The Reviews SDCC 2012 Shockwave HISS Tank

{mosimage} With San Diego Comic Con starting tonight, the was fortunate enough to get our hands on one of the exclusives that Hasbro will be offering at their Hasbro Toy Shop booth – GI Joe And The Transformers  Shockwave HISS Tank with Decepticon Destro, Constructicon BAT, Soundwave and 3 Mini-Con Deployers (Recordicons, as some would call them).

Let's start with the first thing we saw when we took the exclusive out of the mailer box; the packaging. Similar to Starscream last year, the front of the box is done up as though it's a long-lost issue to the GI Joe and the Transformers. Since that was a 4-part mini-series and Starscream took #5, this box is called #6. It's very nice Marvel-style artwork and colors. Simple but effective…

 The sides of the box display some of the contents, such as Destro, the BAT, and Soundwave, all on a red background surrounded by black. Which helps give the packaging a nice, strong contrast. On the top and bottom flaps, we see the GI Joe ant the Transformers logo a couple more times set against more black. And lastly, the back of the box. Here we get some nice little added bonuses worked into the graphics, such as the fictional cutaways on the HISS Tank toy showing "hidden" Transformers parts. Like the Spark Chamber, Energon Convertor, and Astroblaster.

Another nice addition is the background itself, which is drawn as a page of a comic book. With this fake page, we get our first look at the story which will be told by the bio cards for the figures. It starts with Destro and a G1 Shockwave standing side by side with the caption "Two villains make a dark deal to further their own evil plans…" The next panel is a close up of Destro who speaks to Shockwave, "Here's the Energon you want, Shockwave. Now give me the cash you owe me." The next panel is a close view of Shockwave's head as he enits a beam of light from his singular eye. The caption above reads, "Shockwave scans the HISS Tank blueprints as Destro looks on…" Next, Shockwave transforms from his G1 robot into the HISS Tank, while saying, "Together we will rebuild Power Station Alpha and take control of the world!" The last panel shows Soundwave in tape deck mode, tucked in the corner with a caption that says, " Unknown to the two villains, Soundwave is recording this meeting."

So that's the box. Let's open it and see what there is to see. Inside, we're greeted with a cardboard tray covered in HISS Tank parts, figures, and accessories. They've dismantled Shockwave! So you have to put him back together, including reattaching his "head" to the front of the vehicle. (There is an actual piece shaped and painted as though it was Shockwave's head. A very nice nod tossed in to help the toy feel more like a Transformer and less like a GI Joe vehicle.) The HISS Tank is covered in metallic purple paint, making it shine. (Pardon the pun.) The Decepticon symbol tampographs already painted on, so it does not come with any additional stickers to customize the toy. A little bit of a bummer for the GI Joe fan, and also a touch unfortunate for the Decepticon symbol with the screw hole in the middle of it.

The Tank relies not only on its purple paint to pass it off as Shockwave, but also receives a new part; what the box had called the  "Astroblaster". This is a slightly smaller but otherwise nearly exact copy of the original G1 Shockwave toy's blaster mode barrel. Put the two muzzles next to each other and you will be amazed at how the tiniest detail matches. There are a few differences here and there, but it's amazing how close it comes to the original.

This HISS tank is the Retaliation version of the vehicle. So the rubber treads, pop-up attack mode, rear gunner station underneath the vehicle and other features that you might remember from the Rise of Cobra and Pursuit of Cobra HISS Tanks just aren't there. The treads are one solid plastic piece, the attack mode is accomplished by simply angling he vehicle forward, and the gunner station has been moved to the top of the vehicle as an open hole to stand a figure inside. It is a simpler version of the vehicle, but it's still an adequate representation of it.

 Now the figures! Decepticon Destro is geared up in heavy anti-flak/bomb armor different from the Pursuit of Cobra Destro. This gives him a unique look, and also a place for a giant Decepticon symbol on his chest. The body of this figure is cast entirely in purple with the vest cast in a second color purple. For accessories, he comes with a bright green (bright enough that the camera didn't want to photograph it correctly) laser rifle and a purple briefcase full of "money". GI Joe fans who have had the chance to mess around with this briefcase from other Destros know how fun it is. It features two levels of GI Joe sized paper money; one is molded as a single piece while the second level is individual bundles of bills for Destro to wave around in people's faces! Overall, it's a very nicely done figure.

 Next is the Consctructicon BAT. This is the original 25th Anniversary BAT mold (so no battle damage) done up in, you guessed it, Constructicon colors. The bright green and purple look amazing on the figure. The only qualms we have about it is the silver dry-brushing. It looks a touch out of place on an otherwise cartoonish figure. But that's very minor. This figure is one of the main reasons we have been drooling over this set, and in-hand, the BAT does not disappoint!

Also included in this set is a non-transforming Soundwave (similar to the Megatron gun that came with Starscream) and a dolly/cart for carrying three cubes of Energon. Soundwave is an excellent reproduction of his cassette player mode. It's very much modeled on the G1 toy, as the back of the accessory is sculpted so that you can still see the arms and head hiding in plain sight.

Well, let's correct that. It's modeled on the reissue of the G1 toy. The "chest door" is clearly based on the reissue's remake of the double-cassette door. With external "hinges" and added tech details. The three Mini-Con Deployers that come with Soundwave are all based heavily on the Laserbeak/Buzzsaw toy, with the seams for their would be bird mode still visible despite their tiny size. As a nice little attention to detail, all three Deployers are a different color – you have red, gold and orange. No doubt a nod to Laserbeak, Buzzsaw and perhaps eHOBBY Sundor?

The Deployers can fit into Soundwave one at a time. However since the chest door does not open, they just slide into a slot on the top of the tape deck. Like a toaster. The Deployer sticks out a tiny fraction of an inch which is supposed to let you grab it and pull it back out. However, it's not as easy as it was intended to be. There's still not enough cassette exposed for you to grab it with your fingers, meaning you have to rock it back and forth until you can get enough cassette showing to get a hold of. There could have been a better way to work this interaction.

One last feature of the Soundwave accessory is the peg sticking out the back of it. Since he's a bit oversized for a GI Joe figure to hold in its hand, this peg lets you pin it onto a figure's back. It takes a bit of getting used to seeing someone with an oversized cassette player stuck to their back, but it was nice that the designers thought to include the ability for a figure to "hold" Soundwave. Even if it is a bit unconventional.

 The dolly/cart with the energon cubes originally came with one of the MASS Device DVD 5-packs from GI Joe. It was meant for the Cobra Troopers to wheel in the samples of water, earth, and crystals that would fuel the device. Here though, the cubes have been cast in translucent pink to represent the fuel the Transformers run on. In a little bit of an oddity, not all three of the elements were used. Instead of one of each or even three of same element, there are two earth blocks and one water block. It's a bit strange to have the one different mold like that. There is an advantage to their construction though – if the different mold bothers you, you can slide the pink outer cube off of the inner element piece and just use that cube as your energon.

Overall, the figures and accessories make this set. Soundwave, the Constructicon BAT, the Energon, Destro and his money case… They are all extremely fun to pose and play around with. The Shockwave HISS Tank itself is ok. The paint details for the "head" as well as the newly sculpted Astroblaster do go a long way to make it look like Shockwave. But, they might fall just short of completing the homage. The first impression you get after assembling the tank is still just that it's a purple HISS Tank, the Shockwave homage is only apparent when you start looking at the details. From that point of view it's probably worth the $60 asking price, but just barely.

Rating: A++ on the figures and accessories, C to C+ for the HISS Tank, making the set around a B to B+. Still worth getting, but don't expect much of the bang for your buck in the vehicle.

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