I was going to do something other than MASK for Vintage Vault this week, but since I got desperate and tacked on a second edition last week with some variety, I thought I’d keep on trucking with those crazy secret raiders who will neutralize, as soon as they arrive. Today we’re sticking with the bad guys, though, and checking out one of the more iconic of VENOM’s vehicles and drivers. Its Cliff Dagger and his killer SUV war machine, Jackhammer. This vehicle and figure was part of Series 1 and its the first MASK toy we’re looking at that I actually owned as a kid. Will it live up to my nostalgia? Let’s find out…
As always, let’s start with the figure. Cliff Dagger is your classic thug through and through. He’s just the kind of guy you would hire as muscle to come along on a cash-grab bank job. Besides being none too bright, he’s a big, burly bald guy with an eye pactch and wool skull cap, and if there’s one thing we all learned from Saturday morning cartoons its eye patch wearing bald guys spell trouble. He was prominantly featured in the 80’s cartoon as one of VENOM’s number one henchmen.
Unlike so many of the MASK figures, which feature complex flight suits and such, Dagger is just a dude in his civies. He’s a decent looking little figure, and since he didn’t have any hair to paint, Kenner splurged to paint his hat and eye patch. He’s sporting a manly purple shirt with a sculpted shoulder holster and automatic pistol.
Cliff Dagger’s mask is called Torch, and its one of my favorites both in form and function. With its slits for the eyes and mouth, it looks like some kind of robot out of Doctor Who. Its simple and looks really low-tech. As its name implies its basically a flame thrower, which just defies all reason and yet is just amazingly cool. What I wouldn’t give to be able to shoot flames out of my head.
And then there’s Jackhammer. Its regular mode is your standard black utility vehicle. A lot of MASK’s cars are actually licensed vehicles, but apart from the real rubber Goodyear tires, there’s no identifying marks on Jackhammer. I’d say its like a cross between a Ford Bronco and a Chevy Blazer. There are huge stickers on the sides to simulate relective surfaces. The vac metal wheels and front grill really contrast nicely with the black body. The driver area is pretty detailed both in terms of sculpt and stickers, both doors open, and it can seat two figures. Jackhammer is a great looking vehicle that really doesn’t betray its alt mode much at all.
Like Hurricane, Jackhammer doesn’t so much change from one vehicle to another, but rather transforms into a battle machine. Slide the hood back and it angles up and forms an armored shield over the windshield, while the front bumper simultaneously drops down to reveal a pair of laser guns. Press the rear bumper and the top of Jackhammer’s backhalf pops up into a rotating gun turret. There’s an additional gun hidden inside, which can be taken out and plugged into the turret. Roll the Jackhammer along and the front guns recoil as if they’re firing. In battle mode, the turret offers an additional seat, allowing the vehicle to seat a total of three figures.
I really loved this toy as a kid and none of that adoration has been tarnished with the passing of time. Jackhammer may not be one of the highest concept vehicles in the MASK toyline, but its a lot more feasible and practical than many of the vehicle designs. So much so that it practically made a cameo in the GI Joe: Rise of Cobra movie and toyline. Don’t believe me? Well, I’d direct you to my look at the Steel Crusher toy, but I just realized I never did one. Looks like I’ll have to add it to the list for next week.
Due to its high profile in the cartoon, Jackhammer tends to go for a bit more money than a lot of the Series 2 toys. Wear and curling to the prominant stickers on the sides and on the hood are sometimes an issue. There aren’t a lot of pieces to lose, although the detachable gun for the turret is often missing. I seem to recall paying around $30 for mine and its and its a really nice and fresh example of a toy that belongs in every MASK collection.