The Sky B.A.T. comes carded. Rather than sealing the bubble to the cardboard with glue/heat, the clear plastic is simply taped to the back via flaps. This "Soldier" packaging isn't as nice as the larger "Commando" ones--which feature two halves of an accessory locker as the top and bottom of the box--but those figures also cost more (even though these "normal" figures don't have the locker, the graphics are designed to mimic the color and look of the two locker halves, which gives the line some continuity in appearance--a thoughtful touch). The bottom of the bubble features some nice, wraparound, character-specific artwork of the SKY B.A.T. along with the Sigma 6 logo. Slightly above, and to the right, a cheery orange sticker informs you that your SKY B.A.T. "Converts to multiple battle modes!" (which is a fancy way of saying you can add/remove its jetpack/grenade launcher). The back of the package has the requisite G.I.JOE file card (see photo above) and pictures of some of the other figures and accessories available in the Sigma 6 line. These packages seem to hold up pretty well to shelfware and they look liked they'd stack/store well. Plastic bubbles inside the package keep the wings/missiles in place and there are some of those lovely transparent rubber bands anchoring the gun to the body.
The SKY B.A.T.:
The Sigma 6 cartoon, on which the figures are based, is rather minimalistic and anime-like in design, which is reflected in the toys. What that translates to is figures that are arguably too cartoon-like in comparison to past G.I.JOE offerings. In the end, it's a matter of taste--I was a little bit put off by the new look at first, but I've grown accustomed to it. Some JOE fans love Sigma 6, some absolutely hate it. I think the style works better for the SKY B.A.T. (as well as his Ninja-flavored predecessor) than the humans, due to the relative minimalism looking more natural on a mechanical construct than a person.
From a sculpting standpoint, the SKY B.A.T. is mostly smooth/aerodynamic in appearance, which makes sense seeing as how it's intended to be an aerial attack unit. There's a fair amount of rivets, lines, hoses, etc. on the figure, giving it detail, but nothing too intricate. The lower torso sports a design that's a bit more mechanical looking with pistons and a robotic vertebrae (see detail photo below). I really like the head sculpt, which has an insect-like quality to it. On the other hand, I'm not too crazy about the two ionic gas canisters (the red cylinders on his arms), they just look goofy in my opinion, and often get in the way when you're posing the figure. It's too bad they're not removable. You definitely get the feel that this is a machine, not a man inside a tin suit. The figure is molded entirely in blue plastic, with dark blue, black, silver, and red paint operations added to finish it off. The paint work is pretty tight, with very little in the way of sloppiness/errors. There's also a small cobra insignia on the front of his torso. I'm especially pleased with the color scheme Hasbro chose for this figure because the blue motif brings back fond memories of the "classic" Cobra colors from my youth. In that nostalgic vein, I also wish that this figure had incorporated some of the design elements from previous B.A.T.s, namely the chest plate showing the machine's inner workings (which the previous Sigma 6 Ninja B.A.T. did have) and swapable forearms sporting different weapons.
In the articulation department, the SKY B.A.T. is quite flexible (it can even do the splits!). The neck has two joints, a rotating cut at the base of the skull and a ball joint where the neck joins the body. The body has a mid-torso ball joint that moves forwards/backwards and side-to-side, as well as two cylinders (exhaust vents?), one on each shoulder, that rotate around. The arms have: Shoulders that rotate and pivot in/out (oddly enough, these are set at an upward angle, rather than straight); mid-biceps rotating cut joints; pin elbows; pivot ionic gas canisters; and wrists that rotate and pivot forwards/backwards. The legs have: Hips that rotate and pivot in/out; rotating and pivot back/forward knees; and ankles that rotate and pivot backwards/forwards. All of the joints are tight and the SKY B.A.T. holds lots of poses well on its own, even with the large jetpack on. I did notice that the ionic gas canisters, arms, and wings sometimes get in the way of one another when posing the arms. I also have to warn you that the shoulder/neck joints are rather thin, which makes me fearful that they might break if too much force is applied to them, but, so far, they've held up quite well for me. My advice is to go easy on them.
The SKY B.A.T. comes with a nice selection of goodies, with the large jetpack being the highlight. You get:
- Vertical assault pack--this consists of the backpack, two wings, and two machine gun barrels. The majority of the device is molded in blue plastic with black and silver paint highlights. The sculpting is somewhat minimal, but there are nice details like rivets, wing flaps, a turbine, etc. It matches the figure in design and appearance, which, in the end, is what's important (in other words, it looks like it's part of the SKY B.A.T. when it's attached, rather than just an accessory). The wings pop into the sides of the backpack, the guns go into two slots on the back of the pack, and the whole assembly plugs into the SKY B.A.T. via three pegs. Once the pack is on, it stays on tightly, you don't have to worry about your robot losing his ride in mid-flight. The assembled pack features four points of articulation: Both wings have pivot hinge joints, where they join the pack, allowing them to swing forwards and backwards, and the gun barrels rotate forwards and backwards. All-in-all, a large (slightly over 10 inch wingspan) and cool accessory.
- Four silver cluster bombs. The tabs on these stick into the corresponding slots on the wings (two to each wing). In order to drop them on your target(s), you push the tab down, from above, to release it. This actually works pretty well; the tab/slot interface is tight enough that the bombs stay put and don't accidentally fall out, no matter what angle you have the figure positioned in.
- A double barreled grenade launcher. This is molded in a blue-ish gray plastic with black, red, and dark blue paint highlights. The sculpt is somewhat futuristic and sleek looking, without a lot of detail. I like how the gun is designed with one barrel sitting above the arm and the other below. This slides on and off the arm (a brace at the back of the gun encircles the entire diameter of the forearm), and because of this, it doesn't come off easily during play, which is good. While it's possible to put it on either arm, it's designed to work best with the right one, due to the hand on that limb having a wider opening between the fingers and thumb. The lower barrel fires the grenade, via a spring mechanism, activated by pressing the black button near the rear of the gun (this blends in very well with the sculpt, something I like to see with projectile firing accessories). It would have been cool to see both barrels fire projectiles, individually and simultaneously.
- A grenade projectile. This is molded in dark blue plastic, with the majority of it painted red (why didn't they just mold it in red plastic and be done with it?). This fires from the double barreled grenade launcher and travels a pretty good distance when shot. I'm kind of surprised to only get one of these, usually you'll get 2-3, or more, projectiles with a spring-loaded weapon, as kids tend to lose them pretty easily.
- An illustrated instruction sheet.
I paid $9.96, plus tax, for the SKY B.A.T. at my local Wal-Mart, the usual price for the "Soldier" (i.e., smaller package without the carrying case) Sigma 6 figures. Sigma 6 JOEs are fairly large (roughly 8 inches tall), and generally come with quite a few accessories, so the price is reasonable. Sure, I wouldn't mind them being a buck or two cheaper, but they're a pretty good value on today's toy market.
- Good price. The SKY B.A.T. costs a couple of bucks more than some action figures made by the competition, but he's larger than most of those and comes with a nice supply of gear.
- Well articulated figure.
- Cool design. I've always liked the B.A.T.s, and the traditional blue Cobra color scheme makes this robot even more visually attractive.
- Jetpack/Ion Canisters/Grenade Launcher give you different display/attack options.
- Firing missile and dropping bombs make for some fun play situations.
- He's a bad guy, something in short supply in the Sigma 6 line. Buy several (there seems to be two to a case) and start building a SKY B.A.T. army!
- The Sigma 6 figures aren't in scale with either the 12 inch or 3-3/4 inch JOE figures of the past, which is kind of a bummer. I suppose it might be fun to use the SKY B.A.T. as a giant Cobra robot with the 3-3/4 inch guys though.
- A few of the joints, namely the neck and shoulders, are relatively thin. While they seem sturdy enough in practice, I always feel a little apprehensive when I move them. I'd advise taking some care when positioning them, as they seem like the most likely thing to break on this figure.
- The red, elbow-mounted ionic gas cylinders look silly and just get in the way. I wish they were removable.
Where to Buy:
Most major retailers carry Hasbro's G.I.JOE Sigma 6 figures (In my neck of the woods, I've seen them at Wal-Mart, Target, Pamida, and Shopko). However, the SKY B.A.T. is from an older 2006 Sigma 6 assortment, so you might have trouble finding him now (unless your local stores hang onto older product). Online dealers/toy collectors are probably your best bet for this particular figure at this point.
Hasbro recommends this figure for ages five and up.