After customizing over 80 tiny GIJoe and Cobra figures from Call of Duty, Halo, and other Mega Bloks licenses, I decided they needed some wheels. Kre-O’s GIJoe brick vehicles redefined the word “disappointment”, so that was a no-go. The Call of Duty construction line has a wide variety of genuinely impressive military vehicles, many of which I own and enjoy (many more of which I own and have yet to build). However, despite the great work done by Mega, they lack the charm and nostalgia-factor of the borderline sci-fi vehicles we know and love from the original ARAH Joe toys.
As a result, I decided to design and build my own, because of course I did. First up was the GIJoe VAMP, a jeep-like vehicle with a roof-mounted twin .50 “machine gun” lasers (who supposedly aimed this thing is a complete mystery). The Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle (which only spells VAMP if you’re dyslexic and squinting really hard) was my very first intro to the Joe mythology in late 1982/early 1983. Complete with tough guy driver “Clutch”, my younger self was thrust into the world of cold war Reagan-era Americanism, where most problems could be solved by a small, outlandishly dressed counter-terrorism group, typically in 23 minutes or less (really big problems took two hours), with time to spare for a public service announcement warning against licking power lines or drinking bleach while ice skating. It was “educational” TV, I swear!
Call of Duty and Halo construction sets offer a wide array of green bricks… so many that it’s hard to amass a lot of a single shade of green. But undaunted, I acquired enough to build a few of the classics, and the VAMP was my test subject.
Note: I am NOT a master builder, and getting these to resemble something a Joe fan could recognize (and not a double-decker couch) was harder than it looks.
I was happy enough with the results that a practical decision was made. While the VAMP and it’s construction were still fresh in my mind, it only made sense to build Cobra’s Stinger as well (because a week later, I would remember nothing). Back in the day, the Stinger was just a black VAMP with some canvas doors, a missile rack in place of the laser guns, and a handlebar for random stragglers to hold onto while catching a ride. Those poor Cobra soldiers that rode on the back of the Stinger… the only thing they caught was missile exhaust in the face.
While I’m sure that an official Mega product could do better than my little designs, the fact that Mattel now owns Mega Bloks means that we’ll likely never see licensed Joe construction sets that aren’t Kre-O-tastic (thanks Hasbro!). As a result, I’m perfectly content with my home-brew tiny Joes, and I certainly have the inspiration to build more.
‘Til all are one, collecting is half the battle.