I’m not one of those collectors who focuses on old stuff versus new stuff. Far from it, I much prefer to get modernized versions of classic toys/characters, but in general I just go for stuff that’s, well, good. For example, I’m a much bigger fan of the classic 80’s Zoids because I love the whole “mechanical bones” look they have going on, but I’ll always take a Classics-style Transformer over its G1 counterpart. But there are some toys that are just timeless; that no matter what the era, they will always be great toys. And that certainly holds true for the classic G.I. Joe vehicles.
Last year I had a chance to get a complete original Skystriker for $40 at a flea market, and in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t have the money, because who could’ve seen this coming? Most of us wrote the Skystriker off as dead once we found out that the Indian company Funskool broke the original mold when they had it (an unfortunately common occurance). Naturally, fans were elated to see the vehicle again. I could finally get one of the coolest airplane toys for an affordable price!
Really, this thing is everything I could have hoped for and more. It’s exactly what an action figure vehicle should be in my eyes: It’s big, it’s impressive, it comfortably fits the figures, and it isn’t hampered with pointless electronics and other gimmicks. I have to wonder if kids really are into all of that stuff these days, or if they just want good toys. I was always the type that just wanted my toys to be fun, gimmicks or no gimmicks.
I’ve never actually handled an original Skystriker, but given my experience with the Rattler, I imagine this toy is sturdier thanks to its construction. More screws and stuff, I think. Of course, you still have to assemble the thing, which is always fun. Putting the stickers on, however, is not. This has a LOT, but I think the Fury has more (and no, I haven’t put the stickers on mine yet).
However, you do get a ton of stickers to choose from, including stickers to make a classic Skystriker or a modern one, custom names for Duke, Shipwreck, Ace, Flint, and Snake-Eyes, emblems for Ace, Snake-Eyes, Flint, and Shipwreck, and stickers for an alternate color scheme. I went with the Skull One-esque color scheme and Ace’s logo. I really want to find a use for Flint’s emblem (the shotguns and the skull) because holy crap, that is badass. Ace’s name has a typo that I just noticed: It says “J Brad Armbruster” instead of “Brad J Armbruster.” Oops.
The cockpit has been redesigned from the original, now having only one seat. This was a wise choice since there’s no way in hell two modern Joes would fit in that cockpit. I especially like the cords for the ejection seat. That’s an awesome detail.
The wings swing out with a sliding mechanism that also controls the landing gear. When the wings are out, the gear is down, and when the wings are in, the gear is up. It may take away from the realism a bit with that big slider in the back, but hey, it adds play value where it counts!
The Skystriker wouldn’t be complete without its pilot, good ol’ Ace. This is a great Ace figure, and he’ll be replacing my 25th Anniversary 1997 Ace on my shelf. He uses the same head and thighs as that figure, the torso of Resolute Pilot Duke, and the arms and lower legs of Skydive. It’s a great mix of parts and makes for an excellent pilot, using accessories from many sources, too. I think the only new part is his helmet, which is kind of annoying to get on. I’d suggest taking his head off first. Kinda wish his air hose had somewhere to plug into, though.
The Skystriker is a fantastic value and one toy I’ve wanted years for. I’m glad to finally have the Joes’ first plane in my air force. The figure is great and the plane is great, what more could you want? If you haven’t picked yours up from FPNYC I suggest you fix that ASAP!
Now if only I could’ve gotten the Starscream repaint…