GI JOE Rise of Cobra: PITT Mobile Headquarters by Hasbro, Part 1

Merry Christmas, all. As a wee lad, Christmas morning was very much about playsets and the bigger toys that you couldn’t hope to talk your parents into getting you any other time of the year. These were the toys that were held over our heads like the Sword of Damacles, persuading us to not be quite so rotten in hopes that we might get them delivered to us by Santa on that special day. For me, Christmas morning was all about putting these things together with my Dad, getting them all stickered up and then introducing figures to them and having a blast playing with them amidst a landscape of crumpled paper and discarded practical gifts. Today I recreated that a bit by busting open the closest thing I could find to one of these old-style playsets… the GI JOE PITT from the Rise of Cobra toy line. In Part 1, we’ll look at the packaging, assembly and the vehicle mode and then in Part 2, we’ll open her up and see what’s inside. [Let me apologize in advance for the distracting backgrounds in the pictures, but this thing is just too damn big to shoot in my usual staging area. -FF]

The reason this sort of thing is such a nostalgia trip is because there aren’t a lot of playsets on the market these days. Why? It’s all about the way the retail landscape has changed. Gone are the days of a majority of people going to Toys R Us or KayBee for toys. Now, it’s the Walmarts and the Targets that sell the most, and therefore have a lot to say about what the big toy companies like Hasbro or Mattel make. Of course, where TRU might have six or eight aisles devoted to action figures, the Big Boxes have more like two or three, and when even the biggest lines like Star Wars or Transformers are limited to about eight or twelve feet, that retail space is at a premium and stores would rather fill that space with eight $25 boxed vehicles than one huge $100 playset. But enough with the economics…

Hasbro has been fiendishly clever these last couple years by slipping at least one big toy onto the shelves each year. These toys masquerade as vehicles, but are in reality playsets. The Millenium Falcon or the AT-AT were great examples, and so is the GI JOE PITT, a massive wheeled vehicle that folds out and transforms into a multi-level base of operations.

Yeah, that’s a big box, and no matter how much I loathed that Rise of Cobra movie, it’s hard not to get excited when holding this thing. The front has a great illustration of The PITT in action, while the back panel shows off photos of the toy itself loaded up with figures. There’s even a File Card printed on the side for the General Hawk figure that’s included in the box. Open it up and you can slide out the cardboard tray holding the toy and a bunch of baggies.

What’s inside pretty much takes up the whole interior of the box, as the bulk of the toy comes already assembled. Open up the toy and there’s more baggies inside. Then, muster your patience, because this thing requires a fair amount of assembly for the finer details and some of it can be a bumpy ride. This is also where you will first encounter this toy’s biggest failing: The plastic isn’t exactly durable. This is not the same plastic Hasbro uses for it’s smaller vehicles. I don’t know if they thinned it out to save money or to keep this thing from weighing a hundred pounds, probably both, but it is nowhere near as solid as the Millenium Falcon or the AT-AT Walker. Case in point: A few of the railings for the top deck had stress marks right out of the package. Luckily, most of the assembly is just plugging in the little stuff like the railings and the spotlights, but the fragility of the plastic made getting this thing together a bit more stressful than I would have liked. We’ll talk a lot more about The PITT’s durability in Part 2.

Do you like putting on stickers? I hope so, because there’s like seven sheets of them. I love putting on stickers, and even I couldn’t finish this beast in one sitting, and yet somehow a little patience and a lot of Rum and Eggnog got me through it. Ok, so not all of it. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get this thing one hundred percent before I had to just call it quits and start shooting the photos. But it’s mostly done. Besides, if you can tell me that you have a better way to spend Christmas morning then stickering a huge playset, I’ll curse you for being a filthy liar. The PITT also contains some cardboard parts, some of which require assembly, but we’ll get to those in Part 2, when we start looking at what’s under the hood.

Once you’re all done, you have yourself one massive military winnebego. If you remember the old Mobile Command Center, you’ll have some idea of what to expect here, as the concept is the same. Although, The PITT is an entirely new toy and far more complex than the MCC. While some parts of the playset are designed to mimic scenes in the movie, This Pitt is really not something that was in the movie, at least certainly not in its vehicle form. The top surface of the vehicle is loaded with pegs to stand figures and it has more than a few play features, including rotating spotlights, a double missile launcher, and a gunnery chair. Down in the front, there’s an opening cockpit where you can seat two figures to drive this behemoth. If you have it all locked together right, the PITT rolls along on its wheels really well and holds it’s vehicle form fairly well too, so long as you carry it carefully and support it on all sides. If you don’t, it’s likely to fall open, spill shit all over the place, and very probably break it. See that handle looking thingy on the top? That is NOT for carrying it, but rather for helping you to convert it to base mode. The only other issue here is the two removable side panels that don’t really lock in well at all due to a gimmick for the playset. But more on that in Part 2.

As you can see in the pictures, The PITT comes with a General Hawk figure. The figure looks great, but the quality is nowhere near in the same league as the regular carded figures. His arm articulation seems funky and his legs are all bendy and cheap plastic. His vest is removable, though, so you can always pilfer it for one of your other Joes.

I’ll give kudos to Hasbro for the design on this thing, as it’s definitely an improvement over the MCC’s vehicle mode, which basically looked like a giant box on wheels. Granted, The PITT is no less ridiculous in its size, and it looks more like a giant boat than a land vehicle, but at least it looks like a bit more thought went into its aesthetics than the MCC. I think my only complaint would be that it could use more armaments. It has the topside cannon and missile launcher and two rotating guns on the sides, but that’s it. In terms of relative size, just about any GI JOE vehicle is better armed than this monster.

Ok, I’m off to eat some Christmas ham now, and watch the Doctor Who Christmas special, but when I come back tomorrow, fully hung over and with a delightful case of gluttony-inspired indigestion, we’ll see how the rest of this playset plays out… see what I did there? Playset… Plays out? Ok, until then, have a Merry Christmas.

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