Cliff “Airwave” Mewett (Project: Downfall)
I’ve been a little obsessed with the vintage Sky Patrol figures ever since I got back into the Joe brand when I was in high school. However, if there was one figure I always thought was a little weak, it was Airwave. His vintage figure just didn’t seem all that impressive. I wasn’t expecting a lot out of the modern version of Cliff “Airwave” Mewett, but the GIJCC really changed my opinion on him. They managed to capture the vintage design’s high points pretty well and then modernized the rest of the figure and actually made him kind of interesting. Airwave still may not be the flashiest member of Sky Patrol, but I think this modern version is far more interesting because the GIJCC didn’t do a straight-up recreation of the vintage figure with modern parts and managed to breathe a little more life into the figure.
I think part of what hurt the vintage Airwave figure was that the base figure he used was the Motor-Viper. Don’t get me wrong, the Motor-Viper is a pretty decent driver figure, but that look didn’t translate all that well to Sky Patrol. The modern Motor-Viper (called Nitro-Viper when he was released with the Rise of Cobra Steel Marauder) wasn’t all that exciting either, so the GIJCC did some different things and managed to build a fairly interesting figure. The legs are from Pursuit of Cobra Skydive and they have so much more detailing than the vintage figure, but they still give Airwave some thigh armor like the Motor-Viper had back in the day. The torso comes from one of the Rise of Cobra Reactive Armor figures, but you won’t see it because Airwave wears the Rise of Cobra Nitro-Viper vest over it. It’s a great, modern take on the vintage Motor-Viper chest and the larger, more detailed canvass really makes those hoses look good. The arms are also shared with Pursuit of Cobra Skydive and while we may be seeing them a lot in this set, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re very solid pieces. They’re nicely armored and well-built and they fit with Airwave’s aesthetic quite well. The vintage Airwave did have some armored shoulderpads and the gloves looked kind of armored as well, so this armor is an outgrowth of that, and I really like it. I’m still not a fan of the wrists, but the armored arms work well for Airwave, so I’ll grudgingly accept them here. Topping off the figure, Airwave uses Pursuit of Cobra Dusty’s head. I know that some people are getting really tired of the GIJCC reusing it, but if you look at the vintage Airwave figure, Dusty’s head is almost a perfect analog for it. I can’t fault the GIJCC for wanting to save some tooling dollars when there’s an almost perfect head for him already in the tooling library. Rounding out the figure, Airwave uses Ashiko’s helmet to recreate his vintage helmet. It’s not a bad look, but there’s a tiny part of me that wishes the GIJCC would have broken with tradition and actually given us an alternate head in the form of the Rise of Cobra Nitro-Viper’s head. I think that head would have recreated vintage Airwave’s funky, large helmet perfectly. I know an alternate head would have been slightly more expensive to create just because that would have been one more piece of tooling they would have needed to license from Hasbro, but I think it would have added just a little more to this figure.
I think the other reason I’ve never been a big fan of the vintage Airwave figure was his color scheme. For some odd reason, yellow, tan and brown just didn’t work for me. It just didn’t jive with the rest of the Sky Patrol team and seemed too much like desert camouflage for me. While I still think Airwave’s color scheme is a bit on the bland side, the GIJCC managed to take those colors and make Airwave look just a little more interesting. Airwave’s base color is still a yellowish-tan. However, unlike the vintage figure, brown is used to create a camouflage pattern on his pants and for his boots, kneepads and elbow pads. The camouflaged pants make his lower body look quite a bit more interesting than it did on the vintage figure. His thigh armor is now tan, and that tan color is also used on his shoulder armor and gloves and the Motor-Viper vest. Rather than brown, the hoses on his chest are black, which pops a little more and looks surprisingly good against the tan base. Silver is used on the tube attachment points and the vshaped piece on his chest armor. Airwave’s head is painted similarly to the vintage figure, as is his helmet. The helmet is silver with yellowish-tan for the visor. Rounding out the paint scheme, Airwave gets the Sky Patrol insignia in black on his chest. While it’s still not the most interesting look, Airwave’s color scheme is cohesive and it does look quite a bit more interesting than the vintage figure.
The gear the vintage Sky Patrol figures came with usually didn’t have modern analogues. Three of the vintage Sky Patrol figures had really bizarre weapons while the others had realistic but out-of-scale-with-Joe-figures ones. Airwave was part of the group that had normal, if somewhat oversized, weapons. Instead of the combination assault rifle and grenade launcher Airwave had back in the day, he has the great assault rifle that first saw use with Rise of Cobra Paris Pursuit Snake Eyes. This is still one of my favorite Joe weapons, and it looks great in Airwave’s hands. Airwave also picks up a pistol to fill the ankle holster. Since he’s a part of Sky Patrol, Airwave gets the great parachute pack that Hasbro released with 30th Anniversary Renegades Ripcord. Like the vintage figure, his parachute pack is brown and it meshes quite well with the figure. Finally, since Airwave has always been listed as Sky Patrol’s audible frequency specialist, he finally comes with some communications gear in the form for Firefly’s sat phone. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but I definitely remember when I discovered all the Sky Patrol figures had unique specialties like that, I thought it was a shame that their gear didn’t reflect those specialties. Sure, Sky Patrol was primarily about finding a way to use some overstock of the mail-away parachute packs, but the Joe brand was always so great at equipping their figures with gear that reflected the military specialties the filecards talked about. I definitely remember as a kid wishing that my Airborne had something that looked like medical gear since he was also Sky Patrol’s field medic. I’m quite sure I would have thought the same thing about Airwave had I gotten him as a kid. It was a smart call for the GIJCC to reference Airwave’s specialty in his gear and I applaud them for that.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations for Airwave, so to find him so interesting is truthfully kind of a surprise. While the colors are all vintage-inspired, the way the GIJCC used them makes Airwave look quite a bit more interesting than he did back in 1990. Add in the great gear that reflects his specialty but still gives him ties to Sky Patrol and you have a great addition to this modern take on the team. As I said, I’ve been kind of obsessed with Sky Patrol for a while, so this set was right up my alley and the GIJCC did this team a great turn by making such excellent modern interpretations of them. Airwave still isn’t the most interesting figure in the team, but he’s definitely got a leg up on his vintage version and has an amazingly well-detailed modern version that still references his original look. That’s not bad for a guy who started out life as a Motor-Viper repaint.