his talent. Cruises at 500 mph for short periods. Carries small concussion bombs. Shoots a thermal beam as a plane or robot. Gets into more trouble with enemy planes than he can handle.

It seems we've come full circle. Powerglide's altmode has always been an A-10 Thunderbolt (or at least its STBLDF equivalent), so this year's set casts the Cobra Rattler jet in red plastic and sells it as a Joe vehicle. Meanwhile, a year ago, Hasbro was taking its most recent Powerglide mold and turning it blue, homaging the Rattler with the new character Viper!

The Rattler has always been a little different from the real-world Warthog - instead of two engines back by the tail, it has one engine on each wing, and a third on top of the tail. It also features a gunner's seat in the mid-body. While the Rattler was officially designed by MARS, you get the feeling Destro was working from prototype A-10 specs. The gunner's pod rotates and the guns elevate (so that it doesn't accidentally shoot the tail or the pilot), and the canopies over both that and the cockpit hinge open (the front half of the cockpit canopy is also removable, if you need help getting figures in there).

The plane has several play features, even beyond the gunner's nest. The Rattler is a tilt-wing aircraft, so you can rotate those, and the landing gear folds away as well. There are 14 removable bombs under the wings, and a rotating Gatling gun under the nose. The engine covers on the wings are removable, as are two small panels on opposite quarters of the plane (front left and rear right) - those expose mechanical workings inside, but can also be replaced with different panels that have bullet damage. Considering how tough the real Warthog is (it's been in active service for 40 years now, and the last new ones were built in 1984), that's a cool inclusion.

Powerglide measures 17½" long, 17" wide, and 4¾" tall. There's a little bit of assembly required out of the box (putting on the tail fins and the gunner's canopy), and dozens of stickers to apply as well. That will take about an hour, but the toy really does look a lot better with the decals on than without them - even if it does suffer from one of my biggest label pet peeves, stickers that go over molded details. Those never sit right.

The last GI Joe and the Transformers set went big, offering two vehicles instead of just one. This set does the same thing, but still manages to break new ground by offering one Autobot and one Decepticon.

It is said that he can hear a fly sneeze. Uses anything he hears for blackmail to advance his status. Opportunist. Despised by all other Decepticons. Has sensors that can detect even the lowest energy radio transmissions. Able to read minds by monitoring electrical brain impulses. Acts as radio link for others. Locates and identifies Autobots, then informs Decepticons. Carries a concussion blaster. Often the target of retaliation by his comrades.

There was already a Soundwave in the year two set, but that was just a boom box accessory - this time he's a full vehicle! Naturally they went with that old Cobra standby, the HISS tank; it's boxy, has a clear compartment in the front, and smaller people fit inside it - that sounds like Soundwave to us!

This is not the normal HISS or even a version of the HISS V like GIJTF Shockwave was - rather, it's the Generation 2 HISS Tank, first released as a TRU exclusive in 2005. While the general shape is the same as the classic tank, it's a little bulkier and has more armaments. Large panels on the sides of the tank open, giving you access to the troop transport area, and also giving the tank a troop transport area. The back is completely open, though, which seems like a significant weakness.

Soundwave has been molded in dark blue, and the canopy fram is gold. Naturally there are stickers to make the tank look more like the robot - they're all metallic, and will take about 45 minutes to apply. There are two black guns mounted under the nose - like, rifles that a figure would carry - plus gray missile launchers over the tank treads that kind of resemble the robot's forearms.

The big guns on top of the tank are designed to look like Soundwave's battery weapons, complete with launching projectiles. The way the connectors are designed (octagonal plugs set at a slight angle), the launchers have to aim rather high. Of course, that's only if you assemble the tank the way the instructions tell you to, with the rockets mounted behind the gunner's station; if you turn it around and mount them in front of it, their elevation is much more reserved. Plus, it looks more like the '80s HISS you're used to.

So those are the Transformers. Let's talk GI Joe.

Scarlett learned martial arts from her father and three brothers, all martial arts instructors. She began her training at age nine and was awarded her first black belt as age 15. After graduating summa cum laude from two Ivy League universities, she went on to excel in training programs at all four branches of the armed forces - graduated Advanced Infantry Training, Ranger School, and Covert Ops School, among others. She is a qualified expert in multiple weapons, including her trademark crossbow.

We already have a Snake-Eyes, so it makes sense we'd get a Scarlett, too. Scarlett isn't exactly known as a pilot (with one specific exception, but that wasn't really her anyway), but who cares? All the Joes are trained on all the vehicles, and Powerglide will be doing most of the flying anyway.

Most of the humans in this series have been redesigned, getting new costumes that may or may not pass the squint test for their classic looks. Scarlet keeps her familiar colors - yellow and grey - but this is an entirely new design. As expected, the toy reuses some existing pieces: we last saw these legs on Bombshell, and the arms come from Renegades Scarlett, while the torso... wait, the torso is a new mold? Can this be? Beneath the Cobra Trooper web gear (which doesn't really fit her and doesn't look that great anyway), she's wearing a new jumpsuit. It has a molded seam off-center down the front, is low enough to show a little cleavage, and has a collar folded over at the neck. There's a wide belt sculpted around her waist, too. It's unexpected that we'd get a unique mold in an SDCC set, so there must be plans to use it again later.

The colors are very vibrant. They're a bit flat, almost cartoonish - her limbs are dark grey, while the yellow on her torso, her boots, and the outside of her forearms is bright. Her head is reused from the TFAC figure, and the red of hair is just as stylized as the rest of the paint. Still, it would have been nice if they'd sprung for a new head to go with the new chest.

Scarlett moves in the usual manner: head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso, hips, knees and ankles. In addition to the aforementioned harness, her accessories include a crossbow and a quiver. The quiver conflicts with her long ponytail, so she's either got to wear it sideways, or turn her head permanently to the side.

Zartan is a master of disguise, an expert in several martial arts, and the leader of the Dreadnoks. He is a gifted ventriloquist, linguist (with over 20 languages under his belt), and acrobatic contortionist, as well as a highly skilled archer. Tight-lipped and evasive, he maintains that the secret to his amazing chameleon-like powers lies in the manipulation of advanced holographic technology. However, some suspect that an actual genetic mutation allows him to change skin color to blend in with his environment.

We've talked before about how the GI Joe and the Transformers sets are in their own micro-continuity, not tied to either franchise, but honestly, Zartan having access to advanced holographic tech makes more sense in a world where Transformers exist, since that's part of how they disguise themselves - basically, they adopt the general shape of whatever they're disguising themselves as, then throw a holographic shell over that. That's how they can get shot, beat up and broken, and yet the altmode will still look pristine.

Most of this figure is just a repaint of Renegades Zartan, which is kind of a mixed bag: it's a nice design, tweaking Zartan's classic look in a way that's not out of line with these crossover figures, but it's also light on articulation. Again, that'll be fine if you just want him sitting in his tank all the time, but he's going to be at a disadvantage if a fight breaks out. He's all shades of grey, with a bit of brownish maroon on his knees and forearms. To keep this from being a straight re-release, it has the vest and head of normal Zartan. The vest makes the upper body super bulky, and completely out of proportion with the lower torso.

If you don't like it, the figure also includes the hood and harness from the Renegades figure, which fits much better. It's all black, meaning we don't get the brown hood this time. Boo! He also has three of the heads from that figure: Storm Shadow, Snake-Eyes, and Zartan. The Zartan and SS heads have light-piping for the eyes, but it still doesn't work very well.

Beyond the vests, hoods, and heads, Zartan comes with a sniper rifle and a shotgun, plus the swords, scabbards and pistol seen with this body previously (which is also where Scarlett's quiver originated). The hole in the standard vest doesn't line up with the one in the figure's back, so he can only use the scabbards when he's wearing the alternate gear.

Sadly, this set doesn't come with any other bonus figures or accessories, like the previous sets did. No Megatron gun, no Energon cubes, no boom boxes, nothing. But really, what could they have done? They're kind of out of human-scaled items. Maybe another humanoid figure, like Bludgeon, but this set already has a nice balance with one Joe, one Cobra, one Autobot, and one Decepticon. Unless they were going to give us two more figures, one side would have gotten an unfair advantage.

-- 08/16/16

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