Kre-O Assault Quad and VAMP
The Kre-O Joe motorpool is nothing short of impressive. It successfully pulls from all eras of Joe history and chooses drivers that make sense. That couldn’t always be said about the modern Joe motorpool. In this Field Report, I’m pairing up two vehicles from different eras of the Joe brand and different Kre-O sets because they work together so well, the classic Joe VAMP (with Clutch and Footloose) and the Joe Assault Quad (with Flint and Lady Jaye). They’re a natural pairing because they look quite military yet they’ve still got enough flair to bring them into the slightly more fantastical realm of G.I. Joe.
Starting off small, Flint and what I’m calling the Joe Assault Quad came with the Cobra Armored Assault set. Aside from repurposing the Cobra Ferret during in Tiger Force and calling it the Tiger Paw, the Joes really didn’t have a basic quad until the 2002 line. The Kre-O Assault Quad’s design is rather simple, but it’s very effective. The fenders are symmetrical and there’s enough room for a Kre-O figure to sit down to drive it. That’s good because the figures’ hands don’t really grip the handlebars well when trying to drive it from a standing position like they show in the pictures on the box. I think that’s a bit of a shame, but I’d rather not have the handlebars pop loose at the slightest shift than have the figure driving it while standing. Honestly, the biggest drawback is that Flint has to drive around sans his backpack to sit behind the handlebars of the Assault Quad. The Assault Quad itself has no weapons, which is a bit of a letdown, but there are places built in to clip both Flint’s shotgun and rocket launcher. The back end has a mounting point for you to tow something behind it, but the Joes don’t have any towable vehicles…yet. Here’s to hoping we’ll see a Whirlwind Twin Battle Gun somewhere in Kre-O’s future so the Joe vehicles have something to tow as well. The rubber tires are wellexecuted and look very good. Over all, the Assault Quad does a really great job of looking like a military quad. The design makes it very clear that this is primarily a scout vehicle, but that’s fine. I think it works perfectly in that capacity. I’ll admit, I thought it being paired in a set with a heavier Cobra armored vehicle was a bit odd since it doesn’t have much firepower to use against something like that, but it pairs really well with the VAMP. I can see this little thing being part of a recon group with the VAMP ahead of heavier vehicles like the Wolverine, making sure the road is clear and rooting out possible Cobra ambush points.
I have and always will be an unabashed Flint fan and Flint being the included driver for the Assault Quad was what really sold me on the set. The Cobra Armored Assault set and the Thunderwave Jet Boat were my first foray into Kre-O thanks to a “Buy One, Get One 40% Off” deal when Joe Kre-O first came out. The deal was just too hard to pass up and I nabbed some of my favorite Joes in Kre-O form all at once. Flint is a great example of why I love the Kre-O line. Kre-O Flint is a perfect, tiny representation of the Joe I know and love. The paint work is great and the tampo work is excellent. Flint’s face has a nice determined stare, but he’s also got a bit of a cocky grin and that’s the perfect look for Flint in my mind. However, I do have one gripe and that has to do with the consistency of back tampo work. Some figures have it and some don’t and it’s a little random as to what figures get it. For example, Wave 3’s Footloose still gets a little bit of camouflage on the back even though it’s not 100% necessary in my mind. Conversely, Flint, who wears suspenders, only gets a suspender tampo for the front of his figure. I realize that the backpack helps hide the lack of tampo work on the back, but Footloose has a backpack too yet they still did some camo back there. I realize it’s likely because a camo tampo is pretty easy to do while they would need to design an entirely new “back suspender” tampo to give Flint his full suspenders, but I just find the lack of consistency a little maddening. I’d also like to take a moment to raise some questions about possible plastic issues here. I’ve already noticed some white stress marks on Flint’s right hand. I’d initially had him holding the rocket launcher while on display, but apparently that handle is slightly larger than the one for the shotgun since it doesn’t fit as well in that hand now and I’ve had him carrying the shotgun in his left hand for quite some time now and haven’t seen the stress marks on the hand yet. I hope this is just an anomaly, but since I’ve also had issues with Firefly’s leg becoming inexplicably loose, I’m a little concerned about the long-term durability of these Kre-O figures. I’ve mentioned most of his accessories through the course of the review, but I’ll bring them up here again just for completeness’s sake. First of all, we get the classic green shotgun that’s been synonymous with Flint since 1985. It looks great in his hand and Flint just isn’t Flint without a shotgun. It can clip to the front of the Assault Quad in front of the handlebars for easy access and storage. Flint’s also got a well-designed, friction-powered rocket launcher. If you press down on the top lever, the rocket flies a rather respectable distance. To complete his ensemble, Flint also gets a large brown backpack and his signature black beret. The backpack covers his entire back and is rather well-detailed with some molded pouches. His beret sits very nicely on his head and gets a red tampo logo on it as well. Everything comes together really well to make Flint look like a tiny version of his classic look and that’s what I consider to be a successful Kre-O.
In my opinion, Flint should always be paired with Lady Jaye. They did it in the cartoon, they did it in the comic, they did it in Retaliation, and I’m very happy to be able to do it here in Kre-O form as well. Lady Jaye comes from Wave 3 of the Kre-O blind bagged figures. She definitely shows how good Kre-O has gotten since they started this. The original Kre-O figures didn’t look bad by any means, but at times, the heads looked just a little too generic. That can’t really be said anymore. Lady Jaye is molded primarily out of a bright green plastic. Her original look was similar so I think it’s a great call. There’s not a lot of tampo work on the legs, but the chest gets a lot of attention between the straps for her backpack, the slightly open neckline and the paintwork to make her look a little more feminine. My only gripe with her tampo work is on her head. The face tampo is very good, but I find myself missing the hair that they painted on some of the Kre-O figures from earlier waves. While I don’t think all Kre-O figures need it, considering Lady Jaye is a woman, I’d like to have her have a little hair. Even back in the day, her hair stuck out from underneath her baseball cap. She’s kind of got a bit of a Sinead O’Connor vibe going without any hair painted on and I think that detracts from her look a little. Not a lot of ladies can pull off the no-hair look, and unfortunately, Lady Jaye isn’t one of them. Considering how much fans have griped in the past about Lady Jaye always wearing her hat, I’m a little surprised that there wasn’t some painted on hair or a separate hair piece so fans of the cartoon could have a good looking hatless Lady Jaye. Aside from her hat, Lady Jaye has a good set of equipment. First of all, she’s carrying her classic javelin. While it doesn’t bear a strong resemblance to the original figure’s javelin gun, in the cartoon, Lady Jaye just threw them so I see it being more of a javelin than a javelin gun. For a little more firepower, Lady Jaye is also carrying a pistol. It’s a good piece and we’ve seen it a lot, but that’s fine with me. Finally, Lady Jaye is also wearing a backpack. Again, I think that’s a great accessory, especially for her. Lady Jaye always had a backpack full of javelins in the cartoon. I just wish they’d used the open backpack instead of the larger backpack. I think it would have been great had you been able to feed the javelin through the hole in the bottom and have Lady Jaye carry around javelins in her backpack like she did in the cartoon. Lady Jaye has always been one of my favorite characters and figures and the Kre-O team did a great job replicating her classic look.
Moving up a little in vehicle scale, the VAMP (from the Serpent Armor Assault) isn’t a 100% reproduction of the 1982 look, but it’s got enough classic VAMP elements to make it close enough for my needs. Not being born until 1985, I don’t really have any connection to the VAMP. I know it’s a classic Joe vehicle, but I never had a proper VAMP until the 25th Anniversary line. It’s a good vehicle, but at its core, it’s just a slightly fancy jeep. That’s all I need from a VAMP, and while the Kre-O VAMP’s design takes some liberties, that’s what we get here some I’m okay with it. The design is again, rather simple, but it’s effective and it works well for the classic VAMP look. The front end is impressive and I really like the stickers they gave us for the hood that show some battle damage. I like the idea of my Joe vehicles having seen a little action and the VAMP has clearly been through some stuff. The driver’s compartment is nice, though I do think over all, the VAMP may be just a little too wide. I understand it’s a concession to having to make a VAMP out of building blocks means it can’t be quite as streamlined, but there’s a lot of dead space in the driver’s compartment. Honestly, as I think about it, I think I’d prefer it had the VAMP been designed as a two-seater like back in the day, but instead, the driver is sitting right in the center and with that arrangement, I think the overall look suffers just a little bit because of it. The VAMP lacks a roof, which is okay, since the original VAMP just had rollbars. I very much like the functioning doors. It’s a nice touch and it helps sell the idea that this vehicle is at least somewhat enclosed even though they couldn’t make a whole rollcage with building blocks. Though I think the front seat is a bit too large, I like that there’s so much extra space in the back end of the VAMP. The back rollbar has the VAMP’s heavy machine gun (with an ammo belt that sticks out) and there’s plenty of room in the back for someone to stand and man it. The back end also looks very realistic and I like the battle damage sticker for the rear fender for the same reason I like the battle damage on its hood. I have seen some complaints about the single machine gun as the VAMP’s weapon as opposed to its classic dual guns and I see that, but since Kre-O is a modular building set, there are also enterprising Joe fans out there who have found ways around that and repurposed the anti-aircraft gun from the Tactical Battle Platform to make a great stand-in for its classic armament. I don’t have strong opinions either way, I’m just more excited about the fact that this version of the VAMP actually has a place for a gunner to stand to operate the vehicle’s primary weapon.
If there’s any Joe that’s going to be driving a VAMP, it’s got to be Clutch. Clutch has been driving the VAMP since 1982, and there’s no reason to change that up now. Once again, through just paint, Hasbro makes an amazing, tiny representation of a classic Joe character. The details on his chest are impressive with the shoulder holster, pockets and brown shoulder pads of the original figure all being faithfully replicated here. The Clutch we have here is the bearded version, like the original figure rather than the five o’clock shadow of the comic and that’s fine, though I do wish they’d been able to do a little more with his facial expression. Clutch looks awfully serious here and he’s one of the few Joes I’m okay with being portrayed as a bit of a fun guy. Clutch loves being behind the wheel of a VAMP, and I kind of wish he looked like he did here. My complaint about his facial expression, aside, though, Clutch is a great Kre-O figure and also gets some great accessories. He’s wearing a helmet and come with a pistol. A third rifle can be clipped to the side of the VAMP. Clutch has plenty of options to fight with should he wind up being unable to fight from behind the wheel of his classic ride.
Footloose rides in the back of the VAMP to man the gun and provide a little heavy fire support for the Joes in the field. Footloose is probably one of the most detailed Kre-O figures in my collection. The entire body is covered with camouflage and the chest has all the details from the original figure done on there in paint. While you’d think that would make the figure look a little too busy, it really doesn’t. All the details are crisp and it comes together very well. Footloose’s face has got a good stern stare and while it doesn’t really fit with the way Footloose was portrayed in the cartoon, I’m okay with that. Yes, the original filecard mentioned that Footloose was kind of a hippie, but that was also before he had his epiphany and realized the Army was the place for him. Considering Footloose believes that this is his calling, I’d imagine he takes his job very seriously, even if he is a little bit of a free spirit. For accessories, Footloose has three great pieces. He’s wearing the standard Kre-O helmet. It looks good, though I do find myself wishing they’d painted the leaves on it like he had back in the day. That was a pretty distinct feature of Footloose’s helmet and considering how generic most of the Kre-O accessories are by necessity, I wish they could have added this detail in with paint just to make him stand out a little better. He does get some camouflage work up there, but I wish they’d swapped the camouflage out for the classic foliage. As befitting an infantryman, Footloose is carrying a pretty large backpack. He’s got a lot of room for all sorts of equipment and he’s trained himself to be strong enough to be able to carry it without any issues. His firearm is an assault rifle with a suppressor on the front. It looks good in his hands and I can see Footloose wanting to keep his firing a little more discrete. I know his specialty has always been an infantryman, but I’ve always seen Footloose as a more of a jungle fighter along the lines of Recondo than your standard infantryman like Grunt. That’s just my view of the character and I think the suppressed assault rifle actually fits that idea pretty well.
The VAMP and the Assault Quad are a great pairing. I realize they aren’t sold together, but I’m okay with it. Both sets are strong enough you’re going to want to add both of them to your Kre-O collection anyway and I’m glad that the designers are finding a way to make vehicles that look good, not only in the set that they came with, but also look like they belong together. Both the Joe and Cobra vehicles have unifying motifs and I appreciate that. I like some cohesion in my motorpool.
(Addendum: So, a funny thing can happen with photos sometimes. You’ll notice there aren’t any photos of Lady Jaye beyond her on the Assault Quad. That’s because for whatever reason [I know I checked them after I took them] all the Lady Jaye photos turned out exceedingly poorly. You can get an idea of what the figure looks like since she’s on the back of the Assault Quad, but none of the photos I grabbed of her Kreon on her own turned out well enough for submission…sorry about that, folks!)