Dreadnok Rampage; Escapade in the Everglades
G.I. Joe International Collector's Convention, 2004- Page 2

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Toy name: Dreadnok Rampage: Escapade in the Everglades
Assortment: Convention Exclusive, 2004
Price: Assorted
Availability: July, 2004

Key Features & Price Points

- 15 Figure Set w/ Filecards, accessories, and Dreadnok Trike- $240.00
- Dreadnok Drivers 2-Pack (Thrasher and Zanzibar)- $40.00
- Morphing Zartan 3-Pack (Zartan, Zartan/Hawk, and General Hawk)- $50.00

- Dreadnok Stun- $40.00
- Tiger Force Tiger Ray Hydrofoil- $65.00

Well, we've covered the 15 figure set, so now we move on to the attendee bonuses and extra exclusives offered only at the Con. This year the GIJCC pushed it to the next level and gave us two additional figure sets as well as two additional vehicle sets along with the attendee bonus. Let's just say next year I'm packing a second back to transport it all back with!

We'll start off with the regular attendee bonus, since that didn't cost any extra cash...

I've said how I was not a Dreadnok fan as a kid...and I'd have to say that a big reason for that is the lack of interesting vehicles for them. The Dreadnoks had a number of vehicles, and with the exception of the Swampfire, I didn't like any of them. Probably my least favorite of the bunch, though, is the Dreadnok Trike.

I'm not sure where the Hasbro design team was coming from when they outlined the blueprints for this bizarre little chopper, but I cannot fathom what the purpose of it is meant to be. It's too large and cumbersome to be a fast attack vehicle, but too lightly armored and skimpy to be a transport. It's just kind of there, with no real purpose or reason. It's ridiculously oversized, making the characters look like children sitting in it, with an exposed gunner's mount without any real protection to speak of. It doesn't look rough enough to go off-road, but is too gangly to be speedy and just really does not come together in any way, shape, or form.

What makes it even worse is that this vehicle is based off the Street Fighter II version of the trike which uses a missile launcher instead of the normal gun...not that it makes a huge difference, the overall vehicle is still not very fun. I can't really blame the GIJCC, though...they did need to find a small Dreadnok vehicle to include in the set, and this is one of the only ones to choose from. Unfortunately, it's just not a very fun vehicle.

The colors actually aren't too bad in this case, though. The black foundation and green/purple highlights are great Dreadnok colors and fit the trike well, but cannot fix the fact that the Trike just misses the mark.

Next we take a look at the three-figure bonus set, called "Morphing Zartan". It represents Zartan as he disguises himself as General Hawk to infiltrate Tiger Force and sabotage their mission. I am a little conflicted about this set...actually, I'm not really conflicted at all...I don't like it.

When two of the figures first appeared on eBay, folks pretty much made up their minds then and there that this wasn't a highly sought after set. Two of the figures are basically the same, with merely a simple head-swap to differentiate them. Not enough to make a difference, if you ask me. Now, the third figure, a repaint of the original Zartan, adds a little spice to the set, but not nearly enough spice to warrant the mind-boggling $50.00 price tag. For $50.00 I expect something pretty darn cool...not two figures who are mostly identical and a third which is a too-bright repaint of an older figure that I have a great version of any way.

I can appreciate what the Collector's Club was trying to do...showing Zartan transforming into the G.I. Joe leader...but the set just doesn't do what it's supposed to do, at least in my opinion. But I can at least break it down figure-by-figure so people know what I think.

On the left is the repaint of the original Zartan. This figure is pretty neat, and is definitely the best of the three. Even though the mold is small and pretty out-dated, I like how he has color hints like General Hawk, and the translucent armor adds a nice touch as well. This isn't a Zartan that could ever be used in a practical environment, but it runs with the theme, and looks okay.

The middle figure is just...silly. I know it was a mid-transformation shot, but just basically having the General Hawk figure with Zartan's head is a cop out, I think, and really doesn't make me happy to spend this type of money just to complete my set. I know it's asking a lot, but it could have been very cool had they modified the figure a little more. Perhaps mix up the two legs and arms to show the older Zartan...and maybe even modify the torso to be half Zartan/half Hawk...some extra effort like that would have made this set very cool, but with this cop-out Hawk-tan it just puts me in a grumpy mood.

The figure on the right is Zartan in full transformation, and it isn't really a bad figure either. It fits right in with the rest of the Tiger Force figures and serves to add a really cool touch to the overall set. The pants are nicely adorned in the orange/black tiger motif, and his brown jacket matches the nice brown touches on Beachhead and Mutt. Black straps and gold trim on the grenades and buckles also follows the theme set by the rest of the figures and meshes this guy in near-perfectly. Like the other two, it's very hard to justify his use in a practical environment, but for display purposes he is painted nicely and looks pretty interesting.

None of these figures come together to produce a set nearly worth $50.00, however. That price just seems very excessive, especially for a set that is really only two different figures. I only hope that now that the convention is out of Disney, we can get some more reasonably priced exclusive sets and not have to deal with something like this next year.

Now for a more positive outlook... ;)

While I really didn't like the Dreadnok Trike or the Zartan/Hawk three-pack, they were pretty much my only negatives of the set, and this surprise two-pack almost makes up for it. It's nice when we actually get some surprises, as it does not happen very often, and the drivers set was definitely a surprise.

Following the Dreadnoks theme, we get a "Dreadnok Drivers" two-pack with two Dreadnoks that have not seen the light of day since their original releases many years ago. While I have mixed opinions on the figures chosen, I think the Collector's Club did a great job giving them some new paint apps and some new life.

The first of the figures is Thrasher--originally coming with the Dreadnok Thunder Machine (something a lot of people were expecting to be the vehicle exclusive this year) Thrasher is a spoiled rich-kid turned vandalizing punk, and fits right in with his Dreadnok pals. Thrasher is another Dreadnok, though, that I've never really had a soft spot for, and have never found a way to integrate into my Joeverse. I didn't like his personality on the filecard, didn't like his obnoxious portrayal in the comics, and vehemently hated his presentation in the cartoon. I understand that he was designed to be disliked, but I disliked the character so much I couldn't bring myself to use him. I still can't.

And like Zarana, the figure itself doesn't look cool or interesting enough to convince me to bring this guy into my dio's or my used collection and will probably be "retired".

Like he was in '86, the head is large and just odd...and his Elvis-like hairdo just doesn't sit right. The strange chest/shoulder pads look funky and I don't know what the heck that armored plate around his waist is. His legs and boots are also a bizarre conglomeration and the figure just does not mesh. But the Collector's Club does the best it can, and at least improves the paint scheme here, which is appreciated.

Putting Thrasher on Buzzer and Ripper's team, they give him the familiar red camouflage pants which fits in with those other Dreadnoks and brings him right into the Dreadnok Rampage set seamlessly. His grayish armor looks nice with the black highlights, but doesn't do anything drastic to really improve the looks of the figure. Black pads on the thighs and the gold trim on the boots are a nice splash of color. I enjoy the selection of weapons here, too (much better than the strange lacrosse stick/club of days past), but unfortunately all of this stuff is still based on Thrasher, which is a character and figure I just don't have an affinity for. It's nice that the Collector's Club is able to locate an older Dreadnok mold like this and add some spice to it, but here's hoping that since we've gotten the whole Dreadnok thing out of the way, that maybe we'll get some cooler selections next time around.

But strangely enough, even though I'm not a fan of Thrasher's funky look, I've always enjoyed Zanzibar's representation. I mean, who doesn't like pirates, right?

A pirate is a just plain odd choice for a Dreadnok, but upon further inspection, it makes a lot of sense. The pirates of old were uncouth ruffians who robbed, stole, and destroyed with pleasure, enthusiasm and skill. Sound familiar? Yeah, I consider the Dreads very much modern-day pirates, so Zanzibar ends up fitting right in.

Originally coming with the very cool Dreadnok Air Skiff Zanzibar was a late addition to the Dreadnoks, and a big departure from their punk rock looks of the early 80's. He's got definite pirate influences, yet is modernized enough to not look ridiculous, and even without an overt punk rock styling, he matches the other Dreads pretty well.

Zanzibar is a late 80's mold that works despite it's oddness. He's large, bulky, and muscular as many of the late 80's figures are, but not overly muscular as they can tend to get these days. His head sculpt is mean and threatening, and the design and execution of his real hair topknot is very well implemented. It's not often that real hair was used on the Joe figures of old, but in this case, it was done very well and works as it should.

His broad shoulders are covered by a nice angled shoulder pad/tunic, which harkens back to pirate days, yet still retains a modern edge to it. The twin grenades on his tunic help ease it into the modern day and bring him some bang for his buck as well. His waist and legs are pretty cool in their simplicity, with nicely placed belts and armor. The ripped pattern of the pant cuffs is well done, too, and just brings the overall figure together nicely.

But all of this would be meaningless if the Collector's Club didn't do something exciting with the colors...and thankfully, they do. Earlier in my review I stated that the blue team was by far my favorite team, and with the addition of this figure that opinion holds quite true. It seems every member of this Dreadnok branch is a really cool character with an interesting plastic representation and they will quickly become my default Dreads in the future.

Zanzibar's silver shade on his shoulder armor starts everything off, looking realistic and well-applied. The brown color of this tunic is very "leathery" and realistic and fits him excellently ...almost as nicely as the brass tone of his bracelets. The blue camouflage pattern chosen looks awesome, too, as I've stated with previous figures wearing it and he integrates seamlessly with the rest of the blue team, too.

Another nice touch is that Zanzibar comes with all of his original accessories. The spear and hammer that clip onto his Air Skiff are present and accounted for, as is his pistol...this seems pretty unusual these days for these re-releases to come with all of their original gear, and it's nice to see Zanzibar does.

The figures all blend together nicely in this themed set, and while the Dreadnoks seem much more practical than the Tiger Force figures, I like the way they all look together. It's still a tough call to tell whether or not these figures are all worth the price tag, but I will get enjoyment and use out of them, so that's all that matters to me at this point. Dreadnok fans will be in heaven with this set, and overall, due to the number of different characters, I do think this set was worth the purchase price, especially considering all the convention goodness that comes along with it!

Now, as for the two vehicle bonuses...let's see how those ended up:

The Stun is the first vehicle on my review list. Since it's inception in 1986, the Stun quickly became one of COBRA's default vehicles often leading the charge in the cartoon against the Joes. It makes for an interesting anti-infantry craft, a sleek, fast-moving trike with off-road wheels and a futuristic design. It's slim, rounded front looks pretty cool, if completely unrealistic, and it's well known massive cannons on the front provide a powerful arsenal of weaponry.

The rounded design of the vehicle lends itself to high speed pursuit and fast attack missions, even though it doesn't appear to be heavily armored and the operators are very exposed. I could see it sweeping in and laying down some serious fire, then taking off, rather than marching straight into a heavy firefight, considering it's drivers would be taken out quickly and easily.

In this capacity, I think it works well for the Dreadnoks. The Dreadnoks specialize in fast moving destruction and snatch and grab type operations. They move in, wreck what they need to wreck, and go on their merry ways, using motorcycles and other similar fast-moving vehicles to get their jobs done. The Stun works very well for this, and I can easily see the Dreads hijacking one from COBRA and souping it up for their own nefarious uses.

The Stun is represented here in all of it's original glory with the exception of the hubcaps. The tooling for the caps was lost, so the Collector's Club had to remake them ...thankfully they went the extra mile and actually added some flash to them, and made them unique to the Dreadnoks:

It's little touches like this that really show you that the Club cares about the product it is producing and tries to go out of their way to make something that really appeals to the collectors out there. They've succeeded really well with the Stun, I think.

While this medium sized COBRA fast attack craft maintains all of the original look of the vehicle, it's souped up with some of the well-known Dreadnok color choices. Instead of it's familiar black and red, we now have purple in green, to match the color hues of the familiar Dreadnok Ground Assault and Swampfire. These colors are odd and very different, yet seem to match the attitudes of the Dreadnoks well and I can really see them using these. The white on the hubcaps is another strange color choice, but it doesn't look too out of place, and I find the entire Stun vehicle relatively pleasant to look at and a nice addition to the Dreadnok armory.

I'd say the Stun is one of the highlights of this set, being a mid-sized vehicle that's not too tough to end up with multiples of, although in the case of a Dreadnok vehicle, I don't see that really being necessary. I consider the Dread vehicles as one-of-a-kind souped up alterations, and not something you'd see an entire motor pool filled with. That being said, I don't think I ended up with any extra Stuns to beef up the COBRA arsenal...the Dreads only need the one, and I can see them using it well.

And here we are...last, but most certainly not least, the "flagship" of the 2004 Convention offerings...the Tiger Ray!

Without a doubt one of my favorite COBRA vehicles of all time is the COBRA Moray Hydrofoil. It is in the elite top list with the Night Raven, Terror Drone and only a few other choice vehicles that make it the cream of the crop...one of the best craft in the Joe line, period. It's sleek, nasty looking body design combined with the scores of intricate play features and weapons...even the color scheme and figure compliments are done to near-perfection. So what do I think of the Joes swiping this vehicle and using it for their own?

I don't have a problem with it, and as a Tiger Force vehicle, the Tiger Ray still looks as nasty as the original.

In the field, the Joes have to do what's necessary to progress the mission and to get their jobs done. I can easily see them infiltrating a COBRA base, acquiring a Moray, and then re-fitting it to suit their purposes. And while a bright orange attack boat doesn't seem very practical, it's still cool as heck to see on display and it suits the figures very well.

I'm not sure I really need to go into detail about how cool the molding is of this classic vehicle ...everyone should know by now. But, what the heck, I guess I will, anyway. :)

This is the assault boat to end all assault boats. Lean, mean, and stacked to the gills with weapons, this intimidating speedboat just looks destructive sitting in the pier. It just looks like it's ready to jump out and cause some havoc. From the sloped sides near the cockpit to the super-angular point of the bow, you can imagine these things screaming through the gulf of Mexico, attacking oil rigs, Coast Guard Cutters and causing general mayhem. There is simply nothing on the Joe side to combat it. It's compliment of missiles in the front lifting section, as well as the twin rockets perched on the side of the cockpit...it's twin main cannons as well as the moveable small arms machine gun on the top...all of it comes together to form a near-inpenetrable line of defense and offensive force capable of crippling other watercraft within minutes. Even if attacked from behind, the rear machine guns and depth charges provide suitable defense from any angle.

This boat ROCKS.

But how does that translate over to the G.I. Joe side? I think it works pretty well, still. Think about it: The Joes are attacking COBRA in the everglades...they need an attack boat that can tear through the COBRAs quick and easy and combat them on their own turf. What better way to do that than to take COBRA's own powerful assault watercraft and turn it against them? They move in on a COBRA weapons depot they've had under surveillance and steal a Moray, then disappear. After a few weeks, and some paint alterations, they now have their own powerhouse watercraft to use against COBRA in the Everglade mission. Serving Tiger Force, a unit that specializes in capturing and re-using existing vehicles from both sides, the Tiger Ray streaks in and strikes hard.

At first I thought maybe the Tiger Ray would put me off with it's sure-to-be bright orange color scheme and tiger force motif. But once in person I quickly found the orange to be a nice, solid shade, not overly bright and very appealing to the eye. Rather than show the tiger theme with stripes, they merely made the hull a solid black, and it all meshes together beautifully to make a nice, solid representation of the COBRA Moray Hydrofoil. Some nicely chosen stickers help the matter even further, giving the Tiger Ray a vicious Tiger Force scowl and putting some great TF and G.I. Joe logos throughout...you can instantly identify this watercraft as being one of the good guys, and even though it's based on a COBRA vehicle it fits in with Tiger Force seamlessly and looks terrific.

Just as it should be, the Tiger Ray leads the pack with this year's exclusives, and definitely shows what the Collector's Club is capable of even with these higher end vehicles. There are some assembly notes that should be taken into consideration, unfortunately ...notes that JoeCustoms member Mundo has gathered together here. For this I thank him ...pretty much every person assembling their Tiger Ray has had these issues, so please pay close attention.

Still some others are having problems with missing or incorrect pieces, and for that you should head over to the Collector's Club web site and drop them a line there.

In years past I've had mixed reactions to the exclusives, and I still do. The Crimson Strike Team was fantastic, but it's hard to miss your mark with a large collection of COBRA troops like that. Operation Anaconda was mostly successful, especially from a storyline standpoint, although the Joe figures were somewhat lackluster. I find the same thing mostly true from this year's exclusive set as well. The Collector's Club did an excellent job crafting a story and designing an awesome group of Dreadnoks to compliment it. The Joes fall a little short in some cases, and the exclusives seemed slightly overpriced, but still some very, very nice pieces.

Regardless of the execution or the exclusives chosen, it's extremely obvious that Brian Savage and the Collector's Club put their hearts and souls into this hobby and into this collection, and we should all recognize that and thank them for it. This consistently proves to be one of my favorite weekends of the year, thanks in no small part to the effort that they put in. So everyone start planning your trips to Minneapolis next year, and feel confident that when you scoop up those treasured exclusives, you're getting quality product with some heart, not just something slapped together to make a buck.

Now, enough words ...click here for some more pics of these great items


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