Mortar Defense Unit (1984)

by KansasBrawler

Well, we’re closing in on the end of Field Reports about Battlefield Accessories. However, like any good reviewer, I’ve saved my two favorite for last. However, they’re honestly favorites for almost totally different reasons. The Mortar Defense Unit comes with a lot of interesting, little pieces. The oil drum looks very nice and would be a great addition to any diorama, but is also large enough to be littered on the battlefield as some makeshift cover during a firefight. The gas cans are also nicely detailed, but they seem almost a little too large and the handles are a bit too thick to safely be held by a vintage style Joe figure, at least in my opinion. The mortar box is nicely detailed and looks quite nice sitting near the mortar.

However, the mortar itself could be better. While I like the semi-futuristic look of it, when you compare it to the mortar that Hasbro gave to Short-Fuze in 1982, it really comes up short. Short-Fuze’s mortar was more realistic, better detailed and more stable than the funky looking stick that comes with the Mortar Defense Unit.

Now for me, the real bang for this set’s buck comes from its sandbags. When my brother was first working with this one, I was preoccupied with assembling the Forward Observer set. I was checking it out and picked up one of the sandbags and was shocked to find they were all individual pieces. I had presumed that it was something like the very nice, single piece shooting position from the Cobra Rifle Range. The fact that they were individual pieces just blew my mind. While I’ll freely admit as a kid, these probably would have been lost really quickly, as an adult they just amaze me. They’re nicely detailed with a burlap pattern in the plastic and they stack up very well in a variety of ways. The sandbags really add a lot to this set and give you a lot of different options for play and display purposes.


  • It’s funny the Forward Observer is a better mortar set than the Mortar Defense. That ammo isn’t even mortar ammo, is it?

  • The sandbags should have made this a popular set for diorama builders but I remember it languishing on the shelves longer than the other defense units The gas cans and mortar’s incompatibility with figures’ hands might have hurt the set’s appeal. I did like the oil drum a lot better.

    All I remember is stacking the sandbags and not doing much else with this set once it was assembled. I think the Forward Observer opened up greater possibilities, plus it nicely complimented the Bivouac.

  • Were there really any adults building dioramas with 3 3/4 Joes back then? I thought it was a recent thing with guys like us who grew up with the line?

  • One of the best sets, in my opinion!

  • I love these sets. They were a great idea. A pity nothing like it is made for toys today. My Mother used to make dioramas for the kids at Sunday school using my Joes [Repeater makes a very unconvincing King Herod]

  • I love all these sets.My holy grail is the Outpost Defender.

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