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View Poll Results: Rate The Sky Striker XP21F
10 50 31.25%
9 56 35.00%
8 33 20.63%
7 14 8.75%
6 4 2.50%
5 1 0.63%
4 2 1.25%
3 0 0%
2 0 0%
1 0 0%
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HISS Tank Reviews The Sky Striker XP21F

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Old 07-19-2011, 10:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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HISS Tank Reviews The Sky Striker XP21F


Sky Striker XP21F Review

In the early 1980's, 3-3/4" figures usually consisted of Star Wars or Microman. In 1982 a game changer was on the horizon in the form of GI Joe. Substantially more articulated than their main competition(Star Wars), GI Joe also had another thing going for it; vehicles based on/inspired by real-world vehicles used by the US military. In 1983, the F-14A Tomcat based Skystriker XP14F made a big splash into toy aisles and the hearts of GI Joe fans.

In the years since, the Skystriker has been the subject of countless discussions. At one point, it was destined to return as a Toys R Us exclusive, part of the GI Joe VS Cobra line. It even made an appearance in some of the 1st GVC commercials. With anticipation building, imagine the dismay when fans found out that the Skystriker would be replaced with a Spy Troops Conquest X-30 repaint, retooled with Sound Attack weaponry.

Rumors spread. "The design team couldn't figure out a way to add the Sound Attack weapons". "It didn't pass the drop test".

A few years later a rumor that became solidified as the final word(unofficially) came in the form of this: Funskool's neglect for the loaned Skystriker molds resulted in a degraded mold beyond repair.

Years later, during the GI Joe Q&A sessions, Hasbro revealed that the mold was destroyed. In a session last year, they suggested that it was better to seek out vintage samples rather than wait on them to make a new one based on the original(bear in mind by that time, vehicles like the Sky HAWK and Water Moccassin had been remade with new molds as the Ghost HAWK and Sting Raider respectively).

So with the Skystriker having been absent from the 25th Anniversary line(which many thought was the ample opportunity to re-release it), and the subsequent answers/suggestions by Hasbro in Q&A sessions, the Skystriker seemed like a lost cause. It was either go vintage or go home....

Until Toy Fair 2011. Toy Fair 2011 took fans by surprise as they had no idea Hasbro was going to show off that much new product. They also had no idea that...

The Skystriker was finally going to make its long awaited return

What shocked fans further was the MSRP($29.99). In the day and age where the substantially smaller Rise Of Cobra Night Raven was released for $44.99, seeing a $30 price tag was a shock(at Target the Sky Striker is $34.99). The armchair generals were convinced that any Skystriker reissue would be $50-60+.

There seemed to be good news breaking left and right for GI Joe during Toy Fair. Fast forward to this past weekend, where fans were able to score the 1st new Sky Strikers at Target. The question is, was it worth the wait? Read on...
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Old 07-19-2011, 10:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sky Striker XP21F Body/Sculpt

For the most part, the Sky Striker XP21F shares the same silhouette as its Skystriker XP14F predecessor. There are distinct differences though:
  • Matte finish
  • Plastic has rougher texture
  • Vertical stabilizer tabs are all new, no longer tiny tabs, these are thin rectangular slabs(much more sturdy)
  • Horizontal stabilizers are now designed to detach(push them in all the way, you will here 2 clicks, and they should sit flush with the fuselage)
  • Weapon pylons are thicker
  • Engine nozzles now have scribed detail(albeit inaccurate; they have the detail of the F110 GE400 engines from the F-14B/D yet the shape of the TF30 engines from the F-14A/Skystriker XP14F)
  • Single seat cockpit
  • All new cockpit details, and HUD(Heads Up Display)
  • Wings are now 2 pieces
  • Cockpit is separate from the body, no longer molded as part of the body
  • Wheels no longer have the sculpted text details
  • Canopy hinge is all new, the part where it plugs into is now raised above the fuselage aft of the canopy.
  • Vertical stabilizers are now black
  • Canopy frames are now painted
  • Body is molded in gray
Aside from these changes, there is another major difference:

The new Sky Striker XP21F is much more durable and sturdy, definitely built to last

I never had the original Skystriker but I had the Night Boomer, or what was left of it(neighbor broke it when I was younger). The new Sky Striker is a lot less prone to breakage. Some parts, like the airbrake, are substantially thicker than they were on the original. The wings now have supports near the main body. It's a rugged toy overall.

Drop test? If you dropped the original upside down or on its side, you were almost certain to break off the vertical stabilizers and possibly crack off the horizontal stabilizers. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers on this new one are designed to detach if excessive force is applied. This, aside from the fact that the plastic used is very very sturdy, further prevents breakage. Hell the way the vertical stabilizers are inserted, you'll encounter some resistance trying to remove them. They stay in position well, as do the horizontal stabs. The latter are easier to knock out but I have not had that happen to me unintentionally. Again, make sure they are inserted all the way and flush with the fuselage. Their insertion tab should not be sticking out at all.

I wouldn't say this thing is as tough as the hefty brick we call the Valor VS Venom Thunderwing, but it is certainly tougher than the Conquest and Rattler reissues from 2008-09, Power Team Elite jets, and True Heroe jets.

This is one you can give to your kids and not really worry about, aside from the missles falling off. More on that later.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wing Sweep

The big thing that stuck out on the original Skystriker XP14F was the fact that the wings and landing gear were interconnected. Sweep the wings forward, and the landing gear are lowered. Sweep them back, and they are retracted.

This has not changed on the Sky Striker XP21F. When asked why, Hasbro said their intent was to make the new Sky Striker close to the original. This was the main thing fans wanted changed.

I thought it would bother me more, but now that I have the Sky Striker XP21F in hand, it doesn't bother me so much. Part of it is because when compared to the real Tomcat, the landing gear are in the wrong places to begin with. The other is that the landing gear aren't distinctly long on the Sky Striker. So having the landing gear out is apparent, but not terribly apparent.

Fortunately, due to the design, the landing gear aren't all the way out when the wings are swept midway, as seen in the images.

In any case the retained wing/landing gear connection wasn't a dealbreaker for me. Should Hasbro decide to retool the Sky Striker, and make the wings and landing gear function independent of each other, that would be great.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Weapons And Accessories

The Sky Striker XP21F comes with the following:
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder missle x 2
  • AIM-7 Sparrow missle x 2
  • AIM-54 Phoenix missle x 2
  • Engine cover x 2
  • Removable engine x 2
  • Gunpod x 1
Pretty much the same as the original. Yet there are differences. The smaller missles seem slimmer, in fact, the Sparrow missle, had it had a longer randome, looks more like an AMRAAM missle(the Sparrow's replacement).

I mentioned differences. I mentioned missles falling off earlier. Why? The missle hardpoints/pylons are short, and the connection points for the Phoenix missles are shallow. Combine these 2 and you have missles that are easier to knock off, especially under the intakes.

The connection points on the Sidewinders and Sparrows go through the body, so they stay on better. Not so on the Phoenix missles. I've also found that the Phoenix missles stay on better underneath the nose.

The sad thing is that the Phoenix missles have added rubber coating on their connection points, to provide a more secure grip on the pylons. However, the short pylons and shallow connection points work against this.

I usually deck my Sky Strikers out like this:
  • Sidewinders under the glove area
  • Phoenix missles under the intakes
  • Sparrows under the nose
I don't like the look of the Sidewinders under the nose as the Tomcat never carried them like that. The Tomcat never carried the Phoenix missles under the intakes either, but since Tomcat 21 was supposed to be able to carry munitions there, eh I can overlook that. The Sparrows were usually carried either between the engine nacelles or under the bottom wing hardpoints. So having them under the nose on the Sky Striker works for me.

The gunpod is the best fitting weapon of all, but substantially easier to remove than the original. It will be the last weapon to fall off should someone manhandle the Sky Striker.

The engines, as mentioned earlier, have scribed detail on the nozzles which look like the F110 GE400 engines used on the F-14B/D but with the shape of the TF30 engine nozzles used on the F-14A and original Skystriker. Weird. Nonetheless, the new nozzles are substantially more detailed than the original Skystriker engine nozzles. They also retain their turbine details.

The engine covers are still removable. They stay in place well. To remove them, pull inwards.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Details

Here we take a closer, detailed look at the Sky Striker XP21F. As noted earlier, the text details once sculpted on the wheels are not longer present. Would've been cool to have, but it doesn't bother me much. There are panel lines all over the plane, retained from the original.

There are a lot of stickers, 2 big sheets of them are included. I was surprised at how many stickers were included. For the 1st one I opened, I opted to use the regular Sky Striker logo on the vertical stabilizers, and "Aces High" stickers for the nose. The alternate stickers on the decal sheet, near the Sky Striker logo are better off as nose art. You can't even see some of them if they are on the vertical stabilizers because the stabilizers are black. Also, the alternate stickers are too small to be on the stabilizers. So on the nose they went.

Some stickers are optional, with no place shown to put them. The stickers for the most part, are of a higher quality than the POC vehicles. They tend to stick better too. However, the front windscreen sticker does not have a cut out in the middle, to account for the raised area on the windscreen. Due to this, I witnessed creases on that sticker. To begin with, creases are hard to avoid on that area due to the curvature of the randome, but that raised area only complicates things. Adding to that, the gun grill/vent doesn't make anything easier.

The cockpit seats only 1 figure due to the new parts that Hasbro crafted within. These parts include:
  • All new seat
  • Ejection ring handles
  • HUD(Heads Up Display)
  • MFD(Multi-Functional Display)
  • Sidestick
  • Throttle
Hasbro would often say that there wasn't enough room to seat 2 figures, leaving out the part that this is due to the new parts put into the new cockpit. Later, in a GI Joe Q&A session, they stated that:

Quote:
The two seater was indeed considered, however, it would have been very very difficult to fit the second pilot in the cockpit. Luckily, the new cockpit is indeed modular and a new, two seater cockpit could be designer at a future date to accomidate two (albiet, very awkward) seated pilots. Currently, there are no plans to revise this design.
I've heard many fans say they wanted a more updated Sky Striker, Pursuit Of Cobra(POC) style. Surprisingly enough, this cockpit is where we see the modernization. The Tomcat never had a sidestick, yet this new Sky Striker has it. The sidestick was an innovation introduced on the F-16, and made for ease of use. The original Skystriker never had a joystick, let alone sidestick, nor throttle. Early production models of the F-14A Tomcat sported a HUD screen, but were taken off, and an advanced one later appeared on the F-14D Super Tomcat. The original Skystriker XP14F never had a HUD screen, which makes sense as neither did most production F-14A's.

The new Sky Striker also has a central MFD(Multi Function Display) which the Super Tomcat also had. However there is also another panel molded but which is blocked by the HUD. Personally, I angle the HUD backwards a bit, because if it is against the cockpit panels, it doesn't look right.

The F-14D Super Tomcat had 2 MFD's in the front cockpit, 1 central, while the F-14A and B models had 2 CRT's in the middle. If you take out the HUD, it looks like the Sky Striker XP21F has the configuration of the F-14A but the central MFD from the F-14D.

In a way this is countered by Ace's new HMDS(Helmet Mounted Display System), the helmet that F-35 pilots use, as the F-35 does not need a HUD due to that helmet. I guess we can view the HUD on the new Sky Striker as a backup should the helmet electronics fail or something.

Where the cockpit seems like a step back can be found with 2 areas:
  • Ejection seat rings
  • Seat placement
The ejection seat rings are those of the F-14A ejection seat. The F-14D Super Tomcat had the NACES ejection seats which lacked those rings. Neat details, but inaccurate. Yes this is toy based on the Tomcat and has other inaccuracies to begin with, but I would be remiss to not point this out.

The seat placement does bother me, but not terribly. Ace is too far back. Due to this, his head sits directly under the canopy frame. For example, should he eject through the canopy(this has happened before), it would be a reinactment of what happened to goose in Top Gun but possibly worse.

Anyways that could have been rectified had the middle frame of the canopy been absent. That snag aside. it would have been preferable to see Ace seated further forward in the cockpit. That way, the middle canopy frame issue would not be an issue, and it would look more realistic. Why can't he sit further forward? The new cockpit panels prevent him from going that far. You could possibly take the cockpit apart and carve out said panels.

Ultimately, the new cockpit is far more detailed than the sculpted random dials/guages on the original Skystriker. Is it better? Yes. The original cockpit was only better in the respect that it could seat 2 people(adds to playability in my opinion), and had the front seat further forward.

The fact that the new Sky Striker is a one seater could be seen as an advancement. Maybe the Joe team was able to secure enough funding to turn an older Skystriker into a one seater.

Historical sidenote: Grumman did make a 1 seat F-14A Tomcat for spin/High AOA(Angle Of Attack) testing. The space for the rear seat was taken up by instrumentation. The Blue Angels also considered the Tomcat for a time, and wanted a 1 seater. However, Grumman found that it was actually more expensive to convert a Tomcat to 1 seat use rather than to keep it a 2 seater. The cockpit workload is huge and that is why it necessitates a 2 man crew. In fact, aside from the aforementioned Test F-14A, the Tomcat cannot take off without both crew members at the controls.

So maybe by 2011 we can presume that the GI Joe team found some way to integrate advanced avionics into an old Sky Striker to make it flyable by one person. In many ways, the Sky Striker XP21F comes off with similarities to one of the planes that Ace first flew before joining the Joes, the F-16, especially with the sidestick, HUD, reclined seat, and reclined seat. By the end of the GI Joe A Real American Hero line, he had flown the Ghoststriker X-16, also F-16 based.

Speaking of seats, the seat is reclined. A reclined seat is actually preferred for fighter planes as it increases the tolerances of G load on the pilot. More on the cockpit after we get through with Capt. Ace...
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Capt. Ace

For fans who wanted a modernized Ace figure, we got one in the form of Capt Ace who comes with the new Sky Striker. Gone is the fishbowl helmet of V1 Ace, in is the new HMDS that F-35 and other fighter pilots will use in the future. Unfortunately the front top half of the helmet is not painted(but it should be).

Ace uses the same head sculpt as GI Joe 25th Anniversary Ace and same vest. Other than that, the body is that of Skydive from GI Joe Pursuit Of Cobra Wave 4. Aside from his flight vest, helmet and harnesses, he comes with a pistol, which can be stored in the holster on the left ankle.

The figure works not only as a modernized Ace but a modernized V3 Ace, the one that came with the Ghoststriker X-16. The eyes also lack the "freaking out" look of the 1st 25th Anniversary Ace(from the comic pack with Wild Weasel).
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ace In The Cockpit

I mentioned that Ace was too far back in the cockpit, and that there was a reclined seat. In a number of images we had seen before release, Ace looked like he was lying down in the cockpit. The thing is, he doesn't have to. All you have to do is push his body forward a bit. Check the attached images.
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Conclusion

Here are some shots from different angles, showing the Sky Striker XP21F. After over 2 decades absent from US retail shelves, the Sky Striker finally returned this summer. Now that you've gone through this review, you're probably wondering, is it worth getting?

Honestly, yes, it is. For one thing you are getting a large vehicle for $35+. Look at the $20 VAMP, HISS, Black Dragon VTOL, then compare them to this, and you tell me which one is a better bargain. This vehicle is substantially bigger and heftier than the aforementioned vehicles. Compare this to the small ROC Night Raven which sold for $10 more. The ROC Night Raven was a small vehicle sold at the pricepoint of a large one. The new Sky Striker is a large vehicle sold at a pricepoint that's "just right". You are most definitely getting your moneys worth with the new Sky Striker. If you want this, do not wait for this thing to go on clearance/go to ROSS.

I did not feel ripped off at all buying this for $35+. It is worth it. I think the pricing of this was a good decision on Hasbro's part. Why?

I was one of the folks questioning why was it that Power Team Elite and True Heroes could come out with big planes like the F/A-18 Hornet and F-22 Raptor respectively, for $30 at Big Lots and TRU. Yet substantially smaller vehicles like the ROC Dragonhawk would go for $24 and the ROC Night Raven was $40-44.

I felt like I was getting my moneys worth with the F/A-18 and F-22, and felt like I was overpaying with the Dragonhawk and ROC Night Raven.

Yet with the new Sky Striker, the price is right, and to me, Hasbro has now raised the bar for $30+ large vehicles. While the quality on the PTE F/A-18 and True Heroes F-22 is generally good, and while they are sturdy, the new Sky Striker is even moreso. The new Sky Striker is more robust, and more durable.

While the ROC Night Raven may have lost retailers' faith in large GI Joe vehicles, I think the new Sky Striker will restore it. Now is not the time to wait for it to go on clearance. I could justify waiting for most of the Rise Of Cobra vehicles to go on clearance. Many of them were overpriced, even by Brian Goldner's public admission.

Yet the Sky Striker? No, don't wait. It's worth it at full price.

On a personal note, since the early 2000's, I was a fan eagerly excited for the planned Skystriker reissue at Toys R Us for GI Joe VS Cobra. I refused to buy vintage samples with the hopes that Hasbro would finally reissue the Skystriker. By 2010, after years of rumors, and Hasbro's revelation that not only was the mold destroyed, but that it was better to seek a vintage one, I had pretty much discarded the thought of ever seeing it reissued. This, after countless debates over the years on why it should be reissued/retooled, why I thought it had a chance at succeeding.

It is now Summer 2011. I now have a new Sky Striker in my hands. Was it worth the wait? YES!.

Now some folks have asked why start with the a Sky Striker based on the original, why not make it futuristic? I have a feeling a futuristic one is inevitable. Why? Look what Hasbro did to the GI Joe 25th Anniversary Ghost HAWK for the Pursuit Of Cobra line. Nearly all the modular parts on the 25th Ghost HAWK were swapped with new parts for the POC release. My gut instinct is that this is what will happen with the Sky Striker eventually.

However would a futuristic Sky Striker make a bigger splash at retail than the classic one? I highly doubt it. In fact, had tables been turned, had a futuristic one been released in lieu of the classic, I have a feeling while the classic would've been planned for release eventually, it might've not made it onto shelves much due to the futuristic one not selling as much, and retailers losing confidence. This is not to say that a retooled futuristic one won't sell, I think it will(and hell, I want one!), but timing is important. GI Joe NEEDS a hot selling item right now. Having the classic Sky Striker pave the way for potential futuristic retools and other large vehicles at the same pricepoint is a step which I think is vital. There's something to be said about brand recognition, and the classic Sky Striker has it.

I'm sure Hasbro will love to recoup the money made invested in cutting the new tools for the Sky Striker, so repaints and retooled releases are not out of the question. Maybe the box art with red missles is a hint(was it an accident? Or subliminal message that the Night Boomer is on the way?.....). Or maybe a Toys R Us exclusive repaint in white with retooled cockpit with 2 seats and vintage box? Hmm...I wonder..

GI Joe II is said to be the primary GI Joe product of next year. Enjoy the 30th Anniversary while it lasts. Hasbro had a hell of a way to kick it off with the Sky Striker! Glad to see it finally return!

I give the Sky Striker XP21F an 8 out of 10

Tighten the missles connections, cut out part of the front windscreen sticker, and have Ace seated further forward and it would be close to a 10. Wings that could sweep independent of the landing gear would be cool too!

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Old 07-20-2011, 02:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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BONUS - Sky Striker XP21F With Alternate Yellow/Black Trim Stickers


Sky Striker XP21F Alternate Stickers

Here are some shots of the Sky Striker using the alternate stickers. I used the yellow/black trim stickers and Snake Eyes nose art but placed it aft of the canopy(more for symbolism, not so much the name). Also put the POC logos on the side of the nose. I had always planned a movie/POC themed Sky Striker and this release was ample opportunity to make one. Not to mention, a lot of folks were asking about the yellow/black trim, so here you go:
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Old 07-20-2011, 03:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Awesome review. I can't wait to get my hands on a few of these. So much awesome potential.
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