WHY HAS THIS TAKEN 40 GODDAMN YEARS?
The Decepticons and Cobra team up to conquer the world! Baroness and Megatron, disguised as a H.I.S.S. Tank, plan the next Cobra attack.
Yes, after many false starts and loose inspirations and clever homages and imaginative repaints, we finally - FINALLY - get a real GI Joe/Transformers crossover. And it's glorious.
When it comes to Joe vehicles, there's probably nothing as iconic as the HISS tank. We went into the reasons why in this old review,
but if you're going to do a crossover series, that's a great vehicle to start with.
This one is sized just like the original; drop it in a lineup, and you'd never know anything was different about it. Why, it's almost like this robot is in some sort of... disguise? Is that possible? It's the classic black, with red 788 labels on the front, Cobra sigils at the back, and a clear canopy underneath the main cannons. This is, in every way, a normal HISS tank.
Well, every way but one.
To convert the tank, start by removing the rear panel. Not an auspicious beginning, but so it goes. We're not going to list every step of the instructions, but there are some really pleasing elements in the process, like the way the arms tuck into the tank treads, or the way the driver's cockpit folds over itself to form shoulder armor. Getting the back half of the tank's shell to fit into place over the treads can be a challenge, though: I don't know if I'm aligning something wrong, but the only way I can get that bit into place is with force.
Again, if you're doing a GI Joe/Transformers crossover series, you could do worse than by starting with Megatron. The size of him reveals why we probably haven't had any real crossover figures before: at more than 10" he's a full head taller than Masterpiece Megatron - that's a lot of shelf space!
Underneath all the kibble, the robot has a very smooth, cartoony look: he's all big, blocky panels with a minimum of detail on them. Which is fine, it suits the era the toy is trying to emulate, and there are still some extraneous panel lines to keep it from only being big flat shapes. Overall, the feeling is one of Megatron wrapped up in HISS Tank armor, more than some permanent blending of the two.
The articulation is decent, considering the stylization and the limits imposed by not being able to fudge the altmode details as
much as usual. Megatron has a balljointed head (though it's one where the head wants to snap from position to position because of the bumps on the ball), swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, and hinged knees. You'd expect wrists or a waist at this size, but no. Heck, the hands are barely even have sculpted separation from the forearms, let alone room to move. The missile pods on his hips are mounted on balljoints, at least, so you can at least aim those where you like. We already mentioned the way the head wants to slip into whatever position is was shipped in, but the knee and hip joints are remarkably stiff, as well. Having little spurs of tank tread fold out to become larger heels and help stabilize the figure is a nice touch, though.
Megatron is surprisingly hollow; like, a lot more than you'd expect him to be. The back of the legs, the underside of the forearms,
we're used to those, but his entire torso is basically just a big empty shell, too. And then the rear half of the HISS just sticks straight back off his spin, floating in mid-air. They did this so the gunner's station can still be used in this mode, but maybe make that an optional thing, a way to display the toy if you want, not a permanent feature? I personally like it better with the gunner there, but that doesn't mean it's the best toy design. In addition to having the tank's guns point over his shoulders, Megatron is armed with his usual fusion cannon (which can also be mounted on the tank ode), and a "shield" formed from that panel you pulled off the tank when converting him. Seriously, could that not have been used to disguise his hollowness somehow? Both those accessories simply plug into the backs of his hands.
Rather than being sold alone, each Transformer in this sub-line is paired with a GI Joe character. Megatron's cohort is the Baroness, which would normally be good, but is here a giant disappointment.
For whatever unfathomable reason, Hasbro has chosen to
give us the Generation 1 Baroness. Not the Generation 1 design, literally the Generation 1 sculpt. The toy from 1984. Hasbro, stop using these shit-ass molds! It was almost excusable on that awful 40th Anniversary two-pack, but not here. Megatron looks like his G1 design, but not like his G1 toy; why do the Transformers get respect from the company but the Joes don't? Megatron is a big gray robot with a bucket head. Baroness wears black leather body armor and glasses. If he doesn't need to be a four-decade-old sculpt, neither does she.
We're not demanding Hasbro make a new Baroness - not at all! There are plenty of great G3 Baronesseseses who could have been included here. Heck, one of those is even a GI Joe vs. the Transformers version already! Generation 3 toys are simply better than Generation 1, so why regress? "We need to think about the O-ring collectors!" Do we? This crossover is a chance to bring in new fans, a chance to show them how great a brand GI Joe is and how fun the toys can be; why, then, would you hand them second-rate, outdated product? You might as well have done one of those retro ReAction figures, at least that would be something different. Hell, the Generation 2 Baroness would have been a better inclusion than this!
The packaging is designed with a cool blend of Transformers and GI Joe art, split diagonally down the center.
Slide those two halves apart, and inside is a brown cardboard box with a few prited logos. Inside that, Megatron is simply tied to the cardboard insert, but Baroness is fully packed on a retro-styled blister card, which admittedly looks really nice. So nice, in fact, that I'm not bothering to open her. The toy inside isn't worth playing with, so she's just going to be a very ornate accessory. (That's why Shift has been filling in for her in all these photos; did you notice?)
Shockwave and Soundwave have already been HISS tanks, but those were later models. And didn't actually turn into robots. Megatron is the first Transformer to be a classic HISS outside of the comics. And even with his simple design and some little flaws, he's a ton of fun to play with and the process of converting him is a real pleasure. I personally have several better Baronesses who I can drop in the HISS to replace the crap one Hasbro's given us, but not every fan is going to be so lucky. Unfortunately, at ths point we're locked in to G1 re-releases with this line, so don't expect any improvement on that front any time soon. The set retails for $90, but I was fortunate to find it for only ~$60. At that price, it's one of my favorite things I got all year, even with the G1 Joe dragging it down.