Cobra Vehicle Driver:
The Stinger is one of those vehicles that I’ve always wanted but for some reason have never acquired. It’s not by any sort of intentional exclusion that this vehicle has never found its way into my collection—it would just seem that that it just wasn’t “in the cards” at any time prior to this writing. As with the Stinger, I’ve never owned the original Stinger driver in any capacity and so this color scheme is a bit novel to me. Essentially, this is a Cobra Officer in a gray uniform, complete with Officer’s helm and web gear. The familiar red Cobra sigil is present on both the left arm and on the chest, which provides a nice contrast to the light gray of the body. The Vehicle Driver, in keeping with the pattern set by the original 25A Cobra Trooper, retains the black neck scarf as well as the black kneepads, boots, and knife sheath. The single biggest difference in this figure’s color scheme is found on the web gear where an application of red has been added to the shoulder pads. It’s a very nice additional feature that adds color where color was needed—breaking up the monotony of an overall gray/black uniform in the same way that the Cobra sigil added color the chest. This is a uniform design that has stood the test of time from the 80’s and reemerges in this new line faithfully intact.
If there is one issue I have with the figure it is that this is a vehicle driver that doesn’t really fit into any of the vehicles that have been announced for release with this line. I tried to put the figure into the cockpit of a 2000 RAHC HISS Tank with mixed results. The figure will sit—just not all the way down in the seat. He’s a bit too tall and his hips require his legs to be spread just a bit too far for the figure to properly work with the classic HISS mold. The only reason I’m mentioning this here is so that fans approach the Target release of the HISS “eyes wide open”. Until newer vehicles are released that are specifically designed for this line, the Vehicle Driver is going to be confined to riding motorcycles, Ferrets, and motor pool shots rather than sitting behind the wheel of any new Cobra hardware. I’ve already discussed the articulation limitations in my previous reviews of the 25A Cobra Trooper but I thought it was worth mentioning here once more. The Vehicle Driver comes equipped with a gray version of the standard rifle that has accompanied all Cobra Troopers in the Anniversary line. I’m sure my esteemed colleague has more to add to this review, however.
This is the kind of update that I think fans will really love to see Hasbro come up with over the next few years (or however long this Anniversary line runs). The classic Joe line sprinkled repaints into the line quite a bit, so I think if Hasbro can stay consistent with some of those repaints, things will go well. The COBRA Vehicle Driver is a very nice light gray, black and red paint scheme that is very nicely reminiscent of the classic Stinger Driver from back in the day. It ends up being an update that does a great job utilizing existing tooling, but still giving the fans what they want. As I said a few times in this review already, the COBRA Trooper base body is fairly versatile, and I think Hasbro has done a good job getting some mileage out of it.
Giving these troopers different colors and different decos goes a long way to expand the COBRA roster nicely while still staying consistent with the tooling options available. It’s also nice because completists (like me) can acquire a decent little squad without buying too many different multiples. I like this figure quite a bit.
When the o-ringed version of the Valor vs. Venom Storm Shadow design was released back in VvV wave 4, I was in heaven. I felt that this design was a perfect update to Storm Shadow’s more basic traditional look—bringing the character forward into the future with a resounding BANG! Oddly enough, when the first press images of the Cobra Legions set popped up on Ebay and I saw that Storm Shadow was repainted to match his VvV scheme I wasn’t impressed. To me it seemed like an easy repaint of Storm Shadow as a way to pad out the roster of the set. Now that I have the figure “in hand” my opinion has completely changed and this has supplanted the V2 Storm Shadow from wave 1 as my favorite version of Tommy in the line. Based entirely on the Battle Pack Storm Shadow, this version has far more paint applications than the v1 look making this a much more dynamic character design.
In terms of color scheme, this figure most closely resembles the Storm Shadow from VvV wave 4. The red paint applications on the shoulders, collar and the sides of the legs are taken directly from this version. Also reproduced are the beige wrappings on the wrists and shins with the molded “under material” painted a darker gray. The figure’s knee pads and feet are reproduced in the same darker gray—completing the “new sculpt” look of Storm Shadow from the CG animated feature. The biggest change to the VvV design is found on the figure’s legs. The “new sculpt” version featured a molded dragon motif on his uniform that ran along the out-seams of both legs. Hasbro attempted to reproduce that effect here only without etching the design into the mold. The result is more of a red “sun burst” effect on the legs rather than a dragon motif but the overall effect is the same. A similar technique was used on the figure’s head sculpt; the original figure had a sculpted Cobra sigil on his mask while the 25A version has only the shape of the sigil painted over a smooth texture. The result is a slightly more ambiguous shape across Tommy’s face yet the effect is the same. I know a lot of fans prefer the classic basic design of the boxed set Storm Shadow but these color changes really made this figure shine in my opinion. Of course, Justin may have a different opinion entirely.
I will agree with Fred 110% on the original o-ring version of this figure. I was absolutely in love with the new deco and the new look for the infamous COBRA ninja. The dragon motif, raised COBRA logo on the face mask, while still maintaining a strong tie to the original version was pretty much perfect in every regard. Storm Shadow had countless different versions of his figure from 1984 to 2004, but it took nearly twenty years to finally get it right (in my opinion). It looked terrific.
Unfortunately I’m not sure that looks translates perfectly to the new Anniversary tooling used here. I will say this…the different colors sprinkled throughout the figure do bring a lot of life to what is a fairly monotone color scheme. The gray kneepads, red pattern on the facemask, and the red trim throughout the uniform all add some very nice flash to what was kind of a bland figure color-wise. Standing back and looking at the figure really gives you a great impression. Up close though, I’m not a huge fan of those patterns on his legs which end up looking a lot less like dragons and more like random funky red swirls. They don’t really fit.
Ultimately, though, Storm Shadow’s final look does end up being pretty successful and pretty different. It’s a fun deco that isn’t the first thing that most folks would think of as a definitive look for the COBRA ninja, but it’s a very nice update to the sculpt. Some of the additional paint applications look somewhat phoned in, but for the most part the different reds, grays, and other trim all come together to give you a fairly impressive Storm Shadow update. Not a bad job.
When it comes to accessories—this figure’s kit is identical to every version of Storm Shadow and the Red Ninja released to date. (The exception is the v2 version which has the sculpted rope on the backpack instead of the strap.) The only major difference is that this figure’s back pack has been painted red whereas the others were left black. The colors work well to integrate the equipment with the color design but if I never seen this set of accessories reused again, it will be too soon.
(Click the pic above for a short video of the display base in action.)
I can’t fault Hasbro for their inclusion of a Cobra sigil display base/sound box in this set. Honestly, one of the coolest aspects of the boxed sets thus far has been the bases which play audio clips of the GIJoe theme song. I always felt it was odd that the Cobra set would feature the Sunbow animated series opening so prominently and it would seem that folks at Hasbro felt the same. This sound box features the opening titles of GIJoe: The Movie and the fan-favorite Cobra lyrics. It’s an extremely appropriate choice that I just wish was longer. The sound quality is excellent and the volume is surprisingly loud for something so small. I can see fans using these sigil bases as background props for Cobra displays and dioramas, making them a very popular inclusion with this set.
Agreed 100%. I love the inclusion of the Movie theme here, as it gives this COBRA set a great sinister feeling to it. I still stand by the fact that the Movie theme song was the best song in the animated series run, and it’s pretty neat to hear it coming from the COBRA soundbox. It’s awesome to see on display, too. Very neat.
I’ll be honest—while my half of the review might seem a little lackadaisical when it comes to describing each of the troops, I do like this set far more than I thought. I’d originally written this off as “yet another repaint set” and yet it works quite well as an army-builder boxed set. Three troopers and a fantastic display base are things that fans are going to want multiples of; I’m not entirely certain that I would have included both another Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow figure as they are individual characters that a collector can only have so many of. I understand that marketing research probably shows these to characters to be among the most popular but I’d almost have preferred one less named character and one more trooper—perhaps a red-sigil clad blue shirt as was found in the first boxed set. However, for the price, 5 figures is a great bargain and I’d be hard-pressed to find something to complain about in terms of the value. The articulation issues that have plagued the line from the beginning still exist as these figure molds are unchanged from their first release but that’s to be expected at this point. If you’re a fan of this anniversary line, then this is a set that you’ll be actively seeking and most likely acquiring in bulk. Final thoughts, General Hawk?
I ended up being a lot more impressed with the Legions set than I thought I would be. Fred’s right on the money, it can be very tough to do review after review of the same base figure over and over again, but surprisingly, the Legions boxed set didn’t leave me at a loss for words. The updated deco’s made a lot of sense and were fairly enjoyable, and I wouldn’t blame collectors one bit if they stocked up on these to beef up their armies a little bit. It’s got a decent price, some great looking updates, and I LOVE how the figures look displayed in the box. That’s something that doesn’t get a whole lot of love, but just look at the painted art in the box with all of the troopers, not to mention Billy sitting in the crowd there, too. It’s obvious whoever is behind the package art and execution of this line knows their Joe history, and I love the little nods to fans sprinkled throughout the line’s entirety.
All told, this is a great new boxed set that looks awesome on display, or will provide you with a nice assortment of additional troops to command. I really highly recommend this set to any longtime fan, or the new fans, too. Good stuff.