It was inevitable that as I continued to go through the totes in the dreaded Toy Crawlspace I would eventually hit GI Joe, and yesterday I unearthed quite the cornucopia of Joe goodness. Several totes worth, in fact! Some of you who haven’t been around FFZ long might mistake the rarity of GI Joe content here as an indication that I don’t love the line, but that’s far from the case. The line just frustrates me because I don’t have a lot of room for vehicles and for me GI Joe has always been about the figures interacting with the vehicles. Today’s feature is a great example of that frustration. The Night Attack Chopper is a pretty big helicopter and this one has spent almost its entire life in a tote because I have nowhere to display it. Time and again I’ve dug it out with intent to sell it and make room, but every time I fall in love with this thing and instead of putting it up on Ebay it goes back in the tote, waiting for the day I win the lottery and buy a mansion to display all this shit I collect.
The NAC Chopper was released as part of the Spytroops line. I believe the original version was done in jungle camo and that this desert camo repaint came along the following year. I stumbled upon it back in my toy hunting days at a KB Toys Outlet (oh, those were the days!) and to be honest, I wasn’t enamored with it at first. I thought the crooked chopper blades made it look goofy, but I couldn’t deny it was a beefy and impressive toy. It was also on deep clearance so I couldn’t resist taking it home with me. The packaging is long gone, but it’s worth noting that Spytroops was a dark time when Hasbro packaged most of the vehicles in open air boxes, which meant kids could come along and stick boogers and gum onto the toy before you could even buy it. It wasn’t uncommon to have to go through several toys on the shelf before you found one that some kids didn’t already break or mess up.
The stylized chopper blades still irk me, but considering that the rest of the toy is this glorious, I’ve learned to look past them. This is a beast of a toy and absolutely loaded with electronics and play value. There’s a fold down pistol grip on the bottom, which makes it easy to fly through the house and there’s a trigger on the tail boom to make the blades spin. You also get a winch on the side to lower Joes into action. The tan deco is simple but effective and the chopper comes with the stickers pre-applied. I love the stickers on this thing. Besides the usual registry numbers and the GI Joe logo, you get all sorts of hazard stripes, weapon load indicators; bullet holes in the canopy and even Cobra kill marks near the cockpit. Brillaint!
Besides being big, the NAC comes loaded for bear. You got the Sound Attack system, which allowed you to plug weapons into different ports to get different attack sounds. You get two big guns designed to work with any of the four hard points, but you could also take Sound Attack guns from other vehicles and use them as well. The Sound Attack gimmick was a really clever modular weapon system, which I think could have been executed better. Nonetheless, I really dig the guns on this thing, particularly the chain gun under the chin with the removable ammo belt and laser targeting beam.
You also get two missile pods, each capable of raining a payload of five envoys of death down on Cobra’s head. The pylons collapse into the sides of the aircraft for regular flight and deploy outward into firing positions. Wind up the back of the pods and then squeeze the trigger on the flight grip and both pods will commence their glorious symphony of destruction. I think I’d have to look back to the auto-load and firing mechanism on the Grizzly Tank for any Joe vehicle gimmick that even comes close to this. Those Spytroops people knew how to design some cool shit.
As an indicator of this thing’s size, the NAC can seat three Joes in the cockpit: One at the pilot seat and two in the back. It also works beautifully with modern figures and the center seat is just right for my 25th Anniversary Wild Bill. There’s room for more figures and gear in the back cargo area, which features sliding access doors on both sides. It’s a bit awkward to get to and you have to deploy the missile pods into firing position to have access. Still, I love vehicles that can take a lot of figures and this one certainly does the job.
I don’t often look back on Spytroops with a lot of fond memories, but I can’t deny that it delivered a handful of truly impressive vehicles. The Grizzly Tank was certainly one, and this helicopter is no slouch either. It’s an amazingly fun toy with a lot of clever gimmicks and it displays beautifully, provided you have the room for it. It’s also pretty rugged and hefty and surprisingly easy to find for cheap. And that’s probably another reason why I’ve hung on to it for so long. Even new in the box, you can usually pick this beauty up for under forty bucks, so apart from it taking up a lot of space, there’s not a lot of incentive for me to part with it, even if I wanted to. It’s also worth pointing out that this beast was resculpted and repainted into a Cobra helicopter too, and that one was in the same tote as this guy, so I’ll try to get around to looking at the Crimson Command Chopper sometime in the near future.