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REVIEW: G.I.JOE RADIO CONTROL M.U.V. By Thomas Wheeler

I'd always wanted a radio-controlled, or RC car, but I'd never had a good reason to get one. Then in 1987, Hasbro added one to the G.I.JOE 3-3/4" lineup. It was called the CROSSFIRE, and it was actually a rather elusive vehicle in some stores, since a lot of places tended to put it in with the other RC cars instead of with the G.I.Joe items. And since it wasn't shown in the 1987 product listings folder, some people didn't even know about it until the TV commercials started.

I learned about it rather oddly. At the time I was a very minor stockholder in Hasbro. Their 1987 Annual Report showed a number of toys on the cover, including the Crossfire, which I absolutely did not recognize. So I wrote Hasbro and asked them, and they explained that this was the new radio-controlled car for G.I.Joe.

The Crossfire looked a lot like most RC cars of the time. Somewhere between an Indy car and a Sprint car -- sort of a short Indy car, really, except the Crossfire was olive green and had guns and missiles attached. These, unfortunately, did not actually work, or I could have had loads of fun with this thing down at the local RC track that existed back then...!

The Crossfire came with a driver figure named RUMBLER, who was a nice recolored figure using parts of Footloose, Heavy Metal, and Bazooka. This was the only RC car available in the G.I.Joe line.

Until now. While I may not personally care for all of the G.I.JOE 3-3/4" current line-up, there are highlights that crop up here and there. One of these is the new MUV, which stands for MILITARY UTILITY VEHICLE. One of those times where I'm not entirely certain which came first -- the abbreviation or the explanation.

Unlike the Crossfire, the MUV has a distinctly military appearance to it. Granted, RC vehicles in general have come a long way in the past fifteen years. I've seen commercials for radio-controlled stuff that if you could make some of these things fly instead of just bounce all over the landscape, the local Air Force would be checking out UFO calls 24/7.

Fortunately, the MUV is both a military-looking vehicle and entirely plausible in its appearance. I'd say it comes from equal parts Hummer and conventional Jeep. It has a huge front grill, which I suspect is designed to absorb the impact of bad drivers. The vehicle is designed as a two-seater, but there's a third seat that can snap rather loosely in the back. Don't expect this or the other snap-on item, which is either a gas can or an equipment case, to stay put all that well if you take this vehicle over rough terrain. Curiously, all of the pegs on this vehicle, including four on the sideboards and a dozen in the back, look to have been filed down after the fact. Even the paint has been worn off the ones on the sideboard. I have NO idea what this is supposed to mean. Perhaps they wanted it so that the G.I.Joe figures could stand on these pegs? I checked it with the figure that came with the MUV, and it's a tight fit, but it does work. Perhaps it didn't before.

The MUV does come with a new-style G.I.Joe figure, the new version of BEACH-HEAD. I'm not going to say anything about this figure. I will say that one nice thing about the new vehicles coming along in this toy line is that, when there's a cool vehicle like this MUV, it can accommodate ANY 3-3/4" G.I.Joes -- new-style or traditional-style.

And there's no shortage of necessary equipment with this vehicle, as well. You get all the batteries you need, including a 9V transistor battery for the control device, and a rechargeable pack of NiCad batteries for the vehicle itself, all wrapped up with a Tonka label on it. They even include the recharger! Nice touch. I was originally going to say that the $37.74 price tag (Wal-Mart) for this vehicle was just a little steep, but given all of the extra equipment they give you to keep it running, I'd say it's a reasonable deal.

The vehicle maintains a pretty good pace, and can handle limited rough terrain. It goes forward, backward, and has a good left-and-right turning circle, operable in both forward and backward modes. Maybe I can practice my parallel parking with this thing.

If you like RC cars, the MUV is a definite winner, and a worthwhile addition to ANY 3-3/4" G.I.JOE Collection. And if for whatever reason you don't care for the new-style Beach-Head figure it comes with -- well, assign it to TIGER FORCE, then, perhaps. But I do recommend the G.I.JOE RADIO-CONTROLLED MUV!