I’ve wanted this thing since the ROC toys first hit the shelves, but I’ve held off buying it on principle because of the high price. $24.99 for a Bravo class vehicle was way too steep when we were getting roughly comparably sized toys in the 25th Anni. line for around $15-20. I did cave and pick up the Cobra Steel Crusher, but that seemed like a better toy. Anyway, the toy aisles of the Walmart here are empty and awaiting transition, but at least some of the old stuff, like this Gunship, is left at decent clearance prices.
The packaging for this line is pretty cool. Its a simple box with some angular corners to make it stand out. There’s a window on the front to show off the included Firefly figure, along with an illustration of the toy in action. The back panel shows off an actual photo with some of the play features detailed. The box is actually significantly smaller than the actual toy, as the tail boom has to be locked on into place. Pretty much everything else comes already assembled. You just need to load up the bombs and pop in the missiles. There are also stickers to apply, which I love, and if you’d rather leave the Gunship more movie accurate, you could leave the Cobra emblems off.
I think the most obvious thing about this toy’s design is the fact that it was originally intended to be helicopter, because it is for all intense and purposes a helicopter without rotor blades. Is this what the vehicle looked like in the film? I can’t really remember, and I’m not curious enough to subject myself to watching it again just to see. What I’m getting at is either this toy started life as a helicopter, or the original design was intended to look like the Gunship was converted from a helicopter. Either way it explains why there’s an conspicuous bump on the top where a rotor blade assembly was originally intended to be placed.
With that curious design element aside, the toy is pretty cool, although it doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot. Weapons include a rotating chin gun, firing side mounted missiles, and there’s a hatch in the top where you can load up three small bombs and drop them out the back, just like Hasbro’s Tie Bomber from the Star Wars line. There are three short landing struts that fold down, two removable engine access panels and the main body opens up with a drop down hatch. For some reason, I love the fact that the cockpit opens up to the side and not straight up and down. Don’t ask me why. The cockpit holds one figure and the rear compartment has seats for two. There are also several handle grips on the bottom so figures can hang on while its in flight… another detail which supports the used to be a helicopter theory.
I think this toy’s greatest disappointment is its size. It really needed to be a little bigger to make the passenger compartment work. As it is, you can barely get one figure in there comfortably, let alone the two it seems to be designed to hold. If both sides had opening hatches, that might have helped too. It would have also been nice if the craft sat higher on the landing gear, as they hardly do anything to elevate it up when its grounded.
The Firefly figure is ok, but at the same time he’s nothing special. I also think he was a strange choice to be bundled with this vehicle. Firefly was a demolitions expert, so when did he change career paths to become a pilot? Nonetheless, he comes with a removable flight helmet and a flight vest with hoses that can plug into his helmet as well as two holes in the cockpit control panels. If you take off all his flight gear, he makes for a serviceable Firefly figure, but his chest area is pretty bland. He also doesn’t come with a stand or any weapons, despite having a molded pistol holster on his leg. He’s also a bit of a tight fit in the cockpit with his helmet and gear on. He’s not going to satisfy anyone looking for a definitive Firefly figure from this line. I think this vehicle would have been better served with a generic Cobra pilot figure instead. Personally, I like using the 25th Anni. AVAC figure.
I usually save the discussion of price and value for last, but in this case I lead in with it, so let me just reiterate that this is in no way what I would consider to be a $25 toy. Compare it to Hasbro’s Star Wars vehicles at the same price, and in those cases, Hasbro is carrying the cost of an expensive licensing fee, whereas they own the GI JOE brand themselves. Needless to say, despite being a nifty little vehicle, at full retail I would rate this toy pretty low. I got mine today at half off, and I’m pretty happy with it at that price. I probably would have picked it up a long time ago had it been $20. Its not like the extra five bucks was going to break me, but at some point I just feel I need to take a stand on the rising cost of toys.