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Shockblast vs. Night-Creeper

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by yo go re

Here's a GI Joe quiz for you: what do Iceberg, Roadblock and Stalker all have in common? Go ahead, take your time and think about it: the answer's pretty obvious. Did you guess it, yet? That's right! All their names were re-used for obscure Transformers characters! How clever of you!

Shockblast is a S.W.A.T. specialist who trains the GI Joe team in urban tactical response. He provides expertise in controlling the citywide chaos that erupts when Cobra unleashes destructive nanomite technology.

There are actually a ton of characters whose names were used for both franchises, and Shock... er, "blast" is one of them. This is clearly the movieverse version of the character known as Shockwave in G1. For a time in the early '00s (how did we go the entire decade without deciding on a name for it, anyway?), Hasbro lost the rights to the name "Shockwave," and so rechristened both characters Shockblast. They've since reclaimed the original trademark, but in order to maintain both names, the Transformer is back to being Shockwave, and the Joe remains Shockblast.

Shockblast was previously available in a Resolute Comic Pack with the worst damn Destro ever made, so not a lot of fans got him. This version uses the same mold - Cobra Trooper torso, Snow Job thighs, new shins - but the colors are new. He's wearing a desaturated blue uniform with a green vest: it's meant to be an update of his Night Force uniform (something he and Tunnel Rat have in common), but it doesn't quite work; it's not dark enough. He has a free-floating belt, and a dagger sculpted on the inside of his left shin. That's not a mistake, by the way: the 1988 figure had the same thing. Must be a holdout weapon.

Something else the '80s figure had was a knit mask and a ballcap. This version has a far more complex mask, with ribbed panels running different directions to better fit the shape of a human head. And while he does still have a hat, it's removable: if you don't want his to go "bald," so to speak, he also has a green helmet and a gasmask. He can only wear one at a time, and a quirk of construction means his head is permanently tipped backwards slightly.

In addition to the cranial accessories, Shockblast has a matched pair of pistols that fit in the (admittedly oversized) holsters on his legs, as well as a knife and shotgun from the Generation 3 Lt. Falcon. When I first saw this set, I thought Shocky was coming with fewer pieces than the Recolute version - not so! He has all the same headgear (I don't know which one I thought was missing), but the shotgun and knife are new, so this version is actually better supplied than the last one!

The Night Creeper forces are a secret group of high-tech ninjas that perform field intelligence operations and covert infiltration for Cobra. They have undergone a procedure that makes them incapable of feeling physical pain.

Surprisingly, the Night-Creepers are on that same list of re-used names as Shockwaveblast: the Transformers' Nightcreeper is a repaint of our little buddy "Castle." We already got one Night-Creeper in G3, thanks to the Defense of Cobra Island box set - he was originally meant to come in Resolute Comic Pack #4, but that was cancelled. That version was the classic pink and purple design, while this version is... not.

The Rise of Cobra Night-Creepers apparently wear blue, rather than magenta. It's vaguely similar to the "Urban Division" Night-Creeper released in 2004, but do you think Hasbro was really going for that, or did they just want to make him look like the other movie figures? This version no longer has Flint's arms, instead benefiting from Snake-Eyes' limbs. The cowl isn't glued to his helmet, so you can remove it if you really want.

We get the distinctive chest armor, a separate piece worn over the torso. His wavy sword (or flamberge) fits into his backpack, and he has a wonderful crossbow with six additional bolts held underneath for easy access. Unlike the original accessory, which was solid black, this one gets silver apps for the arrows.

Each of these two-packs includes a Joe and Cobra logo sticker, as well as an Arashikage hexagram temporary tattoo. They also each follow the time-tested pattern of "one interesting character, one lame character." Although, even if you already got the previous versions of these characters, there's enough new here to warrant a purchase. This set was the one I was looking forward to the least, since it didn't have a new Resolute character or a Dreadnok, and while it's still in last place, it's better than expected.

-- 05/21/10

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