1987 HISS II

1987 HISS II

I’ve been contemplating the first vehicle to review here on the Viper Pit. Of my potential options, the HISS II seems to stick out as an item that’s both interesting and iconic (or rather, derivative of an icon). Plus, it’s a darned fun toy, and that gives me some things to say about it.

I knew about the HISS II as a kid, but I don’t have a clear recollection of where I discovered it. It was one of the few items from ‘89 onward that neither me nor my brother owned, so I was never able to personally experience the toy. The premise captivated me though, that being a more heavily armed HISS tank, with a three man crew and troop carrying capabilities. It seemed like the perfect upgrade to the fun, but somewhat limited HISS Tank.

Into my collecting years, I contemplated acquiring one for a long time, but somehow it continually eluded me. Either they’d always be going out of my price range, or I’d somehow forget about it. It seems as though not only Hasbro but collectors have a penchant for ignoring the HISS II, so it rarely shows up in photos or discussions. The mold was only used one other time as an obscure convention exclusive in 2003, and never again after that. Which really burns, since apparently Hasbro had the mold too, but chose never to bring it back.

As a kid, I envisioned the HISS II as being the perfect version of the HISS tank. Since then however, the V1 HISS tank has grown to be more or less my favorite GI Joe vehicle, so it’s up against some tough competition were I to compare them. Generally though, I feel like they are fundamentally different toys, where one represents the early line’s simplistic charm, while the other favors big guns and gimmicks that were the trend of the later line.

The overall design of the HISS II is very similar to the original HISS. The basic shape, turret and canopy are all very similar and it’s a very solid updated design in that regard. It’s colors on the other hand are a rather drastic departure, now featuring a grey-blue color very similar to the Maggot, a lot of red on the weapons, and a red tinted canopy. These colors really aren’t bad at all, but a better repaint in the 2000‘s would’ve been appreciated. While the original HISS was a very sleek design, the HISS II puts a bigger focus on small, mechanical details all over the tank. Personally I prefer this busy, detailed look, but that’s all up to preferences.

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It’s most appealing feature is it’s ability to carry troops in the back of the tank. Like a lot of folks, I really enjoyed vehicles as a kid that could support a large number of figures, or at least a decent squad. Admittedly, the execution of this isn’t the best on the HISS II. The troop bay is a very tight fit, and even getting figures to all sit nicely in it is quite a chore. The retaining bars that go here in particular constrain the amount of leg room for figures. It looks detailed and has enough play value, but isn’t as nice as say the Monster Blaster APC or the Parasite.

The HISS II also supports two drivers in the front of the tank. I assume the second guy must be operating the the side guns and missiles, so that’s fairly important. It feels slightly like a superficial role for a figure to have on the tank, but it gives you another opportunity to use a figure, and that increases the play value nicely.

The last guy goes in the turret just like on the first HISS. I think the first HISS Tank’s turret had a slightly more interesting construction, and looked better when you pose it’s guns in different directions. However, it was also a lot more delicate, whereas the HISS II doesn’t have anything terribly fragile going on. I think the sculpting is a lot nicer on the HISS II’s gun barrels as well.

All things considered, the HISS II’s puts a lot of focus on play value while maintaining a high degree of quality. It’s a nice in-between of the style of vehicles you saw in the early 80‘s that were often simple, but aesthetically pleasing, and the 90‘s vehicles that focused a lot on gimmicks, but sometimes went too far on that.

HISS II’s aren’t the easiest to find 100% complete, but they’re also not very expensive. Typically they seem to float between the $20 – $30 range, and sometimes you can even get one with the Track Viper without increasing the price very much. The most commonly missing pieces seem to be the missiles and the clips that go inside the cockpit seats. If you want to save a few bucks, neither seems really essential to me, especially the clips.

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1987 HISS II Links:

Yo Joe

3D Joes

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3 Responses to 1987 HISS II

  1. A-Man says:

    HISS 2 has a lot things I’d wanted on a HISS upgrade, the machine guns, double cockpit, troop compartment.

    The triple barreled gun was too silly, but not usual for the time. Elevating it looks goofy, not sure what they were thinking with that.

    I’m so-so on the missiles. This gives it more firepower against a better armored vehicle, but it’s another “missiles stuck on the side” cliche of its time. Plus side is you can leave them off and the vehicle isn’t worse for it.

    I think the body is over-detailed, like there’s armor panels missing. I am glad they still had the foot pegs on the back, but that step is narrow!

    The troop compartment was welcomed but also all the problems you said, plus the silly figure clip concept…I much preferred the seat belts.

    The color being close to the Maggot was interesting, but, yeah, we needed a repaint that we never got. It’ll never be as iconic as the original, because its media were Dic cartoons and the comic’s less popular stories era.

  2. Mike T. says:

    I’ve never owned one of these. The 1989/1990 vehicles have long been on my list of things to pick up. But, it’s just never come to be. It’s rare to see this out in the wild…at least at a good price.

    Not getting a repaint in the 2000’s at retail is just another the crimes against Joe-manity that Hasbro committed during that time. Just a little thought could have produced a vastly different line that would be remembered much differently.

  3. R.T.G. says:

    The HISS II is something I’ve never seen in person, it looks pretty cool, and obviously had design elements that would be used later on with the DTC. I really like the look of the cockpit area, as they used a lot of cues from the first HISS.

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