GI Joe Toys That Could Have Been: The MASS Device Vehicles
By Past Nastification
Last year I wrote about the DiC cartoon run, where the animated GI Joe continuity went to die. Almost a decade earlier, though, the Joes’ animated life began under the creative direction of Sunbow.
Hasbro eventually got around to giving collectors a drizzle of some of the Sunbow world. The MASS Device, Red Cobra Divers, Radiation-exposed Snake-Eyes, Duke with a jet pack. But there’s so much more that I can’t but feel that The Big H is leaving money on the table. Or maybe I just want some fun toys based on Sunbow’s contribution to the GI Joe mythos.
The original Sunbow miniseries, The MASS Device, is full of great things. Hasbro should go back and mine the miniseries for these things as a source for toys. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about the goodness waiting for Hasbro to discover. The waiting-to-be-made toys can be broken down into three categories: vehicles, action figures, and playsets.
This week, let’s talk about the Sunbow-based vehicles worth considering. I have no idea what these were officially labeled during the development/writing/storyboarding phases, so I’ll give them the most generic names I can.
• Cobra Jet. It could be argued that we got this one several years later with the Cobra Liquidator, but it’s worth pointing out because it was the first Cobra aircraft ever seen in the Sunbow world. More likely, though, is that both the animated jet and the Liquidator both were obviously based on the real world Saab Draken.
• Cobra Rail Sled. How do you get around in a radioactive arctic mine? In this sleek mini-train, of course. A train probably would be limited in sales, as trains are directionally-limited, but it still looks cool.
• Cobra Spider Walker. Sent into the mine to deal with the Joes, this massive beast looks scary. In the cartoon it was portrayed as a semi-autonomous robot. But its main body would be large enough for a seat or two behind those huge purple windshield eyes. If Santa told me I could only pick one Sunbow object to be toyified, this is it.
• Torpedo’s Submarine. When the Joes go into the ocean for heavy water, they meet up with Torpedo to keep an eye on them. He arrived in his own personal submarine. Chap Mei has more-or-less given collectors a submarine in this scale, but it would have been nice if Hasbro could’ve done it using the actual Sunbow design.
• Proto-Sharc. I’ve always liked the 1984 Sharc, but the curvilinear design of the Proto-Sharc made more sense than the blocky edges of the real toy. Plus, the Proto-Sharc was a two-seater.
• Cobra Water Sled. Like the jet, we kind of got this later in the line. Different mini-vehicles were included with the Cobra Bugg and the Cobra Hammerhead, but neither looked quite like the Sunbow one.
• Baroness’ Walking Bathysphere. Okay, Hasbro, I like the goofy design but even I would never sign off on letting this thing being translated into toy format.
• Dragonfly Cargo Helicopters. Like the traditional Dragonfly helicopters, but with a cargo area. Great when working with volcanoes. The Tomahawk would eventually fill this niche, but the modified Dragonflies looked pretty good on in a boxy way.
• Proto-Rattlers. Before Hasbro grafted the VTOL concept onto the A10 Warthog, it was tried out on what look like unspecified 1950’s jets. Not as intimidating, but different enough to warrant production.
• Cobra Helicarrier. Sorry, Marvel, Sunbow unapologetically stole this one from SHIELD. And Hasbro would be crazy to make this, as it would be the same size as the USS Flagg- but more complex.
• Cobra Sky Sled. Aboard the Cobra Helicarrier were one man, open cockpit mini-jets. They looked more like Masters of the Universe vehicles than GI Joe aircraft.
• Destro’s Jet. Likely designed to mimic the sharp angular lines seen on Destro’s mask (at least on the toy), this aircraft looked like the lovechild of a crazy WWII secret project… and a minivan.
• GI Joe Wall Climber Tank Transports. Basically shaped like a flatbottom transport boat, but with lanky legs to climb walls, the Joes used these to transport MOBATS and a Wolverine up a mountain.
• Cobra Hovering Platform. A cross between a lighthouse, a carnival ride, and a UFO, Cobra used these to fight off the Joes as they attacked Cobra’s headquarters. As any kid could replicate this design by stacking a little dish on top of a glass on top of a bigger dish on top of a small bowl, Hasbro would be really stupid to make this. But sometimes stupid makes for surprisingly good toys.