Switch Gears (2003)
The Spy Troops series was one of the boldest efforts in the history of GI Joe figure gimmicks. Based on disguising the warring factions as one another certainly made for an original attempt at adding play value to the toys. The problem was not the idea, but rather the execution. Most of the added armor and clothing elements just didn’t look all that good when placed on the figures. Some were successful, and even useful beyond the enemy in disguise aspect. Barrel Roll stands out as a prime example. Others, like Switch Gears, were pretty laughable, even from a kid standpoint.
The figure’s lanky build belies the tough as nails character outlined in the file card. That’s not to say that thin folds can’t be tough, but the toy just doesn’t ring true as the hard charging tanker from the packaging. His bio just seemed to me to make him the ideal candidate for the GI Joe “big man” of the new sculpt era. I guess the figure also looks too fresh-faced.
The uniform design is at least interesting, as he’s one of the most armored Joes of the era. All those metal plates actually give off a Dreadnok kind of vibe. And those pants–the color is just…wow. I don’t know who he would fool when he puts on his Overkill getup, but those flashy trousers would certainly spoil the ruse. He looks downright suffocated in that helmet, and the arm attachment reminds me of those really cheap vacuform Halloween costume accessories. You know the kind; they look amazing in photos, but in person hold up about as well as a 70s Ben Cooper mask.
It’s not all bad, however, as the backstory on the cardback makes use of the character selection for the two pack. Switch Gears puts on his disguise, hotwires a HISS IV tank and hightails it, almost making it to the GI Joe frontline. Cobra Commander sees his vehicular prowess, and makes him his personal driver. Now that would make for quite a tale, especially considering how Switch made it back to the Joes, and just how the Commander could have mistaken him for anything other than a goofball in a snap-on disguise. It’s the stuff of sitcom gold.