Review and photos by Patrick Robinson
First up on the mini-review block are the Armadillo with Steeler (v4) and the Air Chariot with Serpentor (v5).
Opening the package and untangling these vehicles and figures from their rubber band prison are the most difficult things you'll encounter with this set.
One thing you'll notice immediately is that the formerly fragile parts of both vehicles have been beefed up. The cannon barrels on the front of the Armadillo are thicker that the originals, and the black cannons on the Air Chariot are a lot beefier. The date stamp on the bottom of the Air Chariot may say 1986, but the updates are immediately apparent.
The Armadillo has kept its same basic design (same shell, same treads and rollers), but the colors are slightly lighter that the original, and the added hanging saddlebag and gear basket fit neatly into the grooves on either side of this ornery little tank. I'm not sure what Steeler keeps in the bag and basket these days, but I'm not getting close enough to find out. And I tested the silver engine cover in front for all of you, and I can tell you it DOES come off. Though it looks like it's molded on, it's held in with two small tabs over the engine. This is a departure from the original mold in that the original engine cover was molded into the shell.
The only downside is that now Cobra has an access panel to disable the Armadillo while Steeler's napping. The rear platform hasn't changed much at all, but the improved articulation of the 25th Anniversary figures allows for a much less awkward position for your Joes riding shotgun. One item I hadn't quite figured out is the elevation of the cannons. While the original seemed to stay in place, the new cannons tend to snap back down, and if you're fighting an aerial opponent like Steeler is, that's a problem.
Steeler himself is a good-looking figure. The web belt holster, leg sheath, and ankle holster are nice updates from the original molded-on accessories. One minor gripe I had was that the helmet only sits at the back of his ears, and that the visor worn by the original is not present here. Otherwise, the articulation is the typical good 25th Anniversary styling, the grip in both hands is iffy, but it's a solid entry into the modern line.
The Air Chariot was always one of my favorite vehicles, despite the fact that the wings were fragile; and despite the fact that in order for Serpentor to look like he was actually controlling it, you had to twist his arms and seat him in a semi-constipated position, which I guess could be somewhat hidden by the cape he came with. This new version has none of those issues. With the improved articulation and the ability to rotate the forearms on each figure, it's a lot easier to hand the helm off to Serpentor now. One small issue, though, the neck articulation needed to allow his head to tilt back a little more, so he could actually look ahead instead of at the serpent head on the front of the Chariot.
As mentioned earlier, the guns have been updated, no longer laughable but solid cannons complete with control wiring and hoses, and it's a good update. The old rotor and tail stabilizers are still there, and the serpent head has been updated with a hinged jaw, so no more of those old half serpent heads lying around!
The Serpentor figure appears to be the same as the second wave issue of the 25th line, but I don't have one to compare it to. (Editor's note: most of the paint masks seen on the v4 figure have been removed.) The sculpt is solid, the helmet is removable, as is the skirt. I read a lot of opinions on this figure when it first came out, and I have to say I like it, it's very Bart-Sears-like in design (though I know it's a DDP influenced costume) and looks a lot more believable that the old cowled figure!
Provided with each vehicle are file cards for both the driver and the vehicle, as well as stickers. In all, a nicely assembled set.
Armadillo Tank vs. Serpentor's Air Chariot
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More action shots:
Additional Image from the collection of: Phillip Donnelly
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