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Shockwave HISS w/ Destro & Constructicon BAT

GI Joe and the Transformers
by yo go re

A comic that only comes out once per year? What is this, Image in the late '90s?

In the 1980s, Marvel Comics produced a four-comic series that told the story of GI Joe and Cobra discovering the existence of the Transformers. This special series briefly brought together these two epic worlds and chronicled the dramatic consequences of this discovery. First there was the "lost episode #5" and now... the legacy of this meeting continues as these two forces join together again in this exclusive Shockwave H.I.S.S. Tank!

Last year's Starscream Skystriker was nearly a no-brainer, since he'd always been a jet. This year's required a little more creativity, since Shockwave, like Megatron, was originally a gun. But like Megatron, he's more recently been identified with a tank, so it's not like this is without precedence.

Shockwave seeks to overthrow Megatron and rule Cybertron by using a cold and brutal scientific approach to war. However, logic dictates that Shockwave should not just rule one world, but Earth as well. Once all the variables had been computed, working with the human weapons manufacturer known as Destro became a most rational choice. Shockwave has been able to upgrade his alt-mode into a Cobra HISS Tank and integrated his astroblaster into the vehicle's design. This new battle-ready alt-mode increases the likelihood that Shockwave will be victorious over any opposition, either human or Cybertronian, exponentially.

Okay, so when this set was first revealed, we thought the tank was a repaint of the HISS V - nope! It's actually a repaint of the Retaliation HISS, which has the same visual as the HISS V, but is actually a completely redesigned mold. The design's just similar because, well, that's what a HISS looks like now.

The treads are still the triangular, "big in the front" design that HISSes have had since the beginning. But rather than real, functioning strips of rubber, we're back to hard plastic with tiny wheels hidden underneath. The sides are more armored now, and the body of the tank sits up higher, farther away from the treads. Remember how the last one had that "pop up" attack feature? This one doesn't, but it sits up nearly as high even it its "down" position.

The upper body of the tank is sleek and angular, which would be great for helping to deflect incoming fire. While the shapes are all the same as they were on the HISS V, it's not the same mold: the entire thing has been retooled from scratch. The canopy is more angular this time, and at least semi-translucent. There's a gun pod on the very front of the body, and in a remarkably clever move, it's designed to look like Shockwave's familiar single eye. Since this tank isn't as easily identifiable as the Skystriker was, that's a nice way to bring in a reminder of the robot and remind us that this isn't just a purple tank.

Another way they remind us? By turning the tank's main gun into a replica of the original toy's gun barrel. The tank can usually fire a large missle (yes, it's included here, but you'll likely never use it), but the add-on barrel blocks that feature: it slides into the tank's gun, but not far enough to be launched. The back end of the tank is heavily armed and armored, and rather than a drop-down hatch under the back, we're back to the unprotected gunner's nest. There are two big Gatling guns that can be attached in two positions on the tank: either on the back, or nearer the middle.

Instead of a "pop-up attack" like the HISS V had, this one has a feature that allows the entire upper body to tip forward. What this accomplishes other than allowing the HISS to shoot at a target that's right in front of it, we couldn't say. The forward plugs that the Gatling guns fit into are angled so the guns will still be level when the tank is tipped. Surprisingly, this set includes no stickers - all the Decepticon logos are already in place, and there's nothing else to decorate the body.

Destro is a major supplier and advisor to the Cobra organization, but he also pursues his own diabolical aims. He makes a deal with the Decepticon Shockwave that benefits them both. He sells Energon cubes - so valuable to Transformers - to Shockwave for a huge amount of cash, which will fund his nefarious schemes to acquire even more wealth and power.

Last year, pairing Cobra Commander with Starscream was a stroke of brilliance - they were both voiced by the same actor, so it just made sense. Now, Destro and Shockwave may not have that strong a connection, but it's still there, hidden below the surface. After all, they both followed the villains' leader not because of ideology, but because it was the smart thing to do. And both of them would have had no problem taking the reins of the organization if the other guy was out of the picture. So yes, it makes a kind of sense that they'd agree to work together.

Naturally, the figure is built entirely from reused pieces. He's mostly the Renegades Cobra Trooper, with Techno-Viper arms, and PoC Destro's head. It's an unusual look for Destro - not because of the vest, or the belt or anything related to the (very nice) sculpt - it's just that he's never been one to run around in all purple.

Destro gets some very nice accessories. He has a black version of the rifle that Tomax and Xamot came with, a silver pistol from the Iron Grenadiers, and the briefcase full of money. Yes, it still has all the money. The suitcase is purple, and has a big Decepticon logo on the side. The IG pistol is a great choice, because it looks a great deal like Shockwave's 1985 altmode. Overall, these are great choices - escpecially if you missed the briefcase full of money when it was released before. POC City Strike Destro was not a plentiful figure, by any stretch of the imagination.

B.A.T.s are the perfect Cobra troopers. They never question orders, complain about the chow, shirk duty, or surrender. They require no leave time, sick pay or benefits of any kind, and they are cheap and easy to replace. Their robotic design allows them to be customized for specific needs, such as the Constructicon B.A.T., which can interface with Transformers to exchange information and supplement firepower.

Last year's set only included one GI Joe figure - so we were all surprised when it was announced that this year's would have two. Basically, it's just an excuse to release the BAT mold in Constructicon colors (although honestly, the ones they chose [along with the red on the faceplate] are more reminiscent of Toxitron). It's the same sculpt we've gotten so many times before, just done in bright green and dark purple, which is definitely something we haven't seen on a BAT before. The closest is the BAT II, which had a few flashes of green among all its black and flourescent orange.

The Constructicon BAT has a silver pistol, and a neon green version of the Techno-Viper's gun. It's bagged with Destro, but it makes more sense over here. The backpack and replacement weapon-hands are purple (which actually makes for a pretty jarring transition when you plug them onto the grey arms). Since it's the same mold as before, it has the same problem that all the other Generation 3 BATs have had: there are three alternate weapons, but only two slots to hold them. Our suggestion is to put one of the weapons on his arm, and put the hand you removed into the hollow space behind his back.

We also get the handcart that went along with the MASS Device, and the first Energon Cubes ever released in the US market! Sure, they're just the element boxes from the MASS Device DVD Battles set - specifically, one "water" type and two "dust," with no "ruby crystals" for some reason - but they're molded in pink and look pretty darn good! This is a really fun inclusion, and it will be a great accessory for any Transformer.

Hard as it may be to believe, we're not done yet! Last year's set included one extra surprise Transformer, in the form of Megatron. Well, this set does that one better. Or, three better. There's not just one extra Transformer, there are four! And none of them transform! Our bonus buddy is Soundwave, in his tape recorder mode. But because that would be too tiny to be a fun accessory, he's closer in size to a boombox. There's a peg in the back so Soundwave can be worn like a backpack, and the sculpt is insanely good. If there was a detail on the real thing, it's duplicated perfectly here. You can even see where the robot's head is tucked away!

Still not enough for you? Soundwave comes with three Mini-Con Deployers - you know, cassette tapes! All three are the same mold (meant to represent Laserbeak/Buzzsaw), and though they don't change they do fit into a slot on top of Soundwave. Each tape is a single solid color: one red, one orange, and one gold. Careful you don't lose them.

The idea to pair GI Joe and Transformers in one set was a brilliant one, and we're glad it continued this year. Plus, the new HISS tank is awesome, whether you get it in purple or the mass-market blue. Shockwave doesn't have as strong a connection to the HISS tank as Starscream had to the Skystriker, but Hasbro knew that and padded this set out with a ton of cool bonuses in order to make up the difference. Now next year, how about some good guys?

-- 08/17/12

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