Tonka Play People Rapid Deployment Force HR-14

By Past Nastification

This is the HR-14, the Rapid Deployment Force version of the Tonka Hand Commander Turbo Prop.  Like the RDF figures, it’s a simple repaint of an already existing Tonka Play People vehicle to make a military version, sold to ride the GI Joe wave.

Or, at least that’s what I believe it to be.  I talked about this in my article about the RDF, but I remember this vehicle (and the RDF version of the aviator) belonging to my brother, circa 1982.  The pictured items are eBay purchases and not the actual ones my brother had- but I’m certain they’re the versions I remember.  I’m referring it to as the HR-14 because that’s what’s printed on the plane.  That may not have been the official Tonka name for it at the time.  I also may have not come with the aviator, but my best guess is that it did.

Tonka released the civilian versions of this aircraft back in 1979.  It came in various colors and markings, but this version is the one with the most appeal for Joe collectors.  The black one is also pretty dandy.  Again, I’m making assumptions based on my memories that this is an ’82 RDF version, but it could simply be that Tonka did an olive-with-camouflage-stickers version earlier.  

Like Joe vehicles, it’s not quite to scale.  It also has a large handle on the underside.  There’s no closing hatch, leaving the pilot it exposed.    
These things don’t matter at all.  The toyetic (I’m using Rob’s favorite word) value of this aircraft is amazing.  It looks good on its own or blended in with Joe figures.  It has working props, which are set in motion by a trigger in the support handle.  The landing gears (or is the plural just “gear”?) are retractable, controlled by a switch on the top of the plane.  Hasbro obviously liked this feature so much that it later mimicked it in the 1983 Skystriker.  Instrument panels surround the pilot, although there’s no yoke/joystick.  There’s also a small storage area behind the pilot’s seat, just large enough for a backpack and some gear. 

The “Tonka Tough” mantra holds true.  Compared to other similar toy aircraft, this chunk of dense sturdy plastic is intact almost 40 years later.  Skystrikers, Rattlers, and Conquests all lose pieces over time.  A recent excursion through the cardboard boxes and Tupperware containers of Joe clutter in my attic confirmed this.  The Rattler, in particular, is so prone to crumbling/falling apart over time that I’d call it a design fail.  Hasbro’s designs may have been more advanced, but Tonka’s construction is far superior.  Action figure toys made now are aimed at adult collectors, but in the late 70’s/early 80’s they were still made for kids.  Durability counts for something, as it keeps the toy together through both play and neglect.

Was the inclusion of a “turbo prop” plane of this variety realistic for a modern army toy line in 1982?  Or today?  I have no idea.  Don’t know; don’t care.  The HR-14 is fun and rugged, making me wish Tonka had made its own versions of an F-14 or an A-10 so we could see them “still in one piece” now.



  • I had the black version as a kid. The durability kept it around for years and I know it was alive at least until 1986 and maybe even 1987 based on some memories of it I have.

    I had two different uses for the plane. One was a smuggler/drug runner plane. It would piloted by Dreadnoks or busted up LBC figures to represent civilians. The Joes would track them down. I’d often have the ammo dump crate be the cargo, even though it didn’t fit.


  • The other was as an undercover plane for the Joes to move personnel behind enemy lines. IIRC, the Fisher Price cloth parachute would pack up and fit in the storage compartment. I’d use this as the way for the Joes to drop Ripcord or Airborne into position.

    I liked toys like this since they brought a civilian aspect that was Joe compatible. It allowed me to move away from the Joe/Cobra dichotomy every now and then without having to strip a Joe vehicle of it’s weaponry. (The A Team van worked wonders in this regard, too.)

  • ”This type of aircraft could be used in Vietnam , over South American jungles, Africa, or over deserts.Not very fast for a”turbo-prop job”.A fighter jet ,like the 1983 Joe Sky Striker, would make mincemeat of it in a aerial dogfight.”

  • I had the blue version as a kid. It played a very similar role to what Forgotten Figures described; right down to the Fisher Price parachute stuffed behind the seat. I’m surprised no one has given a civilian version to Chuckles for undercover ops. A quick eBay search revealed yellow and red versions.

  • About 1983, my buddy in our adjoined duplex had the blue plane and I was SUPER envious! The trigger spinning the props is as much fun as the trigger on the Dragonfly. Now, the handle would bother me, as well as the overall toy-look, but as a kid it was awesome!

  • I like this plane.Now compare it to the ROC gunship and there’s no comparison when it comes to durability

  • I grew up with the yellow version, I think it was branded as a “stunt plane”. I had no idea there was a military version! Reminds me a bit of the plane the Joes use in Yearbook 2…ahh that Michael Golden could DRAW!!!

  • Never seen this before, looks like a great toy. Tonka toys were almost indestructible.

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