Last year at Comic Con, Hasbro released a special edition Starscream deco on their awesome GI Joe Sky Striker jet, and the vehicle sold like crazy with its obvious appeal to both Joe and Transformers fans. Never one to pass up on a good idea, they came up with a second crossover figure for this year’s exclusive, and it’s one that manages to out-meta last year’s self-referential sell-out.
The Shockwave HISS tank is a new deco on the Retaliation HISS Tank, now in a royal purple to match the laser cannon-wielding Decepticon. While the vehicle is understandably smaller than Starscream, it’s packed with every bit as much crossover coolness, that really sends my geeky head spinning. What we get in this set is a HISS, patterned after Shockwave, with Destro (who has been hired by the Decepticons for this outing, so he’s wearing their colors) and a BAT sporting the lime green and purple Constructicon colors. To top it off, the two villains also include a cart complete with three Joe-scaled Energon cubes and the coup de grace– a backpack of Soundwave in his boom box mode… and three cassettes which can fit inside him!
Conceptually, Hasbro really killed it here– there’s so many back-and-forth references that there’s not a Joe or Transformers fan out there who wouldn’t want this set. To add to the fun, the packaging features all new artwork to look like the sixth issue of a GI Joe/ Transformers crossover comic (the real series lasted only four issues, but last year’s Starscream was packed in a box featuring the would-be cover of issue 5).
The other way this set ups the ante is with some cool, all-new tooling included. As great as he is, Starscream was just a straight repaint of the Sky Striker– in fact in the entire set, only the gun version Megatron was a unique, new piece. Shockwave sports an entirely new cannon to match the appearance of his classic blaster, which adds to the unique look of this new HISS. Extra credit must be doled out based on the awesome paint job on the front cannons of the tank beneath the canopy– with just a simple paint job, this piece now looks like the cycloptic eye of the Decepticon!
Destro and the BAT are both great as well. Not only does the villainous arms dealer get a new uniform made from some clever kitbashing, he also includes his allegiance-bending Decepticons vest, and sees a re-release of the awesome suitcase full of money from the Pursuit of Cobra Destro. The BAT is a straight repaint, but the new colors look great and really harken back to the classic Constructicon… the only drawback of this guy is that he’s not available in any other format than this pricey box set, as I’d love to build a small army of Constructicon BATs. The Soundwave backpack is probably the coolest accessory in the history of GI Joe, and it is pulled off perfectly– the scale is dead-on, and it includes a peg so it can be worn by any Joe figure as a backpack. The addition of Soundwave’s three henchmen in their cassette modes is very cool, and I love that one can even fit inside the villainous boom box.
2012 was a great year for Comic Con exclusives, but I can’t think of one that put that goofy, geek smile on my face more than the Shockwave HISS. It’s a testament to just how clever and creative the design teams behind GI Joe and Transformers are, and the result is a super-fun playset packed with cool references which can be appreciated by any RAH or G1 fans.