1986 HAVOC

1986 HAVOC

gi joe havoc 1986 arah vintage hasbro

When I was a kid, I loved GI Joe: the Movie. It was one of the only pieces of media I had to know GI Joe by, all on a continually degrading VHS recording, probably from before I was born. Among the mostly 1986 and ‘87 cast featured in the film was the HAVOC. I knew the STUN, also prominently featured in the film through the Python STUN, but there was no Sky HAVOC in my house, leaving me to wonder for years what kind of awesome vehicle it might be. Then at some point in the 2010‘s I finally got one, and to this day I’m still not sure what to think about it.

Because of it’s connection to the movie, and those years spent wondering what it might be like, it’s one of the few 80‘s Joe items I have some real sentimental value with. Not a lot, but I’m biased in favor of it just for the fact that I wanted one for so long, and the satisfaction associated with finally getting one. When I try to put that aside, I’m mightily tempted to call the HAVOC a bad vehicle, as it treads a fine line between “fun” and “very stupid”.

The best thing about the HAVOC is that it has a lot of play features. The worst thing about the HAVOC, is that none of them work very well. There’s a lot of oddities with it’s design, where like with many Joe vehicles, you ignore the explicit danger it presents it’s crew in favor of having a fun toy that can do more: it’s a rule of cool kinda thing. The HAVOC’s features include it’s deployable hovercraft, an adjustable turret, turning tracks, and an opening canopy, supporting a grand total of four figures to crew the vehicle (twelve, if you count the foot-pegs on the outside of the vehicle). Seems like some modestly fun gimmicks, but virtually all of them have some flaw or issue.

gi joe havoc 1986 arah vintage hasbro

The thing that bugs me most is by far the turret. The obviously stupid thing about it is that it leaves the gunner in plain sight with no protection whatsoever. Less obvious is that it can not aim left or right without turning the entire vehicle. Even less obvious, is that the turret can not be in it’s lowered position and still allow for the vehicle’s main canopy to be opened. Every time you want to get a figure in and out, you have to jack this ratcheted turret way up, just to get the canopy open. Was it tacked on at the last second? It just feels like an afterthought.

Even the main driver’s area is crummy. Why does the driver and co-pilot operate the thing with their faces planted in a monitor, laying on their bellies? It’s almost as bad as the SHARC, and that vehicle is only the way it is to support Deep Six. I really don’t have any gripes with the large glass canopy, since the vehicle’s meant to be fun, and I get that seeing the toys inside it is a lot more fun than an opaque canister. Still, the whole driving on your belly thing looks lame, and I really wonder who was working on the brand at the time that had such a fascination with this.

The back half of the vehicle is mostly taken up by it’s hovercraft bay. On the outside of it, there’s some guns and orange missiles. Inside, there’s the hovercraft which rests in a specially shaped grove. It could be sort of cool, but really, this is probably the biggest let down about the vehicle. If they had just sculpted the floor boards and inner panels differently, you could have more figures in there or even have it double as a mobile command station, like with the MAGGOT. Instead, it’s just empty, and you can barely fit a few extra figures around the hover craft by balancing them.

gi joe havoc 1986 arah vintage hasbro

The recon craft is alright. It’s got two guns, some nicely sculpted engine details, and pivoting fans on it’s ventral side, which I guess allows it to turn or maneuver. It’s fun, but also somewhat unspectacular. On a side note, when I’m bored and being stupid, I’ve wondered what a GI Joe version of Mario Kart might be like, where Duke can fly in this recon craft in a race against Serpentor on his chariot, Cobra Commander in a Flight Pod, and Destro in his Despoiler. Add in the Chameleon and the Weapon Transport and you have enough for a full game. I can’t really think of anything else when I see this recon vehicle.

All things considered, it’s still a mildly fun vehicle if nothing else just because it does have a few things it can do. I think what’s just so jarring about it though, is that it does so much of it so poorly, when most of the toys released around it are better for less money and space. I like it’s overall shape and the way it looks with the more sci-fi focused ‘86 and ‘87 guys, but after that, it’s a very cumbersome vehicle, and it’s appeal is rather limited.

Prices seem to vary for a HAVOC, but generally you can get a decent one around $20, sometimes more, sometimes less. It’s surprising, but vehicles don’t seem to carry the value of figures, where now a V1 Leatherneck will cost you more than this vehicle will most of the time. Of course, this isn’t a very good vehicle, but when nostalgic tooners are paying $200 for a Cobra Commander, you’d think it’d get a bump just based on the Sunbow association.

gi joe havoc 1986 arah vintage hasbrogi joe havoc 1986 arah vintage hasbro1986 HAVOC Links:

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3 Responses to 1986 HAVOC

  1. Mike T. says:

    The Havoc gets a pass from me since it was the last major Joe vehicle I had as a kid. It had tons of issues. But, I let them go since the toy had some upside. I didn’t mind the drivers lying down since Cross Country was such a terrible figure and I usually had him joined by another figure that I didn’t much care for. (The Mauler bugged me for the opposite reason since Heavy Metal was so cool and you couldn’t see him at all when he was in the tank with door closed.)

    The main weapons not pivoting was a major flaw. So, the Havoc became an offensive weapon that was used in frontal attacks. When Sgt. Slaughter manned the turret, Cobra’s bullets magically missed him. When it was helmed by one of the Mission to Brazil figures, the gunner usually died in fairly short order.

    If I hadn’t held onto my childhood Havoc, I wouldn’t have one, though. And, without that childhood connection, it would just be a silly vehicle in which I had no interest. So, that old bias keeps it around. It is, though, nice for photographs since it’s long and has some good detailing.

  2. bradley barnes says:

    i have really always liked this thing for reasons im no quite sure of. always figured that the glass canopy was ok cus they are gonna need to bust out the thing if a shell fragment takes out that top turrets hydraulics and locks it in the down position.

  3. A-Man says:

    Yeah, for years HAVOCs were cheap. While it has its fans, I just wonder, and this is something I’d do if I reviewed vehicles myself, if it were on the other side, a Cobra vehicle, would it be better received or what? I think it would be a staple of Cobra armies. They get away with goofier and impractical stuff. Strangely there never was a villain repaint of the HAVOC, Python HAVOC? But i suppose the molds were MIA, but then who knows? So much bias in what Hasbro and the Fan Club reissued.

    The prone vehicle operator position was something Hasbro liked around this time, started with the Sharc and the WHALE’s sled, then we get Recon Sled, HAVOC, Night Raven Drone, after that, not much. It doesn’t make the HAVOC as much of a fun crewed vehicle as it could be because of that.

    My experience with the HAVOC was my older brother getting it, in his last year of GI JOE buying. I was put off by the orange parts…and TBH, they still suck! Cross Country was ugly/lame. I never got one of my own, nor the SKY HAVOC, until years later, used.

    There’s all sorts of realism issues, and this was big jump from 1985’s mostly realistic rides. Besides the crew postions and turret. Where is the ammo coming from for the big 75mm cannons? Where do its shells eject? Why are the back guns double barreled? It’s just silly. The blue prints say the hoverpod guns and back guns have different calibers (7.62mm vs 9mm). Yeah, that happens in real life but it seems impractical. (The blue prints don’t even say what the front machine guns are) And this is when missiles just stuck on the sides of ground vehicles starts to become common….the Ferret started it, I guess.

    And the HAVOC starts the GI JOE LAND CRUISER era, or whatever we don’t have a name for them, medium to large sci-fi vehicles with multiple weapons systems and often glass canopies. It was something mostly given to GI JOE, Cobra’s similar entries were submarine tanks and the larger IG vehicles. The HISS 2 has elements of them…which is sort of appropriate because the original HISS is like an ancestor of the HAVOC, with it’s glass canopy, exposed gunner and curious auto loading dual 60 mm cannons. Which reminds the HAVOC is always smaller than I remember it being. I think the larger later land cruisers like the Raider and Rolling Thunder make me think the earlier HAVOC was more of a beast than it was.

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