COMBAT JET SKYSTRIKER — XP-14F (w/ ACE)
G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)
“Ace would rather fly than do anything else. During high school he worked after school and weekends to pay for flying lessons. Spent one year flying pipelines in Alaska and two years stunt flying for movies. Enlisted USAF at 22. Duty most previous to G.I. Joe assignment: senior instructor USAF Fighter Weapons Squadron “The Aggressors” (pilot combat training school). Qualified Expert: F-5E, F-15, F-16, XP-14/F.
Ace has one major character flaw: cutthroat poker. A predilection for gambling would ordinarily disqualify an applicant for the G.I. Joe team but in Armbruster’s case you can hardly call it gambling since he NEVER LOSES. That’s why we call him Ace!”
Having set a standard of larger scale vehicles with the MOBAT in the first year of their rebooted GI Joe line, Hasbro decided to up the ante even further. The 1983 vehicles focused fairly heavily on aerial combat for both sides. However, it was once again the Joes who pulled ahead on the coolness front, with their star 1983 offering being the Combat Jet Skystriker and its pilot Ace, which would proudly launch the Joe tradition of things getting bigger and better every year. Like the MOBAT, the Skystriker offered up the kind of vehicle that the 12-inch line could have never dreamed of doing proper justice, further cementing the new line’s niche. And, also like the MOBAT, the Skystriker had one of that year’s coolest Joes as its pilot, which certainly helped its case.
THE VEHICLE ITSELF
Certainly the star affair here, the Skystriker is kind of the fighter jet equivalent to the MOBAT’s tank, in that it reads as a pretty decent summation of a basic military vehicle. Like the MOBAT, the Skystriker had some realworld inspiration, specifically the F-14 Tomcat. Of course, the F-14 actually went into production, meaning the salvaged experimental design angle that was so cool about the MOBAT ended up dropped here. Of course, the F-14 still being fairly new at the time of this vehicle’s release does still make it feel pretty cutting edge. At the time of its release, the Skystriker was the largest vehicle in the line, and it would remain so until the USS Flagg came on the scene in ’85. And, if you want to get really technical, that was more a playset than a vehicle, so it’s all very suspect if you ask me. The Skystriker was robbed, I tell ya! …Where was I? Right, toy review. Always toy review. The Skystriker’s a big boy, measuring almost 2 feet in length. It was a brand new mold, and would see itself repurposed for the Night Boomer in 1989, as well as being slightly retooled to be an all-new Sky Striker in the 30th Anniversary line. Much like the MOBAT, the Skystriker’s sculpt is noticeably less dated than the figures it accompanied. It emulates the real world vehicle well, and includes a lot of nice technical details that keep it from becoming too generic or sci-fi-y. There are lots of little crevices and small details littered throughout. While the MOBAT was really just a solid chunk of plastic with one small opening to house a single figure, the Skystriker is designed with a bit more interaction with the figures in mind. The interior of the cockpit actually has a bit of the appropriate detailing, as well as seating for two separate figures, a feature which the comics and cartoons, and even the 2011 re-release dropped. It’s not a ton of extra seating, but compared to the tank, it was a pretty big deal. The Skystriker wasn’t quite as feature heavy as some of the other vehicles in the line, but it did have removable seats for an “ejecting” feature. More prominently, the wings can be moved forward or back (much like a real F-14), and the landing gear on the underside was tied into this feature. Moving the wings forward brings the landing gear out, while switching them back will fold it back up. There’s no paint on the Skystriker, but there are a rather extensive selection of decals, which mainly serve to remind you that decals really aren’t designed to last, and be a major pain to anyone who wants to restore a vintage Skystriker. The Skystriker was packed with six missiles, which could be mounted on the underside of the vehicle. It also included…
THE FIGURE ITSELF
…Ace! First coming onto the scene with the Skystriker in ’83, Ace would go on to become one of the most prominent pilots in the Joe line-up, with a whopping 12 figures to his name…well, to a variation of his name, since he couldn’t keep just “Ace” post 25th Anniversary. Ace’s original design kind of dives back into that “experimental” bit that the vehicle didn’t quite keep up with, since he’s got more in common with an astronaut than your typical fighter pilot. It’s certainly a distinct appearance, though, and the figure’s sculpt does a respectable job of making him look cool. The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. As an ’83 figure, his neck is still just a swivel, but with the big collar, it’s not really much of a loss. Though Ace’s sculpt was all new, his head actually shares a number of common elements with the Hawk/Steeler/Flash/Shortfuse head from the ’82 line-up, though the level of detailing had certainly taken a jump. The color schemes of the ’83 line-up moved away from the drab greens of the initial figures, and Ace follows suit, with a white and red number, which matches him well with the Skystriker. Ace had no armaments of his own (he’s already got the combat jet, so what more does he need), but he does have a removable helmet.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Remember me mentioning the really large G.I. Joe collection that All Time Toys got in? Wanna guess where this thing came from? Yeah, I was responsible for piecing most of the collection together, which meant I got to spend a whole lot of time with most of it. This was kind of a star piece, since, in addition to having everything but the parachute, it also included its box, blue prints, and even some spare decals. It was a nice enough piece that I decided I kind of wanted to keep it, and my parents were kind enough to assist on that and give it to me as a birthday present this year. Since receiving it, I’ve been spending my nights working to restore it to the best of my ability, which included stripping it of all of its decals, cleaning it, replacing the decals I could with the spares, and then re-affixing the rest of them. It’s been a lot of work, but I knew that one going in. And it may be more work yet, as I’m not entirely sure I’m going to be keeping the vintage decals long-term. Whatever the case, this is a fantastic center piece to my Joe collection, and has definitely been a big investment for me.