Welly 1/18 Scale Die-cast 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396
When the first G.I. Joe: Retaliation trailer debuted (what was that, like 7 years ago?) it revealed a refreshing new vision of G.I. Joe, a vision more in keeping with the toys fans grew up with in the sandbox than was offered by the VFX-laden science-fiction look of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but still offering an imaginative and fun new approach to the property. In the film, a group of G.I. Joe team members, lead by heavy machine gunner Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), seeks the assistance of the fabled original G.I. Joe himself (Bruce Willis). To thwart Cobra and clear their names, the team must take advantage of any help they can find, including ninja training, special weapons, and the unique abilities of Joe himself.
As that first trailer unfolded, a major “hero” vehicle for the Joes was not a VAMP, not an AWE Striker, not even a Mudbuster, but a Chevrolet El Camino.
(Needle scratch) An El Camino? Why the heck is our favorite high-tech military force getting around town in an old civilian novelty car with the bed of a pickup truck?
Well, a couple of reasons are likely:
First, Retaliation tells the tale of a group of wrongly-accused Joes under cover and on the run from evil forces that have infiltrated the government. This oft-used story device (The A-Team, G.I. Joe: Renegades) has a massive positive impact on a film budget. Instead of having to design a fleet of new G.I. Joe vehicles that either have to be fabricated for production or added as VFX in post-production(neither of which is cheap), the filmmakers can rely on the Joes “borrowing” civilian vehicles to get around.
Second, since it is an Official Big Time Summer (well, Spring now) Blockbuster Action Movie ™ populated by men and women who get things done and get them done in style, if the Joes can’t be hauling around in custom-built futuristic military jeeps, a beefy black muscle car with a pickup bed isn’t a horribly bad way to go. Chances are good that, if you’re a Joe fan, you’re also probably part gearhead as well. I’d go see a movie featuring that crazy El Camino even if it didn’t have a disgruntled salesman/lost world snakebeast-turned-terrorist-leader in it.
Finally, this movie has a sense of humor. C’mon: you didn’t smile a bit when that thing swerved onto the screen? I did. The El Camino in the trailer gets a laugh and so do the quips traded therein. This film is not supposed to be a dire experience and the car helps get the point across that watching Retaliation is intended to be fun.
After seeing that trailer, I immediately wondered what it would take to get my hands on a 1/18 scale die-cast metal El Camino replica…model…toy…whatever, and when word got out that there would indeed be figures of “G.I.” Joe Colton and Lady Jaye, I knew I’d have to find one for future Joe fun. One of the brilliant things about the film’s story is that it brings together the original 12” G.I. Joe himself and the 4” Joe team that followed him, and if the filmmakers decided to do that in an El Camino, why not recreate that with the toys?
Well, as anyone who’s ever been interested in anything in the toy and model world can tell you, there are 293 different 1/18 scale die-cast versions of every car ever made EXCEPT…the one in which you’re interested. It was therefore with considerable surprise and delight that I found an abundant stock on eBay of a black 1/18 scale El Camino. It’s not exactly the same car that appears in the film, but it is pretty close, and…let’s just say it maybe wouldn’t be the first Retaliation vehicle toy that misses the movie-accurate mark by just a teeny bit.
This replica comes from a manufacturer called Welly. The quality is decent; maybe a bit south of Ertl, and prices seem to run about $25-$40 on eBay. It features the usual working steering, opening doors, opening hood, AND the opening tailgate one needs for a proper G.I. Joe Retaliation scene. Firing an assault rifle from the back of a swerving El Camino with the tailgate CLOSED? Anyone can do that, right?
It’s important to point out that a 4” Joe figure WILL NOT fit in either of the front seats of the car without modifications. Die-cast cars are designed to look cool, and they do, but, for a variety of reasons, getting a 1/18 scale action figure inside most 1/18 scale replica cars is not an easy prospect. To achieve that would require a serious reworking of the interior, seats, and steering wheel, or the removal of a significant portion of the figure’s lower parts, as I had to do.
That said, the El Camino is a great-looking addition to any G.I. Joe Retaliation figure display. It captures the excitement of a key sequence from the trailers and it’s a thrill to pick up a hefty chunk of steel that combines the appeal of the 12” toy line, the 4” toy line, and die-cast metal cars, mixes in a little movie magic, and continues the tradition of fun that is G.I. Joe.