GI JOE Rise of Cobra: Steel Crusher APV by Hasbro

Earlier this week on Vintage Vault, we checked out Jackhammer, that black SUV of death from the MASK toy line. At the time, I tossed out a comment about how Hasbro paid homage to it in the Rise of Cobra line with the Steel Crusher. I was all ready to drop in a link when I was horrified and amazed to realize that I hadn’t featured the Steel Crusher here on FigureFan before. So today I’m remedying that oversight. Not only is it a cool, albeit subtle, nod back to the MASK toy, but its also one of the few truly shining moments of what is otherwise the mostly forgetable pile of schlock that made up the Rise of Cobra vehicles.

No package shot, but Steel Crusher comes in a fairly standard box with some angled corners and a little window to show the driver figure that is included. Apart from the weird penchant for green, I had no problem with the Rise of Cobra packaging. It was more functional than attractive, but at least it stored well. The front shows off some artwork of the vehicle in action and the back panel shows an actual photo of the toy.
Let’s get the figure out of the way first: He’s the Nano-Viper. I hated this guy when I first got him and quickly swapped him out with one of my many 25th Anniversary Stinger Drivers. In retrospect, he isn’t a bad figure, but I don’t think he really fits the bill as a vehicle driver. He looks like a cross between an urban combat soldier and a fighter pilot. I guess it makes sense, since the Steel Crusher is basically an urban assault vehicle, but the figure just seems kind of bland and forgettable. It also didn’t help that within just a few moments of playing around with him, his visor shot off his helmet and disappeared into the great beyond. Its probably in my cat’s secret stash by now.  Anyway, he’s grown on me a bit since I first got him, but I still prefer to have a Stinger Driver at the seat of this marvelous vehicle.
The Steel Crusher is based off the vehicle seen during the “Paris Pursuit” sequence of the Rise of Cobra movie. As such, it isn’t exactly your traditional Cobra vehicle, and therein lies the MASK homage. Its a black SUV that converts, similarly to the Jackhammer, into an armored, rolling death machine. But we’ll get to that in a minute. In its covert mode, it is a really great looking toy. The detail in the front grill, bumper and ramming bar is very impressive. Both side doors open up and you can fit figures into the roomy seats. The interior is amazingly detailed, right down to the sculpted stitching in the seats and the shifter on the console. This baby even has real rubber tires! There are a bunch of stickers to apply, most notably the Cobra emblems, which don’t make a lot of sense if you want to use it as a covert vehicle, but I think they go a long way to making it look more like an official Cobra vehicle.
To convert the vehicle for action, you slide the roof piece forward, which causes the missile launcher to pop up out of the back. You can then flip down the armor shield that covers the windshield, and you can flip open the two side-mounted rocket launchers. The end result is pretty similar to the overal concept of VENOM’s Jackhammer. Steel Crusher even has compartments to store the three missiles, similarly to how the Jackhammer houses the attachable machine gun. The vehicle looks really awesome with the armored windshield and the side rockets deployed.
You may not like the Rise of Cobra movie, lord knows I don’t. And you may not really dig the idea of a covert Cobra vehicle. But I’d challenge anyone to deny that this is a really well made, great looking, and ultimately fun toy. The fact that all the Cobra emblems are optional stickers, really give it a lot of possibilities for using it with other 3 3/4″ lines, but I personally think it looks great with the Cobra insignia. I’d go out on a limb here and say this is probably one of my favorite toys released in 2009 and certainly a pleasant surprise from the otherwise forgettable Rise of Cobra toy line. I passed on this thing for a long time, because I thought the $25 price tag was kind of high for a vehicle in this class assortment, but when I finally relented and bought it, I had no regrets about the pricetag. Its just a great all around toy.

GI JOE The Rise of Cobra: Sand Serpent with Star-Viper by Hasbro

My last trip to the Ross Toy Graveyard netted me a cool little surprise, and by surprise I mean it was something that I didn’t even know existed: A repaint of the Rise of Cobra Night Raven. The ROC Night Raven was, of course, an homage to the original Real American Hero toy as well as the jet that was seen at the end of that horrible, horrible Rise of Cobra movie. The toy didn’t seem to be very well received by fans, but in fairness, the original Night Raven was a work of art that still inspires awe in me to this day. The new version… eh, not so much. It also didn’t help that at $40 it was way over priced, just like most of the ROC vehicles. What’s weird is that at stores in my area, the ROC Night Raven seemed to show up, go on clearance, show up again, and it was just all over the place.

Anyway, as you can see from the box, this is not the Night Raven, but rather the Sand Serpent. I like the name, although I was rather dubious as to whether slopping a desert camo deco on the toy was going to make it sell any better. So why did I buy it? Well, just look at that price tag. $15? How the hell am I not going to buy it? Getting back to the box, it’s the same basic packaging as the Night Raven and it has a little window to show off the lamely named Star-Viper figure that comes with it. The front shows some artwork of the vehicle in action and the back panel shows off photos of the toy itself. Technically, the package is pretty collector friendly, but the jet comes in two halves and once you lock them together, you’re going to be hard pressed to get it back into the box. It also comes with a bag of missiles, an instruction sheet and a butt load of stickers. What doesn’t it come with? Batteries.

Once I had this thing snapped together and had all the wings in place, it’s easy to see that the design doesn’t really hold a candle to the vintage Night Raven. I was, however, surprised by how decent the camo deco looked. I kind of expected it to be horrible and obnoxious, and while it certainly isn’t as good as the original black, I still found it to be perfectly tolerable. The design of the aircraft is very angular, and a bit bizarre, but it’s definitely a nice sized toy with a number of play features, some good and some bad.

Probably my favorite thing about the toy is the way the cockpit drops down for access. It’s pretty innovative and it makes for a nice break from just popping open the canopy to get the pilot in and out. It works with a lever located behind the canopy that raises and lowers it remotely. The jet also has three sets of rather chunkly landing gear that are essential to allowing the cockpit to drop down. There are also missile clusters located on the wings that hold six missiles each. From here on in, though, the play features get a little dodgy.

There’s a handle that drops down that you can hold to fly the jet around. I like this idea well enough, as it’s similar to the one Kenner used on the old Star Wars Imperial Shuttle. By pulling the trigger on the handle, you fire the missiles that are queued up in each launcher while the lights around the missiles activate with the sounds of weapon fire. To fire the next missile you have to pump the jet like a shotgun. Yeah, it really is as goofy and weird as it sounds, but then again if I was a little kid, I would probably think it was awesome as I pelted my brother with an endless stream of projectiles.

The electronics require three AA batteries and include the aforementinoed lights in the wings and three different sound sequences. Each sequence is activated by either pressing one of the three buttons between the rear dorsal wings or by pulling the trigger on the handle. One clip is garbled pilot communications, another is a series of sensor beeps, and the last is an extended flyby sequence. All of the sound clips are nice and loud.

I don’t have a lot to say about the Star-Viper, apart from his goofy name. He’s an ok pack-in pilot figure, but nothing much beyond that. His helmet is pretty huge and he’s got some really ungainly breathing apparatus.

In the end, I’m pretty surprised at how much I like this toy. Sure the shotgun gimmick is stupid and it probably adversely effected the sculpt and design, but all in all, it’s a nice sized, well constructed, and cool looking jet and the electronics are none too shabby. At $15 the price is definitely right too. I’d still recommend picking up the Night Raven over this one, assuming you could have it for around $20 or less, but you could do a lot worse than grabbing the Sand Serpent here, should you stumble upon it at your local Toy Graveyard.

GI JOE Rise of Cobra: The PITT Mobile Headquarters by Hasbro, Part 2

After all that fuss, it’s finally over. Hope everyone had a great Christmas. I’m looking forward to getting back to business as usual. But first… let’s dive into Part 2 of our look at The PITT Mobile Headquarters.

Converting the PITT from vehicle to HQ is fairly easy. You grab the top handle and lift up, this causes the hinged central tower to stand up and lock into the base, you then slide the roof back until the the roof drops into the top part of the tower and locks. Next up, you fold open the two top hatches, you fold down the back and then you fold out the wings. From here on, it’s all about tweaking it by placing the cardboard decor pieces into their slots, placing the ramp and ladders and then placing the storage containers and ping pong table. [You need about a three foot by two foot area to set this thing up, which is why I’ve got to shoot these pictures without a proper backdrop. -FF] I like the configuration of this thing a lot better than the tacklebox design of the old Mobile Command Center. Now you’re all set to explore the various areas of The PITT HQ. We’re going to start at the top and work our way down. Onward… to the roof!!!!

The roof in HQ mode is pretty much the roof in vehicle mode, only with the extra surface added to each side by the fold out wings. I like how this increases the play area, but the wings aren’t very stable, so any figures you put here are most definitly going to have to be pegged in. You still have your missile launcher and cannon, but all the spotlights are now hanging underneith the side flaps. There’s also an opening roof hatch that lines up with the platform elevator. The only other added play features here are a ramp that folds out of the back and a chute conealed under the handle. You need to deploy your HQ near a table or something at about equal height in order to make use of the bridge. As for the chute, just drop a figure in there and he falls down into the prison, which we’ll see in a minute. The roof is a great place to stage battles or maybe get a JOE vs Cobra soccer match going on, but aside from that there’s not much else going on up here and it ends up looking like the lobby in some kind of GI JOE MMO.

The central pillar holds the platform elevator that can go up or down and also has the chute that leads to the prison. The prison has an escape feature, but not much else to it. And that takes us down to the lower deck. The left wing features the breakaway wall gimmick, which sucks because the panels don’t hold in all that well, which means most of the time the side of The PITT’s vehicle mode looks like it’s all bashed in. I finally got mine to lock in pretty well and I’m never taking them off again. The right wing features slots to stick in the cardboard decor pieces, more on those later, and a fold down area that features some lockers and bunks. Behind the central pillar, there’s another little area that has another bunk.

At the front of the base is the little command cubicle, which features a large computer panel and all of the playset’s electronics. Press the buttons to hear all sorts of sounds and phrases, including alarms, and Joes being paged to various areas. It would have been nice if Hasbro provided a chair here, although there are two chairs off to the side. As a command center, it’s kind of disappointing, The ROCC’s was much better. Here there’s also a large opening storage area with compartments for some of the weapons that came with the set. You can also store some of the cardboard pieces in here when you close it all up.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the inclusion of cardboard parts with this set. Sure, it’s hard to deny that spending $100 for a playset made partially of cardboard is disappointing, but none of the cardboard pieces are integral to the playset. In fact, they’re all completely optional bonuses. The ping pong table is my only gripe. It’s not in any of the pictures, because it’s such a piece of garbage, I didn’t even bother keeping it assembled and FigureFeline made off with it as soon as he had the chance. The cargo containers on the other hand are pretty cool. Bottom line, if you don’t like them, just toss them.

In terms of size and play features, I think The PITT is definitely worth a look. It’s amazing how many figures you can get onto this thing. I think the box said there are 84 pegs. The set up I used for these pictures isn’t even close to filling it up. I stopped setting up figures just because my cat was beginning to take an interest and it was only a matter of time before he started stealing them or knocking them all over the damn place. On the downside, there aren’t really a lot of specific areas to stage the figures in. A lot of them are just loitering around on the roof or standing on the walls.

In terms of quality of construction, I think The PITT falls short of its original hundred dollar price point. I paid $40 for it, and I’m not dissatisfied, but then again, I got it for display and not for play. I don’t think this thing would last too long getting beaten up by kids playing with it, which seems to be the biggest complaint about it if you read any of the customer reviews on toy retailer’s websites. I suppose the electronics features could have been better implemented. The AT-AT retailed at around the same price and it included not only lights but features that were spread out all over the toy, whereas The PITT really just has a simple soundbox. I’d say if you can snag it for cheap, it’s worth adding to your collection, just make sure you have somewhere to put it, because I still have no idea where the hell I’m going to keep mine.

GI JOE Rise of Cobra: PITT Mobile Headquarters by Hasbro, Part 1

Merry Christmas, all. As a wee lad, Christmas morning was very much about playsets and the bigger toys that you couldn’t hope to talk your parents into getting you any other time of the year. These were the toys that were held over our heads like the Sword of Damacles, persuading us to not be quite so rotten in hopes that we might get them delivered to us by Santa on that special day. For me, Christmas morning was all about putting these things together with my Dad, getting them all stickered up and then introducing figures to them and having a blast playing with them amidst a landscape of crumpled paper and discarded practical gifts. Today I recreated that a bit by busting open the closest thing I could find to one of these old-style playsets… the GI JOE PITT from the Rise of Cobra toy line. In Part 1, we’ll look at the packaging, assembly and the vehicle mode and then in Part 2, we’ll open her up and see what’s inside. [Let me apologize in advance for the distracting backgrounds in the pictures, but this thing is just too damn big to shoot in my usual staging area. -FF]

The reason this sort of thing is such a nostalgia trip is because there aren’t a lot of playsets on the market these days. Why? It’s all about the way the retail landscape has changed. Gone are the days of a majority of people going to Toys R Us or KayBee for toys. Now, it’s the Walmarts and the Targets that sell the most, and therefore have a lot to say about what the big toy companies like Hasbro or Mattel make. Of course, where TRU might have six or eight aisles devoted to action figures, the Big Boxes have more like two or three, and when even the biggest lines like Star Wars or Transformers are limited to about eight or twelve feet, that retail space is at a premium and stores would rather fill that space with eight $25 boxed vehicles than one huge $100 playset. But enough with the economics…

Hasbro has been fiendishly clever these last couple years by slipping at least one big toy onto the shelves each year. These toys masquerade as vehicles, but are in reality playsets. The Millenium Falcon or the AT-AT were great examples, and so is the GI JOE PITT, a massive wheeled vehicle that folds out and transforms into a multi-level base of operations.

Yeah, that’s a big box, and no matter how much I loathed that Rise of Cobra movie, it’s hard not to get excited when holding this thing. The front has a great illustration of The PITT in action, while the back panel shows off photos of the toy itself loaded up with figures. There’s even a File Card printed on the side for the General Hawk figure that’s included in the box. Open it up and you can slide out the cardboard tray holding the toy and a bunch of baggies.

What’s inside pretty much takes up the whole interior of the box, as the bulk of the toy comes already assembled. Open up the toy and there’s more baggies inside. Then, muster your patience, because this thing requires a fair amount of assembly for the finer details and some of it can be a bumpy ride. This is also where you will first encounter this toy’s biggest failing: The plastic isn’t exactly durable. This is not the same plastic Hasbro uses for it’s smaller vehicles. I don’t know if they thinned it out to save money or to keep this thing from weighing a hundred pounds, probably both, but it is nowhere near as solid as the Millenium Falcon or the AT-AT Walker. Case in point: A few of the railings for the top deck had stress marks right out of the package. Luckily, most of the assembly is just plugging in the little stuff like the railings and the spotlights, but the fragility of the plastic made getting this thing together a bit more stressful than I would have liked. We’ll talk a lot more about The PITT’s durability in Part 2.

Do you like putting on stickers? I hope so, because there’s like seven sheets of them. I love putting on stickers, and even I couldn’t finish this beast in one sitting, and yet somehow a little patience and a lot of Rum and Eggnog got me through it. Ok, so not all of it. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get this thing one hundred percent before I had to just call it quits and start shooting the photos. But it’s mostly done. Besides, if you can tell me that you have a better way to spend Christmas morning then stickering a huge playset, I’ll curse you for being a filthy liar. The PITT also contains some cardboard parts, some of which require assembly, but we’ll get to those in Part 2, when we start looking at what’s under the hood.

Once you’re all done, you have yourself one massive military winnebego. If you remember the old Mobile Command Center, you’ll have some idea of what to expect here, as the concept is the same. Although, The PITT is an entirely new toy and far more complex than the MCC. While some parts of the playset are designed to mimic scenes in the movie, This Pitt is really not something that was in the movie, at least certainly not in its vehicle form. The top surface of the vehicle is loaded with pegs to stand figures and it has more than a few play features, including rotating spotlights, a double missile launcher, and a gunnery chair. Down in the front, there’s an opening cockpit where you can seat two figures to drive this behemoth. If you have it all locked together right, the PITT rolls along on its wheels really well and holds it’s vehicle form fairly well too, so long as you carry it carefully and support it on all sides. If you don’t, it’s likely to fall open, spill shit all over the place, and very probably break it. See that handle looking thingy on the top? That is NOT for carrying it, but rather for helping you to convert it to base mode. The only other issue here is the two removable side panels that don’t really lock in well at all due to a gimmick for the playset. But more on that in Part 2.

As you can see in the pictures, The PITT comes with a General Hawk figure. The figure looks great, but the quality is nowhere near in the same league as the regular carded figures. His arm articulation seems funky and his legs are all bendy and cheap plastic. His vest is removable, though, so you can always pilfer it for one of your other Joes.

I’ll give kudos to Hasbro for the design on this thing, as it’s definitely an improvement over the MCC’s vehicle mode, which basically looked like a giant box on wheels. Granted, The PITT is no less ridiculous in its size, and it looks more like a giant boat than a land vehicle, but at least it looks like a bit more thought went into its aesthetics than the MCC. I think my only complaint would be that it could use more armaments. It has the topside cannon and missile launcher and two rotating guns on the sides, but that’s it. In terms of relative size, just about any GI JOE vehicle is better armed than this monster.

Ok, I’m off to eat some Christmas ham now, and watch the Doctor Who Christmas special, but when I come back tomorrow, fully hung over and with a delightful case of gluttony-inspired indigestion, we’ll see how the rest of this playset plays out… see what I did there? Playset… Plays out? Ok, until then, have a Merry Christmas.

GI JOE Rise of Cobra: Nano-Viper, Night Adder and “Paris Pursuit” Baroness by Hasbro

I had a really long and hard week, so on Friday I treated myself with a trip to Marshall’s to pick through their Joe figures. I passed on a lot of the Rise of Cobra figures when they were going strong, but that was mostly because the pegs at Walmart were so choked with the first waves that I rarely ever saw the later releases. It doesn’t hurt either that Marshall’s is selling these for about $2-3 less than they were originally. It’s not quite the steal that there 25th Anniversary Joes are, but still good enough to get me to pick up more. I opted for three Cobra figures, so let’s check them out.

Standard Rise of Cobra packages. Shitty movie, great toy packages. I liked this look a lot. The character artwork wasn’t always the best, but the logo looked cool, and the bubbles showed off the figure and accessories well.

Let’s start with The Baroness. This Paris Pursuit version is good, but it doesn’t replace the first ROC version as my favorite. This one depicts her in her trenchcoat, which is sculpted into the figure above the belt, and sculpted with soft plastic from the belt down, bellowing outward. It looks very nice, but it also severely inhibits the articulation from the waist down and limits the figure’s poseability. You can easily modify the figure by cutting the back of the lower coat and making it removable. This makes the figure look like she’s just wearing a vest and frees up her legs for complete poseability, so you can have the best of both worlds. I liked the first Baroness’ head sculpt a little better too and the fact that you could peg her weapons onto her hips was awesome. So, all in all, this Baroness is very nice, but not a figure I absolutely needed to own.


The Baroness comes with a load of weapons. There’s the giant missile launcher, which is good for tossing in the garbage. And then there’s a cadre of small arms. Whatcha need all them guns for, Baroness? You only got the two arms! She also comes with a personalized figure stand.

Next up is the Nano-Viper. While I think the movie Vipers are pretty poor “updates” to the originals, taken on their own I don’t think they’re too bad. At first glance, I thought that this Nano Viper was just the regular Neo-Viper with his chest plate and helmet painted neon green and some added shoulder and shin armor, but there are a lot more subtle variations in the sculpt. The oddest thing about the Nano-Viper is the inclusion of the neon tentacles, which I believe is a recolored piece from one of the 25th Anniversary DVD packs. I have no idea what Hasbro was going for when they included this as an accessory. He comes all tangled in it on the card. It can actually peg into the figure stand too, but like I said, I just find it bewildering.

In addition to the tentacles, The Nano Viper comes with a dagger, a handgun that fits in his holster, an assault rifle, and a figure stand. Cool beans.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Night Adder. This a really cool figure and as a Cobra Security Officer, it actually fills a gap in the Cobra ranks that I don’t recall ever being released before. He’s a masked dude in a combat vest, who I can imagine patrols the Cobra compounds looking for Joes to feed to his dog. I can’t place the head on this guy, but I’m sure we’ve seen it before, since it obviously has two vestigial peg holes that were used to attach a visor. The vest is really well done, complete with ammo and pouches, but alas, nowhere to carry his combat knife or extra pistol.

Night Adder comes with a combat shotgun, a pistol, a combat knife, his watchdog on a leash, and a figure stand.

So, I’m glad to get a second crack at some of these figures. Sure, I loathed the movie right down to its celluloid core, but I’ll give credit to the figures. With the exception of those ridiculous impact armor figures, this line gave up some solid efforts. In fact, I think I’ll go back later in the week and pick up some more.

GI JOE Rise of Cobra: Cobra Gunship by Hasbro

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.

By the way, what the hell is Walmart thinking with their pricing strategy on their Rise of Cobra figures? For the longest time, they were selling them at $5 a piece. A few weeks ago, they were at an unprecidented $9.98 each. They didn’t even sell them for that much when they first came out! I even scanned one to see if it was a label mistake. Now, they’re on clearance for $7.00 a piece. I can’t figure out what the thought process is behind that. What’s even sadder is the Walmart here never put out more than a few cases of figures beyond the initial wave assortments. Anyway, I digress… back to the Gunship.

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.

GI JOE Rise of Cobra: Sting Raider (TRU Exclusive) by Hasbro

During the tail end of the 25th Anniversary Collection, Hasbro re-released the classic Cobra Water Moccasin and renamed it the Sting Raider. The production and distribution on this toy were low and terrible and so if you managed to get one without getting raped on Ebay, you were very, very lucky. It was a real shame to bring back such a great old toy only to have it be so hard to get. As a consolation prize, Hasbro has brought it back once again, this time as a TRU Exclusive and with a completely new (ie. somewhat funky) paint job. Still, beggers can’t be choosers, so I grabbed this baby up as soon as I saw it.

I have no idea if this toy is supposed to be part of the Rise of Cobra or the Pursuit of Cobra. It says both on the box, but given the prominance of the RoC moniker and the style of the package, I’ll consider this one of those “expanded universe” type toys from the RoC movie line. Not that it matters either way. The box is amazingly small. In fact, it looks too small, like its some kind of optical illusion or something. Nonetheless, the mostly assembled boat is in there, along with two figures, Copperhead and Swamp Viper, and some accessories. All you need to do is attach the rear rudders, the gun on the turret, and apply the stickers. Yes! Stickers!! I love applying stickers!

The boat itself is a pretty simple toy, but its every bit as awesome as I remember it. Actually, I never owned this one as a kid, but every now and then my friend and I would swap a GI JOE vehicle or two for a week and I remember having a blast playing with this one for a short while. There’s not a whole lot of moving parts or features on it, but its a great looking little attack boat. The gun turret does turn and the guns elevate, the cockpit lifts off to get Copperhead inside, the rudders turn, the engine prop spins with the help of a thumb wheel, and there’s a detachable “torpedo” on the bottom. There are also two removable compartments that allow you to stow extra weapons and gear.

But with the good, it seems you have to take the bad. Or at least, the not so good. In the case of this Sting Raider, for most people that’s going to be the paint job. Its an odd green and red camo motif, which makes no sense from a tactical standpoint, but I have to admit makes for a rather striking looking craft. Its not my first choice for colors, and it may make fans still prefer paying out the ass on Ebay for the 25th Anni. release, but in this case, I’ll take it. There have certainly been some far more unfortunate color schemes in the world of JOE (*cough* Tiger Force *cough*).

The figures are a bit of a mixed bag. Copperhead is definitely cool, but not as cool as the version that came with the illusive 25th Anniversary toy. Its the same basic mold, but different paint apps. He has some curiously tight shoulder joints, but apart from that he’s a great figure. The Swamp Viper seems to be a cross between a HISS driver and Wild Weasel. I still dig him, despite his impossibly shaped helmet. Its also cool to note that both figures come with personalized display stands, rifles and combat knives that fit into the their sculpted sheathes.

This set retails at $19.99, which is a pretty great deal for what would be a considered a Bravo Class vehicle and two figures. Its even better when you consider how much the 25th Anni. Sting Raider would set you back. Yeah, you have to stomach a wild paint job, but honestly its grown on me to the point where I’m no longer tempted to go through the trouble of taking it apart and repainting it. Of course, it is a TRU exclusive, so finding it may be tough for some people, especially with how few TRU stores are left these days. If you can find it, I definitely recommend it.

GI JOE Rise of Cobra: 1:6 Scale Baroness (SDCC Exclusive) by Hasbro

It’s time for another 2009 SDCC flashback. This time, I’m going back to last year to take a look at one of Hasbro’s GI JOE offerings, the 12″ figure of everyone’s favorite Cobra femme fatale, The Baroness. Or at least the character that passed for her in the Rise of Cobra movie. Hasbro had quite a few SDCC exclusives that backfired last year (meaning nobody seemed to want them), and Baroness was one of that unfortunate group. You could pick up this figure on their website months and months after the show, and there are still tons of them up on Ebay at any given time. I’m guessing her lack of popularity was because of her ties with the largely unpopular movie, but whatever the case… in the end what we have here is a pretty mediocre figure with some exceptionally nice packaging.


Baroness comes in a black and white box with cutouts to show off the red Cobra emblem on the box inside that box. Her name is printed on the front and sides, flanked by the two pistols she used in the movie. There’s a small blurb about her on the back, which fortunately doesn’t chronicle any of that horrible crap about her being Cobra Commander’s brother or Duke’s fiance, so I can still pretend it never happened and still try to enjoy this figure. The top flaps open and you can slide out the inside box, which is glossy black and textured to look like leather or snakeskin and has a vague coffin motif because the corners are diagonal. Its a great looking box, with the gold Cobra emblem contrasting against the dark textured surface. The front flap is secured with velco.


Inside, the figure is nested in a molded red foam tray. Opposite the figure is an awesome 1940’s style Cobra propaganda poster with The Baroness showing off her, erm… hardware seductively. For me, this insert makes the whole thing worthwhile. It literally elevates the entire set, and it’s kind of a shame that it was wasted on any piece of merchandise that’s tied to this movie.


Normally, I talk price and value at the end, but I think it’s probably important to mention now that this figure retailed for under $30. These days when people think about 1:6 scale figures expectations are through the roof as well as the prices. So, now when I say this figure isn’t all that bad, keep that price point in mind. Luckily, The Baroness was one character who’s appearance didn’t change all that much for the movie, so despite the fact that the face is (allegedly) a likeness of actress Sienna Miller, this can still kind of pass for a classic style Baroness. Sort of. The outfit is pretty simple. She’s wearing a black bodysuit, which is designed to look like both fabric leggings and a leather corset. On top of that she has a trenchcoat, short in the front and long in the back and belted around her waist, with velcro on the front and the sleeves. The coat has some nice texturing around the collar and sleeves and is slit at various points along the bottom so that it doesn’t interfere with her leg poses. The outfit is rounded out by a pair of glossy black heels.



The portrait is more like a caricature of the actress. It’s certainly not great. It kind of looks like she got out of hand with the botox. But again, given the price range here and that Hasbro’s 1:6 Scale figures have never been terribly accurate representations of real people, it’s acceptable. Hasbro went with sculpted hair, which looks OK, and thankfully doesn’t inhibit the head movement, but it does float unnaturally above the shoulders. The paint apps on the face are good, and the glasses are removable. And yes, they look rather more like safety goggles than fashionable eyewear.


Baroness features a control box that’s attached to her belt. It can’t be removed, and it’s strategically placed to conceal the peg that holds the belt closed. I’m guessing this is the device she used to detonate the nano-whatever in Paris.




She also features her chromed pair of laser pistols, or whatever they were. These can be stored in holsters on her back and each holster has a retaining strap to keep them in place. These are pretty cool sculpts and the chrome finish looks good. Her hands aren’t as suited to holding them as tightly as I would like, but I was able to make it work.



Baroness also comes with a rather nice assault rifle with a shoulder strap and a scope.



I’m not going to tell you this is a great figure, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever spent thirty bucks on. As a fan of Dragon’s Danger Girl figures, The Baroness here sort of fits into that genre only with a lot fewer accessories. As a one-off figure for a questionable movie and a Con Exclusive, it is at the very least a curiosity. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it’s all I’ve got. I don’t regret buying it, but I’m sure not going to recommend it.