Gun Station (2003)
By Past Nastification
This playset/weapon is another of the New Sculpt era’s overlooked quality items. Released as a “Gun Station”, despite its lack of any guns, it came with Big Brawler in 2003 and again with Dart in 2004. The 2003 version is pictured. The 2004 version is darker but otherwise the same.
The Gun Station’s frame looks like something from WWII, maybe something naval. Despite being equipped with what I assume are rockets, “gun station” may still be the correct technical term. If anyone knows the right military terminology, please drop a line in the comments.
As a small playset with a modest size, it can claim both the 1982 FLAK and the 1982 MMS as its design ancestors. Like the FLAK, it’s a stationary piece and like the MMS it has three projectiles. The overall look-feel also shows inspiration from early ARAH GI Joe. The spiraling base has ratcheting teeth. An ergonomic seat holds the operator. Diamond plate is sculpted onto the base and footrest. A thumb-wheel allows for rotation of the base. It has a realistic motor housing.
Most importantly, it has no extra bells and whistles. No unwieldy techno kibble throws off the look. The activation points for the two play features, the spiraling base and the launchable rockets, are woven into the design so that they don’t draw attention to themselves.
There are two questionable elements of the Gun Station. One is the sight mechanism, as it doesn’t swing low enough to be in the line-of-sight of a figure’s head. It also seems unnecessary, since there’s a targeting computer in front of the operator’s chair. Maybe it’s a redundant system, like the standard iron sights on a rifle upgraded with a high-tech scope. The second is the 1960’s throwback logo, which was a minor misstep. The standard ARAH logo would have work obviously worked better, but the throwback logo was used quite often in 2003.
Had the Gun Station been molded in the same olive drab as many of the ’82 vehicles, its quality would be hard for even the hatiest of NS haters to hate. The two versions, though, both sport decent color schemes- even if the camouflage patterning here and there doesn’t accomplish anything.
Speaking of color, you might note that this Gun Station is photographed with a 1983 Zap instead of a 2003 Big Brawler. That’s because Zap’s uniform color looks like it belongs with the Gun Station. Likewise, the aesthetics of the Gun Station look so much more in line with an early ARAH figure than they do with Big Brawler. Even the Dart, one of the best NS figures, packaged with the second version of the Gun Station doesn’t look as natural next to it as an ARAH figure. Visually linking a NS era piece to an ARAH figure is a visual cheat, but necessary to show scale and properly frame the quality of the Gun Station.
From time the time the spirit of the early ARAH run pops up in unexpected places. The Gun Station is one of these.