Kre-O Tactical Battle Platform
Growing up, I never really had that strong of an attachment to the playsets. I loved Joe vehicles, but the Joe playsets were just a little too big to pick up and play, and that’s what I preferred. My brother and I had joint custody of the 1991 Joe Headquarters, but that was about it for playsets and I was fine with that. However, the smaller scale of Kre-O has really given me an appreciation for playsets and the Tactical Battle Platform is a great way to kick off the Kre-O Joe line’s bigger scale sets. It’s loaded with a lot of great Joe Easter eggs but it’s small enough that you can easily display it on a shelf and can set up a nice little permanent Kre-O diorama without having to clear out a lot of space.
My first experience with the Tactical Battle Platform was when I was reading the trade papers of the old Joe comics when I was in high school. It played a pretty big role in the creation of Cobra Island story arc and that’s where I have to make my first complaint about its Kre-O counterpart. The Tactical Battle Platform works as a pre-fab aquatic base, but when used inland, it doesn’t take much effort for the enemy to sneak up and attack the support legs. Building the Tactical Battle Platform on land seems like a pretty bad tactical decision. I understand why the Kre-O design team chose to have it set up in the desert, but I really do have to scratch my head a little every time I see my Tactical Battle Platform sitting on top of tan bricks. That said, however, the desert base does do a good job of providing a little additional space for the Joe team so they can work under the platform as well. There’s a nice little tool rack with a variety of tools (some useful, some a little questionable—why would the Joes need hedge trimmers at the Tactical Battle Platform?) and it would make a great place for a little motorpool. The Tactical Battle Platform would provide a good deal of cover for the vehicles and there’s plenty of space for the Joes to work in. There’s also a small cabinet that could be a minifridge. I’m storing the ammo crate in there because there’s no good place to put it otherwise. I understand there’s a bit of a learning curve when you’re breaking into the building block game, but for me, a cardinal rule is if you’re making a piece that isn’t going to spend a lot of time in someone’s hands, design it so it can attach to the studded floor. I would love to have the ammo box sitting out beside the anti-aircraft gun, but I just don’t trust that if I bump my shelves it’s not going to fall off, never to be seen again. The legs that hold the Tactical Battle Platform up are very nicely designed and I like the look a lot. They look like a part of a large signal antenna like you’d see near cities and that’s a great way to go. Those are designed to be durable and I imagine depending on what metal they’re made out of, they can hold up a lot of weight. To get up to the main level, there’s a foldable ladder that the Joes can climb up and then pull up after themselves to create a little more security.
Moving up to the main floor of the Tactical Battle Platform, we see there’s a lot going on here. Starting off on the back quadrant, we’ve got a little helipad hanging off the side a bit. I like the grated look that the entire Tactical Battle Platform has and it really stands out on the helipad since there’s not really much to cover it up. It’s a simple piece but its simplicity is wonderful. It’s a great place for the FANG to land to facilitate a Cobra attack. I’m not sure how well the Dragonfly fits on it since that’s one of the two Kre-O sets that I just didn’t want to buy. However, I do know from personal experience that the Sky Hawk from the Terrordrome set fits very nicely back there. Most of the back half of the Tactical Battle Platform is covered with the command center. There’s a lot going on here. There are four different consoles for the Joes to operate (with different stickers for each one), but I think it’s a bit of a shame there’s only a place for one Joe to sit there. Whoever drew monitor duty is going to have to be really good atmultitasking. There are also plenty of great places in the command center to leave cans of YoJoe Cola sitting around. I don’t know why, but it amuses me more to have the cans of cola sitting out randomly in the command center of an elite military organization. I do wish that the cans were designed to be held in a Kre-O figure’s hands like the grenades, though. The command center also has two large display screens and a glass roof. I’ll admit, I’m not sure what I think of how open the command center is. I’d think the Joes would want to have just a little more built up around the nerve center of their pre-fab base. It works well from a display and play standpoint, but realistically, I’m not sure what I think of it. Up top, there are a pair of floodlights and a pair of communication dishes. I love the floodlights. They look like they belong there and I’ve seen angled lights like that on the military bases I’ve been on in the real world and seen in the movies. The communications and radar arrays are great additions as well. The Tactical Battle Platform needs eyes and ears and they’ve got it here. Finally, there’s one addition that I’ve tacked on that I literally don’t know where it came from. The white cannon pointing off the other way was part of the tree that the Trubble Bubble specialty parts were one, but having gone over the instructions of the set multiple times, I have no idea where it was supposed to go or what it is. It’s not listed in the parts listing in the back and it confuses me. I felt it looked like a laser weapon and the Tactical Battle Platform has a pretty big weak spot on its backside since there aren’t any weapons pointing that way, so I clipped it in there and called it good. If anyone has this set and had better eyes than I did and knows where it’s supposed to go, please let me know in the comments. It still bothers me that I could never figure out what this was. A black railing separates the command center from the weapons positions.
Crossing the railing, there are two great weapons systems that the Tactical Battle Platform can defend itself with. For some heavy firepower, there’s a triple missile launcher. I love the design of these friction-fired rocket launchers and it looks really good in this tripled form. For a little more practical firepower, there’s also an anti-aircraft machine gun mount. It’s designed very well and while it’s a bit retro, I still love the look. It’s intimidating and I can see Stalker laying down a heavy field of fire to drive off Cobra invaders. The Tactical Battle Platform really comes well together and it’s a great design that’s a wonderful nod to the Joe brand’s rich history and I’m glad to finally have a version of the Tactical Battle Platform in my collection. Of course, it’s somewhat silly to have a playset set up and not have it manned with some figures. Starting off with the figure that came with it, Roadblock, you can see a bit of a Retaliation influence here. While it’s the classic Roadblock design, I don’t know if the Tactical Battle Platform is a set that screams “Let’s put Roadblock with it!” to me outside of the fact that Roadblock was a major player in the movie. That’s not a knock against the figure, but I’ve always thought his inclusion here was just a little strange and was dictated more by brand synergy than anything else. That said, mini-Roadblock looks great. The colors, while a little different from the classic Roadblock, are great and I’m okay with the deviation. The tank top is the standard green camouflage Mr. Hinton rocked back in 1984, but the pants are closer to purple than the brown they were back in the day. I’d rather have him wearing purplish pants than having it like Roadblock is running around pantsless if they don’t do a good enough job making the skintone different enough from the pants color. There are a lot of things that one should not operate while not wearing pants, and a heavy machine gun is one of them. The tampo work is excellent and I really like what they did for Roadblock’s face. He looks serious but not humorless. I always thought of Roadblock as kind of a jolly guy and you can see that in his eyes, but he still takes his job seriously. They managed to do a great job at working in a lot of character into such a tiny face. For accessories, Roadblock has a standard green helmet and a colossal machine gun. It’s built from five parts (a handle, the main body of the gun which has been used a few times for vehicle guns, two links of an ammo belt and a larger machine gun barrel) and it looks impressively destructive in Roadblock’s hands. I loved Tunnel Rat’s big machine gun, but I really love this thing. It’s a beast and there’s no one else on the Joe team that it looks at home in the hands of more than Roadblock.
Inside the commander center, I decided to put my favorite addition—Clean Sweep from this year’s Joe Con set. Having turned my brother on to Kre-O, first through Transformers and now later Joe, he’s run down some stuff for me while he’s been building his collection and Clean Sweep is one of my favorites. I don’t know why, but I loved Clean Sweep as a kid. My love of the Joe’s resident decontamination specialist extends to the Kre-O form as well. The Kre-O’s simple design works well with his clean suit. They did a great job at replicating the details from the modern version (which share their features with the Retaliation Data Viper—and come on, how fun would that figure be in Kre-O form), but just like the Eel’s wetsuit, I also think the smooth nature of Kre-O figures lends itself well to a clean suit like Clean Sweep wears. The biggest departure for Clean Sweep is his face tampo. It’s a good design, but it’s also a lot angrier than anything we’ve ever seen from clean sweep. The joke among collectors is that he’s always kind of looked like a high school janitor who joined up with the Joes, partly because of his rather bland facial expression. This Clean Sweep looks either totally pissed off (much like the original Ozone figure did) or scared out of his mind. I’m not sure which because my opinion of what his facial expression means changes almost every time I look at it. The back of Clean Sweep’s head has got a bit of a surprise as well. I was wondering how the GIJCC was going to handle doing his hood in Kre-O form. I was happy that they recycled the hood that Storm Shadow got in the Outpost Defense set, but I assumed that meant that he wasn’t going to have a face tampo. Instead, they took a page from the Lego folks and decided to print two different “faces” on him. The other side is his face mask and it looks really good through the opening in his hood. However, it seems that across the board his visor has gotten a little jacked up. Most reviews I’ve seen of the con Kre-Os have the same problem which says it’s a manufacturing flaw not something that happened during shipping. Tunnel Rat’s foot was disappointing, but considering how much the set itself cost at Joe Con, it’s a little sad that they couldn’t make it looks as good as it could because of a problem in applying the paint. Aside from his hood, Clean Sweep’s got some great accessories. For a weapon, he’s carrying the small submachine gun and it’s in bright green! I realize that crazy colored weapons were part of the kiss of death for the Joe line back in the 90s, but I loved Clean Sweep’s bright green gun and I was a little sad that the Joe Con action figure set had normal colored weapons. I’m very happy they were able to throw a reference to his original 90s-colored gear in Kre-O form. Next, he’s also packing a syringe full of the Compound Z cure and a briefcase carrying even more. These are both great additions and I like that Clean Sweep has to get a little more up close and personal to cure the zombies. That’s part of why I can see scared or angry in the face. He either really doesn’t want to do this but knows it’s the only way to cure the zombies or he’s terrified of them but is still doing his job. Finally, he gets an oxygen supply but unfortunately it doesn’t fit that well with his hood. It sits up high enough that it makes the hood ride high and that means the visor tampo is off. I appreciate a more real-world detail like an oxygen supply for a guy in a clean suit, but considering he’s never had one of those before, I would have been okay had that been left behind. I’m not using it since it makes his hood look off, so it just means I have to find someplace safe to store it.
For a little additional air support (albeit from one man), Mike “The Atomic Man” Power is taking off from the helipad. While I have very little interest in collecting the 1960s and 1970s Joes, the old school Joe figures in the Kre-O line are great additions. The Atomic Man was one of the Joe line’s first forays into the realm of science fiction and while his overall look may be a little dated, I love having the prototype for cyborg soldiers working alongside my Joes. The Kre-O designers really got a lot of detail into such a tiny figure. First off, his left leg and right arm are cast out of transparent plastic with some tampo work over them to mimic The Atomic Man’s unique construction style with his exposed cybernetic limbs. It’s a great way of handling such a classic design without having to mold parts for a single use. The Atomic Man might not be strictly military but even as an adventurer he’s wearing some military-esque gear. He’s wearing brown shorts with a camouflaged khaki shirt. It’s simple but it works. His face tampo is very impressive. To reference his original light-piped eye, the paint team decided to put a light burst in his right eye. I like it here and really helps distinguish him from the rest of the crowd, as if a cyborg arm and leg weren’t enough. The Atomic Man is also one of the first figures to have hair that didn’t come from a flocked hair piece. It’s a simple hairdo but I’m glad to see that Kre-O is starting to experiment with actual hairpieces instead of just painting some hair on the head. For some characters that works, but for someone like The Atomic Man, I think the hairpiece works better. His only accessory is a hand-held helicopter and I love it. Is it a little crazy? Sure it is, but that’s part of what makes it so awesome. I can just see The Atomic Man zipping around the battlefield on his little hand copter, jumping into the fray where his atomic strength is needed and moving on just as quickly.
To help man the base’s gun, Stalker joins him after taking a leave from hanging out with Cutter on the Thunderwave Jet Boat. Stalker’s original uniform is pretty simple and they do very good job of recreating it here. The body is mostly a light olive drab with some camouflage tampo work and his webgear. Stalker’s face is also very well-executed. He looks like the kind of guy who would be in command and that’s actually part of why I put him on the Tactical Battle Platform. I’ve always seen Stalker as one of the more senior Joes on the team and I’d rather have him manning the base than anyone else. He looks really good manning the anti-aircraft cannon, but he looks equally at home in the command center running things as well. He doesn’t come with a lot of accessories (just his beret), but the Tactical Battle Platform has him covered there with a large sniper rifle and an assault rifle that actually kind of reminds me of Stalker’s original gun. Neither of the weapons is terribly in scale with him, but Stalker isn’t completely weaponless. I’m glad they included a couple of extra guns with the set to help kit out some of the figures that didn’t necessarily come with weapons.
Of course, it’s not fun just having Joes sitting around a base. You want Cobras attacking it and who better to do it than the Cobra BAT from the second wave of blindbagged figures? Cobra BATs were great, expendable Cobra troops that could be dropped in from above to create chaos and that would be a great way to cause problems for the Tactical Battle Platform. The BAT is your standard Kre-O figure, but man, did they do some amazing work with the tampos. The chest detailing is absolutely awesome. It’s crisp and clean and looks great. The back also gets some attention in the form of a tech panel like the BATs had back in the day. The head paint is also spot on and the silver faceplate and lines look wonderful. The only real problem with the paint work is that putting a light color like yellow over black is sometimes hard to do and in a few spots the paint opacity isn’t that great. That said, though, it’s great mini-version of the classic Cobra robot and I’m glad to have him. Of course, a BAT just isn’t a BAT without some crazy hand weapons and that’s where we have a little problem. I don’t know how many others out there have this problem, but the hands on my BAT are extremely tightly placed in their sockets and I’m honestly a little afraid that I’m going to break something if I try and switch them out. Mercifully, the claw and the chainsaw look fine just being held. I wish I could swap them out, but I’m okay with my BAT carrying them. The third attachment can only be used if you take off a hand. It’s a canister with a flame attachment so the BAT’s got his flamethrower as well. However, I have found a use for it that amuses me. If you stick it in the backpack, it looks like the BAT has burst into flame from being shot. I like it since it reminds me of the line from the filecards talking about the best place to shoot a BAT was in the back because they’d sometimes explode. The BAT is, hands down, probably the best blindbag figure from wave two of Kre-O and the only thing that really detracts from my enjoyment is that I can’t pull out the hands to swap out the weapons. I know others have done it, but on mine they’re so tight I’m concerned I might break him, so I’ve improvised.
I may not have paid full price for the Battle Platform Assault set, but it’s definitely a great addition to my Kre-O collection. It’s given me an appreciation for the original version but allows me to have one without paying a lot of money for a vintage item that I never had growing up. I think it’s a great idea and while I’m a little confused as to why they’ve set it up in the desert, it looks very good and it’s a great playset with loads of playability.