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Author Topic: Review - Ninja Commando 4x4!  (Read 4843 times)


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Review - Ninja Commando 4x4!
« on: June 14, 2012, 12:53:23 AM »

Review – Retaliation Ninja Commando 4x4!

The Highs:  It’s a slightly new take on the AWE Striker, holds more figures than the original version, no antennae to break off.

The Lows:  New roof hinders one of the coolest features of the original toy, giant, unremovable Arashikage symbol on hood, firing grappling hook doesn’t elevate, don’t get me started on the included figure.

The Verdict:  All the previous versions of the AWE Striker are superior.  Buy one of those instead of this if you don’t have one. 

I’ve loved the AWE Striker for quite a while, and I own quite a few versions of it. From the ’01 & ’03 TRU Exclusive versions to both 25th Anniversary versions to the PoC AWE Striker, I’ve got quite a few versions of the same toy (about the only version I lack is the Eco Striker).  In fact, you could almost call the AWE Striker the Snake Eyes of vehicles, because every time a new line comes out we get a new version of it.  The same holds true with the Retaliation line, but instead of getting another AWE, we get the “Ninja Commando 4x4.” 

The core of the NC4x4 is definitely an AWE, complete with the working suspension and turning front wheels that was so cool back in the mid-‘80s.  Three new parts differentiate the NC4x4 from previous versions, however.  First, a redesigned front grill guard/bumper replaces one of the overly fragile parts of the original.  Instead of headlights sticking up above the guard like on the old AWE, they are now mounted lower, giving the front end of the NC4x4 a sleeker, cleaner look.  There’s also a non-working winch molded into this piece.  The front grille clips on strongly enough to stay attached most of the time, but will pop off easily if hit directly, preventing breakage. 

Second, instead of the old six-point rollcage that the AWE was equipped with, the NC4x4 comes with a 7-point rollcage and roof that has been significantly redesigned.  The new rollcage has an extra bar and attachment point in the middle of the dash.  I wasn’t too sure about this at first, but the middle bar is set back a bit from the two outer front bars, so it’s not obnoxiously noticeable.  There are also neat new features added to the rollcage.  The passenger side gets a new grab handle for those “Oh S***!” moments that occur while flying across sand dunes.  The driver gets a mirror, so he can see how much dust the Cobras behind him are choking on.  Moving to the rear, the back two bars now have molded on weapons clips, two to each side.  Not a bad addition, especially when any passengers will probably need to hold on for dear life while riding.  Finally, the very rear of the new rollcage features an important addition: two small platforms with pegs on them.  No longer is the AWE/NC4x4 restricted to driver, passenger, and two riders on the side steps: now, two more figures can ride into battle on the nimble little vehicle.  Carrying extra figures (and thus extra firepower) is important because the last new piece of the NC4x4 removes the offensive capabilities the old AWE had.

The final new piece of the Ninja Commando 4x4 is the new spring-loaded grappling hook (with string attached) that takes the place of the familiar cannon that has topped many an AWE Striker.  The designers of the new attachment really put some thought into it, too.  There’s a recessed ring where the string attaches to the barrel, which is perfect for winding the string onto.  The missile/grappling hook itself has notches cut into it so that it can be wrapped around objects and easily hook the string, holding itself in place.  There’s even small handles molded onto the rear of the launcher so that the new rear riders can grab on and aim it if necessary. 

Ok, so the new front attachment makes the NC4x4 look sleeker than the AWE, and isn’t as fragile to boot.  The new rollcage design adds some very nice details and ups the number of figures the NC4x4 can carry into battle.  The grappling hook launcher has a well thought-out design.  So, why isn’t the new NC4x4 superior to its predecessor?  First, the new rollcage design prevents access to one of the neatest features of the original AWE: the removable engine.  If you have an AWE and a Mobile Command Center and you tell me that you haven’t spent a few hours “swapping engines” with the MCC’s engine hoist, I know you are lying.  To access the engine on the NC4x4, you have to pretty much remove the rollcage.  The shroud still comes off and the engine still comes out…but there’s no way to get to it without pulling off the vehicle’s roof, first.  Also, the figure riding on that new platform on the passenger side of the rear of the vehicle had better have a sealed oxygen supply, because if not he or she will quickly succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust exiting by their ankles.

Second, there’s the matter of the huge, non-removable Arashikage symbol emblazoned on the hood.  Ninjas are renowned for stealth and cunning.  I don’t think turning your dune buggy into a rolling billboard quite qualifies as stealthy OR cunning, guys, but it might very well get you shot.  Painting over it could be an option for customizers, but otherwise it’s kind of an eyesore.

Finally, the new grappling hook launcher is lacking one very critical feature: articulation.  Specifically, it lacks the ability to raise the launcher and make it fire any way but directly ahead of wherever it’s aimed.  So, unless your ninjas are going to be sliding down a cliff or crossing a stream in front of them or something, that nice new grappling hook is pretty useless.  Should the ninjas need to get onto, I dunno, a BUILDING or something that is taller than the NC4x4, they’re out of luck, because there’s no way to fire that nice new grappling hook onto the roof.

The terrible thing is that Hasbro COULD have saved the money they spent on the absolutely terrible 5-POA Snake Eyes included with the Ninja Commando 4x4 and mounted the grappling hook launcher on an articulated joint.  Doing so would have made the grappling hook launcher extremely cool and useful.  Instead, we get a terrible, completely black Snake Eyes with a frozen, unnatural pose.  I nominate this new Snake Eyes as Worst Joe Toy of All Time.  This Snake Eyes makes the Mole Pod look like the HATE in comparison.  Terrible, terrible, terrible figure. 

The worst figure in GI Joe history.

The Ninja Commando 4x4 is another example of a Joe vehicle that could have been fantastic.  Remove (or at least make smaller) the Arashikage symbol, make the engine shroud and engine easily removable even with the new roof design, and make the grappling hook launcher articulated so it can elevate, and this would be an excellent vehicle and an excellent new take on a classic.  As it stands though, I only recommend the NC4x4 if you either don’t currently own an AWE or if you’re a big AWE Striker fan, like myself.
Paint/Mustang Man
Reviewer at Large!


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Re: Review - Ninja Commando 4x4!
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 08:04:23 PM »

Nice review.  Another thing with the front bumper now is that it restricts the left right movement of the front tires.  It doesn't turn as much anymore.

I removed my logo on mine though and changed the top to a gun.  Think it makes it much better in my opinion.

Also, here's a pic of the weapons clips mentioned by olyeller01 in action


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Re: Review - Ninja Commando 4x4!
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 10:08:46 PM »

..that AWE Striker looks way too small with those ME figures on it.. ???


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Re: Review - Ninja Commando 4x4!
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2012, 02:46:44 AM »

I'm a bit perturbed ( as I expected to be) at just how cheap the Retaliation vehicles look.
The Awe-Striker was never a terribly complex vehicle to begin with, but its "dumbed-down" even more with the "soft-looking" weapon attached to it.
Its like the design approach here was "re-purpose something and slap some crap on it"--like the thing was designed in a half-hearted rush.
I appreciate the review because it shows me what I'd get if I were to buy the thing......something that just ain't gonna happen.

The deal-killer is the figure.........the "Happy Meal Joe" we get with this thing, the "insult to the injury". As I expected, the only parts really salvageable are the heads. Pop them off and put them on a articulated figure.......and the corpse left here's a question:
Just how are these 5-POA figures in a seated pose??? Are they adequate as simply driver fodder, hidden almost out-of-sight in a cab or cockpit, and something just just show that someone is driving the thing??
Or is the 5-POA taint just too strong?