Ghost Hawk and Lift-Ticket
Some Joe vehicles just really take on a life of their own. When you look at the original Sky Hawk, you wouldn’t think it would be destined for the greatness it achieved. It was a neat little design, but it really took off when it saw extensive use in the Joe comics and the cartoon. While the Skystriker was the go-to Joe aircraft for the early years of the cartoon, the single- seated Sky Hawk soon saw a lot of use as part of the Joe air force as well. Growing up, I had a lot stronger ties to the Sky Hawk (though it was the Sky Patrol version rather than the original) because it fit a little better into my play habits which preferred smaller vehicles that could be picked up and played with far more quickly. Plus, I was born after the heyday of the Skystriker and KansasBrother was a bit too young for it as well. Though I had a little trouble running it down, I was very happy to find the 25th Anniversary Ghost H.A.W.K. (one of those great modern acronyms that was never actually defined, though I’m partial to High-Altitude Weapons Karrier [hey, if M.A.S.K. can spell command with a “K”, why can’t the Joes misspell things too]) with Lift Ticket. It’s everything I remembered loving about the Sky Hawk back in the day and though it may be small, it’s definitely still my favorite vehicle in my surprisingly large modern Joe air force.
The Ghost H.A.W.K. has always been one of the more fanciful Joe vehicles, but I’m okay with that. I like a little bit of sci-fi flare in my Joe universe and the Ghost H.A.W.K. fits that bill nicely. The design is a bit funky, but it bends the rules of reality just enough to be cool while not being completely unrealistic like some of the smaller Cobra air vehicles. There’s really not a lot to the design, but it’s still great. Most of the vehicle’s body is devoted to the cockpit, which makes sense for a small, short-range scouting vehicle. The tail has two sets of fins and is where the VTOL engines are mounted. Underneath the cockpit, it has a pair of landing skids like a helicopter would have. A pair of missiles is also mounted below the skids. Strangely, there are also mounting points for the missiles on both the tail fins themselves and the tail fin assembly. I’m not sure why they’re there, but you can mount the missiles in those two places as well. Its main weapon, a double-barreled machine gun, is also mounted underneath the cockpit and can move side to side to a degree. I don’t think it can move quite as much as the original version could, but the machine guns can still pivot like the original Sky Hawk’s could. The final feature is one I loved as a kid and am glad to see on these modern Joe vehicles: removable access panels. On the left side of the cockpit, there’s a panel that can be removed that lets you see some of the inner workings of the Ghost H.A.W.K. I always liked having the Joes tinkering with their vehicles in the motor pool before a Cobra attack or having to make repairs in the field after getting damaged. It’s a great look and is also something I don’t recall from the Sky Patrol Sky Hawk. I think part of the reason the design works so well is due to its simplicity. While it still looks like the original Sky Hawk, the Ghost H.A.W.K. doesn’t feel the same. The design is a bit stouter and sturdier and I’m glad to see that. I always thought the Sky Patrol Sky Hawk felt a little fragile. The Ghost H.A.W.K. doesn’t have that issue at all. Everything feels just a little bit better built and I think that really helps out the Ghost H.A.W.K. I’m sure at least part of the stoutness is due to the fact that modern figures are a bit bigger than their vintage counterparts which means vehicles, out of necessity, have to be bigger, but while my Sky Hawk always felt just a tad flimsy, the Ghost H.A.W.K. feels a lot better built and able to handle a little more action in the field.
The Sky Hawk’s color scheme is just as classic as its design and the Ghost H.A.W.K. replicates its simplicity very well. The color schemes on the 80s Joe vehicles were pretty simple compared to later releases, but I love the basic military green they used for a lot of those vehicles back in the day. While I’m not sure olive drab is a great color for an aircraft, I like the consistency the Joe motor pool has. The landing skids and engines are a dark gray that looks good when paired with the olive drab green and the engines get a little silver on top for the intakes and jet fan. Much like back in the day, the stickers do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to break up the olive drab of body. The stickers add a lot of detail and I’m glad that Hasbro went back to having us put on most of the decals ourselves. I understand the need to put some on since they were being sold in window boxes so you can’t just leave all the stickers off, but on the early 25th Anniversary vehicles, I kind of felt a little gypped that I didn’t get to do that myself. I really liked doing that back in the day and doing it again on the Ghost H.A.W.K. brought back some fond memories of G.I. Joe back in the day. I think my favorite sticker is the pilot’s name, Victor M. Sikorski, being stenciled on the side of the cockpit along with his kill tally. Of course, Joe fans may know Victor M. Sikorski a bit better as Lift Ticket, the original pilot of the Tomahawk who has traded in his iconic helicopter for this iconic Joe vehicle.
The vintage Sky Hawk was released without a pilot so the Hasbro folks had a lot of leeway when it came to picking a pilot for the Ghost H.A.W.K., and I couldn’t be happier that they went with Lift Ticket. He has a strong fan following thanks to his original role as the Tomahawk’s pilot and he has a rather distinct look, even with the somewhat goofy grin he had back in the day. Plus, at the time, the Tomahawk wasn’t a feasible option for release so I’m glad they found a way to release Lift Ticket. Lift Ticket is another figure that shows how effective Hasbro was with parts reuse during the 25th Anniversary line. His torso came from the Viper and his legs came from Mutt. While his legs do have the same thunder thighs that Mutt has, for some reason they don’t seem quite as problematic on him as they do on Mutt. I think part of it might be because of the slightly different vest he wears. Lift Ticket gets a brand new vest that looks like his old torso and I think it’s just a bit bulkier than Mutt’s which gives the illusion that his massive thighs are a bit more proportional. They’re not—you can see they still fit very poorly in his hip sockets, but they aren’t quite as noticeable on Lift Ticket for some reason. To help sell the look, though, Lift Ticket does get brand new arms and a new head. The arms have the same high black gloves and red shoulder pads the original figure did, but they’re far more detailed due to the advances in toy-making technology. Unfortunately, Lift Ticket’s head doesn’t get quite the face lift his arms do. He’s still got a pretty goofy grin and without his helmet on, you can see he’s got some pretty big ears and a slightly receding hairline. I’m not going to be displaying Lift Ticket without his helmet and his helmet can hide a lot of his problems, but the helmet still can’t fix the goofy grin he’s got.
Lift Ticket’s paint job faithfully recreates his original color scheme. It’s a good look, but unfortunately, the biggest problem comes in what they did with the paint work on his head. To my untrained eye, it looks like the decided to paint his entire head, but they paint they used on it is just a bit too thick. A lot of the detail work on his head gets lost in the somewhat gloppy paint, much akin to what happened with SDCC Destro. It always bugs me when the paint work on a head, for whatever reason, turns out to be subpar. The face is what makes or breaks the Joes. The Joes are all individuals and you can get a lot personality from a successfully designed head sculpt, but all the good design work in the world doesn’t mean anything if the paint work doesn’t fit with the head sculpt and that’s part of Lift Ticket’s problem. In my photos, you can see that the face details are kind of muted and that’s a problem. Beyond the head, though, the paint work is decent. The reds and greens work well together, even if there is a bit of fuzziness at a couple places where the colors meet. It’s most noticeable where the green on the legs meets with the tan spats he’s wearing, but there’s also a bit of fuzz on the shoulder pads as well. It doesn’t really bother me that much, especially with as hard to find as Ghost H.A.W.K.s were in my area, but it is a little surprising considering how sharp the paint detailing is on his vest. The vest is primarily tan but the holster gets a black paint app and his pistol and radio get painted silver. These all look good, though I’m a little disappointed that the other vest pockets didn’t get painted black like they were back in the day. Finally, Lift Ticket’s helmet also gets a lot of attention from the paint team, and it looks great here. The red and black helmet is a great recreation of his original look and it’s great they managed to pull off such a successful homage to Lift Ticket’s look while improving it at the same time.
Like most vehicle drivers, Lift Ticket doesn’t get much in the way of accessories, but at least he does get something, which can’t be said about quite a few of the 25th Anniversary vehicle drivers. I’ve already mentioned his vest and helmet, but there’s one more piece and that’s a knife to fill his leg sheath. It’s a new piece and I don’t think we’ve seen it since, but I like that they went to the effort of filling his sheath. I always find it a little maddening when they have a sheath but nothing to put in it. Everything works well together here, though I do wish he’d gotten a pistol since the box art shows him with one.
The Ghost H.A.W.K. and Lift Ticket are part of what I loved about the 25th Anniversary line. While the Ghost H.A.W.K. was made of all new molds, they did an amazing job at replicating the Sky Hawk’s look while updating it to fit the modern aesthetic. They also made a great choice in making Lift Ticket the pilot since he was such a popular figure, but there was no way we’d get his ride at that point in the line. Right now, my Ghost H.A.W.K. is pilotless since I’ve got classic Lift Ticket riding the first seat on the new Tomahawk, but there are plenty of good choices to put behind the control stick of the Ghost H.A.W.K. After all, in the cartoon, just about every Joe piloted a Sky Hawk, so it’s fitting that I can put whoever I want in the cockpit now. This is a great modern reinterpretation of a classic Joe vehicle and I’m glad I was finally able to run it down when I was visiting home at Christmas. I couldn’t find it in Kansas, but a trip back to South Dakota and a stop at a Shopko of all places netted me one of the harder to find 25th Anniversary Joe vehicles. Hunting for toys can be a little weird like that sometimes.