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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BBI Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV)

Presenting the Blue Box International (BBI) Elite Force Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV) re-purposed for G.I. Joe use.

This is not to be confused with the more mass-market Freedom Ops Officially Authorized Navy Seals Desert Patrol Light Strike Vehicle nor with the Hasbro G.I. Joe  Desert Light Strike Vehicle that was released for the much larger 1/6 sized figures. This is from BBI and if memory serves me right, he was released with a driver which I probably threw into a box somewhere since all I wanted was the vehicle. Strangely, this Elite Force vehicle does NOT appear in the BBI website nor can I find much about it on Google.

What's to like about the BBI Elite Force Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV)?

The detailing. It's an almost perfect replica of the United States Army's answer for the need for a fast reconnaissance desert scout craft that could still pop a wallop if necessary during the Gulf War - and beyond.

As seen to your right, the BBI Chenowth DPV comes armed with:
  • .50 caliber M2 Browning Machine gun
  • 7.62x51 mm. M60 Machine gun (Rear Mounted)
  • 2 M136 AT4 Anti-Armor weapons.
The Chenowth was originally meant to have a mounted recoilless rifle, but the frame of the DPV proved to be unable to deal with the kick-back and the vehicle kept flipping over. This was replaced by a TOW missle launcher, but, discounting the driver who's busy, the concept supposedly went against the military doctrine that three people should be firing a TOW missile, not two. 

So the Chenowth's weapons were downgraded to strictly anti-infantry and light-armor. It's not meant to stand and fight. It's meant to run around and terrorize.

The concept of a light, devoid of armor vehicle reminiscent of swamp boats in their simplicity has been quite popular in modern media - first having been used by Chuck Norris in "Delta Force" and in the movies "Transformers","Three Kings" and "In the Army Now"; and in the video games "Battlefield 2 & 3", and "Command & Conquer, Tiberian Dawn".

The BBI Chenowth is powered by a Volkswagen rear-mounted 200hp engine with a standard 21 gallon fuel tank. This gave the Chenowth a maximum speed of 130 kph, a blistering 0-50kph in 4 seconds, and a range of 338 km. An optional fuel bladder could be attached to extend the range of the Chenowth to 1,610km.  The BBI Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle's engine can be accessed from behind by opening two simple clamp locks on the back of the vehicle.

You can keep the BBI Chenowth as is or mount all of the gear. The Chenowth can carry a maximum payload of around 1,500 lbs - almost a ton.

By now you've seen the fine detailing of the BBI Chenowth's front grill, and engine, but let's take the time out to point out the interior detailing and the weapon detailing. You can actually see how the drive shaft appears separate from the dashboard and they actually took the time to etch out the openings of the M136 AT4 Anti-Armor weapons:


Here are some more pictures of the fully loaded BBI Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle:

Now add a driver - the simpler the G.I. Joe entered, the better. Even if the scale is meant for G.I. Joe sized action figure, it's still a tight fit. So don't hope to squeeze someone like say, Lowlight or Beachhead in there. In this case, I'm using Grunt with a modified helmet from the former Elite Force driver of the BBI Chenowth.

Then we add a gunner. In this case, Breaker. Note that the gunner's seat can actually swivel, so Breaker can use the .50 caliber or the M60:

And close everything up with a side gunner or VIP. In this case, Hawk along with a lot of loose gear:

What's NOT to like about the BBI Elite Force Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV)?

It looks great so what's not to like? Well I have a few lacking details which I think the BBI Elite Force Chenowth could improve on. First is that there's a mounting hole for a forward M60, but one didn't come with the pack. Nor could you transfer the rear M60 to the front. Second is that while the Chenowth is highly detailed, there are no ammunition belts for the .50 caliber nor for the rear mounted M60.

But perhaps the biggest thing not to like about the BBI Elite Force Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle is that quality of the weapons - the guns and anti-tank weapons. It's not the first time we've noticed this. It's almost as if BBI outsources these to a cheap 3rd party who doesn't really care. The Chenowth itself is sturdy and hardy. You could throw it across the room and it'll probably still be intact. But the weapons are flimsy and distorted. Both anti-tank weapons are bent and if you look closely, you can see where I had to break the .50 caliber's barrel, filed it and re-attached it just so that I could have a "relatively straight" barrel.

Unfortunately the BBI Chenowth Desert Patrol Vehicle is not available on Amazon. I do remember purchasing this in a mall waaay back in 2003 for around PhP 1,500 (US$ 35). Though you can purchase the less detailed, more plastic Freedom Ops Officially Authorized Navy Seals Desert Patrol Light Strike Vehicle - which doesn't look as nice in my opinion on Amazon for US 14.99 (PhP 644 plus shipping). Or! You can splurge and buy the 1/6 scale G.I. Joe official version on the web for around US$ 215 (Roughly PhP 9,245).

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