If you're a 3 3/4" collector, you know that vehicles, over the past five years, have improved in leaps and bounds over what we were getting when G.I. Joe first made its resurgance way back in 2002. If you're not a 3 3/4" collector, I'll just ask you to take a look at this vehicle, made in 2003, and compare it to this one, made in 2005. The amazing difference is quite obvious. I'm happy to say that whatever the designers starting doing right later on in the line has carried over to this smaller scale as well, and the vehicles here are just as dynamic, nicely sculpted, and perfectly accessoried as the ones we were getting in the 3 3/4" scale. The Night Ops V.A.M.P. looks like it blends in seamlessly with the universe that produced the RHINO, ROCC, and DTC HISS.

And before anyone decries the fact that these aren't 3 3/4" scale (and I'm right there with you...I'd love it if they were) keep in mind that most of these larger vehicles would simply be cost prohibitive at a larger scale. I'm sure every 3 3/4" collector remembers hearing in late 2005 that vehicles would no longer be aggressively marketed because their costs and the shelf space they take up prevented most retailers from seriously considering carrying them. So, by dropping the scale, Hasbro is able to market nicely sized, highly detailed vehicles at a smaller price point and smaller footprint on shelves. Don't think of the 2.5" line replacing the 3 3/4" line...think that we're getting lots of G.I. Joe vehicles on store shelves instead of nothing at all. If nothing else, it gets the name out to customers and keeps the brand alive in kids' minds. And there's nothing to complain about with that.


Just like the pseudo-blister carded sets, these boxed sets keep up the standard of vibrant, crisp, and fun box art, giving you a dramatic (and toy accurate) piece of art on the front, and a nicely laid out overview of the actual toy on the back. The logos are bright and draw you in, the colors are great, and the overall presentation is darn near perfect. The only minor issue I have is that these boxed sets don't come with Mission Manuals. Granted, they're built into the packages of the smaller sets, so it makes sense that they're not included here, but I find myself so much looking forward to them as part of the toy experience that when they're not included, I'm a little disappointed. But that's just the kind of freak I am. ;)

What is included is a huge sheet of instructions/label placement directions, etc... You'll have to forgive the way the image looks below, I had to scan it in four times and kind of hack it all together, because it was so large:

The Toys

The first thing you'll notice when opening up this boxed item is that ASSEMBLY IS REQUIRED! Cool! :) Really reminds me of the old days. It's not as much assembly as we got back then, to be sure, but you need to put on the rooflights, front grille, top doors, weapons ,etc... You also get to put on the stickers, which is very cool, I think (and something you don't get to do with the Firebat, strangely).

Immediately the vehicle looks like it simply continues where great stuff like the RHINO left off. The sloped armor, which has now become a trademark of the Joe brand, works immensely well here and gives the VAMP not only a sleek and fun look, but also a durable one. There is some slight roundness to the shape of the mini jeep, which makes it look a lot faster, but it still maintains a heavy armored surface. It's a design schematic that would seem heavily borrows from the Halo Warthog, but it uses it to perfection and doesn't end up looking like too much of a rip off.

Small details really keep the vehicle looking great, with the vent on the sloped hood, the angled armor doors, the roof lights, and the thick glass windshield. They all combine together to give you a moderately sized, but extremely solid looking little destructive vehicle. One thing I must mention though, is that the passenger side door on mine is at least a little bit warped and doesn't quite stay shut all the way. I don't think it's a design thing, since the driver's side works fine, but just something to be aware of.

Of course the main drawing point of the VAMP is the interchangable weapons system on the back. It's not just the weapons that are interchangable, though, the actual seat back there is as well. As you'll see above, I have the passenger compartment in backwards, so the seat is facing front. While it sort of works in this capacity (and I thought it would be cool if the shooter could be seated behind the gun) it's a little oddly long and sticks out the back of the VAMP (through the opening rear hatch) and leaves a little gap in front. Not to mention that in order to shoot the weapon, the person has to be standing, anyway, so there isn't much point in this backwards configuration.

The normal setup fits much better and allows a person to sit in the rear while a second person stands and mans the machine guns.

The gatling gun mount uses the same typical ratchet connector that most of the 2.5" stuff uses (not to mention DTC stuff like the RHINO, ROCC, HISS, etc...) so the weapons are almost infinitely interchangable. The single shot rocket launcher you see above also comes off easily, but I like having it on the gatling gun as a nice secondary weapon. Without a doubt my favorite configuration is the one you see above.

The VAMP also comes with a multi-shot missile launcher and tripod, so whatever weapons are attached to the rear of the vehicle can be mounted on the tripod and used separately. The multi-shot launcher has six total missiles, and each button fires three at once.

Now, while that's the most obvious play feature, there are others, too. That huge spotlight you see on the side of the weapon actually lights up! It shines a bright green light that looks really, really great. It was tough to capture in picture form, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Along with that, the opening doors, and hatch, the interchangable docking connector and the numerous weapons ports all over the jeep, you also have a working winch as well, which is actually surprisingly powerful. It extends, attaches, and then with a press of the button on the front grille, it zips back in very quickly.

All in all, it's a nicely sized, fun little jeep that I think kids will really have a blast with, and in spite of it's smaller size, collectors might get into as well. Tons of play features and a near-perfect design asthetic give you something that is a blast to play with no matter your age or scale preference.

The figures that come with the VAMP, aren't terrible either, but are not much fun solo. Long Range is by far the best 2.5" figure I've seen so far, mostly because he's so basic. He's got normal swivel articulation at the neck, shoulders, and hips (no knees or elbows) and his hands are in a relatively neutral position. He actually looks normal just standing there. He's got some decent detailing, and really looks like a smaller version of the 8" figure. It works pretty well. Mine has a pretty gross looking glob of gray paint on the inside of his right arm, so there are still some QC issues, but it could be a lot worse. He's a decent little figure, and works well driving the VAMP, or manning the rear weapons.

Snake Eyes on the other hand doesn't look real good doing much of anything. He's mostly a basic looking figure, except his left elbow is bent sharply, and his right hand clutches an Uzi. I'm not sure of the reasoning for including this figure in the set, because he can neither drive the VAMP or man the weapons with his arms positioned as they are. Not to mention the fact that he would look pretty strange doing either one of those things with a machine gun in his hand, too. About the only thing he works for his sitting in the passenger seat and firing out the window, but I find that even Tunnel Rat looks better doing that.

Snake Eyes also has a weird thing going on with his neck/head. When I first got him out of the package, it looked like his head was permenantly looking skyward. He was constantly gazing up...pretty weird pose for him to be in, I thought. Upon closer examination, though, his neck has a little ball joint thing going on, so you can position his head, but only if you partially pull it out of the socket. Very strange. He's got swivel shoulders and swivel hips (and the aforementioned sorta ball joint neck), and still no knees or elbows.

In spite of the lack of useful articulation and some weird posing, I do kind of like how all of these figures look together. I actually find myself looking forward to getting them all together in a pose. At least the 2.5" version of the Sigma 6 team will have Scarlett, too.

3 3/4" Compatibility

Alas, with the Night Ops VAMP, I just don't think it's going to happen. Upon first glance, it looks like the seats and the inside cockpit are so large for the 2.5" figures, that there just MIGHT be a chance to get a 3 3/4" figure in there. However, it's not to be. You can cram someone in there, but the floorboards are too tight to the seat and the roof is too low for it to look even remotely normal.

I suppose if you took off his legs and just put the top half of the figure in there to simulate the look of the vehicle, it could work. I just think he would still look a little bit too large in the seat and it wouldn't mesh quite right.

However, sitting in the back and manning the gun turret? Well, they look great doing that.

However, where the figures fail, the ratchet joints succeed wildly in interacting with the larger vehicles, especially the gatling gun! One look at this gatling gun mounted on an ROCC and you immediately have at least some reasons to drop the $15.00, even if you're only a 3 3/4" collector. Even the color is downright perfect!


I knew when I first saw the pictures of this smaller line that in spite of the scale change, I would really like it. So far I haven't been let down. The Dune Runner left me a little cold, but both the Mantis Mech and the Night Ops VAMP have been amazing...and the Firebat? Ohhhhh yeah. Smaller sized? Yeah. But still a whole lotta fun.

They display well, they're fun to play with (just ask my wife who rolls her eyes at me as I roll these babies across the floor) and I have a feeling they will be flooding the shelves come Christmas time. Do they make the 3 3/4" collectors happy? No, probably not, but frankly, if 1,000 collectors are ticked off and 20,000 kids are happy, that's a pretty damn fair trade off, if you ask me.

The figures are still not much fun, but this line isn't about them, it's about the vehicles, and so far Hasbro is riding right along the fast track with Sigma 6. I'm honestly amazed at how much I've fallen for this brand...obviously 3 3/4" is still my first love, and really the 8" stuff I find a LOT more fun than the 2.5" stuff, but I know where Hasbro's mindset is here, and they're accomplishing it remarkably well.

Give it a shot, if you haven't. I remember scores of fans online decrying Sigma 6 when it first came out...and little by little every day I see more and more folks seeing how cool the 8" line is. I see some parallel opinions with this 2.5" stuff, but you never know. Pick a couple up, you might just be surprised at how flat out cool they are.














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