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.

MASS Device: Cobra Jet

Cobra Jet

• 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.

MASS Device: Cobra Rail Sled

Cobra Rail Sled

• 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.

MASS Device: Cobra Spider Walker

Cobra Spider Walker

• 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 Sub

Torpedo’s Sub

• 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.


MASS Device: Proto-SHARC

• 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

Cobra Water Sled

• 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.

Cargo Helicopter

Cargo Helicopter

• 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.

Sky Sled

Sky Sled

• 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

Destro’s Jet

• 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.

Wall Climber

Wall Climber

• 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.

Hovering Platform

Hovering Platform

• 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.


  • Great stuff here. Some of these would have made for great toys.

  • So much goodness here! That helicarrier was always on my wish list.

  • ‘All these vehicles could have been popular collectors items IF mass- produced.”

  • From what i undersdtand, talking to Buzz Dixon online, Hasbro didnt care what the writers did in the early days as there wasnt that much product. Vehicles were thrown into scripts which had no toy counter part as it allowed the plots to move faster. Character like Colonel Sharpe and Sparks were also created as there werent enough characters to go around.
    As the series progressed, actual products replaced a majority of the vehicles. Colonel Sharpe and Sparks were also dropped as they had been replaced by toy based characters.

  • I’m looking forward to the potential action figures entry. I’m pretty certain one of the figures I always wanted to be released will be mentioned.

    I mostly remember the helicarrier from the intro to the movie and one of the intros to the tv show. It would’ve been an awesome and fun toy, but totally unrealistic to make due to the size and cost. It still surprises me Hasbro made such a massive aircraft carrier.

    The water sled reminds me of the Hydro Sled, but that wasn’t for underwater use. And the spider thing reminds me of the spider thing that Skeletor had in the Masters of the Universe line. Not the same thing, but still a giant robot spider for the bad guys.

  • (Test post. Been having trouble getting posts to show up)

  • Most of these would have been great to have as toys. Especially the helicarrier, Delta winged jet and submarine. The cobra sub from season one would be even better.

  • I was suspicious that the Cobra Sky Sled was a proto-CLAW. The overall shape is so similar, but rather than sit inside it, you strap it on your back. I’m with you on the Spider Walker. It may not be very real-world, but that could’ve been a fun toy! And honorable mention: SNAKE armors with boulder/camouflaged backs. Always liked that scene.

  • Fun topic!
    Some that I would enjoy as toys:

    Cobra Rail Sled. As part of a larger set, why not? I can only think of Omega Supreme with the tank that ran in circles on a track. Why not the rail sled and rails as part of a next generation Cobra Rocket base today?

    Dragonfly Cargo Helicopters. Yes and yes, XH-1 variants, I’m in!

    Destro’s Jet. I haven’t been as much of a cartoon fan as comic and toy, so I never really paid attention and missed this one.
    I think the lines of the nose, canopy, and the angle of the bottom, are very similar to the HISS tank.

    Helicarrier. That one pictured, yes. I liked that one a lot. It would make an impressive piece of furniture in a room.

  • Why not just rebrand the SDCC Helicarrier in dark blue? Easy money!

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