It's 2004 and a time for a new theme for GIJoe: A Real American Hero. Last year we had 'SpyTroops'- a line where almost everyone was going undercover as someone else. This year its "Valor vs. Venom": Cobra is using a new process to splice human and animal DNA in an effort to create the ultimate warriors! Regardless of how you may feel about the concept, the resulting products this year have all been pretty great-- vehicles included!
[Editor's Note: The Valor vs. Venom Bravo Assortment consists of two vehicles- the Night Adder jet and the Piranha attack boat.]
GIJoe finally has a river patrol boat! When I first saw pics of this boat I knew it was something I was going to pick up. After all of these years the Joe team finally had a boat that could be used for inserting a team into an area that only offered river access. I love the Killer W.H.A.L.E. hovercraft as much as anyone but it was never really designed for a jungle insertion. This bad boy is.
The first thing that I noticed about this watercraft were the three heavy machine gun turrets up front. The second thing I noticed is that they appear to be on backwards! The turrets on the Piranha feature a swivel point at the base of bipod and, mostly likely for reasons of packaging, these are rotated 90 degrees from their intended position. Simply rotate the guns around and you're all set to go. So, after my initial "WTF?!!" over the gun turrets, I settled down to examine the Piranha in detail.
If Cobra vehicles are moving more in a sci-fi direction, then the Joe vehicles are headed toward realism. This boat looks like a jungle patrol craft. From the framework that makes up the "pilothouse" to the faux steel sheeting that lines the bottom to the whip antennas, this boast screams 'believeable'. Add in the fact that, besides the turret armaments, this boat is packing two torpedo tubes on the bow and you've got a boat that looks at the Water Moccasin and laughs.
The Piranha has three separate "action attack" features. The first involves the dome that sits on top of the pilothouse. Rotate the dome side-to-side and the three turrents rotate accordingly. The second feature focuses on the torpedo tubes on the bow. Each is a spring-loaded launcher for two plastic torpedoes. The third feature is, by far, the most fun for kids. On the back of the over-sized motor is a waterproof switch. Place batteries inside the motor, press the switch, and the Piranha takes off under its own power! That's right, the Piranha is a true watercraft-- it floats and has a working outboard motor. I see Piranha Attack Boats showing up a pool parties and at bath time for many a kid this year.
No Bravo Assortment vehicle would be complete without a pilot and the Piranha is no exception. Included is a new version of Shipwreck, complete with camo hat! While I loved the Wild Weasel that came with the Night Adder, I'm only luke-warm to the new Shipwreck figure. First off, his hair color is now mysteriously a reddish brown-- similar to that of Cutter, the pilot of the original Joe hovercraft. Secondly, the outfit, while great for a SEAL, just doesn't scream 'Shipwreck' to me. In my Joeverse, this figure will probably end up as someone other than Shipwreck as it's really a nice figure on it's own.
Also, the figures in Valor vs Venom has the distinction of marking a return to the 3.75" size for the Joes. Previous waves of GIJoe vs Cobra have had figures that were closer to 4" in size. With the transition, some scale issues are going to occur. As seen in the picture above, the new Shipwreck is significantly shorter than the GvC version. While this doesn't present a problem with figures who are supposed to be taller (Roadblock) this will create a bit of a size discrepency for the rest.
All-in-all, this a great vehicle and one that I can see myself owning more than one of. I can just imagine a group of three of these heading up river to drop off a team for a covert mission in the jungles of Sierra Gordo. In fact, this is also a vehicle that I can see kids really being excited about. When I showed a picture of this to my co-worker's 6 year old son (who is a Joe fan, thanks to his father) he immediately asked me if I'd get it for him for his birthday. Hasbro had designed a vehicle that appeals to both collectors and children which means that these will be flying off of store shelves in the coming year.