GI JOE 30th Anniversary Collection: Sky Striker by Hasbro

So, remember that one item that I found at Marshall’s last Friday that was worth standing in line for? Yeah, this was it. I’ll have you all know that this purchase represents a personal defeat for me. I often run checks on my collecting habit versus my sanity just to make sure that I haven’t gone overboard. One of those checks is having the rationality to determine whether I have somewhere to go with a particular piece and I’m not turning into one of those hoarding freaks you see on TV. I have very specific boundaries set up over where my toys live and where the rest of my home begins and with the exception of a couple of items I have displayed in my library, those boundaries have held fast. The reason I never bought the Sky Striker when it was originally out on shelves was because I knew I had nowhere to go with it, and I suspected that once it was built, it wasn’t going to go back in the box for easy storage.

Nonetheless, when I saw it sitting there alone on the shelf at Marshalls on clearance, I couldn’t resist taking it home. That may seem odd, since I’m certainly not a very big GI JOE collector these days, and before today, I haven’t picked up any of the 30th Anniversary stuff, except for a lone Destro figure. I attribute my lapse of reason to the fact that when I was a kid, I fell in love with the Sky Striker from the old Sunbow cartoon and I absolutely adored the original toy. So, yeah, I guess I’m blaming nostalgia on this one. It’s hard to believe I don’t do that more often.

The Sky Striker comes in a sizeable box with some wonderful artwork and a little window cut out to show off the Ace figure. I love this kind of packaging over window boxes, mainly because it’s durable and so long as the toy inside doesn’t require a lot of assembly, you can use these boxes to store the toy when you aren’t displaying it.

Hmm… so much for not requiring a lot of assembly. As sizeable as the box is, it’s pretty easy to tell when holding it that it isn’t as big as the Sky Striker. Open it up and you can quickly see that the wings, rear fins, engines, and the entire cockpit and nose portion of the aircraft aren’t attached. That was the first thing I noticed. The second thing? Holy shit, that’s a lot of stickers! I love stickers. Part of me was content to leave this thing boxed until sometime in the future where I might be in a bigger place and have more room to display stuff. But how could I resist all those stickers? There are over 30 “No Step” stickers alone! Mmm… stickers. Either way, I haven’t even seen one of these babies since I last had my original some 20 years ago. I was super anxious to get it together and check it out. As suspected, this jet is not designed to come apart once it’s together, so sadly I’ll wind up trashing the box.

All slapped together, I spent the better part of my Sunday morning with a pot of coffee and stickers while FigureFeline made a nest out of the box. We were both in heaven! There are a bunch of optional swap-out stickers so if you want to buy more than one of these, you can customize them quite a bit, including different color striping and different art for the tail fins. Ok, that’s the last time I talk about stickers… promise!

So, how different is it from the vintage toy? The body is molded in grey plastic rather than white, which is a big plus in my book. Besides looking more realistic to me, I don’t have to worry about it yellowing. The rear fins are black, and the canopy is no longer tinted, but it does have a nice painted frame. The inside of the cockpit has been retooled to fit the newer size figures. The rear seat has been taken out completely, the cockpit is more detailed, and let’s face it, Short Round said it best, “Doctor Jones, Doctor Jones! No. More. Parachutes!” I can’t say I’d quarrel with any of these changes. They’re either improvements or understandable sacrifices.

The one change that I wish Hasbro had taken out remains true to the original toy. Yep, I’m talking about the fact that the wings are tied to the same mechanism as the landing gear. New Sky Striker has the same slider lever on top that converts the wings to the swept back position and also retracts the landing gear. It never really bugged me as a kid, but it kind of bugs me now.

Naturally, the Sky Striker comes with Ace and unfortunately I’m not real crazy about him. I appreciate the insane amount of work Hasbro put into the layers and complexities of his flight suit, but in the end he just looks like a kit-bashed mess to me. The flight helmet is particularly awful and I hate the yellow plastic they used for the visor. The 25th Anniversary Ace was no prize either, but I’ll likely wind up swapping him out into the pilot’s seat when I finally find some way to display this thing, just because that’s more akin to the Ace I knew and loved.

While the new Sky Striker has its share of tweaks and bobs, it is at heart still the same old toy and It’s remarkable how well it holds up today. This toy is an iconic thing of beauty and it looks quite majestic standing on the edge of my desk waiting to take off into battle. It really brings back the memories of my buddies and I flying our Sky Strikers around the backyard doing airstrikes on Cobra fools. Even at the original MSRP of around $35, I thought this thing was reasonably priced, but Marshall’s had it for ten bucks less so all the better. I’m sure as hell not sorry I bought it, even if it did take over an hour of reorganizing to make room for it on the shelf next to my BMF Falcon, AT-AT and Slave-1.

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