G.I. Joe: ARAHC - G.I. Joe Headquarters (Page 1)

In the early 90’s, I was definitely still a G.I. Joe Collector, but not quite as vehement as I had been just a few years previous. It is because of this very reason that I never owned the G.I. Joe Headquarters produced in 1992. On the shelves, it seemed somewhat interesting, but it’s color scheme was questionable, and it’s "Action Gimmicks" were the bane of my Joe existence in that time. As a result, I have never owned it.

I was probably one of the few people who was actually excited that this new Toys R Us exclusive Headquarters coming out was based on the ’92 mold rather than the original, classic ’83 version. I owned the ’83 version, and it was one of the highlights of the original series. It was also one that I think Hasbro would have been hard pressed to improve on. That’s one of the reasons I love Hasbro’s decisions to rework some of the later, more obscure molds of the line. This Headquarters definitely fits into that mold.

Hopefully by now, everyone remembers how these 2001 vehicle/playset reviews go. We start off with Presentation.

The box is HUGE and very imposing on the shelf (I would imagine, anyway, since I ordered mine from Toys R Us.com), and the box art just plain rocks! I love the image of the Rock Viper and the blue box looks great as always. Seeing cool box art like this really makes me hope that Joe’s triumphant return in 2002 will include full card art for all vehicles AND figures. The explosion on the box works well, too, and even though there appear to be multiple Sidetracks, the overall image is very, very well done. I think the sheer size and impact of this box alone will at least garner some level of interest.

Next, we need to cover assembly, or how tough this thing is to put together. First of all, this is the largest thing I have assembled in a long time. I don’t think I have ever assembled anything this large since the Terror Drome I got for Christmas back in 1985. As large as it is, though, it was surprisingly simple to put together. All pieces fit together with no real issues at all. Everything squeezed tightly together and stayed together throughout my “testing” of the Headquarters. My only real gripe is in the design of the jail cell. It just doesn’t really seem to fit and stay tightly, but all in all, it’s still a well constructed and easily built base. Sticker affixing also brought little difficulty, and I think the sticker amount is pretty much perfect for the size. Not too many, but still enough. High marks in this category.

Third, I want to cover playability. Is this thing fun to play with, or pretty much a display piece? It should be evident by the sheer numbers of interactive pieces that this thing just screams "play with me!!". But is the playability geared towards a younger audience? Definitely. G.I. Joe in general walked a fine line in the early to mid nineties, trying to release figures and accessories that were interactive, and with action gimmicks, but trying still to maintain the quality of the toys past. Unfortunately, in many peoples’ eyes, Hasbro failed miserably. While I’m not sure that they failed per se, it is my belief that these gimmicks added absolutely zero fun factor to any of the toys, even when I was younger. I rarely used spring loaded launchers or anything of the sort as a kid, simply because the stuff always worked better in my imagination. However, it is possible to create a gimmick-infested toy without terribly affecting it’s play value. Does the Headquarters succeed? For the most part, yes.

It does suffer in some parts. The jail cell wall was VERY hard to lock into place, and I get the sneaking suspicion that at some point in the middle of the night, it will blast from it’s hole and scare the bejeezus out of my wife. While entertaining in it’s own regard, this does make it difficult to play with, for fear of Cobra Commander being sprung at a moment’s notice completely unbeknownst to me. Secondly, the "Action Sounds" are absolutely atrocious. I put the requested batteries in for about 8 seconds before my ears started bleeding. Imagine those irritating sound effects from the Talking Battle Commanders, magnified about tenfold. Ouch.

In all honesty, though, these seem to be the only detractors from the asthetic value of this piece…all other gimmicks can be turned off or locked down tight so that they do not affect the day-to-day performance of the headquarters. I would say my favorite of the “gimmicks” is by far the collapsible tower…but watch out, you have to have a LOT of weight on there to work it right…slap a couple E Hondas on there and you’re all set. All in all, the playability factor is relatively high. The base itself is a little on the skeletal side…not any floor room, and the bare minimum of rooms, but as a fortified façade, I think it works extremely well.

You want to see me having some fun with this thing? Click Here

Next, the construction. How is this thing built? Can it withstand the rigors of childhood play? To this I say a hearty "Aye!". This thing is tough. With my first playtesting, I pretty much beat on this thing right off the bat. Collapsed the towers a few times, fired off a few rounds from the front launchers…let Cobra Commander escape and recaptured him a few dozen times. This thing held up fine. I do have a minor complaint…one of the little levers in my communications room came snapped off…but it’s a VERY tiny lever, and certainly not worth the hassle of returning this beast. All in all, I think the HQ is definitely "built for rugged play" as the old adage goes.

How about the colors? Improvement over the original model? Still need some work? Hasbro hit a home run with their choice of colors as usual with the ’00, ’01 line. I don’t think I’ve had a single major complaint regarding color choices for the new Joe stuff, and this doesn’t change that. The HQ is primarily silver, with some brown trimmings and the appropriately tan sandbags. There’s some black here and there…some bronze, but mostly the colors are well subdued and proper. An immense improvement over the green and orange monstrosity of 1992. A big A+ here as well.

So what’s the bottom line, you ask? Go Here and buy it! Seriously, though, if you did not have the ’92 HQ, this will seem like a brand new toy to you, and a great one. Is it worth the $60? Ehh…I’m not positive on that one yet. If you are a pathetic rabid fanboy completist like I am, the $60 will not bother you. For those on a budget (heh…like I’m not! :/ )perhaps wait and see if they go down in price. If you own the ’92 version and are not a completist, I’m not sure if the subtle color changes and the Rock & Roll figure are really worth the expense.

I really do think Hasbro did a fantastic job on this toy, though…there is quite a bit of playability there…some great backdrops for dioramas, and an all around cool looking Joe stronghold. If you can afford it, buy it! If not…well, just drool over my pics for a while…

Head on over to Page 2 as well, for a lot more pics of this thing in action.