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By Thomas Wheeler

The G.I.Joe Valor vs. Venom line continues to impress from a vehicular standpoint. Some of the coolest all-new vehicles in years have emerged from this line in recent times, and the recently-released QUICKSTRIKE is no exception to that. Although it, along with the Ice Sabre (see separate review) were released in strangely limited quantities several months ago, it's only been recently as of this writing (mid-April) that the vehicles have become easier to obtain.

The Quickstrike is a six-wheeled vehicle, which automatically appeals to me. Not that there's anything wrong with a four-wheeled vehicle, but there's something both unusual and a little more intimidating on the battlefield about a vehicle that has two more wheels going for it than usual.

The Quickstrike is not easily described otherwise, however. It is neither a tank nor a jeep, but something fairly distinctive in its own right. The driver's area is well protected, with only a few narrow slits for windows. The cockpit, for lack of a better term, is a two-seater.

It's the back half of the vehicle where all the firepower is. There's a small gun station about halfway back, and a rising missile launching area complete with a seat of its own that emerges from the open back half of the vehicle. The missile launcher is spring activated, and there are two extra missiles that fit into the rear of the vehicle for storage.

It's got an excellent color scheme, as well, a camouflage of olive green over a very dark grey. Markings are minimal, and include the G.I.JOE logo, as well as a few warning labels and printed panels. I'll admit I still miss the days of assembling a G.I.Joe vehicle myself, and labeling it. Although the vehicles these days are of a sufficient complexity, that maybe I don't miss the assembly part that much.

The Quickstrike is very solid and sturdy. It has metal axles and a good amount of weight to it. Give this toy to a child, and it should be able to withstand quite a bit of rugged use.

In fact, my one and only complaint about the vehicle has to do with the packaging. Now, it's one thing to leash down a vehicle in its box with those blasted wire-covered twist-ties. I can more or less see the reason to do this to some degree for the sake of safety and display purposes. However, some of the wires restraining the Quickstrike were of such an unprecedented thickness -- at least I've never encountered anything like this in toy packaging before -- that 35 years ago, this level of thick wires probably would've been used for the internal armatures of Mattel's Major Matt Mason figures -- not to hold them in place in their packaging. And if I didn't possess a really strong wire cutter, I'm not sure how I would've freed this vehicle. I found that wire cutter, by the way -- one day walking around outside -- near a telephone pole...

The Quickstrike vehicle comes with a new-style figure of Sgt. Bazooka, although any 3-3/4" G.I.Joe figures will work with the Quickstrike. This character was originally introduced in 1985, and was portrayed, at least in the animated series, where he saw the most time, as a sort of buffoon, who was still a highly effective missile specialist. He was also known for wearing a red baseball shirt with a blue number "14" on it. There was supposed to be a 12" version of him like this made for K*B Toys about a year ago, but it never came to pass, unfortunately.

This Bazooka's uniform is actually more reminiscent of a couple of 1982 Joes -- Flash or Grand Slam. It has thick chest padding in a pattern that is fairly similar to theirs. The uniform is molded in olive green, and doesn't have a lot of paint details on it. The face is similar enough to the original Bazooka, and the overall design is actually quite good.

Bazooka's file card reads as follows:

SGT. BAZOOKA - Anti-Armor Mobile Specialist

File Name: Katzenbogen, David L.

Primary Military Specialty: Infantry Heavy Weapons

Secondary Military Specialty: Quickstrike Driver

Birthplace: Hibbing, Minnesota

A trained tank-driver himself, SGT. BAZOOKA knows exactly what the Cobra armored vehicle drivers are thinking as they jink and weave to avoid getting hit by his missiles. Knowing what the best evasive maneuvers are helps him to second-guess the moves of Cobra vehicles and keep them targeted in his sights. He knows that having the skill and knowledge to aim and fire his missiles is only half the job; the weapons have to be hand-carried to the firefight and missile systems, even supposedly hand- portable ones, are bulky and heavy. This means extra physical training, a ten-mile run every morning and a strict schedule of weight training to maintain his strength and stamina at peak levels.

"A wire-guided missils and a night-tracker weigh 46 pounds. A reload weighs 26 pounds. Do I mind having to work out an extra hour a day to stay in shape to carry a reload in case my first shot misses? Negative!"

Sounds like he might've minded at some point, since he's now driving the Quickstrike. I get the impression this file card was largely taken from an earlier Bazooka who was probably sold in a two-pack. Still, it reads well, as do most of the file cards.

One last note: It's been commented to me by a couple of people that the design of the Quickstrike, the look of it, lends itself rather well to being modified to an Oktober Guard vehicle. I tend to agree. There have been several six-wheeled vehicles used by that Soviet version of the G.I.Joe Team, and this one manages to look bulky and mean enough to qualify for such an assignment. And if you want bulky and mean, put Horror-Show in the gun turret.

But whomever you eventually decide to assign it to, I most definitely recommend the G.I.JOE QUICKSTRIKE! It's a very cool and impressive vehicle. Seems to be turning up mostly at Target stores at the moment. Good luck, and YO JOE!