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Specialist Trakker

GI Joe Generation 3
by yo go re

The GI Joe 25th Anniversary Collection was the best overall toyline of 2007, ushering in the third generation of GI Joe toys, and doing it in the best way possible: excellent sculpts, unmatched articulation, fun accessories and, above all, a fan-friendly price tag. Now they're taking their good fortune, and spreading it around.

Specialist Trakker leads a secret unit which develops ordinary-looking vehicles that convert into advanced combat vehicles. Joining forces with the GI Joe team, the Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (M.A.S.K.) team battles V.E.N.O.M. (Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem), the unit Cobra formed to construct its own converting vehicles. Specialist Trakker uses his next-gen technological devices to preserve peace throughout the world and stop the corrupt forces that are using the same technology to amass power in a quest to control the world.

M.A.S.K. was one of the mid-tier '80s action shows, not quite as popular as Voltron or ThunderCats, but with a bigger following than The Centurions or BraveStarr. Created by Kenner, M.A.S.K. was basically a rip-off of competitor Hasbro's two big hits: like GI Joe, you had two pseudo-military factions going at it; like Transformers, you had vehicles that changed shape.

Obviously the original story had no connection to either Joe or Cobra, but otherwise the stuff on his filecard is pretty accurate: single father Matt Trakker was the multi-millionaire philanthropist whose money and technology kept the M.A.S.K. team going. Miles Mayhem really did steal half the M.A.S.K. masks, and used them to perform mercenary work, leading Trakker to assemble a team to counter him.

Matt never had a codename (no one in M.A.S.K. did), which is why this figure is identified only as "Specialist Trakker." Sure, they could have named him Thunderhawk (after his flying Chevy Camaro G3) or Spectrum (after his mask), but just calling him "specialist" maintains the military feel, and also shows that he's not exactly a member of the Joe team, but rather works in an independant support role.

Specialist Trakker's body is mostly reused from Ace and Wild Bill, maintaining the coherant look of the Joes' airborne agents. His suit has been painted to look a great deal like the old M.A.S.K. figure: the gray of his flight suit is a bit too light, but the red is very nice. He gets new forearms to help set him apart from the crowd, and wears a pretty ornate fllight harness, with armor on his chest and shoulders, and brown straps holding the whole thing on. It doesn't quite match the old toy, but it is fairly similar to the animation model - yes, even the strap running up under his chin.

Matt's wearing a helmet, of course - a... "mask," if you will - and it shares some stylistic elements with the original Spectrum mask (as opposed to the second release, with added plastic details). It's a darker grey, to match the harness, and the red isn't distributed quite the same, but just think of it as a modern version he's upgraded. No word on whether it can still fire a sonic blast or allow the wearer to see different visual spectrums.

The figure gets a new head, not a repaint of some "real" Joe. He maintains the expertly coiffed blond hair, but he has a fairly angry look. Of course, since the M.A.S.K. toys were of the "nearly featurless face" school of design, who's to say if that's right or wrong? The old toy had a pink blob of plastic with yellow paint on the top half sitting on his shoulders, so anything at all is a huge improvement.

Besides fashion accoutrements, Matt has some accessories tht help bridge the gap between GI Joe and MASK. But first, he has a nice plain machine gun. Okay, with that out of the way, we can get to the craziness: a five-piece helicopter backpack that seems like some kind of goofy-ass James Bond equipment. The blade spins and tilts, there's a control arm with a throttle on the handle, and an odd double-gun on the right side. The accessory is an update of one that came with Annihilator (one of Destro's Iron Grenadier guys) in 1989, but it's ben repainted green and black here. Why green and black? To make it look like the Condor, one of the old M.A.S.K. toys that was, you guessed it, part helicopter.

Apparently there are some fans out there who think putting Matt Trakker in the GI Joe line is a travesty, some kind of slap in the face to "real" Joe fans. You know what we call those people? Killjoys. Actually, we call them much worse, but this is a family establishment. These motards take some kind of personal offense at the idea of Specialist Trakker being on store shelves. Anyone with any sense, on the other hand, has welcomed the adoption of M.A.S.K. into the Joeniverse, and is looking forward to more crossovers in the future. How great would it be to see a G3-style Miles Mayhem or, complete longshot, some updated vehicles? Hasbro acquired a lot of licenses and original properties when it bought Kenner, and it's good to see they're willing to give their plastic stepchildren a chance.


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