By Past Nastification
Two decades ago, Hasbro pushed out its second wave of new GI Joe figures. A few years before the advent of the New Sculpt figures, Hasbro did the best it could with old molds and new paint. The figures were largely hit and miss. Some were solid (Stars ‘n Stripes Stalker), some were acceptable (The Baroness) and some were atrocious (Stars ‘n Stripes Rock ‘n Roll). But the vehicles Hasbro rolled out have largely come to be well liked, such as the Rattler re-colored as an A-10. Though not as well received as the A-10, the 1998 MOBAT is a wonderful thing in its own right.
That depends, largely, whether you like the original MOBAT (Multi-Ordnance Battle Tank) or not. I happen to love it.
The anti-MOBAT bone of contention is how under scaled the MOBAT really is. The collectors who are put off by the scale issues are, well, correct. The MOBAT has at least three molded hatches that are probably meant to be for human use, but are just too small for that to be plausible. The command turret only goes up a figure’s hips and has no hatch. There is no interior to put the rest of the tank’s crew. Despite the massive flaws, I forgave them because when I was nine it just didn’t matter. GI Joe was new (to our generation) and amazing. Hasbro was trying something new. Truth be told, had this exact same vehicle come out later in the run I would have been unforgiving about its flaws. The 1985 MBT Mauler was bulkier and had two opening hatches, plus real interior seating. Hasbro learned as it went along.
Because the MOBAT was the first wave’s tank, warts and all, I’ve accepted re-uses of the mold without problem. They get grandfathered in.
I had hoped that the 25A would give us a scale adjustment of the MOBAT, perhaps with some hatches and breakaway panels to reveal the interior, but that was not to be. Just a recreation of the original MOBAT, in a very close color even.
This 1998 MOBAT (Motorized Offensive Battle Attack Tank) is essentially a re-color of the original MOBAT. There are few changes I’ve noticed, like the lack of handles near the command turret ring, but I’m not familiar enough with the different versions to know if that was new in 1998 or not or a carryover from an earlier change.
Although Hasbro created black Cobra versions* in addition to the standard olive drab one, this is the first time we ever got a camouflage version. It’s amazing. It might have been a safer move to make a tan MOBAT, one that would display well with a Mauler. But Hasbro nailed it by going this route. It’s not just “solid color blocks” patterning, either. The base green of the MOBAT is a step brighter than the 1982 MOBAT, with dark feathered striping. There aren’t crisp paint edges. The main turret and top-mounted machine gun are a darker shade, giving even more detail to the overall color scheme.
Speaking of warts, this figure came with two figures. One was Thunderwing, a pathetically recolored Thunder (who was dead in the Marvel continuity) now passing as a new character. The second was a recolored Heavy Duty, which was actually pretty good. But the exclusion of Steeler from the MOBAT was a mistake. Maybe even a sin. You wouldn’t make a Mach-5 without Speed Racer, would you? I should be impressed that Hasbro actually gave a crew of two to the MOBAT, but since neither was Steeler it didn’t matter. Since those not-Steeler figures taint the ’98 MOBAT, let’s appreciate it without them.
Even with its scale issues, and even without Steeler, the ’98 MOBAT is impressive.
*FORMBX257’s great videos on YouTube are highly informative, if you’re not already aware.