This is the Sit-Rep, soldier, the Situation Report! It's here where we get the intel on the new troops, talk to the big brass, and generally do anything else
that isn't in an archival capacity! So what are you waiting for? It's time for your debriefing!
Believe it or not, there was a time not so long ago that I was feeling pretty burnt out on the Anniversary line. Reviews were piling up, product was coming at a steady pace, but the product all seemed to be missing a certain... "life". From the surface, everything resembled the G.I. Joe I knew and loved, but there wasn't a whole lot of spirit or ingenuity in my mind. Something just seemed to be missing. We were dealing with an influx if barely-repaints, substandard parts like the dreadedDukearms, tons and tons of repeat characters, and little to get really excited about.
Well, I can happily say that this little lull has ended, and it almost seems like every recent release we've gotten has been a lot more good than bad, and there are still a wealth of cool looking things on the horizon. Duke arms have been fixed and fixed well, even when we get repeat characters, there are certain improvements and awesome design element changes that make them worthwhile. From the Duke w/ Jet Pack in the Best of DVD set, to the COBRA Commander and COBRA Trooper in the same set, even though we're getting so many of the same stuff, the changes make it worth the money again. This trend looks to continue through the rest of the year with the revaluation of those awesome new Joe and COBRA 5-Packs that are coming. Thankfully, too, Hasbro seems to really be focusing a lot of attention on the single packs, giving us some great missing characters, some awesome new tooling, and even when we have repeat characters and rehashed parts, the choices make sense. Take COBRA Eel, for instance.
I can't decide if I should just start lavishing praise on this figure now, or if I should start by wondering why Hasbro can't make every Anniversary figure this good. Especially the COBRA troop builders. For every B.A.T. and Snow Serpent we get, we also get a COBRA Viper, which is somewhat disappointing, and only makes me drool at the thought of what we could get with a COBRA Viper the overall quality of the other COBRA Troopers that are out there. Thankfully the COBRA Eel follows right along the B.A.T. and Snow Serpent path, and skirts the mismatched parts and poorly tooled aspects of the COBRA Viper. I wasn't much of an Eel fan back in the day, since they were so limited to water-based use, but over the years I have learned to love the Eels, and I've really grown fond of the concept of them being sort of the Special Ops branch of COBRA. From the Eels come the Snow Serpents and Para-Vipers (and Lamprey's for that matter), and while the old version of the Eel didn't do much for me, this version absolutely blows me away.
It helps immensely that the core figure of the Eel is Torpedo from Wave 2 of 2008, because to date that has been one of the most impressive Anniversary figures to date. I am thrilled to see Torpedo being utilized so heavily from the original to the Sea Command pack, this COBRA Eel, and the upcoming COBRA Diver. The wet suit looks fantastic, the articulation is great, I really love the figure altogether.
This Eel does use different lower arms with the more familiar Eel gauntlets that differentiate it from Torpedo somewhat, which makes a nice difference. This immediately makes this figure resemble the original Eel much more tightly, even though it was a very minor tooling addition. It's small things like this that immediately make the Anniversary such a nice, viable option. Between heads, upper arms, lower arms, torsos, upper and lower legs, and even feet and hands, there is so much customizing and tweaking potential that various combinations of figures can have many successful results. This is a perfect example of that.
The new head sculpt used here is a work of art as well, using the wetsuit texture, but sculpted into a full facemask that the Eel helmet fits over. The COBRA Eel gets some nastiness right then and there, and also blends in well with other COBRA Troops. It also gives the Eel a bit more flexibility for land use, which is always nice. The existing tooling Hasbro used for the figure is fantastic, and all of the new parts are great, too. A nearly perfect combination gives us a nearly perfect figure. Very, very cool.
Of course all of these tooling additions and changes would mean little without the right color choices, and the color choices are terrific. Of course they're all based on the vintage color scheme, and that color scheme is just incredible with a great mix of gray, black, and red. The bright silver COBRA logo on his chest is a great top-off, too. Such a great color scheme covering a great figure.
While the accessories that the original Eel came with left him somewhat limited to land use, you cannot argue that they were very nicely detailed and designed. The almost jet pack nature of his scuba pack was really great, and that is translated perfectly here. I love the removable helmet Eel comes with, too, and with actual glass goggles to boot. A nice touch! He's got his familiar spear gun, flippers and all the bells and whistles. I'm still a bit on the fence about the shoulder pads, as they do kind of stick out of the figure a bit too much and don't really flow with the rest of the figure. Still, that's a somewhat minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. Beyond this slight complaint, the figure is great, the accessories are awesome, the paint details are perfect. You can't get much better than this. Wave 11 has been a pure pleasure to review to this point, and this figure is absolutely no different. Great stuff.