Review by Chris Chung & Fred Meyer
Pics by Fred Meyer
Tank Driver - Code name: Elite Horseman
G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Desert Duel set
The Elite Horseman figure made its debut in the G.I. Joe as the “Crimson Horseman” back in 2011 as part of the Pursuit of Cobra line. At that point, they were an expansion of the Cobra Crimson Guard and were the pilots of the Crimson HISS tanks. Of course, the Pursuit of Cobra file card also said that they were part of a unit led by Destro rather than Tomax and Xamot which means that their true origins and role in the Cobra hierarchy is dubious at best. Like much of the Pursuit of Cobra line, it’s best just to enjoy the figures and not put too much stock into their rather sparse file cards. Yet, what makes an “Elite Horseman” different from a “Crimson Horseman”? (Also, why are they called “horseman” if there’s nothing vaguely equestrian about their job duties?)
The Elite Horseman belongs to an independent merc group hired on by Cobra to field their ground vehicles. That doesn’t tell us much, but I suppose it’s succinct enough to convey the principle.
The Elite Horseman is a complete repaint of the Crimson Horseman: PoC Firefly body, with PoC Snake Eye’s webgear, and a new head that was also used for the Retaliation Cyber Ninja. For those uber-dorks out there (like me), the helmet is a bit of trivia, as it was based on a real-life design: the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Center’s prototype design of their “Future Warrior” infantry helmet.)
I must be a dork but I find that kind of detail fascinating. While Cobra has always been the more science fiction of the two factions, I love it when Hasbro draws inspiration from real world future weapons technology.
The parts do a good job continuing Cobra’s vehicle drivers, though he’s slightly on the tall side, and his webgear makes him a bit wide in the narrow cockpit, so he isn’t a perfect fit in the Basilisk.
As Chris said, the Elite Horseman fits in the cockpit of the Basilisk but it takes a bit of work. It’s just another example of how Gen 3 figures really don’t work all that well in what is essentially an ARAH era vehicle.
Weapons & gear:
His MP5-ish SMG is from Retaliation Cobra Commander, and his backpack and mines are from PoC Firefly. It’s an adequate mix for a guys who is normally driving an armored vehicle.
I actually really like the Retaliation Cobra Commander rifle. It’s compact enough to be plausibly stowed in the cockpit of a vehicle like the Basilisk and yet doesn’t make the Horseman look under-armed. The inclusion of the mines and the backpack is nice albeit a bit superfluous for a trooper who should in theory be spending the majority of his time behind the wheel. The only real downside of the backpack is that it really doesn’t hold the extra two mines very well and it’s a bit heavy for this particular figure. My Horseman kept falling over backwards during the photo shoot for this review while he was wearing it so ultimately it’ll end up in a parts bin. It’s a nice accessory but it just doesn’t seem to fit well with this character in my eyes.
I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about him, as he’s just a blue version of the Crimson Horseman, and folks can check out that review for any other details not mentioned here. The Elite Horseman is a solid troop builder, but his metallic deco might be off-putting to some. He’s fine for a driver who comes with a vehicle, but I personally don’t think he’s a must own figure. Any last words Mr. Meyer?
The Elite Horseman is one of those figures that I find to be more interesting visually than practically useful. He’s got some nice paint applications and a very interesting overall deco pattern and a pretty decent kit of accessories. At the same time, he’s also a figure that doesn’t really bring the “WOW FACTOR” for me. Given the deco of the Basilisk I almost wish that Hasbro had just included a classic red HISS Driver who would have looked positively amazing when posed next to the Cobra vehicle in the Desert Duel set. He’s not a bad figure but I just don’t find him to be all that interesting either. Maybe it’s the parts combination, maybe it’s the color scheme, or maybe it’s the helmet but for whatever reason the Elite Horseman just doesn’t elicit the same reaction as the other figures in this set. Army builders are probably going to want to acquire a few extra for their collections but, unless you’re troop-building the Basilisk, this is a figure that can be skipped in favor of other more exciting 50th Anniversary releases.
The Bottom Line: A visually interesting figure may appeal to some fans but is hardly an essential addition to most collections.
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