Toys R Us Mobile Command Center
My first experience with the Mobile Command Center was a very good one.
It was the late 80's, early 90's and we had finally gotten a local toy store. A little shop, Toys n Stuff (or something like that) appeared and we finally had someplace to shop besides Rich's and KMart for new Joe stuff. I found items like Battleforce: 2000 and Sky Patrol there and remember grabbing some other interesting things from time to time.
Well, as cool as this store was, it was overpriced and quickly started going downhill. As they prepared to close their doors, a lot of prices were dropped. I hadn't been really actively collection the vehicles...didn't have the money, and was more into the characters at that point...but I went into Toys N Toys (as it was now called) and saw the Mobile Command Center. Not only was I blown away by this cool as heck, massive playset (that I did NOT remember), but it was a measly $19!!! I immediately snatched it up, in spite of being there with a prospective date, and ran home to build the sucker. It's a great Joe memory...and now, over ten years later, I have another great memory of the MCC.
The minute I saw the box under the tree on Christmas morning, I knew what it was. :) My wife made me wait until the end to open it up, but I cracked that bad boy open and eaglerly started to rip open the box, but we had places to go...
So upon my return Christmas night, I spent a solid hour building my second MCC, which I asked for to replace my original, which is, at this point, pretty busted apart and missing some pieces. This brought back some great memories from Christmas' past and was a ton of fun, a great way to close off Christmas, 2003.
But enough memories, right? How does it shape up? Does it stand the test of time?
This vehicle quite simply shows frankly how sub-standard recent playsets have been, as this thing as it all, in spades.
First of all, the design of the vehicle is terrific. It is very angular and stylized, with those terrific, dynamic front windows and sloped cockpit. From that sloping to the sloping of the body, it changes shape drastically, yet still maintains a nice, stylistic appearence. This vehicle is a behemoth, plain and simple. You wouldn't be using this thing to storm COBRA HQ, but it does it's job as a mobile base, and functions well in that regard as well as in the format of a G.I. Joe Command Center.
From the front, you see those windows, angular face and rocket launchers/chin guns aplenty. If this thing ever did get combat-assaulted, it is perfectly capable of defending itself.
The angular look is prevalent throughout the rest of the base in vehicle mode, carried by it's massive tank treads and with some very cool little touches, like the layered armor plating and the spring-loaded front bumper just under those crazy weapons.
The Command Center inside is well hidden by the design of the outer shell, but neither mode is sacrificed by the other. The large black supports used to keep the Command Center upright fold in, and look fairly normal even in vehicle mode as large black piping on the side of the craft.
Weapons are also sprinkled throughout. From the aforementioned cannons and missile launcher on the front, to the fold out/flip up missile console on the top of the vehicle, this thing is well-defended from the ground or the air. Even it's "six" is covered by a small, but lethal quartet of mini-rockets on a small pod. Should this lumbering, slow beast be surprised, it should be capable of holding off some COBRA forces, although with no lower-angle traversing weapons, I can see some weak points in this thing's defenses.
The transformation process is absolutely critical in toys of this nature. Something like this that is meant to be changed from one thing to another needs to be simple and effective in both modes, and easy to change from one mode to another as well. The MCC does well in this regard, too.
The twin black pipings unlock from the side of the Command Center and the levels fold up very easily, and are supported well by the thick, black struts. Once folded out, this command center takes some suspension of disbelief to really work, though. The "Command Center" is very open and vulnerable, and no I don't think those little machine guns clipping onto the walls here and there work well enough as defense. Personally, to me, the transformation is only for asthetics. In my Joeverse, the Mobile Command Center does NOT transform. The bases/levels inside are part of the mobile base, and it only folds out so you can enact scenes from within. But it is always enclosed within and well-defended. The top DOES open up for the rockets and the air-defense, but the rest of it is an internal Command Center.
The command center itself has a very cool computer station and planning monitor. The fold-down beds also work as tech-stations and is a pretty cool place for the Joes to plan their missions. The detention center in the upper left hand corner is kind of an afterthought, and not something that I really see myself using a whole lot. To me, that detention center is an elevator down, which leads to more troop quarters and other unseen items.
Downstairs is the pseudo motor pool, which only really has room for a small vehicle and nothing else...but this is where the suspension of disbelief comes in. In the comics, the MCC was hidden by the PITT III in Utah. In my Joeverse, it hitches to the once-abandoned underground HQ and is used as a support center, or transport if absolutely necessary. It has some smaller stations, as it's built for mobilitiy, and isn't meant as the Joes' sole command console.
I do like the detail of the motor pool. The crane/engine combination is pretty neat, and the assorted fuel tanks are nicely done. The ammo racks and stairway are other cool touches, and it makes a nice little compliment to the overall look of the Command Center.
Overall, the Mobile Command Center does have a lot going for it. It's large, elaborate, and has a TON of play value. It does take some imagination (as do nearly ALL toy playsets) but is an invaluable support unit for the Joe team. If you already have a mint, complete one from 1987, I wouldn't necessarily jump all over this one. It's very similar to the original, and not even the figure is that special...in fact, I wouldn't have asked the wife to drop the $70.00 on it if my old one wasn't falling apart. But for those of you who do not have the original, this is a great playset to pick up and works very well for what it's meant for.
In all honesty, it kind of makes items like the COBRA Mountain playset pale in comparison, but it's a different environment for toy makers today.
Unfortunately, though, there is what I consider a MAJOR downside to this playset. Hasbro (and Toys R Us) are asking you to pay $70.00 for this playset, and can't even think of putting a decent figure with it. The choice of figure to be included with the MCC is downright deplorable. Probably one of the worst classic sculpted figures produced in the past 3 years...he's not only a re-release (not even a repaint) but he's a re-release of a bad figure. Boring, in every way. I know they're probably thinking that a playset of this magnitude sells itself, but to expect us to pay $70.00 on something like this and not even get a decent figure out of it? Well, it kind of ticks me off, but everyone knows I'm more of a figure/character guy than a vehicle guy.
Besides this gripe, this vehicle/playset is a good one, and very fun to own and use. I heartily recommend it, especially if you can find one at some post-Christmas clearence prices. It holds it's own nearly twenty years after original release and will suit the new figures just as well as it did the classic stuff. Here's hoping that successful releases like this will lead to other large playsets being re-released as well.
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