I’m beginning to think that someone at Hasbro is afraid of the dark. How else can you explain the recent proliferation of “night ops” sets and vehicles in the GIJoe product line. We’ve got the Night Ops Humvee, the Crimson Shadow Guard, and now the Cobra Night Watch. Apparently someone at the “Big H” is looking to feel safe at night because the entire Joe world seems to be getting more and more active after dark. So, how does the first Direct-to-Consumer six packs hold up? Read on for this Joe fan’s opinion.
First off, let me save you the trouble of reading descriptions of the various molds used in this set. Why am I truncating this portion of the review? Simple: you’ve seen them before. This set follows the model of the Cobra Infantry Forces and uses the molds of the original Cobra soldiers that were recently re-released in Comic Pack #1 and Comic Pack #5. The set is comprised of 4 Cobra soldiers (three Caucasian and one African-America) and two officers. According to the file cards on the back of the package, the Squad Leader (officer with red decorations and scarf) is a unique character and is apparently the head of all of the Night Watch troops. Unlike the previous “Scarface” officer this one possesses no distinguishing facial characteristics so most Joe fans and army-builders will end up using him as a generic troop as well.
The uniforms of the troopers feature a great color scheme. The body is a basic blue-gray with a lighter gray used for the camouflage pattern. The harnesses, belts, pads, gloves and boots are all painted flat black and the Cobra sigils on the uniform are red. It’s a solid color scheme that reminds me very much of the original Stinger driver. In fact, if these weren’t intended to be night troops I could very much see these figures as the new “transport corps” of Cobra. Every time you buy a vehicle and don’t like the driver one of these figures could be substituted and the end result would be a very consistent Cobra army. Again, the color scheme on the soldiers is pretty solid although the light blue-gray doesn’t seem terribly practical for nighttime ops. Also, it is worth noting that the troopers use the original RAH Torpedo arms last seen on the Anti-Venom Duke. The result isn’t nearly as solid as those found on the comic pack releases or on the Cobra Infantry Forces.
The officers are where this set really shines. The primary color used is a much darker blue-gray shade that seems much better suited to blending in at night. Again the harnesses, belts, pads, gloves, and boots are all painted flat black. However the basic officer has a gold cobra sigil and purple epaulet on the shoulders and purple chevrons on his collar. The squad leader differs from the officer in that his epaulets and chevrons as well as his neck scarf are all painted red and his Cobra sigil and helmet detail are painted silver. I’m not certain that I like the purple on the officer but the squad leader’s silver makes him the standout figure of the set. If all of the figures in this set came in the officer colors I’d be much happier with this set of troops.
The gear in this set is one area where this set is far superior to the Cobra Infantry Forces. I have yet to meet a Joe collector who was happy with getting a seemingly endless supply of the Rock Viper’s rifle with his blueshirts. This set takes that redundancy and tosses it out the window with four “desert eagle” rifles, two SMG’s, two “sound attack” SMG’s, 4 Cobra knives, and six figure stands. All of the gear consists of pieces that we’ve seen since the relaunch including two of the SMG’s that have the unfortunate distinction of having “sound attack” tabs on them. So, unless you’re planning on spending some quality time with an X-acto knife those two guns won’t be getting much use. The rifles are a nice accessory for the troopers in the set although they are almost a touch large for the older RAH sculpt figures. Also, I had some difficult getting the officers hands around the larger handgrips of these rifles. Fortunately the forearms are molded out of a much softer plastic and so I was able to work them into place. The SMG’s (originally packaged with the VvV Wave 7 Duke) work well for the officers but again I had some trouble getting them to hold the weapons in a one-handed grip. So, aside from the “sound attack” pieces this is a well-equipped set of troops. It is interesting to note the lack of night ops gear included in this set.
My biggest problem with this set is that use of the RAH molds for the troops. I’m already of the opinion that this was originally intended to be one of the Toys R Us exclusive six-packs—hence the use of the old sculpts. What bothers me is that, compared to the newly sculpted versions in the Cobra Infantry Forces set, these sculpts just don’t hold up anymore. Even as a child I always found the original Cobra soldier heads to be a bit too wide and the eyes a bit too almond shaped. The result is a slight cartoonish soldier with possible Asian ancestry—which doesn’t blend in well with my new sculpt figures. When this set was originally announced I was hoping for a possible repaint of the new “blueshirt” mold that I owe far too many of. (Okay—that should read “not enough” of but I’m trying to not sound like a complete Joe uber-geek.) I’m a fan of the new sculpts plain and simple and I’d much rather see my six-packs now come in new-sculpt form. There’s nothing wrong with the classic mold but it just doesn’t hold a candle to my Cobra Infantry Forces. I’ve got two sets and that’s enough for me and I’ll most likely use them as my “transport corps” instead of night ops troops.
In the end, this is one of those sets that I think is “alright”. While I’m a sucker for Cobra troops and troop-builder packs, the light colors and use of the RAH sculpts just don’t make this a “must acquire more” set for me. Don’t get me wrong—this is by NO means a bad set. (That particular distinction belongs to the “Heavy Assault Squad” that I’ve yet to purchase.) It’s just a set that doesn’t fit in as well with the bulk of my troops, which just happen to be GIJoe vs. Cobra. Also, I don’t see the need for these troops as “Night Troops”. To me, that distinction belongs to the fantastically designed Night Vipers and I’d much rather this was a six-pack of those figures. However, fans of RAH designs are going to eat these up by the caseload as the combination of figures, gear, and price make this a terrific value.
For more pics, including some night shots, continue on to: