1983 Action Force Shadowtrak

1983 Action Force Shadowtrak

I realized that by coincidence, every toy I’ve posted about for the last month has been red. Not intentionally, but just something that happened. So to cap off May, I’ll finally get around to a post on the Shadowtrak. Action Force vehicles could be kind of hit-or-miss, but the hits tend to be fairly pronounced, as exemplified by this vehicle. Really, the only downside to the Shadowtrak is that it’s a pain in the ass to get a nice one and a handful of Red Shadows to have for it’s crew.

Despite not being designed initially as a bad-guy vehicle, the Shadowtrak strikes me as almost exclusively being the light reconnaissance vehicle of the Red Shadows. It’s odd too, because the angular design and square glass windshield doesn’t look that far off from what would become a standard look for Joe vehicles come ‘86, like the HAVOC. Still, something about the angular peaks of the design seems oddly communist by way Art Deco. It’s an odd thing to describe, but there’s just something a tad bit alien about it that feels much better as a Red Shadows vehicle rather than anything else.

I remember hearing somewhere that Action Force wasn’t a particularly high-budget toy line. This seems fairly evident with toys like the Shadowtrak, which itself is a repaint of the AF5, and the Q-Force Cosmic Cruiser. Small parts are changed across the toys making them unique, and in the case of the Cosmic Cruiser it was totally re-engineered to be a space ship. They work well in their intended roles, but there weren’t really a whole lot of Action Force toys that were mostly unique identities.

It seats two figures: one facing the back and one driver, though I think it looks perfectly reasonable with three, and you could probably fit five on there if you wanted. The backend is very open and not so restrictive in terms of how figures are seated on it, so there’s room to get creative with how it’s used. It’s armed with a pair of missiles on the side and some adjustable guns that go on both sides of the back. Mine doesn’t have these yet, so you won’t see them pictured here, but it’s a starter that was sent to me for free by one of the kindest GI Joe fans I’ve ever known. I don’t really mind it without those parts, as I just use it as something similar to the LCV Recon Sled, as if the Recon Sled were a good toy, it’d be a lot more like this. Part of what makes the vehicle seem so nice is that it has a pretty detailed parts count, compared to something like the VAMP which is only made of a dozen or so parts in total.

With that said, the Shadowtrak and it’s various repaints are fantastic vehicles that trounce many of Hasbro’s contemporary offerings. That’s a pretty impressive feat when you consider the fact that the Shadowtrak also has to be compatible with arthritic, 5-POA Action Force figures. The overall quality and feel of the vehicle is much more pleasing aesthetically than the more cheap and utilitarian feeling of the GI Joe vehicles. Little things like the eight rubber wheels, the Red Shadows marking on the windshield, the folding seat and weight of the vehicle make it feel more premium in nature.

The non-Hasbro Action Force stuff used to be cheap, but isn’t really any more. Shadowtrak’s are fairly common, but it has a lot of little pieces that are easily lost or damaged, so it’s hard to get a complete one for less than $70, and here in the US you’re going to get eaten up by shipping if it’s coming from Europe (usually around $30). Still, this is a niche collecting interest and you can get good deals on almost anything if you wait long enough. Though if you really want one, it’s probably also something where you won’t do bad buying an example at full price if it’s mint and complete.

action force action man red shadows palitoy gi joe

1983 Action Force Shadowtrak Links:

Forgotten Figures

Blood For the Baron

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2 Responses to 1983 Action Force Shadowtrak

  1. A-Man says:

    It looks neat, thought the Cosmic Cruiser looks cooler in some way.

    I’ve no Red Shadows of any kind. In the USA they were pushed behind convention set paywall. Why haven’t factory custom makers remade that exact figure? Not that I’d buy them at $18+.

  2. Mike T. says:

    I love the Shadowtrak. It’s a perfect fit with early Cobra vehicles. I wish I’d picked up a couple in the early days when all the AF vehicles were stupidly cheap. But, I’m grateful for the one I have since I got it before they doubled in price.

    My profile on this was an absolute dud. Nobody viewed it. I thought it would have been a huge hit since it was known about and seen, but not overused. But, it was a complete failure and no one views it, even when I promote it. It’s shocking to me to see how little people cared about it.

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