Kre-O Thunderwave Jet Boat
(Author’s Note: These Kre-O reviews are going to be a little wacky. I’ve had so much fun setting these up into fun displays and actually playing with them, I don’t want to undo all that to do the reviews with what came in the box. As such, when there are non-standard figures involved or sets are split up, I’ll make a note of it.)
Fandom can be a weird thing sometimes. I’ve never been a big boat guy in the Joe line. I always liked the planes and tanks way more because they could be used in any environment while boats meant that my adventures had to take place near water. However, when I saw the Kre-O listings I knew I had to get the Thunderwave Jet Boat set for one simple reason…Cutter. I’ve always loved Cutter since he was from my birthplace and I was shocked that someone who wasn’t really a big name getting tapped for involvement in the inaugural run of the Joe Kre-Os. Let’s be fair, Shipwreck would be just as at home on a boat and has a lot more name recognition. Honestly, I’m not terribly disappointed with the Thunderwave, though it’s still really not my favorite set, but man, seeing Cutter in Kre-O form was great and while I think it’s a bit weak as a vehicle, it is a great playset.
My biggest problem with the Thunderwave is that it’s clearly an attempt on Hasbro’s part to get a little more mileage out of the Battleship Kre-O molds that didn’t really sell all that well. It’s a nicely designed modern warship, but it does kind of lack that G.I. Joe element. That’s my biggest beef against the set as a whole. While the little Water Moccasin that came with it feels like a Cobra vehicle, the Thunderwave really doesn’t. I find it difficult to work with because its scale is strange. It’s like a bizarre hybrid between a patrol boat (which I could totally see Cutter commanding) and a larger, crew-served destroyer. That’s a difficult pair to get to work together and I think, unfortunately, aesthetically it falls a little short there. Plus, I figured the boat was going to be pretty much one solid piece since it wasn’t that big of a set, but I was still rather disappointed by that fact. Part of what I love about all building block sets is the fun assembling it. However, the main body of the Thunderwave is pre-assembled. Don’t get me wrong, I got my building fix from the set, but I would have found it a lot more successful as a building block set if I’d actually had to build the hull of the boat. As I’ve said, I still have an issue with the overall design, but since Kre-O stuff lends itself much more readily to display-building on my shelf, I have to admit that the Thunderwave is a great diorama set piece. It’s just the right size for you to set up a small-scale battle on it and leave it displayed long term. I’ll admit, I wish the set had actually come with a few more Kre-O figures because without the buggy in the back, the rear of the Thunderwave is kind of empty. Thankfully, though, the blind bags and other sets have been willing donors to the Thunderwave attack I’ve set up.
Though I don’t know how well the design works as a Joe vehicle, the designers did do a very good job of capturing the modern Navy look. The two bow-mounted weapons are great and have real-world analogues, but again, that issue of it being a bizarre hybrid of a PT boat and something larger rears its head here. A bow-mounted machine gun is usually served by a crew member, but there isn’t a good place for said crew member to operate it since the larger, more cruiser-style naval shell cannon sits right behind it. I know larger ships have the smaller bowmounted machine gun, but there’s a lot more space between its position and the heavier firepower than is capable here. I realize it would have left the Thunderwave a little underarmed, but I kind of wish they’d just nixed that heavy cannon and made the Thunderwave more of a patrol boat. By trying to do both, they really didn’t accomplish either that well.
The cabin is nicely designed and there are a lot of great details brought in. First off, I love the search light sitting on top of the roof. It’s a nice addition and definitely lets me think that Cutter takes the Thunderwave up rivers, rooting out Cobra nests or disrupting enemy supply lines. On top, we also have a pair of what I’m calling grenade launchers. They’re built around a pair of sniper rifles with canisters on the end. If they’re not meant as weapons, they should have probably looked at basing them on something other than the sniper rifle mold. They look great up there and when you add in the pair of antennae sticking off the back side of the cabin roof and the mast up top, you really do see the modern naval influences on the set. Inside the cabin, it’s a little sparse, but what details they have inside are great. First off, Cutter’s carrying around a lot of firepower. There are three different rifles stored in the back of his cabin so he’s clearly prepared to repel enemy boarders. There’s also a sonar display console, though I am a little confused (especially with the lack of crewing) why it’s not up by Cutter’s driver’s seat. Again, the problem is related to the fact that they never really defined what kind of boat the Thunderwave is supposed to be. This position would make sense for a crew-served, naval line vessel, but not really for something along the scale of Cutter’s patrol boat.
I realize I’ve been a bit harsh on the Thunderwave itself, but the Kre-O figures really made me happy. Cutter is the only one from the original set that’s still on display with it, but that’s because he really does fit the vehicle so well. Before I get into Cutter himself, I do wish to talk about the construction of Kre-O figures. I’ve always liked Lego stuff, but I’ve also always wished they were a little more poseable. The Kre-O figures granted my wish as the shoulder and hip joints are both ball and socket joints as opposed to a standard pivot joint. That really makes me love these Joe Kre-Os. They can get in more poses and the Joe line once again bringing additional articulation into an established action figure scale. I’ll admit, there is a bit of a trade off with the added articulation, and that’s in durability. I haven’t had any Kre-O figures break outright yet, but there are a few whose joints have loosened after I’ve posed them and that has me just a little concerned. Hopefully, nothing will snap, but it does make me a little
nervous about the long-term durability of these figures. Since Hasbro is working in a building block form, it’s up to the paint and tampo work to make the figures look like their larger counterparts and Cutter’s paint job and tampo work do a very good job of replicating his classic look. It is relatively simple compared to other Kre-O characters, but it’s still very well executed. He’s wearing a button up blue shirt and I’m glad they decided to include that detail even though he’s likely going be wearing his orange life vest over it pretty much at all times. The life vest’s design is realistic and it fits Cutter very well. There is a little light blue paint slop on his right sleeve, but with as commonly as I’m seeing slop on the upper arm on my Kre-O figures, at this point it really doesn’t bother me as long as it’s not incredibly badly done. The dark blue legs are again rather simple, but the tampoed holster is neatly applied despite it being placed in a rather tight spot. His head is suitably done and the blue baseball cap really helps sell the idea of him being Cutter. I’m glad to see he’s got a ball cap again, and while I miss the Boston Red Sox logo on it like the very first Cutter had, it’s not surprising, so I’m fine getting a Cutter with a basic, dark blue hat.
Providing Cutter with some protection, Mutt and Junkyard (from the second wave of blind bag Kre-O figures) hang out in the open back end of the Thunderwave and look really at home there. I’ve professed my love of the character of Mutt before on this site, so I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to know that he was probably the one figure from Wave 2 I was anticipating the most and they really did not let me down here. The tampo work on Mutt is amazing. With just paint, they faithfully recreated his very detailed vest and his unique kneepads. I really cannot sing the praises of the tampo team here enough. They could have sacrificed a few details like the vest clasps or even the crosshatching on his kneepads and he would have looked fine, but they really did go the extra mile and recreated even the most minute details on an even smaller canvass and they did it expertly. The greens and browns look very good together and his red shoulder pads are done well. I think my favorite paint detail, though, has to be how they created his padded dog-handling glove. By giving him a black hand and painting the enlarged wrist area black, they found a great answer to the question of how to create his thicker glove without being able to make any real sculpting changes to the design. It’s a great nod to Mutt and is nicely executed. His face tampo is also quite expressive and he’s got a similar snarl to what he had back in the day. My only real problem is their execution on what I’m thinking is supposed to be the face scar he had. The paint they used was just a little too bright of a red and so it looks more to me, at least at a fast glance, that he’s blushing a little rather than that he’s got a scar on his face. I know they have to make it brighter so it stands out a bit more since there’s no sculpted element to it, but I’d almost rather have no scars than a blushing Mutt. For accessories, Mutt also really gets a lot of great stuff. Starting off with the
weakest part, they give him a helmet and gas mask. The gas mask is a passable attempt at trying to recreate Mutt’s signature muzzle, but I’d rather have just had a standard helmet and no gas mask. A gas mask is not a muzzle and vice versa. Plus, the gas mask totally covers his great face. As an MP, it makes sense for Mutt to be carrying a nightstick and I like the one they gave him here. It’s a good mold, and I’m sure it’ll see some reuse in the other Kre-O lines. Finally, to recreate his silenced MAC-10, he gets a Kre-O Uzi, which would have been enough for me, but they also gave him a large silencer to attach to the end of it. Unfortunately, putting the silencer on kind of obliterates any sense of scale. The MAC-10 isn’t a terribly big weapon, but here in Kre-O, a silenced MAC-10 is only a head shorter than the guy that’s wielding it. The scale issue didn’t bother me much with Tunnel Rat’s giant machine gun of doom, but here it does bother me a little. Finally, you can’t have Mutt without Junkyard and while Junkyard has
changed dog breeds, I really do love bulldog Junkyard. It’s a great mold and it’s amazingly expressive. When his head is square with the rest of the body, you’ve clearly got a working dog ready to pounce on his target, but when you cock the head, you get a really great confused expression from him. I realize the articulated neck was more of a function of how he was built rather than a specific design idea, but it really does make Junkyard a great addition to the Kre-O Joe line.
The Cobra Trooper (taken from the Battle Platform Assault set) at first glance looks like your standard Cobra grunt, but I appreciate that the Kre-O folks are changing up torso tampos on Cobra Troopers to give us a little something more. This time, the Cobra Trooper is wearing a chest harness with a pistol holster rather than your traditional, suspender-style webgear. It almost makes him look like a more elite Cobra Trooper—not quite good enough to be a Viper but something a bit more specialized (maybe even commando-like) than the standard Cobra blueshirt. This Cobra Trooper is wearing a standard black facemask but the eyes have a bit of intensity behind them that clearly identify him as a bad guy here. For weapons, he also has something that I’d see a commando rather than a standard trooper carrying. He’s got a submachine gun with a bayonet on the front end. It’s a great look, though I’m not certain I’ve ever seen a submachine gun with a bayonet on it. The bayonet is a pretty wicked looking knife with a serrated back edge. I can imagine that thing would hurt more going out than it might going in. It’s another little thing that makes me see this Cobra Trooper as something a bit more dangerous than the standard Cobra blueshirt.
Finally, we have a Cobra Officer (taken from the Cobra Armored Assault set) but to make him different from the Battle Platform set, he’s wearing a black facemask instead of the more traditional red. Again, it’s a nice way to make the Cobra Officers look different while still reference the original looks. Also, to differentiate the Cobra Officer from the Battle Platform set one, he’s wearing the more traditional black webgear from the cartoon rather than the yellow that the comic Cobra Officers wore. Again, the tampo work is spot on, especially considering how complicated the Cobra Officer webgear is. Since he’s a Cobra Officer, he also gets an
officer crest tampoed on his helmet. It’s a nice nod to the Cobra Officer corps and helps distinguish him a little bit more from the standard Cobra Troopers. Finally, his weapon is also the classic AK-47. It’s amazing how well that design shrinks down yet still looks recognizable. I love my Cobras carrying AKs, so I’m really happy to see it here too.
I’ve been a little hard on the Thunderwave, and I feel badly about it. I really do like it from a display standpoint, but that’s why I have a problem. Every other Kre-O set I picked up has just seemed so playable, but the Thunderwave itself really doesn’t. I had a lot of fun setting up the little battle scene on it, but unlike all the other Kre-O sets, I haven’t really ever picked it up on the fly and just messed around with it a little on my desk. It’s functional, but it’s not necessarily fun and it surprises me to say that about a Kre-O set. That said, everything else in the Kre-O line is well done and playable so the Thunderwave is clearly an anomaly in that sense.
That said, I’m still glad they went for a boat already since there aren’t too many Joes that can be included as a driver. I’m very happy Cutter got some love from Kre-O so early and the set (with the Kre-O Water Moccasin) comes together well, so I’m glad I have it in my collection, but it’s definitely been living on the back of my display shelf because it doesn’t really inspire me to pick it up and play with it as much as the other Kre-O sets have.