Dreadnok Thunder Machine (1986)
If you hadn’t made the connection between the designs of Mad Max and the Dreadnok concept in its first year of release, you sure couldn’t escape the comparison by ’86. The Thunder Machine is a straight-up toy rendition of a vehicle Lord Humungus and his crew might have rocketed through the wasteland.
This was one nutso vehicle–and I loved it. The Thunder Machine looks junkyard at first glance, but when you study a bit, the thing really is a solid ride. It touched a chord with me as a kid whose fascination with cars was growing at the time. The front end instantly reminded me of a late-model Pontiac Firebird, one of my favorite childhood cars. This thing sits on a pretty wicked rake as well. It’s a crazed post-apocalyptic hot rod for the GI Joe universe.
More crazy design elements: police lights up top and a roll cage for the dual front machine guns. The lights make me expect to see some Main Force Patrol regalia hidden somewhere in the stickers. And why the roll cage for the machine guns? Hey, those are some seriously expensive weapons; you gotta keep ‘ em safe if you roll your ride.
And there’s just as much horsepower in the back as there is firepower in the front thanks to a jet engine–the 80s movie references won’t stop– I’m getting a total Buckaroo Banzai jet car vibe going here. Finally, it’s funny to think that a bunch of whackos like the Dreadnoks had more sense to armor up their ride than Cobra’s leadership did with their vehicles.
As a toy, the detail is off the charts. It’s a bruiser of a mold, and more hefty than a VAMP or HISS in terms of its weight. As a kid, I was blown away by the rubber wheels and movable steering linkage. Too bad this one never saw a refit in the modern line.