Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hawking It Up To Nostalgia

When I first decided to go all out on collecting the 25th Anniversary G.I.Joes way back in 2009, I gave myself ONE restriction. I told myself that I would collect whatever figures I wanted from the toy line BUT I would stay away from getting any vehicles. My reasoning was simple, first, I wanted to keep my toy spending down (yeah right!) and second, I literally didn't have much display space for larger scale toys. Four years later, Joes have remained a major part of my collection and for the most part, I have managed to follow my self-imposed rule. Every now and then I would find myself getting a smaller scaled vehicle (like a motorcycle or a single manned cannon) in order to get a particular figure that came packed with it. But yeah, I managed to stay away from anything bigger. That is until this year when the bastards at Hasbro decided to release this baby….

So rewind back to the 80’s when I was a kid collecting the original “A Real American Hero” (ARAH) line. Even back then I didn't have that many vehicles in my collection mainly because my collection then was pretty much supported by a weekly allowance so I really couldn't afford much. I had to rely on birthday or Christmas gifts and “pasalubongs”* from my dad when he came home from business trips to get most of my Joe vehicles.

Anyway on the toy line’s 5th year, they released the G.I.Joe Tomahawk. This wasn't the first helicopter that that was ever released, but it was by far the largest. Its predecessor, the Dragonfly was more of a combat helicopter, so it was smaller with space for only two Joes in the cockpit (true you could stand a joe outside on each landing skid and have one hanging on the winch, but realistically speaking, two was the limit). The Tomahawk served a different purpose, it was a transport helicopter so aside from the two pilots, you could easily fit 4 more Joes in the back (and a lot more if they didn’t mind sitting on the floor) With it’s obviously longer and wider body and large twin rotors, the Tomahawk was a really impressive toy. But when I first saw it in the 1986 Joe catalogue, because of its size, I pretty much came to the conclusion that I’d ever get a chance to own the thing so I just basically settled for admiring the picture.

"re-enactment" of the
PERFECT Christmas gift!
A few months later, Christmas came around and we had family friends visiting from the US. And with them came a rather large gift with my name on it. Even when I saw the box on Christmas Eve, it never crossed my mind that it would possibly be the Tomahawk…I mean how could it? Anyway, because of its size, I saved opening it for last and when I finally did I was dumbfounded. There it was, right in front of me, the immense box of the G.I.Joe Tomahawk there right in front of me, and it was ALL MINE!

Back when we were kids, your "status" with your friends was usually dictated by who had the coolest toy in their collection and from that Christmas on, I was king! My friends went crazy when they saw that I got the Tomahawk and were lining up to get to check it out and play with it. A few months later (when I had had my fill) they were fighting over who would get to borrow it first and were handing over their best toys in exchange…yeah life was good.

Unfortunately, as time moved on, I eventually outgrew my collection, but since it was pretty much my favorite toy for some time, I managed to hold on to my original Tomahawk the longest even if it was literally a shell of its former self with over half of its parts missing. In the end, I ultimately decided to hand it over to my nephew who had been eyeing it for quite some time and that was the last I saw of it.

Fast forward to 2013 and Hasbro decided to throw Joe collectors a major bone by re-releasing the Eaglehawk! Due to trademark issues (I’m guessing) they couldn't use the name Tomahawk. But the name change won’t fool any real Joe collector. The Eaglehawk IS a faithful recreation of the Tomahawk, all the way down to the cammo pattern. And so the moment I saw this, "no vehicle rule" or not, I knew it had to be mine. And this time around, I didn't have to hope for any family friends from the US to get it for me.

The moment I saw it on our local toyshelves (it came out in the Philippines a good month before the official US release) I grabbed one and when I first opened it I was immediately transported back to that magical Christmas back in 1986. And as if reliving my childhood I eagerly assembled the vehicle in less than 5 minutes…applying the stickers was another story though. Although I think the Eaglehawk didn’t use the original Tomahawk mold, Hasbro managed to come up with a pretty accurate replica of the original with a number of improvements of course:

  • They added more sculpted details, especially in the cockpit, as well as on the mortar cannon below the cockpit and the machine guns on the side
  • They added an extra chair behind the pilots’ seat as well as more foot pegs to accommodate more Joes. 
  • They made the rotor blades easily removable AND adjustable. This is probably the best thing that they did since on the original toy, once the blades were assembled they were stiff and non-removable…until they would eventually break off. The new rotor set up provides for easier storage and display options.
  • They added extra radio headsets for other Joes (crew members)
  • Lift-Ticket, the original pilot got a major modern upgrade. The original Lift Ticket was dressed up ready for Christmas in his predominantly green and red uniform. That version of Lift Ticket actually received a modern update a few years back so this time around he gets an even “more” modern update with more muted realistic army colors. I actually prefer the original red & green one so the new one will just be dubbed as his trusty co-pilot…..Hermando.

Of course it’s not ALL good. The one glaring misstep is on the seats themselves. The original Tomahawk had seats that were removable and had back pegs so Joes could be securely pegged onto the seats and not fall off. The new seats are non-removable and lack any sort of pegs. Seat belts would have been a nice touch but they decided to go with nothing….so I guess I will have to rely on using some sticky tack to keep my passengers secure.

roomier & more detailed cockpit

And due to the fact that modern Joes are taller than their original ARAH counter parts and I myself am bigger (yes taller and wider)…the Eaglehawk, being the exact same size as the original Tomahawk seems…smaller. But whatever, all that aside, the Eaglehawk is a GREAT update on a classic toy. It’s a toy that I have a great nostalgic connection too and is SO worth breaking my “no vehicle” rule on, and a perfect addition to my ever growing collection!

now with adjustable blades for easier storage

Obligatory "Rawhides**" shot....

*for those non Filipino readers…”pasalubong” is the term for gifts & other stuff you bring home for family & friends when you go on a trip.

** you've got to have watched the 1987 movie to get this shot :P