And so it begins...yet another controversial chapter in G.I. Joe's history, and yet another thing to divide the fandom, who sometimes take a toyline a little more seriously than they ought to. When it boils right down to it, this is a hobby, and hobbies are supposed to be fun, right? If you're not having fun, perhaps it's time to consider a different pasttime.

Personally, I've been a Joe-lover since 1982, and here, nearly twenty-five years later that feeling has not diminished in the slightest. While the 3 3/4" stuff is my baby, and my favorite, I have learned to appreciate and welcome all styles, all scales, and all toys. I have learned to accept the fact that retail toy sales in 2006 are worlds different than they were back in the old days. Retailers have a lot more control and a lot more power, and the manufacturers are at their mercy. This isn't hypothesis, it's simple fact. Look at Wal-Mart's bottom line, and look at everyone else's, the number just speak for themselves.

So, Hasbro, instead of just sitting back and producing what they want to, and letting the retailers come shopping to them, has to play by their rules. Rules that have changed drastically since toys like Star Wars and Power Rangers completely redifined the retail toy landscape. That's just the way it is.

But you're not here looking for my commentary on modern day toy're here to read about this controversial new 2.5" toy line. It has been hitting hard and fast at Toys "R" Us across the country over the past week or so, and I got my hands on a couple sets, so of course, as you've come to expect, here are the reviews. First up, is Mission: Heatwave, which contains the Sigma 6 Dunerunner as the focal point, and Tunnel Rat as the driver. First though, let's talk about the packaging.


Let me take a minute to state the obvious: 95% of sales is...well...selling. No brainer, right? Not always. It doesn't matter how great the toy inside is, if the kid isn't grabbed right at the package, then they'll never find out what the toy inside does. It is this that the Hasbro Sigma 6 design team is REALLY knocking it out of the park with both scales. The front panel artwork and back-package design are pretty much flawless. They grab your attention immediately and make the toys just look incredible.

Then, of course, you have the "Mission Manuals" included within:

This Mission Manual is a pure stroke of brillance. Giving the kids a great starting place as to where this adventure can take them, it does what the Sigma 6 comic pretty much failed to do, and brings the kid into the Sigma 6 universe. The cartoon has done an okay job with this, too, but these Mission Manuals really give you some cool scenarios to try, as well as really laying out exactly what the toy inside does. Of course, the included instructions help, too:

The Toys

But as much as the packaging grabs you, it's up to the toy inside to make sure you stay a customer and continue looking for these items. From first glance, most of the 2.5" scale vehicles I've seen have had remarkably cool design schemes and a lot of play value. The Dune Runner, which comes with this set, was something that really didn't excite me all that much. I wasn't sure just what was so cool about it. Now that I've got it in my hand, honestly, that opinion hasn't changed much.

The vehicle is interesting enough in a design sence. It's a basic dune buggy with sloped armor and all the trimming, taking some serious queues from modern day vehicles, but giving it those pseudo-fantasy Sigma 6 extra touches. I really do like how they describe this as an ultra-lightweight fast attack vehicle, which can be customized with armored plating to beef it up and make it more potent on the battlefield. The armor pieces give it more bulk and more substance, and I do like this customization element.

The suspension is merely for looks, and the weapons are somewhat bland and undetailed. The tires roll freely and roll well, and the buggy is a nice little size, making for some easy playtime. Those thick sloped gunmounts on each side add some flash to this small unremarkable vehicle, but the included grenade launchers don't fit in all that well. They will fit in the smaller mounts, but the ammo box is too obtrusive to really stay in there that well.

The Dune Runner's play feature is pretty much a pull-back friction motor, which is actually a little cooler than I originally thought it might be. The key is to pull it back until there's a lot of resistance, then lock it within the deployment cage. Once you push the button, it releases the Runner at only a moderate speed. It kind of coasts out of the cage, and unless the Dune Runner is on a totally smooth surface, it just doesn't roll all that fast. But the neat thing is it rolls for a pretty long time. Don't bother trying to deploy it on carpet, it doesn't work all that well, and it's not nearly as lightning quick as the Ninja Lightning bike, but it's still a neat enough play feature.

I do really love how the magnetic features on these deployment cages work, and I'm very excited to get my Dragonhawk so I can check out how they all work together, but for now, I have to depend on my imagination.

The weapons ports on the Dune Runner are plentiful and will fit other 2.5" items as well as 3 3/4" weapons compliments, too! That is a very cool aspect of this new's total customization potential for different scales. That gives you a wealth of options for playing with these things. Below you'll see the simple addition of the Mantis Mech's rocket launcher to the back of the Dune Runner. I find the sockets to fit pretty tightly, yet still remove easily. They really work pretty perfectly.

Now, about the figure...well, when Hasbro said the focus of this line was the vehicles, not the figures, they obviously weren't kidding, as even though Tunnel Rat is relatively well-articulated, one look at his paintjob is enough to make you giggle. When you take a quick look, it doesn't look that bad. Basic black and brown, very accurate to his 8 inch counterpart, and I'm surprised by the level of detail that can get into this smaller figure. Pretty much every little touch of the Sigma suit is translated here, and even the proportions are similar. But take a close look at the face...

That is some sloppy paint from the neck up. The hatline is off-mark, the goggles are smudged...his face just doesn't look real clean. The figure itself actually has ball-jointed shoulders, which is very cool, and the neck is on some kind of ball as well. His hips are T-Crotch, no ball joints, and no knee or elbow joints at all. The machine gun is afixed to his hand, but for the most part it is a functional figure. Not nearly as functional as 95% of Joe fans would like, but as a compliment to the Dune Runner, he works well enough, I guess.

3 3/4" Compatibility

I know this is what a lot of people want to see, so expect a section devoted to 3 3/4" compatibility with every 2.5" review that I do. Unfortunately for most toys, it will be a pretty short paragraph, and it remains a short paragraph for the Dune Runner and Mission: Heatwave. As you can see above, you can cram a 3 3/4" figure into the gun turret, although scale is pretty whacked. However, if you want to get a larger sized figure into the Dune Runner cockpit itself...well you're going to run into trouble:

Yeah, basically the legs won't even fit under the steering wheel. This vehicle is definitely geared towards the 2.5" figs exclusively and folks wanting to buy something to try and modify for larger figures aren't going to find any love here.


When I first saw pictures of this particular vehicle, I wasn't too sure about it. It didn't jump out at me, it didn't shout "cool" to me, it didn't really look like anything really great. Now that I have it in hand, my feelings are pretty much the same. It's an okay enough looking little vehicle, and I like the the Tunnel Rat figure is a pretty functional figure...the customization options are vast, and the play feature works well enough. But it's just neat in all areas, and not really cool in any areas. It's your basic ground recon/assault vehicle, but once I get the Night Ops VAMP (next week!!) I think this vehicle will be pretty much obsolete.

It's fine...there's nothing bad about it. But I just don't find myself really heartily recommending it. Your mileage may very, but that's the way I see it. Put aside an extra five bucks and get yourself a VAMP instead, unless you need Tunnel Rat to round out your 2.5" Sigma 6 team.

Tons, and tons, and TONS more pictures below.














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